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Buyer’s Guide: Best Hiking Backpacks & Hiking Backpack Reviews

Backpacking in the Mountains

Efficiency is the secret to a good backpacking experience. You need to make sure you have everything you will need for the trek, but you also have to pack light so you can spend more energy on walking instead of dealing with heavy luggage.

Basically, aside from careful planning, you need the best hiking backpack that will suit your needs.

What Makes the Best Backpack?

Any backpack manufacturer can claim that they offer the best backpacks, but there are a few characteristics that set the best backpacks from the rest of the competition.

For this guide, we’ll make our picks based on the following criteria:

Weight

Remember the part about the need to pack light? This also includes the weight of the backpack itself. The lighter the backpack is, the less unnecessary weight you’ll have to carry around.

Take note that lighter backpacks may mean less durability or support; the best backpacks are fairly balanced in this regard.

Heavy Backpack

Carrying capacity

While you do need to keep your luggage down, you still need a lot of room to make sure everything you need to bring will fit inside.

Having barely enough storage space in your backpack could mean you’ll be carrying something bursting at the seams even with nothing but the bare necessities.

The best backpacks offer plenty of room, especially for extended trips.

Price

You can put all the features, use the finest materials and apply cutting edge engineering to make the ultimate backpack, but it won’t be a good option if something more affordable is good enough to give you the same results.

This doesn’t mean you should always go for cheapest backpacks; you need the ones that will give you the best value for your money.

Costs

Material

All three factors previously mentioned greatly depend on what backpacks are made of. Most hiking backpack reviews agree that those made of ripstop nylon or cuben fiber are some of the best you can find because these two are lightweight but durable.

You’ll also notice that most of the picks in this guide are made of either material.

Fit

Have you ever tried lugging around a backpack that’s either too big or too small?

A poor fit is uncomfortable right from the start and downright terrible after wearing it for some time. When it comes to efficiency, you don’t go for a poorly-fitted backpack and hope you’ll get used to it; the best hiking backpacks offer comfort right from the start.

Features

You don’t expect the best travel backpacks to have nothing more than a compartment or two.

However, too many bells and whistles could also mean extra useless weight. The best backpacks have just the right amount of features; convenient, but still simple enough.

Hiking Backpack

Availability

Everything you’ll see in the list can be ordered online. That way, you won’t have to worry about wanting to get one only to find out that the nearest one is not available in your area.

Are you ready to look for the best backpacking backpack? Start your search with these highly recommended options!

Best Hiking Backpack Reviews

Osprey Ariel/Aether

Osprey Men's Aether 70 Backpack

The Osprey Ariel/Aether is the first (and last) option for many backpackers. Despite being loaded with a lot of great features such as the hydration sleeve, multiple access points, a sleeping bag compartment, and three separate mesh pockets, you get a neat, organized bag ideal for multi-day trips.

Aside from having plenty of convenient features, the Ariel/Ether also offers a nearly unmatched level of adjustability and comfort. The padded hip belt, and straps means this backpack won’t be digging into your skin even at full load. The Airscape back panel also allows your back to breathe, especially during hotter days.

Osprey Women's Ariel 65 Backpack

Pros

  • Plenty of convenient features like the hydration system
  • Easy to carry even at full load
  • Excellent adjustment options
  • Very comfortable to wear

Cons

  • Could do away with a few features (side and front straps)
  • Side mesh pockets are awkwardly-sized; too large for regular water bottles
  • A bit on the heavier side

Conclusion – One of the best high end brands you can get your hands on.

Tip: The Osprey Ariel is designed for women, while the Aether is designed for men.

Arcteryx Altra 65 Pack – Men’s

Arcteryx Altra 65 Pack

The Arcteryx Altra has all the makings of the best backpacking backpack. The pivoting hip belt effectively transfers the weight of the backpack to your hips, allowing better support. If you ever tried turning to one side with any other backpack, you’ll feel its weight shift here and there; this isn’t the case with the Altra.

Combine this feature with the lightweight and durable frame and you have one of the most comfortable backpacks. The Altra also boasts excellent accessibility and ease of use.

A couple of ample-sized pockets on the top of the lid will allow you to quickly look for anything inside.

Some backpackers claim that finding items is a breeze even with both pockets filled up. The Altra also has a U-shaped zipper to help you get those items that are too deep inside

Arcteryx Altra 65 Pack for Mens

Pros

  • Pivoting hip belt transfers weight off your shoulders and lets you move around easily.
  • Features one of the best lids you can find in a backpack.
  • Provides quick and easy access to everything inside your bag.
  • Impressive durability despite being light for its size.

Cons

  • Shoulder straps can feel too thin especially during extended trips.
  • One of the priciest options, although the benefits are worth it.
Conclusion – If you have the cash, definitely go for this backpack. 

Osprey Packs Exos 48 Backpack

Osprey Packs Exos 48 Backpack

The Osprey Exos 48 provides the best bang for your buck among ultralight backpacks.

Brimming with features such as a FlapJacket top closure, stretchy mesh shoulder strap pockets and hip belt pockets, the Exos offers a high level of versatility at an affordable price.

Ultralight backpacks have limited carrying capacity, but the Exos also features webbing loops, a floating lid, and bottom straps to help secure bulky but lightweight items.

If you’re looking for something meant for shorter trips, then the Exos is the best travel backpack for you.

Pros:

  • Plenty of features for an ultralight backpack.
  • Very affordable considering its versatility and carrying capacity
  • Perfect for novice backpackers or for shorter trips

Cons

  • Not the most durable option available
  • Stretchy side pockets prone to wear and tear
  • Tensioned frame makes it less comfortable when carrying light loads
Conclusion – An excellent starter backpack if you’re just trying out backpacking. 

High Sierra Tech Series Titan 65 Frame Pack

High Sierra Titan 65 Frame Pack

If the Osprey Exos is the most cost-effective ultralight backpack, then the High Sierra Tech Series Titan is its bigger counterpart.

Despite being designed to carry heavy loads, the Titan’s S-shaped Ergo-Fit shoulder straps and padded back panel provides plenty of comfort and support.

The design is plain and simple, but features such as the hip belt pocket and hinge pocket still provide a lot of convenience. It even has a sewn-on survival list underneath the lid!

At barely half the price of other products on this guide, it’s easily one of the best hiking backpacks for budget-savvy backpackers.

Pros

  • Comfortable to wear even at full load
  • Highly adjustable
  • Pockets are conveniently placed for quick and easy access
  • The survival list under the lid is a nice touch

Cons

  • Extra handles doesn’t seem that useful, could lose the extra weight
  • Some loose threads on the stitching
  • A bit on the heavier side
Conclusion – A big bag that gives good bang for the buck. 

Gregory Mountain Products Men’s Baltoro 75 Backpack

Gregory Mountain Products Men's Baltoro 75 Backpack

The best backpacks for travel have a little bit of everything, and you can see it in the Gregory Baltoro.

The shoulder straps are well-articulated with high quality foam padding and the face fabric works well even if the wearer isn’t wearing clothing. The lumbar pad also provides excellent lower back support which is perfect for long walks, but it can be removed if you don’t feel like using it.

The Baltoro sits close to the middle of the pack in terms of weight, but it’s loaded with options such as a stowable forward-facing bottle pocket, dual waist-belt pockets, and a suspension system that you’ll expect to find only on heavier backpacks. Interchangeable hip belts and shoulder straps add an extra layer of customization for that perfect fit.

Pros

  • Excellent amount of features given its weight
  • Robust frame on par with heavier bags
  • Lumbar pad and interchangeable straps and hip belts allow better customization
  • Has a little bit of everything such as easy access lids

Cons

  • Some don’t like the supportive foam
  • Still heavier than average
Conclusion – Treat this like the jack-of-all-trades of this list; one of the safest options.

Osprey Packs Volt 75 Backpack

Osprey Packs Volt 75 Backpack

Another cost-effective lightweight bag, the Osprey Volt is a fine mix of simplicity and performance. What it lacks in extra features, it more than makes up for in durability and affordability.

This makes the Osprey Volt a favorite among beginners and veterans looking for a budget backpack.

The Osprey Volt won’t be one of the best hiking backpacks simply because it’s affordable; the straps are good enough to give it a better than average fit, offering even better comfort than the Osprey Exos, which is also included in this list. The minimal amount of features isn’t always a bad thing; after all, less features mean less extra weight.

Pros

  • Simple, no-nonsense backpack
  • Excellent for beginners and veterans on a budget
  • One of the most cost-effective options available along with the Exos

Cons

  • Some may find the lack of features unattractive
  • Not suitable for heavier loads
  • Not recommended for extended trips
Conclusion – Another solid ultralight option. Get this if you don’t mind not having extra features.

Deuter Aircontact 65+10 Backpack

Deuter Aircontact 65+10 Backpack

Comfort is essential when it comes to extended backpacking trips, and the Deuter Air Contact ranks as one of the best in this department.

You can carry 50 pounds worth of luggage all day without any problems, thanks to its Vario adjustment system, additional straps on the bottom, and extra padding.

What’s even more suprising is that it’s one of the most comfortable backpacks even if it’s one of the heaviest options in this list!

If you don’t have the cash for the Arcteryx Altra or if you want something stronger than the Ospret Volt, the Deuter Air Contact offers a much more balanced alternative.

Pros

  • One of the most comfortable bags available
  • Decent amount of features
  • An excellent all-around option, balancing cost, strength, and features

Cons

  • Hip belt is a bit bulky
  • Heavier than anything else on the list.
Conclusion – An excellent mid-range choice that also happens to be one of the most comfortable backpacks available.

Wrapping Things Up

Friends Hiking

That’s pretty much it for the best backpacks you can find online. Take note that there are plenty of other backpacks available out there, with some of them better at some areas than those included on this guide.

However, any of these seven choices are already solid options and more importantly – just an order away.

Do you know other backpacks that you think should have been included in this list? Share us your thoughts by leaving a comment!

Good luck with your search for your ideal backpack and don’t forget about camping hammock

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