There is nothing more annoying and frustrating than planning a big hiking trip and not having the proper bag to pack all of your gear in. A backpack is one of the first things you need to get started hiking and trust us, you’ll want a comfortable one.
Don’t compromise on gear and pick the right pack for your trek! We’re giving you the lowdown on the best hiking backpacks, so listen up fellow hikers.
First thing’s first, you shouldn’t just grab any pack you see, you should choose the right pack for you. There are some important things to consider when choosing a pack for a hike, such as the length of the trip, the weight of the pack, the size that fits your torso, and more.
Length of Trip: Different Trips Call For Backpacks
Backpacks are sized by how much they can hold (volume), which is measured in liters. The longer the trip on the trail, the bigger the hiking or camping backpack you’ll need, so choose wisely.
Day Trips (< 30 liters)
Try the Deuter Airlite 28 (28L), perfect for carrying all of the essentials for a day trip on the trails. Featuring a detachable rain cover, air comfort back system, a hip belt, a reflective loop for safety light, and compression straps, you won’t be sorry on your trek with this pack.
Or, try The North Face Borealis Backpack (28L), great for day hikes, but also doubles as the perfect pack for school, travel, and more. Featuring easy-to-access pockets, a removable waist belt, and a FlexVent™ suspension system that boasts custom injection-molded shoulder straps and a padded mesh back panel with a spine channel for maximum support and ventilation. Don’t sacrifice comfort, not even on a day hike. Stash your gear quickly and hit the road with this pack.
Weekend Trips (1-3 nights = 35-50 liters)
Try the Deuter Act Trail Pro 40 (40L), a super technical pack providing top carrying comfort with its compact, yet comfortable fit; perfect for multi-day excursions and equipment intense outings. The Aircontact Trail Pro System features Auto-Compress hip wings and airy, perforated shoulder straps, a zipped front pocket for maps, a wet laundry compartment, a detachable rain cover, a stretch front pocket for storage of jacket, helmet, harness etc. and more.
Multi-Day (3-5 nights = 50-80 liters)
Try the Osprey Atmos 65 (65L). Featuring an adjustable harness, removable sleeping pad straps, tool attachment, and dual zippered front panel pockets. Also featuring the Anti-Gravity™ suspension* system, which contours your body and provides seamless comfort, allowing you to move with ease on any multi-day backpacking trip.
Long Trips (6 nights+ = 70 liters+)
Try the Osprey Volt 75 Mountaineering Pack (75L), designed for those who don't want any bells and whistles, just a simple rucksack large enough for a week on the trail and built for the long haul. Featuring dual side compression straps to provide load stability, a separate wide mouth access sleeping bag compartment, and more. The LightWire™ peripheral frame transfers the weight to your hips where a Fit-On-the Fly™ hip belt easily adjusts up to three inches for a custom fit so you’re comfortable no matter where you are on your trek.
The weight of the Pack: Lightweight Camping & Hiking Backpacks Are Usually The Best Choices
Since you’re going to be carrying your pack with all of your gear, you’ll want to make sure the weight of the pack itself is lightweight so it doesn’t add any more to your load. However, some lighter weight packs have thinner straps and padding in the back panel, which could cause you some discomfort on your longer trips. So, do your research and see what best suits you on your trips.
Sized for Torso: How to Choose the Right Size & Fit
When it comes to packs, your torso length is important, because that’s how most backpack sizes are measured.
To find the top of your torso, touch your chin to your chest and feel for the large protruding bone that is located at the back of your neck, this is the C7 vertebrae. Measure from that point, down to the top of your hip bone, which is the bottom of your torso length.
A general guide for backpack sizing:
- Extra Small: up to 15 ½”
- Small: 16″ to 17½”
- Medium/Regular: 18″ to 19½”
- Large/Tall: 20″ and up
Camping & Hiking Backpacks for Women & Kids
While most hiking and camping backpacks are unisex, there are packs designed specifically for women and children for a better fit.
Backpacks designed for women have shorter torso lengths, narrower shoulder widths, and curved waist belts.
Children’s packs are smaller and include an adjustable suspension to accommodate growth.
For longer trips, the Osprey Women’s Xena 85 (85L) provides deluxe features, optimal organization and gear access for extended or weeklong backpacking trips lasting 5-10 days while providing comfort and superb carrying ability.
For kids on longer trips, try the Osprey Ace 75 (75L), recommended for ages 11-18. This pack is a torso and hip belt adjustable technical daypack for young outdoor enthusiasts. The Ace 75 provides the capacity and organization required by outdoor education groups. Featuring an adjustable harness, sleeping pad straps, an integrated rain cover, compression straps, and more.
For kids on shorter hikes, try the Osprey Kids Pogo Urban Trail Pack (24L), a go-to choice for gear transport. Featuring side stretch mesh pockets for quick and accessible storage and front panel storage for organization. If your hike is cutting it close to sunset, there is a blinker light attachment strap located near the base of the pack’s front panel so your kids can stay seen and safe in the dark.
Whether you’re hitting the trail for a short day hike, or trekking it a little further for a longer camping trip, don’t sacrifice your gear or comfort and make sure to pick the right pack!