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The 10 Best Hiking Backpacks For Outdoor Adventure

Best Hiking Backpacks 00 Hero

Even if you’re only out on the trail for a couple of hours, a quality day pack is still a crucial component to your hiking loadout, affording a comfortable, secure, and convenient means of transporting all of your necessary gear. Largely characterized by their durability, hiking backpacks are more resistant to abrasions and the elements than regular EDC and work bags, while also typically offering superior fitment, weight distribution, stability, and comfort.

Over the years the daypack market has been inundated with a barrage of purpose-engineered day-hiking backpacks, all ranging in volume, style, and construction. And while this has ultimately resulted in dozens of genuinely stellar bags that are currently in production, it’s also made sifting through the sea of available offerings a decidedly daunting task — an area compounded by the slew of new models released each season. So, to help simplify your search and get you headed down the right path, we’ve compiled this list of the best hiking backpacks.

Best Hiking Backpacks Breakdown

Traits For The Trails

What Elements To Consider When Buying A Daypack

Built for short stints out on the trails, hiking backpacks require a unique set of traits in terms of design and construction, As such, it helps to be aware of a few basic factors that one should take into account when shopping for a new day trip or hiking backpack.

Construction & Durability: Considering that they have to stand up to the elements along with other abuse from the trail, it’s incredibly important for hiking backpacks to feature ultra-hardwearing properties. These are typically achieved by making bags from proven rugged materials such as high-denier nylons and other constructions that excel at fending off water or abrasions. Just as important as the materials comprising the bag is the construction technique(s) that was/were used to marry the materials together.

Comfort & Fitment: Hiking backpacks have hugely evolved over the years, with manufacturers discovering methods of delivering ample structural support and a precise ergonomic fit that evenly distributes weight without the use of a traditional exoskeleton chassis. On top of integrated frames, this is made possible through the use of shoulder straps supplemented via sternum and waist straps that help to distribute weight. Padding across the straps and over the back panel will also play a pivotal role in comfort, as well as air channels for back ventilation.

Volume & Storage: Typically measured in liters, the amount of available real estate offered by a bag will determine how much gear it can accommodate. This will obviously dictate the backpack’s overall size. It’s also worth pointing out that there are plenty of bags with MOLLE webbing or other supplementary attachment points that allow you take carry extra gear on the outside of the bag.

Amenities: In addition to PALS and MOLLE webbing, many of today’s hiking-specific backpacks also boast features such as water bottle holders and/or hydration bladders and mounts and loops for hiking poles and other gear. It’s also become increasingly common to see thoroughly ruggedized hiking bags with dedicated padded pockets for cameras, smartphones, and other sensitive mobile gadgets. Modular attachment elements have also started to become increasingly popular in the space.

Main Compartment Closure: The vast majority of hiking backpacks will sport a main central compartment that comprises the bulk of the bag’s total internal volume. How one goes about accessing these main compartments can vary, however, with some employing classic zipper closures while others have opted for roll-top-style items — the former of which affords better convenience while the latter has traditionally offered superior weatherproofing.

Brand: While there are admittedly acceptions and outliers, the lion’s share of the more reputable bag and gear manufacturers tend to exhibit pretty consistent quality across the board for their entire catalog. Because it can at times be difficult to gain a sense of a backpack’s overall durability, quality, or fit and finish, opting to buy from a trusted brand with a well-proven track record for producing quality gear is a pretty solid way of ensuring you end up with a stellar bag.

Switchback Storage

The Best Backpacks For Hiking

patagonia Altivia Pack 28L

patagonia Altivia Pack 28L
  • Affordable
  • Spacious yet lightweight
  • Comfortable
  • Some pockets were removed from previous version

Though it was recently updated, Patagonia’s Altivia Pack remains a stellar option for day-hiking duties. Made from lightweight yet rugged 140D nylon that’s 100% recycled, the bag features a top-mouthed main compartment with a lid that closes via drawstring as well as an exterior stash pocket and side compression straps. In addition to being able to accommodate a hydration bladder, the 28-liter pack sports a super-breathable moisture-mitigating mono-mesh back panel, adjustable sternum straps, and thick padded shoulder and waist straps that collectively afford a snug and precise yet comfortable fit.

Primary Construction: 140D recycled nylon ripstop
Capacity: 28L
Weight: 1.75lbs

The North Face Surge

The North Face Surge
  • Great for urban commuting as well
  • Suspension is certified by the American Chiropractic Association
  • Lots of color options
  • Great for organizing
  • Budget-friendly
  • Better options available for strictly commuting

Though initially best-known for its outdoor gear, The North Face has increasingly become a major player in the streetwear and urban garments and gear space. And the fabled brand’s Surge Backpack leans into this shifting identity with a ruggedized daypack containing a robust suite of pockets and organizers typically reserved for EDC and work bags, enabling you to seamlessly transition from the office to the backcountry. Produced in nine color options, the Surge has been outfitted with TNF’s FlexVent suspension system, an external fleece-lined electronics and sunglasses compartment, a dedicated laptop compartment, a pair of external water bottle pockets, and an adjustable sternum strap with an integrated emergency whistle.

Primary Construction: 210D recycled nylon ripstop with non-PFC DWR finish
Capacity: 31L
Weight: 2.75lbs

Matador Beast18 Ultralight

Matador Beast18
  • Waterproof
  • Lightweight
  • Sports gear loops
  • Hydration reservoir compatible
  • EVA foam padding throughout
  • A little small

A new and improved version of an already excellent bag, Matador’s Beast18 Backpack is an immensely durable item developed specifically for days on the trails. Boasting a Bartack-reinforced waterproof Ultra Tear Strength polyurethane-coated Robic nylon primary construction, this packable bag offers 18 liters of real estate though is still capable of breaking down into an included stuff-sack no bigger than your fist. Other highlights on this technically-focused backpack include Matador’s proprietary flexible frame suspension system, supplementary gear-loops, YKK hardware throughout, a sleeve that can house a 1 to 3-liter hydration reservoir, and EVA foam padding throughout.

Primary Construction: UTS PU-Coated & DWR-Finished 210D Robic Nylon
Capacity: 18L
Weight: 1.31LBS

Osprey TALON 33

  • Allows for movement
  • Comfortable
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Eco-friendly
  • Good attachment options
  • Doesn’t claim to be waterproof

Osprey’s TALON 33 bag is a performance-oriented day-hiking backpack that was developed from the ground up with a major focus on allowing stability, comfort, and unrestricted and dynamic body movement. This was achieved through the implementation of Osprey’s AirScape injection-molded and die-cut foam back panel and suspension system, as well as a flexible BioStretch harness and hip belt. Backed by Osprey’s generous lifetime warranty, the TALON 33 is also constructed from sustainable and eco-friendly bluesign-approved recycled materials. It features a fixed top lid, a tuck-away ice ax attachment, a stow-on-the-go trekking pole attachment, an external hydration reservoir sleeve, and easy-access dual-zippered fabric hip-belt pockets.

Primary Construction: DWR-Finished 100D x 210D Wave Check High-Tenacity Nylon & 420HD Nylon Packcloth
Capacity: 33L
Weight: 2.67LBS

Topo Designs Mountain Pack

Topo Designs Mountain Pack
  • Versatile
  • Breathable mesh back panel
  • Very stylish color scheme options
  • Vertical daisy chain webbing
  • Laptop sleeve inside
  • Stiff straps
  • Certain colors get dirty easier than others

Topo Designs’ aptly-named Mountain Pack was designed to be a do-it-all personal storage vessel, lending itself well equally to both everyday commuting in the city and life out on the trail. This highly versatile yet fashion-forward item boasts an ultra-rugged 200D recycled nylon ripstop exterior with a J-panel front that opens to reveal a 210D coated pack cloth-lined interior containing a laptop pocket and an additional security pocket. The outside of the Mountain Pack features vertical daisy chain webbing, adjustable ice ax loops, side and bottom compression straps, a top carry handle, a breathable mesh back panel, a padded base, heavy-duty plastic hardware, and oversized waterproof YKK zippers.

Primary Construction: 200D recycled ripstop nylon
Capacity: 28L
Weight: 2.43lbs

Fjällräven Singi 28

Fjallraven Singi 28
  • Super durable
  • Versatile
  • Really well-priced for what you get
  • Other size options available
  • N/A

Crafted from the Swedish garment and gear purveyor’s G-1000 Heavy Duty Eco S material — a ridiculously durable yet lightweight recycled polyester and organic cotton weave — the Fjällräven Singi 28 is a rugged and versatile outdoor-specific bag intended for hiking, fishing, and hunting applications. Produced in “Stone Grey” or “Dark Olive,” the Singi 28 is reinforced with 500D polyamide and a waterproof nylon base and features an included rain cover, a detachable hip belt with generously-sized zippered pockets, a sleeve for accommodating a laptop or hydration bladder, and daisy chain webbing for quick and easy access to gear. This bag also boasts the typically top-notch quality, construction, and fit and finish that the Örnsköldsvik-based outfit is renowned for.

Primary Construction: Waterproof Nylon-Reinforced G-1000 HeavyDuty Eco S & 500D Polyamide
Capacity: 28L
Weight: 3.09LBS

Mystery Ranch Scree 32

  • 3-ZIP design makes it super easy to access interior
  • Futura Yoke allows for some space between back and frame
  • Waist belt is removable
  • Hydration reservoir sleeve
  • Interior pocket is small, creating awkward gap underneath

Made from ultra-durable Robic nylon, Mystery Ranch’s Scree 32 was built to suit a wide variety of outdoor applications, from quick jaunts on local trails to entire weekends spent off of the grid. Affording stellar rigidity and support, the Scree 32 utilizes an internal high-density polyethylene frame sheet, a removable, semi-auto-fitting redirect waist belt system, a patented micro-adjustable Futura Yoke, and Mystery Ranch’s signature 3-ZIP design. Available in four color options, this bag also packs zippered pockets on its waist belt, exterior water bottle pockets, a hydration reservoir sleeve, and an extra-durable dual-layered bottom construction.

Primary Construction: 210D Robic Nylon
Capacity: 32L
Weight: 2.8LBS

Arc’teryx Aerios 30

Arcteryx Aerios 30
  • CORDURA construction makes it durable and lightweight
  • Front bungee compression system
  • Hip belt is breathable
  • Limited color options
  • Sternum strap has tendency to slip

If you possess even a passing familiarity with the outdoor space then you’re no doubt well aware of Arc’teryx and how the outdoor brand produces some of the finest gear that money can buy. The BC-based brand’s Aerios 30 backpack is no exception, composed of a CORDURA construction that’s afforded additional durability thanks to a cutting-edge 200D liquid crystal polymer ripstop grid. Built for genuine adventure, the Aerios 30 comes outfitted with a pair of trekking pole attachment points, a front bungee compression system, daisy chain webbing, a padded, breathable hip belt, a highly breathable AeroForm pack panel, an anti-barrelling frame sheet, and a sleeve to house a clip-in hydration bladder (which is sold separately).

Primary Construction: 100D CORDURA & 210D CORDURA
Capacity: 30L
Weight: 2LBS

Hyperlite Daybreak ultralight Daypack

Hyperlite Daybreak ultralight Daypack
  • Very lightweight thanks to Dyneema construction
  • Casual alternative to Hyperlite’s climbing bags
  • Comfortable shoulder straps
  • Fully-integrated padded back panel
  • Storage pockets on hip belt
  • May be too much for casual hikers

Hyperlite has built its reputation on producing state-of-the-art tents, garments, and other gear using advanced materials such as Dyneema. And the company’s Daybreak Ultralight is no different, made by hand in Maine from an extremely lightweight yet hardwearing 150 denier Dyneema Composite Fabric. A more casual alternative to Hyperlite’s expedition-grade alpine climbing bags, the Daybreak Ultralight nonetheless retains a host of adventure-focused amenities such as Dyneema shoulder straps with 3/8” foam and spacer mesh, a fully-integrated 0.25” padded back panel, ice ax and grab loops, water-resistant YKK zippers, a whistle-equipped adjustable sternum strap, padded 1.5” hip belt with integrated storage pockets, and a front bungee and shock cord system.

Primary Construction: 150D Dyneema Composite Fabric
Capacity: 17L
Weight: 1.3LBS

Kifaru Minikeg

  • Arguably most rugged hiking bag available
  • A lot of storage capacity
  • Internal hydration reservoir sleeve
  • Grab handles on top and bottom
  • Expensive

Kifaru International’s bags are used by some of the world’s most elite armed combat forces in some of the planet’s most hostile and unforgiving locales. So, when looking for a hardwearing backpack for trail duties, we’d always advise checking out the latest offerings from the Colorado company, such as its Minikeg. Pieced together around the option of 22” aluminum or composite stays, the Minikeg features Duplex shoulder straps and waistbelt, an internal hydration reservoir sleeve, a pair of three-way stretch fabric water bottle pockets with side compression straps, bottom compression straps, and top and bottom grab handles. And, with a combination of X-Pac and DWR-treated 500D CORDURA, constructions legitimately don’t get much more rugged than this.

Primary Construction: DWR-Coated 500D COURDURA & X-Pac VX21
Capacity: 45.8L
Weight: 3.39LBS

The Best Hiking Boots For Men

Photo: Danner x Filson Combat Hiker

A backpack is a great addition to any day-hiking loadout, but every collection of kit for the trail starts with a quality pair of boots. Our guide to the best hiking boots features the finest trail shoes and boots that money can currently buy.