The 15 Best Hiking Backpacks For Outdoor Adventure

Jun 14, 2019

Category: Gear

Hiking, even when broken down into short stretches or day hikes, can be a very strenuous activity. After all, you’re asking your body to help you traverse uneven, often hilly terrain — requiring much more physicality than most people see in their normal day-to-day lives. At the very least, that exertion requires that you bring water with you so you can stay hydrated. But any smart hiker can tell you that the amount of gear you need to haul along with you is compounded by greater difficulty, longer outings, and increased risk.

That means, on top of a water bottle, you’ll want to consider bringing things like food, sunscreen, a first aid kit, and — if you’re going to be hiking for longer than a day — a change of clothes and sleeping arrangements. That also means you’re going to need something in which to haul all that gear. And when it comes to hiking, you can really do no better than a solidly-built, outdoor-focused backpack. That’s exactly what we’ve rounded up for you below: 15 the world’s best hiking backpacks for adventure.

REI Co-op Traverse 35 Pack

Usually, in-house brands sacrifice quality for low prices. Thankfully, however, that’s not the case with the offerings from REI Co-op. Yes, they’re still relatively low-priced, but not at the expense of capability, as seen in their Traverse hiking backpack. Built from bluesign-approved ripstop nylon, this bag is durable, weather-resistant, and comes with a number of noteworthy built-in features. That includes a supportive back panel, a 3D-contoured hip belt, compression straps, a water bottle pocket, an integrated rainfly, and a good deal more. For the price, you’ll not do better.

Materials: Recycled Ripstop Nylon
Capacity: 35L

Purchase: $69

Matador Beast28 Packable Technical Backpack

Matador’s Beast28 Packable Technical Backpack does a number of things extremely well. For starters, it is virtually waterproof and exceedingly durable, thanks to a construction of PU-coated ripstop nylon. It’s also compatible with hydration packs and is resistant to abrasions and punctures. It’s even comfortable to wear and stable thanks to lumbar padding, reinforced straps, and both a hip belt and sternum strap. And while most of those are standard features you should expect from a solid hiking backpack, this one has another hidden talent: it can collapse down to about the size of a football. That way, when your adventures are finished, you can stash it out of the way without any worries.

Materials: PU-Coated Ripstop Nylon
Capacity: 28L

Purchase: $90

Patagonia Nine Trails Backpack

A brand doesn’t become one of the most trusted in the world by accident. They do it by consistently producing solid, useful products that look as good as they function. Patagonia is one such brand and that can be seen in abundance via their Nine Trails Backpack. With a large u-shaped opening to the main compartment, all your gear is quickly and easily accessible — including a hydration bladder, if you have one. It also boasts a large exterior stretch pocket for anything you want to keep handy. And its Cordura nylon construction makes it tough enough to handle just about any off-the-grid outing.

Materials: 210D Cordura Ripstop Nylon
Capacity: 20L

Purchase: $96

Burton AK Incline Backpack

While Burton is well known for making snowboarding gear, don’t count them out when it comes to hiking backpacks. In fact, their AK Incline — while suitable as a day bag or backcountry pack — is perfect for pedestrian activities as well. That’s partially because of its durable ripstop nylon construction, which is good for water, abrasion, and puncture resistance. But it’s also because of its long list of included features, like compression straps, a number of both internal and external organizational pockets, hydration bladder compatibility, and ergonomic shoulder strap and hip belt. The fact is this: if it’s tough enough to survive professional-caliber snowboarding, it’s gonna be able to handle anything you can throw at it on a hike.

Materials: Ripstop Nylon
Capacity: 30L

Purchase: $140

Epperson Mountaineering Large Climb Pack

Rock climbing and mountaineering are rigorous activities, to say the least. And they require specialized gear that’s a whole lot tougher than your average outdoor equipment. That’s why Epperson Mountaineering built their Large Climb Pack with hardware and accessories that were specifically designed for the task — including climbing-spec zipper pulls, a drawcord, and a carabiner closure. To up the ante even further, they constructed it from DWR-coated Cordura nylon, reinforced the construction at its weakest points with bartacks, and equipped it with mil-spec straps. Best of all, this ultra-rugged hiking backpack was made in the USA.

Materials: 1000D DWR-Coated Cordura Nylon
Capacity: 22.5L

Purchase: $140

Fjallraven Abisko Hiking Backpack

It’s rare to find a brand that blends capability, durability, and stylishness as well as Fjallraven. And their unique blend of those three things can most certainly be seen in their Abisko Hiking Backpack. The sleek exterior is constructed from a fabric called G-1000 — a tough, lightweight blend of polyester and cotton that’s abrasion- and water-resistant. It also features a secure flip top closure to add a little more weather resistance and it boasts padded shoulder straps and a waist belt. And along with a large main compartment and a quick-access external one, it’s also hydration bladder compatible — so you can stay hydrated on even the hottest of hikes.

Materials: G-1000
Capacity: 35L

Purchase: $150

Topo Designs Klettersack

If there’s any brand that can rival Fjallraven’s unique intersection of the fashionable and the functional, it’s Topo Designs. Just look at their classic Klettersack as an example. Simple, beautiful, and clean, this USA-made bag does away with the frills in favor of a sleek and durable design — marked by a 1000D Cordura nylon exterior, heavy-duty straps and hardware, and leather accents. And while the outside isn’t marked by excess, that doesn’t mean there aren’t a wealth of handy features. In fact, this bag has a laptop sleeve, dual water bottle pockets, and room for 22.4 liters of gear in total.

Materials: 1000D Cordura Nylon
Capacity: 22.4L

Purchase: $169

Filson Dry Backpack

Not everyone is going to need a hiking backpack that’s completely impervious to the effects of H2O. But if you’re the type to head out on the trails when the weather is questionable or your adventures frequently take you across rivers, through streams, and under waterfalls then a waterproof bag is a near-necessity. And they really don’t get better than Filson’s Dry Backpack with its PU-coated nylon exterior, secure rolltop closure, and 28L capacity. Mate that with high-density hardware, EVA foam back padding, and contoured shoulder straps and this pack is unbeatable.

Materials: PU-Coated 840D Nylon
Capacity: 28L

Purchase: $175

Mountainsmith Mayhem 45 Backpack

With a company name like Mountainsmith, you’d bet that these folks can make a pretty good hiking backpack — and you’d be right. We’d not necessarily call it cutting-edge or write poetry about its beauty, but the Mayhem is no less one of the best trail-ready bags available. This is because it’s built from sturdy, water-resistant nylon, has a wealth of internal and external organizational options (including attachment loops for expandability), and a clever construction that helps balance the load and makes for easy hauling, no matter how heavy.

Materials: 210D HT Nylon Micro R/S
Capacity: 45L

Purchase: $180

Osprey Atmos AG 65 Backpack

One of the biggest issues with hiking backpacks is the havoc they can wreak upon your spine — especially when fully-loaded. But thanks to some clever engineering, the folks at Osprey have figured out a way to help ease that with a unique suspension system they call Anti-Gravity — making it feel like you’re carrying less than you actually are. Not only is that tech built into this superb hiking bag, but it also has a hip belt for added stability, a hydration sleeve for up to a 3L bladder, and even has quick-access storage for your hiking poles.

Materials: 100D X 630D Nylon Dobby
Capacity: 65L

Purchase: $202

Sea to Summit Flow DryPack

As you might imagine, Sea to Summit specializes in gear that’s good for just about all outdoor activities, whether that be a beachside stroll or a mountain peak ascension — which means they’re the ideal company to build a waterproof hiking backpack. And that’s what you’ll find here in their Flow DryPack. Constructed from TPU-coated nylon, it’s completely impervious to the effects of moisture, but also still lightweight. It also boasts aerospace-grade hardware, ergonomic straps, and a large main compartment with a rolltop closure for secure, waterproof storage.

Materials: TPU-Coated 420D Nylon
Capacity: 35L

Purchase: $220

Arc’teryx Alpha FL 45 Backpack

It should surprise nobody that Arc’teryx has made our list of the best hiking backpacks, as literally everything this brand makes is off the charts in regards to quality, durability, and style. But their Alpha FL bag is exceptional, even for the Canadian manufacturer. That’s because it hinges on a highly-functional, yet minimalist design marked by remarkably tough materials (like laminated ripstop nylon), a compression system to keep everything secure, an overall design made specifically for load stability, and the list just keeps going on and on with no end in sight. If you want a solid outdoor backpack with no compromises, this one might be near the top of your list.

Materials: N400r-AC² Nylon 6 Ripstop
Capacity: 45L

Purchase: $195

The North Face Prophet 85 Backpack

Most people don’t need a hulking, 85-liter bag for their hiking endeavors. Most people also don’t have it in themselves to ascend and conquer some of the world’s highest peaks. This bag isn’t made for those people — the ones with outdoor adventure in their blood. Perfectly designed for mountaineering, especially over the course of days or more, this is a rugged, lightweight, user-friendly alpine bag. In fact, it has a back panel that’s adjustable without removing the pack, an internal frame for added stability, storage for all your gear and mountaineering tools, a hydration sleeve, and so much more. If the likes of the Himalayas, Kilimanjaro, or Mount Whitney are on your list of future hikes, this might be the bag for you.

Materials: 210D Cordura Nyon & Dyneema
Capacity: 85L

Purchase: $379

Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Northrim Backpack

In case you’re not familiar with it, Dyneema is what some might call a “miracle material.” It’s extremely lightweight — it even floats on water — but it has a strength-to-weight ratio greater than steel. And it’s this material that Hyperlite Mountain Gear has built their business upon. Their latest release is a pair of bags called Northrim, which solely differ in regards to size but are otherwise identical. This one, measuring up at 55L, is water-resistant, abrasion- and puncture-proof, has plenty of storage for all your gear across the main compartment and an expandable exterior pocket, and was made especially for some of the most rigorous routes around the world.

Materials: DCH150 Dyneema
Capacity: 64.8L

Purchase: $410

Goruck GR3 Backpack

GoRuck are the same folks who build the legendary GR1 — a backpack famous for being literally bombproof. As you might imagine from the naming convention, the GR3 is an evolution of the GR1. That means it has the same insane durability, is made from the same remarkable materials, and even looks very similar. They are different, however, in a few noteworthy ways. For starters, the GR3 is a good deal bigger — measuring up at 45L (as opposed to 26L) — and it also has the option for an included modular compression bag for even more expansion. It’s also made in the USA and comes with the brand’s lifetime guarantee against defects.

Materials: 1000D Cordura Nylon
Capacity: 45L

Purchase: $545

How To Start Backpacking

You might think that taking your first long-form hiking trip is as simple as packing a bag and hitting the trails. And you’d be right, mostly. But there’s a lot more to consider if you want to make the most out of it. Learn everything you need to know on our how to start backpacking guide.

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