Let’s get to the point: Outlander Ultra Lightweight Backpack is the best backpack for hikers looking for a pack option that’s water-resistant, durable, and compact.
Made from rip- and water-resistant nylon fabric, the Outlander is strong with long-lasting performance.
It’s also light! Stress points are reinforced with bar tacking for increased longevity. And across the backpack are sturdy, two-way abrasion-resistant SBS metal zippers. Check out the multiple storage compartments. The Outlander has a roomy main compartment, as well as several pockets for storage and organization.
In the front are two zipper pockets, perfect for storing small accessories while on the trail. An internal pocket keeps your valuables safe, while two side pockets perfectly fit water bottles and other grab-n-go must-haves.
Pro tip: Stuff the bag into its own pocket for storage.
If you’re flying, avoid overweight baggage charges. Simply unfold the Outlander from your luggage and use it as a carry-on bag.
Avid trail dogs like you need a good backpack to haul all the gear you need on the trail.
That pack needs to also be comfortable, spacious, and light. The right pack should feel like an extension of your own body. And, ideally, the pack should match your impeccable style.
Nobody wants to have their pack give out on them deep in the wilderness or on top of a mountain range.
But RAVE Reviews knows there are a lot of backpacks to choose from. Where should a hiker begin when shopping for their next pack?
To help, we looked at more backpacks than you can imagine, and then narrowed them down to create a list of the internet’s 10 best backpacks for hiking. We examined price, weight, storage capacity, and other product features. And we feel we’ve picked the very best for hikers of all skill levels.
Are you a day-tripper, or do you wander for weeks? Do you prefer the mountains or the desert? Do you like the snow or the beach? Whatever the case, you’ll find the best backpack for your style of hiking right here.
The Backpacks for Hiking We RAVE About
When you’re ready to wander, there are four major components to consider before buying a hiking backpack:
- Extra features
Backpacks fall into the following three basic categories:
Daypacks: Used for single-day hikes, climbs, runs, or bike rides.
Internal frame packs: Intended for heavier loads of 15 pounds and up.
External frame packs: Also intended for heavier loads, external frame packs allow the attachment of larger objects to the exterior of the frame.
Getting the Right Fit Is Everything
Don’t get stuck in the middle of nowhere with an ill-fitting backpack. You don’t want blisters, aches, and pain for days. Take the time to find out what size pack you need to fit your body perfectly.
Pro tip: Measure your torso.
Determine your torso length before you even begin shopping. That way, you can find the proper size pack for your body. Without proper measurement of your shoulders, back, and hips, your pack might not fit correctly. This can cause discomfort and even injury when you’re miles from nowhere.
Many daypacks come in only one size, making it pretty simple to get a good fit:
- Shoulder straps should feel comfortable around your shoulders, with no pinching or digging under your armpits.
- The hip belt should keep the bottom of the pack snug against your lumbar region to eliminate any movement while walking.
When it comes to larger internal and external frame packs, getting the right fit is the most important issue.
Pro Tip: Get to know the suspension system,
The suspension system is responsible for bearing the weight of the pack while connecting it to your body via the shoulder straps, hip belt, frame, and back padding in the lumbar area.
There are three types of suspension systems:
- Fixed Suspensions: Fixed suspensions come in a variety of torso lengths to accommodate different sized people. Pro: Stability. Con: Make sure the pack fits perfectly, because there’s no room for error.
- Adjustable Suspensions: Adjustable suspensions have a movable shoulder yoke that slides up or down a track in the center of the back panel. This allows the space between the shoulder and hips to be shortened or lengthened as needed.
- Interchangeable Suspensions: The best of both worlds, interchangeable suspensions allow different size hip belts and shoulder straps. This is ideal for people who fall outside the range of “average” height or weight.
Women’s Packs: What to Look For
Good women’s backpacks have important fit differences that greatly improve comfort for women while on the trail.
Key differences include closer together shoulder straps. And women’s packs have hip belts that are designed to fit women’s hips. They’re also thinner and more tapered, to better fit narrow shoulders.
How to Pack Your Backpack: Space Issues and How to Avoid Them
The right hiking backpack not only fits perfectly, but it also has just the right capacity for your needs.
It needs to be big enough to fit everything you really need for your trip, but not so large you’ll fill it with non-essential (and heavy) junk.
But what size pack do you really need? Most daypacks range in capacity from 20 liters to 35 liters. Smaller sized backpacks work for half-day hikes, while something in the 35-liter range is necessary for all-day hikes.
RAVE’s ranking process includes metadata analysis from across numerous consumer review websites.
This allows us to take into account both the advantages and drawbacks of a wide range of products, based on thousands of customer experiences. We also get input from individual experts.
Our data largely comes from an aggregate of consumer reviews. When shopping for backpacks for hiking trips, consumers look for:
- Extra features, like water resistance and storage capacity
So read on and see which hiking backpack is the best backpack for you. And as always, we’ll see you on the trail.
The Best Backpacks for Hiking
Outlander Ultra Lightweight Backpack
The Outlander is our #1 pick for a lot of reasons. The Outlander’s blend of weight, storage capacity, and durability make it the perfect pick for hikers of all skill levels.
The Outlander can even perform magic tricks. When not in use, it can be compressed down to about the size of a large grapefruit. How cool is that?
In fact, some claim you can fit 26 Outlander backpacks into a single backpack. Try it for yourself and find out.
The Outback is designed for versatility and adaptability. The ultra-light design adds no unnecessary weight to your load. And mesh side pockets are ideal for incidentals like water bottles and umbrellas.
With a sleek design and a wide range of colors, the Outlander also looks great!
- Lightweight and durable
- Great organization
- Can be easily stored when not in use
- Not ideal for dual use
- Carabiner clips are only come on new models
High Sierra Titan 65L
The High Sierra Titan is a big pack designed for longer trips. This internal frame pack includes loads of good features for hikers, and the S-shaped ergo-fit straps ensure comfort—which is critical, given how large this bag is. The AirFlow channels provide great ventilation to keep you from getting too sweaty while on your trek.
The main compartment is accessed through an adjustable top lid and is secured with a drawstring. There is also a useful zippered compartment inside the top lid for small items or snacks. The sleeping bag compartment is at the bottom of the backpack and is separate from the main compartment for ease of use and access. As with many backpacks of this type, the Titan also comes with a built in rainfly (an outer layer of waterproof material) that can cover the whole pack in bad weather.
High Sierra has been making world-class hiking gear for over 30 years, and the Titan is no exception. This is a great pack to take along for your next journey in the wild world!
- Great price
- Outstanding comfort
- Very versatile for long treks
- May be too large for some
The Hikpro 20L is built to last. It’s perfect for day trips, vacation, travel, day hikes, school, camping, and shopping.
It’s well made and comfortable, with four zippered compartments that are perfect for keeping your stuff organized while you’re in the wild.
Notable are the wide, breathable mesh shoulders straps. The length is easy to adjust, and they lock length firmly. There are also smooth, high-quality SBS two-way zippers.
To keep things organized, you’ll find three zippered compartments. While the main pocket is large enough to store most everything, the small outer pocket is great to quickly access guidebooks and incidentals.
The inner zippered pocket doubles as a storage pouch, perfect for stashing valuables such as your wallet, ID, or credit cards. There is also a large mesh pocket on each side, for water bottles or an umbrella.
- Very durable
- Great shoulder straps
- Not very spacious
- Not waterproof
Osprey Xenith 88 Hiking Backpack
If you’re hitting the trail for a week or more, the Osprey Xenith might be exactly what you need.
It has legendary load-carrying ability. And since fit is everything, the Oprey Xenith has interchangeable hip belt and harness sizes, plus custom molding.
This pack also features hydration compatibility and a Stow-on-the-Go™ trekking pole attachment. The Osprey Xenith is made from 420d high-tenacity nylon, and it has dual-directional stretch mesh zippered pockets.
There’s also an HDPE framesheet for lightweight rigidity, and the lid doubles as a lumbar pack for side trips. Don’t miss the bioform hip and shoulder pads.
And notice that the side zips allow access to the main compartment without opening the lid. The small pockets are ideal for staying organized in the back country.
On top of it all, side compression straps cinch down on light loads.
- Excellent suspension system
- Good access to the main compartment
- Molded hip belt
- Questionable quality on the buckles
- Hydration system not included
Teton Sports Scout 3400 Internal Frame Backpack
Ideal for youth and light backpackers, the Teton Sports Scout 3400 blends comfort and affordability, with torso adjustments, aluminum stays, thickly padded straps, plenty of pockets, and a built-in rainfly.
And it’s durable, with solid zippers, mesh lumbar support, padded waist, and shoulder straps.
For the day when the rain comes (and it will!), check out the Sports Scout’s water-repellent exterior coating and waterproof cover that will protect your camera, electronics, or other valuables from getting wet. Pull it out to protect the entire pack—and let it rain!
The Sport Scout is also a secure backpack for hiking. Two barrel-lock drawstrings securely close the pack’s main compartment, while gear loops make it easy to hang ski poles or an ice axe or shovel. And a top carry-loop makes it easy to load into your car.
A large sleeping-bag compartment holds your bedroll safely and securely while you hike to your destination.
- Great padding for comfort
- Torso adjustment built-in
- Space for internal bladder
- Water bladder not included
- Not foldable
- Side bottle pockets are a bit small
Gregory Baltoro 75L
The Gregory Baltoro is specifically designed for carrying heavy loads in comfort. This internal frame backpack has an outstanding A3 suspension system that helps distribute the weight of even the heaviest of loads.
The padding, shoulder straps, and hip belt all work together to deliver premium comfort. The pack adjusts to fit different torso sizes, and there is a removable lumbar cushion for additional support.
The Baltoro also has great organizational features, with 10 exterior pockets, including 3 zippered pockets in the top lid for small items, 2 mesh water bottle sleeves, and a couple of pockets on the hip belt.
Another great feature is found in the interior main compartment, which is accessible through a U-shaped zipper. This feature is the Sidekick daypack. This doubles as the hydration sleeve for the pack, and can be removed and used for short hikes after you’ve set up camp.
As with most hiking packs, the Baltoro comes with a rain cover that stores on the underside of the top lid. Though it is still a heavier pack (weighing in at over 4 pounds), it is remarkably durable. If you are planning a long trek, this may be the pack for you!
- Excellent carry-ability
- Good organization
- Great durability
- On the heavier side
- Hip-belt pocket is too small
- Needs better ventilation for back
Deuter Aircontact 65L
Our next bag is the German-designed Deuter Aircontact 65L, which is designed to carry heavy loads with comfort. The Aircontact’s suspension system helps evenly distribute the weight—a good thing, because this pack weighs 6 pounds by itself. Unlike some other larger packs, the Aircontact offers good ventilation to cut down on overheating while you are on the trail.
The hip belt further enhances the pack’s ability to distribute weight around the hips—which, of course, should be the main weight-bearing portion of the body.
The bag comes with a number of standard features, like a sleeping bag compartment at the bottom of the pack. This compartment is separated from the main compartment by a zipper, and can be completely removed if necessary. You also get a rain cover that can cover the whole pack.
The bag is easily accessible through the U-shaped zipper at the top, and the lid cover “floats,” so it can cover wide or small loads. Other features include attachment rings, ice axe loops, and a 3-liter hydration system. Aside from the weight of the bag itself, this is an excellent choice for a long-distance journey!
- Good for heavy loads
- Great organization
- Good padding
- Pretty heavy pack
- Hip belt is a bit bulky
- Too large for shorter trips
The Osprey Ariel is designed for carrying heavy packs over long distances. This women’s backpack (the men’s version of this pack is called the Aether) is very comfortable to carry. The suspension system and padded hip belt do a great job of distributing weight evenly, and the Airscape backpanel does an excellent job of providing great ventilation when carrying a heavy load on the trail.
There are numerous features for adjusting the size of the pack—which can actually get a bit complicated with all the straps. With four compartments and a removable lid that can double as a daypack, this bag gives you lots of functionality and organizational options.
For women who are going to hit the trail for longer duration, this is an excellent pack for carrying all your gear!
- Very comfortable
- Varied sizes available
- Good for long distances
- On the heavier side
- A bit pricey
- Adjustment straps can be confusing
The North Face Banchee
The North Face Banchee is one of the lightest packs on our list, weighing in at just over 3.5 pounds. But don’t let the lighter weight fool you—this pack can still comfortably carry a large load. The ergonomic design of the straps and suspension system assures that the pack stays close to the body while also distributing weight evenly.
This is an especially effective pack for loads of around 50 pounds. The pack’s torso can adjust up to 5 inches, and the pack comes in two sizes—which makes it capable of fitting most heights.
With a total of eight compartments, the Banchee offers great organization possibilities. There is a sleeping bag compartment that includes a removable divider from the rest of the pack. And a unique beaver-tail pocket for oddly shaped gear.
If you are looking for a lightweight bag that can carry a good-sized load at a very competitive price, the Banchee may be the bag for you!
- Competitive pricing
- Good comfort
- Not built for technical climbing
- Lid top is not as accessible as some other models
- Limited load bearing
The Fjallraven Kaipak rounds out our list of the 10 best backpacks for hiking. And it’s one of the most durable and stylish of them all.
This backpack is made from G-1000 heavy duty eco fabric, which is constructed from recycled polyester and cotton. The bag is also waxed for water resistance. This is a durable pack!
Simple and clean design is Fjallraven’s calling card. The Kaipak embodies that ethos, offering a simple top-loading and adjustable hood, as well as bottom access. There’s a useful front zipped pocket for keeping smaller materials close at hand, and the compression straps can also pull double duty, to strap down poles or other items.
Most packs this size come with an adjustable suspension system to account for different torso sizes. That is not the case here, though the shoulder straps are adjustable. Though it is a bit more pricey than some other packs, Fjallraven’s price is still competitive at around $230.
- Made with recycled materials
- Very durable
- Simple and elegant design
- Not a lot of features
- Doesn’t adjust for torso size
- Somewhat expensive
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Frame or No Frame: How to Choose
Internal Frame Packs
Internal frame packs are most common among serious hikers. They come in many designs, but they all have a suspension system incorporated within the main body of the pack.
Pros: Heavier than frameless packs, internal frame packs have just what their name implies—an internal frame.
With an internal frame pack you’ll find stability, due to a closer fit (this is especially true for the extreme terrain junkie).
This means more comfortable shoulder straps than frameless models as well. There’s also greater storage space on the inside, so you’ll have to strap less to the outside of the pack.
Cons: There’s very little airflow between your back and the pack with internal frame models. And fancier, larger varieties can be spendy.
Frameless packs are more than sufficient for the casual day hiker. Most frameless models have side pockets, but not all have compression straps and hip belts. Without these features, frameless packs can suffer from inferior comfort and stability over a wider range of conditions.
Pros: Simple. Lightweight. Ideal for smaller loads. Typically inexpensive.
Cons: Uncomfortable if carrying heavy loads for extended periods of time or over a variety of terrain.
How Do I Know a Good Women’s Backpack when I See One?
Everyone is equal on the trail—but men and women’s bodies are just shaped differently. It’s important to keep this in mind when shopping for a pack. Luckily, there are a number of great women’s backpacks on the market
Here are some things to keep in mind when shopping for a women’s backpack:
It’s usually recommended women carry less than a 70-liter backpack if they are small in stature. In fact, many women’s backpack manufacturers don’t even produce packs over 70 liters.
Women’s packs have shorter lengths, so measure your back before buying.
To do so, measure the length of your back from the base of the neck (C7 vertebrae) to the iliac crest to get an indication of whether you’d benefit from having a backpack tailored for shorter torsos. If you happen to be tall, a unisex pack might be just fine.
Pros: Women’s packs aren’t just for women. They’re also preferred by shorter men, children, and young adults.
Smaller sizes will protect your back the entire time you’re out on the trail. Women’s packs also take into account anatomical differences across men’s and women’s chests. Some even have additional padding in the hip belt.
Cons: They lack capacity. But what they lack in capacity, they make up for in comfort and endurance.
Flying with Your Pack: Can I Bring a Hiking Backpack as a Carry-on, or Will I Need to Check It?
The maximum size of a carry-on item for many airlines is 22 x 14 x 9 inches. If your filled backpack is larger, you’ll need to check it.
How Should I Pack a Hiking Backpack?
Internal and External Frame Backpacks: a Packing How-To
- First, place your sleeping bag crosswise in the bottom of the pack. We recommend packing it in a waterproof stuffsack or sturdy garbage bag beforehand. Since you won’t need it until right before bedtime, the sleeping bag acts as a stable base for all your other gear.
- Next, load your heaviest items, like your food bag and tent. We recommend strapping tent poles to the outside of the pack. If you keep heavy objects low and close to your spine, you’ll maintain balance out on the trail.
- When it comes to puffy stuff like rain jackets, we suggest stashing them down the sides of the pack. This takes up the space left by the bulkier items. And as far as clothes are concerned, we suggest keeping them in a small stuffsack and packing them next.
- Then, put all the items you’ll use during the day in the top lid or other external pockets for easy access (stuff like snacks, maps, sunscreen, headlamp, and water treatment equipment).
External Frame Backpacks
- With external frame backpacks, sleeping bags are usually strapped outside and under the packbag. Therefore, it’s absolutely critical to store your bag in a completely waterproof stuffsack.
- Put your heavier gear, like your food and tent, higher up on the frame, but still keep them close to your spine.
- Organize your gear in any available side or front pockets. This saves some weight, so you can skip the stuffsacks.
What Are the Best Backpacks for Hiking?
Choose a Pack that Fits Your Body
Measure along your spine from the base of your neck to the top of your hips.
Choose a Pack that Fits Your Trip
Where are you going? What are some of the unique needs you’ll face while exploring in that environment?
Customize the Fit
Don’t buy without putting the pack on.
- How do the hip belt and shoulder straps feel?
- Do the load-lifter straps (located just below the tops of your shoulders) angle back at a 45-degree angle?
- Check the sternum strap. Is it at a comfortable height across your chest? When tightened, the sternum strap should allow your arms to move freely.
- If your pack has stabilizer straps, try them out. The pack should feel stable.
- Relieve some tension from the shoulder straps. The majority of the weight should be carried by your hips.
Fill your new hiking backpack with these other favorite products.
- Liteflex Trekking Umbrella ($50): Umbrellas are a must-have out on the trail. Shield yourself from sun and rain with this ultra-light fiberglass umbrella featuring Teflon-coated polyester fabric, ideal for water repellency.
- Surviveware Biodegradable Wet Wipes ($10): We all get a little grimy on our hiking ventures. Stay fresh with these biodegradable towelettes.
- EnZees Foot Soother ($15): To prevent sore feet, you can leave the duct tape at home. You won’t need it with these wool inserts.They reduce friction and stay in place with natural fibers that cling to the inside of your socks.
- Omeals Chicken Creole ($8): These self-heating meals need only a few ounces of water to set off a chemical reaction, rapidly generating steam around the sealed inner pouch. Ready to eat in under five minutes.
- Toes Home Outdoor Magic Headbands ($10): These headbands can double as a neck gaiter, wristband, or mask. Use them for protection against the sun and wind while you’re out in the elements.