best hiking backpacks

10 Best Hiking Backpacks

Do you know what the most important tool in your arsenal for hiking is? It isn’t your shoes, clothes, camping gear or walking sticks; it is your backpack.

You see your hiking backpack is your life line. It has to hold everything you will need during your trip. There has to be enough room for your tents, clothes, first-aid kit, food, and basically everything you will need to bring.

Without a proper hiking backpack, you run the risk of having to leave something valuable behind.

Having a proper hiking backpack is more than what you can stuff into it. You have to think about comfort as well. When you are picking out a hiking backpack, it is best to try it on. See how the straps feel.

You don’t want a backpack riding too low on your back as it adds pressure to your shoulders. You also don’t want one that is too high as it will cause your lower back to strain. You want one as Goldie Locks puts “Just Right.”

Check out the ten best hiking backpacks.

Things to Consider When Buying a Hiking Backpack

There are essentially 4 rules that you need to follow when you are picking out your sack. If any of these rules are broken, you run the risk of injuring yourself during your hike. So be careful and pick the sack accordingly.

Rule #1: Your sack must match the length of your torso.

When you go to pick out a hiking backpack you may think that bigger is better. After all, you will be able to fit a lot more into the sack that you normally wouldn’t. But in the case of getting the “right one,” you need one that fits your body shape.

If you get one that is bigger than your torso and you slip on the trail, the sack will take you down. If you buy one that is too short you run the risk of straining your muscles. So pick out a sack that is suited to your body type.

Rule #2: Pack according to where you are going.

When it comes to picking out the right hiking backpack you need to take into consideration the weight you are lugging around. You don’t want to buy a backpack that is going to be too big for the items you want to bring. If you do, you will find yourself bogged down by the extra weight of the sack itself.

If you buy one that holds a lot of gear, be prepared for the extra weight. A rule of thumb when it comes to picking out the right backpack for your needs is to go by trip length.

If you happen to be going for a weekend get-a-way a pack that carries about 50 liters will suffice. If you are going on a trip that will last about a week, you will need a sack that can carry up to 80 liters. Of course, there are those who would go for weeks at a time and you will need a sack that can carry at about 70 liters.

Most importantly, don’t buy a hiking pack that you know you won’t be able to handle.

Sure the sack that holds 70 liters is great for long trips, but if you can’t handle the weight for extended periods of time you will hurt yourself.

Rule #3: Pick the right frame

There are three different types of frames you can choose from when picking out your hiking backpack. You have the internal, external and frameless.

You will find that with the internal frame backpacks will hug your body and keep you stable on uneven terrain. This kind of backpack is best for those who are going the distance. These are especially useful to those who are in shape and can handle the weight.

The external frame hiking backpacks are designed to help shoulder some of the weight. If you are going on a long trip and are carrying your tent, kayak, food, etc you need to look into getting one of these to help you tackle the load that you will need to bring with you.

Last, you have the choice of the frameless sack. These are typically used for day trips that don’t require a lot of gear to be brought. The last thing you want is a frameless backpack to carry a tent, food, clothes, first aid and everything else. You will quickly find yourself weighed down.

Granted, the frameless sack is perfect for those who like to travel light and hiking fast. You will find a lot of the frameless sacks are actually framed sacks where you can remove the frame to save on weight.

Rule #4: Comfort and Access

When you are picking out your hiking backpack it is important for you to find one that offers proper ventilation. You will need a backpack that offers these “chimneys” in order to stay cool. If you find that your sack doesn’t have any of them you risk overheating.

You will also need a hiking backpack that offers plenty of access to your gear. The last thing you want is to sprain your ankle and have to dig to get to your first aid kit. You need a pack that allows you top-loading openings, side panel access, pockets and attachment points so that all of your gear is easily located during your hike.

Failure to have a sack that offers these access points could be the difference between life and death in the backcountry.

Top 10 Hiking Backpacks

Now that you have an idea of what you need to look for when getting a hiking backpack, here is the list of the Top 10 Hiking Backpacks.

1. Makino 60L

The Makino hiking backpack offers all the bells and whistles one could want for a long journey. Here you will find a pack that offers several access points to easily get to your gear. It comes with hip-belt pockets, top pockets, and side pockets in strategic placement so that you can get to your stuff quickly and easily. It also has a separate compartment to stash your sleeping bag.  Plus it offers a rain cover in case you get stuck in wet situations.

You will find that the Makino comes with an internal frame to help you carry the brunt of the weight. With the Makino hiking backpack, you can easily carry up to 60 liters or about 60 pounds of gear. You won’t get overheated with the Makino hiking pack as it comes standard with breathable mesh in the back area. Comfort is also not an issue with the cushioned shoulder straps.

You will find that the Makino is contoured to fit your body type. It can also be easily adjusted and makes for the perfect hiking backpack for the first time hiker.

The Makino is best used for adventures that are 2-4 days long.

Features I like:

  • Breathable mesh to keep you cool
  • Internal Frame to help carry the weight
  • Waterproof material
  • Plenty of storage space
  • Extra compartment for sleeping bag
  • There is a place for everything including a laptop
  • Evenly distributes the weight
  • Comes with a strap for waist to keep the sack snug to the body.
  • Promotes air circulation

2. Mountaintop Hiking Backpack

If you are looking for a simple day pack then look no further than the Mountaintop Hiking Backpack. This nifty sack can carry about 30 to 40 liters making light weight for the easy day trips.

You will find that the Mountaintop Hiking Backpack offers plenty of storage space for your gear with ample access points. While it doesn’t offer a lot, you can easily separate your gear into the different compartments to locate what you need easily.

The Mountaintop offers side mesh pockets, two front pockets, and main zipper pouch.

When it comes to ventilation, this little backpack offers you the best you can get. The ventilation system consists of the airstrip system that moves the hot air up and away from your body to keep you cool during the hot days.

This pack isn’t intended to be used for extended trips. If you are looking for something to load up gear for the day, then this will suffice.

Features I like:

  • The airstrip system. This backpack is designed to keep you cool.
  • comes with a reflective stripe
  • is small and compact allowing you to carry up to 40 liters
  • Comes in a variety of colors
  • Perfect for hiking on light, even trails
  • Comes with mesh shoulder straps
  • Lightweight
  • Cushioned Straps
  • Water Resistant

3. Venture Pal Lightweight

The Venture Pal is another great hiking backpack that is perfect for day or weekend camping trips. It can hold up to about 35 liters and comes with enough compartments to keep your stuff separated. This pack offers you one main front compartment, two smaller front pockets, and two side compartments.

You will find that the Venture Pal offers you plenty of ventilation to keep you cool on hot days. It also comes with mesh shoulder straps and sponge padding. You can also adjust the shoulder straps according to your height for maximum comfort.

The Venture Pal is super lightweight coming in at only 0.07 pounds but can hold so much. Plus when you are done with it, you can fold it up on itself.

Features I like:

  • Easy to store when not in use
  • Great for everyday use, not just for hiking
  • Breathable and lightweight
  • Offers Multi compartments to keep things separated
  • Constructed with water resistant material
  • Comes with double layer bottom
  • Comes with a chest strap that allows the pack to fit snug
  • Adjustable straps
  • Machine washable

4. Teton Sports Scout 3400

Looking for something that will take you further than a two-day trip? Then you should be looking at the Teton Sports Scout 3400 hiking backpack. This backpack offers you the support you need to carry your gear to any destination.

The Teton Sports Scout 3400 comes with mesh lumbar support so that you won’t feel the stress in your lower back as you climb over the rocky or flat terrain. Plus it comes with internal frame support that keeps the weight evenly distributed so you won’t get easily bogged down.

With the Teton Sports Scout 3400, you can easily adjust the hip, chest, shoulders and torso straps to keep the pack snug and secure. Plus the open cell foam lumbar pad with molded channels helps keep you cool while hiking.

Space is not an issue when it comes to this backpack. It even comes with a separate compartment for loading your sleeping bag. Plus it comes with side pockets, bungee holsters, top compartment, bottom zipper and front pocket. When it comes to space and comfort, this pack has it all.

The Teton Sports Scout 3400 is perfect for those trips that last about 3 to four days.

Features I like:

  • Easy access
  • Adjustable straps to contour to the body
  • Separate compartment for sleeping bag
  • Lumbar support
  • Strong and durable buckles
  • Water resistant fabric
  • Internal Frame can be reshaped to fit your body
  • Padded shoulder straps
  • Water resistant fabric
  • Perfect for men, women, and youth
  • Multi-directional compression straps

5. Wasing 55L

The Wasing hiking backpack maybe just what you need for your weekend adventure. This backpack can hold up to 55 liters and offers you the storage space you need while keeping everything separate.

You will find that with the Wasing internal frame, your gear will be easy to carry no matter if you are hiking up the side of a mountain or on flat terrain. The weight will be distributed evenly giving you a comfortable hiking experience. Plus the aluminum frame is easily adjustable and bendable to suit your back.

With the Wasing, you will find access to your gear on just about any angle. You have side pockets, a bottom zipper, top main compartment and middle zipper that allows you easy access to everything you have packed.

The rip-stop polyester fabric is very breathable. You will find that the molded foam back panel channels the air around the sack to keep you dry.

This pack is perfect for long extended trips into the backcountry.

Features I like:

  • Water resistant polyester.
  • Adjustable internal frame
  • Molded foam
  • Airflow channels to stay dry
  • Bottom zipper for easy access
  • Drawstrings to expand the backpack
  • Trekking pole attachment
  • Emergency whistle
  • Comes with a bladder sleeve

6. One Pack

You ready to go the distance? The OnePack is the only pack you will ever need to take you to the far reaches of the world. With OnePack you will find that you have everything you could ever need well within your reach.

The OnePack comes with more than enough space. You will find that the OnePack comes with the main compartment, two front pockets, a sleeping bag compartment, and side mesh pockets. This backpack is spacious enough for you to load up a tent, cooking gear and blanket while still keeping everything separated and organized.

You will find that the OnePack is comfortable with its breathable mesh straps and sponge padding. It also comes with a molded foam back panel allowing air to flow freely through the sack keeping you dry. The brunt of the weight rests on the aluminum frame bar that is easily adjusted to fit your back.

The OnePack really is the only pack you will need for extended trips to weekend get-a-ways. Load everything you need without compromising on necessities.

Features I like:

  • Suited for male or female hikers
  • Comes in a variety of colors
  • Adjustable to fit body shape
  • Comfortable padded straps
  • Plenty of storage space
  • Easy to access gear
  • Waterproof rain cover
  • Durable material
  • Great for any outdoor activity
  • Adjustable check and waist belt

7. Cbike Hiking Backpack

The Cbike Hiking Backpack makes a great choice for when you are hitting the trail for a short period. You can load enough gear to get you through the long weekend.

This little sack offers plenty of storage space with its two front pockets, main pouch, hidden pouch, and two side pockets. You can easily keep everything organized and separated with the installed sleeve that separates your items easily.

You will find that even though this hiking pack doesn’t offer any frame support, the weight is distributed evenly throughout the sack. You can also easily adjust the straps to allow the backpack to contour to your body. Plus the air system on the back panel keeps you dry while you are hiking to your destination.

You will also find that the backpack offers several straps that allow you to attach your sleeping bag, mat, hammock or other loose gear.

While you won’t be able to stay out too long with this backpack, it is perfectly designed for the light traveler looking to get away. Just don’t let the size fool you, as you can pack a lot of stuff in this 40-liter sack.

Features I like:

  • Rip and Water resistant material
  • Ample amount of storage space
  • Easy access to gear
  • Comfortable straps
  • Adjustable straps and waist clips
  • Molded foam back panel
  • Machine washable
  • Plenty of attachment points for pots and pans or other gear

8. Outdoor Master

The Outdoor Master offers you ample amount of storage space for your hiking trip with this 50-liter sack. You will have no issues getting to your gear through several access points. With the Outdoor Master, you have the main storage compartment, front pocket, side pockets, as well as a storage space for your laptop.

You will find that this comfortable hiking backpack offers breathable mesh backing. With thick back cushions, adjustable chest straps and waist straps the Outdoor Master contours to your body.

This backpack is perfect for day trips to long weekends. It doesn’t matter if the weather turns as this pack offers a waterproof rain cover.

Features I like:

  • Comfortable adjustable straps
  • Plenty of storage space
  • Waterproof cover
  • A place for a laptop
  • DWR Finish
  • Thick cushions
  • Comfortability
  • Multiple colors to pick from
  • Durable and sturdy

9. Teton Sports Explorer 4000

The Teton Sports Explorer 4000 with an internal frame offers 4,000 cubic inches of storage space. You can easily pack everything you need into this pack including a hydration bladder. With the Teton 4000, you have more compartments than you know what to do with.

This sack offers you six pockets, three mesh pouches, and gear loops that allow you to attach extra gear to the sack. Plus the sack comes with a sleeping bag compartment. The Explorer 4000 makes it easy to organize all your gear for optimal access during your hike.

You will be able to carry all your gear with comfort as the backpack offers you an adjustable aluminum frame without compromising the lumbar support. Plus you can adjust the torso, shoulder and hip straps to keep the sack snug and secure to your body.

The mesh padding allows for air to flow freely through the sack keeping you cool while providing you with comfort.

Features I like:

  • Contours to the back
  • Fits men and women
  • Holds 4,000 cubic inches of storage space
  • Offers open cell lumbar support
  • Constructed with rugged material
  • Plenty of pockets to keep things organized
  • Space for walking sticks
  • Extra space for sleeping bag
  • Hydration pouch that can hold up to 3 liters of water
  • Adjustable to fit your torso, shoulders, and waist

10. SunVP

Going hiking for a long period? The SunVP is the hiking backpack that you shouldn’t leave home without. The SunVP is constructed with high-quality nylon making this sack water resistant.

You will find that you can load up your gear in this 45-liter sack and hit the trail without leaving anything behind. The SunVP backpack offers you the support you need. Plus the weight is evenly distributed throughout the pack making your load a little less stressful. The SunVP offers two mesh side pockets, front pocket, the main compartment, and a small upper front pocket to keep all your gear separated.

The SunVP hiking backpack is well ventilated allowing you to stay dry during your hike. You will also find that the cushions offer you comfort no matter how much weight you add to this pack.

Features I like:

  • Plenty of space
  • Water resistant
  • Abrasion resistance
  • Lightweight
  • Air flow system to keep you cool
  • Fits men and women
  • Offers a sleeping bag compartment
  • Offers trekking pole attachments
  • Can easily attach tent, mat, and other items to bag

Best Picks:

When it comes to picking out the right backpack you need to think about where you are going and for how long. Out of the backpacks listed here, the best one for long trips would be the Teton 4000.

The Teton 4000 offers you more than enough storage space and comfort to keep you going the distance. Plus you will find that Teton is constructed with high-quality material that will take a licking and remain durable and ready for the next adventure.

When it comes to a day or weekend trip the lightest pack on this list would be the Venture Pal. The Venture Pal is suited to fit your adventure and keep your stuff organized and dry even if the weather turns bad.

Final Verdict

Remember that when you are picking out a backpack you want the sack to fit your torso and not your overall height. The best thing for you to do is get professionally fitted in a store for your backpack. If you just go to the store and pick out a sack you may find that it doesn’t fit you right.

However, if going to a store is out of the question, here are a few tips to help you size up your backpack.

When you are buying a hiking pack, make sure that the bulk of the sack is situated at the base of your neck to your hips. You don’t want something that is going to go over these points.

Most of the time pack sizes range from one extreme to another due to manufacturing and gender. The best thing you can do is check the label to get the right size according to your measurements.

Next, you need to understand that the majority of the weight should rest on your hips. Most people think that you should carry the weight on your back. But that will just cause you to strain your muscles.

To get your exact measurements you should tilt your head forward and feel for the bony part of your neck. This is the top of your torso. Now run your hands down to your hips and locate the two hip bones on your back. That will be the bottom of your torso. Have a friend or partner measure from the top of your torso to the bottom. That will be the length of your torso and what you need to measure your backpack to be.

Next, you should measure your hip just to make sure that your new pack can accommodate your size. For females, this is important since your body isn’t as squared off as guys.

To measure your hip, simply take a measuring tape around your hips where you found the boney parts of your hips. That will be your hip measurement.

Now, even with both measurements, it is important to adjust your sack according to those measurements and try to get it spot on. Make sure that you play with your straps and adjustments before you hit the trail. That way during your trip you will know what feels right and what doesn’t.

Just keep in mind that your pants measurement isn’t the same as your hip measurement. You don’t want the sack resting on your pant line. You want it resting on your hips which may be a few inches from your pants.


About Author

Neil Ferriss

Hey! I am Neil. Since I quit my job in 2015, I’ve traveled to several countries and have completed some thrilling items from my adventure bucket list. This blog is about sharing entertaining travel stories, useful travel tips and thrilling adventures with you from my non-stop adventure around the world.

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