Best Hiking Backpacks Reviewed and Rated

If you want to have a successful hiking trip you need three things: a GPS device, good hiking boots and a good hiking backpack. Hiking backpacks are made to carry all of your essential items with you on a hiking trip. The old stereotype of carrying a 200 lbs. bag on your back doesn’t apply to most hikers, and surprisingly the market has made note of that. There will be some hybrid backpacks on the list that also double as good hiking backpacks, so be prepared for some surprises.

Our Top 3 Picks

WASING BACKPACK
  • WASING BACKPACK
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • SBS zippers
  • Price: See Here
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OUTLANDER BACKPACK
  • OUTLANDER BACKPACK
  • 4.6 out of 5
    Our rating
  • 33L
  • Price: See Here
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VENTURE PAL BACKPACK
  • VENTURE PAL BACKPACK
  • 4.2 out of 5
    Our rating
  • 11.2 ounces
  • Price: See Here
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Best Brands

When it comes to best hiking backpacks, Under Armour, Teton, Fjallraven Kanken and Speedo come to mind. Because hikers of different needs have changed how companies adapt to the market, there really isn’t a top dog brand. So while other industries are ruled by 3-4 major companies, hiking backpacks are spread thin across several.

Maintenance and Cleaning Tips

Common sense plays an important role here, with the best way to take care of your backpack coming down to unloading it within 24 hours of getting home. That means not throwing it in a corner with all of the dirty, wet and out of place items from your hiking trip. A backpack that is taken good care of can last for over a decade without any rips, tears or even moldy smells. But even if you do manage to let it sit out once in a while, no true harm will come to it-these backpacks are built for roughhousing.

Best Hiking Backpacks Reviewed

We reviewed some of the best hiking backpacks available on the market today. Check out our in-depth reviews and find the best hiking backpack for you.

1. WASING 55L INTERNAL FRAME BACKPACK

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And of course the #1 spot goes to the Wasing 55L. This huge monster has circled many lists for years, and is the best friend of any determined hiker. There is nothing that this backpack can’t do, and it is head and shoulders above the rest of the items on the list.

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55L And Counting

In the hands of an experienced, packer, they can fit in all of their materials with room to spare. If an experienced user gets their hands on this backpack, then they will still have room to spare! There is no such thing as running out of space with the 55L that this Wasing offers, even if you pack horrible.

Features and Specifications

Man-made materials
Water resistant
Molded foam back panel
Two mesh bottle pouches
Front sleeping bag compartment
Two key hooks
SBS zippers
Trekking pole attachment and bottom loops

Price/Value

This is the best value on the list, no question about it. At a low price you get almost quadruple the space, a highly durable backpack and a brand that can be trusted. Buyers that want a smaller backpack will be better off with another item on the list.

Decision Time

Going big with the Wasing 55L model is a smart choice if you’re going to be doing some serious hiking. The outdoors won’t be able to surprise you, and inside your backpack will be everything but the kitchen sink.
Pros
  • Extension collar can expand to accommodate 5 extra liters
  • Sternum strap comes with emergency whistle buckle
  • Eight different torso length adjustments
  • Can still carry on an airline
  • Only weighs 3.5 pounds
Cons
  • May be too big for some customers

2. OUTLANDER PACKABLE BACKPACK 20L/33L

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Outlander is one of those brands that strikes light lightning. The company took a little bit of features from all of the top backpacks in the industry to create their very own, and it’s incredible. Functionally it is one of the best values on the list, and continues to be a really good choice for hikers.

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Your Size, Your Choice

Besides all of the usual color choices, Outlander is also offering this model in sizes 20L and 33L. The only difference between the two is their actual size, so customers won’t miss any important features if they go with the smaller model. And just to make a note, the 33L is a massive size upgrade from the 20L.

Features and Specifications

Comes in 9 different colors
Folds into zippered inner pocket
Two side pockets
Rip and water resistant
Abrasion resistant SBS metal zippers
Lifetime warranty

Price/Value

Amazingly this is one of the lowest priced backpacks on the list, even at the #2 spot. Because of the attention to durability customers will get instant value on this purchase, along with a very strong warranty.

Decision Time

With a little more attention to including media compartments, then this Outlander backpack could have easily landed the top spot. Even without those compartments, there is a quality here with this model that should be respected.
Pros
  • Nylon makes it light and strong
  • Weak points are reinforced with bar tacking
  • Several pockets to store things in
  • 33L version is huge
  • Warranty is ironclad
Cons
  • No middle ground in sizes between the 20L and the 33L versions
  • No dedicated laptop compartment

3. VENTURE PAL LIGHTWEIGHT PACKABLE DURABLE TRAVEL HIKING BACKPACK

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When the Venture Pal first came out, the first thing people noticed is how lightweight it was. This was nothing new by backpack standards. But when you realize just how light it is compared to the others on the list, well that is when you’ll understand why it is #3.

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Light and Comfortable

The reason the Venture Pal is so light comes from how it distributes weight. Good hiking backpacks don’t concentrate weight all in one area, and in this case they managed to throw in breathable mesh shoulder straps. And with the additional sponge padding for the shoulders it becomes the most pleasurable backpack experience of your life.

Features and Specifications

Tear and water resistant
Foldable into its own pocket
Folded dimensions are 9×8.5×2.2 inches
Unfolded dimensions are 20x13x7.5 inches
Multiple compartments
Weighs 11.2 ounces

Price/Value

Venture Pal has kept this backpack at an insanely low price for a while. The company is always good with pricing their equipment, although this ranks as the best priced. The bag is one of a kind, and a value worth having around the house.

Decision Time

Customers will find a use for this bag even if they aren’t big time hikers. At the price it would be a shame to pass up the deal of the century.
Pros
  • Perfect for taking on flights
  • More pockets than you know what to do with
  • One of the most comfortable backpacks on the list
  • Built from the ground up for multiple use
  • Side pockets can hold water bottles
Cons
  • No dedicated laptop space
  • Depending on how you pack the material may be noisy

4. HIGH SIERRA LOOP BACKPACK

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Fun for many reasons, the High Sierra Loop backpack comes as a surprise in the #4 position. The model is an improvement over one of their older models, and it has ironed out all of the flaws. Buyers will have a lot of extra new features to play with and plenty of colors to choose from.

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An Insane Amount Of Color Combinations

There are currently 32 different color combinations to choose from, all of them with a unique twist. High Sierra wanted to give the customers a chance to choose a design that is personal. And these are more than just plain colors mixed together, as each bag has a very nice shade that holds over the years.

Features and Specifications

100% Polyester
Tablet computer sleeve
Media pocket
Monster hook and bottom straps included
Side compression straps are adjustable
Mesh beverage pockets

Price/Value

Sierra opted to keep this backpack at a low price which is one of the reasons it is so popular. Durable materials will protect your investment, even if it lacks water resistance.

Decision Time

With only three more to go on the list, the High Sierra Loop backpack has made a bit of a splash. All levels of users will have a good time using it for all purposes, even hiking.
Pros
  • Colors are very well done
  • Tablet sleeve is 12.5x11x0.75 inches
  • Polyester is holds up well to abuse
  • Multi-compartment design includes large pockets
  • Backpack can have extra gear attached to it
Cons
  • No laptop sleeve
  • Not waterproof

5. SPEEDO LARGE TEAMSTER BACKPACK

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And then there came a surprise, and its name was Speedo! The large teamster backpack is a nice addition to the list, made more for light hiking with limited miles rather than long expeditions. There is enough room here to put your most important stuff away and have it comfortably resting in your pack.

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The Laptop Sleeve Was A Surprise

Built in laptop sleeves for a backpack can be a bit of a hit or miss depending on the brand you choose. Speedo went all out and made sure that your equipment is 100% protected from the most dangerous outside elements. This model has the best laptop sleeve of any other hiking backpack on the list.

Features and Specifications

Up to 18 colors to choose from
Water resistant bottom on laptop sleeve
Abrasion resistant exterior
Removable dirt bag
Removable bleacher seat

Price/Value

Speedo is iconic as a brand even if people wouldn’t think to associate them with hiking backpacks. The price is low on this item, and it is about as big as you can get without getting a bag with a frame.

Decision Time

Trusting Speedo isn’t too hard considering they’re one of the leaders of the industry. Buyers that need a do it all pack will be just fine with the Large Teamster backpack.
Pros
  • 35 liters is pretty generous for what it does
  • There is no better protection for your laptop than inside this bag
  • Durable material can take a lot of damage and drops
  • Dirt bag is an ingenious idea and can even be used for wet items
  • The bleacher seat is another one of those ingenious ideas
Cons
  • A little heavy for its size
  • Redesign of bag took away some cool features of the old design

6. TETON SPORTS SCOUT 3400 INTERNAL FRAME BACKPACK

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Now comes the big ones, with the Teton Sports Scout 3400 leading the way. These are true to form hiking backpacks that can’t be mistaken for anything else. They are made to carry as much as possible while maximizing the room available.

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Great For A Beginner

There’s nothing really technical about using a hiking backpack, although if you want to maximize the space in it there will be some trial and error. With the way the pockets and compartments are set up with this model, it’s easy to make use of all the extra room. There will be less user error to go around and more time getting ready for your big hike.

Features and Specifications

3400 cubic inches
Weighs 4.5 pounds
Large sleeping bag compartment
Multi-directional compressor straps
Limited lifetime warranty
Side mesh pockets

Price/Value

This one is a no brainer for all they are offering at a low-mid tier price. You’re getting everything that would be in a high end bag, although it could stand for a little more support. Once you realize how fun it is to use the dedicated compartments, it’ll be easy hiking from that point forward.

Decision Time

The Sports Scout 3400 is a great intro to hiking backpacks for beginners, and will help them out tremendously. With the price being so affordable, not considering this model would be a mistake.
Pros
  • There is a space on this pack for anything
  • Padded pocket keeps water bladder cool
  • Has a lot of high end features without a high price
  • Very low priced for what it offers
  • Is one of the all-time top sellers in hiking backpacks
Cons
  • Water bladder not included
  • Some sleeping bags may not fit

7. FJALLRAVEN KANKEN DAYPACK

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Another daypack has made the list, and this time around it is the Fjallraven Kanken Daypack. This model is like the other day backpack on the list and has some really impressive durability spikes when you decide to treat badly.

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Better Colors for Accessorizing

All of the colors available for this model are bright and beautiful, and oddly the back of the pack looks like it is always smiling. Calling the Fjallraven Kanken stylish wouldn’t be the correct word, but it is rather modern in its approach when used for any activity. It’s the backpack that you’ll always want with you.

Features and Specifications

30 year model history
Collectable colors
Made of Vinylon F
Water/abrasion resistant
Fabric becomes stronger the more it is used
Weighs 6.1 ounces

Price/Value

The strength of this backpack is amazing, and can even challenge the top three on this list. Decades of work has gone into the current design, and it is sitting around the mid-high price for backpacks. This multiple use model will always have someone willing to use it.

Decision Time

A fair share of people may consider this just another strong daypack. But the idea behind the Fjallraven Kanken was once designed with the help of The Swedish Guide and Scout Association. It’ll do more than just carry its weight when you need it.
Pros
  • Timeless Swedish design
  • Fabric really does tightened and get tougher over time
  • Lightweight
  • Colors are fun and collectable
  • Simple yet functional
Cons
  • No water holder
  • Missing a couple of extra pockets

8. TETON SPORTS OASIS 1100 2 LITER HYDRATION BACKPACK

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When Teton came out with the Sports Oasis 1100, they intended to cram as much backpack as possible into one model. They may have succeeded, as there are only a few things this model seems to be lacking.

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Great Athletic Cut

When you’re hiking the last thing you need to worry about is your backpack straps cutting into your shoulders. Little things like the straps not being able to be adjusted correctly and weird shapes make for an uncomfortable experience. The Sports Oasis 1100 cuts down on that problem by making it the perfect for men, women and children.

Features and Specifications

Replaceable hydration bladder
Fits all sizes
Comfort taped straps with notched foam stabilizer
Weather guard
Bungee cord system
Butterfly opening

Price/Value

At some point you will end up filling all of the space in this bag, even if it takes years. With its low price buyers will flock to it solely for all the space they’ll be given. Any fears about the durability should go away with the included limited warranty.

Decision Time

When you have a hiking backpack with more space than you know what to do with, then you have a winner. The Sports Oasis 1100 will fit anything you need for your next great hiking expedition.
Pros
  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Hydration pack only weighs 2 pounds
  • Three zipper pockets and two mesh pouches
  • 1,100 cubic inches to fill
  • Chest shock absorber works wonders
Cons
  • Durable but could still use some work
  • Won’t fit any laptop over 13 inches

9. JANSPORT SUPERBREAK BACKPACK

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With the way the Superbreak is marketed there has been a small following of diehard users. JanSport didn’t do anything revolutionary with the design, and it is about as plain as a backpack can get. Where it gains such high praise is that it doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel, and opts to keep things simple. Even though this is considered more of a day pack, many have gone on to use it as a pretty reliable hiking backpack.

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Lightweight

A good hiking backpack needs to be strong but lightweight. The reason the Superbreak makes the list is due to the beating it can take without breaking. It’s stronger than the Storm Hustle II yet manages to feel like a cloud when you have it on.

Features and Specifications

2/3 Length back panel padding
Front accessory Pocket
Built in media sleeve
Weighs 11 ounces
Dimensions are 18x17x1 inches

Price/Value

Being able to convert this into a hiking backpack is one of the great joys of repurposing. It’s low cost and half the price of a lot of other branded hiking backpacks, yet seems to be twice as tough. Keep that in mind when you’re having troubles deciding on whether to purchase it or not.

Decision Time

JanSport has really made quite the impression with their Superbreak. If it had a few more extras it could have been something extra special. In its current state, being #9 is still a fantastic achievement.
Pros
  • One of the lightest on the list
  • Over 20 different color options
  • High quality fabric and padding
  • Can take a lot of abuse
Cons
  • Not originally for hiking so it lacks water bottle holders
  • Would be perfect if it had 1 extra compartment

10. UNDER ARMOUR STORM HUSTLE II BACKPACK

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A backpack list without Under Armour wouldn’t make any sense. The company known for making rugged athletic wear has a couple of really good hiking backpacks in their lineup. With the great look of the Storm Hustle II, you’ll get a tough backpack with few equals.

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Multiple Options

Under Armour went a little crazy with the color options with this backpack, but at the very least it offers a variety. There are currently 17 different color options to choose from, with the favorites being Black/Black, Red/Graphite and Verve Violet/Black Cherry.

Features and Specifications

81% Polyester and 19% Nylon
Element strong UA Storm technology
Abrasion resistant bottom panel
Holds up to a 15 inch laptop
3 interior slip pockets and 5 exterior

Price/Value

The Storm Hustle II can be considered an entry level hiking backpack so is a low priced good value for any user. It does wear down over time and is more suited for light-medium hiking journeys.

Decision Time

Under Armour did a good job with this backpack and it will serve you for years. There is plenty of space to do with it whatever you want.
Pros
  • There is bound to be a color that you like
  • Backpack is tough and water resistant
  • Shoulder straps are adjustable
  • Plenty of room
  • 2 Side water bottle pockets
Cons
  • There are better materials available than the Polyester/Nylon combo
  • A little less durable than Under Armour’s other offerings

How To Make The Best Decision When Choosing A Hiking Backpack

This one is going to get tricky since there is still a controversial divide between the casual backpacker, the lazy hiker and the determined hiker. Hiking backpacks come in all shapes and sizes, and not all of them have internal/external frames. Would it make sense to bring a huge 55L hiking backpack on a 1 day hike? Hybrid backpacks have become popular because of this, and it isn’t unusual to see people use the same backpacks for school that they use for hiking. Hiking backpacks over the years have become merged with ‘multipurpose’ backpacks. The best choice in buying one will depend heavily on the type of hiker you are. Finally, regardless of your backpack choice, always make sure to leave some room for an emergency kit, just in case something goes wrong.

FAQ

Are Internal/External Frames Required For A Good Hiking Backpack?

Only if you plan on carrying excess weight on a multiday trip. The reinforced frames are for carrying a lot of weight for long periods of time, and shifts some of the stress away from your own body.

Can Putting My Laptop In A Backpack Without A Dedicated Place Hurt It?

Some of the backpacks on the list have special cushioned places just for laptops. If you purchase a bag without it, simply by a sleeve for your laptop and put it in the bag where weight won’t constantly be on it.

Will The Airline Let Me Bring My Backpack Aboard?

Yes, as long as it meets size guidelines. No, if it contains anything on the ban list.

Is It More Practical To Own A Hybrid Backpack?

In a perfect world yes, but there simply is no replacement for a backpack with an internal/external frame. There is no way you can fit an incredible amount of weight in a hybrid without adding stress to the backpack and your body. There is room in the industry for both, which is why people usually buy one of each.