Choosing the best hiking backpack is an important decision in keeping you comfortable on the trail. There are so many factors to consider when choosing a pack, but the big questions to consider are how the pack fits on your body, your taste in features, and your hiking style.
While there is no one size fits all when it comes to backpacks for hiking, there are some general guidelines to follow that will make your search so much easier. This guide will outline the best hiking backpacks on the market, and how to choose the right one for you.
Best Hiking Backpacks in 2021 (Detailed Buying Guide)
How to Choose a Hiking Backpack
The size of your backpack will depend on what kind of hiking you’ll be doing and the length of your trek. If you plan on doing any challenging or overnight treks, then the size of your backpack should correspond to how much gear you’ll need to bring.
Backpack sizes are classified in liters and generally range from small 30L daypacks to 80-85L at the largest. If you’re not sure what size of backpack to buy, then feel free to call your local outdoor gear store and quiz them up.
Sometimes you need just a little bit of extra room. Making sure that your chosen backpack comes with an expansion option will go a long way to making sure all of your gear fits in your pack.
Hiking backpacks come with a million features these days. Features to consider include pocket location, strap adjustments, what fabrics the backpack is made from, zippers vs velcro, hipbelts, and water bottle pockets.
How the hiking backpack distributes the load on your body means everything when it comes to keeping you comfortable on the trail. If you’re unsure of how your top backpack choices distribute the load, then go to your local outdoor outfitting store and try on a few backpacks. The brunt of the load should sit on your hips, not your shoulders.
Before you choose a backpack, always make sure that the one you’re looking at has a great ventilation system. Look at the back panel of the pack, as well as the straps, and make sure that they incorporate mesh.
Best Backpack Brands
Osprey is a top name in travel backpacks. In choosing an Osprey backpack, you can shop by activity type, fit, and accessories. Their gear can be found at any outdoor gear store, including amazon.
Plus, they have a great repair and return system.
Gregory is not only known for their quality backpacks, but they’re also known for their top-notch luggage as a whole. Gregory is dedicated to making sure their customers love their packs, and have plenty of articles regarding pack care, fit, and repair.
Offering backpacks that will take you from the trail to the city, Lowe Alpine is a trusted brand of packs. Not to mention, they have packs specific to different activities, including mountaineering packs and trekking packs.
With a product selection ranging from backpacks to sleeping bags, and beyond, Deuter is a great one-stop-shop for all your outdoor gear. They have some of the most durable packs on the market, and their advice blog on their website is great for further hiking research.
Not only is REI an outlet for all the best backpacking brands, but they also make quality packs themselves. If you’re at all unsure about backpack sizing or fit, then make a stop into your local REI a priority – their team will be a great resource for you.
Mystery Ranch is the ultimate in durable packs made for extreme activities. While their packs are great for trekking, they also make packs specifically for hunting and military purposes.
Read more: The Best Cameras for Hiking and Backpacking
Best Trekking and Backpacking Packs
Gregory Baltoro 75L
A backpack for the serious multi-day hikers, the Gregory Baltoro 75L comes with all the bells and whistles for a comfortable overnight hike.
The pack features A3 suspension that adjusts to your body, an adaptable hipbelt and shoulder harness, lower back support, a rain cover, a weather-resistant hipbelt, and plenty of storage space. If you’re at all concerned about comfort and making sure your pack fits your body, then this highly adjustable pack is for you.
TETON Sports Scout 3400
A highly rated backpack, the TETON Sports Scout 3400 is an internal-frame backpack that’s adjustable for a wide range of body sizes. The pack features 55L of space, lumbar support pads, multi-position torso adjustments, a sleeping bag compartment, and even compression straps.
This is an affordable option that will allow you to strategically pack your gear into one sharp-looking pack.
Best Waterproof Hiking Backpacks
Venture Pal 40L
Whether you’ll be wading through ravines or just don’t want to get caught in a storm with your gear exposed, the Venture Pal 40L Waterproof daypack will fit the bill. Not only is this backpack an affordable option, it’s packable, made of water-resistant nylon, features durable zippers, and has breathable mesh shoulder straps.
For added water resistance, this pack also comes with a waterproof wet pocket in the main compartment so you can separate any wet items from your dry ones.
AIRSSON Waterproof 40L
Another ultralight waterproof backpack, the AIRSSON 40L is made with waterproof nylon, has abrasion-resistant zippers, and features sweat-absorbing shoulder straps for comfort.
This backpack also has multiple compartments for the ultimate organization – including a security pocket for valuables, and external straps and knots.
Best Small Backpacks
Mubasel Gear Insulated Hydration Backpack
The Mubasel Gear Insulated Hydration Backpack is a great small backpack that has a built-in 2 Liter hydration bladder. The bladder comes insulated, keeping your water cold for up to 4 hours, and is leakproof so you never have to worry about your other items getting wet.
Not only that, the backpack is lightweight, has a ventilation system, and features three main storage compartments.
Osprey Packs Daylite Daypack
A simple daypack with tons of features, the Osprey Daylite is perfect as a standalone pack or as an attachment to a larger Osprey hiking backpack. The pack features mesh pocks, mesh ventilating shoulder straps, a laptop pocket, and slotted foam back panel.
It also comes with an external hydration pocket.
Osprey Sirrus 24
You can always trust Osprey to come out with some seriously stylish backpacks, and the Osprey Sirrus 24 is no exception. This trusty little pack has a fit specific to women and features easily-accessible organization pockets.
Plus, the pack has panel-loading compartments and it comes with a rain cover.
Mystery Ranch Urban Assault 21
If you describe your style as being rustic with a clean military-esque look, then the whole Mystery Ranch brand is for you Mystery Ranch Urban Assault 21 is a particularly sharp backpack that features a fixed harness, multiple sizes for body size, and a laptop sleeve.
Hiking Gear Essentials
Hiking Poles: If you plan on trekking over any rough terrain or through streams, then hiking poles will save your knees. This pair of hiking poles should do the trick.
Hiking Boots: Choosing the best hiking shoes or boots for your trip will be the ultimate test of a good time on the trails. I love these hiking shoes from Oboz, but just be sure to break them in before you hit the trails.