The Best Hiking Backpacks
So before heading out, you want to make sure you have a durable and comfortable backpack to bring with you and that all your necessary gear will fit without issue. Now, if you have been backpacking before and used a backpacking backpack, hiking backpacks are a bit different as it will not be as big, due to hiking trips being shorter distances. That is why below we have explained what makes a quality hiking backpack.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
When deciding on your backpacking materials and design, you need to figure out what type of backpacker you are. As mentioned before, minimalist backpackers could leave of nature. They are in fact ultralight packers and their essentials are usually not matching the amount of other people essentials. It is not rare that they choose to leave their tent at home and sleep under the stars. Even though most minimalist backpackers carry food with them, they even tend to limit their food and clothing choices as well.
Traditional hikers on the other side, are the typical ones, that pack a normal amount of essential gear in the backpack. You know that you are of this type if in the winter you need a twice as big backpack as in warmer weather conditions. If you are inspiring your kids to go along, you are either a traditional or the heavy packer type.
Backpacks that contain more compartments and pockets have more organizational space. If you are wondering whether you are going to need this feature, the answer is yes, it is essential for your hiking trip. If you simply pack all of your stuff in one main compartment, at every break when you need something from the backpack you will be required to unpack and repack. To save yourself this trouble, we recommend choosing a backpack with many compartments that will keep you organized during your trip. That said, your backpack needs to have the following compartments and pockets.
This is the place where you pack most of your stuff. The main compartment can sometimes be accessed from the top of it from the front of it. Professional backpacks often have a special space in the backpack for your sleeping bag so that you don’t have to pack it in the main compartment.
Since the main compartment is usually located on the top of the backpack, it usually has a top lid which has the main function of keeping it safe from rain and moisture in general. In addition, a well-equipped backpack could also have front and side pockets. Side pockets are very convenient for bottles of water or other small stuff. However, the most useful pocket a backpack could have is a hip belt pocket which is very convenient for items that you plan on using during the whole hiking trip.
The price of the backpacks on our list has all been noted for their value and durability. If you are shopping on a budget, we’ve listed some affordable backpack choices as well that should suit your needs. If you have to watch your spending, then focus on purchasing a backpack that only has what you really need, and then you can save some money.
When it comes to backpacks do not be swayed by thinking that the more expensive the better the backpack will be for you in the long run, or if it is cheaper that it will not hold up and eventually fall apart on you. When it comes to backpacks each is priced according to different factors, so keep in mind not only the price but also the quality, capacity, and adjustability of the backpack as well. Also, stick to your budget and never think you will not find a quality backpack that will not be in your budget because there is always an option on the market for you!
Choosing pants that don’t fit you might get the work done and cover you, but they won’t be as effective as a proper pair. It is the same with backpacks. If it doesn’t fit you right, you will wish you never took the trip in the first place. For this reason, it is very important to invest some time in choosing the right option for you. A correct sized backpack will be essential to your comfort while you are hiking and it will increase the functionality of the pack itself. Even though you are carrying a significant weight on your back, a well-designed backpack should not burden you. In fact, hiking backpacks are specifically designed to distribute the weight throughout the entire body and eliminate the pressure on specific parts of your body. If this is not done properly, the user will suffer back pain or the improper posture could even lead to knee or ankle pains.
For selecting the proper size of a backpack for your body you should consider the length of your torso instead of your height. The main reason for this lies in the fact that people come in different shapes, even people with the same height. If this feature is not stated by the manufacturer or the distributor, it is recommended that you contact him before making the purchase in order to check if it fits you right. And if you can’t manage the methods that manufacturers use for measuring the torso, simply use a measuring tape; it works perfectly.
The additional parts of the backpack include aluminum stays, frame sheets, and a frame. Each one of these parts has its role in providing additional support for your back and distributing the weight properly. Aluminum stays, for instance, are aluminum rods that are placed on the whole length of the pack and they provide the shape of the backpack.
Framesheets on the other side is actually a piece of material that is very thin and lined on the back of the pack. Besides providing it shape it is also protecting your back from sharp objects packed inside that could make you uncomfortable throughout the entire trip. Aluminum stays and frame sheets are usually used together in order to provide greater support.
The perimeter frame is, in fact, the outside construction that is making the contouring of the backpack. The main purpose of the perimeter frame is to prevent the user from sweating on the back. Without it, the backpack will attach to your back completely and cause a lack of breathability in that area and it could cause back pain.
Top Ten Hiking Backpacks
1. Tenton Oasis
This hiking backpack is a sleek design and is lightweight to ensure you can pack the necessary gear you need on your next hiking trip, without becoming uncomfortable or fatigued bu the weight of the backpack. Brought to you by a quality brand, definitely a backpack to take a closer look at.Read more
Not only is this backpack for hiking made for the tough conditions of the wilderness with its ripstop shell, which will hold up against tears and rips but it also comes with a durable hydration bladder that fits easily inside the backpack to allow you to hydrate if needed.
This backpack comes to you at a quite affordable price which is around $34. This price is excellent if you are just getting into hiking as it has enough room for your gear and does not put a strain on your back. Also a great value from a great brand.
This backpack like many from Tenton is quite comfortable as it molds to the shape of your back and also comes with a variety of adjustable straps to ensure you have a tight fit and the backpack feels as though it is an extension of your body.
The main notable feature that this backpack comes with is the ability to insert a hydration bladder to ensure you stay hydrated. The hydration bladder does take up some room in the backpack but it is nice to have the option to use it or not depending on the type of hike you are doing.
2. Venture Packable
This best hiking backpack has a huge following among buyers looking for a middle range product which gives seriously good carrying power combined with durability, security, comfort, and performance. Imagine you are carrying a large pocket sized zippered pocket, you unzip it, pull out the product and it unfolds into a middle-sized backpack, with a roomy main compartment two good sized side pockets and two front pockets, for keys or other smaller items and every pocket has zipper security. Two shoulder straps with padded protective comfort and a third strap to buckle at the front of your body just in case you need to use it.Read more
The construction for this back-pack is a waterproof and damage resistant durable nylon with a weave which prevents moisture from penetrating the pack. Nylon is strong and will not tear while giving a lot of years of service. The bottom section of this product is built with a doubled layer of synthetic nylon material so this gives twice as much strength. Whatever you can stow into the pack will be secure and protected by a highly durable construction and these come in a big choice of appealing colors. All the main stress points in this model are reinforced.
A steal, the price is very fair and in return, you get a product which can serve you for many years.
The straps sit comfortably over the shoulders and are sponge padded to ensure high comfort and are fully adjustable so you adjust to FIT your personal size/shape. To hold the pack securely when you are hiking in difficult terrains or moving through crowded areas you can employ the use of the chest strap which has a buckle system to ensure a secure fit.
This has a main compartment which is protected via a strong zip system, 2 pockets at the front and each side with zip systems. For tidy packing, the main compartment has two dividers if you prefer to arrange it as three compartments. The side pockets hold any object which is about the size of a middle-sized waterbottle and the two front compartments can hold keys, passports, phone or other items which you want close at hand.
3. Deuter Speed Lite 20
The Deuter Speed Lite 20 is the perfect mix of form and function; the nylon material is tear- and water-resistant while being lightweight and easy to carry. Additional padding on the shoulder straps provide comfort, and it features 3M reflective material for enhanced visibility at night. It also comes in a range of attractive colors.Read more
This backpack is made of nylon and polyamide, and as such it's nice and light, coming in at just over a pound. It has a flexible, tensioned U-shaped frame to provide stability without much weight. It comes with padded shoulder straps, an adjustable chest strap, and a removable hip belt.
Priced a bit lower than most daypacks of this size, the Deuter Speed Lite is an accessible option that provides everything you need for a good price.
The padding on the shoulder straps provides comfort for extended activities, while the chest strap and hip belt allow for proper weight distribution and support. The chest strap is adjustable to fit your height, and the U-shaped frame allows for additional stability even with the backpack filled completely.
While the AirMesh shoulder straps provide ventilation and airflow, the nylon back leaves a bit to be desired in that regard.
4. Gregory Baltoro 65
The Gregory Mountain Baltoro 65 is a hiking backpack which is the best choice if your list of essential gear is a bit longer and you have a heavy load waiting to be packed. It is one of the most comfortable backpacks in our suggestion list and while carrying the load, you have a feeling that you are carrying a lighter load. That said, the backpack itself is not too lightweight although it is lighter than the previous Gregory models launched on the US market.Read more
The material this backpack uses is a combination of nylon which gives it water resistance properties and polyester which provides comfort and durability. The frame is made from high-quality aluminum and it provides excellent weight support.
Even though it is a bit more expensive than our other suggestion, the fact that it is on our list should clearly state why. If this backpack falls into your limited budget, we recommend that you consider getting one for you. It is the most comfortable and high-quality backpack!
The comfort this backpack provides is incomparable to any other backpack that we have tested. The shoulder straps are even comfortable if you are having no clothes on your shoulders. However, the comfort it provides is also because of the back support that it features. Although removable, once you try the lumbar support you would not want to replace it with any other model. The shoulder straps and the belt support are what make this backpack so special and the best item is our suggestion list.
This backpack is very adjustable and it comes with 15 different size combination that fit every body type. It has a removable daypack that would be perfect for small hikes. You won’t even have the need for a smaller backpack. It also has a pocket that is completely weather shielded and it provides the perfect coverage for digital devices. You also don’t need to purchase an extra rain cover since this backpack has included it in the package.
5. Kelty Coyote 80
The Kelty Coyote 80 Hiking backpack is a great option if your budget is limited since it has a relatively low price and it is currently on sale. It comes in three color options and it has a compact and appealing design.
This backpack is great for hikers and backpackers and because of its adjustability properties and the price, it is a nice option for children as well. Although there is a new version of the Kelty Coyote backpack, we are suggesting this one because of the lower price and similar features.Read more
The material used in the production process is polyester, 420 denier which means it is highly durable but it is not water resistant material. For this reason, if you plan on hiking in humid areas, a rain cover for the backpack is suggested. There is a frame that will keep your load stable and the weight well distributed. The frame is made from aluminum.
This backpack is the least expensive one from our suggestion list. It is made from high-quality materials, and it only lacks comfort when it is fully loaded. If you plan on not using it to its full capacity, the price-features value it offers is quite tempting.
Even though this Kelty backpack offers great support for lighter loads, if you choose to load it fully, it might not present the same comfort results as some of the other suggested backpacks. The design of the straps is comfortable enough for a few hour hiking trips, but if you are heavily loaded you might need a few more breaks.
The Kelty Coyote is not in the lightweight category, but it compensates for that with its big volume. In fact, it is a bit heavier than most packs in our suggestion list. However, it is very durable because of the fabric used in its production process. An extra feature that might be interesting on the field is that its top lid could be also used as sling package. The side pockets are zippered and there is one front pocket for easier organization and quick access to your stuff.
6. EarthPak Front-Zip Waterproof
Whereas some backpacks are only water-resistant, the EarthPak Front-Zip Backpack has an IPX8 waterproof rating, to withstand even the strongest of rains, while still being lightweight and breathable. It also comes with an IPX8 rated phone case that can fit even the largest of phones, such as the Galaxy Note 8 with its 6.3" display.Read more
Made of a 500D PVC material, the EarthPak Front-Zip is IPX8 waterproof, so it'll stand up to even the worst of downpours when the rain seems to be falling sideways. The roll-top closure is reinforced to prevent water from getting into the top of the bag. This bag comes in 35L and 55L variants, for both overnight and weekend use.
This pack is priced much lower than most dry bags in its class, while still offering strong waterproofing, a roomy interior, and comfort. This is great for those just starting out, or those on a tight budget who refuse to compromise on quality.
The ergonomic back panel and shoulder straps have additional mesh padding for comfort during extended trips, and both models come with a low-profile sternum strap to ensure proper weight distribution no matter how much you pack into the bag.
The back panel and shoulder straps are made of a padded mesh to provide ideal airflow and ventilation to your back.
7. The North Face Jester 25L
The North Face's Jester backpack is no joke. This 25L bag has tons of pockets for organization, while still being comfortable no matter how much you put into it.Read more
This bag is primarily made of polyester, so while it may not stand up very well against water it's light and breathable, making it ideal for those day hikes in warmer weather.
Coming in under $100, the Jester is an affordable and feature-rich backpack, making it ideal for anyone without breaking the bank.
The Jester features North Face's iconic FlexVent suspension system, padded shoulder straps, and an adjustable sternum strap for comfort and weight distribution. Even with this packed to the brim, it will still be comfortable to wear.
The polyester material and mesh shoulder straps provide exceptional airflow, ensuring that this will stay cool and comfortable on longer treks.
8. Osprey Atmos 65
This Osprey backpack has a bit of more modern design that is available in several colors, one for every taste. It comes in different sizes and each size has its own advantages. It is a 65 L backpack that is mostly intended for men, but women also use it. As you can notice from the capacity, it is not intended for daily use, but it is a multiday hiking backpack that will fit your stuff for a longer hiking trip.Read more
The material this backpack is made of is a combination of different types of nylon and each material is placed in a specific place where it would be of best use. However, the most important is the outer cover that will protect your belongings from surprise rain. The cloth is made from high-quality nylon with a great density that is water resistant and highly durable.
The price of the backpack is not in the lower range, however, considering the capacity of the backpack and its features, it has a great value. Its durability is also important since you would use the backpack for years. And it is always better to spend more for a durable item than having to buy one every season.
The upper straps are compressing and they feature a more stabilized load. The lower straps, however, are cross-functional and they are responsible for keeping the external gear safe. Unlike many competitive models out there, this backpack has internal compression straps that are aiding in load stabilization.
This backpack is developed to ventilate well. Also, this backpack has a floating top lid which is removable and it is slowly becoming a standard feature in this range of backpacks. The purpose of the removable top lid is that the backpack is able to accept a larger amount of load or, the user could choose to use it without a lid which is suitable for bulkier stuff.
9. Osprey Ariel 55
According to testers, this is a fantastic pack for a wide variety of hikes due to its comfort with heavier loads. It has plenty of pockets and compartments which will help a trekker stay organized. While this is the women's version, the men's equivalent is the Osprey Aether.Read more
While this pack is largely made of nylon, it has a lot going for it in terms of cutting edge additions. The LightWire frame will comfortably carry your pack load.
This backpack is a little bit pricier than some others on our list but for good reason as it can be versatile and be used for backpacking and hiking. It also comes from a durable brand who is known for their quality.
The IsoForm5 harness and hip belt provide a hiker with an incredibly comfortable fit, especially for especially heavier loads and longer treks. Both are interchangeable to provide you with full customization. The LightWire frame comfortably transfers pack loads and the IsoForm hip belt molds to your body through heat. There is also a mesh bridge between pads that pulls into the lumbar area to add comfort.
The Aether/Ariel A features a panel of lightweight mesh extending from the upper torso through to the back area for optimal air ventilation.
10. The North Face Borealis Women's 25L
The North Face's Borealis Women's backpack isn't one of their bestsellers for nothing; with contoured straps, waterproofing, and a lot of room and pockets, this is a great choice for most outdoor activities.Read more
Made of 600D polyester and 500D nylon, this backpack is sturdy and comfortable. This also makes it waterproof and ideal for multipurpose outdoor use, though a rain cover may still be necessary in the event of hard rain or snow. The straps are padded, as is the mesh back panel.
This one is priced about average for day packs of its size and is durable enough to last you for a long time. It is definitely worth the investment.
This bag features flexible shoulder straps made specifically for women and will contour to fit a wide range of body shapes. A removable sternum strap allows for more support, especially for heavier loads. The mesh back is padded for extra comfort and ventilation.
The back panel is made of a padded mesh and has a highly breathable lumbar panel for extra support and maximum ventilation all day. It also features a FlexVent suspension for the shoulder straps.
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