14 Best Hiking Backpacks for Any Adventure (2021)
Some of our posts include affiliate links. When you make a purchase from one of these links, The Urban Outdoors may receive a commission at no additional cost to you. As always, we only recommend products and services we actually use - no BS necessary.

Whether you’re planning a weekend hike or a month-long backpacking trip, you’ll need a place to store and carry your clothes, food, and gear on the trails. There are so many backpacks for hiking available, it can be overwhelming to choose one that best suits your needs and preferences on the trails. After lots of testing and research, we created this guide to the best hiking backpacks (& backpacking backpacks) so you can choose the perfect pack for your adventures!

With the best hiking backpacks, there’s no “one size fits all” option that works for every body type and individual. That’s why we’ve created this guide, to give you a few of our favorite recommendations. We only included the very best backpacking backpacks in our list, ones we’ve carefully researched and checked out using all of the resources available to us.

Looking for a great backpack for female adventurers? Check out our guide to the best hiking backpacks for women.

What to Consider When Buying a Hiking Backpack

Comfort & Fit

The #1 most important attribute when choosing between the best backpacks for hiking is comfort and fit. If a backpack has all of the best qualities but it hurts to wear, it won’t be very helpful for you! A lot of the other criteria we’ve included in here can help you get a general sense for how a backpack will fit, but until you try it on, you won’t know for sure. We recommend buying with companies like REI who offer free returns/exchanges so you can choose the perfect pack for you.

Capacity

Your hiking backpack should have enough space for you to pack what you need for several days. On the smaller end, a backpacking backpack should be at least 45L. However, you also don’t want anything too bulky for your needs, so on the higher end, we’d usually recommend 70-80L tops.

Design

The design of a backpack can greatly contribute to its comfort, fit, and functionality. Many elements play into the design of any hiking backpack, including weight distribution and storage areas. Some things you may want to consider in different backpacks include:

  • Storage capacity
  • Pockets
  • Gear loops
  • Hydration pocket & compatibility
  • Back frame
  • Waist straps

Designs are also quite subjective, but you can typically tell pretty quickly which features best suit your needs and preferences.

Weight

Even the most comfortable hiking backpacks can be cumbersome if they’re too heavy, and a pack’s weight is an important feature we always consider before purchasing. The lightest packs aren’t always the best because they often lack extra features, but packs with too many bells and whistles can also be prohibitively heavy.

Our recommendation is to determine the 2 or 3 features that are most important to you and find the lightest pack that has those features without too much extra bulk.

Price

While we try to keep price largely out of the equation when we test gear, it’s definitely something you will consider! With gear, you often get what you pay for, but that doesn’t mean that the most expensive products are always the best hiking backpacks. Most hiking backpacks cost between $100 and $400, with daypacks costing $100-250 and backpacking backpacks costing $200+. Set your budget ahead of time so you’ll know what you have to work with when evaluating your options.

Our Picks: Best Backpacking Backpacks

Osprey Aura AG 65 & Atmos AG 65
Overall Best Hiking Backpacks

  • Weight: 4.26 lbs+
  • Hydration? Yes
  • MSRP: $270

Some of Osprey’s best hiking backpacks are the Osprey Aura AG 65 (for women) and the Atmos AG 65 (for men). As some of the lightest in their multi-day hiking lineup, the Aura and Atmos are the most versatile backpacks for weekends in the backcountry or long thru-hikes. Osprey’s proprietary Anti-Gravity (AG) frame provides maximum ventilation and weight distribution for the most comfortable fit of all of the backpacks on our list.

This pack has it all – lots of pockets for easy organization, padded shoulder and waist straps, a separate sleeping bag compartment, and an integrated rain fly. Everything is adjustable, including the top compartment, all of the straps, and the back mesh panel, to provide a customized fit no matter your size or dimensions. Members of our team have hiked all over the world in this backpack (the Atmos AG 65), from Shenandoah National Park to Patagonia, and we would wholeheartedly recommend it for any backpacking trip.

CHECK REVIEWS & PRICES FOR OSPREY ATMOS AG 65:

CHECK REVIEWS & PRICES FOR OSPREY AURA AG 65:


Deuter Aircontact Lite
A Close Second

  • Weight: 3.5 lbs+
  • Hydration? Yes
  • MSRP: $190 to $220, depending on size

Deuter’s take on the classic backpacking pack – the Deuter Aircontact Lite – is an excellent, lightweight option for hikers looking for a versatile hiking backpack at a great price. The Aircontact Lite offers all of the best features of a robust backpacking pack without adding extra bulk or weight. With packs ranging in size from 35L to 65L, there’s an option for everyone in Deuter’s lineup, from overnight hikers to thru-hikers on the trails for weeks or months at a time.

With Deuter’s Aircontact Lite Backsystem, you’ll get a comfortable, ventilated fit that distributes weight and minimizes shoulder or back strain. All of the straps are padded to maximize comfort for hours on the trail at a time. The pack’s collar in the top loader extends for an added 10L of space when necessary, and several external pockets enable you to organize and store your essentials effectively. While it doesn’t come with a rain cover, you can buy one separately. People absolutely love this pack, and we’d recommend it as a budget-friendly alternative to Osprey any day.


Osprey Ariel 65 & Aether 65
Best for Long Treks & Heavy Loads

  • Weight: 4.85 lbs+
  • Hydration? Yes
  • MSRP: $280

A similar design to the Osprey Aura & Atmos, the Osprey Ariel 65 & Aether 65 offer all of the amazing features of Osprey’s hiking backpacks with a slightly more robust build. These packs are a little heavier than the Aura and Atmos packs, and are designed for heavier loads and longer treks requiring a bit more stability and strength. With several compartments for storage, an integrated hydration sleeve, a separate sleeping bag compartment, and a custom molded back panel, the Ariel and Aether are some of the best and most comfortable hiking backpacks available.

Another helpful feature of the Ariel and Aether packs is the side zipper, providing quicker access to your gear than the singularly top-loading design of some other packs on our list. Our founder has used the Ariel 65 for 7+ years for travel and backpacking on 5 different continents – including backpacking trips in the Canadian Rockies, Peru, and Patagonia – and her pack is still as comfortable and sturdy as it was when she bought it.

CHECK REVIEWS & PRICES FOR OSPREY AETHER 65:

CHECK REVIEWS & PRICES FOR OSPREY ARIEL 65:


Hyperlite 4400 Southwest Backpack
Best Ultralight Hiking Backpack

  • Weight: 2.45 lbs
  • Hydration? Yes
  • MSRP: $390

Hyperlite is one of the premier brands in ultralight backpacking and hiking gear, and they make some of the best hiking backpacks for any kind of hike. If you’re looking for something light and agile, the Hyperlite 4400 Southwest Backpack is one of the best hiking backpacks on the market. At just 2.45 lbs, this 70L pack is one of the lightest on our list, perfect for minimalists and thru-hikers who want to maximize space and minimize weight.

With padded straps, 3 external pockets, and a roll-top closure, this pack offers plenty of space for your gear with great comfort and weight distribution. Unlike some of the other options on our list, this pack has tons of gear loops on the body and straps to hook on your jackets or other gear you want easy access to. We especially love the external mesh stuff sack for stashing snacks, electronics, and extra clothes on the go.


Granite Gear Crown2 60
Best on a Budget

  • Weight: 2.19 lbs
  • Hydration? Yes
  • MSRP: $199.95

As the lightest and most affordable option on our list, the Granite Gear Crown2 60 is one of the best backpacks for hiking on our list. This pack has all the features we want in a solid hiking backpack, with a large, 60L compartment, several zippered external pockets on the top and straps for gear storage, and a framed suspension system for weight distribution.

Unlike some of the other packs on our list, the Crown2 also waterproof, so you won’t need a rain cover for most conditions. It also has a roll top closure to secure your gear.

One of the main drawbacks of this pack is that the straps are a little less padded than other options we’ve included, and this can cause a bit more discomfort on long hikes or with a heavier load. Keep this in mind if you prefer the more premium feel of the Osprey or Deuter packs above!


REI Traverse 60
Honorable Mention

  • Weight: 4.13 lbs
  • Hydration? Yes
  • MSRP: $229

The REI Traverse 60 is one of REI’s most popular backpacks for multi-day hikes and travel, and it’s beloved by many avid hikers. This pack has everything you need, with a traditional top-loading design, a spacious top pocket for the essentials, a separated sleeping compartment, and padded straps for extra comfort.

On the outside, you’ll find a stuff sack/pocket and gear loops for your extra rain gear or trekking poles. There’s also an included rain fly to ensure your gear stays dry during wet weather. The main complaint about this bag is the straps, which are slightly less padded than others on our list. However, at its price, this is an excellent hiking backpack and one that will last your for many miles to come.


Granite Gear Blaze 60
Honorable Mention

  • Weight: 4 lbs
  • Hydration? Yes
  • MSRP: $269.95

Granite Gear’s other popular pack – the Blaze 60 – offers a slightly more robust setup for carrying heavier loads with more structure than the Crown2 60 (above). This waterproof, high quality backpacking pack has lots of pockets and space in a slim, streamlined design. There’s lots of padding in the straps, a spacious interior pocket, and a cushioned back frame for extra comfort on the trails.

Tall users (6 ft+) have reported that this pack does not extend long enough for maximum comfort, so keep that in mind if you’re on the taller side. Additionally, users have complained that too much weight in this pack can cause discomfort. As always, try it in at REI or at home to ensure the fit works before you take it out into the backcountry!


REI Flash 55
Honorable Mention

  • Weight: 2.56 lbs
  • Hydration? Yes
  • MSRP: $199

A lighter, slimmed-down version of the REI Traverse is its smaller sibling, the REI Flash 55. “Flash” is REI’s ultralight hiking line and this pack is one of the many excellent items they offer. At just over 2.5 pounds, this pack offers 55L of space without any extra bulk. We especially love this pack for ultralight hiking fanatics, as it’s got a super lightweight build with strong and comfortable suspension.

Some users have cited durability issues with this pack, especially in the backcountry. However, for the price and weight, the Flash 55 is a deal that can’t be beat.


Gregory Baltoro 75 & Deva 70
Honorable Mention

  • Weight: 4.62 lbs and up
  • Hydration? Yes
  • MSRP: $329.95

If you’re looking for an all-in-one option, look no further than the Gregory Baltoro 75 & Deva 70, Gregory’s most robust backpacking offering. What makes these some of the best backpacks for hiking? It literally has everything you need, including 70L of space, comfy, padded straps, a sturdy suspension system, and lots of external pockets. The most unique thing about this pack (as opposed to others on our list) is that it comes with a detachable daypack on the front, making this an ideal choice for multi-day backpacking trips where taking short hikes from camp is an option.

CHECK REVIEWS & PRICES FOR GREGORY BALTORO 75:

CHECK REVIEWS & PRICES FOR GREGORY DEVA 70:


Our Picks: Best Hiking Backpacks for Day Hikes

Osprey Tempest 20 & Talon 22
Overall Best Daypacks for Hiking

  • Weight: 1.91 lbs+ (depending on size)
  • Hydration? Yes
  • MSRP: $130

When we go hiking, we want a daypack that’s comfortable, lightweight, and easy to use. Sporting the ultimate in comfort and practicality, the Osprey Tempest 20 (for women) and Talon 22 (for men) are some of the best hiking backpacks on the market today. Osprey makes top-of-the-line backpacks for hiking and travel, and the Tempest and Talon are no exception.

First of all, these hiking backpacks have a flexible frame, which helps provide structure and ventilation to the back while you’re out on the trails. The hydration system holds up to 3L of water and is located between the frame and the main backpack compartment, separating it from the rest of the pack and minimizing risk of water leakage onto your gear. We also love the waist strap pockets and the front stuff pocket, providing easy storage and access to your most important items.

We had to look hard to find anything we didn’t like about the Osprey Tempest/Talon packs. The only thing we wish could have been included is a rain fly for inclement weather (although you can buy one here). For the price, these are the best backpacks for day hikes out there, and we’d recommend them to anyone wanting a sturdy and comfortable companion on the trails.

CHECK PRICES FOR OSPREY TEMPEST 20 (WOMEN’S VERSION):

CHECK PRICES FOR OSPREY TALON 22 (MEN’S VERSION):


Deuter Speed Lite 22 SL & Speed Lite 24
A Close Second

  • Weight: 1.5 lbs+
  • Hydration? Yes
  • MSRP: $115

A slightly more economical option, the Deuter Speed Lite 22 SL (for women) and Speed Lite 24 (unisex) are a close second for on our list of the best hiking backpacks for day hikes. What we love the most about these packs is that they’re built to minimize weight without compromising on comfort. You’ll find padded shoulder and waist straps and Deuter’s Lite Air back frame construction paired with ultralight materials and designs on these packs.

We love this pack because of its lightweight, straightforward design. The outer stuff sack and waist pockets provide easy storage for your essentials, and the daisy chains along the outside make it easy to clip on jackets and other gear for quick access. The inner pocket offers a hydration compartment and lots of space for snacks, jackets, and more.

Like the Osprey Tempest and Talon, these daypacks do not come with a rain fly, but you can buy one here. If you prefer a larger size, the Deuter Speed Lite also comes in 30L & 32L options as well.


Hyperlite Mountain Gear Daybreak
Best Ultralight Daypack for Hiking

  • Weight: 1.27 lbs
  • Hydration? No
  • MSRP: $210

If you’re looking for the absolute lightest hiking backpack without sacrificing premium quality or features, the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Daybreak is the ultimate choice. Hyperlite Mountain Gear is one of the premier brands in the ultralight hiking and camping space, with gear that feels comfortable and durable at a fraction of the weight of comparable products.

This pack has all of the basics – a sizable main pocket, padded shoulder and waist straps, side water bottle pockets, and an exterior stuff pocket, to name a few – but weighs in at just 1.27 lbs. It’s also got an internal sleeve for a laptop or other electronics and is made of water resistant materials to protect your gear against the elements. We love the daisy chains located on the shoulder straps, which provide easy clip-on access to things like hats, headlamps, and more.

While this pack does have nearly everything a day hiker could need, we’d love to see a version with a dedicated hydration pack compartment to stash a water bladder. It’s definitely not a deal breaker, though, and if you’d prefer to have the lightest day pack with the most premium materials, the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Daybreak is a no brainer.


REI Trail 25
Best Hiking Daypacks on a Budget

  • Weight: 1.93 lbs+
  • Hydration? Yes
  • MSRP: $79.95

For those looking for the best hiking backpacks on a budget, the REI Trail 25 (women’s and men’s versions) is our top pick. REI makes great gear, and their backpacks were designed for rugged trails and tough terrain. With its spacious storage compartments, padded straps, and streamlined design, the REI Trail 25 optimized for practicality without compromising on aesthetics.

With a 25L storage capacity and an internal hydration reservoir compartment, you’ll be able to store all the essentials – gear, water, snacks, clothes, and more. With its external daisy chains, you can hook on all your favorite gear using carabiners. This daypack also includes a rain fly, which is super handy for sudden downpours on the trails (and is a feature that’s left out in many of the other products on this list!).

What we don’t love is the lack of easy-to-access exterior pockets. While there are two water bottle pockets on the sides, there aren’t a lot of storage spots you can get to easily on the go. The upper pocket for keys and small essentials is a little more annoying to get to than on other packs, where it’s readily available. Otherwise, the Trail 25 is an excellent pack that comes at a fraction of the price of other options on our list.


Cotopaxi Batac 24
Honorable Mention

  • Weight: 1.05 lbs
  • Hydration? Yes
  • MSRP: $80

One of our absolute favorite ultralight daypacks for hiking is the Cotopaxi Batac 24. Made from excess fabrics from other gear manufacturers, Cotopaxi’s Del Dia line of backpacks is fully sustainable and characterized by its super bright color-block style.

Each Batac 24 backpack is unique because the colors and designs depend on the fabrics they’re able to source at a given time. That means when you buy a Cotopaxi backpack, no one else will have the exact same one! While the Batac 24 does not have much in the way of padding, and there’s no frame, it’s easy to pack and is made of high-quality materials. The added laptop pocket makes this a natural fit for toting your gear on and off the trail.


Additional Resources

Avatar
Author

Kay Rodriguez is the founder of Urban Outdoors. She's also the writer and photographer behind Jetfarer. When she's not writing furiously on her laptop or editing photos, you can find Kay running, hiking, surfing, or playing in the snow.

Write A Comment