As the name suggests, having a great backpack is an essential part of the backpacking experience. Good hiking backpacks can make the difference between a great day on the trail and an uncomfortable experience complete with sore shoulders and tired muscles.
Having a backpack that conforms to your body, holds all of your supplies and doesn’t weigh a ton will help you enjoy your hiking experience more, while helping keep you safe. Having a pack that is too heavy or doesn’t fit properly can threaten your longterm health, besides just being downright uncomfortable.
If you’re planning an outdoor adventure, you should make sure you’re happy with your pack and that it’s going to work for you. Here is a selection of our favorite hiking backpacks this season, as well as a few pointers to help you pick the pack that’s right for you.
What to Consider When Buying a Backpack
Backpacks aren’t just for students, though shopping for a hiking backpack is a little different than looking for one to put your books in. Consider these things to make sure you and your pack stay safe on the trail:
Making sure that your backpack can fit everything you need for your trip is obviously important. The amount of gear that you’ll need to bring is related to the length of your trip, so consider how long you’ll be on the trail before looking for a backpack.
Having a backpack that is too big or too small can ruin a trip. Avoid discomfort by getting your backpack fitted properly. Many people try to fit their backpack by buying one suggested for their overall height, but this won’t work for many people. To find the perfect fit, measure your torso instead of your overall height and find a backpack that will be an appropriate size.
Special features like water bottle pockets or storage for electronic devices aren’t essential, but they can really improve your trip. If there are additional features that are important to you, make sure you consider them when looking for your next backpack.
Considering how long you’ll be on the trail is a big part of picking the right pack. If you’ll be out for 1-3 nights, you should look for a pack that holds 30-50 liters. Trips that will take 3-5 nights require packs that can hold 50-80 liters. If you’re going on an extended trip, you will need a pack that holds more than 70 liters.
Best Hiking Backpacks of 2018 – Top 5 List
Osprey Exos 48
Capacity: 48L or 50lbs
If you’re searching for a truly lightweight pack, Osprey has you covered. This pack is excellent for people who really value a featherweight hiking experience, but this pack doesn’t sacrifice strength for weight. It can still hold up to 50lbs of your gear, making it a great option for multi-night excursions.
The sturdy aluminum frame gives it the durability to stand up to even the toughest wear and tear, while the tension-mesh back panel provides comfort and ventilation for hot days on the trail. A built-in sleeve can carry up to 3L of water, making sure you stay hydrated when you need it most.
Buyers say that this is the lightest backpack they have ever owned, and swear by its durability and comfort. The only problem people have cited is that the frame can be a little squeaky. Other than that, this pack is truly excellent for those looking to pack light and stay comfortable.
The North Face Jester Backpack
Casual hikers who are looking for a backpack that can double as an everyday item will love this pack. The North Face is a trusted brand that has been providing outdoor enthusiasts with high quality products for years, and this pack certainly meets its standards.
While the Jester Backpack isn’t well-suited to extreme outdoor activities, it is perfect for day trips or short backpacking adventures. The two zip compartments hold more than enough to carry you through a short hike, and internal organization pockets make it perfect for other uses as well.
If you’re searching for an everyday backpack that can double as a daypack for hikes, this is perfect for you. Buyers love the clean lines, internal compartments, and good suspension that takes weight off the shoulders.
Osprey 65 AG Backpacks
Capacity: Men’s – 65L, Women’s 62L
If you’re a serious hiker, there is no sense in cutting corners. If you’re looking for the best, most reliable packs that money can buy, the Osprey 65 AG series is a sure bet. These packs are a favorite of hikers everywhere; combining excellent craftsmanship with Osprey Anti-Gravity design, they will hold up for years to come, while keeping you comfortable.
The 65 AG series is composed of packs designed for both men and women. Osprey’s Atmos pack is designed with the male physique in mind, while the Aura pack conforms better to women’s bodies. Both of these packs are customer favorites, since their sturdy design and incomparable fit are perfect for virtually every hiker.
If comfort, durability, perfect fit and sturdy design are what you’re looking for, then the 65 AG series is for you. The packs are lighter than average for their capacity, have excellent ventilation and numerous interior pockets for organization. Some of their awesome features include compression straps inside and outside the pack, an internal reservoir sleeve for water packs and attachments for sleeping rolls, poles and tools.
Gregory Baltoro 65 Backpack
Gregory packs have long been renowned for their comfort, and this model is certainly no slouch in that department. However, it combines a new, lightweight design with the comfort of the older models to provide a hiking experience that brings you the best of both worlds.
In addition to built-in lower back support and ergonomically tapered hip belts, this pack’s customizable harnesses ensure that you get a perfect fit everytime. The fit and design of this pack are incomparable, and buyers love the numerous pockets that make storage a breeze.
Many experts agree that this pack is simply excellent, and is one of the most comfortable on the market. If you don’t want back pain getting you down while you’re on the trail, then this pack will be your best friend.
Arc’teryx Altra 65 Backpack
If you’re going to be carrying around large, heavy loads, you need to make sure you have a pack that can handle them, while keeping you comfortable. Acr’teryx’s Altra 65 backpack is one of the best packs on the market, and its exceptional suspension system can keep you pain free, even under the heaviest of loads.
The pivoting waist belt on this pack makes handling heavy loads easy, and packing is a breeze too. The pockets are easy to access, and multiple storage options make it convenient to organize your belongings. Even on uneven or steep terrain, this pack has you covered.
The most limiting feature of this backpack is perhaps its price. However, owners swear that this is one of the best packs they have ever owned. The expensive price is counterbalanced by the fact that the pack itself is extremely durable and will keep you comfortable for years. Arc’teryx proves that you get what you pay for.
Let us know what you think of our Top 5 hiking backpacks! Leave a comment below!