Hiking is a great way to explore nature, enjoy the outdoors, and challenge yourself physically and mentally. But to have a successful hiking trip, you need the right gear, especially a durable hiking backpack that can carry all your essentials and withstand the elements. In this article, we will help you find the best hiking backpack for your needs, budget, and preferences. We will cover the following topics:
The benefits of a durable hiking backpack:
- The features to look for in a durable hiking backpack
- The best hiking backpacks for different types of hikes
- The best hiking backpacks for different budgets
- The best hiking backpacks for different genders and body types
- The best hiking backpacks for different climates and seasons
The Benefits of a Durable Hiking Backpack
A durable hiking backpack is not only a practical necessity but also an investment in your hiking experience. A durable hiking backpack can offer you the following benefits:
- It can protect your belongings from water, dirt, dust, and abrasion. A durable hiking backpack is usually made from waterproof or water-resistant materials, such as nylon, polyester, or canvas1. It also has sturdy zippers, buckles, and straps that can resist wear and tear.
- It can provide comfort and support for your back, shoulders, and hips. A durable hiking backpack is designed to distribute the weight evenly across your body, reducing the strain on your muscles and joints. It also has padded and adjustable shoulder straps, hip belts, and back panels that can conform to your body shape and prevent chafing and rubbing.
- It can enhance your performance and safety on the trail. A durable hiking backpack can help you stay organized and access your items easily, thanks to its multiple compartments, pockets, and attachment points. It can also help you stay hydrated and energized, as it can accommodate a hydration reservoir or water bottles. Moreover, it can help you stay visible and prepared for emergencies, as it can feature reflective details or emergency whistles.
The Features to Look for in a Durable Hiking Backpack
When shopping for a durable hiking backpack, you should pay attention to the following features:
- The size and capacity of the backpack. The size and capacity of the backpack depend on the length and difficulty of your hike, as well as the amount and type of gear you need to carry. Generally speaking, a day hike requires a backpack with a capacity of 15 to 35 liters, while a multi-day hike requires a backpack with a capacity of 40 to 70 liters
- The weight and material of the backpack. The weight and material of the backpack affect its durability, comfort, and performance. Ideally, you want a backpack that is lightweight but strong enough to withstand harsh conditions. Some of the most common materials used for hiking backpacks are nylon, polyester, canvas, leather, or a combination of these
- The frame and suspension system of the backpack. The frame and suspension system of the backpack determine how well it fits your body and how well it transfers the load from your shoulders to your hips. There are three types of frames: internal frames, external frames, and frameless. Internal frames are the most popular option, as they offer stability, flexibility, and ventilation. External frames are more suitable for heavy loads and bulky items but are less comfortable and maneuverable. Frameless backpacks are the lightest option but offer less support and structure.
- The closure and access system of the backpack. The closure and access system of the backpack affect how easy it is to pack and unpack your items. There are two main types of closure systems: top-loading and panel-loading. Top-loading backpacks have a drawstring or lid closure at the top that allows you to stack your items vertically but makes it harder to reach the bottom ones. Panel-loading backpacks have a zipper or flap closure that opens up the entire front or side of the backpack that allows you to lay your items flat but makes it harder to compress them.
- The organization and storage system of the backpack. The organization and storage system of the backpack affect how well you can sort and secure your items. You should look for a backpack that has enough compartments, pockets, dividers, loops, hooks, straps, or clips that suit your needs. For example, you may want a separate compartment for your sleeping bag or tent; side pockets for your water bottles or snacks; a front pocket for your map or guidebook; an internal pocket for your valuables; or attachment points for your trekking poles or ice axes.
The Best Hiking Backpacks for Different Types of Hikes
The best hiking backpack for you depends on what kind of hike you are planning to do. Here are some examples of hiking backpacks that are suitable for different types of hikes:
- For day hikes, you want a backpack that is lightweight, comfortable, and spacious enough to carry your essentials, such as water, food, clothing, first aid kit, and navigation tools. A good example of a day hiking backpack is the Deuter Speed Lite 21, which weighs only 1.3 pounds and has a capacity of 21 liters. It has an internal frame, a panel-loading system, and multiple pockets and attachment points.
- For overnight hikes, you want a backpack that is durable, supportive, and roomy enough to carry your gear, such as sleeping bag, tent, stove, cookware, and extra clothing. A good example of an overnight hiking backpack is the Osprey Aether 55 Men’s or Ariel 55 Women’s, which weigh around 5 pounds and have a capacity of 55 liters. They have an internal frame, a top-loading system, and a removable top lid that converts into a daypack.
- For long-distance hikes, you want a backpack that is sturdy, adjustable, and versatile enough to carry your equipment, such as food, water, clothing, toiletries, electronics, and entertainment. A good example of a long-distance hiking backpack is the [Osprey Exos 58], which weighs around 2.5 pounds and has a capacity of 58 liters. It has an internal frame, a top-loading system, and a floating top lid that can be removed to save weight.
The Best Hiking Backpacks for Different Budgets
The best hiking backpack for you also depends on how much you are willing to spend. Here are some examples of hiking backpacks that are suitable for different budgets:
- For low-budget hikers, you want a backpack that is affordable but still reliable and functional. A good example of a low-budget hiking backpack is the [REI Co-op Flash 18] or [Flash 22], which cost $40 and $55 respectively. They have a frameless design, a drawcord closure system, and multiple pockets and attachment points.
- For mid-budget hikers, you want a backpack that is reasonably priced but still high-quality and feature-rich. A good example of a mid-budget hiking backpack is the [Osprey Daylite Pack], which costs $60. It has an internal frame, a panel-loading system, and multiple pockets and attachment points.
- For high-budget hikers, you want a backpack that is premium-priced but still worth every penny and offers the best performance and comfort. A good example of a high-budget hiking backpack is the [Kodiak Kobuk], which costs $300. It has an external frame made from leather and wood, a roll-top closure system, and multiple pockets and attachment points.
The Best Hiking Backpacks for Different Genders and Body Types
The best hiking backpack for you also depends on your gender and body type. You want a backpack that fits your torso length, shoulder width, hip size, and chest size. Here are some tips on how to choose a hiking backpack for different genders and body types:
- For men, you want a backpack that has wider shoulder straps, longer torso lengths, and larger hip belts than women’s backpacks. You should measure your torso length from the base of your neck to the top of your hip bones; your shoulder width from the tip of one shoulder to the tip of the other; your hip size around the widest part of your hips; and your chest size around the fullest part of your chest.
- For women, you want a backpack that has narrower shoulder straps, shorter torso lengths, and smaller hip belts than men’s backpacks. You should measure your torso length from the base of your neck to the top of your hip bones; your shoulder width from the tip of one shoulder to the tip of the other; your hip size around the widest part of your hips; and your chest size around the fullest part of your chest.
- For children or teenagers, you want a backpack that has adjustable shoulder straps, torso lengths, and hip belts that can grow with them. You should measure their torso length from the base of their neck to the top of their hip bones; their shoulder width from the tip of one shoulder to the tip of the other; their hip size around the widest part of their hips; and their chest size around the fullest part of their chest.
The Best Hiking Backpacks for Different Climates and Seasons
Choosing the right hiking backpack is crucial for an enjoyable and safe outdoor adventure. With diverse climates and seasons, selecting a backpack tailored to your needs is paramount. We present a comprehensive guide to the top hiking backpacks, curated to suit different environmental conditions.
1. Alpine Adventures:
For challenging alpine hikes, opt for backpacks with robust materials, reinforced straps, and ample compartments. Brands like Osprey, Gregory, and Arc’teryx offer models with specialized gear loops and ice axe attachments. These backpacks ensure durability and versatility, ideal for snowy landscapes and high altitudes.
2. Desert Treks:
Navigating desert terrain demands lightweight, breathable backpacks with efficient ventilation systems. Look for brands such as CamelBak and Deuter, renowned for their hydration-compatible designs. Ergonomic features, like padded hip belts and adjustable harnesses, provide comfort during long journeys through arid regions.
3. Tropical Wanderings:
In humid tropical climates, prioritize backpacks with moisture-wicking materials and rain covers. The offerings from Columbia and The North Face excel in such conditions, boasting well-ventilated back panels and water-resistant coatings. These backpacks safeguard both your gear and your comfort as you explore lush, rainforest-filled landscapes.
4. Versatility for All Seasons:
For year-round versatility, consider backpacks like REI’s offerings, which come with customizable compartments and weatherproof materials. These packs accommodate various layers for changing weather conditions, making them a dependable choice for hikers who traverse a range of environments.
5. Budget-Friendly Gems:
Hiking backpacks need not break the bank. Brands like Teton Sports and High Sierra provide affordable options that still offer durability and functionality. These budget-friendly choices are great for beginners or occasional hikers seeking reliable gear.