Best Hiking Backpack

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.

Hiking Backpack Review

14 mins to read
36 products considered
20 products reviewed
60 hours reviewing

Top 10 Hiking Backpacks

PictureHiking BackpacksMaterial
Capacity (liters)
TetonPolyester
55
MountaintopPolyester
40
Outdoor MasterNylon
50
Teton 4000600D Diamond Ripstop
65
Teton 5200Polyester
85
High Sierra1680D Ballistic nylon
75
HBAG600D Diamond Ripstop
80
WasingPolyester
55
BolangNylon
45
G4FreeNylon
50

1. TETON Sports

Best Overall Hiking Backpack

5/5 Product Rating
TETON is a well known name in backpacks that are perfect for hiking and backpacking. The Sports Scout 3400 is one of the top selling backpacks on the market, with a ton of features and a great price point as well. This sturdy, high quality pack is available in hunter green, Mecca orange and coyote tan.

This roomy pack has a 55 liter capacity and weighs only 4 ½ pounds. It is great for beginning hikers as well as experienced enthusiasts and features a multi-position adjustment in the torso area that will work with many different body sizes.

The open cell foam pad in the lumbar region and along with molded channels provide the hiker with plenty of airflow and comfort; things that are very important when you are on the trail. This pack works equally well for men or women.

It has a large sleeping compartment, plenty of pockets and compartments, multi-directional compression straps, bendable Aluminum stays, durable zippers, padded straps at the waist and shoulders, and much more.

TETON offers users a lifetime limited warranty that covers the backpack against manufacturer’s defects as well as other problems. With excellent customer service and a high quality product that is long lasting and durable, hikers of all skill levels will find plenty to love about this backpack.

Jonathan Maxwell

2. Mountaintop

Best Overall Hiking Backpack – Runner Up

4.7/5 Product Rating
If your backpacking trips are not usually longer than a few hours this 40 liter hiking backpack by Mountaintop may be just what you’re looking for.

It has 6 adjustable straps that are great for hauling your mat, tripod, sleeping back, and other important gear you may need.

The main compartment of the backpack is accessible via front zippers. The thickly padded shoulder straps and hip belt provide plenty of comfort and the two padded areas on the back offer plenty of comfort during your hikes.

There is plenty of air flow for good air circulation to prevent becoming overly sweaty while wearing the backpack.

One popular feature this backpack offers is the plentiful pocket groupings it has. Users can utilize two pockets in the front, a hidden pouch, mesh bottle holders and a bladder sleeve. This backpack comes with a 90 day warranty.

This pack is easy to keep clean thanks to the water resistant coating the pack has been treated with. You should never wash this pack in the washer and bleach is not recommended for cleaning. The pack can be wiped off with a damp cloth when not in use. Users can choose from a large selection of bright colors and there is a 90 day warranty as well.

Jonathan Maxwell

3. Outdoor Master

Best Budget Hiking Backpack

4.5/5 Product Rating
Your satisfaction is 100% guaranteed with Outdoor Master’s quality hiking backpack. Features of this sturdy, long lasting pack include thick, comfortable straps that make it much more comfortable on the trails.

It has a design that features plenty of pockets for your gear, a padded laptop compartment, a superior air ventilation system for maximum air flow, and it’s waterproof too.

This pack has a 50 liter capacity, making it easily able to handle all your essentials for being on the trail. It comes with a 5 month warranty and the company has excellent customer service should you need to use it.

If you get caught out in the rain, the water proof cover will handle heavy rains while still keeping your belongings dry. It has been treated with a water-repellant coating as well that handles the light rains with ease.

The high quality zippers, mesh water bottle pockets on the sides of the pack and reinforced handle for easy carrying all add to the great experience this hiking backpack provides.

Users get all these features and a low weight of only 2.6 pounds. It is available in 7 bright colors including: red, blue, black, orange, light green, dark green and purple all of which feature a dark gray trim an accents.

Jonathan Maxwell

Hiking Backpack Comparison


Teton
View

Mountaintop
View

Outdoor
Master
View

Teton
4000
View

Teton
5200
View

High Sierra
View

HBAG
View

Wasing
View

Bolang
View

G4Free
View
ColorHunter
Green
/ Mecca
Orange
/ Coyote

Tan

AssortedAssortedGray
/ Blue
/ Green
Blue
/ Red
Black
/ Mercury
/ Navy
Gray
/ Blue
/ Green
AssortedAssortedAssorted
Capacity
(liters)
55405065857580554550
Torso
Length
Adjustment
(cm)
38 – 49.538 – 5138 – 49.548 – 58.539 – 58.539 – 58.539 – 58.538 – 49.538 – 5138 – 49.5
Warranty
(Months)
Limited
Lifetime
36Limited
Lifetime
Limited
Lifetime
Limited
Lifetime
Limited
Lifetime
3Limited
Lifetime
Limited
Lifetime
MaterialPolyesterPolyesterNylon600D
Diamond
Ripstop
Polyester1680D
Ballistic
nylon
600D
Diamond
Ripstop
PolyesterNylonNylon

 

Hiking Backpack Buying Guide

Best Hiking Backpack

Five Factors to Consider

hiking-backpack1There 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

    hiking-backpack2A 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.

  3. 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:
    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. hiking-backpack3

    4. 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.

Conclusion

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.

Resources

  1. TETON – http://www.tetonsports.com/
  2. Outdoor Master – http://www.outdoormaster.com/
  3. Mountaintop – https://www.mountaintopoutdoorshop.com/