Is it possible to get a good hiking backpack for under $100?
Getting a high quality, high capacity, lightweight hiking backpack for under 100 dollars is quite a challenge.
Out of the following three characteristics you generally need to prioritize two in order to get a backpack under $100, as it will be tough to find a pack that does all three.
Budget Hiking Backpacks
|TETON Sports Scout 3400 Backpack|
|OutdoorMaster Hiking Backpack|
|TETON Sports Explorer 4000 Backpack|
|Outlander Ultra Lightweight Hiking Backpack|
|Wasing Internal Frame Hiking Backpack|
- High Quality
- High Capacity
- Get a Realistic Idea of the Backpack Volume You Need
- TOP 12 Affordable Hiking Backpack Reviews 2018
This has to do with durability – things like how long the seams will hold up and whether or not the zippers will fail or zip smoothly.
If the buckles and snaps can hold a heavy load, the fabric will last for more than a few trips without wearing a hole in the bottom of the bag.
Characteristics like this speak to the quality of the bag.
For a hiking backpack, high capacity is anything over 60 liters. A backpack over 60 liters is a bit extreme in current times when lightweight is becoming more popular.
This kind of capacity is only appropriate for multiday hikes or thru-hikes in remote areas where you need to carry a lot of food and gear.
40 to 60 liters is considered medium or ‘normal’ capacity and could be used for overnight, 3-4 day hikes, or longer thru hikes when packing ultralight.
Under 40 liters is considered a daypack or overnight hike size, depending on the season and how much gear you plan to bring.
Cooler weather requires more gear, and hence, a larger backpack. The opposite is true for summer hiking.
There are high capacity, high quality bags that weigh a lot.
Military issue bags are a typical example of this. They can weigh several pounds or more unpacked because of the durable material they are made from.
In other cases, a lightweight bag is light because it is made from less expensive and less durable material.
A lightweight bag made of high quality material is more expensive because the material is more expensive, which is why it is a challenge to find a bag that is high quality and lightweight for under 100 dollars.
It can be done, but it will probably be a lower capacity bag.
Get a Realistic Idea of the Backpack Volume You Need
You need to determine what size pack you need.
Get all your gear together and either borrow a backpack or find a box the gear fits into entirely. Do not forget space for food and water.
Measure the box, or note the liter capacity of the borrowed backpack to get a realistic idea of the size pack you need.
In general, overnight hikes, and maybe 3 or 4 day hikes can be done with 50 liter bags. If you are camping and hiking with others you may be able to share some gear and spread the weight of those items.
The item most novice campers over pack is clothes. If you are hiking in the summer you would be surprised how little you can survive with.
(Remember that hiking has its own set of rules, you are not expected to shower every day, and so it follows that you are not expected to always have a clean change of clothes!)
Also consider that the more you pack, the more weight you have on your back.
Most hikers rarely need a 70 to 90 liter backpack. These backpacks are for longer hikes where you need to pack in all your supplies, water and food.
Sportsman, hunters and hikers involved in special activities may need packs this large, but the average hiker will not.
Get your gear and clothes together and try and fit it into a pack to get the best idea of the size you need.
Consider the length or amount of time you plan to hike
Spend some time thinking about the length of your hike, or how long you plan to hike on each trip.
The biggest variable in pack size will be the amount of food you need to pack.
If you go on a two week hike and need to carry all of your food, you’ll obviously need a much bigger pack than someone who is hiking for just a few days.
The actual gear for these two hikers may be similar, but the space occupied by food will be different.
Most overnight and 3 to 4 day hikers are good with a 45 to 55 liter backpack.
Consider how often you plan to hike
How often you plan to hike should determine how durable and high quality of a bag you should consider.
If you plan to hike three times a year, you may not need the best quality pack.
But if you plan to hike every other weekend and hiking is a big part of your lifestyle, you’ll save money in the long run if you invest in a better quality pack that you won’t have to replace after one season.
If you want a better quality pack but can’t necessarily afford the higher price tag, going for a slightly smaller pack and compromising on the amount of gear you carry may be the answer.
There are plenty of great resources with information on how to pack light, especially when it comes to carrying food for longer hikes. Videos such as this one have some great advice on food to carry that doesn’t take up too much space.
TOP 12 Affordable Hiking Backpack Reviews 2018
These reviews focus on three pack aspects:
The packs below are grouped according to capacity, and hence whether they are best suited for day hikes, overnight hikes for multi day hikes.
Best Hiking Backpacks under $100 for Day Hikes
TETON Sports Canyon 2100 Backpack
The Teton Sports canyon backpack is a smaller 20 liter daypack hiking backpack or for those who pack really light it could be used for an overnight trip.
Suspension: Air mesh harness is fixed, not adjustable, and includes shoulder straps, sternum strap and hip belt.
Durability: Made from high quality honeycomb denier. High quality buckles and zippers.
Storage: There is a map pocket and daisy chain straps that run vertically down the pack. The pack has two bottom compression straps for tying on gear, and has a hydration pouch sleeve with threading ready for your hydration bladder. There is a zippered pocket at the top of the lid with a key clasp.
There are zippered butterfly pockets on each side as well as mesh stretch pockets on each side. There is a sleeping bag compartment and a 10 liter main compartment.
- High quality, functional suspension system.
- Backpack is streamlined and fits close to the body.
- No side compression straps, even though some marketing material states otherwise.
Outlander Ultra Lightweight Hiking Backpack
Many people over-pack, so you’d surprized how little you actually need, and how comfortable day hiking is with a light weight pack.
With room for a warm and/or waterproof layer, some food, water and valuables, the Outlander 20 or 33L Hiking Backpack is a great option for day hikes.
Suspension: The two shoulder straps are adjustable but have minimal cushioning and there are no sternum or hip straps which is a drawback and could make the pack less comfortable with heavier loads.
Durability: Made of rip-proof, water resistant nylon, this pack is designed to be durable and cope with the wear and tear of travel and hiking. Zippers are durable two-way Abrasion Resistant SBS Metal.
Storage: Aside from the main compartment, two mesh pockets for water bottles are accompanied by two front zippered pockets, an internal zip pocket for valuable items, and an external carabiner for clipping on extra items.
- Choose between 20L or 33L for the ideal size for your day hike, and then fold the whole thing into a tiny hamburger sized pouch for easy storage when not in use.
- It is ridiculously cheap and lightweight (only 0.5lbs) which makes it quite remarkable that this bag has performed so well in durability.
- This bag is also the perfect size for hand baggage making it a great choice for travel, with room for all of your personal items while fitting under the seat in front of you.
- No sternum or hip straps.
Best Affordable Hiking Backpacks for Overnight Hikes
Mountaintop Hiking Backpack
A cheap but good quality backpack, this 40L pack is ideal for overnight hikes in the summer if you pack light and attach some gear to the outside.
Suspension: Shoulder and hip straps are padded, and the sternum strap along with others are all adjustable. The frame is a plastic back panel which provides some structural support.
Durability: Lightweight, durable rip-stop nylon is coated to be water resistant. YKK buckles are durable. SBS zippers open and close smoothly.
Storage: 2 front pockets, 1 hip belt pocket and 2 mesh side pockets. An additional bungee on the front allows for an extra layer to be stuffed in. Additional loops allow for attachment of hiking poles.
- Weighs just 2.1 lbs.
- Hydration system compatible.
- Comes with a rain cover.
- Plastic back panel doesn’t provide as much support as it could and the pack could do with some more padding against the back.
High Sierra Classic 2 Series Ascender Frame Pack
The Ascender is a 40 liter day pack or overnight pack.
Suspension: The back is a mesh padded back with a metal center support with padded shoulder and hip straps to keep weight centered on your hips. The harness is not adjustable, but the pack itself is somewhat long, good for tall people.
Durability: There is a rain cover that is attached to an inside pocket.
Storage: The backpack has compression straps, the main compartment opens wide with a panel opening that reaches to the center of the backpack. There’s a mesh zip pocket with key clip and another sleeve for a tablet.
The pack has velcro pole straps and straps above the two mesh water bottle pockets to secure the water bottle, plus the water bottle pockets are large and deep.
There are two compression straps to hold your bedroll or tent.
- Good suspension with center support up the back.
- Good for taller people.
- Included rain cover.
- Too long for short folks, great for tall folks.
- Harness is fixed.
OutdoorMaster Hiking Backpack
The Outdoor Master backpack is 50 liter medium bag.
Suspension: The pack has a hip belt, padded curved shoulder straps, sternum strap to hold everything on and keep the weight centered over your hips.
Durability: Brand name reliable YKK zippers, reinforced haul handle, rain cover, and nylon fabric.
Storage: This hiking backpack has a place for a hydration system, a padded laptop sleeve, zip pockets on the hip belt, external loops to hold trekking poles, straps on the bottom to hold a sleeping pad or tent, mesh stretch side pockets, a kangaroo style pouch on the front with a vertical zippered pocket on that.
- Modest size pack with good suspension and a lot of storage.
- The harness is not adjustable and does not have great ventilation making this a pack for shorter trips, and average sized folks.
Best Affordable Hiking Backpacks for Multi Day Hikes
Wasing Internal Frame Backpack
55 L is the perfect size for an overnight hike if you need a little more gear for wet weather, with just enough space for everything you need without letting you get carried away.
Suspension: Molded foam back panel helps to support the weight of the load and keep the pack comfortable. Aluminium frame is lightweight and adjustable for a customized fit.
Fully adjustable padded shoulder and hip straps with sternum strap for extra stability.
Durability: Water resistant rip stop polyester is lightweight and durable.
Storage: Zipper access bottom compartment, one hip belt pocket, 2 mesh side pockets and one large front pocket.
- At well under $100, this is one very affordable backpack.
- At just under 3 lbs. this is still fairly lightweight for a 55L capacity.
- Comes with a rain cover.
- Main compartment is extendable and can increase capacity by 5L.
- Hydration system compatible.
- Cushioning is limited so this pack won’t be as comfortable as other packs when carrying a heavy load.
Mountaintop Internal Frame Backpack
This is another example of a budget hiking pack in the 55L size range with a good amount of storage and the main con being a slight loss of comfort with heavier loads.
Suspension: Harness is fully adjustable with a vertical slider catering to all torso lengths.
Internal steel frame supports the structure of the pack to keep the weight balanced and stop the back panel from collapsing inwards against your spine. Shoulder straps and hip belts are well padded.
Durability: YKK brand zippers and buckles are durable. Water resistant polyester material is lightweight and will keep out a little water.
Storage: Separate bottom compartment can be used for a sleeping bag or wet, dirty gear.
The huge main compartment is supplemented by a large zip pocket on the front, 2 small zip pockets on the hip belts and 2 mesh side pockets.
- Comes with a rain cover for extra weather-proofing.
- Hydration system compatible.
- At 3 lbs, this is pretty light for a 55L capacity.
- Ventilation channels in the back panel prevent a build-up of sweat.
- This pack won’t be as comfortable carrying heavier loads as a more expensive packs.
TETON Sports Scout 3400 Internal Frame Backpack
Suspension: This 55 liter internal frame backpack has a great suspension system including padded shoulder straps, sternum strap, adjustable harness and lumbar pad. All work to carry the weight on the pack on your hips and keep your back ventilated.
Durability: The pack has sturdy buckles, 600D rip stop nylon material and water resistant fabric make a reasonably durable pack.
Storage: This pack has bungee straps on the top and front to hold gear on the outside.
There is a mesh front pocket, gear ties on the top and bottom, and compression straps to hold a sleeping pad.
The bag has a lower sleeping bag compartment, two stretch mesh side pockets, and a zippered back pocket.
This backpack is compatible with a hydration system. The main compartment can be accessed from the front or top of the pack and has a drawstring top close.
This pack also has a zip out partition to divide the main compartment.
- Effective and useful suspension system.
- Relatively high quality for the price.
- 55 liter capacity.
- Cannot use large water bottles in the side water bottle holders.
Best Cheap High Capacity Hiking Backpacks
TETON Sports Explorer 4000 Internal Frame Backpack
Suspension: This larger 65 liter backpack by Teton has a heavily padded hip belt, lumbar pad, padded shoulder straps, a sternum strap and adjustable harness to match your torso size. The back has good ventilation.
Durability: The backpack is made from 600D rip stop nylon, includes a rain cover and rain cover storage pouch and high quality buckles.
Storage: The storage on this backpack is ample, including two top compression straps, a pouch in the lid, a drawstring top for the roomy main compartment, an interior zip pocket on the lid, two daisy chain elastic strips which run vertically down the front of the pack for attaching more gear.
There is a front zippered pouch for a sleeping bag, two generous zippered side pockets. Stretch mesh water bottle holders, and two lower ties.
The side pockets on one side open on the top and bottom making them ideal for holding longer gear, like trekking poles, axe handles, etc.
- High capacity with a lot of outside storage pockets and attachment points.
- Good pack for taller people.
- The drink holders are not very large.
- The hip strap is somewhat hard, can be uncomfortable.
Scandanavian Gear Hiking Backpack
Suspension: The Scandinavian Gear 65 Liter backpack has a comfortable suspension system.
The harness is adjustable, there are pockets on each hip belt, the backpack has padded shoulders and a sternum strap.
Durability: The pack includes a rain cover and is water resistant. The material is rip stop nylon and the straps are heavy duty.
Storage: The main compartment opens with two zippers on the side and from the top and bottom. The bag is divided into two compartments a large compartment and a medium size compartment.
There are two loops on the bottom to hold a tent or sleeping bag. There is also a side storage pocket. This pocket has less storage than other backpacks this size.
- Has good suspension.
- Includes a whistle and reflective strips.
- The water bottle pockets have an odd slant and should be slanted the other way, they are not tall enough.
Best Hiking Backpacks Under $200
These final two packs provide a couple of slightly more expensive options that make a great choice if you want to stretch your budget to something a little more durable while remaining light weight.
Osprey Exos Blaze Backpack
Osprey is a truly a top of the line backpack producer so to get an Osprey pack that is well under $200 makes this pack extremely good value.
48L makes this a highly versatile pack being suited to overnight hikes, multi day hikes and lightweight thru hikes.
Suspension: Aluminum alloy frame is strong and lightweight and provides structural load support. ExoForm hip belt is comfortable and supportive while the shoulder and sternum straps are adjustable.
Durability: There should be no issues with durability with this pack, being a reliable Osprey product.
Storage: One large stretch pocket on the front with small pockets on the hip and shoulder straps, and 2 stretch mesh side pockets.
- Very breathable back prevents a sweat build-up keeping you cool and comfortable.
- Hydration system compatible.
- The lid can be removed if you want an even lighter weight backpacking experience.
- 6 lbs is a fairly light weight but in conjunction with the superior suspension system, this pack is likely to be more comfortable than some lighter packs with less support.
- Possibly a lack of external storage for larger objects depending on preference.
The North Face Terra Backpack
Still coming in well under $200 but with a 65L capacity, this North Face pack is a true bargain with enough capacity for a multi-day hike or a longer thru-hike.
Suspension: The pack comes in 3 sizes, each with an Opti-fit, fully adjustable suspension system for maximum comfort. Shoulder and hip straps are very well cushioned and distribute the weight effectively across the hips.
Durability: 420D Nylon mini rip stop material makes up the body of the pack and is very durable.
Storage: 7+ pockets with zippered side access to the main compartment and the bottom sleeping back compartment. Velcro pole holders and additional bottom loops.
- Hydration system compatible.
- Ventilation system keeps your back cool and dry.
- Comes with rain cover.
- At about 4.5lbs, this pack is one of the heavier on the list. But, the quality of its suspension system and its large capacity should make up for this.
This concludes our product reviews.
We hope our guide helps you find the best hiking backpack under $100 (or under $200, depending on your budget!).