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Backpacking is self-sustained camping in which you carry all of the resources on your back that you will need for your predetermined time on the trail. This includes your shelter, sleep system (sleeping bag and pad), apparel, food, cooking method, and all other essentials. Backpacking is a great activity for people of all ages and for those with a little more of an adventurous spirit, and it can be done all four months of the year.

The benefit of a hiking backpack is that it gives you the freedom to go further into the backcountry for longer periods of time. But we know that with so many options on the market, choosing the best hiking backpack can feel like more of a challenge than planning your actual trip! Fortunately, we here at The Adventure Junkies pride ourselves in helping you pick the best gear for your next adventure. In this guide, we’ve harnessed the resources to help you pick the best hiking backpack for your next adventure.

For more of our top hiking gear recommendations, check out:

Hiking Backpacks for Women | Lightweight Hiking Backpacks

Day Hiking Backpacks | Women’s Day Hiking Backpacks 

Backpack Rain Covers | Solar Hiking Backpacks 

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Quick Answer - The Best Hiking Backpacks

  1. Hyperlite Mtn Gear 4400 Southwest
  2. Osprey Xenith 88
  3. Gregory Baltoro 75
  4. Lowe Alpine Airzone Trek+
  5. Deuter Futura Vario 50 + 10
  6. REI Co-op Flash 55
  7. Osprey Stratos 50
  8. Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Windrider
  9. Granite Gear Crown2 60
  10. MYSTERY RANCH Glacier

 

Comparison Table - The Best Backpacks for Hiking

PictureNameVolumeWeightRaincoverHydration CompatibilityPriceRating
Hyperlite Mtn Gear 4400 Southwest70L (Large)2.45 lbsNoYes$$$$4.8
Osprey Xenith 8892L (Large)5lbs 10ozNoYes$$$$4.7
Gregory Baltoro 7578L (Large)5lbs 3.5ozYesYes$$$4.9
Lowe Alpine Airzone Trek+45 - 55L (Small - Medium)3lbs 14.7ozYesYes$$4.5
Deuter Futura Vario 50 + 1060L (Medium)4lbs 9ozYesYes$$4.6
REI Co-op Flash 5557L (Medium)2lbs 11ozNoYes$4.5
Osprey Stratos 5050L (Medium)3lbs 10.9ozYesYes$4.9
Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Windrider40L (Small)2lbs 0.3ozNoYes$$$4.7
Granite Gear Crown2 6060L (Medium)2lbs 6.7ozNoYes$4.4
MYSTERY RANCH Glacier71L (Large)6lbs 6.4ozNoYes$$$$4.8
PictureNameVolumeWeightRaincoverHydration CompatibilityPriceRating

MULTI-DAY HIKING PACKING LIST

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Reviews - Best Hiking Backpacks

Hyperlite Mtn Gear 4400 Southwest

Specs
  • Volume: 70L (Large)
  • Weight: 2.45 lbs
  • Raincover: No
  • Hydration Compatibility: Yes
Features
  • Made From Waterproof Fabric
  • Roll-Top Closure
  • Adjustable Sternum Strap
  • Proprietary Seam Sealing

BEST FOR: LIGHTWEIGHT EXPEDITIONS

Made in Maine, Hyperlite Mountain Gear continues to push the envelope in ultralight gear. The 4400 Southwest is no exception. It’s made from waterproof fabric, thus negating the need for a rain cover. At under 2.5 pounds, this pack is the complete package. 

Everything about this pack is designed to get you to camp everyday high and dry. The roll-top closure is complete with compression straps to cinch the pack down vertically to complement the side compression straps. The adjustable sternum strap is made with self-tensioning elastic to move with you. Three external pockets are also created using the waterproof fabric. Used in conjunction with the brand’s waterproof stuff sacks, you will remain organized and your gear will stay dry for the entire trip.

Osprey Xenith 88

Specs
  • Volume: 92L (Large)
  • Weight: 5lbs 10oz
  • Raincover: No
  • Hydration Compatibility: Yes
Features
  • Sternum Strap Contains Safety Whistle
  • Trekking Pole Attachment
  • Hipbelt Pockets
  • Dual Stretch Mesh Pockets For Water Bottle Storage

BEST FOR: LONG DISTANCE HAULING

This behemoth will carry everything but the kitchen sink. This is the largest pack in this guide and is ideal for extended backcountry trips and expeditions. The Xenith 88 is chocked full of features.

The external hydration sleeve is easy to access even when the pack is fully loaded, so filling up water won’t be a burden (as long as you can find a running stream!). The removable lid, complete with zippered pockets, easily converts to a daypack for side trips from basecamp. The Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole attachment allows for easy and quick storage and retrieval of hiking poles. The highly customizable fit will ensure extreme comfort even when carrying heavy loads. A plethora of pockets will ensure organization and quick access to needed items.

Gregory Baltoro 75

Specs
  • Volume: 78L (Large)
  • Weight: 5lbs 3.5oz
  • Raincover: Yes
  • Hydration Compatibility: Yes
Features
  • Tuck-Away Bottle Holster
  • Quick-Stow System On Shoulder Harness For Sunglass Storage
  • Proprietary Suspension System (for all day comfort)
  • Removable Hydration Sleeve Converts Into Daypack

BEST FOR: EXTENDED BACKCOUNTRY TRIPS

Located at the base of the Wasatch Mountains in Utah, Gregory has been making high quality packs for over forty years. The Baltoro is a beast with refined comfort. With capacities ranging from 72-78 liters (depending on pack size), this pack is ideal for winter outings and extended backcountry trips.

Unlike other packs in this guide that potentially have removable lids that convert to daypacks, the Baltoro has a removable hydration sleeve that quickly deploys into a daypack complete with an accessory pocket. The suspension system allows the harness and hip belt to rotate independently, and allows the pack to adjust to your movement on the trail. A full-body U-shaped zippered opening on the front of the bag allows for easy packing and unpacking. A water-resistant hip belt pocket provides quick access for your phone or camera and a quick-access pocket located on the shoulder harness easily stores your sunglasses.

Lowe Alpine Airzone Trek+

Specs
  • Volume: 45 - 55L (Small - Medium)
  • Weight: 3lbs 14.7oz
  • Raincover: Yes
  • Hydration Compatibility: Yes
Features
  • Stretch Mesh Front Pocket
  • Internal Zippered Security Pocket
  • Large Stretch Mesh Pockets
  • Sternum Strap With Whistle

BEST FOR: HIKING IN WARMER CLIMATES

For over fifty years, Lowe Alpine has been creating state of the art packs. Started by mountaineering brothers, the brand revolutionized internal frame backpacks. 

For versatility, the AirZone Trek is customizable from 45-55 liters. The expandable lid can increase the pack’s storage capacity by ten liters. There are pockets galore adorning this pack. Side pockets, a stretch mesh front pocket, large stretch mesh side pockets, and a zippered internal security pocket make organizing a breeze. The defining feature of this pack may lie in its ventilation system. The proprietary back-length AirZone carry system features a tensioned mesh and large open area between the pack and wearer’s back to allow air to move more freely, keeping you cool even on the hottest summer hikes.

Deuter Futura Vario 50 + 10

Specs
  • Volume: 60L (Medium)
  • Weight: 4lbs 9oz
  • Raincover: Yes
  • Hydration Compatibility: Yes
Features
  • Zippered Stretch-Mesh Hipbelt Pockets
  • Large U-Shaped 2-Way Zip Opening
  • Front Stash Pocket
  • Valuables Pocket Located Inside Lid Interior

BEST FOR: VERSATILITY

Founded in 1898, Deuter began making mail bags and later military gear. In 1928, the brand outfitted its first expedition and up until the 1970s, it provided the gear for nearly all German expeditions. 

An expandable collar on the main compartment of this pack provides ten extra liters of storage, taking the expanded capacity to 60 liters. When not needed, the collar tucks away but can be quickly deployed for use. A tensioned mesh back panel allows for maximum airflow. Unlike other sized packs in this guide, the Futura Vario has an adjustable torso range of 15-22 inches. A multitude of pockets ensure quick access to needed items while the reservoir sleeve accommodates a three-liter bladder, ensuring you’ll have enough water for every long-distance hike.

REI Co-op Flash 55

Specs
  • Volume: 57L (Medium)
  • Weight: 2lbs 11oz
  • Raincover: No
  • Hydration Compatibility: Yes
Features
  • Roll-Top Closure
  • Breathable Mesh Front Pocket
  • Exterior Side Pockets
  • Water Bottle Pockets

BEST FOR: BUDGET BACKPACKING

What began as a co-op to provide quality gear has grown into one of the biggest retailers for outdoor gear in the United States. In addition to selling outdoor gear, REI designs and creates its own products. The result is high quality gear for anyone looking to get outside on a budget. 

The Flash 55 is capable of a week-long trip or can be stripped down to the bare necessities for a quick overnight trip. The pack is designed to allow the user to modify it as needed. Pockets on the shoulder straps and hip belt provide additional storage or can be removed entirely to reduce weight. The adaptable compression straps along the outside of the pack can be moved, allowing the load to be shaped accordingly. Multiple pockets allow for exterior storage while the removable top lid can further customize the pack’s volume.

Osprey Stratos 50

Specs
  • Volume: 50L (Medium)
  • Weight: 3lbs 10.9oz
  • Raincover: Yes
  • Hydration Compatibility: Yes
Features
  • Trekking Pole Attachment
  • Zippered Mesh Pocket Under Top Lid
  • Zippered Hipbelt Pockets
  • Top And Side Panel Zip Access To Main Compartment

BEST FOR: COMFORT AND ORGANIZATION

Known for making high quality backpacks, Osprey continues to revolutionize the market over forty years later. Unlike the larger Osprey pack featured earlier in this guide, the Stratos is designed for weekend trips and ultralight excursions. The main compartment is easily accessible via the top and side panel zippered access.

The capacity can be adjusted by removing the top lid, which contains a zippered mesh pocket for stashing valuable items. The pack also features an internal hydration sleeve, an array of mesh pockets, zippered hip belt pockets, and a Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole attachment. Rounding out the list of awesome features is the integrated rain cover that deploys quickly in case of a sudden thunderstorm.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Windrider

Specs
  • Volume: 40L (Small)
  • Weight: 2lbs 0.3oz
  • Raincover: No
  • Hydration Compatibility: Yes
Features
  • Three External Mesh Pockets
  • Side Compression Straps For Horizontal Compression
  • Constructed Of 100% Waterproof Material
  • Made in Maine

BEST FOR: ULTRALIGHT BACKPACKING

Weighing-in right at two pounds, the 2400 Windrider is the perfect fastpacking option for those seeking a minimal weight pack without compromising features. This 40 liter lightweight pack is constructed utilizing waterproof fabric. Three external mesh pockets allow you to quickly identify the contents as well as allowing wet gear to dry more quickly. 

The roll-top closure system allows for compressing the load while side compression straps further enable this feature. Other features on this minimalist pack include an adjustable sternum strap, internal mesh hydration sleeve, and ice axe loop. Utilize the brand’s waterproof stuff sacks for organizing and ensuring a completely dry gear experience.

Granite Gear Crown2 60

Specs
  • Volume: 60L (Medium)
  • Weight: 2lbs 6.7oz
  • Raincover: No
  • Hydration Compatibility: Yes
Features
  • Hipbelt Pockets
  • Stretch Mesh Front Pocket
  • Removable Sternum Strap
  • Roll-Top Main Compartment

BEST FOR: TRAIL COMFORT

Founded in 1986, Granite Gear was created out of the desire to create high quality gear that was as tough as granite. The Crown2 60 is that and more.

The packs features a dual-density shoulder harness with load-lifting straps and a removable sternum strap, so you’ll hardly feel the weight of this pack on your back. The fully adjustable hip belt extends from 28-40 inches. Additionally, the pack has two large hip belt pockets, a stretchy mesh front pocket, and a removable lid. The roll-top main compartment allows quick access and easily compresses. For hydrating on-the-go, the internal bladder hanger supports the reservoir while threading the tubing through the hydration port keeps the tube easily accessible.

MYSTERY RANCH Glacier

Specs
  • Volume: 71L (Large)
  • Weight: 6lbs 6.4oz
  • Raincover: No
  • Hydration Compatibility: Yes
Features
  • Water Bottle Pockets
  • Two Vertical Pockets
  • External Attachment Points
  • Side Zipper Access To Main Compartment

BEST FOR: LARGE CAPACITY AND VERSATILITY

Veteran backpackers will recognize a similar design while the name may seem different. The creator of Mystery Ranch owned another iconic brand before selling the company and emerging once again under a new name.

While this pack is adept at weekend trips, it’s designed for the long haul. This top loading option is also easily accessible via side zippered access. Two long vertical pockets provide exterior organization for quickly retrievable items. The detachable lid can be utilized as a hip pack for day hikes beyond basecamp. Water bottle pockets keep hydration at hands reach. Compression straps along the side allow for fine tuning the stabilization of the load.

LEARN HOW TO CHOOSE HIKING GEAR FOR YOUR NEXT ADVENTURE

 

THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE BUYING A HIKING BACKPACK

VOLUME

The size of the pack you’ll need for your trip is typically in direct proportion to the number of days you intend to spend on the trail. The volume refers to the capacity of the backpack. As a general rule:

  • Weekend trips: Less than 50L (Small)
  • Multi-day Trips: Greater than 50L (Medium)
  • Extended backcountry trips: Greater than 70L (Large)

Also, consider that summer trips will often require less gear than winter excursions, as you will need extra apparel and a warmer sleep system in the colder months.

 

SIZE (TORSO LENGTH)

Knowing how to properly fit a pack may be the most crucial consideration when choosing a backpack. Determining your torso length will assist you in choosing the right size pack for your body. The torso length can be determined by measuring the distance between the C7 vertebra and the top of your hip bones.

Here’s how to determine the measurement so you can figure out what size pack you will need.

  1. First, grab a flexible measuring tape and a friend.
  2. Begin by leaning your neck forward. Reach back and feel for the bony bump that extends above the plane of your neck. This is your C7 vertebra and will be the top point from which to measure.
  3. Next, find the top of your hip bones and place your hands on your hips with your index finger pointing forward and your thumbs pointing towards your back. Draw an imaginary line between your thumbs. This is the bottom of your torso length.
  4. Finally, stand up straight and have your friend measure the distance between the two points. This is your torso length.

Having this measurement will help you to determine what size pack is right for you (small, medium, or large). Pack size varies between manufacturers, so make sure to refer to your torso length measurement to pick the pack size that is right for you.

 

WEIGHT

The weight of the pack can drastically add to the weight you are carrying. Large expedition packs can weigh substantially more than weekend packs. Expedition packs are designed to carry heavy loads and that often translates to needing a beefier suspension system so they’re usually constructed using more rugged (re: heavier) materials. Consider this: if you are looking to keep the weight that you are carrying for a trip to 40 pounds and the pack weighs five pounds, you can carry thirty-five pounds of gear.

 

PRIMARY USE

It is best to determine the intended use before purchasing a backpack. If you plan to spend most of your time enjoying weekend excursions, you can easily work with a smaller pack. If you want a pack that can occasionally take you on a multi-day backcountry experience, opt for a slightly larger pack. Just because you have the extra space doesn’t mean that you have to fill it for a weekend jaunt.

 

 

FEATURES EXPLAINED

HIP BELT

These padded arms located at the bottom of the pack are designed to help transfer the weight of the pack to your hips and minimize the downward weight on your shoulders. This is perhaps one of the most important parts of a pack. Hip belt pockets are ideal for storing small items that might be needed quickly while on the trail.

STERNUM STRAP

The sternum strap connects the two shoulder straps and is ideal when it’s adjustable to allow the user to find the perfect location on the chest.

COMPRESSION STRAPS

Compression straps strategically placed around the outside of the backpack allow for cinching the pack down for a more streamlined feel when carrying lighter loads. These straps can be released when carrying more gear.

TOP LID (AKA THE BRAIN)

Provided it has one, the top lid of the backpack is often referred to as the ‘brain’. This is a great place to store items that you might need quick access to such as a headlamp, extra snacks, and other essentials.

RAIN COVER

A rain cover can protect your pack and its contents from precipitation. Some packs come complete with rain covers and others must be purchased separately.

HYDRATION BLADDER

This water reservoir is advantageous when backpacking as it allows the user the option to sip water perpetually while in motion. Most backpacks come with an integrated sleeve in which to contain the bladder and have a hole in which the reservoir’s tube can be threaded. This bladder option is typically sold separately.

INTEGRATED DAYPACK

Some packs have the option to remove the lid (or brain) of the pack and this can be converted into a daypack for hikes away from basecamp.

 

 

READ MORE

For more of our top hiking gear recommendations, check out these popular articles: 

Hiking Backpacks for Women | Hiking Backpacks for Kids

Lightweight Hiking Backpacks | Day Hiking Backpacks

Solar Backpacks for Hiking

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