The 10 Best Hiking Backpacks

Updated January 11, 2018 by Brett Dvoretz

10 Best Hiking Backpacks
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 41 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. In searching for the perfect pack for day hikers and intrepid campers, we've trekked the trails and stood on the summits in order to rank these hiking backpacks. Judged in terms of capacity, load distribution, comfort, and durability, we've selected some of the best available to take you on your next adventure. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best hiking backpack on Amazon.

10. Kimlee Daypack

The Kimlee Daypack has been constructed from high-tenacity nylon that is water, dust, and tear-resistant, so it should stand up to almost anything. Its 3D suspension system distributes load weight evenly, however, the straps and buckles are a bit too thin.
  • reflective points for nighttime use
  • top loop for easy lifting
  • seems smaller than advertised
Brand Kimlee
Model pending
Weight 2.7 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

9. Mountaintop 60L

The Mountaintop 60L is crafted from a combination of water-resistant Terylyne and nylon, making it durable and highly weather-resistant. While its multiple pockets keep everything organized, it feels rather bulky to carry and is better for large individuals.
  • built-in whistle
  • convenient daisy chain loops
  • no side compartments
Brand Mountaintop
Model 58447-3056-Parent
Weight 4.2 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

8. High Sierra Titan

The High Sierra Titan has a 65-liter capacity, making it more than suitable for a week-long hiking trip or a three-month backpacking trip across Asia. It has dual pass-through ports for a hydration bladder tube and a sternum strap for load balancing.
  • lots of pockets for organization
  • drawstring top closure
  • zippers tend to catch a bit
Brand High Sierra
Model pending
Weight 5.6 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

7. Teton Explorer

The Teton Explorer boasts a 4,000 cubic inch storage capacity, adjustable torso length from 19-23 inches, and waterproof zippers with a built-in pass-through feature for carrying fishing rods or tent poles. However, its rainfly isn't big enough.
  • multiple compression straps
  • lots of hip and back padding
  • sleeping bag pocket is too small
Brand Teton Sports
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

6. Osprey Exos

The Osprey Exos has a flashier design than most other hiking packs, which some may appreciate. It has multiple cord tie-off points, making it easy to load up with tons of gear, and a floating top pocket that can be completely removed if needed.
  • internal cross strut for support
  • thin yet impressively strong
  • rides well on the back
Brand Osprey
Model 33948-505-LG-Parent
Weight 2.4 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

5. Kelty Redwing

The Kelty Redwing isn't ideal for super long hiking trips, due to its medium load capacity, but it's still a good choice for casual travelers thanks to its U-zipper design that allows it to function as both a top and panel loader.
  • hydration bladder compatible
  • dual-density foam waist belt
  • keeps the load off your shoulders
Brand Kelty
Model 22615313BK
Weight 3.5 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

4. North Face Terra

The North Face Terra delivers a light, slim, and user-friendly design for all-day comfort. Its Optifit harness system with adjustable straps provides both superior load control and weight balance during longer trail hikes, so it always feel stable on the back.
  • back ventilation channels
  • multiple small pockets for storage
  • thick padding on the shoulder straps
Brand The North Face
Model T0A1N9KT0. SM
Weight 4.1 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

3. Osprey Kestrel 48

Created for versatility and multifunctional use, the Osprey Kestrel 48 has a unique design that allows trekking poles to quickly be attached while you are on the move. It also has a reservoir sleeve located directly behind the shoulder harness for quick bladder access.
  • dedicated sleeping bag compartment
  • integrated rain cover
  • convenient side and top access
Brand Osprey
Model 10000150
Weight 3.8 pounds
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

2. Teton Scout

At 3,400 cubic inches, the Teton Scout is just the right size for teens, or for adults going on shorter 2 to 3-day excursions. Its large built-in side and front mesh pockets can hold water bottles and other tools that you would like to keep separate from your clothes.
  • backed by a lifetime warranty
  • meets most carry-on restrictions
  • multiple fit adjustment points
Brand Teton Sports
Model 161
Weight 4.4 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

1. Gregory Mountain Baltoro

With its wide, flip-top opening, getting gear in and out of the Gregory Mountain Baltoro is a cinch. It is made from a ballistic weave polyester that is highly abrasion-resistant, so you can take it on your most rugged adventures time and time again.
  • contours well to the lumbar region
  • weather-resistant exterior pockets
  • side-mounted bottle holster
Brand Gregory
Model 844930088680-P
Weight 6.7 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

Get Your Gear From Here To There: The Hiking Pack

For the dedicated outdoor enthusiast, a hiking pack is more than just a way to haul gear on a trail; it is a deeply personal piece of equipment that becomes an integral part of your life. The right pack not only feels good on your back, but in fact makes you feel good each and every time you swing it up onto yourself and cinch those straps tight.

And contrary to common misconception, a great hiking pack need not cost a great deal of money. There are plenty of excellent packs available that cost less than a hundred dollars, in fact. There are even decent packs that cost less than fifty bucks.

This, though, is a case where price shouldn't be the leading factor in your consideration. A great hiking pack is the pack that's right for you, not one that costs the most and has lots of fancy attributes on paper. If a pack has the right amount of storage space (usually measured in liters or cubic inches) for your needs, a suspension system that appeals to you and suits your body shape, and offers a distribution of pockets you find appealing, then that's the pack for you.

Of course, there are a few details to weigh.

If you're a day hiker who prefers shorter loops, then consider a summit style pack; many hiking packs that distribute loads evenly over your person in fact add weight unnecessarily if all you needed to carry along was a bit of water and a layer or two.

If you're headed into the deep woods for a multiple day trip, however, then a bigger bag is crucial. But consider one that can be adjusted easily to a smaller size as your food is consumed or can be enlarged to accommodate layers of clothing you remove. Keeping your bag tightly packed ensures an even weight distribution that will help keep you balanced.

And to state the obvious, if you're headed into a climate where wet weather is likely, make sure your pack is water resistant. Most are, sure, but some aren't, and wet gear is a great way to ruin a trip.

How To Choose The Right Hiking Pack

Any decent hiking pack is adjustable in several different ways. But not every pack can be adjusted enough for every hiker, so do your research before you buy.

Hiking packs can be adjusted to accommodate various torso lengths, often adjustable as many as six inches. This adjustment usually involves adding or reducing the distance between the shoulder straps and the waist belt. Ideally you can find a hiking pack that fits you perfectly in its middle setting, e.g. a pack that accommodates torsos between 18" to 24" while your ideal setting is 21". That's the case because minor adjustments during the course of a hike can shift where you concentrate the load, from waist to shoulders, giving various parts of your body little breaks from time to time.

The waist belt itself is critical, as most of a pack's weight is carried on your hips. Make sure you choose one that fits you comfortably while still offering plenty of opportunity for tightening or loosening.

Also consider the type of padding on the back. Softer pads may seem like a draw at first, but they might also soak up sweat and hold heat, for example.

How To Pack That Pack

The way you load your hiking pack should be dictated by the type of hike at hand. If you're going on an overnight (or multiple night) trek, then you're going to have sleeping gear and a shelter of sorts, and these items will only need to be accessed once a day, thus they can be loaded into the bottom of the bag.

If you anticipate rain, keep your poncho or other foul weather gear easy to grab, as getting wet is both unpleasant and radically increases the risk for hypothermia in all seasons. Water purification systems and first aid gear should always be readily available. That of course goes for your water supply itself, too, and your camera.

But beyond those few items (water, emergency gear, e.g.) that you need to access readily and at times quickly, the most important factor when it comes to packing is weight distribution, not accessibility. You need to keep the bulk of your heavy gear as close as possible to the small of your back. That helps to keep it near your center of gravity, which means better balance. Better balance, in turn, means more safety and less fatigue, both crucial factors when you're out in the wilderness.

If you're hauling lots of extra water, go ahead and load it low in the bag. If you have lots of clothing for layering purposes (or simply because you're out in the cold) get that up near the top of your load, as it's lighter weight. And be sure to give your pack a few good shakes and bounces once you have loaded, and then check its weight distribution again: things shift around as you move, and even a pack that seems properly loaded can quickly become off balance. Take the time to readjust or even repack during breaks; your back, and the rest of your body, will thank you.

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Last updated on January 11, 2018 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.

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