The best hiking backpacks you can buy
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- A good hiking pack is important for enjoying your next day hike or overnight camping trip and you need a reliable pack for multi-day treks, especially if you wander miles away from civilization.
- The Osprey Stratos 50 Backpack is our top choice because it's durable, intuitively designed, a good size, and affordable.
At the time of this writing, I have three full-sized hiking packs tucked away in my basement closet. Piled beside them are a handful of smaller daypacks. Um... four, I think, as I gave one away not too long ago. And there are a few foldable/rolling summit packs in there, too. When you get deep into a hobby, you end up with a lot of stuff, OK? And besides, I can justify owning most of them.
As similar as one hiking backpack might seem to another at first glance, different hiking packs serve purposes and are suited for different environments and users. When I set out for a 10-day trek through the mountains of South America last year, for example, I left behind a beloved pack I had relied upon for years because it just wasn't capable of dealing with rainforest downpours. The pack I trusted during that trek, however, was quickly shelved again in favor of a much smaller pack during an overnight camp out with my son, potential rain notwithstanding. Why? Well, when you have a rainproof tent right there at your campsite, there's really no need for a big, rugged, waterproof backpack.
Selecting the right hiking pack is a serious decision. Even if you won't be relying on your pack for your very survival during an extended trek through the wilderness, you still want a backpack that's comfortable, durable, well-designed, and that suits your needs.
Even the least expensive pack I'm going to recommend still costs seventy dollars, which is a notable expense for any hiker or camper who needs to watch the budget. While you can find packs out there that cost a good deal less than that, I strongly urge you not to. I've had a buckle break even with a decent pack and were it not for a roll of duct tape I happened to bring along on that trek (something I admittedly omit most of the time) I would have been left in a very uncomfortable position for quite a few miles.
When choosing a hiking/camping pack, make sure you consider basics like pack size, meaning the volume of gear it can carry, and design features like frame type and strap configuration. Also look at convenience features ranging from hiking pole straps to external organization pockets to removable upper compartments.
Finally, consider the unique traits that set each bag apart and that might make it a perfect fit for your needs, such as an integrated rain cover (great for use in the Pacific Northwest or the rainforests of South America) or a drop-down rifle pocket, something the hunter will appreciate, as no one likes a firearm bouncing around back there, especially when it's loaded.
Here are the best hiking backpacks you can buy in 2019:
- Best hiking backpack overall: Osprey Stratos 50 Backpack
- Best backpack for mountaineering: Roamm Nomad 65 + 15 Backpack
- Best low-cost hiking pack: Teton Sports Scout 3400 Backpack
- Best hiking pack for hunters: ALPS OutdoorZ Commander + Pack Bag
- Best long-distance hiking pack: High Sierra Long Trail 90 Pack
Updated on 05/01/2019 by Les Shu: Updated links, formatting, and prices. Added related outdoors buying guides.
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The best hiking backpack overall
The best backpack for mountaineering
The best low-cost hiking pack
The best hiking pack for hunters
The best long-distance hiking pack
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