The Best Hiking Backpacks & Daypacks In 2018

Looking for the best hiking backpacks? Check out our 3-minute buyer’s guide to find the perfect backpack for your next adventure.

If you’ve read our beginner’s guide to hiking, you’ll know a quality backpack is an essential piece of kit.

In our 3-minute guide to the best hiking backpacks, we’ll cover:

The Best Hiking Backpacks And Daypacks Under 30L

If you’re looking for a rucksack in the 30L range, you’ll be looking for a day pack. They’ll be just enough space here to cover a day trip.

If you plan on going for a long day trip, or have children (and have to carry some of their stuff), we’d advise bumping up to the 40L range, at the very least.

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.

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Deuter 20L Speed Lite

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.

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Osprey 30L Tempest Or Deuter 20L Speed Lite?

Obviously, the big difference here is internal space. If you can pack kit on the exterior of the pack (i.e. it doesn’t need to be waterproofed), go with the Dueter and save yourself the cash.

But, if you can’t compromise on internal space, the Osprey is the perfect hiking rucksack for you.

The Best Hiking Backpacks And Daypacks Under 40L

Looking for the best 40L hiking backpacks and daypacks? It might only be 10L bigger than the smaller 30L pack, but that extra space makes a big difference.

Perfect for those going on long day trips, or a quick overnighter. And, if you’ve got children and need to carry some of their things, you’ll have plenty of space to do so.

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.

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Osprey Stratos 36L

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.

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Kelty Redwing 32L Or Osprey Stratos 36L?

The Kelty wins on two fronts: price and weight. If these are your key reasons for making a purchase, this is the best backpack for you.

But, for those technical hikers that need something smaller, and with much better breathability, the Osprey is going to be the top pick. Of course, that assumes you have the extra budget.

The Best Hiking Backpacks Under 50L

Now we’re talking. You’ll have more than enough room for one-day hikes. But, you’ve got additional space to carry a lightweight tent, sleeping bag and everything you need to hike and camp for 1-3 nights.

Osprey Exos 48L

For it’s 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.

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Lowe Alpine 45:55L Air Zone Pro

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.

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The Best Hiking Backpacks For Long Trips

Looking to go wild camping for 3-7 nights (see our guide to wild camping here)?

These are the best backpacks for long trips. They’ll have plenty of space for tents, clothes, cooking supplies – everything you need to keep you watered, fed, warm and dry.

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.

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High Sierra 65L Titan Frame

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.

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The North Face Banchee 65L Or High Sierra 65L Titan Frame?

The price differential is just too much to handle here. There’s little between the packs in terms of exterior packing capacity, nothing on the interior, but there is a huge price difference.

So, that’s why we’re picking the High Sierra 65L as the best hiking backpack for long trips.

The Best Cheap Hiking Backpacks

Top hiking brands will charge anywhere from $99-350 for their packs.

But, what if you’re a recreational hiker, rather than a hiking addict? You probably don’t want to part with that much cash.

So, here are the best cheap hiking backpacks.

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.

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Mountaintop 80L Internal Frame

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.

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Venture Pal 35L Daypack Or Mountaintop 80L Internal Frame?

If you’re looking for a cheap daypack, you can’t really go wrong with the Venture Pal.

For long trips, the best cheap hiking backpack is the Mountaintop. With a 80L capacity, there’s more than enough space and it’s well priced.

What’s Next?

Thanks for reading our guide to the best hiking backpacks.

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Written by
Grant Draper

Grant's a motorcycle geek, outdoor enthusiast & confirmed racing nut. He road tests all the gear he buys, and then gives his feedback here on NoobNorm.

He also details any quick fixes he stumbles upon, whether that's to stop brakes on motorcycles sticking, or unusual noises coming from gaming wheels.

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Written by Grant Draper