A nice quality hiking pack is essential to a good experience on the trail. Stowing all your equipment in an effective and organized manner can really change your hiking or backpacking experience. Hiking backpacks that effectively store all your gear AND carry weight comfortably are somewhat challenging to come by — especially at a reasonable cost. We’ve put together a top ten list of a variety of hiking backpacks that cover a variety of different hiking styles. There should be something for everyone listed here, from simple day packs to expedition style reinforced frame-packs. Make sure to check out the pros and cons section for each product to really get an idea of what might be best for you.
If you’re looking for a particular style hiking backpack then you might find what you need in our posts on the best waterproof backpacks, survival back packs, hunting backpacks or even fishing backpacks — there’s some awesome deals on some great units listed there as well.
1. BackSak 35L Waterproof Backpack
Here’s a dry bag style backpack made by BackSak perfect for keeping your gear bone dry. This bag is a solid hiking option for those more intense outings into the wilderness that might involve wet weather. It’s a waterproof backpack more than anything and not a traditional hiking backpack by any means, but it’s easily adapted to fit almost any outdoor adventure. It’s crafted from 500D PVC with welded seams so no amount of rain is going to get into this one. There’s not a ton of organizational potential here — the idea with this unit is to keep everything truly dry. If you’re looking for a tough as nails, mid sized backpack that can endure what ever mother nature throws at it, this is definitely a bag that should be on your radar.
This pack has a chest strap and padded back support which will really help carrying heavier loads long distances. There’s two different ways to close this bag — roll and clip to create a handle, or use the side clips for a more compressed, snug fit. Two interior water proof pockets allow for a certain degree of organizion that function well for stowing electronics and other wet sensitive items. Reflective trim on this pack make sure you’re visible at night, which is a great added safety feature. There’s even a variety of color options to choose from depending on if you want a pack that stands out or is more subtle. Between the variety of pockets (for a dry bag style backpack), medium size storage capacity and tough PVC design, this is a great unit for hiking through any and all conditions you should own for years !
Price: $59.95 & Free Shipping
- Highly waterproof with rainfly attached
- Great array of exterior and interior pockets for organization
- Reviews rave about the comfortability of this pack
- Great value for the cost — stands up fine compared to more expensive packs
- Hydration bladder compatible
- Issues with the rainfly when the bag is fully packed
- The material of the internal dividers is thin and susceptible to tearing
2. Teton Sports Explorer 4000 Internal Frame Backpack
This is a pretty bad ass 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. Another excellent bag for the money, this backpack has everything you need for trekking the wilderness without breaking the bank.
Price: $72.99 & Free Shipping (11 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
3. Mountaintop 40 Liter Hiking Backpack with Rain Cover
This 40 liter backpack by Mountaintop is included here for its great value. For a pack under $40 and with free shipping, its hard to find such a solid unit at this affordable a cost. It’s a pretty standard pack, but well reviewed and silly inexpensive, so I found it worthy as an item to include here. This pack does include a laptop compartment 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. This bag will even meet the carry on requirements for most airlines. 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!
Price: $38.99 & Free Shipping
- Very reasonably priced
- Wide range of color options
- Ideal sized daypack for serious hikes
- No internal smaller pockets
- 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
4. High Sierra Summit 45L 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 good intermediate sized hiking pack at a very reasonable rate here.
Price: $68.98 & Free Shipping
- Good internal pocket/divider scheme for effective organization
- Aluminum frame bar built to adjust to most body types
- Built with durable materials and bound to last
- Not a ton of external storage space/pockets
- Sizing issues for people with a particularly tall build (seems like some people over six feet have issues fitting the bag)
5. Mountaintop 60L Internal Frame Backpack
Here’s another great priced hiking pack from Mountaintop with a bit more 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: $59.99 & 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
6. Badlands Rifle & Bow Compatible Summit Pack
Here’s a high quality hunting backpack from Badlands designed for use on back country expeditions. This is an trail ready backpack with almost 90 liters of capacity for packing all your essentials and more. You can effectively carry a lot of weight with this pack, so if you need something that can handle heavy gear loads, this is a great option. There’s tons of points to secure gear externally and a thoughtful internal schematic allowing for a high degree of organization.
Badlands has crafted this pack with ‘airtrack suspension’ — an anatomically shaped waist belt, and paired it with some top notch shoulder straps to really give you a great fit. The ultralight rip-stop fabric used for the main pack body is designed to take a beating on the trail and also highly water resistant. This is a unit you’ll own for years. The zips, clips and strapping on this pack are all of nice quality — you shouldn’t have any hardware issues with this one. Being a hunting backpack, carrying a rifle or bow is both safe and easy with this unit. It’s a bit on the expensive end, but you’re paying for long lasting quality and a whole lot of backpack. All in all, this is a great value unit for the hiker who needs a high capacity, weight bearing pack for those big treks in the back country.
Price: $364.90 – $399.99
- Comes with a smaller, adequate quality daypack!
- Materials used are very decent for the cost
- Pocket/pouch schematic is well thought out, allowing for good organization
- You get a whole lot of backpack and included features for a super low cost
- No internal metal frame on this bag, so although its very large carrying a lot of weight could be problematic
7. Osprey Men’s Atmos 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 long treks. It’s crafted with freedom of motion in mind and meant to keep you highly active on the trail. If you’re looking for a high end backpacking pack for some serious treks, then considering spending the extra dollars on a pack of this quality — you get what you pay for with this one.
Price: $169.97 – $413.24
- Ideal bag 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
8. 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 hiker who requires a rugged, high capacity backpack, this option from ALPS is a solid option.
Price: $149.99 & Free Shipping
- 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
9. TETON Sports Oasis 1100 2 Liter Hydration Backpack
I really like this little daypack by Teton Sports. This is an excellent bag for the avid hiker who wants a highly efficient daypack that should last for years. This bag is loaded with features; it includes a rain cover, a bungee cord system for stowing gear, a butterfly opening ideal for accessing clothing and of course, a hydration bladder! Customer reviews insist that the two Liter bladder, sip tube and cushioned bite valve included with this pack are of good quality.
This backpack is designed to have a low profile athletic cut, and is adjustable for all frames including men, women and children. If you’re looking for a reliable, effective day pack with all the bells and whistles then definitely check this one out. Considering the quality of the materials used and the included hydration bladder and rain cover, this 18 Liter bag is a sweet value at just $40.
Price: $34.99 & Free Shipping (13 percent off MSRP)
- Includes rain cover and two Liter hydration bladder (with hose and bite valve)
- Pretty light weight at just 2 pounds unfilled
- Great array of pockets and external strapping for stowing gear
- Variety of color options available
- Customer review complaints about zipper failures
10. Kelty Redwing 50L Backpack
I really dig the design of this backpack by Kelty. It’s comparable to a regular style backpack but has all the features you would want in a nice hiking pack. At 50 liters its almost large enough to backpack with but probably better used as a day pack. The main compartment, side pouches and side pockets all add up to quite a bit of capacity that’s easily organized. The back panel is designed with airflow in mind to keep you cool on the trail and the shoulder and waist straps are also ventilated for added breathability.
This bag is compatible with a hydration system so you can plan on bringing some water along the convenient and easy way — ready to drink from within the pack! This intermediate sized bag also loads from the front and top, so like a lot of the other packs listed here it’s easy to get in and out of. I personally think this bag is the ideal size for taking along a good bit of gear on the trail without becoming cumbersome. At around $100 Kelty offers a pretty good deal on this one.
Price: $103.14 – $139.95 & Free Shipping (up to 26 percent off MSRP)
- Hydration system compatible
- Can load from front and top for easy access and organization
- Great intermediate size at 50 liters for use as a high capacity daypack or emergency scenario pack
- Built with breathability in mind
- Complaints that the zippers are cheaply made
- Some customer reviews mention pinching of the neck from the shoulder strapping when heavily loaded
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