Irrespective of well you’ve planned your trip or to where you’re heading to, if you don’t have the right backpack are you really even going hiking?

Buying the right backpack can be a make or break decision since that’s where you’ll be storing most of your essentials like your mobile etc. for the entirety of the hike.

But with so many sizes, features, and brands to consider, how do you find the best hiking backpack on the market?

Well, you don’t have to. To save you the pain, we tested around 25 backpacks and chose the 10 best to make your hikes comfortable and budget-friendly too. Here are the 10 best hiking backpacks of 2018.

1Osprey Men’s Atmos 65 AG Backpack


This award winning pack has earned a solid reputation with savvy thru-hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail.
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2Granite Gear Crown 2


The Granite Gear Crown 2 Backpack, an upgrade to the first generation V.C. Crown 60 backpack, is a roll-top, multi-day backpack with an optional top lid pocket.
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3Ventura Pal Travel Lightweight Hiking Daypack – Budget Pick


Need something on the cheap? It hardly gets any cheaper than the Ventura Pal but that doesn’t mean it’s your sub-par backpack either.
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Osprey Men’s Atmos 65 AG Backpack

Firstly, making the Osprey Men’s Atmos a beast of a backpack is its large size. The 65-liter backpack allows you to carry bucket loads of stuff without compromising on comfort.

And ensuring that comfort is the lightweight mesh that runs along the back providing ample ventilation so you don’t end up like a sweaty mess.

Plus, the adjustable harness allows for a custom fit at the torso while the adjustable hip belts mean the bag is ideal for all body sizes (no need to skip the carbs for this one).

With the Stow-on-the-go attachment system you can easily carry your trekking poles and attaching or detaching them takes no more than few seconds.

Also, since the bag is a front loading one with dual zippers and multiple pockets (told you, plenty of space in there) reaching to your important stuff is hassle-free.

Helping you fit in bulkier stuff is the removable floating lid which when removed also sheds off some extra weight.

And with the internal and side compression straps you won’t feel the burden either (no aching shoulders with this one).

Lastly, providing you on-the-go hydration is the internal reservoir sleeve which makes installing and removing hydration packs a breeze.

On the downsides, It’s not fully waterproof but can easily handle light rains with ease.

Also, you’ll have to shell out in excess of $400 but if you’re a pro, it’s just what the doctor ordered for.

What we liked

  • Large backpack with multiple pockets so you can carry everything and anything
  • Lightweight mesh provides great ventilation
  • Adjustable straps ensure a custom fit
  • Removable floating lid allows you to carry bigger items
  • Ensuring equal distribution of weight are the internal and side compression straps
  • Comes with hydration sleeve for on-the-go hydration
  • Allows you to carry trekking poles etc. with ease

What we disliked

  • It’s expensive
  • Not fully waterproof but can handle light rains

Bottom Line

This award winning pack has earned a solid reputation with savvy thru-hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail.

Check it on Amazon →


Granite Gear Crown 2

Close in on #2 is the Granite Gear Crown 2 and is ideal for anyone in need of a big backpack at a slightly lower cost that doesn’t compromise too much on fit and quality.

Though 60-litre, that’s actually ample room in there so you don’t have to leave anything behind before you hit the rocky roads.

And helping you stay dry even during the hottest of days is the mesh which provides plenty of ventilation so moisture doesn’t build up.

The adjustable hip belt and multiple straps allow every user to get a custom fit (fat or thin, the bag loves you just the way you are).

The frame of the bag has multiple holes to help reduce weight (just 2.2 pounds) but if you still want to shed a little more, the frame is fully removable.

Want to reduce it even more? That’s where the removable top lid comes into play and this also allows for easy access to every item in the bag.

The backpack also features a hydration port and sleeve so getting dehydrated even after hours of trekking is out of the question.

And lastly, it’s been treated with a water-resistant material which means its ready to take on the worst of rainstorms head on.

One of the few negatives of the bag is that it’s slightly smaller so you can’t fit in the bigger items like with the Atmos 65 AG.

Also, it doesn’t come with space for hooking up your trekking poles but all in all, it’s the perfect backpack for newbies and pros alike in need of a lightweight bag.

What we liked

  • It’s waterproof
  • Back mesh provides ample ventilation and breathability
  • Comes with a hydration port and sleeve for quick access to drinking water
  • It’s one of the most lightweight bags in this size so carrying it is easy
  • Allows users to get a custom fit with the help of adjustable harness and straps

What we disliked

  • Can’t fit in bulkier items as the Atmos 65 AG
  • Doesn’t comes with attachments for trekking poles

Bottom Line

The Granite Gear Crown 2 Backpack, an upgrade to the first generation V.C. Crown 60 backpack, is a roll-top, multi-day backpack with an optional top lid pocket.

Check it on Amazon →


Ventura Pal Travel Lightweight Hiking Daypack – Budget Pick

Helping the Ventura Pal stand out from other low priced backpacks is its lightweight build and that too without compromising much on durability (weighs a whopping 0.7 lb).

The double layered bottom means it can carry the extra pounds without tearing apart and since it’s waterproof too, it’s what we’d call the all-season daypack.

Since it has mesh straps on the shoulder and the chest, there’s enough ventilation to ensure you don’t get all sweaty and sticky and yet the bag remains secure.

For a small 35-liter backpack, we love how it comes with plenty of zipped pockets all around so you can store all your essentials securely.

Not only is the bag lightweight, but also folds into its own inner zipped pocket that can even fit into your pocket (carrying a backpack doesn’t get any easier than this).

While we really like its features, the durability of the bag is an issue. Yup, it comparatively does great but we feel there’s more room for improvement.

Plus, it’s a smaller bag which limits its use and is suited only for occasional trekkers on a tight budget. Plus, you can’t fit it big, heavy items as well.

But for a backpack costing less than $50, there’s definitely value for money there.

What we liked

  • It’s ultra lightweight
  • Mesh straps ensure excellent ventilation
  • Plenty of pockets to store important items
  • Folds into its own pocket for easy carrying

What we disliked

  • Lacks durability
  • Not suited for long treks
  • Won’t fit in bulkier items due to its small size

Bottom Line

Need something on the cheap? It hardly gets any cheaper than the Ventura Pal but that doesn’t mean it’s your sub-par backpack either.

Check it on Amazon →


Osprey Aether AG 70 Pack

It hardly gets any bigger than the Aether and while it may not be the beast like the Atmos, it’s sure got its own set of features to leave you impressed.

Starting off the impressive list of features its huge size (the biggest on the list). The 70-liter size means there’s no essential gear that won’t fit in this one (even your sleeping bag).

From ice picks to your trekking poles, the Aether has got the room for it all (just the bag you need if you’re planning to summit a peak).

The Aether too allows you to get a custom fit with its adjustable hip belt and shoulder straps which is also aided by the Anti-Gravity Suspension.

Also, this suspension in tandem with the multiple compression straps helps distribute the weight so the heavy backpack doesn’t weigh you down.

And since there is a hydration sleeve too, there’s going to be plenty of water to sip on while you tackle the difficult terrain.

Lastly, with the removable top lid, you not only save on weight but get additional storage space as well with the flapjack providing the necessary cover.

On the downsides, users have reported of the stitching coming loose (not that we’d be too concerned about it)

Also, the bag will cost you in excess of $500 so this one’s for the really serious trekkers and mountaineers.

What we liked

  • It’s one of the most spacious bags you’ll find in the market
  • You get a custom fit with the adjustable straps
  • There’s a hydration sleeve to keep you hydrated
  • The anti-gravity suspension distributes overall weight perfectly
  • Removable lid creates additional space
  • Allows you to carry trekking poles, ice picks etc.

What we disliked

  • There have been complaints of the stitching tearing apart
  • It’s expensive

Bottom Line

Aether AG 70 is designed for multi-day backpacking and carrying significant loads.

Check it on Amazon →


Teton Sports Scout 3400 Internal Frame Backpack

The Teton Sports Scout 3400 has been a beginner favorite for quite a few years now and here’s why.

Yup, there’s the low price but for a low costing one, the comfort the Scout 3400 offers is hard to match.

Ensuring that comfort is the adjustable and contoured shoulder and hip straps. These ensure the bag is a perfect fit for any body type.

The long-lasting pad and the molded channels ensure there’s constant airflow (just the kind of thing you’re looking for on a hot day).

And if the weather gets rainy, it is the rainfly to the rescue. The bright yellow rainfly keeps your bag and your belongings nice and dry.

Apart from that, the compression straps distribute the weight evenly while the sleeping bag compartment and multiple pockets mean you will never run out of space.

One of the few issues we had with the bag was the low quality of the zipper which you can have changed anytime.

Also, while Teton Sports claims to have a top-notch customer team, which seems to go AWOL when need be.

But for a 55-liter backpack that costs less than $100, I’d not think about it twice especially if the budget is restricted.

What we liked

  • Rainfly protects the bag during heavy rains
  • Comes with multiple pockets and a special sleeping bag compartment
  • Excellent ventilation to keep you dry
  • Adjustable straps ensure the bag is a perfect fit

What we disliked

  • Poor zipper quality
  • Bad customer support

Bottom Line

Built for whatever you throw at it, the Scout3400 Internal Frame Backpack, by TETON Sports won’t break your back or the bank.

Check it on Amazon →


Osprey Packs Exos 58 Backpack

Well, Osprey’s a brand hard to keep out of the list and the Pack Exos 58 is just another example of why.

Its standout feature is the 3-liter hydration pack. Now you can put to rest the fear of running dry and thirsty while trekking even in hot humid regions.

The aluminum alloy internal frame makes the bag a highly durable one and also balances the weight so carrying it becomes easy.

Next up, providing you just the right amount of comfort is the EVA foam, adjustable straps, and layered mesh.

These not only ensure good breathability but also make the bag suitable for all shapes and sizes.

For a 58-liter backpack, the Exos is extremely lightweight and you can further take it down a notch too as the attachment points, key straps and top lid are all removable.

While there isn’t much to fault about the Exos, it’s price can be a let down as you might have to pay about $250 for a 58-liter backpack. Also, a rainfly would have been good.

But the question is, is it worth? If you’re looking for a bag that combines durability, lightweight and comfort, then absolutely.

What we liked

  • Adjustable straps provide a perfect fit for a comfortable trek
  • There’s plenty of breathability due to the layered mesh which adds to the comfort
  • The 3-liter hydration pack ensures there’s plenty of water for the entire trek
  • It’s highly durable due to its aluminum alloy frame
  • Top Pocket, key straps and attachment points can be removed for lowering weight

What we disliked

  • It’s a little expensive
  • It’s not fully waterproof but the nylon fabric holds up well in light rains

Bottom Line

Since its introduction in 2008, the Exos Series has become a standard on the Appalachian Trail and with ultralight enthusiasts not willing to sacrifice comfort.

Check it on Amazon →


Under Armour Storm Hustle II Backpack

If you’re looking for a sleek and sexy backpack the Storm Hustle II is just what you need. After all, Under Armour is one of the best sports brands in the market.

While a small bag, the Storm Hustle II has plenty of space. From your MacBook to your flashlights, hunting knife etc. it can fit quite a bit in.

Plus, the dividers keep the stuff organized and since it is a front loading backpack, you won’t have to forage your way through a mess to find something important.

And since you’d be keeping your laptop in there, Under Armour has ensured rain doesn’t play spoilsport by proving the bag with a water-resistant finish.

And making carrying all that weight easy are the adjustable special HeatGear shoulder straps that provide you with ample ventilation.

The bag can easily handle the wear and tear of the treks as its nylon and polyester finish is highly durable and tear resistant.

But like we mentioned at the start, the bag is a small one and can only be used for a 1-2 day trek as it fits in limited supplies.

Also, the bag lacks compression straps and a hip strap as well and thus carrying it can get tiring during long hours of trekking.

And lastly, it does not come with a hydration sleeve either.

But if you’re looking for a multi-purpose trekking plus everyday use bag, it fits the bill and is cheap too.

What we liked

  • It’s water resistant so feel free to carry electronics in the bag
  • Highly durable and can withstand rigors of a trek like a pro
  • Adjustable shoulder straps make it a comfortable fit
  • Provides just the right amount of ventilation

What we disliked

  • Lacks compressions straps and a hip strap thus carrying it for long hours becomes tiring
  • Can only be used for small 1-2 day treks
  • No hydration sleeve
  • Not attachment for trekking poles or ice pick

Bottom Line

The Under Armour Hustle II Backpack provides plenty of storage space for your gear.

Check it on Amazon →


The North Face Women’s Jester

Here’s a shout out to the ladies. If you’re planning a hike and need a quality yet affordable new bag, the Jester is tailor-made for you.

To ensure utmost comfort and breathability, The North Face has done 3 things right. Firstly, it’s their suspension system which has been given an upgrade for better straps.

Next up, it’s the lumbar panel and the mesh back that add to it. Furthermore, the shoulder straps are specially designed to contour a woman’s body for the ideal fit.

Women love to read and that’s just what the roomy main compartment is meant for. While the front compartment is ideal for other necessities and also features a tablet pocket.

And if you want to carry your laptop as well, the laptop pocket in the main compartment makes sure no harm comes to it even with all the bumps.

Plus, with the multiple zipped exterior pockets, you can also carry tons of other things ranging from your water bottle to a flashlight (anything that fits).

Also, the bag is water-resistant and thus should easily tackle rains (though not one to be dropped in a river)

Plus, to top it all of, we know women can choosy about colors, that’s why the Jester is available in over 25 colors.

But there are pitfalls too. It’s not the most ideal bag for long treks and can result in serious damage if used regularly.

Don’t expect to be carrying heavy gear or trekking poles etc. with this one either as there’s no room for them nor does it have a hydration sleeve.

But all said, it’s a compact lightweight weight backpack and considering its low price point, it’s a no-brainer.

What we liked

  • Comes with upgraded shoulder straps for comfort and breathability
  • Adding to that is the mesh back and lumbar panel
  • It’s available in over 25 colors
  • Has ample room for books and even a laptop
  • It’s water resistant

What we disliked

  • Small in size and suitable only for short treks
  • Lacks durability of high-end models
  • Does not come with attachment points for trekking poles etc.
  • Also, it lacks a hydration sleeve

Bottom Line

The ultimate campus pack, the redesigned, women-specific, 28-liter Jester doesn’t play around when it comes to protecting and organizing your gear.

Check it on Amazon →


Wasing 55L Internal Frame Hiking Backpack

What we love most about this bag is the fact that it’s water-resistant. The polyester build and the free cover mean the water slides right off it ensuring nothing on the inside gets wet.

While the bag remains spacious on the inside (it’s 55-liters after all), it also comes with attachments to hook up your trekking poles and even an ice pick.

The adjustable hip strap and buckles ensure a custom fit. And since the sternum strap includes an emergency whistle buckle, help is never too far away

Plus, with the padding on the straps and air flow channels, it’s comfort all around. And lastly, for a 55-liter bag, this one will cost you a dime.

But like with most cheap products, the Wasing too has its shortcomings. Complaints of the stitches coming apart after a few uses are common.

Also, straps and buckles break easily thus making the Wasing 55L backpack suitable only for part-time use.

What we liked

  • Comes with a rain cover and is also water resistant
  • Has attachment points for trekking poles and ice pick
  • Adjustable straps and buckles ensure right fit
  • Provides adequate padding and ventilation for a comfortable trek

What we disliked

  • Stitches tend to wear off after few uses
  • Buckles and straps lack durability

Bottom Line

The Wasing 55L Hiking Backpack is an extremely appealing starter backpack.

Check it on Amazon →


High Sierra Titan Hiking Backpack

And to finish off our roundup, we have another decent 55-liter backpack from High Sierra known as the Titan.

The bag comes with a separate compartment for a sleeping bag so carrying that is a breeze while the interior divider ensures stuff remains organized.

With the internal hydration pack sleeve your water breaks can be on-the-go and to make it easy there are dual exit ports.

All straps are adjustable and have been specially designed keeping in mind the various body types. And keeping you comfortable is the mesh and padding.

Lastly, you also get a free rain cover to keep the bag and your belongings from getting wet.

As with the previous pick, even the Titan is prone to the stitches loosening after a few uses and lacks the durability of high-end models.

But since it won’t cost you too much and does come with plenty of storage room, for a beginner, it’s a decent buy.

What we liked

  • Includes rain cover so bag remains dry
  • Internal hydration pack sleeve provides easy access to water
  • Straps are adjustable to provide a custom fit
  • Mesh and padding add to the comfort

What we disliked

  • Stitches come loose and thus should be used with care
  • Lacks durability of the top picks
  • Suited only for occasional use

Bottom Line

Lightweight fabrics and hardware are combined with the latest in stretched-mesh back design to create the best High Sierra packs yet.

Check it on Amazon →


How to Choose the Best Hiking Backpack – Buying Guide

Now that you know about the best hiking backpack for 2018, let’s take a closer look at the features that make them so good and why it matters.

Bag Size

If you’re looking for a backpack for a 1-2-day hike or are planning on packing light than a 30-50-liter backpack should provide you just the right amount of room for important gear like a flashlight, hunting knife etc.

But if you’re looking for something bigger and better and moderately priced, the 50-80 liter backpacks are just what you’re looking for. This makes them the most sought-after backpacks.

But not all of us like short trips, some of us are in it for the long haul and that’s where 70+ liter backpacks come in handy. These are absolute beasts and can last you from wintery nights to even stormy rains while easily fitting everything you could have asked for.

Frame Type

Internal Frames: Backpacks with internal frames are often the preferred choice as the frame is neatly packed inside of the bag and doesn’t cling to unwanted stuff. Also, because the frames are made using carbon fiber, the bags are lighter without compromising on durability.

External Frame: While not the most recommended of backpacks, these can be useful if you’re carrying a heavy load like a raft etc. but other than that, the frame is only an unnecessary distraction.

Frameless: For short hikes, frameless or bags with a removable frame are ideal as you shed the extra weight making your climbs both easier and faster.

Ventilation

Since you’d be hiking for hours in the sun with the backpack, it’s likely you’re going to be a sweaty mess, right?

To counter this, most high-end bags come with a mesh panel which keeps the bag at a distance from your body allowing plenty of ventilation.

Ventilation vents are also commonly found in bags to counter the same issue.

Front loading vs Top Loading

In this case, we’d recommend you get a front-loading backpack. That’s because all the important gear and accessories would be accessible on the go.

With top loading backpacks, you’d have to dig in and look for the things as it’s accessible only through a gap on the top rather than the zipper approach of the front-loading bags.

Padding and straps

Having an adequate amount of straps especially a hip belt makes carrying the bag easier as it distributes the weight so you don’t end up with a strained back by the end of the hike. Apart from that, thick shoulder straps also help with the same.

Make sure each strap is well-padded and is made up using a single material so it doesn’t wear and tear after a few rough uses. Also, the straps should be easily adjustable.

Storage

The whole point of carrying a hiking backpack is for easy storage and thus it’s important there are multiple pockets at your disposal. An ideal bag will have pockets in the front, both the sides and some even around the hip belt.

The best hiking backpacks also feature a shovel pocket in the front but if not, attachment loops can be useful. With these loops and chains carrying trekking poles, ice picks etc. becomes easier. Plus, if your bag has a hydration reservoir, you’ll have water available to you on the go.

Waterproofing

Since your backpack will have all your essentials it’s important for the bag to be waterproof. The top models usually come with a waterproof coating on the interiors.

But also make sure the zips lock in tight and the seams aren’t tearing as there’s always a chance of the water seeping through these gaps.

Conclusion

All in all, buying the right hiking backpack comes down to your needs and the kind of hike you’d be going on.

Avoid purchasing cheap or local backpacks. If you’re a serious trekker, we’d suggest you spend the big bucks on a durable and large backpack.

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