Best Hiking Backpack (Buying Guide)
Critical characteristics in the best hiking backpacks are stability, comfort, weight distribution, and ample space in the main compartment. Hikers need lots of space to carry all of the outdoor gear they need on a day hike or a long-distance thru-hike on the PCT or the Appalachian Trail. All that outdoor gear can be quite a heavy load unless you have an ultralight backpack and have taken pains not to pack over 10 pounds of outdoor gear. Whether you have extra weight in your rucksack or not, balancing a heavy load on your back and having the ability to stow all the outdoor gear you want to take with you without having any of it rattle around or get crushed in transit can only be accomplished with the right hiking backpack.
There are many great hiking backpacks on the market, ranging from day packs to larger internal frame backpacks that have space to stow a sleeping bag and a tent for multi-day overnight hikes. Depending on hikers’ personal preference, the key detail that makes a hiking backpack most suitable could be ergonomic design and cushioned shoulder straps or it could be tons of side pockets, hip belt pockets, and external pockets to stash water bottles and additional outdoor gear. In any case, there are some standards that make a rucksack suitable for any backpacking trip. Durability and an adequate suspension system to make a heavy load bearable will save hikers lots of strife and ensure that they can reach their intended goal whether it’s a day hike or a long-distance, multi-day mountaineering thru-hike.
The best hiking backpack in our modern era of heavily researched and field-testing outdoor gear should be waterproof at least to some degree. Most have a rain cover built-in or available for separate purchase. Some of the ergonomic designs and suspension systems manufacturers have outfitted their hiking rucksacks with are really impressive and have loads of use-value for hikers facing the various challenges of hiking trails in the backcountry.
Breathable mesh back panels treat hikers with great airflow between their backs and their rucksacks, just where the most sweat can build up as a hiker exerts themselves on a hiking trail. Compression straps help keep outdoor gear in place and compress bigger items like sleeping bags to make room for other important implements. Organizationally, the design of the main compartment and specialized sleeping bag compartments and external pockets makes hiking noticeably easier on hikers who likely have enough to deal with on a hiking trek.
We’ve taken the time to check out the market for hiking backpacks on Amazon and select a few that meet all the standards that a high-quality rucksack should. Read on for a detailed look at what Amazon has to offer hikers on the market for a new rucksack and check out our top pick for the best hiking backpack at the end.
Best Hiking Backpack – Overview
1. Gregory Mountain Products Zulu 65L
- Free float suspension: low profile open air ventilation, moisture wicking mesh and custom torso length
- Raincover: easy access rain cover keeps your gear Dry even when that storm rolls out of nowhere
- 3D comfort cradle system: an ultra comfortable, body hugging fit
- Front stretch mesh pocket: for easy access while on the trail
This Gregory backpack is ventilated, adjustable, and has been designed with a solid suspension system that will keep the weight of their outdoor gear from bearing down too much on a hiker. Flex panels in the mesh back panel allow the hip belt to pivot with the movements of a hiker’s body so there won’t be a struggle between a hiker and their own rucksack. Hikers can also quickly stow sunglasses on the shoulder straps or stash water bottles and other outdoor gear in the hip belt pockets or dual side pockets. Gregory has also built a trail-access pocket into the side of this rucksack so hikers can stow their water bottle or any other small item and retrieve it on the trail without having to remove their whole rucksack. Adjustable attachment loops on either side make a great place to stow trekking poles, tent poles, or a sleeping bag.
Gregory has built this 65L model with a sleeping bag compartment that isn’t available on the small models in this line of products, so the Gregory Zulu 65L is ideal for multi-day overnight hikes and may even be suitable for lightweight (though not ultralight) hikers on longer thru-hikes. It can carry 40 pounds of outdoor gear thanks to the high-quality suspension system. The U-zip access to the main compartment makes it really easy to unpack when you reach a campsite. A rain cover is included with the 65L backpack from Gregory to keep the rucksack itself and all your outdoor gear dry in case of inclement weather.
- Ventilated, breathable
- Good suspension system
- Quick-stow on shoulder straps
- Hip belt pockets and side pockets
- Trekking pole attachment loops
- Sleeping bag compartment
- Not suitable for ultralight hikers
2. Granite Gear Cadence Backpack
- Repel weave Fabric with Barrier Water Repellent Coating for Maximum Protection Against Elements.
- Compression Molded Back Panel with Ventilation Channels, Load Absorbing shoulder Straps with EVA Foam for Comfort, Load Stabilizing Sternum Straps, Ergonomic Maxload Multi-Compartment Design,
- Tricot-Lined Padded computer Compartment fits most 17" Laptops, Interior Tricot Lined Tablet Sleeve, Expandable Hydration Pockets, Lash Strap for Easy Attachment.
This Granite Gear hiking backpack is smaller and only suitable for day hikes, but it will do a great job storing smaller outdoor equipment than sleeping bags and tents. Almost all the pockets close with zippers. The main compartment and all the larger interior pockets close with zippers. For high-tech hikers who use a laptop or tablet for GPS or any other use on the trail, there are pockets designed for both in this backpack. This Granite Gear model isn’t one of the fanciest backpacks there are on the market. There is no suspension system, no compression straps, no trekking pole attachment loops, and no hip belt or hip belt compartments. That being said, there is plenty of storage in this backpack for a water bottle, water filter, compass, and all the rest of the 10 essentials you’ll need for a day hike.
The fabric of this backpack is water repellent and the mesh back panel has ventilation channels for added breathability. The load-absorbing shoulder straps have foam for additional comfort and there are sternum straps for added stability if you’re carrying a heavy load. There are also pockets for hydration packs and hydration sleeves, both indispensable tools for the backcountry hiker.
- Zipper-close pockets
- Room for a tablet and laptop
- Water repellent fabric
- Breathability in mesh back panel
- Load-absorbing shoulder straps
- Pockets for hydration packs and hydration sleeves
- No suspension system
- Not large enough for a multi-day hike
- No compression straps or trekking pole attachment loops
- No hip belt or hip belt compartments
3. Deuter Airlite Ultralight Backpack
- ENGINEERED WITH INNOVATION - Deuter's Airlite pack brings together all around versatility and advanced ergonomics to deliver optimal comfort and performance through anatomically-sound construction
- MAXIMUM VENTILATION - Deuter's innovative AirComfort back system leverages a flexible steel spring frame to stabilize the mesh panel that creates ventilation space between the pack and your body; Ultralight and super-breathable, the durable AirComfort system reduces heat build up without compromising freedom of movement
- VERSATILITY - Designed to be as lightweight as possible, the Airlite is an innovative take on the classic day pack; An excellent choice for long distance runners, bicyclists, hikers, and urban commuters who don't let anything slow them down
- FEATURES AND FUNCTIONALITY - The Airlite is equipped with everything you need and nothing you don't: compression straps; hipbelt with dual mesh pockets; ventilated shoulder straps; valuables compartment with key hook; hiking pole attachment loops; pockets in all the right places; even an integrated, detachable rain cover; compatible with 2- and 3-liter hydration systems
This Deuter backpack is excellent for use on and off the trail. It’s been designed for use by ultralight hikers who bring less than 10 pounds of gear with them, so it’s probably best for day hikes or multi-day hikes where you plan to camp without a tent. The ergonomic design is clear in the comfy shoulder straps and the mesh back panel offers breathability and reduces heat buildup so hikers can carry this backpack on the hiking trail without getting uncomfortable or overly sweaty on their lower back.
Deuter has outfitted this internal frame backpack with compression straps, a hip belt with dual mesh pockets, ventilated shoulder straps, a valuables compartment with a key hook, trekking pole attachment loops, tons of internal and external pockets, and an integrated, detachable rain cover. Hikers can use this backpack with 2- and 3-liter hydration sleeves, hydration packs, or a simple water bottle depending on the duration of the hike. This backpack packs a punch for such a compact and ultralight model.
- Compression straps
- Ventilated shoulder straps
- Trekking pole attachment hoops
- Rain cover included
- Breathability in the mesh back panel
- No sleeping bag compartment
- Not waterproof
- Not ripstop
4. Arc’teryx Alpha AR20 Backpack
- ALPHA AR 20 BACKPACK - Arc'teryx developed its own fabric to achieve the hardwearing durability necessary for alpine and rock climbing.
- DAYPACKS - Functional packs streamlined for ease of use and light weight. Activity-specific designs.
- ALPHA - Lightweight, minimalist climbing and alpinism products that protect from alpine environments.
- ALPINISM & CLIMBING - Climbing equipment designed for efficient movement and protection in alpine environments
Arc’Teryx has designed this hiking backpack with its own proprietary fabric that’s ripstop to be durable enough to handle rough hiking trails and mountaineering for hikers who go out into the backcountry without any fear. Two ice axe loops make this Arc’teryx backpack ideal for winter hikers. There’s a top compression strap as well as a pack compression strap configuration to make sure your outdoor gear is secure and everything you want to bring will fit inside. Hydration packs have been integrated into the design and a tube is included so hikers can drink water while they hike without stopping to take a rest.
The main compartment is a roll-top that closes with a drawstring rather than a zipper which means hikers can pack smaller gear at the top of the main compartment for quick access. A large vertical external pocket in the front of this Arc’teryx grants fast access to maps, headlamps, and rain jackets without having to undo the roll-top to get into the main compartment. Thermoformed shoulder straps make for great comfort and the hip belt and removable shoulder strap ensure that a heavy load can be secured to a hiker’s back with ease. There’s no mesh back panel but the material Arc’teryx has built this backpack with has plenty of breathability on its own.
- Ripstop fabric
- Two ice axe loops
- Compression straps
- Hydration pack integration
- Roll-top main compartment and vertical external pocket
- Comfortable shoulder straps
- No trekking pole attachment loops
- No mesh back panel
- No dedicated sleeping bag compartment
5. Kelty Redwing 50 Backpack
- Redwing is a tried & true trail value for all day hikes or a quick overnight, a true multipurpose pack from international travel to a day on the trail
- Perfect Fit Suspension supplies you w/ customized comfort without the hassle, accurate on body adjustments w/ 3 simple steps for pack fitting success
- Features: Top Loading,Zippered side pockets, front pocket w/ organization, Stretch front pouch, Hydration Compatible, Side compression straps
- Suspension Features: Perfect Fit Suspension, HDPE frame sheet, Hex Mesh back panel, ventilating back , Sternum strap, Load lifter strap
This Kelty hiking backpack is great for day hikes or for multi-day treks for hikers who are ultralight packers. All the essential outdoor gear can fit inside except for larger things like a sleeping bag and a tent. An ultralight tarp could replace either of those if you’re heading out to the backcountry in good weather, though. Kelty has designed this backpack with top loading in the main compartment, zippered side pockets, a front pocket as well as a stretch front pouch, hydration sleeve integration, and side compression straps. There aren’t the design features that many hikers favor most like trekking pole attachment loops, but the crucial elements are all here.
The shoulder straps on this Kelty are plenty comfortable and the suspension system includes an HDPE frame sheet, a mesh back panel, a ventilating back for breathability, a sternum strap, and a load lifter strap to keep a heavy load strapped securely to a hiker’s back. There are 7 interior pockets that close with zippers in addition to the main compartment. Even though this pack is limited in terms of size and storage space, Kelty has made a fantastic hiking backpack for ultralight hikers with this model.
- Top-loading main compartment
- Zippered side pockets
- Front external pocket and a stretch front pouch
- Hydration sleeve integration
- Side compression straps
- Reliable suspension system
- No trekking pole attachment loops
- Limited size and weight tolerance
6. The North Face Terra 50 Hiking Backpack
This hiking backpack from The North Face has been designed to carry heavy loads over multi-day hiking trips with ease. They’ve built the main compartment to provide superior ventilation and added a padded shoulder harness for maximum comfort to the hiker who uses it. There’s also a sleeping bag compartment that closes with a zipper, which makes this backpack ideal for hikers planning an overnight stay on the trek through the backcountry. The North Face has built more than seven pockets into this backpack and the material is a ripstop nylon that can handle a beating out on the trail for hikers who like to add a bit of climbing or mountaineering to their journey.
The North Face sells rain covers that are specifically designed to fit this backpack, although they are sold separately. The mesh back panel offers top-of-the-line breathability and the suspension system makes even a heavy load feel nearly weightless on the trail. Side compression straps ensure that outdoor gear won’t shift and the pack will stay at a feasible dimension. Roll-top above access to the main compartment means hikers can fit in more gear, but it also means it may be a pain to get to outdoor gear that has been stowed in the bottom of the rucksack without unpacking everything else.
- Padded shoulder harness
- Sleeping bag compartment
- 7 total internal and external pockets
- Mesh back panel for breathability
- Side compression straps
- Ripstop nylon construction
- Rain cover not included
- Roll-top above access to the main compartment
7. Teton Sports Scout 3400 Internal Frame Backpack
- NOT YOUR BASIC BACKPACK: Continues to be the top selling internal frame backpack on Amazon at a great price for all the included features; Backpack for men and women. Waist Belt- Adjustable 26 - 60 inches. Torso Length- Adjustable 15 - 19.5 inch
- VERSATILE QUICK TRIP PACK: Just right for youth and adults for light backpacking trips; best for 2-4-day adventures; 3400 cubic inches (55 L) capacity; weighs 4.5 pounds (2 kg)
- COMFORT YOU CAN CUSTOMIZE: Multi-position torso adjustment fits wide range of body sizes; Durable open-cell foam lumbar pad and molded channels provide maximum comfort and airflow
- TRUSTED QUALITY: Hiking backpack with hundreds of verified 5-star reviews testifying to the quality and design; sleeping bag compartment, compression straps, and exterior pockets for strategic packing
The Teton Sports Scout 3400 has everything a hiker could dream of in a backpack, from a dedicated sleeping bag compartment to a suspension system that includes compression straps and an adjustable waist belt and torso length. That adjustable torso length makes this Teton Sports backpack ideal for hikers of every height and build. The durable open-cell foam lumbar pad and molded channels provide maximum comfort and breathability so hikers can get through their hike without much discomfort from the pack. Not only is the Teton Sports Scout 3400 adjustable in the torso length, but the suspension system also allows hikers to adjust the waist, chest, and shoulders as well.
This backpack is an internal frame backpack which means it has a lot of stability but there is no annoying metal external frame to make hikers uncomfortable after a long time spent carrying it. Side pockets, trekking pole attachment loops, and bungee storage on the outside of the bag lets hikers get quick access to rain jackets, headlamps, and other important outdoor gear without having to go into the main compartment. There’s also an integrated rain cover that stores itself in a dedicated zipper pocket on the underside of the backpack. Because it has just about every feature we can think to look for in a rucksack meant for hiking treks in the backcountry, the Teton Sports Scout 3400 has earned the title of our winner for the best hiking backpack.
- Sleeping bag compartment
- Great suspension system
- Adjustable torso length as well as waist, chest, and shoulder straps
- Exterior pockets and trekking pole attachment loops
- Lumbar pad
- No hydration pack integration
8. Osprey Atmos AG Backpack
- The adjustable harness allows the user to easily adjust the torso length of the pack by using the easy release cams behind the harness yoke
- The Fit-on-the-Fly hip belt pads extend 5"/15cm to accommodate different hip sizes providing a custom fit
- The floating top lid can extend to accept oversized loads or can be removed from the pack body for weight saving lidless use
- An internal reservoir sleeve is located in the main body of the pack allowing easy loading/unloading of a hydration reservoir
Osprey is one of the most well-known names in hiking backpacks. This Atmos AG leaves little reason to wonder why; it has almost everything a hiker could need to get through a reasonably long multi-day trek in the backcountry. The Osprey Atmos AG doesn’t have as many storage pockets as our winner for the best hiking backpack, but for the majority of hikers, it will definitely do the trick. Osprey has also designed this rucksack with an adjustable torso length which means just about anyone can use it. The hip belt is padded and also adjusts to any length a hiker needs.
The floating top lid extends to accept oversize heavy loads or it can be detached from the rucksack completely. Hydration packs and hydration sleeves can be easily used with this pack thanks to the internal reservoir sleeve. The trekking pole attachment loops enable hikers to quickly attach and detach trekking poles without removing the pack, so hikers who depend on trekking poles regularly but don’t use them for the entire duration of the hiking trail may love this Osprey Atmos AG for that purpose.
- Adjustable torso length and hip belt
- Floating top lid is detachable
- Integrated hydration sleeve
- Trekking pole attachment loops
- Less storage than other models
- No dedicated sleeping bag compartment
For its abundance of features, ample storage space, and overall comfort, the Teton Sports Scout 3400 Internal Frame Backpack is our top winner for the best hiking backpack. The sleeping bag compartment means a reasonably sized sleeping bag won’t take up all the room in the main compartment and hikers can bring different outdoor gear that could supplement a sleeping bag such as a sleeping pad. The suspensions system is great not only because it lightens a heavy load but also because it is nearly fully customizable. The adjustable torso length, waist strap, sternum strap, and shoulder straps mean any hiker of any height or build can use this backpack on a hiking trip without any issue.
The storage is another great feature of the Teton Sports Scout 3400. It has more external and internal storage pockets than most backpacks that are designed more for multi-day hiking that for months-long thru-hikes, although savvy hikers could probably figure out a way to pack ultralight and get through a thru-hike with the Teton Sports Scout 3400. The lumbar pad in the mesh back panel also makes for great comfort and keeps hikers cool with its superior breathability. Now that you know our winner, you can head out into the backcountry on your next hiking trip with the best hiking backpack in Amazon.
Bonus tip: Watch this 10-minute explainer about the difference between a frameless, external frame, and internal frame backpack!