Best Hiking Backpacks of 2020: Our Top 13 For Every Budget

This post may include affiliate links, including Amazon Associate links. I may earn money if you click on one at no extra cost to you.

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 whether you’re doing a multi-day trek like the Tour du Mont Blanc or the Dolomites where you will carry everything you need with you, or a hiking tour like the Cinque Terre or our Coastal Hike: Costa Brava, Spain to France where all you need is a day pack.

But first,

How to Choose the Best Hiking Backpack for You

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

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:

Pick the Right Size 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+

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.

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.

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 and if you don’t need certain  features, you’re better to choose a pack that doesn’t have the unneeded features since they add extra weight:

  • Pockets. I think side pockets are essential, but all others aren’t necessary but 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. 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 not necessary on smaller ones.
  • Sleeping bag compartment. Perhaps a nice to have, but not a must-have in my opinion.
  • Rain cover. Definitely a must-have for any type of backpack.

What are our favourite backpack brands?

explore cinque terre on our self-guided walking tour

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

They offer a life long 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 their 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.

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 their 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.

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.

Osprey Daylite Plus

2. Deuter Speed Lite 20
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 pockets giving you easy access to your water bottle or additional equipment that you might need within reach. The water pockets are slightly bigger than other similar backpacks. Speed Lite 20 is the perfect backpack to have if your 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: short day hike
WEIGHT:  0.5 Kg
GENDER: Unisex

2. Deuter Speed Lite 20
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 pockets giving you easy access to your water bottle or additional equipment that you might need within reach. The water pockets are slightly bigger than other similar backpacks. Speed Lite 20 is the perfect backpack to have if your 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
GENDER: Unisex

3. Gregory Inertia 20 Hydration
It might be a little heavier than the previous options, but it is still great for those hikes when you need to be light and fast. It comes with a 3-liter 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
GENDER: Unisex

Best Unisex Backpacks

Deuter Air Contact Lite Backpack 50L

1. Deuter Air Contact Lite Backpack
This backpack provides a good balance between comfort, weight, and ventilation. It also offers flexibility with an additional 10-liter capacity. 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 weight efficiently adding to the comfort of the backpack. The innovative Aircontact Lite back system makes heavy loads more manageable. If you need more space, consider the Aircontact or Aircontact Pro.

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 separate 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 for the bladder as well as two ports for the tubing. The backpack does not come with its own bladder though.

TYPES OF HIKING: 3-5 days of hiking
WEIGH:  1.85 Kg
GENDER: Unisex

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. 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
GENDER: Unisex

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 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.

TYPES OF HIKING: 3-5 days of hiking
WEIGH:  2.85 Kg
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 pockets for water bottles are easily located within reach so that you don’t need to be a contortionist. The backpack also comes with its own removable rain cover. There is a small zipper pocket where you can separately store it.

TYPES OF HIKING: 4-5+ days, of hiking
WEIGHT:  2.26 Kg

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. 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.

TYPES OF HIKING: 3-5 days of hiking
WEIGHT:  2.20 Kg

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 trips of a week or longer. 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
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 organization.

TYPE OF HIKING: 5+ days of hiking, thru-hikes, alpine expeditions
WEIGHT:  2.3 kg

Mammut Trion Pro 50+7L Backpack

3. Mammut Trion Pro 50
What makes this backpack unique is its extra-large zipper, making it easy to access your gear. It also has plenty of inner and outer pockets to keep everything safe. 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 perfect for the beginner.

TYPE OF HIKING: 2 – 5 days of hiking
WEIGHT:  1.7 kg

Osprey Packs Exos 58 Men's Backpacking Backpack

4. Osprey Packs Exos 58 Men’s Backpacking Pack
The Exos (also available in 38 L or 48 L size) can’t be beaten if you’re looking for a combination of comfort, ventilation, and a lightweight backpack. 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. The backpack is also fitted 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
GENDER: Men, Eja 58 is the equivalent for women.

The Best Lightweight Backpacks

Whether you are planning an extreme weekend in the mountains or just relaxing in nature, weight matters. And typically the less weight the better – while still retaining comfort and function.

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 side 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
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 both 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.

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

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 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
GENDER: Unisex

Backpacks make great gifts 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 travel backpacks.

Find More Backpacks Here:

Enjoyed this content? Please share:

Leave a comment