Best Hiking Backpacks of 2021: Our Top 16 For Every Budget

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The best hiking backpacks that we’ve found. Here’s what you to look for whether you’re planning a multi-day trek or heading out for a day hike.

We’ll introduce you to our favourite backpacking brands and tell you exactly what to look for in a backpack. You need a different one for a multi-day trek like the Tour du Mont Blanc than you do for our Coastal Hike: Costa Brava, Spain to France where all you need is a day pack.

best backpacks for hiking

How to Choose the Best Hiking Backpack for You

A backpack is one of your core pieces of gear when hiking or backpacking. A good one, you’ll hardly notice. A poor fitting or a heavy one without load balancing features will leave you with blisters and sore muscles.  Among the vast array of shapes, styles, and sizes here’s how to choose the best one for you:

Recommended Reading: 22 Best Hydration Packs for Every Adventurer in 2021

how to choose right backpack for you on a multi-day hike like the Tour du Mont Blanc or Dolomites

Pick 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+

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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. 

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 hipbelt and my shoulders ached even after day hikes.

Recommended Reading: Crete White Mountains Hiking Tour

Choose the Right Backback 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.

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

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 aren’t necessary.However, it will depend on how you hike.
  • 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 anymore.
  • Integrated hydration reservoir. This is essential if you hike with a Camelback or similar water reservoir. If not, you don’t need it.
  • Removable daypack/top lid. It may be nice on larger packs but it’s not necessary on smaller ones.
  • Sleeping bag compartment. You only need this if you’re planning on doing overnight hikes.
  • Rain covers. Definitely a must-have for any type of backpack.

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What are our favourite 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 of 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.

Arcteryx was founded in 1991 and the 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 but perhaps I’m biased since I live in Germany.

Kelty was founded in 1952 and the headquarters are located in Colorado, USA

This is the go-to brand when you’re looking for a sturdy backpack that isn’t as expensive as Osprey or Gregory. They don’t tend to get the same reviews but they are good quality for the money.

Related Reading: The Best Hiking Tents For Every Backpacker

explore cinque terre on our self-guided walking tour

Marmot was founded in 1974 and the headquarters are located in California, USA

This is another backpack that a lot of hikers love due to how comfortable they are, they actually mould to your back. They also introduced EnviroFree, an initiative to reduce chemical applications in the manufacturing process while still maintaining or improving the quality and performance of the raw materials.

The North Face was founded in 1974 and the headquarters are located in California, USA

The North Face is, among the better quality backpacks out there. They also offer the North Face Renewed, a collection of refurbished clothing that reduces the environmental impact of textile manufacturing.

TETON was founded in 2005 and the headquarters are located in Utah, USA

Out of the budget brands out there, Teton offers a lot for your money. Their products are a good choice if you’re just getting into backpacking or hiking and aren’t sure you want to invest in an expensive pack.

High Sierra was founded in 1978 and the headquarters are located in Illinois, USA

They’re known for strong yet light backpacks. They’re good for hiking but not as comfortable as the ones at the top of this list based on Amazon reviews. They have all of the basic features and work perfectly well. I would definitely recommend these to first-time hikers.

Granite Gear was founded in 1996 and the headquarters can be found in Minnesota, USA

This relatively recent company is known for creating backpacks that are affordable and have a great design. One of the highlights of Granite Gear backpacks is that you can adjust the waist belt in two different places, giving it a better fit for most people.  They might not be as popular as some of the larger brands but they are certainly worth checking out.

Recommended Reading: Coastal Hike: Costa Brava, Spain to France

Best Backpacks at a Glance

 

Gregory Mountain Products Men's Inertia 20 H2O Day Hiking Backpack
Deuter Aircontact Lite 50 + 10 (Navy/Arctic)
High Sierra Explorer Top Load Internal Frame Hiking Pack, 55L / 30-Inch, Redline/Electric
Kelty Coyote 65 Backpack, Ponderosa Pine
Osprey Packs Pack Aura Ag 65 Backpack, Vestal Grey, X-Small
Gregory Inertia 20 Hydration
Deuter Air Contact Lite Backpack
High Sierra Explorer 55L Internal Frame Backpack
Kelty Coyote 65
Osprey Aura AG 65
Type of Hiking
Day Hiking
3-5 days of hiking
3-5 days of hiking
3-5 days of hiking
3-5 days of hiking
Weight
0.75 Kg
1.75 Kg
1.85 Kg
2.18 Kg
2.85 Kg
Volume
20L
50+10 L
55L/65L
65L
65L
Gender
Unisex
Unisex
Unisex
Unisex
Women
$73.10
$189.00
$96.30
$164.86
$270.00
Gregory Mountain Products Men's Inertia 20 H2O Day Hiking Backpack
Gregory Inertia 20 Hydration
Type of Hiking
Day Hiking
Weight
0.75 Kg
Volume
20L
Gender
Unisex
$73.10
Deuter Aircontact Lite 50 + 10 (Navy/Arctic)
Deuter Air Contact Lite Backpack
Type of Hiking
3-5 days of hiking
Weight
1.75 Kg
Volume
50+10 L
Gender
Unisex
$189.00
High Sierra Explorer Top Load Internal Frame Hiking Pack, 55L / 30-Inch, Redline/Electric
High Sierra Explorer 55L Internal Frame Backpack
Type of Hiking
3-5 days of hiking
Weight
1.85 Kg
Volume
55L/65L
Gender
Unisex
$96.30
Kelty Coyote 65 Backpack, Ponderosa Pine
Kelty Coyote 65
Type of Hiking
3-5 days of hiking
Weight
2.18 Kg
Volume
65L
Gender
Unisex
$164.86
Osprey Packs Pack Aura Ag 65 Backpack, Vestal Grey, X-Small
Osprey Aura AG 65
Type of Hiking
3-5 days of hiking
Weight
2.85 Kg
Volume
65L
Gender
Women
$270.00
Gregory Mountain Products Women's Deva 70 Backpacking Pack
Arc'teryx Bora AR 61 Backpack Women's (Winter Iris, Regular)
Osprey Aether AG 60 Men's Backpacking Backpack
Gregory Mountain Products Men's Baltoro 75 Backpacking Pack
Mammut Trion Spine 50 Mountaineering Backpack
Osprey Packs Exos 58 Backpacking Pack, Tunnel Green, Small
Gregory Deva 70
Arc'teryx Bora Ar 61
Osprey Aether Men's Ag 70
Gregory Baltoro 75
Mammut Trion Spine 50
Osprey Exos 58
Type of Hiking
4-5+ days of hiking
3-5 days of hiking
5+ days of hiking, thru-hikes, alpine expeditions
5+ days of hiking, thru-hikes, alpine expeditions
2 - 5 days of hiking
3- 5 days of hiking
Weight
2.26 Kg
2.20 Kg
2.1 kg
2.3 kg
1.7 kg
1.4 Kg
Volume
70L
60L
70L
75L
50L
58 L
Gender
Women
Women
Men
Men
Men
Men
$237.68
$439.20
$518.99
$247.46
$320.00
$220.00
Gregory Mountain Products Women's Deva 70 Backpacking Pack
Gregory Deva 70
Type of Hiking
4-5+ days of hiking
Weight
2.26 Kg
Volume
70L
Gender
Women
$237.68
Arc'teryx Bora AR 61 Backpack Women's (Winter Iris, Regular)
Arc'teryx Bora Ar 61
Type of Hiking
3-5 days of hiking
Weight
2.20 Kg
Volume
60L
Gender
Women
$439.20
Osprey Aether AG 60 Men's Backpacking Backpack
Osprey Aether Men's Ag 70
Type of Hiking
5+ days of hiking, thru-hikes, alpine expeditions
Weight
2.1 kg
Volume
70L
Gender
Men
$518.99
Gregory Mountain Products Men's Baltoro 75 Backpacking Pack
Gregory Baltoro 75
Type of Hiking
5+ days of hiking, thru-hikes, alpine expeditions
Weight
2.3 kg
Volume
75L
Gender
Men
$247.46
Mammut Trion Spine 50 Mountaineering Backpack
Mammut Trion Spine 50
Type of Hiking
2 - 5 days of hiking
Weight
1.7 kg
Volume
50L
Gender
Men
$320.00
Osprey Packs Exos 58 Backpacking Pack, Tunnel Green, Small
Osprey Exos 58
Type of Hiking
3- 5 days of hiking
Weight
1.4 Kg
Volume
58 L
Gender
Men
$220.00
Granite Gear Crown2 60L Backpack 2019 - Black/Red Rock Long
Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor Adjustable 40-60L Volume Ultralight Backpack Pack M/L with S/M Waistbelt Peat
TETON Sports Escape 4300 Ultralight Internal Frame Backpack – Not Your Basic Backpack; High-Performance Backpack for Hiking, Camping, Travel, and Outdoor Activities; Sewn-in Rain Cover
Granite Gear Crown2 60
Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor
TETON Sports Ultralight Backpack
Type of Hiking
3- 5 days of hiking
1-4 days of hiking
5+ days of hiking, thru-hikes, alpine expeditions
Weight
1.1 Kg
1.1 Kg
2 Kg
Volume
60 L
60 L
70 L
Gender
Men
Unisex
Unisex
$199.95
Price not available
$146.10
Granite Gear Crown2 60L Backpack 2019 - Black/Red Rock Long
Granite Gear Crown2 60
Type of Hiking
3- 5 days of hiking
Weight
1.1 Kg
Volume
60 L
Gender
Men
$199.95
Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor Adjustable 40-60L Volume Ultralight Backpack Pack M/L with S/M Waistbelt Peat
Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor
Type of Hiking
1-4 days of hiking
Weight
1.1 Kg
Volume
60 L
Gender
Unisex
Price not available
TETON Sports Escape 4300 Ultralight Internal Frame Backpack – Not Your Basic Backpack; High-Performance Backpack for Hiking, Camping, Travel, and Outdoor Activities; Sewn-in Rain Cover
TETON Sports Ultralight Backpack
Type of Hiking
5+ days of hiking, thru-hikes, alpine expeditions
Weight
2 Kg
Volume
70 L
Gender
Unisex
$146.10

Best Day Hiking Backpacks

You’ll find our recommendations for day hikes below. Also, be sure to check out our Day Hiking Packing List for other gear you need.

1. Deuter Speed Lite 22
Just as the name implies this is a super-light backpack. It’s been designed to fit like a glove. It also comes with external organizational pockets giving you easy access to your water bottle or additional equipment that you might need within reach. The water bottle pockets are slightly bigger than other similar backpacks. Speed Lite 22 is the perfect backpack to have if you’re traveling. Its versatility doesn’t only make it great for long day hikes but also as a great carry-on when traveling.

TYPE OF HIKING: day hiking
WEIGHT:  0.5 Kg
VOLUME: 22 L
GENDER: Women

2. Deuter Speed Lite 12
Lite – The lightest, minimalist back system available from Deuter, the lite backsystem provides carry comfort for light loads with a padded back panel fully lined with ventilated 3D-Air Mesh. Ergonomically shaped wide AirMesh shoulder straps. Athletic V-cut shape for extensive freedom of movement. Removable single webbing waistbelt. Sunglasses loop on shoulder strap. Accessory loops for gear or helmet holder attachment. Easy finger pull loops on zippers.

TYPE OF HIKING: day hiking
WEIGHT:  0.5 Kg
VOLUME: 12 L
GENDER: Unisex

3. Gregory Inertia 20 Hydration
It may not be the lightest pack when compared with the previous options, but it is still great for those hikes when you need to be light and fast. It comes with a 3-litre water bladder reservoir, easy-access pockets, and an adjustable harness. The backpack also has a designated system to carry your trekking poles. The Gregory Inertia 20 Hydration has great online reviews for its comfort and a great hiking day pack.

TYPE OF HIKING: day hiking
WEIGHT:  0.75 Kg
VOLUME: 20 L
GENDER: Unisex

Recommended Reading: Algarve in Portugal Hiking Tour

Best Unisex Backpacks

Deuter Air Contact Lite Backpack 50L

1. Deuter Air Contact Lite This backpack provides a good balance between comfort, weight, and ventilation. It also offers flexibility with an additional 10-litre capacity which makes it one of my favorite packs on this list. The Deuter Air Contact Lite backpack is sturdy and therefore perfect for heavier loads. The hip belt is much wider than is usual for hiking backpacks and supports and distributes pack weight efficiently making this one of the best comfortable packs on the market. The innovative Aircontact Lite back system makes heavy loads more manageable.

TYPE OF HIKING: 3-5 days of hiking
WEIGHT:  1.75 Kg
VOLUME: 50+10 L
GENDER: Unisex

High Sierra Explorer 55L Internal Frame Backpack

2. High Sierra Explorer 55L Internal Frame Backpack
This is a lightweight and comfortable backpack with airflow padding for your back. The straps are comfortable with great padding to make them fit more comfortably on your shoulders. There are also hooks for external accessory carrying and quick access areas for your main load and your sleeping bag. This is the perfect backpack if you prefer hydration packs as there is a special interior pocket that makes it hydration compatible. The backpack does not come with its own bladder though. Pair it with your favourite hyperlite mountain gear and you’re good to go for a few more miles on your next hiking trip.

TYPES OF HIKING: 3-5 days of hiking
WEIGH:  1.85 Kg
VOLUME: 55L/65L
GENDER: Unisex

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Kelty Coyote 65 Hiking Backpack

3. Kelty Coyote 65
This is a sturdy backpack that comes with the PerfectFit suspension which offers one-size-fits-all versatility and comfort with an on-body adjustment system. This backpack has great reviews for its waterproof ability, which makes it great for river crossings and wet hiking conditions. The outer pocket is great for storing smaller items like your phone and lip balm. Their Dual LightBeamTM aluminum stays give this pack outstanding support for heavy loads – it can hold up to 60 lbs. If you are looking for a larger option check out the Coyote 80.

TYPES OF HIKING: 3-5 days of hiking
WEIGH:  2.18 Kg
VOLUME: 65L
GENDER: Unisex

Recommended Reading: Southern Via Dinarica in Montenegro, Albania & Kosovo

Best Women’s Backpacks

Osprey Packs Aura AG 65 Women's Backpack

1. Osprey Aura AG 65 
Osprey aura comes with many different compartments, hoops for trekking poles and an adjustable harness. There’s also an anti-gravity suspension on the shoulder straps and padded hip-belt that make it extra comfortable to wear. This is one of the best backpacks for hiking in hot areas as it offers world-class ventilation. You’ll also enjoy great storage capacity for your backpacking adventures. 

TYPES OF HIKING: 3-5 days of hiking
WEIGHT:  2.85 Kg
VOLUME: 65L
GENDER: Women, the equivalent for men is Atmos AG 65.

Gregory Deva 70 Backpack

2. Gregory Deva 70
One of the best aspects of this backpack is its ergonomically designed shoulder harness making it extremely comfortable. Plus the sleeping bag compartment is so big that it will fit a lot more than just your sleeping bag. Lastly, the exterior pocket for water bottles is easily located within reach so that you don’t need to be a contortionist. The backpack also comes with its own removable pack cover. There is a small zippered pocket where you can separately store it.

TYPES OF HIKING: 4-5+ days of hiking
WEIGHT:  2.26 Kg
VOLUME: 70L
GENDER: Women

Arc'teryx Bora AR 61 Backpack

3. Arc’teryx Bora Ar 61
With its ventilated back panels, and its RotoGlide hip-belt you will stay dry and be comfortable all day. This backpack moves with you but at the same time manages to keep your load stable with its functional features. It is meant for technical hiking or trekking. The Bora is one of the most expensive backpacks out there but in this case, price equals quality and comfort for any outdoor adventure.

TYPES OF HIKING: 3-5 days of hiking
WEIGHT:  2.20 Kg
VOLUME: 60L
GENDER: Women

Recommended Reading: Peneda – Gerês National Park Hiking Tour

Best Men’s Backpacks

Osprey Aether AG 70 Hiking Backpack

1. Osprey Aether Men’s Ag 70 Backpacking Pack 
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.

TYPE OF HIKING: 5+ days of hiking, thru-hikes, alpine expeditions
WEIGHT:  2.1 kg
VOLUME: 70L
GENDER: Men, the equivalent for women is Ariel 55.

Gregory Baltoro 75 Backpack

2. Gregory Baltoro 75
Their A3 Suspension automatically adapts to your body and to the terrain making it comfortable for long hikes. It also comes with a Weathershield pocket that is completely weatherproof. This is the backpack for you if you are looking for comfort and versatility and don’t mind some extra weight. It offers great durability and fit for longer hikes. It also offers great packing space and pockets for organization.

TYPE OF HIKING: 5+ days of hiking, thru-hikes, alpine expeditions
WEIGHT:  2.3 kg
VOLUME: 75L
GENDER: Men

Recommended Reading: 18 Best Hiking Leggings to Keep you Confortable on Your Hike

3. Mammut Trion Spine 50
What makes this backpack unique is its extra-large zipper, making it easy to access your essential gear. It also has plenty of inner and outer pockets to keep your extra gear. It is also made with a water-resistant (5,000 mm) fabric which makes it perfect for hikes that will get more than a little wet. This backpack is well priced and lightweight making it one of the most comfortable packs for beginners.

TYPE OF HIKING: 2 – 5 days of hiking
WEIGHT:  1.7 kg
VOLUME: 50L
GENDER: Unisex

Osprey Packs Exos 58 Men's Backpacking Backpack

4. Osprey Packs Exos 58 Men’s Backpacking Pack
The Exos (also available in 38 L 48 L size) can’t be beaten if you’re looking for a combination of comfort, ventilation, and an ultralight pack that can carry a heavier load. The Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole attachment is very convenient. There is a sleeping bag strap at the base of the backpack which is perfect if you’re storing a bulkier sleeping bag or mat and need quick access. The backpack is also fitted with what is called a “floating” lid which lets you get more gear and food in than normal backpacks. If your looking to save weight or have no use for the extra space, you can remove the floating lid.

TYPE OF HIKING: 3- 5 days of hiking
WEIGHT:  1.4 Kg
VOLUME: 58 L
GENDER: Men, Eja 58 is the equivalent for women.

Recommended Reading: Greek Cyclades Islands of Tinos and Naxos Hiking Tour

The Best Lightweight Backpacks

Whether you are planning an extreme weekend in the mountains or just relaxing in nature, hiking pack weight matters – the less the better. However, you still want to ensure that your lightweight pack is comfortable and functional.

Granite Gear Crown2 60L Backpack

1. Granite Gear Crown2 60
It’s made of a durable fabric that doesn’t compromise its lightweight. The pack is one of the lightest of its kind on the market. Plus, even though it’s designed for 2 to 3-day backpacking trips, with a bit of organization, you can also use it for longer hikes. The Granite Gear Crown2 will allow you to carry around 13 to 14kg comfortably. The stretchy water bottle pockets can easily fit in two bottles on each side and the pack caters for a hydration pack if you choose to use one.

TYPE OF HIKING: 3- 5 days of hiking
WEIGHT:  1.1 Kg
VOLUME: 60 L
GENDER: Men, there is also a Crown2 60 for women

Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor Backpack

2. Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor
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 and with the ability to expand into something larger for a long weekend hike, this is it. Plus it’s made of fabric with ripstop technology. This backpack has great ratings for its durability and comfort. It’ also has plenty of storage space and is one of the lightest packs on this list. 

TYPE OF HIKING: 1-4 days of hiking
WEIGHT:  1.1 Kg
VOLUME: 60 L
GENDER: Unisex

Recommended Reading: The Haute Route: Hiking Tour

TETON Sports Ultralight Backpack 

3. TETON Sports Ultralight Backpack 
This 70L backpack is quite light considering its size. Plus it comes with the features that all of us hikers love like the adjustable torso, breathable padding, and outer pockets on the waist belt for easy access to essentials. The TETON Ultralight line also offers Hiker 60 and Outfitter 65. This is a great purchase that offers value for money.

TYPE OF HIKING: 5+ days of hiking, thru-hikes, alpine expeditions
WEIGHT:  2 Kg
VOLUME: 70 L
GENDER: Unisex

Backpacks make great gifts for any hiker. If you are looking for the perfect gift for the hiker in your life make sure to check my list of top gifts for hikers. There’s something for everyone and every budget. 

Tell us your favourite backpacks for hiking. And be sure to check our recommendations for more hiking gear.

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