CAMPING & HIKING

Best Hiking Backpack: Great Products for Your Next Trip

Hiking backpack review
Daniel Carraway
Written by Daniel Carraway

Anyone who loves to hike knows just how important it is to have the right gear. You can’t afford to be missing anything when you get where you’re going or along the way. That’s why you need the best hiking backpack you can find. There are a number of different factors that you should consider when you’re looking for your next hiking backpack.

The best backpack is one that is going to fit all of your needs and qualifications. You definitely want something that you’re not going to mind carrying along with you. Choosing the wrong backpack equals a disastrous trip filled with back pains, sore shoulders, or worse, unraveling seams. On the other hand, if you manage to purchase the right backpack, even the longest trips will not weigh you down.

Choose The Best Hiking Backpack

We created this article in order to give you a general idea on the options you currently have. There are so many different backpacks out there on the market after all. Doing a backpack research from scratch is definitely time-consuming. If you read this article, we promise that you’ll not only save time, but will also spare yourself a lot of trouble both during the research process and during your trip.

Our Top Picks

Product nameWeightDimensionsBest usePrice
TETON Sports Fox 5200 Backpack5.5 lbs34 x 16 x 13 inches,
200 cubic inches capacity/75+10 L
Long tripsCheck price on Amazon
NEW CUSCUS 75+10L 5400ci Hiking Backpack4.6 lbs30 x 15 x 12 inches,
5400 cubic inches capacity/75 L
Multi-day tripsCheck price on Amazon
Western Pack Hiking Backpack5.5 lbs28 x 14 x 9 inches,
5400 cubic inches capacity
Multi-day tripsCheck price on Amazon
High Peak Katmandu Backpack5.2 lbs26 x 13 x 4 inches,
6000 cubic inches/70+10 L
Moderate length tripsCheck price on Amazon
Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Backpack2.1 lbs23 x 18 x 5 inches,
2441 cubic inches/40 L
Short tripsCheck price on Amazon
Stansport "Willow" Frame Pack6.2 lbs27 x 14 x 3 inches, 4092 cubic inches/70 LLong tripsCheck price on Amazon
Granite Gear Crown VC 60 Backpack2.1 lbs29 x 15 x 5 inches, 3660 cubic inches/60 LModerate length tripsCheck price on Amazon
Granite Gear Crown VC 60 Backpack4.8 lbs31 x 17 x 6 inches,
2783 cubic inches/62 L
Multi-day tripsCheck price on Amazon

Things to consider before buying

So how do you choose and what should get the most weight when you’re considering the right hiking backpack? Well we’re here to help you figure all that out, and just in time for your next trip too.

Capacity

Make sure there’s room for everything you’re going to need and also to make sure that it’s going to be sturdy enough to hold up under any conditions and under the strain of anything and everything you want to put in it. No one wants a backpack that gives out on them, after all.

One of the first things you want to think about is how long you’re going to be gone for. If you’re just going out for the day you can get a lighter pack or a smaller one that’s not going to hold as much. You don’t want something large and bulky because there’s just no need for it.

Trying the Hiking Backpack

On the other hand, if you’re going on a long trip you want to make sure you have plenty of space in your pack for everything you’ll need and you want to make sure your pack is sturdy enough to hold everything without breaking.

Comfort

Next, consider your own comfort. This is where you’re going to need to try on a few different backpacks to see what works best for you. Some have a lot of structure in the form of metal bars that run the entire length of the bag, creating a more firm fit against the back.

For some, this is better because it helps with the balance but for others it can be very uncomfortable. You want to consider the different options for yourself to make sure that you get something sturdy but still comfortable for your needs.

Hiking backpack comfort

Another aspect of the comfort is how your backpack fits. Some have only shoulder straps while others may strap all the way around the waist as well.

These are designed to balance out the weight more evenly and ensure the backpack isn’t resting too much on one part of your back. It can be easier to walk with this type of pack because you don’t feel quite so much like you’re leaning forward or all the weight is in one spot. It also reduces back problems.

Ventilation

Some backpacks will have ventilation as well, which helps if you’re going to be hiking in areas that are warm or hiking for extended periods of time where you might get warm no matter what the conditions.

Hiking backpack ventilation

These bags have little openings that help let air in and out so that you don’t have to worry about the heat and sweat quite so much. You’ll be able to get some air flow through, which helps you feel more comfortable as you’re hiking and makes sure you don’t have problems with chaffing either.

Pockets

Next, consider the amount of pockets and type of pockets that you have available. Some bags are very simple and may only have one or two large pockets. Others may have a variety of pockets that are main pockets as well as side pockets.

Some may have netted pockets along with regular ones or padded sections or even insulated sections. You want to make sure that you’re looking at all the options and that you consider what you’re going to need to carry and just how you’re going to carry it. That’s going to affect the type of bag that you want.

Padding

Look at the type of padding that is (or isn’t) available on the bag as well. Are the shoulder straps padded? What about the back? You want something that’s going to give you ventilation but you also have to remember you’re going to be wearing this pack for a long time and you don’t want hard straps or your belongings rubbing against you while you do.

Backpack padding

You will want some type of padding, though the extent of that padding is going to be entirely up to you and your personal preference. Just make sure it fits well.

Style

You’re also going to want to look at the style of backpack. Different bags are made for different people with some designed with taller people in mind or youth or women or men. Just because it’s intended for one type of person doesn’t mean you can’t use it, but it does mean you want to try it on and make sure it’s going to fit you properly.

These bags have labels for a reason and that’s because the average man, woman, youth, etc. will find that it fits them better than other bags. That doesn’t mean it fits all men, for example, just on average. So make sure you consider these options but don’t consider them as your only option, just a suggestion.

Extras

Finally, check out the extras that are included. Some bags come with a sleeping bag compartment. Some have daypacks attached and some even have raincovers to keep your belongings dry no matter what the conditions are outside.

Different styles of backpacks

While these extras aren’t required, they can definitely be a nice benefit if you’re not sure where or when you’re going to be hiking. You don’t have to worry quite as much about how you’re going to keep your belongings safe, or where you’re going to store things. Just take a look at what’s included as an added bonus with your bag.

Best products on today’s market

We’ve gone through a variety of different hiking backpacks to create this list but remember there are plenty more options out there and you definitely shouldn’t ignore any of them until you’ve had a chance to take a look. The eight backpacks that we consider top of the line on today’s market are the following.

TETON Sports Fox 5200 BackpackTETON Sports Fox 5200 Internal Frame Backpack

Price: Approximately $80

Weight: 5.5 lbs

Dimensions: 34 x 16 x 13 inches, 5200 cubic inches capacity/75+10 L, adjustable torso from 15.5 – 23 inches

Specific features: Limited lifetime warranty, rain fly, compatible with hydration systems

Best use: Longer trips, large loads, need of more even distribution of weight

Available in two different color options, the TETON Sports FOX 5200 Backpack is an internal frame backpack with a number of different deep expansion pockets. It features an extensive strap system that allows you to balance the weight of your pack more evenly by attaching not only over the shoulders but across the chest and around the hips as well, which allows it (and you) to hold plenty of weight.

Moderately priced, this pack comes with a limited lifetime warranty as well. The extra features, like the adjustable torso length to fit more people, the specially designed pockets for things like maps, sleeping bags and more and the slim form make it easy to use this backpack for any trip you want to take. Not to mention the attached rain fly helps you keep walking even in less than ideal weather.

PROS:

  • Has a large capacity with lots of deep pockets
  • Lot of useful extra features
  • Great customer service
  • Very affordable for its functionality

CONS:

  • Not very durable especially the seams
  • Not very waterproof

Related: TETON sells a wide range of different packs that are smaller than this one, ranging from the 2700 cubic inch TETON Sports Talus 2700 Backpack to the 5200 cubic inch TETON Sports Mountain Adventurer4000 Backpack. Each of these is also lighter and intended for a smaller range.

Check the price on Amazon

NEW CUSCUS 75+10L 5400ci Hiking BackpackNEW CUSCUS 7510L 5400ci

Price: Approximately $50

Weight: 4.6 lbs

Dimensions: 30 x 15 x 12 inches, 5400 cubic inches capacity/75 L, adjustable torso from 15 – 21.5 inches

Specific features: Separate sleeping bag compartment, PVC coated, extra webbing, multi-strap, heavy padding

Best use: Large loads, more firm structure, multi-day trips

The New CUSCUS 75+10L 5400ci Hiking Backpack is a more structured pack with a strong internal frame that’s still flexible at the same time. This pack has several separate compartments that give it somewhat of a stacked appearance, but it’s definitely designed for comfort with heavily padded straps and panels throughout.

It has pockets for all of your small items like a compass and maps as well as pockets on the outside for water bottles, to make it much easier to reach them. In fact, it has 8 separate pockets and a separate section for your sleeping bag as well. With the PVC coating you’re going to have no problem wearing it out in the wet weather. It also has a special cover for the top of the pack to keep it even more protected.

PROS:

  • Very affordable price
  • Plenty of space
  • Straps are fairly comfortable

CONS:

  • May need some extra water protection
  • Not very durable

Related: If you’re looking for a backpack that is just as big and cheap but is better protected against water, consider purchasing the WASING 55L Internal Frame Backpack instead. It is available for approximately $50.

Check the price on Amazon

Western Pack Hiking BackpackWestern Pack Hiking Backpack

Price: Approximately $50

Weight: 5.5 lbs

Dimensions: 28 x 14 x 9 inches, 5400 cubic inches capacity

Specific features: PVC backing, turtle shell padding, heavy duty straps

Best use: Inexpensive pack, large loads, multi-day trips

For anyone who’s looking for a no-nonsense type of bag that they can easily pack enough in to go on longer trips then the Western Pack Hiking Backpack is definitely it. It’s designed to hold just about everything you could possibly need and it’s ready for you to head out for several days.

Not only that but it’s designed to be comfortable and tough enough so the straps are thick but still padded and comfortable and the back is padded as well. Made with polyester this is an inexpensive bag and it’s going to give you plenty of benefits, though not a lot of extra features.

You won’t have any problem finding a place for whatever you want to take, even though there are only a few pockets each one of them is plenty large enough for your stuff.

PROS:

  • Great value for money
  • The available pockets are deep and spacious
  • Thick padding around the straps

CONS:

  • Could use a few more additional pockets

Related: In case you are looking for a similarly priced backpack that offers more extra features, consider purchasing Drago Gear Tracker Backpack. This backpack is smaller than the Western Pack Hiking Backpack, but has plenty of pockets to hold everything you need.

Check the price on Amazon

High Peak Katmandu BackpackHigh Peak Katmandu

Price: Approximately $100

Weight: 5.2 lbs

Dimensions: 26 x 13 x 4 inches, 6000 cubic inches/70+10 L

Specific features: Detachable extras, compatible with hydration systems, compression system

Best use: More balanced load, more pockets

The High Peak Katmandu Backpack is a reasonably priced option. Right around $100, that will give you a wide range of features. It has a divided main pocket, specialty pockets and holders and even a raincover all included.

Not only that but you have a detachable fanny pack that will also stay connected to the pack and it’s set up to include your hydration system.

The entire thing is water resistant and designed to latch firmly around the chest and hips. It also compresses everything inside easily to make sure it’s centered properly on your back and to make it easier to carry. Lightweight, it’s still able to carry a large amount of your stuff without sacrificing your comfort at the same time because it’s also highly padded anywhere it comes into contact with you.

PROS:

  • Very comfortable to carry
  • Good design-wise
  • Good balance
  • Durable
  • Water-resistant – the rain fly works wonders

CONS:

  • On the expensive side
  • Capacity is average

Related:  The TETON Sports Explorer 4000 Backpack offers similar capacity, durability, and value for money as the High Peak Katmandu. Which one suits you better depends on your preference. TETON is the more well-known company, but if you’re looking for a backpack that offers you a balanced load, the Katmandu it is.

Check the price on Amazon

Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 BackpackHyperlite Mountain Gear 2400

Price: Approximately $300

Weight: 2.1 lbs

Dimensions: 23 x 18 x 5 inches, 2441 cubic inches/40 L

Specific features: Multi-strap system, compatible with hydration systems

Best use: Short trips, not a lot of gear, basic needs, lightweight

This bag may not look like anything special but it definitely has some good capabilities. The Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Backpack is not as large as many of the others, which means you’re not going to go on really long trips but you will be able to hold a decent amount.

There’s one large pocket and a couple netted pockets on this one and its very lightweight so all the weight you’re carrying is your own stuff. Not only that but it’s extremely durable despite the light weight and it has a sleeve inside to use with your hydration system.

That way you never have to worry about stopping to get a drink. With side compression straps to keep it tight and zippered pockets for smaller items, you’re going to be able to easily find a place for everything you want to take. It is a little more expensive however at around $300.

PROS:

  • Very lightweight
  • Durable
  • Great design

CONS:

  • Expensive
  • Does not have a large capacity
  • Does not have many extra features
  • Pockets are few and far between

Related: For a similarly-designed bag that comes from the same company but with a larger capacity, you can purchase the Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Windrider Backpack. It’s only around $40 more expensive. You should be able to take this one on long trips.

Check the price on Amazon

Stansport “Willow” Frame Pack
Stansport Willow Internal Frame Pack

Price: Approximately $50

Weight: 6.2 lbs

Dimensions: 27 x 14 x 3 inches, 4092 cubic inches/70 L

Specific features: Back padding and ventilation, one year warranty, abrasion resistant fabric

Best use: Longer trips, larger load needed, compression needed

Priced at right around $50, the Stansport “Willow” Frame Pack is one of the least expensive backpacks you’ll find while still getting a lot of great benefits. It’s large enough to hold everything you need and also has comfortable straps and an aluminum frame to keep it sturdy.

There are zippered pockets, specialty pockets and a whole lot of padding. It’s a little heavier than most packs you’ve probably looked at but you will be able to carry it easily enough even for longer trips.

Not only that but you can easily adjust it to work for younger users or older ones without any problems. All you need is careful packing to make sure nothing gets lost somewhere in the bottom of the bag.

PROS:

  • Inexpensive
  • Adjustable frame makes this bag very versatile
  • Sufficiently large capacity

CONS:

  • Comfortable straps, but they snap easily
  • On the heavy side

Related: If you’re worried about the straps of Stansport “Willow” breaking apart during your trip and would like a more durable option that is available at approximately the same price, you can consider Mountaintop 70L+10L Hiking Backpack as a great alternative. The straps may not be as comfortable, but they are more durable.

Check the price on Amazon

Granite Gear Crown VC 60 BackpackGranite Gear Crown VC 60 Backpack

Price: $200 – $650

Weight: 2.1 lbs

Dimensions: 29 x 15 x 5 inches, 3660 cubic inches/60 L, Adjustable torso from 18 – 21 inches

Specific features: Available in regular and long size, offers interchangeable belts, compatible with hydration systems

Best use: Moderate length trips, large load capacity needed, comfort important

Available in three different colors as well as two different sizes, the Granite Gear Crown VC 60 has hydration ports and a sleeve as well as overflow crossover straps to make sure you stay comfortable. There is also an interchangeable belt and the entire bag compresses so you can pack more in a smaller amount of space.

What’s even better is that it holds a decent amount of gear while being very lightweight and it’s made with plenty of ventilation through the back, making sure you get a lot of air and don’t get overheated, no matter how long you’re gone.

PROS:

  • Many pockets and extra features
  • Very lightweight
  • Great ventilation and comfortable straps
  • The hip belt is a handy addition

CONS:

  • Expensive
  • Non-adjustable frame
  • Not many color and size options

Related: If you have lots of smaller tools that you’d like to put in a separate place from your backpack so that it would be easier for you to find them later, you can purchase this Granite Gear One Size Line Loc Lid as an addition to the Granite Gear Crown VC 60 Backpack. At around $40, it’s a bit expensive, but it can also be converted into a hip pack, so it’s quite versatile.

Check the price on Amazon

Osprey Men’s Atmos 65 AG BackpackOsprey Mens Atmos 65 AG Backpacks

Price: $200 – $400

Weight: 4.8 lbs

Dimensions: 31 x 17 x 6 inches, 2783 cubic inches/62 L (depending on size selected)

Specific features: Floating top, internal compression, removable sleeping pad straps, compatible with hydration systems, available in various sizes

Best use: Better fitting pack, large load, compression

Choose from three different colors and three different sizes with the Osprey Men’s Atmos 65. With several pockets and a compression feature to make sure all of your belongings fit easily, you will get a removable floating top lid, moderate weight pack and removable sleeping pad straps altogether.

Not only that but it’s designed to fit comfortably with the flow of your back and provide you hydration on the go. Easy to pack you can also use the Fit-on-the-Fly belt around the hips to add more balance as you walk.

PROS:

  • Very comfortable to carry
  • Very durable
  • Great balance
  • Great capacity with many extra pockets

CONS:

  • On the expensive side
  • A bit heavy

Related: Keeping the water out of your backpack is one of the major concerns when in the wild. The Osprey UltraLight Raincover should keep your backpack dry while keeping the weight to a minimum. It even comes with its own carrying case.

Check the price on Amazon

Wrap Up

These backpacks have made it to the list as our favorites because they seem to combine a little bit of everything. You get the look and style that you really need and you’re going to get some added features as well.

No matter what hiking backpack you buy, you want to make sure it’s going to work for you. So don’t worry about what other people have said about the bag or what bag others say you should get. Choose one that fits what you want and what you need for your next trip.

Hike backpack

Take a look at the options discussed above as they’re the ones we consider to be the best. However there are definitely plenty more where these came from so take a look around and let us know which hiking backpack you have that you can’t live without. Does it have all the necessary features? Why do you like it that much? The comment section is down below.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Daniel Carraway
Daniel Carraway

Daniel Carraway joined our team last year. He is a gear freak when it comes to hiking, climbing and camping. He went to REI Outdoor School to meet new people and learn best practices. Don’t even try to argue with him about the latest backpack or ice axe, he tried most of them. Daniel’s dream is to climb Mount Everest.

  • John L. Streik

    For general hiking, I would just go with an Osprey. It will cost you a bit (more expensive than the other backpacks), but they are really nice. It has also a very supportive, awesome pivoting waist belt. I am using it for about 2 years now and never had a problem.

  • Daniel Carraway

    Same here John. Osprey is one the most trusted brands today and durable, too. You get what you paid for and more. I also love that it looked great, too.

  • Patrick Calhoun

    I’ve heard about the High Peak Katmandu before when my friend packed for a camping trip. I’d like to give it as a present to someone but I’ve heard it is more recommended for guys and not the best fit for women. Though, it fits well for shorter people. Nonetheless, it is a very well-made pack for a good price.

  • Daniel Carraway

    I believe the High Peak Katmandu is suited for both men and women. The well padded body sits comfortably on our backs and is quite easy on the body. I have a cousin who loves the Katmandu and she’s a girl. 🙂
    It also might be a matter of preference but I know it works for most people – short, tall or any gender.

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