Best Hiking Backpacks Reviewed & Rated for Quality

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.

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By Kevin Enochs:

We've updated this page with some additional links and price checks to make sure you're getting the best of the best when it comes to hiking backpacks. We've also added some new products to our list that we think you're going to like both in terms of the price point and in terms of the features.

Featured Recommendations

  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • SBS zippers
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  • 4.6 out of 5
    Our rating
  • 33L
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  • 4.2 out of 5
    Our rating
  • 11.2 ounces
  • Price: See Here

Best Brands

When it comes to best-hiking backpacks, Under Armour, Teton, Fjallraven Kanken and Speedo come to mind. Because hikers with 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.


15 Best Hiking Backpacks




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


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.
  • 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
  • May be too big for some customers


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


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.
  • 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
  • No middle ground in sizes between the 20L and the 33L versions
  • No dedicated laptop compartment


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


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.
  • 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
  • No dedicated laptop space
  • Depending on how you pack the material may be noisy


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


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.
  • 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
  • No laptop sleeve
  • Not waterproof


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


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.
  • 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
  • A little heavy for its size
  • Redesign of bag took away some cool features of the old design

6. TETON 3400

6. TETON 3400
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


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.
  • 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
  • Water bladder not included
  • Some sleeping bags may not fit

7. G4Free Large 40L

7. G4Free Large 40L
The G4Free Large 40L Lightweight Water Resistant Travel Backpack was designed to give the flawless balance between size, durability, lightweight, and volume capacity. The G4Free backpack can also be transformed into a handheld bag when you are not using it on your hiking trips so it can serve more than just one purpose.

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Huge Storage

What makes the G4Free backpack an ideal travel bag for backpackers with so many things to pack for a single trip is its capacious storage. This bag has a top loading sack designed with a drawstring lock. This unique feature allows user to fit more items into the back when needed or less slack if it is not packed to the brim. Unlike traditional bags, your packing is restricted to the limitations of the bag’s zipper lock. The bag’s main compartment has an integrated fabric divider and comes with a secured top double sided pouch for additional storage.

Features and Specifications

High 40 liters volume capacity for a foldable backpack
Very lightweight and convenient to use
Highly durable made from superior tear and water resistant nylon fabric proven for its long lasting performance and strength with minimal weight

Price Value

For a backpack that is as versatile and durable as the G4Free backpack, this is actually very affordable too. It seldom happens that a bag this size comes with a very reasonable price even when it is sold online.

Decision Time

For backpackers who love to pack more things on their backpacks, this is definitely a good deal to consider.
  • Heavy duty but lightweight
  • Multicompartment and drawstring pouch
  • High volume capacity
  • Straps are not padded enough

8. TETON 1100

8. TETON 1100
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


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.
  • 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
  • Durable but could still use some work
  • Won’t fit any laptop over 13 inches


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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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


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.
  • One of the lightest on the list
  • Over 20 different color options
  • High quality fabric and padding
  • Can take a lot of abuse
  • Not originally for hiking so it lacks water bottle holders
  • Would be perfect if it had 1 extra compartment


This is a huge backpack offered by Amazon basics that's immensely affordable but also gets high marks for its ability to get the job done when you're out in the natural world. It comes in three sizes ranging from 55 to 75 liter capacity, its has a water resistant exterior coating and an integrated rain fly and a waterproof cover for when things get really wet.
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Multiple Options
There are three different versions of this backpack when it comes to capacity. The smallest at a 55 liter capacity will still get the job done and the largest at 75 liters is built to hold everything you might need for an extended stay in the woods.

Built for Comfort
Adjustable padded shoulder straps will keep you comfortable. There's an open cell lumbar pad and channels for airflow as well as solid panels to provide back support.

Cost and Value
The choices in size and style make this a really attractive option for day hikers and folks who are planning to spend a lot of time in the field. This pack is built for comfort but is tough enough to handle anything you can throw in it or that nature can throw at it.
  • Comes in three sizes
  • Backpack is tough and water resistant
  • Shoulder straps are adjustable
  • Plenty of room
  • Shoulder Straps Feel Flimsy
  • Tears Easily

11. Mountaintop 5822III

11. Mountaintop 5822III
You would definitely love a lot of things about the new Mountaintop 65L Hiking Backpack with internal frame. Its overall design provides it with perfect weight distribution including its various accessories and packing attachments in and out of the bag.
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Innovative Design

What makes this hiking backpack from Mountaintop unique is its innovative design. This model comes with a nicely placed compartment dedicated for sleeping bags right at the bottom of the bag complete with compression straps located at the front that also serve a double purpose for carrying a sleeping mat or a tent. The straps are considerably padded and it comes with an adjustable elastic sternum strap so the bag moves with you.

Features and Specifications

Made from highly durable and relatively lightweight nylon materials
Water resistant
YKK Zippers and YKK Buckles
Shock corded toggle for attaching selfie sticks or trekking poles
Dedicated sleeping bag compartment
Bigger lid that adds about five liters or more of storage space

Price Value

More often than not, the price of a hiking bag, regardless of its brand, usually depends on the quality of materials and the number of unique features. Overall, this hiking backpack is an incredible value considering all the additional features it has and the high quality of its design and materials.

Decision Time

If you want a compact yet very functional and heavy-duty hiking backpack, the Mountaintop 65L Hiking Backpack with internal frame can be a good option to consider for starters.

Heavy duty materials with innovative design

Considerable storage options and attachments

Water resistant


Slide-bar buckles instead of quick release buckles

The lower side compression straps are not raised enough

12. Coreal Hiking

12. Coreal Hiking
The new 35L Coreal Hiking Foldable Backpack is designed to provide the ideal balance between size, durability and storage capacity. With its compact and lightweight features, you will be surprised as to how much you can pack into this backpack. And because this is also foldable, you can easily fold it using its self-containing pouch and transform your backpack into a handheld carry bag that is super compact and easy to carry.
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Ingenious Storage

Within the main compartment of the hiking bag, there is a built in fabric divider that is further secured with a double sided pouch on top. This provides a perfect additional storage which can also be securely connected about the pack top using an adjustable strap to tighten or loosen slack if needed. The smart design of its double sided pouch can also be used for storing smaller items for better access and organization.

Features and Specifications

Made from heavy duty, highly water resistant rip stop nylon fabric
Top loading pouch designed with a drawstring lock
Can be folded into a very compact pouch when not in use for hiking
Unfold size: 21.56" x 11" x 7.87"
Folded size: 9" x 7"
Weight: 0.77lb with 35 Liter of storage space

Price Value

The new 35L Coreal Hiking Foldable Backpack provides good value for your money considering all its features, attachments and quality of materials used.

Decision Time

If you want a lightweight and compact hiking bag that can store all your hiking essentials and gears for a single trip, the new 35L Coreal Hiking Foldable Backpack is an ideal hiking bag for you.
  • Heavy duty and water-resistant materials
  • Foldable
  • Clever storage

No waist strap

13. ZOMAKE Ultra Lightweight

13. ZOMAKE Ultra Lightweight
Bags such as this one are perfect for your day trip excursions, offering you plenty of space to pack all the supplies you need for the day. Made from durable, water resistant materials, this bag also offers you plenty of benefit potential.
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Although this bag can be folded into a tiny package for minimal storage space, don't let that fool you. Once you take this bag out to pack for your trip, you will see the potential it has for packing space.

This bag is so lightweight and roomy, you can use it for all your packing needs. Eliminating the need to purchase several different bags for different occasions. Perfect for using on flight for a carry on, or on your next trip to the beach for packing those extra towels. This bag is sure to suit all your packing needs.

Cost and Value
This bag has an amazing amount of potential to meet all your packing needs, for a fraction of the price as some of the rest. You can fold this bag into it's own case, pack it in your suitcase to use as a day bag on your next extended trip.
  • Lightweight
  • Easy storage
  • Plenty of packing space
  • Multi-Functional
  • Poor zipper quality
  • Doesn't hold up to machine washing

14. NEEKFOX Lightweight

14. NEEKFOX Lightweight
This hiking backpack has the ability to keep you comfortable during those long walks on even the most rugged of terrain. Made from high quality materials, this bag won't let you get caught up in even the thickest wooded areas.
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The shoulder strap design of this hiking backpack, will help provide you with the balance and weight distribution you need to remain on the trails. The strap system also provides stability throughout the pack, offering you relief to your back as well.

Scratch Resistance
Made from quality materials this backpack offers durability and is scratch resistant. This resistance provides you with the freedom to move through the thickets without getting hung up on low lying branches. Giving you a more hassle free experience.

Cost and Value
Falling in the middle of the spectrum for cost, this hiking backpack brakes through the top for potential benefits for your hiking pleasure. Giving you the freedom to move swiftly through rough terrain, while evenly distributing the weight of your pack to keep you comfortable the whole way through.
  • Scratch resistant
  • Even weight distribution
  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable
  • Smaller than expected
  • Seam construction seems poor

15. OutdoorMaster

15. OutdoorMaster
This bag was designed with your storage needs in mind, offering a spacious main area, and plenty of pockets. This bag will have you ready for all weather forecast, with its waterproof cover. No need to worry about wet clothing or gear when the rain hits.
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Storage Space
The main area for this bag is rated to hold up to 50 L, that is a crazy amount of room for your gear. Numerous pockets in several different sizes, and the outer portion of the bag host places for attaching some of your gear.

Waterproof Cover
Each bag comes with a cover that can be put over the bag in the event it rains, keeping your gear protected from the rain as this cover is waterproof. There is also a pocket designed to hold this cover while not in use, making sure that it is always there when you need it the most.

Cost and Value
This bag has plenty of benefits for the cost of the bag, offering you plenty of space to store your clothing and gear. With a cover that stays in a special pocket, so you always have it when you need it. Wear this bag with comfort and confidence that your gear bag has you covered.
  • Waterproof cover
  • Large main area
  • Plenty of pockets
  • Durable
  • Zippers are weak
  • Not as durable as advertised

Criteria Used for Evaluating the Best Hiking Backpacks

What is the perfect hiking bag for you? Since there are no perfect generic models of hiking bag for everyone, your choice will depend on what you are actually doing and when and where you are planning to go, not to mention the length of your hiking trip.

Also, you may need to know if the hiking bag you choose answers the following questions:

  • Does it have the best quality of the material?
  • Is it waterproof?
  • Is it durable?
    Is the hiking bag easy to use and maintain?
  • Does it meet customer satisfaction according to user reviews?

Understanding the answer to these questions will help you determine what is the right backpack for you. Furthermore, you will also find it helpful to look for a backpack that properly fits with a suspension feature that can easily handle your body and carry the weight you place in it.

Quality of Material

Choosing a hiking backpack with the best quality of the material is important especially when you are planning to use it for all your outdoor activities and trips. From the outer canvass to zippers and suspension system, the quality of the materials used in the construction of the bag will determine its durability and overall function. We have considered several options based on diversity and quality of materials that are ideal for activities that require a lot of movement and walking.


Although it is not necessary that a backpack is one hundred percent waterproof, it is still important to consider the water resistance of the bag. There are bags that are only semi-waterproof while other models come with external tarps you can wrap around the bag in case of a heavy downpour. Here, we have several options you can consider in terms of the hiking bag’s water resistance capacity, such as the Under Armour and Speedo options.


The hiking bag you will choose will be subjected to harsh conditions not to mention heavier loads which are its primary purpose. Just like with anything, the durability is very important because it will technically be the main factor in determining for how long your bag will be used. In this regard, we have taken the liberty to prepare a list of hiking bags with higher ratings when it comes to durability and resistance to wear and tear that is only natural for these things.

Ease of Use/Maintenance

When you go on a hunting trip or hike, your backpack will be the only thing that will be carrying all your important gear and camping stuff items. It is important to choose a model that is not too complicated to use and one that is very easy to maintain and store every after your hunting trip is over. We have made a selection of options with different levels of ease of use and maintenance depending on the number of features that a particular model has.

User Reviews

When everything seems so difficult because there are simply a lot of factors you need to consider, reading several user reviews can significantly help with narrowing down your options. In this guide, we have prepared several options based on the diversity of user reviews and customer satisfaction, more specifically, those who have already tried the product.

How to Pack a Hiking Backpack Efficiently

When efficiently packed, your backpack can carry an amazing assortment of equipment. But how do you pack a hiking backpack efficiently and know what goes where? The truth is, there is no single ideal way to pack it. The first step to any efficient packing is laying out all the gear and personal stuff and trying various loading and packing sequences until you are able to find the packing routine that will work best for you. You may also want to create a hiking checklist to make sure you have everything.

Below are some packing tips and explanations on the right way to pack your hiking bag.

Your load can be divided into three different levels or zones in addition to peripheral storage:

  • Base Level: Ideal for bulkier gear and other similar items that are not needed until you set up camp.
  • Midpoint: Ideal for your more compact or heavier items to provide balance.
  • Upper Level: Ideal for other bulkier hiking essentials you need to use while you are on the trail.
  • Accessory compartments: Ideal for small essentials you will need immediately or frequently.
  • Lash-on points and tool loops: Ideal for overly long or oversized items that will take up too much space inside the bag.

Envision a wall construction. You are setting up rows and not forming columns. Stuff empty recesses and crannies up until you complete a stable and solid load although you need to make sure that the weight is balanced equally on both sides. Tauten the compression straps to make your load more efficiently and keep it from shifting while you are hiking.

Base Level

Bigger and bulkier items that you won’t need before you set up camp often include but are  not limited to:

  • Sleeping bag if your hiking bag does not have a bottom compartment for this gear.
  • A sleeping pad that can be rolled into a smaller dimension
  • Any layers or sheets that you are planning to sleep in when you reach camp
  • Down booties or camp shoes

When you pack these soft, yielding items at the base of your hiking bag, it will create a sort of internal padding or shock absorption system for your pack and your back as well.

Midpoint Pack

Heavier and denser gear that is  not needed while you are hiking often include:

  • Food supply excluding refreshments and nibbles you will need along the way
  • Cooking kit and supply
  • Camping stove if you plan to bring some
  • Water supply except when you prefer water bottles for your hydration
  • Bear container where all scented items including feed are contained including other bulkier items that will help in filling the pack to the brim

Packing heavier items on the midpoint level of your hiking backpack helps in creating a more stable center of gravity and focuses the load below and the weight of your pack will not pull you backward. When the heavy gear is placed too low, it causes your pack to sag and if placed too high, it will make your hiking bag feel tipsy or unsteady.

When carrying a liquid fuel for your camping stove, make sure that you fully tighten the bottle cap. Pack it upright and put it below and away from your food. Think about wrapping softer items around bigger stuff to keep it from shifting. Make use of these soft items to congest the nook and crannies while creating a cushion or barrier between bulky items and a water tank:

  • Tent frame or canvass
  • Tent outline
  • Rain fly or the flysheet of your tent
  • Additional clothing

Do not forget that when you try to slip a full water tank or reservoir into a packed hiking bag can be very difficult. It is more ideal to fill up the reservoir first and put it in your pack even if it has a compartment of its own.

Upper Level

The upper level of your pack is also ideal for bulky hiking essentials such as:

  • rain jacket
  • insulated coat
  • water purifier and or filter
  • first aid kit
  • toilet supplies including TP bag and trowel

Some hikers also place their tents on top of the backpack for fast and easy access if they need to set up camp immediately should stormy weather comes in.

Accessory Compartment

Accessory compartments are ideal for smaller essentials because they provide easy and fast access every time you need a piece of gear from your bag. However, different models of hiking backpacks may also have different accessory compartments like front pockets, lid pockets, and side pockets. Some models may also have hip or belt pockets. Some of these pockets may also include smaller pockets on the inside but all these options are there to help you better organize smaller items such as:

  • Map and compass
  • GPS
  • Sunglasses, sunscreen, and lip balm
  • Headlamp and other camp lighting essentials
  • Insect spray
  • Snacks
  • Hydration bottles
  • Rain cover
  • Car keys (look for a clip inside one of the pockets)
  • Identification cards and cash stash
  • Lash On Points and Tool Loops

When you are hiking, it is only natural to bring some hiking tools and other important gear that will help you on the trail but may not fit in your hiking bag. This is why most backpacks and hiking bags come with tool loops and lash on points so you can strap any of the following:

  • Hiking or trekking poles
  • Tent shafts
  • Bulky sleeping pads
  • Camping stool or chair
  • Ice ax when hiking during the winter season
  • A crampon or any traction device that you attach to your shoes to improve mobility on ice and snow during winter hiking
    climbing rope

Most hiking backpacks come with special tool loops, buckles, fasteners, and clasps or other storage options for different types of hiking equipment. Compression straps, lash patches and daisy chains can be utilized to squeeze in the tools don’t fit other sections of your pack. But on the other hand, you must remember that there is always the possibility that the gear outside of your pack may snag on tree branches or rub against rocks while you hike so you must minimize the number of bulky items you want to secure outside your hiking backpack.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Are internal/external frames required for a good hiking backpack?

A: Only if you plan on carrying excess weight on a multi-day trip. The reinforced frames are for carrying a lot of weight for long periods of time and shift some of the stress away from your own body.

There are several frame types to choose from on any hiking bag models in the market today. If you want to go extra light, your option would be the frameless hiking bag. There are also hiking bags with an internal frame that helps provide stability when hiking on uneven terrain. These models often integrate an assortment of load support system designed to shift the load from the back to the hips. If you are planning to bring an irregular and heavier load like an inflatable kayak for your hunting trip, hiking bags with an external frame is an ideal choice because it offers plenty of organization options for your gear and good ventilation.

Q:  Is putting my laptop in a backpack without a designated laptop compartment a good idea?

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

Q: Will the airline let me bring my backpack aboard?

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

Q: Is it more practical to own a hybrid backpack?

A: 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.

Q: What size of bag do I need?

A: The size will depend on how long your trip will be and the weight and bulk you are capable of carrying. For weekend hunting or activities that often last from one to three nights, a sturdy 30 to 50 liters hiking bag is ideal. Efficient hunters using more modern and less bulky hunting gear can really pack things light on one to three days hunting trip by using a hiking bag of this range. But you need careful planning and self-discipline if you want to pack things light because you need to carefully choose the gear you need to bring as well as your clothing.

Q: What type of backpack is preferable for extended hunting trips?

A: For extended trips that go as long as five days or more, the ideal hiking bag is not smaller than 70 liters. These bag sizes are also preferable during winter because its size can accommodate additional clothing, a four season tent that comes with extra poles and a warmer sleeping bag.

Q: How heavy should the backpack be?

A: How heavy your hiking bag should be is relative. Every person is unique and it is important to spend some time discovering the optimum pack weight. For example, some people may carry a twenty-seven-pound hiking bag which is good for a seven-day pack and the overall weight is still optimum for them.

Q: Is it important to consider ventilation?

A: There are hiking bags that feature a back panel with suspended mesh to work against the sweaty back syndrome which normally happens with hiking bags with an internal frame that usually rides against the back. Also known as “tension-mesh suspension,” this is designed like a trampoline which allows the frame supported bag to be carried several inches from the back and rests on top the highly breathable mesh. There are also bags built with ventilation chimneys that help promote better airflow because it is built right into the back panels of the bag.

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.


  1. Backcountry – How to Chose a Backpacking Pack
  2. Outdoor Gear Exchange – What Volume Pack Do I Need
  3. Backpacker – How to Clean and Store Your Gear
  4. Backpacker: Backpacking 101
  5. Section Hiker – Day Hikers 10 Essentials Guide
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