Why All the Fuss?
When we started selling packs, it was hard to decide what hiking backpacks to stock. No company should be more interested in making money than offering quality merchandise.
We decided to embark on the search for the best hiking backpacks around. It was not easy. First, there had to be tons of research carried out. Then out of the top 10, we conducted tests in the field in search of the best.
Those backpacks went everywhere (well, everywhere one can go in 6 months). Our test subjects (talking about the bags, not the hikers) went on day hikes, weekend hikes and even days of hiking. From the Inca Trail in Peru to Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa and even to the nature trail in the hometown.
Before we get started with the reviews, you need to catch up on some basics about hiking backpacks. Hiking backpacks are just bags specially designed for walking (and climbing) while exploring nature.
As a hiker or someone who might be joining the club soon, you need to consider a hiking backpack. Your travel pack, school backpack or whatever other type of bag just won't do. You can't get out of buying a hiking backpack. Well…, you can, but you will have to pay a high price for it.
Here's a list of some troubles you'll have to deal with:
- Back, Shoulder and Neck pains.
- Health effects such as spinal misalignment.
- Massive discomfort which will, in turn, lead to you not enjoying the hike.
- A heavy bag that will slow down your hiking speed.
- Tiring quickly characterized by shortness of breath.
Why You Should Buy a Hiking Backpack?
You can’t live without a hiking bag so you better start loving them. Okay, lemme not force them on you.
I have some solid points on why they are worth loving or liking, at the very least.
Essential Comfort During Hiking
Hiking is not that comfortable, especially for the unfit like me. But with the right backpack (a hiking backpack) there will be less discomfort to worry about.
They are made light to ease the load you are carrying. They also have hip belts and chest straps to keep the bag comfortably rested on your back. Furthermore, the generous padding on the straps and back is just perfect for hours of hiking.
Large Capacity for All Hiking Necessities
Hikes, even the simple day hikes, require one to carry a lot of stuff. From the sleeping bags, rock-climbing gear, to the safety must-haves such as first aid equipment.
So where will they all fit? That's where a hiking backpack comes in.
And guess what, hiking backpacks also usually multiple compartments unlike regular ones. This feature allows for easier organization and content access. For instance some have a sleeping bag compartment.
A bag may also be the right size but even then, ordinary bags and travel packs can't handle that much weight for extended periods of time
More Durable than Casual Bags
Can regular packs withstand the natural elements and the unavoidable consequences of hiking? No way Jose!
Only hiking backpacks are made in a way that makes them as durable as need be. The materials used, the type of zippers, the stitching and even the design are all made to increase longevity.
Manufacturers of hiking backpacks know exactly what the bags are for. Therefore they include special helpful features.
For instance some come with whistles which are great safety measures when going on hikes. Others are waterproof, water resistant or have rain covers to take care of unexpected showers.
There are even those with water bladders to take care of constant thirst that comes with hiking.
Comparison chart - Best Hiking Backpacks
Tan, Green, Orange
Blue, Black, Red
Adjustable Shoulder / Load Strap
29.9 x 16.9 x 3.9 inches
9 x 2.2 x 8.5 inches
31.5 x 19 x 14.5 inches
19 x 17 x 13 inches
13.4 x 7.8 x 22.8 inches
Perfect for beginner or quick trip pack
Versatile, many storage pockets
Perfect for more than 5-days trips
Sits well on hips and make backpackers feel stabilized
Durable at an affordable price
Waist straps are big
Hard to take small things out
The cell phone compartment is small
Medium pack comes with a small hipbelt
4 Best Hiking Backpacks Review 2018
G4Free Hiking Backpack
22.8 x 13.4 x 7.8 in
High capacity, handy and lightweight.
Venture Pal Hiking Backpack
8.5 x 2.2 x 9 in
Durable, comfortable, organized.
TETON Sports Scout Hiking Backpack
17 x 12 x 30 in
Durable & comfortable.
TETON Sports Oasis Hiking Backpack
18.5 x 10 x 7 in
1. G4Free Hiking Backpack - high capacity, handy and lightweight
This 22.8″ X 13.4″ X 7.8″ backpack comes in 7 colors- black, dark blue, gray, light blue, orange/red, purple/red and yellow/green. When not in use, just fold it up into a small carry case that is just 9.4″ X 7.8″ X 3.9″-designed to fit even in your car’s glove compartment.
It has a drawstring lock instead of the usual zipper lock. That means you get more or less slack as required.
This hiking bag is extremely durable. It is made from High-Quality water and tear resistant Nylon fabric that can hold up heavy loads. Most importantly, its price doesn’t match up to what it offers!!!
2. Venture Pal Lightweight Hiking Backpack - organized
First of all this backpack is an import from China. They make it in five colors- black, blue, fuchsia, orange and royal blue. It is roomy enough (20 x 13 x 7.5).
There is one main zipped compartment that can handle 35L, two zipped front pockets and two side pockets for your water and juice bottles or umbrellas.
This backpack is foldable into its own zipped pocket for easier storage. While folded it is 9 x 8.5 x 2.2 inches. It does have compression straps and it’s water resistant. The design on this is just wow. Let’s see what it brings to the table other than mere aesthetics.
Comfort is key, and this backpack has breathable mesh shoulder straps with 3mm sponge padding. The straps and the included chest strap are adjustable for maximum comfort.
This bag is super light. No one wants to carry a weighty bag and with this you won’t have to.
3. Teton Sports Scout Hiking Backpack - durable & comfortable
This awesome looking backpack comes in 3 colors- Coyote Tan, Hunter Green, and Mecca Orange. It is a 4.5-pound bag with a lot to offer. There are multiple pockets-side mesh pockets, front mesh pocket, bungee storage for things like a map, zippered pockets on each side, internal and external hood pockets.
I love the padded pocket inside the main compartment for a water bladder. The padded pocket has tube clips both left and right. Do note the water bladder is not part of the package. Some people use the compartment to pack a laptop.
It has a large capacity-55L or 3400 cubic inches to be exact; large enough to fit all your hiking necessities.
Comfort is assured. The manufacturers put in extra effort to give consumers extra comfort, and it shows. From the durable open-cell foam lumbar padding to the molded channels. It even has a unique locking mechanism on the lumber straps. The multi-position torso adjustment fits a broad range of body size. Furthermore, the back frame gives good support and makes it easy to carry.
4. Teton Sports Oasis Hydration Hiking Backpack - Good design
You could get this sturdy pack with a great deal of benefits. First of all it comes in 5 colors- black, green, orange, bright blue and bright green. It measures 18.5 x 10 x 7 inches with a capacity of 18L or 1100 cubic inches.
You get 4 zipped pockets- a hydration pouch, main pocket, upper front pocket and front bottom pocket. It also has 2 side mesh pockets (9″ deep) and one rain fly pocket. There is also a butterfly opening for jackets.
There is a limited lifetime warranty against defects in materials and workmanship provided you are the original owner.
A 2L (70 ounces) hydration bladder. The bladder is BPA-free, FDA compliant food grade and has triple heat sealed edges. It even has a 2 inch opening for easy filling and cleaning, a Kink-free sip tube, cushioned bite valve and a twist lock to prevent leaks. Don’t worry; there is a Velcro strap to hold the bladder in place.
How to Choose the Best Hiking Backpack
Now that you know a hiking backpack is mandatory, here’s a hiking backpack buying guide to help you shop for one. What needs to be considered?
The capacity will depend on a few things: How long is your trip? Where will you be hiking? What are you bringing along? I recommend 35-55L for overnighters, 45-75 for weekends and over 70L for more than a day's hike.
Pro Tip: Buy all the gear you need first before you purchase the backpack so as to estimate the size you need easily. Ladies, I know you are tempted to try and carry the whole house, but only the essentials please. The hair dryer and extra clothes don't have to come with.
- The Fit
The backpack you choose must not be too low or too high. Contrary to popular belief, the perfect fit doesn't depend on your height but your build and back length. Try the bag out first and if you are online shopping measure your back length and get a backpack that fits that length.
It's only common sense that a hiking backpack be super light. Who needs to drag a weighty bag along when hiking for hours?
For a bag that will be up and about it needs to be extra durable. Examine the features, stitching and material used by the manufacturer.
Most hiking backpacks are made from wear and tear resistant material. Check for features such as reinforced stitching, heavy-duty lockable zippers and double layered bottoms.
Some backpacks have internal frames while others have external ones. Internal frame packs have support rods and frame built into the pack and hidden from view. External frame packs, on the other hand, have their rods separate from the actual pack.
The latter are becoming less popular by the day. That is because internal frame packs look better and their rods won't get caught on anything. They are also slimmer which adds to comfort.
Furthermore, they tend to be lighter; their rods are made from carbon fiber or sturdy plastic which makes them easy on the back and more durable.
Other Features and Accessories
A great backpack is one with all the right features and accessories. What features and accessories make your life easier?
- A backpack with external hooks and clips will allow you to attach more things.
- Get one with multiple pockets or compartments. Being a big bag is not enough. Imagine having to unpack the whole bag just to look for your phone. Compartments make organization easier.
- Chest and hip straps make a backpack comfier.
- Compression straps help reduce the volume of the pack and minimize movement of items inside the pack.
- A waterproof or water resistant backpack comes in handy. You never know when it will decide to pour. If it lacks this a rain cover will do.
- A backpack with excellent ventilation is perfect for keeping away a sweaty back.
- One with side load access is extra convenient. However, do note that such backpacks are becoming rarer by the day as the feature may inhibit proper weight distribution.
- A hydration bladder is a great plus when it comes to hiking. It helps you stay hydrated.
- How comfortable is it? For comfort you need a hiking backpack with wide padded shoulders and load bearing straps.
- Reputable retailer - To be on the safe side choose a reputable retailer who stocks original and quality merchandise.
- Budget - It all comes down to how much you have to spend. Stick to your price range. That said, getting something low quality just because its dirt cheap doesn't make a good bargain.
Still wondering why you need to go through all the hassle to get a hiking backpack and yet you have a bag at home you could improvise? Let me drive the point home- hiking will be miserable without the right hiking backpack.
If you are still confused about the backpack to buy, get the Teton Sport Scout 3400 for its low-priced, high quality and a perfect size.
Or if you like a roomy backpack, Venture Pal Hiking Backpack is also your best option. Furthermore, it is offered in a range of colors.
Now that you know all you need to about hiking backpacks get to shopping.