Does A Backpacking Backpack Count As A Carry On?

Although traveling with a Backpack can seem less stressful. Sometimes it’s no different than carrying a piece of actual luggage. Irrespective of either luggage or a carry-on, there are items you can not take. Some backpacking backpacks can meet the requirements for a carry-on while others may not.

There are general rules that apply to all airlines, but it is also important to note that there are some requirements that differ depending on the airline you are traveling with luggage, and limit size can also differ with the airline.

Does A Backpacking Backpack Count As A Carry On?


There is no blanket statement as to whether a Backpack counts as a carry-on or not. Backpacks are of different sizes, so also airlines have different size limits for their carry-on items of luggage. Carrying your backpacking backpack as a carry-on depends on the airline you are using and their limits and also the size of your backpack. Do check with the airline you are traveling with to know their limits. Below are some of the carry-on limits of some of the biggest airlines in the United States of America.

Alaska Airlines: 22 x 14 x 9 in (56 x 35 x 22 cm)

American Airlines: 22 x 14 x 9 in (56 x 35 x 22 cm)

Delta Airlines: 22 x 14 x 9 in (56 x 35 x 22 cm)

Frontier Airlines: 24 x 16 x 10 in (61 x 41 x 25 cm)

JetBlue Airlines: 22 x 14 x 9 in (56 x 35 x 22 cm)

Southwest Airlines: 24 x 16 x 10 in (61 x 41 x 25 cm)

United Airlines: 22 x 14 x 9 in (56 x 35 x 22 cm)

Most of these airlines have a limit requirement of around 22 × 14 × 19 in (56 × 35 × 22 cm). Most backpacking backpacks are more than 60L in size or even more. Unless your backpack is small or very light they usually do not meet the requirements for carry-on at most of these airlines.

If you are not asked to measure your carry-on during boarding pass, you might get away with it which happens only in a few instances.

What Is The Size Of Backpack Allowed On A Plane?


The maximum luggage size you can carry differ from airline to airline. The airline you are traveling with will determine the maximum size you can carry. With most US-based airlines a backpack size of 22 × 14 × 9 in (56 × 35 × 22 cm) can pass as a carry-on. If your backpack is small then you can use it as a carry-on. For checked bags, you will not have any problem regarding the size of your backpack. Most airlines allow a bag with a maximum of 62 in (157 cm) to pass without paying fees for oversized baggage. The number is the total length, width, and height of the bag. Most backpacks will be within these limits. Ensure you keep your bag within the airline limits least you’ll have to pay overweight charges.

How Can You Pack Your Backpack As A Carry-on?


When packing your backpack as a carry-on, ensure you check the airline are traveling with for their bag size limits. These limits are set by the airline themselves, there can be changes at times, make sure you check and cross-check before leaving home for the airport. Upon confirming the size limits, make sure you do not go even an ounce above the airlines’ limits. Carry only important items needed, and avoid carrying heavy objects and contraband. Make sure the backpack is not too big because this can make your backpack look heavy and prevent you from taking it as a carry-on.

Is Local And International Carry-on Policy The same?


For both local and international airlines, bring a carry-on, personal items like backpacks depending on the airline and the type of fare you book. Some elite status holders may have the privilege of bringing additional carry-on irrespective of their cabin class. Some domestic airlines restrict carry-on bags through certain routes while international airlines have a specific weight required. For both domestic and international airlines, items like umbrellas, jackets, and food bought at the airport are considered a carry-on.

Below are some of the carry-on policies for International Airlines

  • British Airways allow basic economy fare to bring hand luggage of not more than 16 by 12 by 6 inches. Their Economy and premium economy fare gives a passenger a full-size cabin bag of 22 by 18 by 10 inches. All bags must weigh nothing more than 51 pounds.
  • Emirates allows the economy passenger to bring one full-size bag, including a bag that can fit the overhead bin. It must not exceed 15 pounds and 22 by 15 by 8 inches. All carry-ons must fit into the overhead bin lockers or under the seat in front of you. No luggage is allowed behind your legs, in the aisles, or in front of the emergency exits.
  • Singapore Airlines allows both premium and economy class to bring one-piece luggage on board. Their weight requirement is similar to that of Emirates and must be kept under the seat in front of you or fit into the overhead cabin. The luggage could be a traditional piece of luggage or a backpack depending on the passenger.
  • Cathay Pacific, unlike other international Airlines, allows all customers single-piece carry-on luggage of 14 by 9 by 22 inches and an additional smaller item. These items could either be your camera, laptop, briefcase, handbag, or, a small backpack. All items must not weigh more than 15 pounds.
  • Virgin Atlantic allows each passenger on both economy class ( Light, Classic, and Delight) and premium cabins one carry-on item not more than 22 pounds and can fit the overhead bin. If you book an upper-class fare, you are automatically entitled to a second bag weighing not more than 35 pounds combined. All bags irrespective of cabin should not exceed 23 × 36 × 56cm.

Can You Check A Backpacking Backpack As A Luggage?


Yes, you can check a backpacking backpack as luggage. Most backpacks pass the size limits of a carry-on, you have to check them as items of luggage. If your backpack happens to be heavier than the airline’s bag weight limit, then you will be charged for an oversized bag. Most times when using backpacking backpacks as luggage, they tend to get beaten up during transport and can damage the bag, especially when placed in the cargo hold. The bag’s buckles and straps can end up broken. To avoid all these, you can put your backpack in a duffel. This gives it extra protection before you drop it at the checked bag collection point.



Your backpacking backpack can be used as a carry-on with some airlines, while some as checked luggage. Unless you have a small backpack, it probably will be too big and heavy for carry-on. Depending on the airline you are using, their limit for luggage differs, it is advisable to check with the airline you are traveling with to avoid paying for overweight luggage charges. Sometimes you might get lucky to get away with your backpack as a carry-on but you stand a risk of getting checked at the gate. A safer option is to put your backpack in a duffel and get it checked. The duffel protects your buckles and straps from breaking. This way you will have stress-free travel and you’ll be safe from extra charges.


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