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Largest backpack size for hand-carry

Singapore, Singapore
Level Contributor
48 posts
1 review
Largest backpack size for hand-carry

Hi, I'm planning to purchase a travel backpack for travelling on a 10-day trip. Was advised to purchase a 50L backpack but a friend told me that it may not be within the dimensions of a hand carry. Any idea if I will be able to bring it up the plane as a hand carry? Otherwise, what's the largest backpack size I can purchase as a hand-carry backpack? Thanks!

18 replies to this topic
southern england
Level Contributor
536 posts
87 reviews
1. Re: Largest backpack size for hand-carry

That will depend on what airline you are flying with.

Berkshire, England
Level Contributor
19,310 posts
61 reviews
2. Re: Largest backpack size for hand-carry

The dimensions will be on the airline website.

Brussels, Belgium
Level Contributor
37,166 posts
3 reviews
3. Re: Largest backpack size for hand-carry

It also depends on the ticket class.

For example, with SINGAPORE AIRLINES, in Economy: maximum dimensions for carry-on trolley bag (or backpack) are 22"x16"x 8" (briefcase, 10" instead of 8", don't ask me why) (which is 55.9 x 40.6 x 20.3/25.4 cm, or total about 117 cm) and weight 15 lb/ 7 kg.

With SCOOT, also in Economy, maximum dimensions are 54cm (21.3in.) x 38cm (15in.) x 23cm (9in.) (total linear dimensions of 115cm/45.3in. and weight is also 7 kg.

With JETSTAR, 56cm (height) x 36cm (width) x 23cm (depth) (total 115 cm) and weight 7 kg, which would have to include any separate "personal item", e.g. handbag, fitting under the seat in front of you.

If you want to be able to take the same bag into the cabin with different airlines, obviously you'll have to ensure that it meets the most restrictive requirements for any airline you might be taking.

Level Contributor
8,908 posts
4. Re: Largest backpack size for hand-carry

It also depends on the backpack.

Most hiking packs are long and relatively narrow. OTOH there are packs aimed at air travel that are designed to fit the airline requirements. The problem already mentioned is different airlines have different rules.

Having said that 50litres is large and unlikely to pass the exact airline specifications.

Melbourne, Australia
Destination Expert
for Perth, Antarctic Adventures
Level Contributor
16,931 posts
30 reviews
5. Re: Largest backpack size for hand-carry

"Generally" a 37-40 litre fits "most" airline measurements for carry on. But you still need to check dimension requirements for all airlines you are going to travel on.

50 litres is big and for such a short holiday you won't need something that size. Several friends just returned from 3 month trips with only 35 litre backpacks.

Edited: 22 January 2018, 07:35
Dublin, Ireland
Destination Expert
for Austria
Level Contributor
26,045 posts
78 reviews
6. Re: Largest backpack size for hand-carry

ignore any mention of capacity as no airline that i know of lists their rules in capacity. it is actual physical dimensions. so if you go to the website of the airline that you are flying with the dimensions will be given. and remember, these are the OUTSIDE and MAXIMUM dimensions, so include all handles, frames, etc etc.

Wales, United...
Destination Expert
for Bargain Travel, Cruises, Swansea, Cardiff, Carmarthenshire, Neath, Port Talbot
Level Contributor
72,890 posts
476 reviews
7. Re: Largest backpack size for hand-carry

It's the size and weight that's important, not the volume. So you need to check what your airline allows, and stay within their limitations.

Phoenix, Arizona
Level Contributor
52,765 posts
1,769 reviews
8. Re: Largest backpack size for hand-carry

It’s time to step back, and approach this from another direction.

As has been suggested, which airline(s) will you be flying with?

Which route, and Fare Class will you be traveling?

Go to that/those airline’s Website(s), and make note of the allowable SIZE. Qamanari has shown you that dimensions can differ, so find the smallest allowable.

That is your answer, as that is the largest that YOU will be allowed. Buy something, which meets those dimensions.

Best of luck,


Anchorage, Alaska
Destination Expert
for Anchorage
Level Contributor
13,124 posts
233 reviews
9. Re: Largest backpack size for hand-carry

I checked 3 airlines (2 US & Condor). The US listed carry on dimensions of 22cm x 35cm x 56cm. Condor listed 55 x 40 x 20 cm. This are equivalent to 43L (US) & 44L (Condor).

To calculate capacity:

- take the given metric dimensions of the airline (e.g. 55cm x 40cm x 20cm),

- multiply the numbers = 45,000 cu. cm

- divide by 1000 = 45 liters

I've found that some airlines have an issue if any one of the listed three dimensions is too large (but for th most part it's a crap shoot).

Don't forget about considering the weight too.

Dublin, Ireland
Destination Expert
for Austria
Level Contributor
26,045 posts
78 reviews
10. Re: Largest backpack size for hand-carry

forget capacity! you could ave a 7 foot long tube that would have the same capacity but it wont fit! physical size is the ONLY relevant measurement.

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