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20-Inch suitcase

How Much Can You Fit in a 20-Inch Suitcase? (Real Example)

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Let’s start with an example from one of my previous trips to set the bar:

I once traveled 3 weeks throughout Europe with a 17-inch suitcase-designed backpack (Osprey Daylite).

And I’m gonna share with you my exact packing list for that trip too (including the total weight).

For some, this is enough space for a 2-day weekend trip. And for others, it would be more than enough for a 1-year trip across the globe. Or even a lifetime of traveling.

The amount you can fit in a 20-inch suitcase or luggage depends.

The biggest factors I’ve found to determine this are usually:

  • The weather of your destinations
  • The activities you’re gonna participate in
  • Whether you’re planning on working on your trip or not
  • And of course your personal preferences.

Let me show you a real-life example from one of my trips, including my exact packing list, to give you a better idea about what’s possible.

Enormous over-sized backpack
Yes, this will do

Example: My 17-inch Luggage or Suitcase Packing List (36 Liters)

I’ve spent countless hours researching for my trips throughout time, including making packing lists.

What I’ve learned from the art of packing over the years is that you can often pack much more than you think, as long as you know how. Both in terms of weight and volume.

And I’m gonna give you all my tips on how to pack as efficiently as possible in a second. But first the example of one of my packing lists.

3-Week Eurotrip Packing List During Summer

ItemsWeight (ounces)Weight (grams)
Backpack rain-cover2.8280
Beard trimmer + charger11.46325
Cap (wearing it)00
Card game7.05200
Charger for phone and cableWaist bag**Waist bag**
Compression packs8.82250
Deo (roll-on)2.6575
Earplugs (6 x pcs)0.185
Face masks0.8825
First-aid bag (empty)0.3510
Fleece (wearing it)00
Halloween costume27.87790
Hand sanitizer (50 ml.)Waist bag**Waist bag**
Headset (in-ear)Waist bag**Waist bag**
Hiking shoes19.40550
Ibuprofen tablets0.3510
Iodine + cotton swabs1.7650
Jeans (wearing it)00
Lock for hostel lockers4.94140
Lock with long cable3.1790
Lock for backpack zippers (2 x pcs)4.41125
Mosquito spray3.53100
Nail clipper1.2335
Paracetamol tablets0.3510
Perfume (30 ml)4.23120
Shirts – short sleeve (4 x pcs)21.16600
Shorts (2 x pcs)16.93480
Sleeping mask0.3510
Sneakers (wearing it)00
Soap block3.0085
Socks – long (5 x pcs)10.58300
Socks – long (wearing it)00
Socks – short (9 x pcs)6.35180
SunglassesWaist bag**Waist bag**
T-shirts (3 x pcs)15.87450
T-shirt (wearing it)00
Toilet bags (empty – 2 x pcs)8.47240
Toilet paper (1/2 roll)2.1260
Underwear (7 x pcs)19.75560
Underwear (wearing it)00
*Total weight =17.79 lb8.175 kg
*Including backpack weight of 29.63 ounces / 840 grams.

**I’ve excluded items in my waist bag (I’ll go more in-depth on this in a second)

This packing list was made for warmer weather during summer. And one of the activities included a 2-day hike in the Central Balkan National Park in Bulgaria, where we stayed in guesthouses.

If I would have traveled during winter, I’d have needed more space for more clothes.

The Waist Bag Hack

As you might notice the weight has been switched out for the “Waist bag” on the above list.

What it’s referring to is my largest waist pack Fjällräven Ulvö Hip Pack (Large) of 4 liters, and it’s super comfortable.

With my backpack, it adds up to 36 liters (4 + 32), which is still within the typical range of 20-inch suitcases (30-40 liters).

(Fjällräven Ulvö Hip Pack - Large
The fanny pack gang starter kit

I’ve never had any comments on it during checking-in or boarding either, resulting in some “free” volume and weight.

Only once or twice I’ve been told to put it in the overhead department. Which makes it rare.

As seen in the photo, it also allows me to wrap my fleece on it, saving a fair amount of space in the luggage.

Besides that it’s super practical – you don’t even have to wear it around your hips, though no judgment if that’s what you fancy 😉

I should add though, that I’m 6’4″ (194 cm) tall and usually weigh around 210 lbs (95 kg) before Christmas. My point is if you’re shorter, a smaller waist bag is maybe handier as well.

The Best 20-inch Luggage To Buy Online

Best 20-Inch Suitcase

It’s been a long time since I’ve owned a suitcase per se, so I don’t feel comfortable recommending a specific one.

But If I were to buy one, I’d start by looking at the best-rated 20-inch suitcases page on Amazon 🤩

I hope you’re not disappointed <3

Old-school suitcases
Fashionable since forever

Best 20-inch Travel Bag

I’ve been using the Tortuga Travel Backpack since 2016 when they still had the first edition of their backpack and other products.

And when it comes to dedicated travel backpacks in this size, I haven’t found anything matching their products ever since.

The current model I have is their previous one. I haven’t had the chance to try their newest one yet.

Though it’s a travel backpack, they’re still super comfortable to wear – also due to their hip belt. And are even waterproof (with water-resistant zippers).

If you don’t need more space than 30-40 liters, you won’t be disappointed.

Best 20-inch Hiking Backpack

Here I will make it a bit simple and recommend anything from Osprey, based on your needs in terms of size, features, and other personal preferences.

If you need help on how to find the right backpack, follow that link to the other guide mine where I go in-depth on the topic.

My favorite pack is the Osprey Aether Plus 70 – though notice it’s double the size of a typical 20-inch.

I’ve had several of their backpacks and they’re as comfortable as a Mercedes while as durable as a tank (ish).

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the Size of a 20-inch Suitcase or Luggage?

The typical size of 20-inch suitcases or luggage ranges between 30-40 liters with maximum dimensions of around 21 x 14 x 9 inches (53 x 36 x 23 cm).

What’s a 20-inch Suitcase or Luggage Capacity in Weight (Pounds and Kilos)?

A rough estimation would be around 20 to 50 pounds (9 to 22 kg) including the weight of the suitcase or luggage itself depending on what you pack.

Is a 20-inch Suitcase or Luggage Considered a Carry-on?

This depends on specific requirements from the airline both in terms of dimensions and total weight. But since most 20-inch suitcases and luggage are found in the 30-40 liters range, this means you’ll likely be fine using it as such.

How to Efficiently Save Weight and Volume When Packing

In the beginning, I used various to-do lists or note apps to make them. But today – not so much.

Since then, my to-go packing tool has evolved into Google Sheets (Excel), where columns and formulas containing numbers have found their place.

By doing this I know exactly how much my luggage weighs. Not only at the beginning of the trip but also during various situations such as with or without food when hiking. Or after shipping or donating certain items I don’t need anymore on longer trips.

The disturbing truth of being a weight-packer

While this is an art itself, I’ve done my fair part of trial and error within this field.

Maybe not enough to dress up an ultra-runner that prefers removing clothing labels for maximum efficiency. But enough to only travel with a “personal item” on longer trips (in warmer weather).

What I refer to as a “personal item” is when you’re traveling with a small bag that theoretically can fit under the front passenger seat.

With that said I’ve never experienced not being allowed to use the overhead department despite not paying for hand luggage (or check-in luggage).

But I’ve heard rumors that airlines are starting to take this more seriously – so don’t take my word for it.

Now that you hopefully got a better idea of how much you can fit in your suitcase, let me recommend another article of mine:

I made this article based on trial and error from literally hundreds of trips.

Everything from traveling with only a personal item as just mentioned. To max out the allowance of checked-in luggage on Muay Thai retreats to Thailand with all my bulky gear and supplements.

So hopefully there’s a thing or two you can benefit from through my experience.

Global Dane

Hey, my friend! I’m the guy behind this website. I was born in Denmark in 1991. My love for traveling started at an early age when the occasional family trips meant ice cream, french fries, and sea water were indulged in an equal amount. Later in life, I found my true source of happiness in exploring unknown lands, turning strangers into friends, and challenging my view of the world through traveling.

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