The Top 5 Hiking Backpacks Reviewed
When exploring the wild and wonderful natural world, a regular backpack isn’t going to cut it. You need something that can survive the hike, have enough room for all the essential gear, and be accessible and comfortable enough that you’re not going to be fussing over it throughout the entire hike.
Here, we’ve looked at five of the best hiking backpacks currently on the market and we’re going to help you decide which might be the best for your particular needs. Before we get onto the reviews, however, what should you be looking out for?
For those of you in a hurry, our choice for the Best Hiking Backpack is the Osprey Packs Kestrel 48 Backpack.
What to look for in a hiking backpack
As with all forms of portable storage, there are as many different variations as you can imagine and choosing between them can seem intimidating as first. Here, we’re going to look at the features by which we’re going to judge backpacks, and what you should look out for in any further research you do on them.
- Carry capacity: Smaller bags might work for day walks but more extensive hikes, or those that might necessitate a change of clothes, you might want to opt for bags with carry capacities of 60 liters or over.
- Weight: Bags should light enough that they add little excess weight beyond your gear, but durable at the same time.
- Durability: The choice of materials matters a lot, but most decent hiking backpacks are made of fine stuff. Zips and buckles tend to more prone to wear and tear, so either you need to make sure that the backpack has some heavy-duty versions or that they are easy to replace. Don’t be fooled by plastic zippers, modern plastics are highly durable, often more so than metal, while cheap plastic is fairly easy to spot.
- Comfort: Features like adjustable straps, padding, and decent airflow between you and the bag will make it much easier to walk with. Most important are, of course, the adjustable straps. The better your backpack fits, the more comfortably your body will handle that weight.
- Functionality: Whether you’re more comfortable with top or side loaders will factor into your choice. Other useful features include plenty of pockets, a waist or hip belt (preferably with padding) and bright color so you’re more easily spotted by group members or in the event of an accident.
- Rainproofing: Features like rain covers and waterproof liners are recommended for keeping the bag suitable regardless of the weather.
These are how we’re going to judge the best of the best. With that out the way, let’s look at some hiking backpacks.
The largest bag in Osprey Pack’s Kestrel range, this backpack has a carry capacity of 48 liters and weighs 3.68 lbs. with a ton of helpful features. The rain cover keeps gear safe from the weather, an accessible hydration pocket keeps your water in reach. The harness is adjustable, and it comes with a padded hip belt, so its fits super comfortably but not too tightly and it even has extra space for a sleeping bag (though that might push its carry capacity for longer trips).
One of the nicest features is the bungie tie-offs (perfect for hiking poles) and daisy chains that allow you to add a lot more external bits and pieces that other backpacks offer. It’s littered with small pockets, too, including hip pockets that make your most commonly sought-after items like sunscreen, lip balm, and your camera super easy to reach.
It’s a light bag, and highly durable, with high-quality plastic zippers and buckles that will stand the test of time just as well as the backpack material itself. It offers plenty of space, which is plenty for those taking a day trip but might be slightly too little for those on longer trips. Still, the sleeping bag storage area offers a nice organizational boost for those who want to keep adverse weather clothing easy to reach.
- Osprey's stow-on-the-go trekking pole attachment is designed to quickly attach and carry trekking poles while wearing a pack. The main material is 210D Nylon Double Diamond Ripstop while the accent and bottom fabric is 420HD Nylon Packcloth
- An integrated and removable rain cover protects your gear from foul weather. It stows away in its own external pocket at the bottom of the pack
- An external reservoir sleeve is located behind the shoulder harness Allowing easy Loading/unloading of a hydration reservoir
- The zippered sleeping bag compartment provides easy access to your sleeping bag through the bottom of the pack
- Side zippered access allows easy accessibility to the inside contents of the pack's main compartment
A bag with a lot of versatility and also one of the largest we’re going to look at with a potential carry capacity of 85L, which is more than enough for those hikers on multi-day trips, bringing spare clothes, sleeping bags, and even extra hiking sandals. There’s an extra 20 liters of storage space through under hood and inside pockets, meaning you’re never going to feel under equipped if you have this back fully stocked. Elastic cords, compression straps, trekking pole attachments and more means it also offers excessive external storage.
Besides the rain cover, the backpack itself is treated with water-repellent coating, meaning even the harshest downpours aren’t going to get through to your stuff, which is a huge bonus. Everything from the back length to pockets to PE boards is adjustable, making it one of the most versatile backpacks we’re going to look at without a doubt.
Despite all that carry capacity and the tons of features, it’s still quite lightweight at 4.98lb and has aluminum bars supporting the bag that are just the right amount of flexible, making it conform better to the shape of your back for a more comfortable carry, too. It’s very sturdy, too. The hip belt might feel a little cumbersome, but it does a great job and helping the bag distribute its weight effectively, making it one of the better multi-day backpacks out there.
- FULLY ADJUSTABLE HIKING BACKPACK BACKPANEL: High quality professional backpack for camping and hiking, designed for comfort ability and functionally versatile. With an adjustable internal frame system, you can achieve a perfect fit which will greatly reduce fatigue on long treks with heavy loads. Padded and breathable mesh back panel and shoulder straps offer cushioned comfort. Sternum strap with SBS buckle, available to adjust up and down.
- HIGH CAPACITY, LIGHTWEIGHT AND COMFORTABLE: 85L (5200 cubic inches) and Extra 20L (1300 cubic inches) of storage under hood and inside pockets. Deep butterfly expansion pockets on sides with dual compression straps and mesh side pockets to keep your stuff separate and organized. Weigh only 4.98lb (2.26 kg).
- TOOL ATTACHMENT POINTS and MULTIPLE POCKETS: Elastic bungee cord system, 8 compression straps, trekking pole attachment, - For tying up your pack or hanging sleeping bag, tent, hammock, and other gears. Elastic bands and Hypalon loop on them can keep the extra strap from dangling all around the pack or hang other small accessories. External and internal lid pockets sleeping bag compartment with divider. One FREE Carabiner Keychain Clip is included in 99% of the products.
- HYDRATION SYSTEM COMPATIBLE- bladder compartment with hydration access on a side of the pack with water bladder sleeve in the main compartment. And there is Velcro loop inside of the main compartment to fix your water bladder.
- WATERPROOF: Waterproof Hiking Backpack with Rain cover built in hood for heavy rain. Exterior also treated with a water-repellent coating for lighter rain. Color: 2 different colors available. Navy/Red; Black/Green. Includes 2 year manufacturer's warranty.
Another big bag with a potential carry capacity of 75 liters, combining both the main storage and a detachable side pocket. While less feature-packed than the TERRA PEAK backpack, it’s also a good deal cheaper, around 2/3rds of the price on average depending where you look. For one, it doesn’t have as many external storage options, but the molle webbing might suit your needs just fine. The 600D polyester is sturdy and waterproof with an extra rain cover to make sure your gear is protected while YKK zippers and metal buckles will last you for a long, long time.
Adjustable straps and waist belt make it a comfortable enough carry, however, it is on the heavier side. With all the adjustable pockets attached, it weighs at just over 6lbs. What’s more, the bottom access bag is a little odd, considering most backpacks come with side or top access, but it’s not too big an issue as you take the backpack off to access the storage in most cases anyway.
- MATERIAL- 65+10L, 11.4"*7.1"*35.4". This tactical backpack is made of Water-resistant 600D polyester. YKK Zipper. Rain Cover Included.
- BREATHABLE WAIST BELT- This travel backpack with padded waist belt, can fit within 49" waist.
- MOLLE WEBBING- You can hang on tools,trekking pole,tents,sleeping bag and other accessory with using this molle design.
- DETACHABLE SIDE POCKET- This hiking backpack with 2 big Detachable side pockets(13.8"*6.3"*3.9") that can carry plenty of camping & survival gear.
- 90 DAYS LIMITED WARRANTY- If you don't like this military backpack, it's available to return.
Weighing 5 lbs. with a carry capacity of 55 liters, this is a little heavier than usual with just a little less storage space than we would like for trips longer than a day walk. However, it is much cheaper than the other backpacks featured (around 1/3rd the cost of the TERRA PEAK backpack on average) and of a decent quality with some very nice features added. These include adjustable length, shoulder, chest and waist straps and a lumbar pad to support your back and offer great airflow, all making it a very comfortable carry.
There’s a lot of external storage to make up for the slightly smaller interior, as well, with gear loops, bungee storage, and compression straps. While the zips are decent and the 600D polyester canvas passes our test, the relatively weak plastic buckles are a concern. Though, for the low price of this backpack, you might be able to afford better ones, replace them, and still come up with savings.
The extra pockets are extremely easy to reach, helping to keep your water bottle, camera, and smaller pieces of gear accessible at all times. For a backpack of its price, it’s hard to find much better.
- NOT YOUR BASIC BACKPACK: Continues to be the top selling internal frame backpack on Amazon at a great price for all the included features; Backpack for men and women
- VERSATILE QUICK TRIP PACK: Just right for youth and adults for light backpacking trips; best for 2-4-day adventures; 3400 cubic inches (55 L) capacity; weighs 4.5 pounds (2 kg)
- COMFORT YOU CAN CUSTOMIZE: Multi-position torso adjustment fits wide range of body sizes; Durable open-cell foam lumbar pad and molded channels provide maximum comfort and airflow
- TRUSTED QUALITY: Hiking backpack with hundreds of verified 5-star reviews testifying to the quality and design; sleeping bag compartment, compression straps, and exterior pockets for strategic packing
- TETON SPORTS PROMISE: Reach out to our AMAZING customer service team if you have any questions or concerns; YOU CAN COUNT ON US to get you taken care of and back OUTDOORS with TETON Sports
The cheapest, smaller, and lightest backpack we’re going to look at by far, this is a day hike bag by any standard with a decent 35-liter carry capacity and an extremely light weight of 0.7 lb, perfect for younger hikers, as well. That said, it still offers decent storage options, with a sizeable main compartment, side pockets, and zipped front pockets. In terms of durability, you’re getting better than what you pay for, too. The zips are of a heavy duty SBS metal and even if the nylon isn’t quite as durable as we might like. This is not a bag for extensive use over long periods of time.
Comfort is still a key factor with a smaller bag, too, and the adjustable shoulder and chest straps, which are well padded, see to that with no issue. There aren’t too many bells and whistles about this belt, making it easy to use for new hikers, even if more experienced hands may bemoan the lack of versatility. It’s a great general-purpose bag and a very serviceable day trip bag, and even useable as a motorcycle backpack, making it well worth the price.
- DURABLE. This Venture Pal Backpack is made with high quality tear and water resistant material, provides extra strength and long-lasting performance with the lightest weight possible. The extra strength provided by the double-layer bottom piece makes it very convenient to carry more load on your journeys. Heavy duty two-way SBS metal zippers across the backpack are convenient to operation on whichever side you prefer. Longevity is further enhanced by bar-tacks at major stress points.
- COMFORTABLE. Breathable mesh shoulder straps with plentiful sponge padding help relieve the stress from your shoulder. The length of the shoulder straps is adjustable. The chest strap with a whistle buckle help you lock your backpack in place securely.
- MULTI COMPARTMENTS and KEEP THINGS ORGANIZED. This backpack features one main zipped compartment, two zipped front pockets and two side pockets. The main compartment provide enough room (35 liters) no matter if it's a day trip or a week long journey. Two separators in the main compartment are convenient enough to help you further organize things. The two front pockets are good for holding small accessories and for easy access. Two side pockets are good for holding water bottles and umbrellas.
- LIGHTWEIGHT(0.7LB) and ROOMY(35Liters).A true space saver. Fold the backpack into its own pocket for storage(no more excess baggage fees),and unfold it when you reach your destination. To avoid overweight charge, simply unfold from your checked bags and use it as a carry on for your excess baggage.
- COMPACT. Folds into zipped inner pocket to fit anywhere, and unfolds from pocket to backpack in seconds. A must have for every trip.Warranty: Our Promise-lifetime warranty-Exchange, return, whatever it takes
Recommended Hiking Backpack Accessories
- LARGE OPENING FOR EASY CLEANING & FILLING - Our hydration bladder has one of the largest opening on the market. The big opening makes for easy pouring of water. It is also fairly wide for a hand or bottle brush easily access to the interior hydration bladder. The 4" screw on cap goes on and off easily. For cold water, simply add ice cubes directly from a scoop or refrigerator ice dispenser. Smoothness of the liner prevents germ and lime from adhesion, which promotes health and easy to clean.
- PREMIUM QUALITY - The whole hydration bladder is made of premium anti-bacteria material. Taste free, non-toxic, BPA free, SGS and FDA certified. This tested to comply with international safety standards. It won't leave a bad taste in your drink. The water bladder passed pneumatic pressure test, it is pressure-tolerant. Double sealing side technique has greatly improved durablity. Might be the most rigid hydration bladder on the market.
- REMAIN PEFECTLY HYDRATED - This 2L water reservoir can withstand temperatures from -20 to 50 degrees celsius. The tube resists temperature changes in hot and cold weathers. L 14.2'' x W 6.8'' Hydration bladder is compatible with most hydration packs. The tube (0.4" diameter, 40" long) provides a wholesome flow for easy drinking, keeping you hydrated when biking, cycling, hiking, or running!
- 100% LEAKPROOF - You won't be slowed down with our high flow bite-valve. Simply bite the mouthpiece to suck water. Soft mouthpiece with easily accessible ON/OFF valve prevents leakage. It also has a cover to keep dirt out. Conveniently control the water flow by biting, when not bite, the water will not leak out. Quick-release tube is detachable. Auto shut off while the tube is removed, bladder will stay filled non-leaking. store neatly in fridge/icebox without tangling hose.
- GET A FREE ITEM and MONEY BACK GUARANTEE - Upon placing your order, you will get a magic bandana at no additional charge. Your purchase is backed by our 100% REFUND PROMISE. If you are not absolutely happy with your purchase of the hydration bladder for any reason, simply send it back for a full refund or to get a new replacement. No questions asked!
Regular Vs. Lightweight Hiking Backpacks
Here is a great YouTube video talking about the differences between lightweight and regular hiking backpacks: