Hikers come in all sizes, but backpacks don’t. To make sure you’ve got the best hiking backpack that will work both for long straight hikes and for serious climbing, make sure you invest in a back with plenty of adjustable features so you can get your pack filled and loaded onto your back in comfort and safety.
In addition to a great fit, your pack will need to make it easy to get to your supplies and water. A pack you can use for a long camping trip will probably need a stretch pack, preferably breathable, for wet or dirty clothes. Finally, the best hiking backpack will be water resistant.
Choosing the Best Hiking Backpack For Your Needs
Consider Your Primary Use
1) Are you a day-hiker, or do you plan to camp out overnight? Some hiking backpacks come with extras including waterproof tarps, which can save you both cash and misery later.
2) Do you want a framed or unframed backpack? If you’re planning long hikes, a frame is critical to your comfort and to the stability of the pack. If you just need a convenient bag to make it easy to transport odds and ends over short distances, a soft backpack may be enough. In this regard, the best hiking backpack will differ depending on the intended use.
3) Are there physical limitations to consider? For especially fit hikers, getting the best hiking backpack to fit well is fairly straightforward, but for folks nursing old injuries or facing physical limitations, a pack with easy to adjust stabilizing straps can save your low back a lot of discomfort.
4) Consider your water needs carefully. Water is quite heavy and you may need to pack in multiple containers. A great hiking backpack will include a spot for a water bottle on the outside of the pack as well as the strength and durability to pack in extra water if needed.
5) Look for expandable pouches on your pack. If you get caught in a downpour, you’ll want to be able to keep your wet clothes in a stretch pack on the outside of the bag, preventing mildew inside your pack.
Top 10 Best Hiking Backpack Comparison Guide
The TETON 5500 is built for long hikes in rough terrain, and it comes with a free tarp poncho to boot! This pack can help you carry a lot of gear in comfort. Empty, the Teton 5500 weighs in at just 6 pounds.
It’s adjustable for people of most any height, allowing for 6 inches of variance in the torso height adjustment, from 16 to 22 inches or 41 to 56 centimeters. The lumbar portion of the pack is well padded to protect your back as you hike. The shoulder straps feature padding in just the right spot as well, and the ability to change the distance between the shoulder pads and the lumbar support can make it possible to redistribute your gear should you grow tired or uncomfortable.
Finally, this hiking backpack features plenty of exterior storage. There are multiple straps for attachable gear, such as rock climbing equipment or hiking poles. In addition, you’ll have easy access to your water bottle thanks to multiple exterior pockets.
This hiking backpack offers users plenty of flexibility and can be folded into a small pocket of another pack when not in use. It should be noted that this pack has no frame, though the straps are adjustable and can be fastened across the chest to help manage weight.
The G4Free pack is water and tear resistant. If caught in a downpour, it will provide some protection, but for long term waterproof protection, you’re best off to use a poncho to cover you and your belongings.
There are 40 litres of storage available in this pack. It is durable enough to haul 66 pounds / 30 KG, but it should be noted that when hauling it full, it may be hard to balance the load. While the G4Free is quite durable, there is no frame to help you manage and disperse weight.
The Teton 3400 is a great daypack for beginners and kids. This pack offers 55 litres of storage space and is only 4.5 pounds / 2 kg when empty. It’s well framed with aluminum supports to help the bag maintain its shape and assist the user in managing and dispersing weight.
This pack is water resistant and comes with a rain poncho that’s easily accessible when the weather turns on you. In addition, the exterior of this pack features several pockets and connection points ideally suited for water bottles and hiking or climbing tools.
The Teton 3400 hiking backpack is built for the comfort of the wearer. No matter your size or weight tolerance, this pack features several adjustments to get your gear comfortably loaded. There is a well constructed foam lumbar support to protect your low back and molded channels in the supports allow for great airflow to keep you cool.
If you have a lot to carry, this is the bag for you! The Mardingtop hiking backpack is only 6.1 pounds empty, but can carry more than 60 pounds with little strain on the pack. It comes with a rain cover for the bag to keep you on the trail no matter the weather.
The Mardingtop 65+10L is easy to adjust for users of nearly any size. This pack features a torso-length adjustment that will help you manage the weight of your gear. The flexible s-style shoulder straps will help you settle the pack comfortably, and the sternum strap will keep it from bouncing around. The pack provides excellent lumbar padding and is designed to keep air moving. Finally, there’s a detachable hip belt to help distribute weight and stabilize the pack.
There are multiple straps and clips to help you manage extra gear, including trekking poles, tent poles and other tools. This pack also features two 5 litre detachable side pockets. It should be noted that once this pack is fully loaded with all attachments added, it will be quite wide. If you plan to fly with this pack, be prepared to check it.
The Mountaintop 70L+10L is an ideal choice for youth that are serious about backpacking; it’s a design that they can grow into and will easily carry their expanding inventory of gear! This pack features 8 compression straps for loading on extra gear, and offers elastic bands when for the compression straps are not in use.
The Mountaintop hiking backpack offers plenty of flexibility in fitting the pack to the user. There is a torso-length adjustment feature to settle the pack comfortably on your spine. The portion of the pack that lays against your back is channeled and well padded for air movement. There is an adjustable hip belt to stabilize the pack against your lower back and a sternum strap to keep everything from bouncing around.
This hiking backpack is hydration system compatible; there’s a water bladder sleeve in the main compartment. In addition, there are multiple external pockets within easy reach for water bottles or tools that you’ll need quickly. The Mountaintop 70L+10L is constructed of water resistant fabric and comes with a rain cover to protect your pack.
If you struggle to find a pack that fits your frame, this is an ideal choice! The High Sierra Women’s Explorer offers a female specific fit. Many petite customers are thrilled with this pack!
Empty, this framed pack is only 4 pounds. It can tolerate more than 30 pounds of gear; some users found that clips on this pack would break if it were more heavily loaded. It’s a top loading pack with plenty of exterior pockets for water bottles and other items. There’s a rain cover for the pack included.
The High Sierra Women’s Explorer is easy to adjust for smaller hikers. There is a torso-length adjustment and the shoulder straps are well padded. A sternum clip will keep the top of the pack close to the body. The waist belt is easily adjusted and will keep the pack from bouncing around on your low back. In addition, the padding on the back is covered in mesh and will allow for plenty of airflow to keep you cool.
The Wasing 55L features an adjustable internal frame that can be adjusted to fit your back. If you struggle to find a pack that you can use in comfort, this may be the one for you! This pack is less than three pounds when empty.
You’ll find a rain cover, a bladder sleeve for water, and plenty of storage available with your Wasing 55L. This pack is well-framed for comfort and stability. While it doesn’t offer a torso adjustment, both the shoulder straps and hip belt are easy to fit to your frame. For people of average size, this is an ideal pack at 27 inches tall.
This pack is constructed of water resistant rip-stop polyester and should withstand a light rainfall; the rain cover is easily accessed and will keep your gear dry. In addition, the molded back cushion is channeled to allow for plenty of airflow.
The Osprey Kid pack is well suited to small backpackers! This top-loading pack features all of the necessities found in adult packs, though the sleeping bag portion is tight.
This pack weighs in at only 3.5 pounds. It loads from the top and comes with a rain cover that’s very easy to get to. Both the shoulder and the hip belt are adjustable and easy to customize as the child grows into the backpack.
There are multiple pockets, clips and loops for attaching all the necessary tools. Young backpackers will love their Osprey!
The littlest hikers will love their travels in the Luvdbaby Backpack. This durable and flexible backpacking tool will keep your baby safe and secure against you as you hike. When you set the pack down, a support folds out to keep the carrier upright.
This baby backpack also comes with several pouches and pockets for diapers, water and snacks. There’s an insulated pouch for bottles. The adjustable waist belt has a pocket for your keys and cell phone.
A sun shield is included to protect your baby’s tender skin. This pack is comfortable for parents as well, easily adjustable to disperse weight as your child grows. Finally, this baby carrier comes with a changing pad!
The SUNVP 50L is lightweight when empty but can haul a lot of gear! This framed pack is constructed of water resistant rip-stop polyester and weighs in at less than four pounds when empty. There are multiple pockets for hauling water and this pack includes holes for a bladder pouch.
Your travelling will be quite comfortable thanks to the flexibility of this pack. While the torso length is not adjustable, the shoulder straps and hip belt are easy to manipulate to find the “sweet spot” of comfort for your gear to ride. This pack is only 21 inches tall, but there are multiple pockets and access points, making it extremely easy for you to load it up and adjust it to suit your spine.
The back is well padded and offers plenty of cool air flow. There are several loops around the bottom of the pack, ideally suited for clipping an all necessary tools for your hiking adventure!