What Makes The Best Hiking Backpack And Our Top Recommendations

What Makes The Best Hiking Backpack And Our Top Recommendations

Nothing battles the experience of heading off into nature with a backpack that includes just your essentials. Not only that it satisfies your thirst for adventure, but it also provokes you to overcome challenges.

This sport shows that when you put your mind to something, you can actually accomplish that. That is undeniably one of the best feelings in the world. Nonetheless, in order to head off to such adventures, you need to have the right equipment for the journey.

And selecting the best hiking backpack for your trips can be quite challenging. The wide selection of packs available on the market makes the decision-making process more daunting and confusing altogether.

That is why we made this article – so that you can use our experience and knowledge on the subject to make the right purchase!

Best Hiking Backpacks

Winner - TETON Sports Internal Frame Backpack

Teton Sports is known for producing top-of-the-line hiking backpacks, and this particular item demonstrates that.

Tailored for the light, minimalist backpacker, this internal frame backpack is meant to provide ultimate comfort while being on the affordable side.

We are fond of its sturdy construction, which matters a lot when you’re on the lookout for the best hiking backpack.

It features aluminum stays, padded shoulder and waist straps and lumbar support, so this pack’s design distributes the weight evenly. This way, you won’t have to deal with muscle strains after your backpacking excursions.

Three colors of TETON Sports Scout 3400 Internal Frame Backpack.

source: tetonsports.com

In other words, you won’t have to take a lot of breaks because you feel tired. When a pack isn’t comfortable, this might happen – we’ve all been there.

Another nice feature is the pack’s versatility. Both adults and children may use it, thanks to the height-adjustable shoulder straps. So, if you’re petite, this pack would be an appropriate option for you, considering that it can easily cater to a range of torso lengths.

On that note, youngsters, women, and smaller men will appreciate how this pack wears – even when the load is considerably heavy. And the best part about it is that larger men could wear this effortlessly, as well.

That being said, this backpack is a safe bet for people of different heights and weights.

On the whole, it is excellently built and quite durable. So, it will definitely not fall apart even during strenuous hiking trips. That means you’ll get plenty of use out of this backpack.

Even so, you should avoid overloading it, as this could significantly diminish its lifespan. As for the diamond ripstop shell, it is resistant to abrasions, which makes cleaning the pack rather simple – this is always a pro.

And, in worst case scenario, if you do have problems with the quality of the pack, you can depend on Teton Sports. The manufacturer will gladly assist you in repairing your backpack or providing you with a new one.

What is more, the design is quite smart, as well – the side mesh easily accommodates water and snacks, so that you have immediate access to them during the hike. As for the zippered pockets on the sides, they are ideal for items you want to protect.

Overall, for a pack with a 55-liter capacity and caliber, you would expect to pay more. That’s what makes the Teton Sports hiking backpack an attractive purchase. Its versatility, affordability, and smart design are additional pros.

Pros

  • The 55 liters of volume provide you plenty of space
  • Hydration compatible
  • The adjustable waist belt facilitates a secure fit
  • The waist and shoulder padding increases comfort
  • Versatile
  • Integrated rainfly

Cons

  • Weighing 4.5 lbs., this backpack is heavier than other items
  • The sleeping bag compartment is rather small
  • Tall individuals might find the pack a bit uncomfortable

Runner-up - Kelty Redwing 50 Backpack

Our second recommendation for the best hiking backpack is this one manufactured by Kelty. It is one the best-selling items in its category, being an excellent fit for both hiking and urban use.

To start with, this pack can be used during all four seasons, being fit for an extensive range of activities, such as cross-country skiing or short backpacking trips.

Regarding the suspension and construction system, the pack has a centrally positioned aluminum stay.

The torso length is fit for 15.5 inches to 21 inches. The high-density polyethylene (HDPE) frame is generously padded so that your comfort is increased.

The airflow channels are also worth noting. They allow the warm air to be dispersed, which is a nice detail. The same breathable material is used for the padding of the hip belt and harness.

Kelty Redwing 50 Backpack front side.

source: kelty.com

Moving on to the fitting, you can alter the torso length when the hiking backpack is on your back. For that purpose, you have two straps on each side.

This way, you can ensure that the Kelty 50 will perfectly fit your back, provided that you purchase it in the right size.

Simultaneously, we find that the addition of a hydration pack via a hydration sleeve is more than welcome. It makes it easy for you to stay hydrated during each hike, which is more than crucial.

Obviously, the variety of organizational pockets and loops allows you to categorize your items, making it easy for you to reach them.

On the whole, we could argue that this Kelty hiking backpack can do a little bit of everything. Unfortunately, though, this isn’t a waterproof backpack, which means it will get soaked unless you get a rain cover. You’ll have to invest in that separately since the backpack doesn’t come accompanied by one.

Plus, while this backpack is definitely durable, it isn’t suitable for rough, intense trips. So, if you’re looking for the best hiking backpack for rough terrain, you should choose another item.

Pros

  • Lightweight – 3.11 lbs.
  • Well-organized design
  • Durability
  • It has a reasonable price
  • Large panel opening
  • Efficient harness adjustment system

Cons

  • Larger than the standard carry-on size
  • No lockable zippers
  • Lack of easy access to the pockets along the hips
  • No rain cover

Alternative – WASING Internal Frame Hiking Backpack

The WASING Hiking Backpack could easily pass as the best lightweight hiking backpack. And, the best thing is that it will easily accommodate everything you might require for a short camping excursion, due to its 55-liter capacity.

We like that it has a multitude of pockets, which definitely come in handy if you like to keep your things organized. The design incorporates a bunch of straps, whose purpose is to ease the stress exercised by the weight load.

It is also durable and strong, which means you can take it on countless hiking trips without worrying that it will wear out due to frequent use.

Perhaps one of the main things we like about this backpack is that it is water resistant. When you’re hiking, you don’t want to worry that your stuff will eventually get soaked.

Therefore, this hiking backpack is made of water-resistant rip-top polyester. The material will prevent the water from penetrating into the bag and causing chaos.

We are also keen on the fact that the weight is distributed evenly. This is imperative since you want to direct all your focus and energy into hiking, as opposed to feeling tired due to carrying a heavy load.

You’ll be able to carry this for miles without feeling physically overwhelmed. Plus, the waist belt is just as long as to allow you to buckle it up, so that the weight is distributed evenly.

WASING 55L Internal Frame Backpack Hiking Backpacking

In the same respect, you may either tighten or loosen the multiple straps, in order to get the perfect fit. As you might expect of a high-quality item such as this one, the chest and shoulder straps are padded, which facilitates adequate air circulation along the back.

Nevertheless, the lack of appropriate padding in critical areas is definitely a drawback. At the same time, the torso length isn’t mentioned, which means you have to pick a guess when you’re choosing a size. And the worst thing about it is the poor suspension.

Overall, though, it is a decent candidate for the best waterproof hiking backpack, especially if you’re on a budget.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Attractive design
  • Surprisingly lightweight
  • Bonus rain cover
  • A lot of pockets

Cons

  • The torso length isn’t adjustable
  • The padding could be improved
  • No back support

Best Lightweight Hiking Backpacks

Winner – Osprey Daylite Plus Daypack

First and foremost, this backpack is genuinely lightweight. It is a surprisingly versatile daypack with a 20-liter capacity, which makes it ideal for short excursions.

Featuring a panel type design, the pack has front-top zippered entrance to the main compartment. In general, this kind of design is quite versatile. That’s because you can use it for numerous purposes, not just for hiking.

Right inside the main compartment, you’ll find a padded sleeve. You may use that either as a hydration system, or to accommodate your laptop, tablet, so on and so forth.

Additionally, the stretch front pockets offer plenty of extra space where you could place your clothing and other necessary stuff.

You’ll also get four additional pockets, namely two side stretch mesh pockets, a front zippered pocket for small items you might want to have at hand and two others inside.

What about the suspension system? Distinct from the products reviewed above, this backpack has a fixed harness, lacking an internal metal frame.

Nonetheless, considering the rather small size of the daypack, this isn’t a big issue; although having a frame can be helpful when you’re carrying a lot of equipment.

A minor complaint would be that the padding on the shoulders is quite minimal.

As for the hip belt, it is genuinely narrow, which would dramatically minimize its usefulness. Still, you may remove it, if you intend to use the backpack for any other reason.

Osprey Packs Daylite Plus Daypack, front side, red.

source: ospreyeurope.com

In summary, this Osprey hiking backpack is a reliable, high-quality tool, which is manufactured by a trustworthy brand. The fact that it’s versatile, durable, and has a nice price makes it a good purchase.

Still, if harness adjustability is important to you, we suggest you pick another item.

Pros

  • Reliable and durable
  • It is ultra lightweight – 1.2 lbs
  • Functional
  • Versatile

Cons

  • It doesn’t have an internal frame
  • No rain cover
  • Tiny, inefficient hip belt

Runner-up - JanSport Superbreak Backpack

An equally decent candidate for the best hiking backpack is this one by JanSport. Still, you should bear in mind that this is a design tailored for the minimalist hiker – makes sense, right?

The design is as basic as it can get, featuring a big carrying area and a front organizer pocket. That’s why we wouldn’t recommend this for extended hiking excursions since you won’t have enough space to accommodate all of your necessities.

JanSport Superbreak Backpack side view.

source: jansport.com

Moving on to the comfort level, we would say that this backpack is quite comfy. The shoulder straps are padded, just as the back panel, so that your back doesn’t hurt.

Still, you should note that the design doesn’t include a hip strap or anything of the kind – considering that we’re dealing with a pretty basic day pack.

What about toughness? Is this backpack durable or not so much? Yes, it is rather durable and tough, which means you’ll be using it for a few years to come.

And, of course, a major advantage to getting this backpack is that it is versatile. You can use it for numerous purposes since it is genuinely lightweight – weighing 0.7 lbs.

So, if you are typically fond of short hiking trips in favor of long ones, this minimalist JanSport hiking backpack might be a good alternative. Not to mention that you’ll be able to use it in different scenarios, as well. The price is also a good one.

Pros

  • Durable material
  • It is lightweight
  • Versatile
  • Functional design

Cons

  • It is too small for extended hiking trips
  • It doesn’t have compartments

Why Should You Choose Your Hiking Backpack Carefully?

Choosing the first backpack that crosses your path isn’t the right approach. Whether you are an inexperienced or expert hiker, having the best hiking backpack during your adventures is of utmost importance. That is why you should put a lot of thought into it.

Firstly, you should assess your hiking needs, to ensure that the hiking backpack you pick is suitable.

If you prefer going on day-trips only, then investing in the best large hiking backpack isn’t imperative. On the contrary, you should get the one that will accommodate the things you would need for your stay.

Additionally, backpacks come with various features and characteristics, and you be aware of them to make the best decision.

Simply put, having a reliable backpack with you on your adventures could either make your work easier or complicate it.

That is primarily why you shouldn’t make a hasty decision. Your pack will highly affect your performance level; if the fit, design or style isn’t right, you’ll feel constantly tired, not to mention that you’ll need to take a lot of breaks, which could be discouraging altogether.

On What To Pay Attention When Choosing Your Hiking Backpack

We’ve already established that a high-quality backpack is a crucial piece of equipment for every backpacker. No matter where you’re going, and the difficulty of the hike, you’ll need an excellent backpack to increase your chances of success.

That being said, we will outline the main characteristics that you should consider when you’re shopping for the best hiking backpack.

Capacity

The very first thing on your list of priorities when looking for a hiking backpack is definitely its capacity. Essentially, having a backpack that won’t accommodate everything you need is useless – right?

In order to gauge the capacity you’ll need, you should establish the length of your typical journeys.

Backpack compartments.

If you are an adept of weekend backpacking, and you prefer traveling only a couple of miles in the wilderness, a small pack might suffice. The ideal capacity for a few days ranges from 40 to 50 liters.

On the other side, if you’re planning a week-long excursion in a tougher terrain, you might need a backpack with a capacity of up to 80 liters. Evidently, you’ll need to pack much more stuff.

Additionally, if you prefer taking day-trips, a lightweight, minimalist backpack will do perfectly fine.

Frame Style

Considering that backpacking implies carrying a significant amount of gear with you, backpacks feature a strong, solid frame.

This element ensures the even distribution of the weight, to diminish fatigue. That being said, backpacks are separated into two major categories:

External Frame Packs

External frame packs are the original backpacking equipment; they are recommended for wide-open spaces. Still, they could be a tad too bulky when you’re trying to sneak through dense vegetation or rock crevices.

Nevertheless, external frame packs allow you to attach a lot of your equipment to the outside of the bag, which can be rather convenient. Plus, they tend to be more affordable than their counterparts.

Internal Frame Packs

Internal packs are built around a frame, which is incorporated in the pack. In other words, you won’t have access to the frame, unless you disassemble the pack.

These packs are preferred for big, heavy loads. And, when the fit is right, such a pack will perfectly match the contour of your back. The main purpose of the frame is to transfer the weight towards the center – namely the hip area.

That’s why most internal frame packs are equipped with an internal belt. Also, internal frame packs have a closer fitting than the external ones. That’s why they are preferred for activities such as skiing, climbing or when you require balance and good arm clearance.

Fit

It is compulsory for your backpack to fit you perfectly. Otherwise, you’ll feel widely uncomfortable and tired during the hike. While it’s true that most packs allow you to adjust the size as you please, these adjustments have their limits as well.

Two people with backpacks.

Ideally, you should measure your torso; if the measurement you’ve got is less than 15 inches, you should get an extra-small backpack, if it’s between 16-17 inches, a small one will do. As for 18 to 19-inch-long torsos, the medium might be a good fit, and if your torso is larger than 20 inches, you should definitely get a large pack.

Essentially, you should check the manufacturer’s sizing specifications, to ensure that the size is on point.

Design

The way in which a backpack is designed will either make it more difficult or easier for you to pack. For the most part, though, backpacks are built around a large compartment, which you can access via the top of the bag.

Nevertheless, other models feature additional medium and small sized pockets that offer you quick access to items you are likely to need. Obviously, different backpacks have distinct pocket shapes, sizes, and closure mechanisms. Hence, it pays off to take this aspect into consideration.

Weight

Moving on, a backpack’s weight could hold you down if it’s not chosen properly. We all know that backpacking can be tiring: wearing a significant load isn’t a piece of cake.

Therefore, you should definitely take the backpack’s weight into account if you don’t want to add unnecessary weight to your back.

Of course, the larger the backpack, the more it will weigh – that’s why you should be careful to select the backpack in the right size for your needs.

Material

Lastly, a backpack’s material is a reliable indicator of its durability. Concurrently, the material will indicate whether the backpack is waterproof or water resistant.

Evidently, having the best waterproof hiking backpack during your excursions could save you a lot of trouble.

The most popular materials used by manufacturers include rip-stop nylon, Cordura, pack-cloth nylon, and polyester. All of these are resistant to abrasions; to some extent or another.

Generally speaking, though, nylon and Cordura are more durable and resistant to wear than polyester, which is considerably cheaper.

Conclusion

We are confident that you found our hiking backpack reviews helpful. We have no hesitation whatsoever to recommend you getting one of the items mentioned in this buying guide.

Two people wearing TETON Sports Scout 3400 Internal Frame Backpack.

source: tetonsports.com

Now, it’s up to you to choose the best hiking backpack for your needs and specifications – since that’s what matters the most, at the end of the day.

Make sure you leave your thoughts and questions in the comment section. Until next time!

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