The Best Hiking Backpacks of 2022: Our Top Picks for Every Budget

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I’m sharing the best hiking backpacks for every budget. Plus, how to know what features you need for your hike or trek and which ones just add unwanted extra weight.

I’ve been hiking for over 20 years and have had my share of backpacks. It’s through trial and error and experimenting with different types of hikes that I’ve learned what to look for in a backpack.  

I currently have three different backpacks, although admittedly, I only need two. If you’re planning on doing different types of hikes, like a multi-day trek like our Self-Guided Tour du Mont Blanc hiking tour, you need a different one than if you’re doing day hikes.  Let’s dive in.

 

hiking backpack for a trek in Italy's Dolomites

5 Things to Consider When Buying a Hiking Backpack

  1. Choose the right size according to the length of your hikes.
  2. Make sure it fits well and doesn’t rub anywhere.
  3. Choose an internal frame back.
  4. Look for easy-to-reach external pockets.
  5. Ensure there’s an easy way to attach hiking poles.

Below our recommendations, you’ll find more info on the above features to consider so that you can choose the right back for you.

Recommended Reading: Croatia Hiking Tour: Split to Dubrovnik


Best Hiking Backpacks for Women

Our Top Pick for Short Day Hikes

Best Overall for Short Day Hikes
Osprey Tempest 20 Women's Hiking Backpack, Violac Purple, X-Small/Small

This basic backpack is a great light pack choice if you mainly do short day hikes and you don't need to carry much. Plus Osprey is one of my favourite brands since they're built to last.

Volume: 20 L

Weight: 1.98 lbs

Features:

  • Easy access with two zippers to the main compartment
  • Zippered stretch mesh padded hip belt pockets
  • Two zippered hip belt pockets to take the strain off your back and for easy access to items like tissue
  • Stretch mesh pockets on the side to easily reach your water bottle
  • Slow-On-The-Go Trekking pole attachment for easy access to your hiking poles
  • Available in 5 colors


Buy on Amazon
Best Lightweight
Deuter Speed Lite

Speed Lite 22 is the perfect backpack if you're looking for quality and minimal design. Deuter is known for their durable backpacks. My current backpack is a Deuter and I love it.

Volume: 22 L

Weight: 1.1 lbs

Features:

  • V-cut design provides freedom of movement
  • Super light backpack
  • External organizational pockets give you easy access to frequently used items
  • Water bottle pockets are slightly bigger than other similar backpacks


Buy on Amazon
Best for Short to Medium Day Hikes
Arc'teryx Brize 25 Backpack

This backpack may look small since it's so compact, but it actually holds more than the two mentioned before. Arc'teryx Brize 25 is a great choice if you're doing short to medium-day hikes.

Volume: 25 L

Weight: 1.99 lbs

Features:

  • Super comfortable padded harness
  • Sufficient water bladder
  • Main compartment opens toward the back panel.
Buy on Amazon

Best for 3-5 Day Hikes

Best Overall for 3-5 Day Hiking Trips
Osprey Aura AG 50 Women's Backpacking Backpack

Aura AG 50 is an ultralight backpack designed for women who want enough space for all their stuff without all the weight. It's a great lightweight pack for multi-day hiking trips. Being so lightweight, it's also a good choice if you're travelling to reach your hiking destination.

Volume: 50 L

Weight: 4.1 lbs

Features:

  • Adjustable shoulder straps and waist belt.
  • Hip belt compatible.
  • Hydration reservoir sleeve.
  • Large main compartment.
  • Lower zipper sleeping bag compartment
Buy on Amazon
Best For Making Heavy Loads Feel Lighter
Deuter Women's Aircontact Lite

Deuter’s women’s Aircontact Lite combines lightweight design and superior performance into an ultra-comfortable pack that fits under your arm while the hip belt allows you to carry more weight effortlessly. The internal reservoir sleeve provides ample space for up to three litres of water. I love Deuter backpacks.

Volume: 60 L

Weight: 4.2lbs

Features:

  • It is fully adjustable for enhanced load-weight management
  • The hip belt is easy to adjust and helpful when carrying heavier loads
  • Adjustment straps transfer weight from shoulders to hips making it more effortless to carry
Buy on Amazon

Related Reading: The Best Hiking Boots for Men

Best for Backpacking Trips

Best Overall for Women Backpackers
Gregory Mountain Products 70 Deva

I love that this backpack has an ergonomically designed shoulder harness making it extremely comfortable to wear. The sleeping bag compartment is roomy so you don't have to struggle to squish it in. Lastly, the exterior pocket for water bottles is easily located within reach so that you don’t need to be a contortionist. Perfect if you're not flexible, as I'm not.

Volume: 25 L

Weight: 4.9 lbs

Features:

  • The exterior pocket for water bottles is easy to reach
  • External access with a removable internal divider for your sleeping bag making it easy to reach
Buy on Amazon
Best Multi-Storage for Backpacking Trips
TETON Sports Internal Frame

This is not your traditional pack. TETON Sports is loaded with features like a sleeping bag compartment, compression straps, and multiple compartments and pockets for strategic packing. It's a great choice for women who are doing backpacking trips.

Volume: 55 L

Weight: 4.5 lbs

Features:

  • Zippered sleeping bag compartment for easy access.
  • Multi-use compartments, and pockets to easily store all your items.
  • The padded back panel aids in optimal airflow to keep you cool when hiking
  • Padded lumbar and waist and shoulder straps that help carry the load
Buy on Amazon
Best Budget Backpacking Pack
FLYKEPER 75L Hiking Backpack

While I recommend choosing one of the other well-known name brands for backpacking trips, if you're only doing one trip or are on a budget, then this is a good choice. It's designed to carry up to 75 litres of gear comfortably and efficiently. The bottom of the bag is reinforced to protect your belongings when you set it down.

Volume: 75 L

Weight: 2.7lbs

Features:


  • Adjustable padded waist belt for comfort
  • Comes in 6 colors
Buy on Amazon
Best Custom Fitting Backpack
Osprey Ariel Plus 85 Women's Backpacking Backpack

The Osprey Ariel Plus is a great choice if you have a long torso as I do or a short one, thanks to its adjustable Torso Harness. Its custom-fit features are designed to comfortably fit a variety of body shapes and sizes, so if you have difficulty finding a pack that fits, try this one.

Volume: 85 L

Weight: 5.6 lbs

Features:

  • Custom Fit-on-the-Fly Hipbelt, Shoulder Strap and adjustable torso harness, making it a great fit for a variety of body types
  • Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole attachment
  • Dual front panel zippered pockets for easy-access storage
  • Fabric-reinforced front shove-it pocket
  • Large dual-access stretch mesh side water bottle pockets
Buy on Amazon

Recommended Reading: 18 Best Women’s Hiking Leggings

Best Budget Hiking Backpack

Women's Best budget Backpack
Maelstrom Hiking Backpack

Maelstrom’s Hiking backpack is not only budget-friendly, it's also durable, being made of rip-stop nylon fabric. It's a good choice if you're on a budget and looking to do medium to long day hikes or 2-day hikes.

Volume: 40 L

Weight: 1 lb

Features:

  • Water-resistant, anti-scratch and wear-resistant
  • Made of high-quality rip-stop 210d nylon fabric
  • Material is reflective, keeping you safe if you're walking on roads in dim light
  • Comes in 7 colors
Buy on Amazon
Best Budget Water Resistant Backpack
FENGDONG 40L Waterproof Lightweight Backpack

While it's advertised as waterproof, it's actually only water resistant but is still a good choice if you're on a budget.

Volume: 40 L

Weight: 1.9 lbs

Features:

  • Made of high-density polyester material that's extra thick, tear-resistant, water-resistant and anti-abrasion.
  • All stress points are reinforced with bar tacking making it more durable.
  • Comes in 13 colors
Buy on Amazon
Best Budget Lightweight Backpack
G4Free Lightweight Packable Shoulder Backpack

This slim and ultra-lightweight G4 backpack is great for beginners who want to start going on short, easy day hikes. It's slim, durable, and stylish.

Volume: 11 L

Weight: 0.2 lbs

Features:

  • Made with high-quality tear and water-resistant Robic nylon
  • Two mesh side pockets for easy access
  • Has a 13-inch padded shoulder strap
  • Comes in 16 colors
Buy on Amazon

Recommended Reading: Crete White Mountains Hiking Tour


Best Hiking Backpacks for Men

Our Top Picks for Short Day Hikes

Best Overall for Easy Day Hikes
TETON Oasis 18L Hydration Pack

This lightweight backpacking gear is a must for long hikes. TETON Oasis is a great choice for men looking to do easy hikes.

Volume: 18 L

Weight: 2 lbs

Features:

  • You get a free 2-litre water bladder
  • Flexible enough to use for running, cycling or other adventures
  • Front-zip pockets for easy access while hiking
  • Available in 12 colors
Buy on Amazon
Best Men's Lightweight Backpack
Osprey Stratos 24 Men's Hiking Backpack

Osprey Stratos' is a great choice for men who like easy day hikes. It has enough room for a 3-litre water bladder so you'll never go thirsty and a ventilated back panel to keep you cool

Volume: 24 L

Weight: 1.98 lbs

Features:

  • Adjustable shoulder harness for a comfortable fit
  • Accommodate a 3L hydration bladder
  • Stow-On-The-Go Trekking pole attachment so you can attach or take off your trekking poles while hiking without removing the pack
  • Two zippered hipbelt pockets for easy on the go access
Buy on Amazon
Best Unique Day pack
Cotopaxi Luzon 24L Del Día

Each backpack is one of a kind, no two are the same. I also love that its super lightweight. While it's advertised as being suitable for overnight trips, given how small it is, that's unrealistic for most hikers in my opinion. The other drawback that I see is the drawstring closure, which wouldn't be great at keeping moisture out.

Volume: 24 L

Weight: 1 lbs

Features:

  • Zippers keep compartments divided: shoe pocket and front pockets
  • Unique - each backpack is different
  • Ultralight mesh shoulder straps.
  • Equipped with both a waist and a sternum strap belt.
Buy on Amazon

Best Men’s Backpacks for 3-5 Day Hikes

Best Overall
Osprey Farpoint 55 Men's Travel Backpack

Osprey’s Farpoint 55 is an ideal travel companion for your next adventure. This backpack can be used as a large duffle bag or converted into a day pack with detachable shoulder straps and a stowaway panel. The Farpoint 55 has a large main compartment with a secure zip closure and two smaller compartments for accessories. A dedicated laptop/tablet sleeve and a scratch-free storage area are included. An adjustable sternum strap provides additional support while hiking.

Volume: 55 L

Weight: 3.9 lbs

Features:

  • Stowaway back panel, shoulder straps, and hip belt
  • Lockable sliders on the main zipper
  • Detachable daypack with designated iPad sleeve and scratch-free storage area
  • Adjustable sternum strap for additional support
Buy on Amazon

Best for Backpacking Trips

Best Overall for Backpacking Trips
Gregory Mountain Baltoro 65 Backpacking Pack

Gregory Baltoro is a great backpack if you're looking for comfort thanks to its Custom Fit Suspension with its independently rotating hipbelt and harnesses. It's a good choice for men who do 3-5 day long hikes. It offers excellent packing space and pockets for organization. The only downside is that it's not the lightest backpack.

Volume: 65 L

Weight: 5 lbs

Features:

  • Swappable hip belt and shoulder harness for a custom fit
  • Front U-zip for easy access to the main compartment
  • Includes a day pack - perfect if you're doing side trips
Buy on Amazon
Best Multi Storage for Backpacking Trips
TETON Sports Explorer Backpack Full Internal Frame

Teton Sports Explorer is made of TETON TOUGH innovation, meaning it will last for years. It fits men with a variety of body types thanks to its Multipoint adjustments and convenient handy compression straps.

Volume: 65 L

Weight: 5 lbs

Features:

  • Features angled water bottle containers for easy access
  • Comes with a water-repellant exterior and rain cover
  • Includes Teton's Lifetime warranty offering you piece of mind
Buy on Amazon
Best for Technical Hiking
Osprey Aether AG 60 Men's Backpacking Backpack

The Osprey Aether is a great option when you need a technical backpack for a multi-day backpacking trip. It combines Anti-Gravity technology with an adjustable fit. It was designed for comfort when carrying a heavy load. The Osprey Aether is specifically designed to fit a man’s physique in order to ensure the most comfortable fit. It also has a detachable daypack, which adds to its versatility.

Volume: 60 L

Weight: 4.6 lbs

Features:

  • Features also have a detachable daypack
  • For quick storage, there's a front stretch mesh pocket
  • Zippered hip belt pockets for smaller items
Buy on Amazon

Best Budget Men’s Hiking Backpack

Best Overall Men's Budget Backpack
Sunhiker Cycling and Hiking Backpack

Sunhikers' lightweight and highly tear-resistant backpack is a great budget backpack for men. In addition to being used for hiking, you can also use it for cycling or other outdoor activities.

Volume: 25 L

Weight: 0.7 lbs

Features:

  • Highly weather resistant and ultralight
  • Scratch-resistant
  • Comes in 15 colors
Buy on Amazon
Best Budget Lightweight Backpack
Venture Pal 35L Ultralight Backpack

Venture pal is an ultralight pack space saver that's a great choice for medium to long day hikes.

Volume: 35 L

Weight: 0.7 lbs

Features:

  • It folds into a zipped inner pocket making it compact
  • It features one main zipped compartment, two zipped front pockets, and two side pockets.
  • Comes in 11 colors
Buy on Amazon

Related Reading: Trekking and Hiking Tours in Europe 


Best Unisex Hiking Backpacks

Our Top Pick for Short Day Hikes

Best if You Have Back Pain
The North Face Vault Backpack

Endorsed by the American Chiropractic Association, this backpack is perfect for men or women who suffer from back pain, as I do. The custom injection-moulded and flexible shoulder straps, and padded mesh back panel all provide additional support for sore backs.

Volume: 27 L

Weight: 1 lbs

Features:


  • Breathable lumbar panel to keep you cool while you're hiking
  • Ergonomic hip belt provides additional support
  • Comes in 12 colors
Buy on Amazon

Best for 3-5 Day Hikes

Best For 2-3 Day Multi-Day Hikes
TETON Sports Ultralight Plus Backpacks

The Teton Sports Talus 2700 Pack is an ultra-lightweight and highly functional backpack designed for hiking, and even camping - if you can pack light enough.

Volume: 44 L

Weight: 2 lbs

Features:

  • The waist belt is constructed to sit comfortably on your hips.
  • The thickly padded lumbar area provides exceptional lower back comfort, perfect if you suffer from lower back pain. 
Buy on Amazon
Most Flexible Backpack
Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor Backpack

It isn’t often that you see a backpack that can go from 40 L to 60 L. So if you only want one backpack to go on your day hikes with the ability to expand into something larger for a multi-day hike, this is it. Plus, it’s made of fabric with ripstop technology. It’s also one of the lightest packs on our list compared to the volume.

Volume: 60 L

Weight: 2.4 lbs

Features:

  • aAdjusts from 40 to 60 L carrying capacity
  • Features two stretchy mesh hydration pockets on shoulders
  • Zippered Hip Belt pockets
  • U Shaped top access zipper
Buy on Amazon

Best Unisex Backpacking Packs


Best Hiking Backpacks for Kids

Best Overall
Mountaintop Kids Backpack

Mountaintop Kids Backpack is just the right size for your little one! It's the size of an A4 piece of paper and has 2 main compartments to hold their school items and most importantly, SNACKS! It works well for easy day hikes and doubles as a backpack for school.

Volume: 8 L

Weight: 0.7 lbs

Features:


  • Has a padded and fully adjustable shoulder strap to grow with your child
  • Features a minimalist and multicolor design option for kids
  • Comes in 14 vibrant colors
Buy on Amazon
Best Lightweight Pack for Kids 
BSEASH 10L Small Size Waterproof Kids Sport Backpack

This affordable pack is the perfect gear for children 3 to 6 years of age. BSEASH features multi-compartments and a waterproof design for kids. The outside drawstring is perfect for carrying water shoes if you hike to a lake.

Volume: 10 L

Weight: 0.6 lbs

Features:

  • A lightweight backpack gear great for everyday wear and hiking
  • Reflective stripes on the front of the bag that make your child visible at night
  • Side mesh pocket for water bottles
  • Multi-compartment pocket organization
  • Comes in 10 vibrant colors
Buy on Amazon

day hiker in La Gomera

4 Tips for Choosing the Right Hiking Backpack

1. Picking the Right Size of Backpack For Your Hike

You’ll find a wide range of backpack sizes. Use this guideline to find the right one for the hike that you’re doing:

  • Day hike: 25 – 40 L
  • 1 – 3 nights: 30 – 50 L
  • 3 – 5 nights: 50 – 80 L
  • 5+ nights: 70 L+

2. Find the Right Fit

Hiking for lengthy periods makes it important to find a backpack that fits your torso. Make sure that it’s long enough but not too long.

If you have a small frame, a women’s backpack may be a good choice since they’re usually shorter and narrower. Choose a backpack for hiking that is comfortable for your body shape.

Check for belt sizes too! You should also consider the waist and look for one in which around 80% of your backpack’s weight is supported by your hips. This will significantly reduce shoulder strain.

I once made the mistake of choosing a lightweight backpack that only offered a flimsy hip belt and my shoulders ached even after day hikes.

3. Choose the Right Backpack Frame

For most hikers, I’d recommend an internal-frame backpack. They keep you stable on uneven terrain and many include load-supporting technology that transfers the weight to your hips.

If you’re carrying an irregular load like an inflatable kayak, an external-frame backpack could be a good choice. 

Frameless backpacks are a good choice if the most important thing to you is keeping your load light. But these are best if you’re not carrying a heavy load.

4. Decide Which Backpack Features Are Essential

The more gadgets on your backpack the heavier it will be. Decide what’s essential for you depending on the type of hiking that you’ll be doing. If you don’t need certain features, it’s better to choose a pack that doesn’t have them since they add extra weight:

  • Pockets. I think side pockets are essential, but others are often not necessary. I honestly prefer zippered side entry pockets. However, it will depend on how you hike and what you carry. For example, I like having a place for my trail logbook in stretch pockets so that it doesn’t get wrecked.
  • Padding. It makes your backpack more comfortable, especially for longer trips but adds weight so you have to find a balance.
  • Attachment points. I.e. gear loops for hiking poles, etc. Consider how many you need. I personally just use the ones for hiking poles and don’t need them anymore.
  • Integrated hydration reservoir. Hydration bladder and hydration sleeves are essential if you hike with a Camelback or similar water reservoir. You can’t last without water after long periods of time, so make sure your hydration daypack has these.
  • Removable daypack/top lid. It may be nice on larger packs but it’s not necessary on smaller ones.
  • Sleeping bag compartment. This outer pocket is a must if you’re planning on doing overnight hikes.
  • Rain covers. A must-have for any type of backpack.

Dolomites hiking walking holiday europe-376-L

Best Hiking Backpack Brands

Osprey was founded in 1974 and the headquarters are located in California, USA They offer a lifelong guarantee so you’ll be eligible for repairs or a replacement. Plus, Osprey backpacks are very comfortable. This is a top choice for many avid hikers that I know.

Gregory Packs was founded in 1977 and the headquarters are located in California, USA. This brand is well known for the quality and sturdiness of its backpacks. Gregory has a zero policy for modern slavery in its supply chain which we love. Gregory Paragon, Gregory Optic, and Gregory Maven are some of their other popular hiking backpacks too.

Arcteryx was founded in 1991 and its headquarters are located in North Vancouver, Canada. Arcteryx builds products to last to minimize the negative environmental impact. They do this through responsible manufacturing, and community engagement.

Deuter was founded in 1898 and the headquarters are located in Germany. Their backpacks are award-winning due to the strong materials that they use. They are also a member of Bluesign. The world’s strictest standard for environmental protection. I’m a big fan of Deuter as are tons of my friends who have lived in Germany for years.

REI Co-op in 1955 as a small co-operative in Seattle selling equipment specializing in gear for serious climbers and mountaineers. Over the years, REI continues to foster a feeling of community, belonging, and inclusivity. Some of the more known quality gears they offer are REI Co-op Traverse, REI Traverse, REI Flash, and REI Co-op Flash.

Recommended Reading: Alta Via 1 Hiking Tour in Dolomites Italy Entire, North or South Route


Now you have my recommended best hiking backpacks for every budget and know what features to look for when you buy your next one. I really like Osprey and Deuter for their functionality and durability.

best backpacks for hikers

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