View Full Version : In the interest of science, Part II: How much stuff will a 63 liter pack hold?

06-29-2014, 22:05
I was bored one rainy afternoon. I had been thinking about fancy new backpacks. I began to wonder how much stuff my old (1973 or 1974) Jensen backpack with two external pockets would hold. So I rounded up most of my backpacking hardware and clothes and began stuffing things in the Jensen pack. About an hour later this is what I had put in the pack.
Here is where the science part starts:

The backpack:
Rivendell Mountain Works Jensen pack made in Victor, Idaho, size medium, with two external pockets. 3,105 cu. in. pack & 760 cu.in. pockets. Total: 3,865 cu. in. / 63.336 liters / 3 pounds. This is the middle size pack in my collection.

The stuff, based on my usual late August to early October forays into the Rocky Mountains from Durango, CO to Jasper, AB:
(1) 3 lb. 4 oz. REI down sleeping bag. No temperature rating when new. Current bags with similar loft are rated 15F to 20F. Based on my experience, I would say that is accurate.
(1) Rectangular, self-inflating Therm-A-Rest sleeping pad. 20" x 72" x 1". 1 lb. 12 oz.
(1) 4 lb. 6 oz. portable Bombshelter 1 person Garuda Atman tent complete with both poles, stakes and ground cloth.
(3) Stoves. Svea 123, Coleman Peak 1 Apex 1, Primus Himalayan MFS. With spare parts & cleaning tools.
(2) Fuel bottles. 24 ounce capacity and pump for the Peak 1. 1 liter capacity and pump for the Primus.
(3) Gas canisters. 2 medium (8 ounces) Coleman and 1 large (16 ounces) Primus.
(2) Cook sets. Optimus 124 Solo and the SIGG Tourist two pot group cookset. Windcreens/stands for the Svea 123 included in both cooksets.
(1) Trangia 0.9 liter kettle.
(1) The usual kitchen stuff, 2 pot lifters, sponge, funnel, etc.
(1) Platypus 1 liter soft bottle & drinking tube.
(2) Lands End Aircore 100 long sleeve fleece shirts.
(1) LL Bean Windbloc fleece vest.
(1) Coolmax long sleeve zip-T shirt.
(1) LL Bean microfleece pants.
Several pairs of Rohner & Smartwool boot socks. At least 4 or 5.
(1) Showers Pass rain coat. Dual purpose-hike & bike.
The list above may not be complete. I really was cramming everything I could find into the pack. The list is close enough for the interest of science.
At this point the Jensen pack was not full. I could still lift it. I put it on and wore it around the apartment. It wasn't uncomfortable. Sure, it might have been uncomfortable after humping over hill and dale for a few hours. However, if I were doing that, I would not be carrying 2 or 3 of all the heavy items.
Why would I need a new backpack?
But you did not pack any food you say.
Fair enough.
What would I not take on a real trip?
For a white gas trip: 2 stoves, 1 fuel bottle/pump, 3 gas canisters, the big SIGG Tourist cookset and one fleece shirt.
For a gas canister trip: 2 stoves, 2 fuel bottles/pumps, the large and 1 small canister, SIGG Tourist and one fleece shirt.
If I still needed more room, which I doubt, I could take the tent and poles out of the pack and strap them the top of the pack. I would still have room to strap my snowshoes and ice ax to the front of the pack.
Since performing this experiment, the Therm-A-Rest pad has been replaced by a NeoAir Xtherm large sleeping pad which occupies about half the space of the old pad and weighs 8 ounces less. Freeing up both space and weight for more food.
One more time: Why would I need a new backpack?
Now, to answer the question that new members ask once or twice a week, "How much stuff can I put in a 63 liter backpack?"
The answer: Lots of stuff. More stuff than you need to carry unless you plan to stay gone for at least a week, maybe longer.

Quoting an often used line from "Matterhorn": "There it is." Great book, by the way.

Footnotes: This is science, remember?

Thanks for reading. Have fun!


Another Kevin
06-30-2014, 19:37
Yup. I've successfully packed my 65 litre pack (it's a Large, rather than a Medium, I think I'm taller than you) for a four-night trip in winter, including snowshoes, ice axe and second sleeping pad on the outside. With the cold weather clothing, it's a little tight, but with the help of God and a shoehorn it all goes in. If I ever buy another pack, it'll probably be about 50 litres, so that it handles the warm weather outings where my 35 litre tactical bag is too small but the 65 litre pack is overkill. With my hiking style, I can't ever see using a bigger pack. I'm not Tipi Walter. ;) *

* More power to him! He needs the big bag for what he does. I don't do what he does.

06-30-2014, 21:54
I would be pleased doing half of one of Tipi Walter's trips. 2 weeks in the woods would suit me just fine.
Thanks for taking the time to reply and confirm my findings.


Sent from somewhere around here.

07-24-2014, 14:34
Nobody cares. No worries.


07-24-2014, 14:50
If you really want to know the answer to this question why don't you just simply PM Tipi Walter and ask him what he typically takes on one of his outings, Personnaly when i go on a winter trek with my winter set up i typically will use a medium size pack and it will weigh around 35lbs.

07-24-2014, 16:34
If you really want to know the answer to this question why don't you just simply PM Tipi Walter and ask him what he typically takes on one of his outings, Personnaly when i go on a winter trek with my winter set up i typically will use a medium size pack and it will weigh around 35lbs.

Is that 35 lbs. with or without food and water? Enquirring minds want to know.

07-25-2014, 05:13
How much? My experience has shown me two answers - too much, and, not enough.

The Solemates
07-25-2014, 09:19
A 63 L pack will hold 63 L worth of stuff.