17 Best Hiking Backpacks of 2021 Reviewed & Compared

Are you looking for a new hiking backpack? After reviewing dozens, these are my top picks for the best hiking backpacks on the market today.
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Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced hiker, you know the importance of having the right gear. It very well could be the difference between a great time outdoors and one that’s just a regrettable outing. Of all the equipment you need, a great hiking backpack is one of the most important tools to have.

Sure, you can just take any old bag and stuff in all your hiking necessities before blazing the trails. But hiking backpacks offer more functionality and comfort suited to the activity, whether it’s a single-day outing or a multi-day adventure.

Choosing the right backpack can be overwhelming with several factors to consider, including weight, comfort, durability, and suspension. That’s why I’m here to help you narrow down your choices to only the best of the best.

Without any further ado, let’s dive into my top picks for the best hiking backpacks of 2021.

Hiking Backpack Reviews

Best Overall Hiking Backpack

1. Osprey Atmos AG 65/Aura AG 65

Osprey Atmos 65

The Osprey men’s Atmos AG 65 (or the women’s Aura AG 65) is my top pick for the best hiking backpack thanks to its durability and user-friendly features. Despite having different names, there aren’t any major differences between the two. Basically, the men’s version is designed to better fit a man’s frame, while the women’s backpack is more suited for a woman’s frame (for example, the Aura is meant to sit comfortably on a woman’s hips).

It’s a great day-hike or backpacking pack as it can store 65 liters and carry just over 40 pounds in equipment. This includes a sleeping bag and a 3L hydration bag, as they feature compartments for both.

For your comfort, the anti-gravity suspension distributes the load quite well, and a soft strap pad minimizes the strain on your shoulders. Tackle the trails without dripping back sweat thanks to a well-ventilated back panel that works wonders in the warmest weather. Your equipment also won’t get wet as the FlapJacket serves as protection during lidless use.

In addition to its excellent design, the Osprey AG 65 is also super practical for hiking, thanks to having nearly a dozen large pockets. With these, you can bring sunscreen, a compass, a flashlight, and more without worrying about where you’ll store this gear. If you’re still unsure whether or not this bag is for you, read my full Osprey Atmos 65 review.

Pros

  • Several pockets
  • Lightweight
  • Offers great comfort
  • Made with high-quality materials
  • It’s a snug fit
  • 11+ exterior pockets

Cons

  • Slightly unpadded hip belt edges can cause discomfort
  • Not great for loads over 45 pounds
  • Can develop a squeaking noise

Osprey Atmos 65/Aura AG 65 Specs:

Atmos 65Aura AG 65
Volume65 liters65 liters
Dimensions34″ x 15″ x 1633” x 16″ x 15″
Torso Length Fit18” – 2118” – 21
Waist/Hips Fit27” – 4827″ – 48
Weight4.9 lbs4.7 lbs
Material100D X 630D Nylon Dobby100D X 630D Nylon Dobby

Best Budget Hiking Backpack

2. Osprey Rook 65 Backpack

Osprey Rook 65

If you want one of the best hiking packs without breaking the bank, the Osprey Rook 65 is a perfect choice. It’s especially suitable for carrying light to midweight loads, making it a good companion for easy day hikes or short multi-day expeditions. It carries up to 40 pounds, with the wireframe setup to transfer some of that weight to the waist belt.

As the price may indicate, this minimalist hiking backpack comes with basic features and the necessary compartments. This includes a top lid pocket, mesh water bottle pockets, and a bottom compartment, which are all easily accessible while hiking. There’s also a sleeping bag compartment for keeping your bed-away-from-home secure and a hydration sleeve that stores up to 3L.

Like the Atmos and Aura, the Rook 65 has a great ventilation system that ensures you can combat warm weather. This backpack also features a FlapJacket that is great at keeping your dry gear and wet gear separate, as well as protecting against rain. 

When considering the price, this backpack is the best value-for-money pack on the market.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • FlapJacket protects against rain
  • Durable
  • Lifetime warranty
  • 5+ exterior pockets

Cons

  • Comfort is questionable as the shoulder straps’ and the hip belt’s padding is thin
  • It doesn’t have many features
  • Top lid access isn’t great

Osprey Rook 65 Specs:

Volume65 liters
Dimensions29” x 16” x 14
Torso Length Fit17” – 22
Waist/Hips Fit25″ – 50″
Weight3 lbs 8.5 oz
MaterialPolyster and Nylon Packcloth

Best Customizable Hiking Backpack

3. REI Co-op Flash 55

REI Co-op Flash 55

The REI Co-op Flash 55 is the best backpack for you if you’re the type of hiker that loves customizing your bag. Choose from a range of features, mostly the external pockets, to keep or remove as you please. This helps make the initially lightweight pack even lighter, if that is what you need.

This is a comfortable backpack with well-padded shoulder straps, a supportive hip belt, and a back panel with a good ventilation system. Despite being a lightweight bag, you can carry around 30 pounds worth of gear in it, and it offers 55 liters of capacity.

The Flash 55 features nine exterior pockets, including a mesh front pocket, two vertical water bottle pockets, large side pockets, a top lid, hip pockets, and a shoulder strap pocket. These are great for storing all your essential gear like tent poles, your phone, etc. 

You can remove the top lid, hip pockets, and shoulder straps to shed even more weight from the pack, perfect for those minimalist hikes. Your gear is also protected from the rain when you place it in the top lid and shoulder strap pockets as they feature a water-resistant design.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Flexible and customizable
  • Comfortable
  • Affordable
  • Pockets in all the right places

Cons

  • Not great for heavy loads
  • Not durable for extended trips
  • The weather-resistant pockets aren’t perfect

REI Co-op Flash 55 Specs:

Volume55 liters
Dimensions14” x 30″ x 12
Torso Length Fit19″
Waist/Hips Fit32″ – 42
Weight2.10 lbs
MaterialRipstop Nylon

Best Backpacking Backpack

4. Osprey Aether 65/Ariel 65

Osprey Aether 65

If you frequently go on multi-day hikes, this is the perfect backpacking backpack to bring on your adventures. The Aether 65 is for men, and the Ariel 65 is for women. Despite being one of the heaviest backpacks here, it carries heavy loads comfortably. As with nearly all Osprey packs, it comes loaded with various features and adjustments.

The backpack’s LightWire frame with breathable back panels ensures great suspension that makes carrying heavy loads easy. The thick On-the-Fly shoulder strap pads, hip belt, and adjustable torso length maximize your comfort, even during the longest of treks. You can carry 55 liters of gear and up to 60 pounds without it feeling too taxing to your body.

Shove your gear into the main compartment and easily access it later through the zippered front panel or top lid. Store your other equipment in the hip belt pockets and keep your sleeping bag clean in its dedicated compartment. Your water is tightly secure in the dual access water bottle pockets, which are also very convenient for quickly grabbing your water.

For an ergonomic fit, you can shift the shoulder straps, adjust the length of the torso, and move the hip belt to suit your body type. This makes it one of the best backpacking backpacks as you can adjust it many times to fit the load you’re carrying without feeling too much of a physical strain.

Check out my Osprey Aether review for more details about why this bag is so great for backpacking.

Pros

  • Highly adjustable
  • Carries heavy loads comfortably
  • Rich in features
  • Comfortable
  • Has rain cover

Cons

  • It can be a little heavy
  • Placing your water bottle back isn’t as easy as taking it out

Osprey Aether 65/Ariel 65 Specs:

Aether 65Ariel 65
Volume65 liters65 liters
Dimensions32” x 15” x 1131.5” x 16” x 11
Torso Length Fit17” – 2316” – 19
Waist/Hips Fit28” – 5526” – 50
Weight4 lbs4 lbs
Materialbluesign-approved 420HD nylon packcloth, PFC-free DWRbluesign-approved 420HD nylon packcloth, PFC-free DWR

Best Day Hiking Backpack

5. Osprey Talon 22/Tempest 20

Osprey Talon 22

The Osprey men’s Talon 22 (or the women’s Tempest 20) is a lightweight hiking backpack, perfect for your day hiking adventures. The pack is durable thanks to the recycled 100D and 420D nylon fabric it’s made with, which also happens to be water-resistant. The pack features great suspension via the padded shoulder straps and a ventilated back panel that keeps sweat from being a major issue.

Despite being small in size, there are many features that make this my pick for the best backpack for single-day outings. It can fit 22 liters (20 for the Tempest) and can load between 20 and 30 pounds comfortably.

The pack features a zippered top pocket and hip belt pockets ideal for storing handy equipment like phones, sunscreen, and more. It also has space for a 3-liter hydration sleeve and there are two side pockets for water bottles, keeping you hydrated throughout your trip.

The adjustable shoulder straps and waist belt mean you’re provided great comfort and a snug fit, plus you get a whistle to sound just in case you need help. The packs also feature a helmet, ice ax, and trekking pole attachments to support all your other activities.

If you want to know more about the Osprey Talon in particular, read my full review.

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Lightweight
  • Highly adjustable
  • Well ventilated

Cons

  • Side pockets may be too small
  • Zippers can jam frequently

Osprey Talon 22/Tempest 20 Specs:

Talon 22Tempest 20
Volume22 liters20 liters
Dimensions20” x 11″ x 1117” x 11″ x 11″
Torso Length Fit16” – 2313″ – 20
Waist/Hips Fit28” – 4626” – 44
Weight2.24 lbs2.24 lbs
Materialbluesign-approved recycled 100D and 420D nylon fabricbluesign-approved recycled 100D and 420D nylon fabric

Best Mountaineering/Technical Hiking Backpack

6. Arc’teryx Alpha AR 55

Arc'Teryx Alpha AR 55

The world knows Arc’teryx for its highly technical gear, and the Alpha AR 55 is the best backpack for mountain sports. This pack will serve as a worthy companion for you during hikes that are more technical like mountaineering. However, it’s also a decent jack-of-all-trades as Arc’teryx touts it as an all-rounder (AR).

The pack features 55 liters of gear capacity, along with three pockets, including a full-length side zipper perfect for storing and easily accessing water bottles or other equipment. The hip belt is sewn onto the pack with foam on either side, giving comfort while ensuring it stays in place for suspension. 

You can shed some weight by removing the top lid and frame sheet; this comes in handy during extreme inclines. There’s a security pocket for securing your phone, snacks, and other small items. The center back hydration compartment is an important inclusion here as you can bring more water to keep you hydrated during your mountaineering experiences.

The hoop-and-loop buckles are great if your challenge has been to find a pack with durable ones. Another benefit is that, despite its volume, it’s pretty lightweight—which is important for mountaineering.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Lightweight
  • Versatile
  • Great features

Cons

  • Comfort isn’t the best
  • Pricey
  • Water-resistance capabilities aren’t that great

Arc’Teryx Alpha AR 55 Specs:

Volume55 liters
Dimensions25″ x 11.8″ x 10.2″
Torso Length Fit16.75” – 20.25
Waist/Hips Fit28.5” – 38.25
Weight3 lbs
MaterialNylon

Best Carry-On Backpack

7. Osprey Farpoint 40/Fairview 40

Osprey Farpoint 40

If you’re a hiker searching for the best backpack for one-bag travel, the Osprey Farpoint (or Fairview for women) 40 is perfect. The stylish bag is the best carry-on backpack and serves well as both an outdoor pack and a city bag.

The immaculate suspension distributes weight evenly via the hip belt and shoulder straps. This means you can haul gear around without feeling the strain on your body, whether you’re on a leisurely day hike or strolling through the city.

With the bag’s water-resistant capabilities, your gear will stay as dry as possible. One of the pack’s main selling points is its organization and the space it has. Easily stash your gear using the fill-front panel access, and you can also bring a laptop (up to 15 inches) or tablet along and store it in the dedicated sleeve.

You have access to dual front mesh pockets to hold a small tripod or water bottles. There are also internal and external zippered pockets to keep small items in. To safeguard the bag from theft, the main zippers feature a lockable slide, which I suggest getting a lock for.

Want more info? Check out my Osprey Farpoint review and my Osprey Fairview review.

Pros

  • Osprey’s lifetime warranty
  • Stylish
  • Water-resistant
  • Comfortable
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • The front compartment doesn’t have much space
  • Has fewer internal pockets than competitors
  • Water bottle pockets are an issue when the bag’s fully packed

Osprey Farpoint 40/Fairview Specs:

FarpointFairview
Volume40 liters40 liters
Dimensions21” x 14” x 921” x 13” x 9
Torso Length Fit15” – 2213” – 20
Waist/Hips FitN/AN/A
Weight3 lbs3 lbs
Material210D Nylon Mini Hex Diamond Ripstop
600D Packcloth
210D Nylon Mini Hex Diamond Ripstop
600D Packcloth

Best Hiking Camera Backpack

8. WANDRD FERNWEH

WANDRD FERNWEH

If you’re a hiker with a keen eye for photography, you need to get the WANDRD FERNWEH. This hiking camera backpack will serve as a great companion for your next photography trip. It’s a regular travel backpack that works for hiking as it features a breathable air mesh back panel.

The bag’s camera compartment features seven different smaller spaces with great padding to ensure your camera’s safety. This is particularly significant as it no longer necessitates having to place your camera on the sternum strap. 

As the main compartment may take a long time to open, WANDRD included side access that lessens the time it takes to pull your camera out. This is important as the perfect shot is often fleeting and won’t wait forever for you.

Don’t want to wait until you get home to edit your images? Great, you can bring along a 15-inch laptop that will stay tucked into the padded sleeve as you wander through the trails. 

Thanks to the pack’s weather-resistant capabilities, you can hike assured that you’ve given your gear good protection from any splashes or light showers.

To help with hydration, the backpack features a dedicated water bladder routing sleeve. You can also store a water bottle in the allocated pockets, which you can use to carry a small tripod.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Water-resistant fabric
  • Versatile use
  • Features quick draw side access for your camera
  • Top, front, and back access

Cons

  • It’s pricier than other bags on this list
  • Heavy

WANDRD FERNWEH Specs:

Volume50 liters
Dimensions26” x 13.75” x 9.5
Torso Length Fit16″ – 20″ (small/medium) 18″ – 23″ (large)
Waist/Hips Fit26″ – 45″ (small/medium) 29″ – 55″ (large)
Weight4.8 – 5 lbs
Material420D Nylon 5PM Coating, 630D Nylon

Best Ultralight Backpack

9. Hyperlite Mountain Gear Junction 3400

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Packs 3400 Junction

If you’re searching for the best super light hiking bag, then the roll-up weather-resistant Hyperlite Mountain Gear Junction 3400 is the perfect candidate. It comes in at just under two pounds, with the opportunity to shed even more weight by removing the aluminum stays, making for efficient use of its volume. 

Despite being a featherweight pack, Hyperlite Mountain Gear doesn’t compromise on durability as it can withstand a bit of abuse. It has a capacity of 55 liters and can carry most gear while feeling light, thanks to its great weight-to-capacity ratio.

This backpack also has fantastic suspension as it comes with sewn-on shoulder straps and hip belts. Both feature varying degrees of foams and ensure a comfortable carry. Plus, the pack has an adjustable sternum strap that features an integrated whistle.

The external pockets are elastic and can store your tent poles and water bottles, plus there’s an internal hydration sleeve for keeping you hydrated.

Pros

  • Weather-resistant
  • Lightweight
  • Very durable
  • Comfortable

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Torso sizing isn’t adjustable
  • With the sewn-on hip belt, it can be uncomfortable when the hip belt pockets are full

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Junction 3400 Specs:

Volume55 liters
DimensionsN/A
Torso Length FitN/A
Waist/Hips FitN/A
Weight2 lbs
MaterialDyneema Composite Hybrid

Best Packable Hiking Backpack

10. Matador Beast 28

Matador Beast 28 L

If you’re a hiker that travels to various destinations frequently and loves exploring the outdoors, you definitely need a packable backpack. These ultralight bags fit easily into your luggage and prove to be great travel companions. For blazing the trails, there isn’t one better than the Matador Beast 28.

Matador is famous for impeccable travel bags that double as adventure backpacks, and the Beast 28 doesn’t disappoint. Despite weighing just over one pound, the pack boasts an impressive capacity of 28 liters. It has a small compression sack to stow the pack inside your traveling bag, or just keep it in when it’s not in use.

The backpack is durable thanks to the rip-stop nylon, and the fabric is water-resistant, ensuring your gear isn’t affected by splashes—minor or major. It has many pockets, both large and small, for holding essential items like water bottles. Plus, it features a hydration sleeve to deal with thirst and several places to clip on more gear.

To help with suspension and comfort, the waist and sternum straps are adjustable and breathable, which makes for a lighter load on your back.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Durable
  • Great as a daypack
  • Narrow design means it won’t usually get caught on anything
  • Great weight-to-capacity ratio

Cons

  • The thin padding makes it slightly uncomfortable
  • Not suitable for multi-day use
  • Limited color options

Matador Beast 28 Specs:

Volume28 liters
Dimensions11” x 22” x 7” (unpacked) 9” x 9” x 3.5” (packed)
Torso Length FitN/A
Waist/Hips FitN/A
Weight1.8 lbs
Material10D Robic high tenacity nylon, UTS coated, DWR finish

Best All-Rounder Hiking Backpack

11. Arc’teryx Brize 32

Arc'Teryx Brize 32

If you’re needing a hiking pack-of-all-trades, then Arc’teryx Brize 32 is the backpack you’ve been looking for. Its primary purpose is for technical hiking, but it also makes for a great daypack or weekend bag. 

Packing and retrieving your gear is pretty easy with this bag, thanks to the main compartment’s easy access from the top. There is also a zippered side pocket for storing other equipment and large side pockets for water bottles and food. Store smaller essentials like your phone, passport, or GPS device in the top pocket or internal pocket for easy organization.

While this bag has a gear capacity of 32 liters, it’s still light and has an ergonomic design that provides you proper back support. The padded shoulder straps, breathable back panel, and comfortable hip strap provide a suspension system that shifts weight evenly. 

If you feel a water bottle isn’t enough, you can bring more water along by attaching a hydration bladder.

Thanks to the stylish narrow design, you can use this all-rounder for hiking expeditions and then carry it while purchasing groceries, and nobody will bat an eye. It also features a single ax loop to secure your tools during mountaineering or ice climbing.

Pros

  • Stylish
  • Water-resistant exterior
  • Ventilated back panel
  • Versatile
  • Spacious

Cons

  • Shoulder straps aren’t the most comfortable
  • The chest strap may be too short if you have a broad chest
  • Less comfortable when it has a heavy load

Arc’teryx Brize 32 Specs:

Volume32 liters
Dimensions24″ x 9.8″ x 7.9″
Torso Length FitN/A
Waist/Hips FitN/A
Weight2 lbs
MaterialNylon

Most Comfortable Hiking Backpack

12. Gregory Katmai 55

Gregory Katmai 55

As a hiker, you know comfort is king, and Gregory packs are famous for their comfortability. Staying true to this reputation, the Gregory Katmai 55 doesn’t disappoint. This is the most comfortable backpack on the market and boasts a bevy of features.

The Katmai 55 uses an aluminum alloy frame that incorporates fiberglass cross-stay to aid in stability. This backpack features pivoting shoulder straps and a wraparound hip belt which help with comfort by adjusting to your natural movement. This means the weight gets spread evenly without being too taxing on one particular spot, even with a heavy load.

Hike without fear of your back being sweaty, thanks to the well-ventilated back panel. To deal with the issue of odor during lengthy hiking experiences, the pack features an anti-bacterial treatment. This especially comes in handy in warmer weather.

With a capacity of 55 liters and the ability to efficiently handle 40 pounds in weight, you can stuff the Katmai with sleeping bags, tents, clothes, and more. It will swallow them all with no problems. The floating lid and twin-compartment design make packing easier than some other backpacks, and its water-resistant exterior will keep your gear dry.

The Katmai is laden with valuable features, including a water bottle holster, zippered forward pocket, hip belt pockets, and a large main compartment that you can access from the side or the top. These are useful for storing any additional gear that may not be as essential for hiking.

Pros

  • Made from recycled material
  • Spacious
  • Has various features
  • Comfortable

Cons

  • Heavy
  • The feature design could be better
  • The top lid isn’t removable

Gregory Katmai 55 Specs:

Volume55 liters
Dimensions30” x 17” x 13
Torso Length Fit18″ – 22″
Waist/Hips Fit27″ – 53″
Weight4 lbs
Material210-denier 40% recycled nylon

Best Multi-Day Hiking Backpack

13. Granite Gear Blaze 60

Granite Gear Blaze 60

The Granite Gear Blaze is the perfect choice if you frequently go on multi-day hiking adventures. It’s comfortable enough to carry 50 pounds for lengthy periods without taking a toll on your body and has an array of features.

You get easy access to your gear with the clinch-and-roll opening and the side access zipper for the main compartment. You can bring several items and equipment by stashing them in the small and large pockets. 

You can convert the backpack’s removable lid into a chest pack. This is the perfect place to store items you want to reach quickly without the hassle of having to open the pack.

To ensure comfort even on extended expeditions, the backpack features a great suspension system with an adjustable hip belt, compression straps, and sternum strap. You’re guaranteed to remain fresh even during strenuous hikes, thanks to the ventilated back panel. The internal water bladder compartment also aids here by keeping you hydrated.

Pros

  • Removable and convertible lid compartment
  • Comfortable
  • Lightweight
  • Spacious
  • Durable

Cons

  • Doesn’t stretch
  • Limited color variations
  • Back panel ventilation isn’t as good as competitors

Granite Gear Blaze 60 Specs:

Volume60 liters
Dimensions23.5” x 13” x 8
Torso Length Fit18″ – 21″
Waist/Hips Fit24″ – 40″
Weight3 lbs
Material100-denier ROBIC high-tenacity nylon with Barrier DWR

Most Versatile Hiking Backpack

14. Deuter Aircontact Lite 65 + 10 Pack

Deuter Aircontact 65+10

The Deuter Aircontact Lite is best known for its incredible versatility. You can use the simple bag in place of the best backpacking backpacks, mountaineering packs, and everyday travel bags.

The Aircontact Lite handles heavy loads easily, which makes sense for a backpack with a capacity of 65 liters and another ten available for expansion. The suspension system of the bag is incredible and makes for a comfortable carry. 

It has an aluminum X-frame with plush foam padding that follows your body’s natural movements. Although, this comfort starts bottoming out with loads over 45 pounds. It also supports your back using a plastic frame sheet and breathable fabric.

While the pack isn’t laden with features, it definitely has the most necessary ones for all adventures. This includes a small sleeping bag compartment, a stretchy pocket that can store a rain jacket, a zippered hip belt pocket ideal for phones and snacks, and more.

Pros

  • Versatile
  • Well-padded
  • Durable
  • Ability to adjust it a further 10 inches

Cons

  • The shoulder and hip belt aren’t breathable
  • The hip belt doesn’t offer any adjustments
  • It doesn’t do well with loads over 45 pounds

Deuter Aircontact Lite 65 + 10 Specs:

Volume65 liters (75 liters expanded)
Dimensions34” x 14” x 13
Torso Length Fit15″ – 21″
Waist/Hips Fit30” – 53
Weight4.6 lbs
MaterialNylon/closed-cell foam

Best Large Capacity Hiking Backpack

15. Gregory Baltoro 95 Pro Pack

Gregory Baltoro 95 Pro

If you love taking your entire life with you on multi-day expeditions, then you should get the Gregory Baltoro 95 Pro Pack. It’s one of the best backpacking packs, thanks to its large capacity (95 liters) and its feature-rich design. It’s also one of the best camping backpacks if you’re looking to spend your nights in the wilderness.

Staying true to its capacity, the pack has pockets and compartments galore. Firstly, you get two in the removable top lid and a sleeping bag compartment. Secondly, the main part features a removable small day pack. Then you get all the usual water bottle pockets, side pockets, ax straps, dual compression straps, and two water-resistant hip belt pockets for your phone or wallet.

The backpack offers you access either on top, via the side, or from the bottom. To ensure you’re comfortable while carrying the bag, you get an incredible suspension system. Albeit, it’s not as adjustable as other models.

Multi-density EVA foam covers the sturdy aluminum frame for good padding along with all touchpoints with your body. This goes for the hip belt, ventilated back panel, and adjustable shoulder straps. The soft-molded, contoured pad helps with comfort by transferring the pack’s weight to your lower back and hips.

Pros

  • Spacious
  • Comfortable
  • Versatile
  • Feature-rich and well organized
  • Carries heavy loads well

Cons

  • Limited height adjustability so ensure you get the right size
  • It doesn’t have a hydration port
  • Pricey

Gregory Baltoro 95 Pro Pack Specs:

Volume95 liters
Dimensions32” x 14” x 14
Torso Length Fit18″ – 20″
Waist/Hips Fit28″ – 48″
Weight6.6 lbs
Material210-denier Honeycomb CryptoRip HD/210-denier high-tenacity nylon

Best Waterproof Hiking Backpack

16. Zpacks Arc Blast 55

Zpacks Arc Blast 55 L

While a worthy contender for the best ultralight backpack, the Zpacks Arc Blast 55 works best as a waterproof bag. This makes it perfect if you’re a hiker that often hikes during the rainy period as it can withstand downpours pretty well.

The 55-liter capacity backpack uses hybrid Cuben, and the fabric contributes to its light size and waterproof capabilities. Despite its small size and large capacity, its design ensures it remains comfortable for loads just over 30 pounds. It does a good job distributing the weight.

Due to its light weight, this bag has minimal features, but you can customize the bag by adding optional features at purchase. Its most basic offering comes with side pockets fit for a water bottle, a padded waist belt, and a ventilated back panel. Some of the optional features include extra side pockets, a lumbar pad, ice ax loops, and trekking pole holders.

This ultralight bag can easily handle light downpours and take mid-loads, making it convenient for day treks or multi-day outings with light gear.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable
  • Great weight-to-volume ratio

Cons

  • Pricey
  • No pockets at the hip belts
  • Not the best looking backpack

Zpacks Arc Blast 55 Specs:

Volume55 liters
Dimensions7” x 12.5” x 30
Torso Length Fit17″ – 26″
Waist/Hips Fit24″ – 53″
Weight1.26 lbs
MaterialBio-Based Dyneema Fiber

Most Durable Hiking Backpack

17. Osprey Kestrel 68/Kyte 66

Osprey Kestrel 68

Osprey is a household name, and this time they have made a durable backpack in the Osprey Kestrel 68 (or Kyte 66 for women). Thanks to its rugged nylon fabric makeup, this bag can withstand abuse in the backcountry without losing functionality or developing significant tearing.

It’s a versatile pack that you can use everyday or while on other outdoor adventures. The pack boasts a close-to-body design and low-profile harness, which will help with movement in different environments. Thanks to the adjustable torso length, it will remain a snug fit that you won’t have to adjust constantly.

You’ll have a comfortable carry thanks to the foam back panel’s ventilation, padded shoulder straps, and hip belts. The light wireframe efficiently transfers the load from the harness to the hips, and the frame sheet spreads the load across the back panel.

Able to carry up to 45 pounds comfortably, this bag lets you bring a lot of gear on your adventures. It features several pockets and compartments for holding electronics, sleeping bags, trekking pole attachment, and more.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Great value for money
  • Versatile
  • Feature-rich
  • Does well with heavy loads

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Not water-resistant
  • Raincover isn’t reflective – which can represent a safety hazard

Osprey Kestrel 68/Kyte 66 Specs:

Kestrel 68Kyte 66
Volume68 liters66 liters
Dimensions30.7” x 14.6” x 14.628.7” x 14.2” x 14.6
Torso Length FitN/AN/A
Waist/Hips FitN/AN/A
Weight4 lbs3.87 lbs
Material210D x 630D Nylon Dobby210D x 630D Nylon Dobby

Why Choose a Hiking Backpack for Hiking Over a Regular Backpack?

As I’ve said, you could simply forego purchasing a new hiking bag by using your regular backpack. However, this presents a few challenges and several missed opportunities that may affect your time hiking.

While hiking, you’re likely to encounter rough terrain and an environment that may bring damage to a regular pack. This damage becomes minimal when you get a backpack specifically made to tackle these conditions. The best hiking backpacks are all built with rugged and robust fabrics, most of which you won’t find on a regular pack.

Another key difference between the two is the design and features. Regular bags may lack hydration sleeves, gear loops, padded back panels, various pockets—all of which are mostly unique to hiking backpacks.

The suspension systems for hiking backpacks are more refined than that of a regular pack. This means a standard bag will struggle to hold pounds and pounds of gear, all the while making you uncomfortable. The lack of padded shoulder straps, hip belts, and a sturdy frame would mean you feel the brunt of the weight more than you would with a hiking backpack.

I’m not saying you can’t use a regular bag for light hikes with minimal gear, but hiking backpacks are a better investment. Seriously, having read the above backpacking backpack reviews, does a regular backpack really compare?

Hiking Backpack Buying Guide

As you’ve been able to see throughout and above, a hiking backpack is no regular bag. It’s a great investment if you’re an avid hiker as it allows you to bring a ton of equipment while carrying it comfortably.

However, before purchasing a hiking backpack, there are things to consider—essentials that are the hallmark of a good hiking backpack. These aid your bag to perform its job efficiently based on what your needs are. To help you understand some of the important considerations to make, we’ve compiled this buyer’s guide for choosing the ultimate hiking backpack for you.

Comfort

Comfort is possibly the most important aspect of a good hiking backpack. You don’t want to have all the bells and whistles, but you are slouching throughout the hike because the bag isn’t comfortable. This is even more important for your multi-day adventures as discomfort on one day can affect your performance the following day.

A comfortable backpack will feature excellent suspension that ensures the weight is efficiently transferred to your hips or spread across the body. Breathability is another important thing in terms of comfort, as you don’t want to be sweating bullets while hiking. Adjustability can also aid in improving comfort.

Suspension

Suspension is another crucial aspect to consider before purchasing a new hiking backpack, which is evident by how often I mentioned it in the reviews. It plays an important factor in ensuring that you’re comfortable and your movement isn’t affected.

A hiking backpack’s suspension system refers to the frame, shoulder straps, hip belts, back panels, and load lifters. A great frame provides the pack with rigidity, be it internal or external. There are also frameless bags to choose from, but these are only suitable for light loads. 

Hip belts, back panels, shoulder straps, load lifters, and more work to transfer weight across your body, so you’re super comfortable while hiking. A suspension system can make or break a hiking backpack.

Volume

Volume, or gear capacity, is an excellent way to refine your search for a hiking backpack as it can narrow down your options easily. This factor is important to consider because it affects how much gear the bag can hold and its weight.

The lower the volume, the lighter the load the bag will tolerate. You may have realized this in the above backpacking packs reviews. Lower volume bags are best for short trips and higher volume backpacks are great for lengthy excursions.

While there isn’t a rule set in stone for ideal volume, there are some ways to go about making a decision. If you normally go on weekend hikes (one to two days), 50 liters or less is excellent. For a three to four-day outing, 50 to 80 liters is perfect. For anything longer, like this 7,456-mile hike, you need more than 80 liters.

Differences by Gender

Hiking backpacks for men and women aren’t that much different; a woman can use men-intended packs and vice-versa. However, this largely depends on that person’s specific body. For example, shorter men may prefer a women’s backpack and taller women a men’s pack.

One of the differences in different gender offerings are the colors and accents of the backpack. In terms of performance, packs for women usually feature a smaller hipbelt, curved shoulder straps, and a shorter torso.

The products reviewed here are either unisex or have gendered counterparts that have identical features. However, when there’s a gender-specific pack in the same line like the Talon and Tempest, it’s best to choose the one specifically made for your gender.

Durability

As I stated above, a hiking backpack is an investment, and you want to be sure it’ll last for several years. This means it must be durable in terms of its build and ability to handle rough environments without getting torn easily. This will depend on the material used to make the backpack, with most of the bags in this review being durable.

The pricier options are obviously more durable than their budget counterparts as they cost more to make and usually use the highest quality fabrics. 

You can also play your part here by giving your backpack the utmost care to ensure it lasts long.

Final Thoughts on the Best Backpacks for Hiking

When choosing a hiking backpack, there are many things to consider, including your specific needs. Finding the best bags can be time-consuming, but I’m sure I have narrowed down your options using these backpacking packs reviews.

Choose from feature-rich bags that carry a lot of gear for extended hikes, or pick out your favorite light pack for day hiking. The reviews above cover these and more, including some important terms in the buyer’s guide that will help you feel more comfortable making a choice.

Once you have chosen your backpack and have used it for some time, be sure to come back and leave a comment about how it treated you.

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Jeremy Scott Foster
Jeremy Scott Foster
Jeremy Scott Foster is an adventure-junkie, gear expert and travel photographer based in Southern California. Previously nomadic, he’s been to ~50 countries and loves spending time outdoors. You can usually find him on the trail, on the road, jumping from bridges or hustling on his laptop working to produce the best travel and outdoors content today. You can read more about Jeremy at his bio.

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