Backpacking is truly one of the most raw and pure outdoor activities out there. Full immersion into wilderness with nothing but the gear in your backpack is both a liberating and limiting experience. Because your backpack is your one and only lifeline, it’s crucial to have a pack that is resilient, comfortable and capable. It’s unwise and unsafe to pack anything less than what you need in the backcountry, so why settle for a backpack that can’t accommodate for all your backpacking needs?
We’ve put together a top ten list of some great packs that will make the perfect companion when backpacking through any terrain. There’s a few different styles of bag here for all different kinds of excursions and treks, so check out the specs on each one. Backpacking is a serious hobby and should be treated as one, so make sure you’re hiking with adequate and safe gear that doesn’t weigh you down.
1. Best Overall Backpacking Pack: Teton Sports Explorer 4000 Internal Frame Backpack
This is a pretty badass pack by Teton Sports. The Explorer 4000 is designed for comfort and capacity on multiple day treks. This pack is only four and a half pounds but sports 4000 cubic inches of space — pretty high carrying capacity. The multi position torso adjustment will fit most body sizes and types, so this is a good option for most hikers in terms of the fit. Open-cell foam padding and molded channels on the straps and back rest are what make this bag so comfortable, keeping you from thinking about how your pack fits on the trail. There’s a few neat pocket options including pass through side pockets for stowing tent poles or other elongated gear. This bag is also compatible with a hydration pack. An excellent bag for the money, this backpack has everything you need for trekking the wilderness without breaking the bank.
Price: $79.99 Free Shipping (6 percent off MSRP)
- High storage and weight capacity
- Materials employed in the strapping are designed for comfort during multiple day treks
- Adjustment options make this backpack good for most body sizes/types
- Teton Sports offers a limited lifetime warranty on this product
- Complaints about the durability of some of the zippers and buckles
2. Best Cheap Backpacking Pack: Mountaintop 60L Internal Frame Backpack
Here’s a great priced hiking pack from Mountaintop with some nice internal space. This 60 liter internal frame backpack is a steal at just $60 and pretty well equipped for some serious hiking. Eight compression straps ensure you have plenty of space to stow all sorts of gear externally, and the inside of the pack has some nice dividers and pouches for organization as well. This pack zips open from the front as well as from the top, so you can access gear anywhere in your pack without having to unload the whole dam thing. This bag is also hydration system compatible, sporting access on one side of the pack for a hose and a water bladder sleeve in the main compartment. Mountaintop includes a rain cover with this pack, so if you get into some weather you’ll be prepared. The strapping and back rest are well designed and the clips and zippers appear to be of high quality — all indicators of a hiking pack that’s built to last.
Price: $69.99 Free Shipping
- Hydration system compatible
- Access to main compartment from both the top and front of pack for precise loading/unloading
- Nice quality zippers and clips
- Includes a rain cover
- Design of the location for a hydration bladder takes up a good bit of space in the main compartment if you plan on using one
- Seems like the clips designated for stowing a sleeping bag will only fit smaller sized sleeping bags
3. Best Value Backpacking Pack: Teton Sports Scout 3400 Internal Frame Backpack
This is a great quality backpack by Teton Sports that is a great fit for an array of hiking and trekking scenarios. It’s one of the highest reviewed internal frame backpacks out there — and is in my opinion, the ideal size. This 55 liter pack has quite a few internal and external pockets, as well as spaces to externally fasten additional gear. It’s only four and a half pounds in weight, so this pack isn’t going to weigh you down too much. Multi position torso adjustments and open cell foam lumbar pad ensures this pack will fit comfortably once fitted properly. It’s a good fit for men, women and youth. It’s hard to find a pack this well reviewed and equipped for such a low cost, making it one of the best value packs out there. If you’re looking for a highly packable, comfortable and affordable backpacking pack, this could be a good place to start.
Price: $59.47 Free Shipping (54 percent off MSRP)
- Teton Sports offers a limited lifetime warranty on this product and has excellent customer service reviews
- All the compression straps and internal pockets allow for packing large loads and effective organization
- Great valued backpack — this is an excellent quality pack for less than $60
- Some complaints about stiffness of the clips and zips
4. Best Fitting/Feeling Backpacking Pack: Osprey Men’s Atmos 65 AG Backpack
This backpack by Osprey is a top of the line product. If you have the funds to spring for a pack of this caliber, then you’ll most definitely feel the difference in how it fits and operates compared to less expensive packs. This bag employs Osprey’s anti-gravity suspension system that’s designed to provide maximum ventilation and carrying comfort. It’s a highly reviewed backpack that is praised for its use as a thru-hiking pack on longer treks. The internal pockets are very well thought out for organization and capable of stashing all sorts of equipment orderly and effectively. I feel that the exterior of this pack could use a few more pouches or some more strapping considering the high price tag — but it’s still a highly capable backpack when it comes to stowing gear. Customer reviews insist this pack if sized properly has a really great fit and is ideal for traveling long distances. It’s crafted with freedom of motion in mind and meant to keep you highly active. In a trekking scenario where moving fast with all your gear is key, this bag is an excellent choice. If you’re looking for a high end backpacking pack for some serious hikes, then consider spending the extra dollars on a pack of this quality — you get what you pay for with this one. Osprey also offers the Aura backpack from the same line — another top notch option specifically sized for women. Check out the attached video below for a run through of the features that make this pack so rad and pay particular attention to how the suspension system functions — it’s really neat!
Price: $199.00 – $403.77
- Considered one of the top bags for long treks and thru-hiking
- Awesome internal storage schematic
- Provides a highly sporty fit once sized properly
- Internal compression straps help to stabilize heavy loads
- Quite expensive
- Not a ton of exterior storage space
5. Best Value Backpacking Pack for Lighter Treks: Mountaintop 40 Liter Hiking Backpack with Rain Cover
This 40 liter backpack by Mountaintop is included here for its great value. At just $35 and with free shipping, its hard to find such a solid backpack at this affordable a cost. It’s a pretty standard pack, but well reviewed and silly inexpensive, so I found it worthy as a pack to include here. It’s not the greatest pack to truly rely on in a more rugged backpacking scenario based on its smaller size— but if your budget is low this bag is pretty adequate for some shorter duration trekking. This pack has some good internal dividers and also has a space that is suitable for holding a water bladder and tube. Mountaintop includes an adjustable hip belt on this bag that fits waist sizes 25–55 inches. If your torso is longer than 52 centimeters, then Mountaintop recommends you seek a different pack. An adjustable sternum strap, breathable molded foam back panel and S-shaped shoulder straps ensure you can properly carry the weight of your gear. It comes in nine different color options so there should be one for you. Mountaintop also includes a 90 day limited warranty on this item — so don’t let the super small price tag scare you out of checking this bag out it — it’s worthy! If you like the low price and design of this pack but need something a bit larger for your needs, then check out this larger and also highly affordable backpack by Mountaintop.
Price: $34.99 & Free Shipping
- Very reasonably priced,
- Wide range of color options
- Great for less intense backpacking trips when you might prefer a smaller sized bag
- Side pockets are inadequate for stowing a water bottle
- Complaints about the shoulder strapping digging into the neck area a bit — make sure you adjust this pack properly
6. Best Highly Packable Backpacking Pack: MaxMiles 100L Internal Frame Backpack
Here’s a serious backpack for the serious backpacker or outdoorsmen. This 100 liter capacity pack honestly might be a little excessive for regular backpacking or thru hiking due to its very large size, but could be an ideal pack for you depending on what you’re up to. For hunting or fishing excursions where you’re going to need to pack a ton of gear, this could be a great option for fitting it all. This is a pretty highly reviewed pack that users claim is built tough and sturdy. It’s highly adjustable and designed to carry nicely once sized to your figure properly. The frame of this pack keeps it tight to your body without being too close so you maintain good ventilation on hotter days while still keeping the pack snug and secure for good freedom and range of motion. The zippers and clips are built tough on this one as well, so you shouldn’t have any issues with the smaller moving parts on this pack. At just $80 this is a very reasonable price considering how much backpack you get with this one. If you have the need to pack some bulkier gear or just want some extra space in your backpacking pack, consider a pack of this size to make things easy.
Price: $79.00 Free Shipping & Free Returns (11 percent off MSRP)
- Very large carrying capacity for loading up a ton of gear and/or bulkier more awkward items
- Frame is well designed to keep this pack tight to you without generating too much heat
- Quite reasonably priced for such a large backpack
- Includes a nice quality rain fly
- Some customer complaints about stitching ripping — I think people have a tendency to put an unreasonable amount of weight into this pack due to its size so pack it mindfully when loading heavier contents
- Might be a bit large for use backpacking on longer treks
7. Best Mid-Size Waterproof Pack for Backpacking: Waterfly Waterproof Frame Backpack
This pack by Waterfly is perfect for the backpacker expecting wet conditions. Customer reviews insist this pack does in fact stay dry even in a pouring rain, so you can hike through nasty weather with confidence that your gear will stay dry. This pack is 50 liters, and doesn’t have a ton of external strapping and storage, so you won’t be able to use this pack for longer, more serious treks — but it could be ideal for less intense multi-day hikes. The zippers and clips are of nice quality on this pack, and the amount of side pockets, pouches and interior dividers within the main compartment make it a pretty excellent bag for organization. I personally really like the size of this bag for use as an overnight or two day backpacking pack. For just $40, this is a pretty killer buy. The shoulder strapping is praised by reviewers for being quite comfortable, and the breathability of the strapping is also mentioned by many customers. One thing to note is the rainfly doesn’t fit the bag well when its fully packed, so consider that when loading this one up. All in all, this is a perfectly adequate hiking pack at a great cost that comes with the added benefit of being waterproof!
Price: $39.99 & Free Shipping (64 percent off MSRP)
- Highly waterproof with rainfly attached
- Great array of exterior and interior pockets for organization
- Great value for the cost — stands up fine compared to more expensive packs
- Reviews rave about the comfortability of this pack
- Hydration bladder compatible
- Some users reported issues with the rainfly when the bag is fully packed
- The material of the internal dividers is thin and susceptible to tearing if you’re rough with the bag
- Due to the lack of external strapping, this pack likely will be challenging to load up for longer duration treks
8. Best Backpacking Pack for Both Short and Long Treks: Teton Sports Hiker 3700 Ultralight Internal Frame Backpack
Here’s another highly capable and affordable pack by Teton Sports. Teton Sports is one of my favorite outfitters because of their competitive prices and easy return policies if the product you purchased isn’t right for you. This 60 liter, lightweight pack is a great size for just about any backpacking trek, short or long. The multi-position torso adjustment coupled with the open-cell foam lumbar pad and molded channels of the back make this a very comfortable pack. The waist pad has a unique design in that it’s both thickly padded and has independent top and bottom hip adjustments. There’s a great array of internal and external storage space and pouches meant to make packing this bag a breeze. The sleeping bag and main compartment in particular are designed to be particularly roomy to avoid frustration when loading and unloading gear. This is the ideal pack if your backpacking treks are variable in length and intensity — the versatility of this product by Teton Sports no doubt make it a solid choice.
Price: $76.25 Free Shipping & Returns
- Great for any length backpacking trip due to its lightweight and capacity
- Unique waist pad for added comfort
- Customer complaints about poor shoulder strap fit for women
9. Best Backpacking Pack for Carrying Firearms: ALPS OutdoorZ Commander
Here’s a seriously tough pack by ALPS. This bag is designed for hunting expeditions, but it’s also perfectly suited as a hiking pack depending on your needs. It’s a heavier pack at about seven pounds and built to accommodate gear such as firearms and ammunition/arrows. The unique fastening system employed for securing a rifle, crossbow or traditional bow could be used to secure a wide range of equipment, making this a pretty versatile backpack. There’s an awesome array of pockets, pouches and strapping for packing tons of gear — so if you’re looking for a bag to truly load up then you might consider this pack. The frame can be worn alone without the pack and used as a freighter frame, a pretty neat concept that could be used to accommodate a bunch of different loads. The idea here is to be able to load up the pack with the game you shoot in the wilderness — but having the option to use this pack as a bare frame could come in handy for a variety of reasons. The bag also loads from the top and front so there’s a lot of ways to pack and unpack it. For the expedition backpacker who requires a rugged, high capacity backpack, this option from ALPS is a top notch option.
Price: $114.50 & Free Shipping (28 percent off MSRP)
- Tons of storage capacity between the interior compartments and exterior strapping and pouches
- Pack can detach and frame can be worn alone and loaded with large, awkward items that will not fit in a backpack
- Lower door and top access to the interior of the bag for easy packing/unpacking and organization
- Lots of thought has gone into the design of this pack — it’s truly designed to accommodate for the storage needs of a serious outdoorsman
- Fairly heavy and large in size, not a backpack to be used for anything short of full on backpacking or expedition hiking
- The set up, sizing and proper use of this bag take a little practice to master
10. Best Smaller Sized Backpacking Pack: High Sierra Summit 45 Backpacking Pack
I like this style pack made by High Sierra. This 45 liter bag has more of a narrow, elongated profile and loads from the top using a gusseted drawstring closure. It’s built with long hikes in mind and meant to stay comfortable even after hours of hiking. There is a single contoured aluminum frame bar employed in the design of this pack that can be adjusted to fit the shape of your back. The back panel itself is made of molded foam with airflow channels in an effort to keep the bag ventilated and your back cool and dry. There’s a great array of internal pockets that almost make up for the lack of external pouches and clips. This pack has great organization potential and would be suitable for traveling or for backpacking I think. The ripstop material of the bag is truly durable — customer reviews insist this pack can take a beating. High Sierra has a great smaller sized hiking pack at a very reasonable rate here.
Price: $64.83 Free Shipping & Returns
- Good internal pocket/divider scheme for effective organization
- Aluminum frame bar built to adjust to most body types
- Sizing issues for people with a particularly tall build (seems like some people over six feet have issues fitting the bag)