Finding the best hiking backpack for your needs is a necessity. Imagine walking your way up to the top of a mountain only to realize that you didn't carry enough of the basics. You're hungry, thirsty, and on top of that, your camera is still back at home sitting on your bed. You meant to carry it of course, but your bag was already overflowing, and you couldn't fit it in there without crushing it. And that mental note you made to yourself to grab it was forgotten as you rushed out to start your hike on time. Aargh!
That’s why you need the best hiking backpack. It has to accommodate all the necessary items that you need for any hike you plan. With so many choices out there, you need solid information, and we've got it. If you have enough information at your fingertips, you can narrow down your search and have the perfect backpack just in time for your next big or small adventure.
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Answers to Your Best Hiking Backpack Questions
You may have questions on how to start shopping for the best hiking backpack. Here are a few answers to common questions that people tend to ask.
What exactly is a backpack?
A backpack is, technically, any bag that you can wear on your back. However, backpacks for hiking have a variety of special features. Most of the weight of the backpack will actually be on your shoulders and hips, not your back.
What backpack designs are available?
There are four types of backpack designs for hiking, and these determine how you can use these backpacks and when: frameless, internal frame, external frame, and body packs.
A frameless backpack is a simple bag that has shoulder straps attached to it. This bag adapts to your body’s contours and is lightweight. Besides that, it's also cheaper and smaller than other types of backpacks. It makes an excellent daypack for short hikes.
Internal frame and external frame backpacks
Framed backpacks are those that incorporate a frame that helps to redistribute the bag’s weight. Internal frame backpacks usually have a lightweight frame built within the main compartment of the pack. They improve the interior storage space and keep the backpack closer to your body. But since they sit right up against your body, you can get pretty sweaty. External frame backpacks, on the other hand, have visible and heavier frames outside the rucksack. They can attract lightning if metallic, but they have nice airflow and are a better option for redistributing heavier loads.
A body pack is a backpack that has multiple storage compartments, some of which are on your chest. Its weight distribution is on both the front and back of your body. The design enhances your balance and improves your posture when carrying heavy loads. Removing them is a challenge.
How to Choose the Best Hiking Backpack
For you to be able to choose the best hiking backpack, you need to look at the right criteria. Here are several factors that you should consider in that regard.
Fit and suspension system
The best hiking backpack is one that fits your body. If you want to buy a pack online, take the time to measure your torso length from behind and compare that to the dimensions of the bag. Online charts are available to show you whether the knapsack in question will suit your body size.
Additionally, be sure to look out for the design of the hip belt and shoulder straps. Some of the best hiking backpacks have a fixed suspension system, and you have to buy one that fits well because there is no room for changes. Adjustable suspension systems have an adjustable hip belt and shoulder straps for added comfort and a better fit.
Most rucksacks have sizes that range from 15 to 85 liters. If you like to hike and camp for several nights at any given time, then larger backpacks are preferable. Those lightweight bags that are 50 liters or less are much better options as daypacks.
Backpack frames can be aluminum, plastic, or composites. Sturdier structures accommodate more weight, and you need to decide whether you want external or internal frames. The latter is more stylish, stable, and compact. Or you can opt for frameless daypack bags because they're lightweight and have lower weight limits.
Take a look at the design of the bag. Do the shoulder straps have padding for added comfort for instance? Are there any pockets for additional storage? Women’s rucksacks also have design features that accommodate their wider hips and narrower shoulders, and brighter colors. Other backpacks have external attachments like bungees and loops for added functionality.
Pricing for the Best Hiking Backpack
The costs of the best hiking backpacks vary. Their prices range from $ to $$$ or more. In between, there are lots of choices that provide a balance between value and cost.
How We Reviewed
To find the best hiking backpack, we considered several factors including the framing, capacity, functionality, and other relevant design features. We also paid attention to the cost and customer reviews.
Our Favorite Hiking Backpacks
Here is our list of the best hiking backpacks for you. We chose varying design tastes, hiking and camping needs, as well as a wide range of budgets.
The best framed backpacks for longer hikes
If you're going on a multi-day trek or one that takes you far from home, you're going to need room for lots of essentials. These framed backpacks are ones to consider.
This internal frame rucksack has a 55-liter capacity. It’s suitable for hikes that last for two to four days. Because of its inner frame, it's stylish and compact despite its large capacity. The backpack also has an adjustable suspension system. Its waist belt can adjust from 26 to 60 inches while the torso length can adjust from 15 to 19.5 inches.
This internal frame pack has an open-cell foam lumbar padding that helps to enhance airflow and comfort, especially on your back. The knapsack includes features like bungee storage for easy access, a sleeping bag compartment, an integrated rain-fly for keeping your stuff dry, and multiple side pockets. All these increase the storage capacity of your bag. Besides that, this backpack comes with a limited lifetime warranty.
On Amazon, this backpack has a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars and costs $$ to $$. Customers love it because it's comfortable to use, has adequate space, and is sturdy. One outstanding complaint is that it’s not well suited to people with smaller frames. Also, some customers complain of defective backpacks with poor stitching.
This backpack has an internal frame. It has a capacity of 75 liters. But it also has a 5-liter extension collar for additional storage. The backpack is polyester which is tough and durable, and the bag has an exterior coating that's water repellant. It also has a waterproof cover and a rain-fly. All these features ensure that you can keep your things dry in the rain.
This backpack incorporates padded adjustable shoulder straps, multi-directional compression straps, open-cell foam lumbar support, and an adjustable waist belt. These help to enhance fit and comfort when you carry the rucksack. At the same time, this backpack includes multiple storage compartments and a sizeable sleeping-bag compartment. Also, the bag comes with a limited one-year warranty.
On Amazon, this backpack has a rating of 4.2 out of 5 stars and costs $ to $$. Customers love it because it provides a great value for the money, has lots of storage, and is comfortable to use. But some customers complain that the backpack is not sturdy enough, and many complain that the straps keep loosening.
This Military rucksack is 600D (denier) polyester. The material is sturdy, durable, and water-resistant. A rain cover has also been included to help keep the bag contents dry. The backpack has a 65-liter capacity, and the YKK zippers are robust, ensuring you can access your stuff comfortably.
Also, this rucksack incorporates (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) MOLLE webbing on which you can hang items including a sleeping bag, hiking pole, and tent. Besides that, the backpack has two detachable side pockets that can accommodate 1-liter bottles. Smaller side pockets also increase the storage capacity. Again, the top lid has pockets, and there is padding on the waist belt and chest straps for improved comfort.
On Amazon, this backpack has a rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars and costs $$ to $$. Customers love it because it's sturdy, has a large capacity, and is easy on the back. Nonetheless, some customers complain of shoulder straps that constantly loosen, poor quality materials, and the bag being too heavy.
This Osprey Knapsack is 210D nylon, which is strong, durable, and abrasion resistant. It has a 70-liter capacity, which makes it large and suitable for heavy-duty hiking and camping. The bag incorporates an anti-gravity suspension system that makes it lightweight.
There is also a LightWire internal frame, which is stylish and helps to enhance the compact design of this bag. Besides that, this backpack has an adjustable hip belt and shoulder harness for improved fit and added comfort.
On Amazon, this rucksack has a rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars and costs $$$ to $$$. Customers love it because it's water-resistant, provides easy access, and has adequate storage space. Nevertheless, some customers complain of a small top bag, ill-fitting and painful hip belt, and poorly-made shoulder straps.
The best framed and frame-less lightweight backpacks
If you're headed out for a few hours or even the day, a lightweight backpack is what you need. Whether you have a frame or not is up to you, but here are some quality packs that are worth a look.
This lightweight knapsack is frameless and has a 20-liter storage capacity. It’s therefore small and lightweight enough to carry one day’s worth of gear for shorter hikes. It’s high-quality nylon material, which is abrasion-resistant and durable, but it's not for rugged use. The bag has a waterproof coating to help keep its contents dry, and its mesh shoulder straps are breathable and adjustable.
This bag is reinforced in 31 different places using the Bartack process. This reinforcement enables it to withstand wear and tear better when you need to fold it into a compact sandwich-sized pouch for easy storage. Despite its small size, the daypack has multiple zippered and mesh pockets for additional storage and easy organization.
On Amazon, this daypack has a rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars and costs $ to $. Customers love it because it's sturdy and durable, affordable, and water resistant. However, some customers complain of defective bags that have poor stitching and unraveled soon after purchase.
This lightweight rucksack has a 35-liter capacity. It incorporates a foldable stowaway design that enables you to zip it into its compact inner pocket. You can then store it conveniently. Additionally, the daypack is Diamond Ripstop Nylon. The material makes it sturdy and water resistant. Also, the metal zippers are robust, durable, and provide easy access.
Furthermore, the bag has shoulder straps that have breathable padded foam for enhanced comfort. Its chest straps are adjustable to improve fit and comfort. In total, this backpack has 11 pockets to increase storage space and organization and has a built-in charging cable and an external USB port. There is a 100 percent risk-free guarantee that comes with this rucksack.
On Amazon, this backpack has a rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars and costs $ to $. Customers love it because it has a high quality, is lightweight, and comes with a USB charging port. But some people complain it’s smaller than expected and its USB port is impractical.
This knapsack is nylon, which is waterproof, lightweight, durable, and abrasion resistant. Also, it comes with a rain cover to keep your items dry and has a 40-liter capacity.
Furthermore, its storage compartments include side and hip pockets and a laptop compartment. These will enable you to organize your stuff. The backpack’s back is mesh and padded for breathability and added comfort. The shoulder straps are adjustable, and there's a whistle attached to its chest strap. This backpack comes with a 12-month satisfaction guarantee.
On Amazon, this bag has a rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars and costs $ to $. Customers love it because it's comfortable to use, is strong, and has lots of storage. Nonetheless, customers complain that it’s not as sturdy or waterproof as they expected.
This hiking rucksack has a 50-liter capacity, which makes it large enough for heavy-duty hiking. It consists of nylon and polyester which are water-resistant, tough, anti-scratch, and durable. The metal zippers provide easy access. There is also a water-resistant cover that's included in the bottom pocket.
External straps ensure that you can hold additional items like a tent, sleeping bag, and trekking poles, etc. There is an adjustable suspension system for enhanced fit. The backpack’s ergonomic back ensures ease of use and minimal discomfort. Also, the rucksack has a removable external frame that helps redistribute weight. Additionally, this backpack comes with a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee.
On Amazon, this rucksack has a rating of 4.9 out of 5 and costs $$ to $$. Customers love it because it's made well and is adjustable, so it fits well and provides excellent value for the money.
Find the Best Hiking Backpacks
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However, if you want the best hiking backpack for shorter hikes, the Totalpac Lightweight Backpack for hiking is worth trying out. The best hiking backpack can make life on the hiking trails quite comfortable, so choose wisely.
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