9 Best Backpacking Backpacks: Your Buyer’s Guide

backpacking, hiking, camping, outdoors

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 list of backpacking backpacks that will make the perfect companion when trekking through any terrain

teton sports, backpacking, hiking, camping Amazon Customer Reviews
  • High storage and weight capacity
  • Highly adjustable
  • Integrated rain cover
Price: $87.62 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
mountaintop, backpacking, hiking, camping Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Multiple ways to access main compartment
  • Hydration system compatible
  • Includes a rain cover
Price: $63.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
teton sports, backpacking, hiking, camping Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Excellent value
  • Integrated rain cover
  • Hydration bladder compatible
Price: $67.22 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
osprey, backpacking, hiking, camping Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Antigravity suspension bears heavy loads well
  • Impressive internal storage schematic
  • Internal compression straps help to stabilize heavy loads
Price: $269.95 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
mountaintop, backpacking, hiking, camping Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Highly affordable
  • Great size for overnights and shorter treks
  • Can be carried-on with most airlines
Price: $42.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
waterfly sling backpack Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Highly waterproof with rainfly attached
  • Operates as a sling pack as well
  • Hydration bladder compatible
Price: $20.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
teton sports, backpacking, hiking, camping Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Great for any length backpacking trip
  • Aluminum stays for enhanced support
  • Drop-bottom sleepng bag compartment
Price: $87.62 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
ALPS, backpacking, hunting, hiking, camping Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Huge carrying capacity
  • Extensive organization
  • Freighter-frame can be worn alone
Price: $159.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
high sierra, backpaccking, hiking, camping Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Internal frame supports heavy loads well
  • Hex-Vent Mesh for enhanced breathability
  • Schematic allows for effective organization
Price: $94.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Our Unbiased Reviews
  1. 1. Teton Sports Explorer 4000 Internal Frame Backpack

    Pros:
    • 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
    • Integrated rain cover
    • Teton Sports offers a limited lifetime warranty on this product
    Cons:
    • Complaints about the durability of some of the zippers and buckles
    • Limited color selection
    • The waist strap could use some additional padding

    This is an excellent value pack by Teton Sports. The Explorer 4000 is designed for comfort and capacity on multi-day treks yet is offered at a more than reasonable price point. 

    This pack is only four and a half pounds but sports 4000 cubic inches of space – that’s a pretty high carrying capacity for the weight. 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 backrest are what makes this bag so comfortable; keeping you from thinking about how your pack fits on the trail.

    There are a few neat pockets that enhance the Explorer’s organization potential including pass through side pockets for storing tent poles or other elongated gear. This bag is also compatible with a hydration pack.

    An excellent backpacking backpack for the money, this option has everything you need for trekking the wilderness and beyond without breaking the bank.

  2. 2. Best Cheap Backpacking Pack: Mountaintop 60L Internal Frame Backpack

    Pros:
    • Excellent price point
    • 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
    • Hip-belt pocket is great for your keys or phone
    • Effective compression straps for trimming down the pack profile or securing tent poles/fishing rod tubes
    • Hydration system compatible
    • Wide color selection
    Cons:
    • Location for a hydration bladder takes up a good bit of space in the main compartment if you plan on using one
    • Hip belt may be a bit large for you if you're particularly skinny
    • The fit is not particularly snug nor customizeable

    Here’s a great price point hiking pack from Mountaintop with some nice internal space. This 60-liter internal frame backpack is a steal for the cost and impressively 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 thing.

    This pack 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 furthermore includes a rain cover with this pack, so if you encounter some weather you’ll be prepared.

    Without a doubt one of the most versatile high capacity backpacking backpacks for the cost! 

  3. 3. Teton Sports Scout 3400 Internal Frame Backpack

    Pros:
    • Excellent value
    • All the compression straps and internal pockets allow for packing large loads and effective organization
    • Integrated rain cover
    • Hydration bladder compatible
    • Plenty of external attachment points and D-rings for securing gear
    • Effective underside sleeping bag storage
    • Limited lifetime warranty
    Cons:
    • Some complaints about stiffness of the clips and zips
    • Not particularly breathable if hiking in extreme heat
    • Limited color selection

    Here’s another excellent value backpacking backpack by Teton Sports that is a great fit for a wide array of hiking and trekking scenarios. The Scout 3400 is well-reviewed for comfort and organization potential 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 the build itself won’t weigh you down much.

    Multi-position torso adjustments and an open-cell foam lumbar pad ensure this pack will fit comfortably once sized properly. The design is a good fit for men, women, and youth.

    It’s hard to find a pack this capable 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 and affordable backpacking pack that features versatile sizing, this could be a good place to start!

  4. 4. Osprey Men’s Atmos 65 AG Backpack

    Pros:
    • Antigravity suspension system maked for a high-speed, low-drag fit for longer treks and thru-hiking
    • Impressive internal storage schematic
    • Internal compression straps help to stabilize heavy loads
    • Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole attachment system
    • Hydration bladder compatible
    • Buit in pocket on the hip belt
    Cons:
    • Expensive option
    • Not a ton of exterior storage space or attachment points for gear
    • Limited color selection

    The Atmos AG by Osprey is a top-notch backpacking backpack for those who appreciate a truly customizable, form-fit. If you have the funds to spring for a pack of this caliber, then you’ll most definitely feel the difference in how it adjusts and operates compared to lower end 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.

    For those embarking on truly long treks, the Atmos AG’s ability to form-fit will be a saving grace. This pack is crafted with freedom of motion in mind and meant to keep you high-speed, low drag. In a trekking scenario where moving fast with all your gear is key, this bag is an excellent choice.

    Osprey also offers the Aura backpack from the same line — another top-notch option specifically sized for women.

  5. 5. Mountaintop 40 Liter Hiking Backpack with Rain Cover

    Pros:
    • Highly affordable
    • Impressive pocket shematic and array of external attachment points for the cost
    • Great size for overnights and shorter treks
    • Compression straps can be used to secure tent poles, fishing rod tubes, etc.
    • Can be carried-on with most airlines
    • Included rain cover
    • 90 day limited warranty
    • Wide color selection
    Cons:
    • Side pockets are inadequate for stowing a water bottle
    • Shoulder strapping is not particularly comfortable when bearing heavier loads
    • Longterm durability of the fabrics and mesh is questionable if you're hard on your gear

    This 40-liter backpack by Mountaintop is impressively practical for shorter treks and is included here for its excellent value. It’s hard to find such a solid backpack at this affordable a cost.

    This is a pretty standard, no-frills pack that shouldn’t be relied on for more rugged backpacking scenarios, but if your budget is low and you don’t often go up against gnarly terrain, this bag is pretty adequate for some shorter duration trekking.

    The main compartment has an array of internal dividers including a space suitable for holding a hydration 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.

    There’s a wide color selection to fit any hiker’s style and Mountaintop furthermore includes a 90-day limited warranty on this item. 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 cost and simplistic 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.

  6. 6. Waterfly Sling Backpack

    Pros:
    • Highly waterproof with rainfly attached
    • Great array of exterior and interior pockets for organization
    • Great value for the cost - stands up well compared to more expensive packs
    • Reviews rave about the comfortability of this pack
    • Hydration bladder compatible
    Cons:
    • 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
    • Low capacity at just 18 liters

    This Sling Backpack 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 just 18 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. It’s great as an add-on pack, or for particularly short treks or trips.

    The zippers and clips are of nice quality on this pack, and the number of side pockets, pouches, and interior dividers within the main compartment make it a pretty excellent option when it comes to organization.

    The shoulder strapping is both quite comfortable, as well as highly breathable. 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 smaller sized hiking pack at a stellar cost that comes with the added benefit of being waterproof!

     

  7. 7. Best Backpacking Pack for Both Short and Long Treks: Teton Sports Hiker 3700 Ultralight Internal Frame Backpack

    Pros:
    • Great for any length backpacking trip due to its light weight and capacity
    • Comfortable fit and strapping
    • Aluminum stays for enhanced support
    • Drop-bottom sleepng bag compartment
    • Integrated rain cover
    • Hydration bladder compatible
    Cons:
    • Limited color selection
    • Long term integrity of the stitching and fabrics is questionable
    • Not a particularly breathable option

    Here’s another highly capable and surprisingly affordable pack by Teton Sports. The Hiker 3700 Ultralight Internal Frame Backpack is a 60 liter, lightweight pack great 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 option. 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 an 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.

  8. 8. ALPS OutdoorZ Commander

    Pros:
    • Tons of storage capacity between the interior compartments and exterior strapping and pouches
    • Pack can detach and freighter-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
    Cons:
    • 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
    • Limited color selection

    Here’s a seriously tough pack by ALPS. The Commander Pack is designed for hunting expeditions, but it’s 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 a super extensive 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 Commander 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 unique and highly effective option.

  9. 9. High Sierra Women’s Summit 40 Backpacking Pack

    Pros:
    • Schematic allows for effective organization
    • Aluminum frame bar built to adjust to most body types
    • Hex-Vent Mesh for enhanced breathability
    • Internal frame supports heavy loads well
    • Drop-bottom sleeping bag compartment
    • Fair price point
    Cons:
    • Sizing issues for people with a particularly tall build
    • Not a particularly high capacity pack despite the internal frame
    • Limited color selection

    I like this style of top-loading pack made by High Sierra. The Summit 40 Women’s Internal Frame Pack 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 both traveling or treking.

    The ripstop material of the bag is truly durable – you can go ahead and beat up on this one. For the cost, the durability is impressive here.

    High Sierra has built a great smaller sized hiking pack at a very reasonable rate with the Summit.

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