You can break up the reasons why people exercise into two, or maybe three distinct bot non-mutually exclusive categories. First, you have the obvious health reasons. Getting on a bike, heading out on a run, or hitting the weights is good for your heart, posture – and of course it helps you look good (this could be a category unto itself). Then, aside from all of that, there is the feeling exercise gives you. Whether in the most crowded gym or running on a track in the middle of a city, when you get into a flow state, you could be a thousand miles away. For a lot of athletes, that far away and calm feeling that comes with rigorous exercise is a big part the overall appeal.
Backpacking is one of the few activities that at a very basic level reflects that same internal sense of distance and calm athletes get in its own nature. To get to those distances, however, backpackers depend on good gear – chief among which is their actual pack. A good pack can mean the difference between a painful and short lived trip, and a freeing one that puts some real distance between you and all of the unnecessary hustle and bustle of daily life. Whether you’re a first timer or someone looking to retire an old friend – we’ve assembled a list of some of the 10 best long-haul backpacking packs for men to help you narrow down the options.
High Sierra Titan
If you are hiking 10 miles or more a day with a fully loaded pack on your back, you’re going to get sweaty no matter what- but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have at list a bit of ventilation. High Sierra’s Titan boasts a series of large AIRFLOW channels that snake through the back of the frame that allow for those breezes to make their way through the pack to actually cool you down a bit on those hot hikes. The high density foam padded back panels that make up the are themselves attached to an internal contoured rigid frame provides support no matter your size. Thanks to the S-Shaped Ergo-Fit shoulder strap harness and load lifters, backpackers are given the ability to adjust the shoulder straps as well as the waist-belt to get the best fit. When it comes to storage, this 5.5 pound pack has plenty of it. Boasting 65 liters of storage, an area for keeping a hydration system, and tons of options for lashing gear on the outside of the pack – you’ll be good to go go go and keep going with this on your back.
North Face Cobra
Backpacking packs can be a serious investment – so the idea of getting year-round utility out of one can be really appealing for a lot of people. With an internal framesheet, sternum straps, and a top brain, this pack has all of the trappings of a normal long-haul backpack, but what sets it apart is that all of that can be removed so the back can be used while skiing or going on shorter jaunts through the woods. Measuring in with 52 liters of space, featuring a tough rip-stop stitching, and weighing only three pounds – it’s a great hybrid pack for the sometimes backpacker and all-the-time outdoorsman.
Rummaging through your bag after a long day on the trail can be one of the most annoying things about trekking out into the woods. You have all your stuff with you, but because you’ve packed it all tight – you can’t get it out at all. Cotopaxi has built out a bag that, among many other things, tackles this problem really well. Their 65 liter pack has a full-flay zipper, making it easy to slice open the side of your bag to both pull out and pack all of your gear. In addition to this nice feature, the bag includes a rain cover and an area for hydration storage that doubles as a removable daypack for quick jaunts around your basecamp.
If anyone would know how to make a solid outdoor pack, it would be the stalwart outdoor goods store REI. Labeled as the ‘workhorse’ line of bags from the brand, these are designed to be rugged enough to carry a bunch of gear out into the woods, but adjustable enough for outdoorsman to really dial in the fit to their own specific preference. One of the nicest parts of this pack is the trampoline suspended mesh system that matches the contour of your back. Not only does this bit of tech make for even distribution of weight, but it keeps you cool on long hikes. In addition to this impressive feature is a contoured hip-belt that is designed to pivot independently from the pack for a seamless trip. All of those features combined with a set of compression straps on the bottom outside of the pack makes for a truly impressive bag.
Osprey Atmos Anti Gravity
Most all packs are designed to attack one primary problem – reducing movement of your bag. When you are moving along the trail and your pack is bouncing around independently, it drains you of energy and slows you down. Osprey’s best answer to this problem are their Atmos AG products. Their single suspension back panel makes it so the movement of your pack reflects the movement of your body – giving the sensation that you are carrying much less than you actually are. In addition to this impressively engineered back panel, the pack also comes with tons of storage space, options for strapping your gear on externally, and is constructed with a tough ripstop material.
When you are packing for a long trip – the last thing you want to do is add a whole lot of weight onto your already heavy load by throwing it all in a hefty pack. Exped’s Thunder 70 is designed specifically to carry as much as possible while weighing next to nothing. Constructed with 210 D HMPE ripstop nylon with a PU coating to keep the weather from getting in, this pack weighs just under three and a half pounds and can carry up to 53 pounds. For support while out heading through the backcountry, the bag comes with a 6061-T6 aluminum stay that out of which the shoulder and waist straps are.
Hyperlite 2400 Windrider
There is more than one brand out there making lightweight packs for long overnight hikes. Built in Maine, these super light packs weigh in at just under 2 pounds and can carry as much as 40 liters internally and nearly 10 in the external mesh pocket. Constructed with 50D Dyneema/Poly hybrid and a double reinforced 150D bottom, all seam sealed on the inside for a simple non-rub fit. A rolltop closure makes for an easily adjustable top, while the tough shoulder and waste straps keep the back closely fitted to your spine. Perfect for speeding through the woods.
If you are the kind of person who is really looking to bring those extra goods with you on a trip, then this pack may be the one to do it with. Not only does it feature great load carrying capacity, but it boasts an great suspension system. The A3 floats away from the bag a good deal allowing for some give while bumping along tough trails. In addition to this nice feature, the pack has a small weatherproof pouch on the side of the hipbelt for keeping valuable items both close and protected. As far as packing away the rest of your stuff goes – the Baltoro opens up so wide it may as well be a suitcase. No more rummaging around elbow-deep in your pack looking for a headlamp as it starts to get dark.
Granite Gear Nimbus Trace Access
Sometimes the best of the bunch aren’t exactly the most revolutionary or groundbreaking, they just take a simple formula and they drive it home with quality materials and solid engineering. Granite Gear’s award winning Nimbus line does just that with their Trace Access. Featuring a laminated wooden frame that curves just like your own back, the pack has a surprisingly natural and supportive feel. Access into this 70 liter bag is made easy thanks to both a top and bottom opening zipper that peels the 100 denier silicone impregnated nylon Cordura construction away with ease. If you feel like taking on a smaller hike, the frame-sheet is easily removable – but doing so won’t compromise the nice airflow the Nimbus has with its slated back panel.
Breathability, suspension, stability, storage capacity, and customizability; this pack has all of that in spades. With a load transfer disc deigned to pivot while you walk in order to better stabilize your heavy load while you’re trekking out. Along with a tough back to support all of your gear, the fabric this bag is made from – a mixture of 210D and 500D ripstop and weather resistant nylon, makes it so you won’t have to worry about the bag wearing thin after a few trips or brush ripping at your bag. All things said it is the kind of pack that you would expect from a brand known for its high quality and durable outdoor gear.