If you’ve read our beginner’s guide to hiking, you’ll know a quality backpack is an essential piece of kit.
In our guide to the best backpacks for hiking, we’ll cover:
- The best hiking backpacks under 30L
- Under 40L
- Under 50L
- Best for long trips
- The best cheap hiking backpacks
The Best Hiking Backpacks This Year
Here are our picks for the best hiking backpacks this year. We’ve got two in each category and we’ve indicated our #1 backpack for each.
1. Osprey 30L Tempest
You’re in good hands with pretty much any Osprey rucksack. They are arguably the most popular backpack brand in the world.
The Tempest is the perfect day pack. It’s breathable thanks to the foam panel on the back of the pack, which is fully adjustable.
There’s plenty of internal storage, but also clips and hooks to hang any items that don’t need waterproofing on the exterior of the pack. It’s compatible with hydration reservoirs too.
2. Deuter 20L Speed Lite
Our pick for: the best hiking backpack under 30L
If you’re looking for an incredibly lightweight hiking rucksack (the Dueter weighs just 19 oz.), and can deal with the 10L drop in capacity, the Dueter Speed Lite is a great option.
What you do get with the Speed Lite is plenty of external packing space. There’s compression straps that can hold anything from a mess tin, to hiking poles.
If you’re looking for a pack to go on a day hike, this is a great option.
3. Kelty Redwing 32L
The Kelty Redwing is an excellent choice not just for hiking, but for a pack you can use daily. With 32L of internal capacity, it’s well worth the price tag.
It’s incredibly comfortable, but it does lack breathability in the back panel.
So, if you’re planning a day hike in the heat, you’re really going to notice it.
4. Osprey Stratos 36L
Our pick for: the best hiking backpack under 40L
Another entry for Osprey, with their Stratos 36L. It’s 2L larger than the Kelty. But, it’s slightly heavier, and costs a lot more.
But, where the Osprey Stratos really does shine, is comfort and back ventilation.
The straps spread weight evenly. That, combined with the mesh back panel helps to keep sweating to a minimum and comfort at its optimum.
5. Osprey Exos 48L
For its size, the 48L Osprey Exos is incredibly lightweight.
It feels more robust than other packs in this size and price range, and that means if you’re carrying a heavy load, it’s going to offer plenty of support.
The mesh back panel offers plenty of breathability, and there’s plenty of hidden storage pockets for essentials.
6. Lowe Alpine 45:55L Air Zone Pro
Our pick for: the best hiking backpack under 50L
At around $50 less, you’ve got a good buy with the Lowe Alpine 45:55L Air Zone Pro.
Comfort is the key here. Not only are the straps heavily padded, the vented back panel is better than most.
And, if you’re packing items on the exterior of your pack, there’s a waterproof cover included to keep everything dry.
It’s a well thought out pack, allowing any hiker to keep their kit organised. That’s especially important if you’re camping for 1-3 days. The last thing you want to do is be removing everything from your pack, every time you need a snack.
7. The North Face Banchee 65L
At 65L, there’s some serious storage capacity here.
But, The North Face have managed to create something both lightweight and comfortable in their Banchee 65L.
Kit can be organised, thanks to the 8 different pockets on offer. That said, there’s no pocket to access the centre of the pack, so you’ll have to remove kit to dig deep into the bottom.
8. High Sierra 65L Titan Frame
Our pick for: the best hiking backpack for long trips
At less than half the price, we’ve got the High Sierra Titan Frame, with the same 65L capacity as the Banchee. And, if you don’t know much about hiking brands, High Sierra are not exactly low-end.
What you’ll get with the High Sierra, is more focused on exterior packing. There’s plenty of places to strap poles and kit.
Smaller hikers might notice that this is a little taller than most packs, and that can be an annoyance.
9. Venture Pal 35L Daypack
The Venture Pal Daypack is about as basic as you’ll get. You won’t get much in the way of breathability, but it’s got plenty of packing space thanks to its 35L internal storage capacity.
But, the cheap price tag would probably only get you a strap or two with the Dueter, The North Face and Osprey equivalents.
10. Mountaintop 80L Internal Frame
Our pick for: the best cheap hiking backpack
This is a cheap hiking backpack for long trips. With a massive 80L capacity, if you run out of room in this bad boy, you’re probably better suited to beach holidays than camping and hiking.
You’ll be able to fit your tent, sleeping bag and every other piece of kit for your trip; and probably your partner’s kit too.
The breathability from the back panel is reasonable, but nothing special. It’s a spaced foam rather than a mesh, so it’s not really suitable for hiking in the heat.
Thanks for reading our guide to the best hiking backpacks.
Looking for more gear advice? Check out our guide to the best hiking boots in 2020.