Best hiking backpacks

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We all need a break from time to time. A break from our busy schedules and hectic lifestyles as these can negatively impact our lives if we don’t try to relax and unwind. Many of us have different ways to get away and reduce stress, like walking, meditating, or hiking. Hiking is particularly effective because nature can have a profound impact on our wellbeing as well as providing a good workout for our bodies. 

If you love nature, adore the landscapes, and have a thirst for adventure, hiking may be the best activity for you, and hiking backpacks are a must-have in these journeys.  If you are either an experienced hiker or just starting to enjoy this joyous activity, you are probably looking for a hiking backpack. But what should you choose? 

In this guide, we compiled the five best hiking backpacks of 2020 to provide you with the necessary information for choosing the best backpack for you. Let’s check out the following sections!

Hiking backpack reviews

1) Osprey Packs Stratos 36

The Osprey company is renowned for its hiking equipment, especially backpacks. One exceptional example is the Stratos 36, managing to balance this backpack perfectly between the size of a daypack that might be too small, as well as the size of larger weekend-style backpacks.

Product Highlights

The extremely well-ventilated Osprey Stratos is designed for adventures in warm conditions and to satisfy all of your needs and preferences. Each backpack has its own size-adjustable handle equipped on every model so that it can suit any torso, as well as coming in four different size capacities. 

For maximum comfort and breathability when the sun is glowing, each Stratos pack features an airspeed suspension system signature by Osprey. Additionally, it removes undesirable chafing and discomfort with a seamlessly incorporated hip belt interface.

Adding to all these exceptional features, this backpack is equipped with a rain cover for improved rain and weather protection. This is an exceptional choice for any hiking lover, blending versatility and practicality seamlessly.

What I like:

While hiking, this backpack is versatile, given the size and features. It is designed to suit every need while day hiking, as well as being decently suited for staying overnight, making it perfect to take it with you as a daypack, as well as past the sundown. 

Equipped with a bag with a capacity of 36 liters, while being in the middle of most backpack sizes, it makes it ideal for people who love day hiking while also packing frugally for an overnight stay. 

Many other companies of backpacks have a hard time with designing a sufficiently sturdy backpack while simultaneously making it breathable to suit both hot and cold conditions. Osprey struck gold with this backpack, managing to achieve exactly that. 

What I don’t like

By design, this backpack is made to suit many different conditions and weather situations, as well as providing you with versatility in your hiking endeavors. Due to this aspect, this backpack’s capacity is in between specifically designed backpacks for day or overnight hiking, thus making it slightly cumbersome to wear. 

Pros

  • Versatility
  • Ventilated design for improved breathability
  • Enhanced comfort with an integrated hip belt
  • Equipped with a rain cover

Cons

  • Quite simplistic design
  • Capacity is in between day and oversize hiking backpack sizes

2) Osprey Packs Atmos AG 65

Another great product from Osprey illustrates just why this company is leading the hiking backpack industry. This backpack established its fame among hiking lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, featuring outstanding breathable fabrics as well as easy-to-use features.

Product Highlights

Among the great features of this backpack are multiple large pockets that are very useful in carrying medium-sized objects like cameras, phones, GPS, and more, as well as allowing you to open and close these pockets, and retrieve your desired object without having to stop moving. 

Dual meshed designed pockets perfectly fit in water bottles, vertically or at an angle, making them easy to retrieve. Beavertail, stretch mesh pockets are great for storing items that are lumpy or rough, like shoes, and they are equipped with two zipped pockets behind them for greater organization. 

It is also equipped with a zipped sleeping bag with a retractable splitter on the bottom of the backpack. It is also greatly suited for other items like a dirty or wet gear. Plus, it boasts double-strapped zippered lid pockets for storing tiny items. If you prefer a tidier look, you can tuck those straps inside your backpack. On the bottom of the pack, there are also two ice ax attachments. 

The front large pocket is well suited for rain covers or wet equipment as well as featuring a three-liter sleeve inside for hydration. The rain cover included can endure some rain, but in a torrential storm, the water will gradually penetrate the backpack.

Osprey attached a free emergency whistle on the sternum strap, as well as providing dual top and lower side compression braces to adjust the load and facilitate a sleek look.

What I like

This backpack is an excellent choice for all types of hikers, providing pleasant suspension as well as numerous great features. The straps are comfortable and minimize weight as much as possible. The anti-gravity straps are pretty self-explanatory, avoiding pressure points as well as distributing the weight evenly.  

The trampoline-style construction was taken to another level, incorporating the whole back and waistband, allowing this pack to breathe extremely well, as well as carrying 40 pounds easily.

What I don’t like

This pack does not perform very well in rainy conditions, because it is not completely waterproof, neither being very suited for long trips.

Pros

  • Great ventilation and breathability
  • Improved comfort
  • Multiple pockets for an excellent organization
  • Built with high-quality materials
  • Adaptable hip belt and shoulder straps 

Cons

  • Rain cover not suited for torrential rain or strong winds
  • The backpack can feel slightly uncomfortable when overloaded

3) Venture Pal 40L Lightweight Backpack

Coming in a wide variety of options, this lightweight backpack is waterproof and foldable, giving it great versatility as well as usefulness. 

Product Highlights

This backpack is a beautiful daypack with a wide range of enjoyable styles and a special feature package. Boasting many colorful designs as well as an interior water storage pocket,  the Venture Pal is a select choice and distinguishes it from other backpack brands.

Although the kit fits a particular niche with its moisture-bound nature, the overall quality of this bundle is for adventurous people wherever they want to go. A nice and big storage capacity makes it great for any journey, while the comfort is maximized with a lightweight design, adjustable chest straps, and padded shoulder straps. 

The versatility and uniqueness provided by this backpack ensure that all your adventures will be memorable, and there is a perfect Venture Pal that will satisfy all your needs. Nothing compares with a good, relaxing, inspiring journey through the wild, and proper gear is essential to provide you with the best experience. This is exactly why you should shortlist this product!

What I like

This backpack is not only beautiful and voguish, but it is also equipped with a plethora of features like the water pocket that allows you to keep wet or dirty clothes away from other objects. Although it is lightweight and compact, this backpack is also very comfortable and sturdy, featuring padded straps, improved zippers, and fortified stress points.

Pros

  • Comes in different voguish designs
  • Waterproof and a wet pocket
  • Lightweight, durable, and tightly packed
  • Has a water pocket 

Cons

  • The strap padding is somewhat short
  • Some state that the backpack is not so sturdy

4) Kelty Red Cloud 90 Backpack

Kelty products have always been exceptional providing help in many adventures for numerous people. They achieved the gold zone of design, seemingly producing backpacks that are all well made, sturdy, and practical.

Product Highlights

The suspension design on this backpack is marvelous, and perhaps the best feature this backpack provides. You no longer need to worry about your measurements, because this suspension design can adapt to any and all sizes. 

This backpack is lightweight as well as durable, featuring an HDPE frame sheet acting as a shock absorber. The improved fabrics allow you to carry this pack for long periods of time without sweating because it is breathable and allows ventilation. It is well suited for hot conditions and provides a comfortable wearing experience.

This backpack is highly versatile, as well as boasting a high storage capacity and numerous features like a large zippered front pocket, two zippered side pockets, double mesh water bottle containers, and a removable lid that improves organization substantially. 

What I like

This backpack is extremely well suited for many situations, with the exceptional design and great variety of features. It can provide a high capacity for load-bearing, suspension design that can fit any torso and any size, very durable build that will last you many years, and is greatly suitable for all kinds of journeys and environments. The extremely well-ventilated panel allows you to carry it for a long time without making you sweat or overheat. This is especially great for people who love warmer environments.

What I don’t like

This backpack does not come with a wide variety of colors or styles, thus not providing much room for expression or stylistic preference customization. 

Pros

  • Perfect fit for any size
  • Great organizational potential
  • Very comfortable 
  • A lot of storage space
  • Sturdy and able to withstand many different weather conditions

Cons

  • Comes without a rain cover
  • Slight issues with the lower compartments

5) High Sierra Summit 40 Internal Frame Pack

This backpack is perfect for many different hiking situations, providing great practicality and sturdy design, ensuring a long lifespan as well as versatility. 

Product Highlights

There is a multitude of backpacks to choose from, depending on your needs and preferences. In case you’re looking for a weekend style or overnight pack, there is almost no better choice than the High Sierra Summit 40. 

The kit consists of a mini-hex ripstop including a mini weaver Duralite. The lower part is built with 1680D Ballistic for sturdiness, and the torso straps can adjust from 14 inches to 18 inches. This backpack weighs 4.5 pounds and suits waists from 26 inches and above. 

The main compartments of this backpack can be filled to the brim, providing an adjustable lid and drawstring closure. The front section is big enough to fit a sleeping bag, but it is also divided, so it can store other equipment. The kit also includes two mesh pockets, which store 1000 ml bottles of water.

The padding of the pack is constructed of a Hex-Vent fabric which improves comfortability. Adjustable load lifts facilitate heavy load transportation without tiredness. The sternum strap can also be adjusted to balance the equipment you carry, and the aluminum frame bar is adjustable, being able to suit your back.

An airflow channel for optimal ventilation is provided by a molded foam backplate. Compression bands on the side and the base of the pack enable excess equipment to be protected and stabilized.

This product is ideal for hiking lovers due to the practical nature and numerous features, as well as the build quality, sturdiness, and versatility.

What I like

With HEX- VENT mesh padding and adjustable cargo raise, the shoulder straps are built for support and simple usage. The shoulder pads do extremely well in distributing the weight of your load. 

This pack is extremely durable, suited for many different weather situations, as well as offering protection against rain with the included rain cover. The front compartment is well suited for sleeping bags, as well as other gear, due to it being divided, and compression braces from the bottom and sides that are transposable. 

This backpack is perfect for any outdoor enthusiast that loves a good hike, and is looking for the ideal equipment that will satisfy all their needs in their journey. 

What I don’t like

The biggest problem with this backpack is that, although it can carry massive loads, providing you with the ability to go on a long-term trip, it is also inevitable that this will not be comfortable because of the shoulder padding and weight distribution. 

Pros

  • Comes with a rain cover
  • Well-made compression straps
  • Versatility and ease in use
  • Sturdy and durable

Cons

  • Might not be the most budget-friendly
  • Opening in the top load style

Buyer’s Guide

We compiled and discussed the 5 best hiking backpacks of 2020, and now it is time to guide you through choosing the best one for your needs. The question is: how exactly should you know what is the best pick for you? We continue to discuss the characteristics that you should take into account when buying a new backpack.

Types of backpacks

Primarily, you will need to know exactly which type of backpack should be used in a given situation:

  • Day Packs – As the name implies, these backpacks are designed to suit single day or overnight trips, typically with a capacity between 15L and 35L.
  • Internal Frame Packs – These backpacks are equipped with an internal frame that ensures sturdiness and durability, while also protecting your equipment. These are slightly more robust than day packs and allow for longer journeys. 
  • External Frame Packs – These are the best fit for people who enjoy trips and adventures that span many days or even weeks. These are extremely sturdy, and additionally, boast massive load capacities, being ideal for multi-week trips.

Frame packs are an exceptional choice and perform well on long journeys, but are most often looking for day packs. This is the reason why the top backpacks among them all are all daypacks. Additionally, some of these daypacks can be used in multi-day trips.

Capacity

When you are looking for a new backpack, it is highly advisable to pay close attention to its load capacity. This is expressed most often in liters, and it indicates how much equipment it can possibly carry, as well as indicating how suited it is for different trip lengths. 

This is the most common metric, but it is not universal. Different brands and companies use other techniques to illustrate the capacity of their backpacks, like the number or kind of items they can carry, for example. 

Typically, when it comes to size, the 10L to 25L backpacks are best suited for single-day trips, while between 20L and 40L best fit overnight trips, and between 30L to 50L for longer journeys. 

Materials

Backpacks that are specifically made for hiking are usually very durable, due to the conditions they are meant to withstand, but also lightweight offering great comfortability while hiking. These backpacks are most often made with nylon. Condura, canvas, or polyester are materials that are very durable while still keeping lightweight properties. 

Weight

Depending on your intended goal for the respective backpack, the weight you choose varies. Typically, the longer the journey, the bigger the pack should be so that it can carry more essential equipment. 

Usually, backpacks should not go over 5 pounds, because this can lower the amount of essential gear you can carry. Look for a decently balanced weight to capacity ratio, while also considering how long your trip would be.

Price

The price can be influenced by many different factors ranging from quality to materials and capacity and brand, and this is an important aspect to consider in choosing a hiking backpack. You should strive to strike a balance between quality, practicality, and price. Also, consider why you are buying a backpack, create a budget, and adapt your options to those criteria. 

FAQs

This section purports to answer the most commonly asked questions. Whether you want to know the best method to pack a hiking backpack or you are curious about what they are made of, have a look at the next sections. 

How to pack a hiking backpack?

Your skills in packing a backpack will grow over time, and initially, you should make a list of the essentials, and pack them one by one, crossing them off the list. 

What are backpacks made of?

Backpacks should be resilient and sturdy, due to the conditions they are meant to withstand, and also the type of backpack influences the materials used in constructing them. Here is a list of commonly used materials in making a backpack: cotton canvas, packcloth nylon, Cordura nylon, polyester pack nylon cloth, ripstop nylon, PVC fabric, and leather.

What size should the hiking backpack be?

The size of the hiking backpack corresponds to your height, weight, strength, and capacity preferences. You should take into consideration your body and the length of your trip to figure out what backpack size suits your needs. Buying one that is too big will be cumbersome, while insufficient size would prove it impractical if it doesn’t suit your particular needs.

But broadly speaking, the backpack that has the perfect height for your sternum as well as being tight on the hips would be the ideal choice. 

How to choose a hiking backpack?

There are a wide variety of hiking backpacks, with different features, sizes, and purposes, thus making it slightly difficult to choose one for your specific needs. Here are some criteria you should take into consideration: 

  • Types of backpacks
  • Price
  • Weight
  • Materials
  • Capacity

If you are looking for more information about how exactly you should choose your hiking backpack, consult the “Buyer’s Guide” above. 

How should a hiking backpack fit?

Hiking backpacks are usually meant to be worn for long periods of time and to carry essential equipment for your trip, so this aspect is very important. How your backpack fits you and how comfortable it is should not be overlooked, because, on a long trip, an uncomfortable backpack that doesn’t fit you well will ensure a cumbersome journey. Typically, a hiking backpack is equipped with multiple straps, most often adjustable, to fit your particular body shape. 

Wrapping up

All in all, we recommend Osprey Packs Stratos 36 as being our favorite hiking backpack of this year. It is versatile and it can be used either for short day trips or you can also pack frugally for a night in the wilderness due to the medium size of the product. It is durable, comfortable, and certainly a trustworthy companion on your trips!

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