Hiking is a fun activity for anyone. Yet carrying food, gear, and other hiking supplies can be a pain, particularly if you don't have a good hiking backpack. Hiking backpacks offer ample storage space for all your supplies. Plus, they keep your supplies safe in inclement weather and make it easier to carry all that you need. To find the right hiking backpack for you, there are a number of features to consider. But with so many hiking backpacks on the market in a wide array of styles, sizes, and prices, how do you make the best purchasing decision? If you need a little help, just read through our quick guide.
Considerations when choosing hiking backpacks
The ideal hiking backpack will hold everything you need while still being manageable to carry on long hikes. Most overnight hiking backpacks can hold 20 to 40 liters. Two-day backpacks can hold 40 to 65 liters, and multiple-day backpacks can hold 65 or more liters.
The most affordable hiking backpacks tend to be made of nylon or polyester that is lightweight but may rip or tear easily. High-end hiking backpacks are made from premium textiles or leather for long-lasting durability.
Hiking backpacks usually offer various storage pockets for your hiking essentials. Some backpacks come with extra features like bungee cords, distress whistles, and waterproof compartments.
You won't get far lugging a bulky backpack. Comfort is a top priority when searching for a hiking backpack. Many backpacks feature extra padding, but for the most comfort, make sure you buy a pack that fits your torso.
There are several other features to consider when shopping for a hiking backpack.
Measure the length of your torso to determine the right fit for your hiking backpack. Get someone to help you, and measure the distance from the knobby bone on the back of your neck to your hips.
Hiking backpacks often feature padded straps, which add to the pack's comfort. Backpacks with a hip belt or sternum strap provide extra support for added comfort, too.
Hiking backpacks that feature breathable fabrics, foam padding, or contoured back panels can make hikes in the height of summer more comfortable.
Hiking backpacks generally cost between $300 and $2,200. Inexpensive hiking backpacks are usually constructed from lightweight materials and offer minimal storage space. Higher-end hiking backpacks are usually more durable, have bigger capacities, and are more comfortable to carry.
Other important details
Another factor to consider is when and where you'll be using your hiking backpack. For instance, if you intend to use your hiking backpack for winter excursions, you should purchase a backpack that can withstand snow and other winter weather conditions. On the other hand, if you plan to use your hiking backpack for short summer hikes, you'll benefit more from a backpack that is lightweight and constructed from breathable materials.
Q. What capacity hiking backpack is right for me?
A. To determine the right capacity, consider the gear you need to carry in your hiking backpack. Consider the length of your typical hiking excursions, too. For multi-day trips, you may want a pack with a capacity of 40 to 60 liters. For longer excursions, you may want a pack with a capacity of 70 liters or more.
Q. How do load-lifter and sternum straps work?
A. Load-lifter straps are stitched onto the top of a hiking backpack's shoulder straps. They help prevent the upper part of the hiking backpack from pulling away from your body. Sternum straps are mid-chest straps that connect to a hiking backpack's shoulder straps. When fastened across your chest, a sternum strap increases stability.
Hiking backpacks we recommend
Best of the best: Teton Sports Scout 3400 Internal Frame Backpack
Our take: This hiking backpack is expertly constructed from premium materials and offers ample storage space for all your hiking essentials.
What we like: This large backpack only weighs 4.5 pounds. It's ideal for multi-day hiking trips. An open-cell foam lumbar pad makes carrying the backpack extra comfortable.
What we dislike: The zippers are flimsy, and the price is steep in comparison to similar hiking backpacks.
Best bang for your buck: Naturehike 15L Outdoor Backpack
Our take: This hiking backpack is a great economical option for single-day hikes.
What we like: It's constructed primarily from nylon, which can withstand rain, sleet, and other harsh weather conditions. It comes in a variety of bright colors, and it's suitable for hiking and other outdoor activities.
What we dislike: It has limited storage space. The zippers tend to fall apart easily.
Choice 3: Hikpro 20L Packable Backpack
Our take: This hiking backpack is lightweight and roomy, making it a wonderful option for hikers of all ages.
What we like: It's water-resistant and comes with a durable SBS two-way zipper. It only weighs 7.5 ounces and offers 20 liters of storage space.
What we dislike: The low-quality interior lining may rip or tear, even after minimal use. There is no interior pocket.
Daniel Kobialka is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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