Best Hiking Backpacks in 2022

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Carrying proper gear is essential when you’re up for a quick hike or heading on a multi-day adventure. Choosing a trustworthy backpack can go a long way toward making your hiking experience more comfortable and safer. However, as the market is oversaturated with choices, you might get overwhelmed when trying to find the best backpack to suit your needs.

For that reason, we’ve compiled a list of the five best hiking backpacks to help you make an informed decision. So keep reading to learn what to look for in a hiking backpack and find the one that’s perfect for you.

Comparison Chart

41X3U+X15sL. SL500
Osprey Stratos 36 Men’s Hiking Backpack, Gator Green, Small/Medium
5124UVskDgL. SL500
INOXTO lightweight Hiking Backpack 35L/40L Hiking Daypack with Waterproof Rain Cover Camping Backpack for Travel Camping Outdoor for Men and Women (40L Black)
51o18NMXRwL. SL500
Venture Pal 40L Lightweight Packable Travel Hiking Backpack Daypack-Purple Leaf
51CZLcyCzAL. SL500
NEEKFOX Lightweight Packable Travel Hiking Backpack Daypack,35L Foldable Camping Backpack,Ultralight Outdoor Sport Backpack
41FPKXFPfmL. SL500
CLINFISH 70L Camping Backpack Hiking Backpack Lightweight Large Packable Bag Waterproof Backpack Travel Outdoor Hiking Daypacks

Best Hiking Backpacks: Reviews

Best Overall Option | Osprey Stratos 36 Men’s Hiking Backpack

41X3U+X15sL. SL500

Osprey is a backpack powerhouse known for its high-quality builds. It’s no wonder that their Stratos 36 hiking backpack tops our best hiking backpacks list.

Product Highlights

The Osprey Stratos 36 is an exceptional pack for long day hikes, winter hikes, and lightweight overnight trips.

This backpack features an adjustable-length frame, making it perfect for people of various torso lengths. The frame is lightweight yet provides excellent load transfer from your shoulders to your hips and legs. As these are the strongest muscles in your body, you can carry heavier loads more efficiently, feeling comfortable along the way.

The hip belt is easily adjusted to provide a body-hugging fit. Additionally, it’s very comfortable and moisture-wicking, thus avoiding slippage while hiking and keeping you centered and balanced. The adjustable shoulder straps have the same padding and are S-shaped, making them comfortable for men with muscular chests.

Another important aspect of this backpack is excellent ventilation. A suspended mesh panel behind your torso controls the airflow, keeping your back cool and dry. This feature is crucial if you’re headed to humid or hot locations. In addition, this back panel acts as a shock absorber, cushioning your hips and back as you hike.

The Stratos 36 also features a thoughtful assortment of pockets with various access points. This allows you to efficiently organize your gear and easily access it as needed. For instance, you can get into the main compartment from the top or through a side zipper. Also, these organizational features make this backpack an excellent choice for multi-sport adventures, as you can separate the gear according to the activities.

The backpack’s top lid is sewn to the frame. It doesn’t droop or slump sideways, as is usual with larger-volume packs. There is enough space in the top lid pocket for maps, gloves, hats, or navigation gear. A second zippered pocket is located underneath the top lid. This is perfect for storing any valuables, like your wallet or keys.

Another helpful feature is the sleeping bag compartment; you can access it through an external zipper. This is an entirely separate pocket, large enough to store a small trekking pole tent.

This Osprey backpack also comes with a rain cover. The pocket where the cover is stored has a drain hole, so it’s great for storing wet items.

What I Like

Thanks to the carefully crafted compartments, you can load Osprey Stratos 36 with various equipment, from climbing gear to winter traction aids. On top of that, its quality and sturdy build allow you to carry all that equipment relatively easily.

What I Don’t Like

The Stratos 36 is incompatible with Osprey’s hydration system, making the company’s water bladder almost impossible to use.

Pros

  • Lightweight and breathable frame
  • Easily adjustable hip belt and shoulder straps
  • An excellent variety of compartments

Cons

Poorly designed water bladder

Best Value for Money | INOXTO Lightweight Hiking Backpack 35L/40L

5124UVskDgL. SL500

With impressive features and an affordable price, the INOXTO backpack earns its place on our best hiking backpacks list.

Product Highlights

This versatile INOXTO backpack is well-suited for most weather conditions but fares exceptionally well during summer. This is thanks to shoulder straps made from breathable mesh and padding that dissipates heat, thus allowing the hiker to stay dry and cool.

Thanks to its tear-resistant and water-repellant polyester fabric, you can rely on this backpack for nearly any outdoor environment. For extreme conditions, use the included waterproof cover made from nylon. This handy accessory can withstand up to 3,000 mm of rain a day.

As the name suggests, you can choose between two sizes of the INOXTO backpack—35 or 40 liters. Both options make for an excellent weekend backpack, big enough for all the essentials. Depending on your packing skills, you might have room for additional items to make your experience more enjoyable, like a coffee press or a small camp lantern.

Apart from the storage space, this backpack offers plenty of separate compartments, including pockets, pouches, and zippered sections.

What I Like

The best thing about the INOXTO backpack is the functionality of the vast array of separate compartments. This makes it perfect for multi-sport adventures, allowing you to separate and efficiently organize your gear. In fact, there are so many compartments that one can easily get lost while searching for a particular object. So, make sure to first familiarize yourself with all the storage locations. Then, remember which compartment you used for which purpose.

What I Don’t Like

Unfortunately, the waistband isn’t padded and doesn’t offer enough support. As a result, longer hikes might get uncomfortable, and your skin can get irritated.

Pros

  • Breathable
  • Spacious
  • Highly functional

Cons

Not suitable for longer hikes

Most Lightweight Option | Venture Pal 40L Lightweight Hiking Backpack

51o18NMXRwL. SL500

The Venture Pal 40L backpack was designed specifically for hiking, with light hikers in mind. As a result, this backpack feels lightweight, despite its durable material and capacity.

Product Highlights

Although designed for hiking, this versatile backpack can be used for camping, cycling, and fishing. This is primarily due to an adjustable sternum strap that securely fastens the backpack to your body. The flexible shoulder straps further achieve a comfortable fit. In addition, they have a breathable mesh lining and sponge padding to ensure maximum comfort during any of your chosen activities.

When not in use, this Venture Pal backpack folds into a small pocket, allowing for compact storage. In addition, it only weighs around 0.7 pounds. Even when fully packed, it still fits under most seats, making it the go-to choice for traveling.

With the 40-liter storage capacity, there is enough space to bring both essential items and some selected additions. Thanks to 2-way Venture Pal metal zippers, you’ll have quick access to everything you’ve chosen to pack. Also, the packing process is made easier with multiple compartments at your disposal. There is also a wet pocket—a waterproof compartment where you can store objects that get sweaty or wet during your hike.

The backpack’s contents shouldn’t get wet thanks to a tough, water-repellent material. The high-quality nylon is enhanced by stitching to improve tear resistance. In addition, the double-layer bottom offers additional support and strength.

Although a good hiking backpack is all about functionality and comfort, it doesn’t hurt if it also looks stunning. The Venture Pal backpack is available in various colors, from classic black to eye-catching and colorful designs.

What I Like

It’s rare for backpacks of this size and storage capacity to be lightweight and compact. This makes it the perfect choice for traveling, as you don’t have to sacrifice your comfort for the backpack’s functionality.

What I Don’t Like

The Venture Pal 40L backpack suffers from some durability issues. While making the backpack as light as possible, the manufacturers also made it more prone to holes and tears. In addition, the zippers don’t fare too well, especially after washing the backpack several times.

Pros

  • Ultra-lightweight
  • Compact storage
  • Visually appealing design

Cons

Less durable

Most Affordable Option | NEEKFOX Lightweight Packable Travel Hiking Backpack

51CZLcyCzAL. SL500

This 35L backpack from NEEKFOX might be your go-to choice if you’re looking for a budget-friendly option.

Product Highlights

This NEEKFOX backpack is perfect for day or overnight and even shorter, multi-day hikes. Its size makes it big enough to pack all your supplies but small enough to make for a great traveling backpack. This backpack is a great crossover backpack for those who love the outdoors and traveling.

This backpack remains compact, whether folded or unfolded, making it further appealing to the travel crowd. It offers plenty of valuable compartments centered around a spacious zippered interior. This main compartment is big enough to fit a 13-inch laptop. All the additional pockets make it easy to organize your belongings sensibly.

It performs well even if you pack the NEEKFOX backpack to the brim. The mesh-padded shoulder straps make it comfortable to wear. These straps are S-shaped and can be adjusted to fit almost any hiker.

What I Like

Versatility is where this NEEKFOX backpack shines. If you’re fond of hiking and traveling, you don’t have to choose separate backpacks for each purpose. Instead, this backpack will transform from a plane carry-on to your best friend in the wilderness.

What I Don’t Like

A backpack of this size would benefit immensely from a waist strap. Unfortunately, with this crucial feature missing, the weight won’t be evenly distributed unless you pay special attention to it during packing.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Perfect for traveling

Cons

Unbalanced weight distribution

The Option With the Largest Capacity | CLINFISH 70L Camping Hiking Backpack

41FPKXFPfmL. SL500

When setting off on a multi-day adventure, it’s crucial to ensure you bring everything you might need. Therefore, your backpack should be on the larger side, with the CLINFISH 70L backpack being a perfect choice.

Product Highlights

This backpack was made to last and withstand a variety of equipment. It is made from durable 600D Oxford fabric with excellent stitching and sturdy zippers for long-lasting performance.

Thanks to this durability and the storage space, you can carry more food and extra clothes and layers. In addition, this backpack will fit a warmer, bulkier sleeping setup, a first aid kit, survival gear, and mountaineering equipment, if necessary. Finally, if you gravitate more toward glamping, there is also a handy laptop compartment.

The backpack features adjustable drawstrings to ensure all your equipment will stay tightly packed and intact. The shoulder straps are also adjustable, as well as being breathable, and padded.

These straps help alleviate the stress on your shoulders. However, it’s the aluminum internal frame and suspension system that reduces the weight burden most significantly. In addition, this suspension system is adjustable, making it an excellent fit for many hikers, regardless of their body type, weight, or height.

What I Like

While minimalism and light backpacking have advantages, sometimes you need more space than a standard backpack offers. The best aspect of this CLINFISH 70L backpack is that you can pack just about everything you might need for a more elaborate setup. This means you can embark on a long adventure without worrying about comfort.

What I Don’t Like

All the weight loaded into this backpack can affect its durability. Be careful with the weight distribution, as the straps can get unstitched or even pull out when loaded improperly.

Pros

  • Extremely spacious
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Adjustable

Cons

Straps are not particularly durable

Buyer’s Guide

When looking for a hiking backpack, your needs and the backpack’s specific use should be at the core of your decision-making process. So, several factors must be considered to ensure you’ll buy one of the best hiking backpacks.

Types of Backpack

Generally speaking, you can choose among three types of backpacks: external-frame backpacks, internal-frame backpacks, or frameless backpacks.

External-frame backpacks are best suited for carrying considerably heavy loads. These backpacks have a rigid aluminum frame, sturdy enough to provide excellent load support. Unfortunately, as a result, they’re bulkier and less travel-friendly. Therefore, you should avoid this type of backpack if you prefer light hiking.

As for internal-frame backpacks, they’re typically semi-rigid and thus less heavy. These backpacks are intended for carrying light to heavy loads. They usually include a hip belt that allows you to transfer the backpack’s weight from your shoulders to your hips.

Finally, frameless backpacks are perfect for those who like to travel light. This is because they have a flexible construction, making them extremely lightweight. But, of course, no rigid structure means no weight transfer from the shoulders to the hips, so these backpacks are only beneficial for day hikes and fast, lightweight ascents.

Capacity

Choosing the perfect backpack’s capacity boils down to your needs. Generally speaking, new hikers tend to go for a larger-volume backpack while they pick up on the ins and outs of efficient packing. Larger capacity backpacks are also beneficial if you want to bring some luxury items.

When determining the best capacity, try to match it to the gear you bring. In this sense, the season is also an aspect you should consider. For example, go for larger backpacks to accommodate the bulky equipment if you’re gearing up for a winter hike or trek. Also, try looking for more flexible replacements for the gear that doesn’t compress well.

If you prefer traveling light or have planned a short hike, choosing a minimalistic backpack is a way to go. A lower-capacity backpack will also help ensure you only stick to the essentials.

Materials

Nylon is the most common material used for a hiking backpack. This material comes in different deniers, a measure used to define density. The higher the denier, the more abrasion-resistant and durable the fabric. However, when a fabric is more durable, it is also usually heavier.

For this reason, the denier used for hiking backpacks is typically less than 210, except for the abrasion-prone areas. These areas, such as the backpack’s bottom, are usually reinforced with a sturdier fabric blend.

Interwoven threads reinforce the nylon for better tear resistance, while a polyurethane or silicone coating increases water resistance. This last aspect is vital, as sudden downpours are frequent in the wilderness.

Unfortunately, regardless of how rugged your backpack is, it will probably get damaged if you use it constantly and under unfavorable conditions. For that reason, consider purchasing a backpack with a lifetime warranty.

Weight

With the tent, sleeping bag, and pad, the backpack is typically the heaviest piece of hiking equipment. Therefore, keeping its weight as low as possible while accommodating your needs is essential.

Generally speaking, a heavier backpack can haul more weight. Therefore, if you prefer a more comfortable setup during hiking, you should go for a backpack that can handle the extra weight. On the other hand, a more minimalistic approach to hiking calls for a lightweight backpack.

As important as your setup is, especially for longer trips, it’s also essential for you to be comfortable during the hike. Heavier backpacks usually have a sturdy construction and an adjustable hip belt that takes the weight off your shoulders. This way, you avoid straining your back. Good padding can also make heavier backpacks more comfortable to wear.

Price

If you’re serious about hiking, you should consider a backpack a worthwhile investment. Quality backpacks are not always affordable, but they’re designed to last you many years—and many hikes—to come. A solid, lightweight backpack for casual hikers shouldn’t break the bank. In addition, there are some excellent value selections for those looking for more budget-friendly options.

FAQ

How to Pack a Hiking Backpack?

As with any packing, properly packing your hiking backpack can help maximize its capacity and ensure balance and comfort along the trail.

You’ll want to devise a packing strategy to avoid wasting valuable time on the hike. First, you should place the least-used items on the bottom of your backpack. This includes the sleeping bag or extra clothes you might’ve brought along.

Store heavier items, like water and food, near the middle and toward your back. Frequently used items, like toiletries or snacks, should be near the top. This way, you can reach them whenever necessary without rummaging through your backpack and creating a mess.

The top pocket or hip strap is the perfect place for essential items like a GPS device, phone, or a map.

What Are Backpacks Made Of?

Nylon is one of the most commonly used materials for hiking backpacks. This material is the most durable and can withstand a lot of wear. With some reinforcements, nylon is also resistant to tears and water. Other commonly used materials include:

  • Canvas
  • Cotton
  • Cordura
  • Leather
  • Denim

What Size Hiking Backpack?

Choosing the best size of hiking backpack boils down to your torso and hip measurements. Most brands offer various backpack sizes with an indicated torso length. If your hips aren’t proportional to your torso, you should go for a backpack with an adjustable hip belt.

How to Choose a Hiking Backpack?

Choosing the best hiking backpack depends on your needs and the hike itself. Generally speaking, essential factors are comfort, durability, and size. These should be adjusted according to your hike’s duration, the gear amount, and upper-body specs.

How Should a Hiking Backpack Fit?

A well-fitted backpack can increase your hiking performance. Your backpack should match your torso length, while the hip belt should match your waist/hips circumference.

Nowadays, most hiking backpacks come with adjustable harnesses, allowing a good fit regardless of your torso length. Here’s how to measure your torso:

  1. Tilt your head forward and locate the C7 vertebra, the bony bump at the base of your neck. This is the starting point for the measuring tape.
  2. Slide your hands down your ribcage on both sides until your reach the top of your hip bones.
  3. Draw an imaginary line across your spine between the top of your hipbones (the iliac crest). This is the finish line for your measuring tape.
  4. Stand up straight and have someone measure the distance between the C7 and the iliac crest. This is your torso length.

Paying for Quality

Although you’ll have an excellent time hiking with any of these options, we recommend buying the Osprey Stratos 36.

This versatile backpack tops our best-hiking backpacks list because it’s perfect for nearly any environment and weather conditions. Whatever load you might carry, you’ll be comfortable along the way. Thanks to the adjustable frame, most hikers can enjoy this backpack regardless of height or body constitution. In addition, the excellent assortment of compartments only increases its functionality and versatility.

When purchasing a quality hiking backpack, it’s normal to expect a higher price point. However, if you consider the Osprey backpack’s price too steep, you can choose a more affordable option, like the 35L backpack from NEEKFOX. This compact backpack will undoubtedly serve you well during your hikes and travels.

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