Best Backpacking Backpack (Buying Guide)

Backpackers beginning backcountry backpacking brainstorming better buy breathable but bolstered backpacks. Whew. How’s that for a tongue-twister? Look, it’s obvious: backpackers need backpacks. Ultralight thru-hikers and multi-day backpackers with heavy loads all need the right backpack for the trek. All the equipment and outdoor gear required for a truly memorable backpacking trip can’t be carried in two hands and no duffel bag can get the job done. 

 

Overview
Osprey Atmos AG 65 Backpack, Abyss Grey, Medium
Osprey Packs Exos 38 Backpacking Pack, Blaze Black, Medium
Osprey Packs Pack Aura Ag 65 Backpack, Vestal Grey, Small
Gregory Men's Baltoro 65 Backpack (Dusk Blue - Medium)
The North Face Terra 65 TNF Black/Asphalt Grey LG/XL
High Sierra Explorer 55L Internal Frame Backpack, Top Load 55 Liter Hiking Backpack, True Navy/Royal/True Navy
Title
Osprey Atmos AG 65 Backpack, Abyss Grey, Medium
Osprey Packs Exos 38 Backpacking Pack, Blaze Black, Medium
Osprey Packs Pack Aura Ag 65 Backpack, Vestal Grey, Small
Gregory Men's Baltoro 65 Backpack (Dusk Blue - Medium)
The North Face Terra 65 TNF Black/Asphalt Grey LG/XL
High Sierra Explorer 55L Internal Frame Backpack, Top Load 55 Liter Hiking Backpack, True Navy/Royal/True Navy
Price
$269.95
$180.00
$269.95
$217.52
$249.00
$109.99
Rating
Overview
Osprey Atmos AG 65 Backpack, Abyss Grey, Medium
Title
Osprey Atmos AG 65 Backpack, Abyss Grey, Medium
Price
$269.95
Rating
Overview
Osprey Packs Exos 38 Backpacking Pack, Blaze Black, Medium
Title
Osprey Packs Exos 38 Backpacking Pack, Blaze Black, Medium
Price
$180.00
Rating
Overview
Osprey Packs Pack Aura Ag 65 Backpack, Vestal Grey, Small
Title
Osprey Packs Pack Aura Ag 65 Backpack, Vestal Grey, Small
Price
$269.95
Rating
Overview
Gregory Men's Baltoro 65 Backpack (Dusk Blue - Medium)
Title
Gregory Men's Baltoro 65 Backpack (Dusk Blue - Medium)
Price
$217.52
Rating
Overview
The North Face Terra 65 TNF Black/Asphalt Grey LG/XL
Title
The North Face Terra 65 TNF Black/Asphalt Grey LG/XL
Price
$249.00
Rating
Overview
High Sierra Explorer 55L Internal Frame Backpack, Top Load 55 Liter Hiking Backpack, True Navy/Royal/True Navy
Title
High Sierra Explorer 55L Internal Frame Backpack, Top Load 55 Liter Hiking Backpack, True Navy/Royal/True Navy
Price
$109.99
Rating

 

Depending on the planned endeavor, the best backpacking backpack might be an ultralight backpack, a lightweight pack, or a hiking backpack. People may see you set out into the wilderness and wonder how you’ll survive on so little, or they may wonder how you’re able to carry such a massive pack on your back at all. Smaller items like water filters designed for backpacking, essentials like sleeping bags and water bottles, and fancy backpacking gear like solar chargers all need a place to ride along and the best backpacking backpacks will have a place for everything you need without sacrificing comfort.

There are many construction features in a backpacking pack that may escape the amateur’s eye. Shoulder straps are just the beginning. What about compression straps, suspension systems, aluminum stays, load lifters, sternum straps, and adjustable hip belts? In-the-know backpackers know the main compartment is no less important than the side pockets, hip belt pockets, exterior pockets, water bottle pockets, and a front mesh pocket for easy access to smaller gear. 

Added design features such as a waterproof rain cover, top lid, mesh back panel, hydration sleeve, roll-top closure, top-loading capability, “anti-gravity” design, breathability, a sleeping bag compartment, and optional frame sheets for the external frame can add extra dimensions to the all-important eponymous hero of the backpacking journey. We’ve taken a look at the best backpacking backpacks on Amazon and written this guide for would-be backpackers and seasoned outdoor experts to find the best backpack backpackers could want. Read to the end to find out which of the best backpacking backpacks we back in our top pick for the best backpacking backpack. 

 

Man sitting on top of a mountain.

The perfect backpacking backpack will last for many adventures to come.

 

Best Backpacking Backpack – Overview

 

 

1. Osprey Packs Atmos AG 65

Osprey Atmos AG 65 Backpack, Abyss Grey, Medium
236 Reviews
Osprey Atmos AG 65 Backpack, Abyss Grey, Medium
  • Anti-Gravity suspension - feels like you are carrying less weight than is in your pack

Osprey has given us a nearly flawless contender right out of the gate with the high-quality Osprey Atmos. A star on the Amazon market, Osprey Packs is renowned for its AG suspension design – that is, the “anti-gravity” suspension system they’ve built into this model. So-called because the suspension system is so good it makes heavy loads feel like they weigh less, the anti-gravity design makes this Atmos AG backpack really comfortable at the key points, namely the shoulder straps.

Osprey has also designed this Atmos AG backpacking pack with a trekking pole attachment, an adjustable harness, and internal hydration sleeve suitable for up to a 3-liter reservoir, and a floating top lid with dual-zippered pockets that can be removed for ultralight packing, all at torso length for body-following comfort and stability. 

The Osprey Atmos has zippered hip belt pockets and the adjustable hip belt is easily altered for a snug fit. Upper and lower compression straps provide balance for heavy loads and mesh pockets on the sides provide easy access to regularly used gear. The zippered sleeping bag compartment on the bottom of the pack has a removable divider to store gear separately if needed.

Most of what backpackers need to stow will fit in the main compartment and there’s ample space for anything else. While perhaps not the most durable backpacking backpack, offering no ripstop construction, the Osprey Atmos is still a great pack, and for consumer comfort the price tag includes the Osprey All Mighty Guarantee, a promise that Osprey will repair any damage or defect free of charge. 

 

Pros:

  • Anti-gravity suspension system
  • Trekking pole attachment
  • Internal hydration sleeve
  • Removable floating top lid
  • Zippered hip belt pockets
  • Adjustable hip belt
  • Zippered sleeping bag compartment
  • Osprey All Mighty Guarantee

 

Cons:

  • Not ripstop
  • Rain cover sold separately

 

2. Osprey Packs Exos 38

Osprey Packs Exos 38 Backpacking Pack, Blaze Black, Medium
35 Reviews
Osprey Packs Exos 38 Backpacking Pack, Blaze Black, Medium
  • Integrated Flap Jacket protects packed gear when top lid is removed

Coming in at a smaller size than the Osprey Atmos, the Osprey Exos is nonetheless a solid backpacking pack with many of the useful design features that make Osprey a mainstay in the backpacking backpack market. The integrated flap jacket protects packed gear when the top lid is removed. The front pocket has been designed with stretchy mesh to store rain gear and layers for easy access. Stretch mesh water bottle pockets on both sides provide easy access to hydration on the trail, and the internal hydration sleeve will accommodate any 3-liter reservoir for longer multi-day trips. 

Like the Osprey Atmos, the Osprey Exos has trekking pole attachments for use with the trekking poles or for when backpackers want to hike hands-free. There are no hip pockets on this model and no included rain cover, and it may be a little less than torso length depending on the user’s body size. That being said, the Osprey Exos beats larger internal frame packs in comfort, riding with very little pressure on the shoulder straps. The hip belt stays secure once adjusted and the mesh back panel makes the pack breathable. Some extras are missing, notably a place for a sleeping bag, but there should be room for it in the main compartment if it’s only a two-day trip. If you’re looking for this model in a larger size, there is also the Osprey Exos 58.

 

Pros:

  • Integrated flap jacket when top lid is removed
  • Stretchy mesh front pocket for easy access
  • Water bottle pockets for a variety of gear
  • Internal hydration sleeve
  • Trekking pole attachments
  • Shoulder straps ride comfortably
  • Secure hip belt
  • Breathable mesh back panel

 

Cons:

  • No hip pockets
  • Rain cover not included
  • No sleeping bag compartment

 

3. Osprey Packs Aura AG 65

Osprey Packs Pack Aura Ag 65 Backpack, Vestal Grey, Small
67 Reviews
Osprey Packs Pack Aura Ag 65 Backpack, Vestal Grey, Small
  • Anti-Gravity suspension - feels like you are carrying less weight than is in your pack

Osprey is back at it again with its women’s model of the Osprey Atmos. Very similar to that pack, this one is great for lady backpacking enthusiasts and offers many of the same features. The Aura is ripstop and durable and has the same anti-gravity suspension system as the Osprey Exos. Osprey has designed this pack specifically for women, which means it is better suited to smaller torso lengths.

The same trekking pole attachment, hip belt pockets, adjustable hip belt, internal hydration reservoir, and removable floating top lid with dual zippered pockets are available on the Aura, making it every bit as much of an industry standard as the Osprey Atmos, just slightly altered for women backpackers. The price tag comes with the Osprey All Mighty Guarantee on the Aura model as well. 

 

Pros:

  • Ripstop
  • Anti-gravity suspension system
  • Tailored to women backpackers
  • Trekking pole attachment
  • Hip belt pockets
  • Adjustable hip belt
  • Internal hydration reservoir
  • Removable floating top lid 
  • Dual zippered pockets
  • Osprey All Mighty Guarantee 

 

Cons:

  • No rain cover
  • Not waterproof

 

4. Gregory Mountain Products Baltoro 65

Sale
Gregory Men's Baltoro 65 Backpack (Dusk Blue - Medium)
24 Reviews
Gregory Men's Baltoro 65 Backpack (Dusk Blue - Medium)
  • TPU-coated and sealed hipbelt compartment, sized for smartphones or other digital devices and features a highly weather-resistant YKK AquaGuard zipper closure

This Gregory pack has some really handy design features that were missing from the Osprey models. The hip belt and shoulder harness have been built with the Gregory PreCurve technology and multi-density foam construction to form a superior suspension system that relieves pressure on sensitive areas such as the shoulder straps.

The mesh in the ventilated back panel frame sheet takes away moisture, increasing breathability. The high-quality aluminum frame prevents the pack from losing its shape and keeps heavy loads close to the center of your torso length. The price tag includes a free daypack, as the removable hydration sleeve converts into a daypack with shoulder straps and an accessory pocket.

This Gregory Baltoro includes a rain cover which stows in a quick-access zippered pocket on the underside of the top lid. There’s also a comfortable lumbar grip that prevents slipping. There are removable sleeping bag straps as well as a dedicated sleeping bag compartment so hikers and backpackers going on longer multi-day trips can store a sleeping bag and a sleeping roll as well.

The dual-layered bottom panel is tough to prevent wear and tear for the life of the pack. Finally, the front-body access makes this backpacking pack really convenient for quick access to whatever you’ve packed away in the main compartment. Gregory has crafted an ideal backpacking backpack for through-hiking, camping, multi-day treks, and thru-hikers in the backcountry.

 

Pros:

  • Hip belt pockets
  • Great suspension system
  • Breathable
  • High-quality aluminum internal frame
  • Removable hydration sleeve/free day pack
  • Rain cover included
  • Lumbar grip
  • Sleeping bag compartment, sleeping roll straps
  • Dual-layered bottom panel
  • Waterproof pocket

 

Cons:

  • No product guarantee

 

5. The North Face Terra 65

The North Face Terra 65 TNF Black/Asphalt Grey LG/XL
74 Reviews
The North Face Terra 65 TNF Black/Asphalt Grey LG/XL
  • This journeyman favorite has been completely re-tooled with a user-friendly design that's slimmer and lighter for all-day comfort when managing 65-liter loads.

It may seem strange to call this a minimalist backpacking pack, but with all the various features normally found in a pack, this model from The North Face starts to look simple and direct by comparison. Sporting a mesh back panel for shoulder strap comfort and general breathability, The North Face has designed this backpacking backpack to be lightweight and slimmer than the competition without hampering its ability to handle heavier loads with its 65-liter size. The suspension system isn’t very complicated and may not offer the load stability of some other models. The load-spreading hip belt is lined with mesh, and the pack has been designed with zippered side entry to the main compartment for easy access. 

The North Face has built this pack to be ripstop and durable, and they’ve also included more than seven convenient pockets, including a zippered sleeping bag compartment. This pack offers the opportunity for top-loading if you prefer but has side access as well. There is no included rain cover and the main compartment could be a bit bigger but overall this is a solid backpacking pack, and the lifetime warranty included with the price tag certainly doesn’t hurt.

 

Pros:

  • Mesh back panel
  • Breathable
  • Lightweight
  • Solid suspension system
  • Zippered main compartment side access
  • Ripstop
  • Zippered sleeping bag department
  • Lifetime warranty

 

Cons:

  • No included rain cover
  • The main compartment could be bigger

 

6. High Sierra Explorer 55L Internal Frame Backpack

High Sierra Explorer 55L Internal Frame Backpack, Top Load 55 Liter Hiking Backpack, True Navy/Royal/True Navy
105 Reviews
High Sierra Explorer 55L Internal Frame Backpack, Top Load 55 Liter Hiking Backpack, True Navy/Royal/True Navy
  • HIGH QUALITY, LIGHTWEIGHT, and DURABLE: this 55L hiking backpack is made from a combination of Nylon Mini-Diamond Ripstop and Mini-Weave Duralite fabric, giving it a boost in stain and water...

This top-loading backpacking backpack has a spacious main compartment and comfortable shoulder straps, though the 55-liter size means it’s not one of the more ultralight options on Amazon. It is ripstop and water-resistant, and the aluminum internal frame fits torso length and molds to fit your back. There’s an airflow mesh back panel for maximum breathability and the suspension system makes for a comfortable snug fit.

The sternum strap and adjustable hip belt add to stability with heavy loads. Side and bottom compression straps secure your outdoor gear in the position in which it was packed. This pack has a top-load main compartment and a front-load sleeping bag compartment with divider, an internal hydration sleeve, mesh side pockets, water bottle pockets, and a trekking pole/ice axe pocket. 

There’s an included rain cover in this High Sierra backpacking backpack and a few decent extras like daisy chains that hang at both sides to attach extra equipment like a sleeping roll. This is a good bag for hikers and backpackers with a good amount of outdoor gear but perhaps best for short multi-day hikes or long thru-hikes, but not the longest duration trekking. 

 

Pros:

  • Spacious main compartment
  • Ripstop
  • Water-resistant
  • Sternum strap
  • Top-load main compartment
  • Trekking pole/ice axe pocket
  • Included rain cover

 

Cons:

  • No warranty
  • Less comfortable than other models

 

7. Granite Gear Crown 2 Backpack

Sale
Granite Gear Crown 2 60 Backpack - Men's Highland Peat/Black Regular
91 Reviews
Granite Gear Crown 2 60 Backpack - Men's Highland Peat/Black Regular
  • Dual density shoulder harness with load-lifter straps and removable sternum strap

This Granite Gear backpacking pack is made of ripstop nylon and has been constructed with a dual-density shoulder harness with load-lifter straps and a removable sternum strap. It’s also got a Re-Fitfully adjustable (from 28 – 40in), dual-density hip belt with two large zippered hip belt pockets. The roll-top main compartment opening with a centered dual strap and singular buckle makes for quick access and easy compression. The removable lid has a zippable compartment. The top lid is removable for even more lightweight packing. This Granite Gear pack has been designed with a hydration sleeve as well, with space for a reservoir. 

There are no holders for trekking poles or ice axes, but it is possible to store them by hanging them off one of the mesh side pockets. The hip belt is removable for ultralight packing or for hikers and backpackers whose adventure includes train compartments or overhead bins in an airplane. Granite Gear has made a great backpacking backpack with this model. 

 

Pros:

  • Ripstop
  • Load-lifter straps
  • Comfortable shoulder straps
  • Zippered hip belt pockets
  • Roll-top main compartment
  • Sternum strap
  • Removable top lid

 

Cons:

  • No trekking pole or ice axe pockets
  • No included rain cover

 

An unknown person carrying a backpack.

Now that you’ve found the perfect backpacking backpack, it’s time to hit the trail.

 

Our Winner:

For its absolutely stellar features, pockets, storage space, comfort, and breathability, the Gregory Mountain Products Baltoro 65 has won our top pick for the best backpacking backpack. With its superior suspension system, great breathability, and high-quality aluminum internal frame, this model from Gregory is sure to turn your next backpacking trip into an easy trek through nature, allowing you to bring along everything you need to experience all the great outdoors has to offer. 

The removable hydration pack that doubles as a free day pack really sets this Gregory model apart in terms of thoughtful design features. The included rain cover shows they really want you to have everything you need, and the lumbar grip shows scientific know-how that is lacking in some other models. The sleeping bag compartment and sleeping roll straps mean backpackers and hikers can take it along on longer treks, although they can leave some outdoor gear at home for shorter journeys. The waterproof pocket is perfect for cell phones and GPS devices, and the zippable hip belt pockets make for easy access to gear. For all these reasons, the Gregory Baltoro has earned our top pick for the best backpacking backpack. 

 

Bonus tip: Got your next backpacking trip planned? Check out these 5 hacks for thru-hikers!

 

 

Riley Draper

Riley Draper

Riley Draper is a writer and entrepreneur from Chattanooga, Tennessee. As a world traveler, he has been to more than fifty countries and hiked some of the most elusive trails in the world. He is the co-founder of WeCounsel Solutions and has published work in both national and global outlets, including the Times Free Press, Patch, and Healthcare Global. When he's not writing, he's probably on a hiking trip or climbing in the mountains.