MTU for Mesh-VPN

What is a good MTU on the mesh-vpn?

Setting the MTU on the transport interface requires careful consideration, as setting it too low will cause excessive fragmentation and setting it too high may leave peers with a broken tunnel due to packet loss.

Consider these key values:

  • Payload: Allow for the transport of IPv6 packets, by adhering to the minimum MTU of 1280 Byte specified in RFC 2460 - and configure MSS clamping accordingly, - and announce your link MTU via Router Advertisements and DHCP
  • Encapsulation: Account for the overhead created by the configured mesh protocol encapsulating the payload, which is up to 32 Byte (14 Byte Ethernet + 18 Byte batadv).
  • PMTU: What MTU does the path between your gateway and each of its peers support?

For reference, the complete MTU stack looks like this:


Example for Minimum MTU

Calculate the minimum transport MTU by adding the encapsulation overhead to the minimum payload MTU required. This is the lowest recommended value, since going lower would cause unnecessary fragmentation for clients which respect the announced link MTU.

Example: Our network currently uses batman-adv v15, it therefore requires up to 32 Bytes of encapsulation overhead on top of the minimal link MTU required for transporting IPv6.:

\        1312              1294          1280                                 0
  \TAP     |    batadv v15   |   Ethernet  |            Payload               |
    \      ^

        MTU_LOW = 1280 Byte + 14 Byte + 18 Byte = 1312 Byte

Example for Maximum MTU

Calculating the maximum transport MTU is interesting, because it increases the throughput, by allowing larger payloads to be transported, but also more difficult as you have to take into account the tunneling overhead and each peers PMTU, which varies between providers. The underlying reasons are mostly PPPoE, Tunneling and IPv6 transition technologies like DS-Lite.

Example: The peer with the smallest MTU on your network is behind DS-Lite and can transport IPv4 packets up to 1436 Bytes in size. Your tunnel uses IPv4 (20 Byte), UDP (8 Byte), Fastd (24 byte) and you require TAP (14 Byte) for Layer 2 (Ethernet) Tunneling.:

1436                1416     1408                    1384          1370    \
  |        IP         |  UDP   |         Fastd         |     TAP     |    bat\
                                                                     ^         \

     MTU_HIGH = 1436 Byte - 20 Byte - 8 Byte - 24 Byte - 14 Byte = 1370 Byte

Tables for Different VPN Providers

VPN Protocol Overhead (IPv4)

Overhead of the VPN protocol layers in bytes on top of an Ethernet frame.

  fastd Tunneldigger Wireguard
IPv4 20 20 20
UDP 8 8 8
Protocol 24 8 32
TAP 14 14 /
Sum 66 50 60

Intermediate Layer Overhead

Overhead of additional layers on top of the VPN packet needed for different VPN providers.

  fastd Tunneldigger Wireguard
IPv6 / / 40
vxlan / / 16
Ethernet / / 14
Batman v15 18 18 18
Ethernet 14 14 14
Sum 32 32 102

Minimum MTU

Calculation of different derived MTUs based on a 1280 byte payload to avoid fragmentation.


  • This configuration is only suggested for fastd and Tunneldigger.
  • For WireGuard, this configuration is unsuitable. To obtain a 1280 byte payload with our protocol stack (see below), the Ethernet frame payload would be 1442 bytes long (for IPv4). As we assume that the WAN network might have a (worst case) MTU of only 1436 (with DSLite), this packet would be too long for the WAN network.
  fastd Tunneldigger Wireguard
max unfragmented payload* 1280 1280 1280
intermed layer overhead 32 32 102
VPN MTU** 1312 1312 1382
protocol overhead (IPv4) 66 50 60
min acceptable WAN MTU (IPv4) 1378 1362 1442
min acceptable WAN MTU (IPv6) 1398 1382 1462

* Maximum size of payload going into the bat0 interface, that will not be fragmented by batman.

** This is the MTU that is set in the site.conf.

Maximum MTU

Calculation of different derived MTUs based on a maximum WAN MTU of 1436.


  • This configuration can be used for fastd and Tunneldigger.
  • For WireGuard, this is the recommended configuration. batman-adv will fragment larger packets transparently to avoid packet loss.
  fastd Tunneldigger Wireguard
min acceptable WAN MTU (IPv4) 1436 1436 1436
protocol overhead (IPv4) 66 50 60
VPN MTU** 1370 1386 1376
intermed layer overhead 32 32 102
max unfragmented payload* 1338 1354 1274
min acceptable WAN MTU (IPv6) 1398 1382 1462

* Maximum size of payload going into the bat0 interface, that will not be fragmented by batman.

** This is the MTU that is set in the site.conf.

Suggested MSS Values

It is highly advised to use MSS clamping for TCP on the gateways/supernodes in order to avoid the fragmentation mechanism of batman whenever possible. Especially on small embedded devices, fragmentation costs performance.

As batmans fragmentation is transparent to the TCP layer, clamping the MSS automatically to the PMTU does not work. Instead, the MSS must be specified explicitly. In iptables, this is done via -j TCPMSS --set-mss X, whereby X is the desired MSS.

Since the MSS is specified in terms of payload of a TCP packet, the MSS is different for IPv4 and IPv6. Here are some examples for different max unfragmented payloads:

max unfragmented payload 1274 1280 1338 1354
suggested MSS (IPv4, -40 bytes) 1234 1240 1298 1314
suggested MSS (IPv6, -60 bytes) 1214 1220 1278 1294


Determining the maximum MTU can be a tedious process, especially since the PMTU of peers could change at any time. The general recommendation for maximized compatibility is therefore an MTU of 1312 bytes (for fastd and tunneldigger) and 1376 bytes (for WireGuard).