We spent over 60 hours researching and testing 20 different kinds of hiking backpacks and found that number of pockets and compartments, materials used in construction, and durability were most important. The TETON Sports Scout Internal Frame Backpack scored high marks in all areas and is our top pick. This backpack is one of the most popular hiking backpacks on the market and for good reason. The 55 liter capacity pack weighs only 4 pounds making it perfect for hikes. The multi-position adjustment allows this pack to fit many different body sizes. There are plenty of compartments in this backpack.
Introduction to the Hiking Backpacks
If you are a hiking and backpacking enthusiast already or you want to be, you will need a good quality backpack for carrying the gear you will need. Choosing the right backpack is contingent upon what you will be doing, how long your trips are, where you will be hiking and other factors.
It is important to find a backpack that will fit properly and be able to handle your body weight as well as carry the gear you want to bring with you on your trips. There are a lot of different hiking backpacks on the market. Some are daypacks for short trips and others are full sized styles that are designed for long hikes that span anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks.
The purpose of this guide is to help you choose the right hiking backpack for your needs. We will show you how to compare different packs and what to look for when you are searching the available backpacks that are available.
With all of the choices around, choosing one could be difficult without the right information. After reading this guide you will have the information you need to make an informed decision that will meet all your hiking needs.
Hiking Backpacks Summary
Choosing the right hiking backpack can be a challenge if you don’t know what features to look for. We have provided you with the tools you will need to sort through all the choices available and make the right decision for your specific needs. These tools include a detailed buyer’s guide with information on what to look for and the features that a good quality hiking backpack can offer.
We have also listed three of the top rated hiking backpacks for you to consider. All three of these packs are high quality hiking backpacks with plenty of pockets and space for the gear that you will need on your trips. They are all from reputable companies that are respected and trusted within the outdoor community.
To learn more about how to choose the right hiking backpack for your needs read the following buyer’s guide. It contains information on the things you should look at when you are researching different backpacks and how to determine what type and size pack you will need.
Hiking Backpacks Comparison Chart
|38 – 49.5||38 – 49.5||38 – 51||48 – 58.5||39 – 58.5||39 – 58.5||39 – 58.5||38 – 49.5||38 – 51||38 – 49.5|
|30 x 17 x 12||23 x 14 x 9||21.7 x 13.8 x 9.8||34 x 18 x 12||34 x 16 x 13||14.25 x 10.25 x 34||14.37 x 9.84 x 25.19||31 x 15 x 12||23.5 x 12 x 7||23.2 x 13.4 x 3.9|
Hiking Backpack Buying Guide
Five Factors to Consider
There are five main factors to look at and consider when sorting through the different types and styles of hiking backpacks. We have listed these factors out for you below.
- Comfort – There is a difference between comfort and fit. A backpack may fit you just fine but still can be uncomfortable to carry. Adjustability is one of the biggest features to ensure your backpack choice has. When your pack is fully adjustable you can customize it to your personal preferences, body size and other specifics as well. One of the best adjustable features you can get is one that will allow you to adjust the pack to the torso length of the wearer.
- Style – The design or style of the hiking backpack you choose should allow for the wearer’s head movements and arm movements so they are not hindered. You also want to look for a pack that has straps that are easy to access and manage when adjusting and customizing the fit. Color selection is always nice too although this has no bearing on the quality of the backpack.
- Value – Everyone wants to get a good value for the money they spend. Look for a backpack that is durable, sturdy and that has a good warranty as well. Most hikers won’t mind spending more for a backpack if it is going to work well for them, be comfortable and last for years.
- Convenience – Packability of a pack is very important. The more gear you can safely carry in an efficient manner the better the hiking trip will be. You want the pockets, flaps and compartments should be easy to access and have a means of securing the contents inside.
- Durability – The durability of a hiking backpack is very important. You don’t want to have to purchase a new pack once or twice a year or more because it can’t stand up to the rigors of heavy use on the trails. Daypacks don’t need to be as durable as backpacks you take on a two-week excursion but you still don’t want it to be flimsy and easily torn. Make sure that zippers, clips, seams and straps are durable and strong (and covered under the warranty as well)
Types of Backpacks
With all of the variety you see in backpack choices, all of them fall into three main categories in some way. These categories are:
- Daypacks – Daypacks are for single day hikes, bike rides, runs and day climbs as well. The do not typically have a frame and are soft backed as well. They are extremely lightweight and are perfect for loads of 15 pounds or less. Make sure that your daypack has a hip belt to keep the pack from banging against you and moving around while you are on your hike.
- Internal Frame Packs – The internal frame backpack is one of the most popular kinds of packs purchased by hikers. The frames are usually made from aluminum, plastic framing, Delrin rods that are curved or a combination of two or more of the previously mentioned materials. A properly fitting internal frame pack will fit the body by hugging the contours of the wearer’s back and keep the load close to the spine which is the preferable position for carrying loads.
A good quality internal frame backpack will transfer the weight to the hip area which is much stronger than the back. Internal frame packs are narrower and it closer than other types.
Their narrow design makes them an excellent choice for skiing, climbing or even bushwhacking since they provide plenty of arm clearance. Make sure the style has a trampoline style design for the back so you get plenty of breathability and circulation. This is very important when hiking in hot weather.
- External Frame Packs – This type of hiking backpack is also designed for heavy loads with a lot of gear. These are good packs for walking the trails due to the design of the pack that positions the bag is hung off an exterior frame, keeping the load away from your back.
Trail walkers don’t mind this design at all and using trekking poles can make walking with an external frame pack even more stable. The higher center of gravity that external frame packs have provides very good weight transfer to the hips where the hiker is the strongest and allows for the hiker to walk with more of an upright posture.
The other benefit is a lot of airflow capability that flows between the pack and the hiker; a great feature for hiking on hot days. Externals have tons of pockets and are great for longer hikes of a week or more.
Making Sure The Fit Is Correct
Making sure that the hiking backpack you choose fits properly is very important. An ill fitting backpack is extremely uncomfortable to hike with. We have provided information on each type of backpack so you understand how to best fit the pack of your choice properly.
- Daypack – Daypacks are easy to fit and usually only come in one size. You want the shoulder straps of the daypack to wrap around the shoulders without digging into your shoulders or arms. The hip belt is most often made of webbing and should hold the bag against your back so it is more secure. You don’t want it swaying back and forth or bumping against the back constantly while you are walking.
- Internal And External Packs – When you will be using an internal or external frame pack, you will find that fit is the most important issue you will need to take care of. The most important part of the pack that is responsible for the fit is called the suspension system. This includes shoulder straps, frame, back padding, lumbar area, and hip belt. There are three different types of suspension systems that internal and external backpacks can have:
- Fixed Suspension – Packs with a fixed suspension are typically available in a variety of torso lengths that can accommodate hikers of all heights. The main benefit to using a fixed suspension pack is the stability they provide since there is a solid connection between the backpack and the hiker.
- Interchangeable Suspension – This type of suspension is the best of both worlds. Depending on the manufacturer, you may be able to customize the suspension by purchasing specific-sized hip belts or shoulder straps separately. Interchangeable suspensions are perfect for people who are outside the average height and weight range.
- Adjustable Suspension – The shoulder portion that fits across the back panel of an adjustable suspension moves up and down to allow the hiker to lengthen or shorten how much space is between the hiker’s shoulder blades and hips. This allows it to be used by a variety of hikers of all shapes and sizes.
Purchasing the right hiking backpack is a very important factor that can make or break a hiking trip. The right pack will be big enough to carry all of your gear, fit well, be adjustable so you can customize it and be long lasting and durable too. The right pack that is constructed well from durable materials, can last years, even with heavy use.
All three of the top rated hiking backpacks will make a great pack for your hiking endeavors whether you prefer day trips or you want to take a two week excursion up in the mountains. With a large selection of color choices and the ability to adjust them to fit each hiker perfectly, any one of these choices would be an excellent pack for your hiking gear.
- TETON – http://www.tetonsports.com/
- Outdoor Master – http://www.outdoormaster.com/
- Mountaintop – https://www.mountaintopoutdoorshop.com/