Best Backpacks for Mountaineering

In a Hurry? Editors choice:
Teton Sports Explorer 4000
Test Winner: Teton Sports Explorer 4000
Amazon Link
Mountaineering can be a great escape from your hectic, everyday life, and provide you with a fun, relaxing uphill adventure that can be both intrinsically rewarding and challenging. Once you reach the top of any climb, you feel a feeling of accomplishment only mountaineering can provide.

In order to get to that height and accomplish your climb, you’ll need to make sure you have some appropriate gear to take along with you. One of the most important pieces of gear you can purchase for your mountaineering adventures is a solid backpack for mountaineering since you’ll want to make sure you have everything you need with you when you climb. High up in the mountains, your gear will be all you have.

Standout Picks

TETON Sports Explorer 4000 Internal Frame Backpack
Can’t seem to find a design suited for your plethora of gear? The reason we selected the Explorer 4000 by Teton Sports for the top of our list is that it’s built tough with pockets galore! It boasts an internal frame that helps easily distribute the weight to keep you steady and pockets that help you keep your gear nice and organized.
Amazon Link
$84.99
Osprey Atmos AG 50 Men's Backpacking Backpack
If you hate the idea of a big heavy load on your back as you hit the trails, the Atmos AG from Osprey is worth a look. It boasts a construction that helps evenly distribute the weight of your gear evenly on your back so you feel like you aren’t wearing anything at all. Backpackers love that it is easy to load, and has a myriad of features to keep you cool and comfortable.
Amazon Link
$239.90
Mountaintop 55L/80L Hiking Backpack with Rain Cover
Do you love it when even the most simple gear is packed with a lot of extra bells and whistles? We do too! That’s why we love the Adventure design from Mountaintop. It boasts super supportive features to keep you light on your feet as well as stable, and has a few additional features that help you keep organized when traveling far from home. It boasts an impressive 80 liters of storage and comes in at a price point that won’t break the bank.
Amazon Link
$57.99
Granite Gear Crown 2 60 Backpack
While the Crown 2 from Granite Gear may look fairly simple, it is packed with features that help you keep your balance on difficult trailheads. It includes a backplate that is made from lightweight materials to help prevent spots that just seem to dig right into your spine. Plus, it has a lot of extra padding that makes it feel like you aren’t wearing anything at all.
Amazon Link
$198.95
Osprey Exos 48 Men's Backpacking Backpack
If the goal is to go into the woods never to return (we know you’ll be back!), the Exos 40 from Osprey is a great choice for those long travels. It hosts a lot of supportive features that allow you to pack everything but the kitchen sink without feeling too weighed down. It may cost a bit more than other options, but we feel that it is worth every penny!
Amazon Link
$199.95
Gregory Denali 100 backpack for mountaineering
The Gregory Denali 100 offers an excellent option from a great manufacturer. If you like going on big climbs, then this particular backpack will work well for you. You can hook it to a sled, and it is designed with a tapered shape, meaning you’ll be able to climb very well even when you are at high altitudes. You’ll also like the freedom of movement you get with this backpack.
Lowe Alpine Manaslu mountaineering backpack
Lowe’s Alpine Manaslu features a great design that focuses on providing a lot of adjustability and comfort. You get a lot of straps and pockets with this one, so if you like to really keep your items organized, then this might be a great option. To some, it can feel heavy and might seem a little too complex, but if you can get past those factors, you’ll have an affordable, durable backpack for mountaineering.

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Comfort

This seems like a no-brainer. If something isn't comfortable, you are not going to want to use it.

Comfort is a very important factor when you are investing in anything, and in this case, specifically, a backpack. If it doesn’t feel comfortable, you won’t want to use it, and you will probably wind up wasting your money. It is important to take note of the padding in the straps, the possibility of a waist or chest strap, how breathable the back panel is, etc. The material that the bag is made from can make a difference in comfort as well.

Durability

Durability is also important because it makes your pack a more worthwhile investment.

The longer something lasts, the better the investment. Most durable packs are made out of nylon and feature reinforced materials. Some come with weather protection. For example, a DWR finish adds an extra layer of durability to any item.

Along with durability, you should take a look at the warranty that is offered. We like to assume that the product is near perfect and you won't have any issues, but we all know how life works. Every option on this list comes from a popular, well-known, trusted brand. Each brand featured here has a reputation for great products and customer service.

Versatility

Versatility is important if you plan on doing many different types of climbs with your gear.

Some packs are designed to handle a lot of all-around climbing activities, while others are made for one specific type of climb. So, make sure you know exactly what you plan on doing, and pick one out that meets your specific goals. A couple of the packs on this list feature a detachable daypack. These are great for packing perishable items, such as food. When you have finished the food, you can fold up the bag and stuff it inside the large bag, or just leave it clipped on.

Aside from using it for outdoor activities, it is good to know if the backpack will function for other activities as well. Maybe you could pack a picnic or use it for travel. These packs are specifically great for mountaineering but can be used for other activities as well.

Features

You’ll want to make sure you have everything you need when investing in a good mountaineering backpack.

Some of the features that we personally look for are organizational tools, a designated spot for a water bottle, and hooks or D-rings on the outside of the bag. The hooks are great for attaching any extra things you may want to bring with you but don't have enough room inside for. You may need to invest in a few strong carabiners if you plan to use the hooks to hold important items.

Another useful feature is a rain cover. These typically fold down and won't take up much room in your pack, but will be a lifesaver on those unpredictable weather days. On the other hand, if you have one with excessive features, you may wind up with a heavier pack that also costs more. So, make sure you know what you really need, and focus on those features when you make your decision.

9 Top Rated Mountaineering Backpacks

1. Teton Sports Explorer 4000

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$84.99
TETON Sports Explorer 4000 Internal Frame Backpack
TETON Sports Explorer 4000 Internal Frame Backpack specs
TETON Sports Explorer 4000 Internal Frame Backpack specs 2
Amazon Link

Can’t seem to find a design suited for your plethora of gear? The reason we selected the Explorer 4000 by Teton Sports for the top of our list is that it’s built tough with pockets galore! It boasts an internal frame that helps easily distribute the weight to keep you steady and pockets that help you keep your gear nice and organized.

Read more

The very first thing that we noticed about this design is the sheer number of pockets. It boasts a large main chamber for all of your larger gear and five smaller size pockets for easy access. It also boasts a mesh panel in the front to store your phone, keys, wallet, and a few snacks.

The outside of this design is composed of canvas, which makes this option more rugged than nylon or polyester options. The lining is made from ripstop nylon that works to keep your gear nice and dry, even when caught in the rain. It also has an adjustable internal frame so you can find the right fit for your body type.

While most internal frame packs have a pretty steep price tag, the Explorer 4000 comes in at a more affordable price that won’t drain your bank account. We love that it is made from tough materials that are perfect for a day trip, or a few days out in the woods.

Amazon Link
$84.99

2. Osprey Atmos AG 50

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$239.90
Osprey Atmos AG 50 Men's Backpacking Backpack
Osprey Atmos AG 50 Men's Backpacking Backpack back
Amazon Link

If you hate the idea of a big heavy load on your back as you hit the trails, the Atmos AG from Osprey is worth a look. It boasts a construction that helps evenly distribute the weight of your gear evenly on your back so you feel like you aren’t wearing anything at all. Backpackers love that it is easy to load, and has a myriad of features to keep you cool and comfortable.

Read more

The design of the frame is what makes this design stand out from the pack. The long slender frame keeps weight evenly distributed to protect your shoulders and upper back. For your lower back, it hosts a hip harness that cinches in the front, working to keep your lower back from becoming strained on long hikes.

Hikers also like that this design has a comfortable back that promotes air circulation to keep you cool and dry when you start to sweat. The shoulder straps are wide and padded to prevent heavy loads from digging into your skin. It also has loops on the front to affix hiking poles or other important tools you need quick and easy access to.

If you are in the market for something that is lightweight and comfortable, yet still large enough to hold heavy loads, this design from Osprey is an excellent choice. While it’s not the most affordable design out there on the market, it is far from being the most expensive!

Amazon Link
$239.90

3. Mountaintop Adventure

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$57.99
Mountaintop 55L/80L Hiking Backpack with Rain Cover
Mountaintop 55L/80L Hiking Backpack with Rain Cover 2
Mountaintop 55L/80L Hiking Backpack with Rain Cover 3
Amazon Link

Do you love it when even the most simple gear is packed with a lot of extra bells and whistles? We do too! That’s why we love the Adventure design from Mountaintop. It boasts super supportive features to keep you light on your feet as well as stable, and has a few additional features that help you keep organized when traveling far from home. It boasts an impressive 80 liters of storage and comes in at a price point that won’t break the bank.

Read more

One of the things that we loved most about this design is that it boasts a series of intricate pockets to keep your gear organized instead of just throwing it into a large central pocket never to be seen again! The main compartment also hosts a hydration bladder so you can ditch the bulky water bottle to save on packing space.

Hikers also appreciate that this design hosts a separate bottom compartment that makes it easier to access gear in the bottom of your pack. The frame is designed so that it evenly distributes weight across your entire back, and has a mesh panel to keep air circulating as you start to sweat.

With divided pockets, additional padding, and a hydration pack, it’s hard to find any flaws in this design. It is made by a company that knows what hikers need when out on the trails and put those features into application in their products. Plus, it comes in at one of the best values when compared to some of the larger packs out there on the market.

Amazon Link
$57.99

4. Granite Gear Crown 2

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$198.95
Granite Gear Crown 2 60 Backpack
Granite Gear Crown 2 60 Backpack  back
Amazon Link

While the Crown 2 from Granite Gear may look fairly simple, it is packed with features that help you keep your balance on difficult trailheads. It includes a backplate that is made from lightweight materials to help prevent spots that just seem to dig right into your spine. Plus, it has a lot of extra padding that makes it feel like you aren’t wearing anything at all.

Read more

The Vapor Current Mark 2 frame is a long sheet, designed to help distribute the weight in your pack. It is composed of molded polypropylene that has holes like swiss cheese to keep things light and easy. If you just want to use it for a quick day hike, this plate is easily removed to make your pack just a little bit lighter.

One of the newest improvements in this pack is the removable cap. Hikers can add additional gear in the top compartment, and it is easily removed by a series of buckles. That allows users to access top gear quickly, or just leave it at home for shorter treks. These features are what make the Crown 2 so incredibly versatile.

If your outdoor adventures include long and short treks, and you need gear that is able to conform to changing needs, you can’t go wrong with the Crown 2 from Granite Gear. It is packed with helpful features to help you keep your balance as well as keep you comfortable at a price point that won’t break the bank.

Amazon Link
$198.95

5. Osprey Exos 48

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$199.95
Osprey Exos 48 Men's Backpacking Backpack
Osprey Exos 48 Men's Backpacking Backpack back
Amazon Link

If the goal is to go into the woods never to return (we know you’ll be back!), the Exos 40 from Osprey is a great choice for those long travels. It hosts a lot of supportive features that allow you to pack everything but the kitchen sink without feeling too weighed down. It may cost a bit more than other options, but we feel that it is worth every penny!

Read more

The most notable feature of the Exos 48 is the AirSpeed suspension system. This system works by helping to remove the weight of the pack off of your back and disperse it throughout your body. This feature helps you to stay light on your feet as well as super stable on uneven and difficult trailheads.

It has wide and ultra-padded mesh shoulder straps that keep air circulating and won’t dig into your skin at the end of a long day. It has a large central compartment for all of your bulky gear, and a sleeve for a hydration bladder (sold separately). There are two mesh pockets on the side and one on the front for quick access to essential gear when needed.

If you are in the market for something that you can really weigh down without holding you back, the Exos 48 is worth every penny. It has a heavy-duty design that is able to withstand any type of climate and works to take the weight off of your back so you can stay light on your feet.

Amazon Link
$199.95

6. Gregory Denali 100

Where to buy
Gregory Denali 100 backpack for mountaineering
Gregory Denali 100 backpack suspension
Amazon Link

The Gregory Denali 100 offers an excellent option from a great manufacturer. If you like going on big climbs, then this particular backpack will work well for you. You can hook it to a sled, and it is designed with a tapered shape, meaning you’ll be able to climb very well even when you are at high altitudes. You’ll also like the freedom of movement you get with this backpack.

Read more

The Denali is made to be very comfortable, and it features a nice fit. It works well in a wide range of situations, making it quite versatile. It has a nice frame design that curves and helps to make the pack feel very comfortable on your back without restricting your freedom of movement. So, you get a lot of motion and flexibility designed into this pack as well. Another reason the Denali is so comfortable is that it has a lot of cushioning, and that helps to give it a lot of comforts.

You get a decent amount of durability with the Denali. This one is built to handle difficult climbs and doesn’t rip, or scratch all that easily. Designed with 210 denier nylon, you get plenty of durability built into this bag. This fabric performs very well and helps keep it in great shape, so you should get years of use out of this mountaineering backpack.

The Denali offers you a decently versatile bag, but it is not made to really go off-ground with you. It doesn’t work well for skiing or short climbing adventures. It is really made to go on long trips in the mountains, so if you want something for shorter trips, this one might not be your best option.

The features designed into this pack are great and work well for long mountaineering trips. You have plenty of room for food and other storage options since you get plenty of pockets to store items, including a designed water bottle sleeve on the side. You also get a Velcro loop you can use to attach an ice ax or other tools too. Plus, it features loops that make it easy to hook up to a sled if you need to.

7. Lowe Alpine Manaslu

Where to buy
Lowe Alpine Manaslu mountaineering backpack
Lowe Alpine Manaslu in blue-green
Amazon Link

Lowe’s Alpine Manaslu features a great design that focuses on providing a lot of adjustability and comfort. You get a lot of straps and pockets with this one, so if you like to really keep your items organized, then this might be a great option. To some, it can feel heavy and might seem a little too complex, but if you can get past those factors, you’ll have an affordable, durable backpack for mountaineering.

Read more

Lowe’s Alpine Manaslu was designed with comfort in mind and offers a lot of cushioning and support. You get padded shoulder straps and a padded waist belt with ample amounts of cushioning which helps to hold the pack well.

This pack also has a great ventilation system designed into it, so you’ll get a lot of breathabilities and you’ll never have to worry about overheating when you carry it. Plus, the ventilation system in this bag also helps reduce both chafing and rubbing, which is a real bonus as far as comfort is concerned.

The bag is comprised out of a solid nylon material that is made to be abrasion-resistant. So, it can take a lot of abuse no matter where you decide to go, and it will still stay in great shape and last you many years. Additionally, it also holds up very well against adverse weather conditions, which is another real plus.

This one is decently versatile and works well as an all-around hiking and mountaineering backpack. It’s not made for very steep climbs, but it is designed well to deal with everything else. Plus, you can pack both heavy and light loads easily in it without affecting the overall performance. You also get a lot of adjustability with it so you can fit it well when you need to, although it does take some time to get used to the adjustability features. You do get a lot of room to organize your important items, which is a nice bonus.

There are a lot of features that come with it, and a few of those features might seem a bit excessive to some. With so many straps, you get a lot of adjustment options, but it takes some time to figure out how to fully use the adjustment system. You also get plenty of pockets and a lot of room for organization and easy access pockets and a hydration sleeve. The features are almost excessive.

Sources

  1. Lyra Pierotti & Ian McEleney, The 8 Best Mountaineering Backpacks , Informational Consumer Website
  2. Switchback Travel, Best Backpacking Packs of 2018 , Informational Camping Website
  3. Amanda Zeissest, Best Backpacks for Hiking of 2018, Informational Camping Website