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Best Backpacks for Hiking and Trekking in 2024

Best backpacks for hiking

Choosing the best backpacks for hiking and trekking can be one of the most personal pieces of outdoor gear you will invest in. Aside from the necessity of correct sizing and fitted comfort, it’s also highly important that the storage options suit you. How you organise your gear can be very specific to not only the gear you are carrying but also to your personality. Super efficient campers might prefer as many pockets, compartments and gear loops on their backpack as possible. Whilst the more haphazard organisers out there would probably favour a simple bag where everything just gets stuffed in together. Either way, this selection of the best backpacks for hiking and trekking will have you covered.

For those looking to buy their first backpack, it might be a good idea to borrow one for a night of camping and backpacking before you commit to buying. This will help you to figure out how you like things organised and what you are likely to be carrying, thus making it easier to understand what to look for in a hiking backpack when you come to buy your own. But if trying before you buy isn’t feasible, then our guide on what to look for in a great backpack will help you on your way. There are loads of bags out there so to get you started, take a read of our reviews of some of the best backpacks for hiking and trekking in 2024.

Best backpacks for hiking and trekking in 2024

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Fjallraven Abisko Friluft 45W BackpackEco choice, female fit45l1.6kg$$$
EcoGear Pinnacle 60L Hiking BackpackEco choice60l3.2kg$$
Gregory Packs Amber 55 BackpackLightweight, female fit55l1.54kg$$$
Osprey Tempest 50 BackpackLightweight, female fit50l1.4kg$$$
Arcteryx Altra 65Top choice65l2.3kg$$$$$
Deuter Aircontact 65Great for heavy loads65l2.9kg$$$$
Osprey Exos 48Best for lightweight backpacking48l1.13kg$$$
Gregory Baltoro 65Best all rounder65l2.6kg$$$$
Cotopaxi Nepal 65Highly versatile pack65l2.22kg$$$
Teton Sports Scout 3400Great value entry level backpack55l2kg$$
The North Face Banchee 65Lightest bag for its volume65l1.63kg$$$
Osprey Atmos 65 AGComfortable and good airflow65l2.18kg$$$$
High Sierra Titan 55Best value55l2.35kg$
Women's Thule Guidepost 65Very comfortable and versatile65l2.3kg$$$$
ULA Equipment Circuit 68Very lightweight with large carrying capacity68l1.16kg$$$
Arc'teryx Bora AR 63Excellent water resistance and highly comfortable63l2.27kg$$$$$
Fjallraven Abisko Fuiluft 45

Fjallraven Abisko Friluft 45W Backpack

Eco-conscious: Made from recycled polyester and organic cotton

Offering 45 litres of carrying capacity, the Fjallraven Abisko Friluft 45W Backpack is the smallest backpack on our list, closely followed by the Osprey Exos 48. Despite its low capacity, it’s a little on the heavy side (1.6kg) if you’re needing something for fast and light adventures. As such, it is best suited to shorter overnight trips where speed and low weight aren’t top priority, or big days in the mountains during the winter.

That said, you’ll not really notice the extra few hundred grams compared with the ultra lightweight backpacks on our list. And the excellent ventilation and highly comfortable fit more than make up for it.

The female specific Friluft features some good storage options including hip belt pockets and a fully opening front panel to access the main compartment – a big plus for those who like to stay organised on the trail. It’s also constructed of the iconic Fjallraven G1000 Eco fabric which is super durable and tough and made from organic cotton and recycled polyester.

For more information read our full review of the Fjallraven Abisko Friluft 45W Backpack.

Other features include:

  • Hydration compatible
  • Side bottle pockets
  • Zippered front pocket
  • Side compression straps
  • Floating lid with two zippered pockets
  • Pole attachment points

Cons – Not a great fit for small-framed women. Side pockets are slightly shallow.
Verdict – A stylish and very comfortable female fit backpack for big days hikes in winter or shorter overnight hikes.

Find the latest price at:
Fjallraven | Alpine Trek

Pinnacle 60L Hiking Backpack

EcoGear Pinnacle 60L Hiking Backpack

Eco-conscious: Made from REPREVE materials

With the main fabric made from recycled plastic bottles (REPREVE material), the EcoGear Pinnacle 60L Hiking Backpack is an eco-friendly version of a classic hiking backpack. This 60-liter backpack has a large main compartment with hydration sleeve and a spacious zippered compartment for a sleeping bag. On each side the pack is a stretchy external pocket as well as zippered hip belt pockets for an outdoors camera or phone.

Aside from the eco-friendly fabric, we like that this backpack comes with a fully adjustable torso harness. The hip belt, shoulder straps, and back panel are fitted with high-density foam for extra comfort while carrying heavy loads. Plus, the Air-flow back system should keep you cool on hot summer hikes.

The other great features include:

  • Plenty of external pockets and attachments
  • Ventilated harness system
  • Classic top-loading design
  • Rain cover included
  • Lifetime Warranty

Cons – Heavy!

Verdict– An excellent value, full-featured backpack that is ideal for environmentalist trekkers.

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Gregory Amber 55 backpack

Gregory Packs Amber 55 Backpack

Eco-conscious: 50% recycled 135D polyester lining

Along with the Thule Guidepost and Osprey Tempest, the Amber 55 by Gregory Packs is a female specific backpack. Boasting tapered shoulder straps, a female fit sternum strap and a highly adjustable back panel to cater for different torso lengths, the Amber is an excellently comfortable carry that fits as it should.

At only 1.54kg / 3.4 lbs, it is one of the lighter weight backpacks on our list. And with a slightly lower carry capacity to many of the other packs, it is a good choice for lightweight multi-day treks, or shorter trips where you don’t need to carry so much.

If you enjoy staying organised on the trail then the Amber will not fail to impress; there are loads of storage options and pockets aplenty. Plus, the main compartment is accessed via a huge U-zip, as well as from the top, to provide mega easy access to all your gear.

For more information read our full review of the Gregory Packs Amber 55 Backpack.

Other features include:

  • Water bladder compatible
  • Includes rain cover
  • Side pockets for water bottles
  • Removable lid
  • Kangaroo pocket
  • Hip belt pockets
  • Ice axe / hiking pole loops
  • Sleeping bag compartment
  • Zippered lid pockets

Cons – The lid is a bit ill-fitting when not filled to capacity and there is some later movement of the bag on steep ascents. There’s also a lot of straps to deal with!
Verdict – A female specific, feature-heavy yet lightweight and supremely comfortable backpack for multi-day, lightweight hiking.

Find the latest price at:
Amazon | REI | Alpine Trek

Osprey Tempest 50 backpack
Osprey backpack details

Osprey Tempest 50 Backpack

Eco-conscious: Made from Bluesign approved recycled nylon

The Osprey Tempest 50 Backpack is another excellent option for you hiking ladies out there. It offers a female specific cut that results in a much more comfortable and suitable fit than unisex backpacks. It’s also one of the more lightweight options for the carrying capacity that it provides. As well as a large main compartment that can be accessed via a sleeping compartment at the base, a side zip and from the top, there are a load of excellent storage options. My favourite is the stretchy mesh pocket on the front which holds way more than you might think. I usually store easy access items like waterproofs, a map and loo roll etc.

The bag is hydration compatible with an external sleeve between the back panel and the main compartment. This is actually a little tricky to access and I’d prefer an internal sleeve.

Aside from the excellent storage and useability of the Tempest, the stability is also a great asset. Compression straps cinch everything down really tightly and the close fit of the back panel keeps the bag snug to the body.

The back panel offers some ventilation but there are certainly better backpacks out there if this is a top priority.

For more information read our full review of the Osprey Tempest 50 Backpack.

Other features include:

  • Waist belt pockets
  • Sunglasses sleeve on shoulder strap
  • Floating lid
  • Zippered external lid pocket
  • Zippered internal lid pocket with key clip
  • Stretchy mesh side pockets
  • Pole carry attachments
  • Sleeping bag compartment

Cons No rain cover. Could do with some more padding in the lumbar area. Hydration sleeve is a little tricky to access.
Verdict A lightweight, female specific and stable backpack with excellent storage features for overnighters and multi-day trips alike.

Find the latest price at:
Osprey | REI | Alpine Trek

Arcteryx Altra 65 best backpacks for hiking

Arcteryx Altra 65

What’s not to like about this bag? It radiates quality and the innovative features of this high-end backpack has put the Altra very clearly at the head of the pack. It may be on the pricey side, but the pivoting Load Transfer Disc on the hip belt does an excellent job of increasing agility and stability like no other backpack. Together with the pear-shaped design of the bag, this system distributes weight evenly and minimises the movement of the pack on rough and demanding terrain.

The unique Gridlock system allows you to adjust each shoulder strap individually for a customised fit to really maximise comfort levels. And as if there aren’t enough great things to love about this bag, it also features Wingman zip pockets that wrap over the hips, are big enough to fit a bottle in each and are designed to be accessed easily whilst wearing the backpack.

The other great features include:

  • Removable floating lid
  • U-shaped access that can be used for quick side access to the main compartment as well as fully opening the whole zip from the bottom.
  • Large front kangaroo pocket with zip
  • Separate sleeve for water bladder
  • Stretch mesh stash pockets on hipbelt
  • Compression straps

Cons – It lacks a waterproof cover and only has a couple of gear loops.

Verdict– A super high calibre backpack for serious hiking and treking that will provide unrivalled movement and control whilst carrying a heavy load.

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

Deuter Aircontact 65 backpack for hiking

Deuter Aircontact 65

At 2.9kg, the Aircontact 65 is the heaviest backpack in this review. However this does make it a great choice for really loading up on extended multi-day hikes and treks, or for winter expeditions where extra weight is unavoidable. The ActiveFit pivoting shoulder straps and super comfortable VariFlex hip fins ensure greater movement without the loss of stability or balance, and there are also two attachment points for the load lifters for a more customised fit.

The unique aircontact system on the padded back panel keeps things cool by pumping air through the pads with every movement of the body. The result is 15% less sweatiness that with other body-contour packs.

As well as access through the top of the bag, Deuter have also embraced the genius of the U-zip, enabling much easier access to the depths of your pack.

Other notable features:

  • Sleeping bag compartment with internal zipper divider
  • Rain cover
  • Front wet pocket
  • External gear loops
  • 3 litre water bladder sleeve with clips

Cons – Heavy, difficult to reach water bottle pockets when wearing the pack.

Verdict – This is a very well made, super functional and very comfortable backpack that is ideal for dealing with heavy loads on longer trips and treks.

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI | Backcountry

Osprey Packs Exos 48 backpacks for hiking

Osprey Exos 48

The award winning Osprey Exos is the second smallest and most lightweight backpack in this review, making it very well suited to minimalist backpackers who want to get places fast. It saves weight by using narrow straps and lightweight materials, and the trampoline suspended back panel replaces bulky and heavy padding. This back panel also provides unrivalled cross ventilation and good comfort levels that can often be compromised on lightweight backpacks.

The top lid is fully adjustable and removable to streamline your pack even more, and like the Atmos, it features a FlapJacket which acts as a top cover when the lid is off.

Despite its low weight, the Exos provides excellent load bearing abilities and stability, and also still manages to incorporate the following notable features:

  • Large stretch front pocket
  • Side mesh pockets
  • Compression straps
  • Detachable sleeping mat loops
  • Two good sized hip belt pockets
  • Internal water bladder sleeve with two ports
  • Adjustable sternum strap with integrated emergency whistle
  • Stow-on-the-go trekking pole attachment

Cons – Lightweight material, so a little less durable. Only top access, no rain cover.

Verdict – Ideal for lightweight thru-hikers but also good for any backpacker looking to balance weight with load bearing performance.

Find the latest price on:
Osprey | REI | Backcountry

Gregory Baltoro 65 2018

Gregory Baltoro 65

The Baltoro is one of the main competitors with the excellence of the Arcteryx, but with a much more appealing price tag. It provides unrivalled comfort levels with cosy removable lumbar support, and the independently pivoting shoulder straps and hip belt fins of the A3 suspension system ensure optimal movement and stability when fully loaded.

Updated for 2018, this new model is lighter by almost 400g, and it also boasts tougher 210-denier fabric for greater durability, and a new front panel with zippered pockets.

A really nice feature of this 65 litre hiking backpack is the removable water bladder sleeve that doubles as a super lightweight summit or day pack. And the innovative design features don’t stop there – there is an easy access water bottle holster that can fold away when not in use, U-zip access to the main body of the bag, and a floating top lid that is fully removable.

Other notable features include:

  • Lots of compression straps to cinch in the gear and streamline the centre of gravity
  • Fully waterproof pocket on the hip belt
  • New large front mesh pocket
  • New large front zip pockets
  • Removable rain cover
  • Lots of gear loops
  • Sleeping bag compartment with divider

Cons – Slightly heavy.

Verdict – One of the most comfortable backpacks on the market with the ability to take really heavy loads. Loads of features and pockets and a highly innovative design at a competitive price.

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI | Backcountry

Cotopaxi Nepal 65 backpack for hiking

Cotopaxi Nepal 65

The simple and streamlined design of the 65 litre Cotopaxi Nepal is a super appealing option for hikers and backpackers looking for versatility and durability at a very competitive price. Like the Baltoro, the internal water bladder sleeve doubles as an ultralight summit day pack and there is also an easy access angled water bottle pocket.

There is access to the main body of the bag through a large side zip, as well as a floating and removable top lid, that once removed (along with the hip belt, summit pack and rain cover), strips the weight of the bag down to a much lighter 1.5kg. The slimmed down version turns this trekking pack into a good international traveling bag where it will only be carried for short distances.

A big appeal to wilderness trekkers and travellers alike, is the excellent comfort levels and back support that the Nepal offers. The contoured padded back panel can be adjusted to your torso length.

As sleek as this design is, the following features are hiding in there somewhere:

  • Top compression straps
  • Side configurable compression straps
  • Two large zipped front pockets
  • Gear loops
  • Separate sleeping bag compartment
  • Belt pockets
  • Rain cover
  • Zippered phone pocket on the shoulder strap

Cons – Slightly on the heavy side.

Verdict – A simple but solid design that provides a highly versatile backpack for hikers and travellers alike.

Find the latest price on:

Teton Sports Scout 3400 backpack for hiking

Teton Sports Scout 3400

The traditional design of the Scout 3400 oozes classic adventuring, but without the associated bulk and weight – far from it. At 2kg this 55 litre entry level pack will neither break your back or your bank, and is the ideal choice for budget conscious casual backpackers who don’t need all the bells and whistles offered by the high end backpacks. That said, the Scout does a great job of offering a ton of super functional features for an all round great value bag. These include:

  • Large front mesh pocket
  • Front shock cord for quick storage
  • Top shock cord storage
  • Gear loops and compression straps
  • Integrated rain cover
  • Sleeping bag compartment with zipped divider
  • Internal water bladder sleeve

Open-foam padding on both the hip belt back panel provides ample comfort and plenty of lumbar support, and the molded panels ensure good levels of airflow to help keep sweat levels under control. It also has fully adjustable shoulder straps and back panel for a customised fit to suit different torso lengths.

Cons – It has a non-floating lid and only one access point to the main compartment (through the top).

Verdict – A great value and comfortable backpack with loads of features for the price.

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The North Face Banchee 65 backpack for hiking

The North Face Banchee 65

For a 65 litre hiking backpack, the Banchee is in a league of its own for its lightweight nature, that still manages to provide unrivalled control of heavy loads. This is largely down to the adjustable thoracic carriage and belt system that gives a fully customisable and precise fit. There is also excellent lumbar support and the Optifit harness system dials in for maximum comfort and fit, leaving trekkers with increased confidence and freedom of movement when carrying lots of weight.

Like the Osprey Exos, the Banchee has adopted the use of thin compression straps to save weight and to draw in the centre of gravity for further control. The unique beavertail design of the front pockets ensures even weight distribution and some roomy extra storage space.

To keep things light, the Banchee is lacking a few desirable features, but it does include:

  • Sleeping bag compartment with divider
  • Two hip belt pockets
  • Floating lid
  • Gear loops
  • Two tool keepers

Cons – There is no water bladder sleeve or rain cover, and only access through the top.

Verdict – Ideal for backpackers seeking optimal control of heavy loads without compromising comfort or adding extra weight.

Find the latest price on:

Osprey Atmos 65 2018

Osprey Atmos 65 AG

Even with a heavy load, putting on the Atmos feels like having a big hug from your backpack. This is down to the excellent cushioning provided by the world’s first fully ventilated hip belt that flows seamlessly from the meshed back panel. The groundbreaking AntiGravity suspension system combines excellent loads stability with unparalleled breathability and airflow. There are also stiffened load lifters that offer better weight distribution than other packs in its class.

Its many unique features make it no surprise that this is one of the most popular backpacks for hiking. These include the dual access water bottle holders that allow for much easier access when wearing the backpack, and the Stow-on-the-go trekking pole attachment that fixes your poles onto the shoulder straps when they’re not needed.

Other features include:

  • Two belt pockets
  • Sleeping bag compartment with divider
  • Stretch mesh front pocket
  • Two compression straps
  • Gear loops and straps
  • Rain cover
  • Internal water bladder sleeve
  • FlapJacket cover like the Exos

Cons – It is lacking some storage features compared with the Baltoro.

Verdict – A super popular and comfortable backpack that is lightweight and highly breathable, with some really unique and useful features.

Find the latest price on:
Osprey | Amazon | REI | Backcountry

High Sierra Titan 55

High Sierra Titan 55

This is by far the lowest priced backpack in this review but one of the best and most popular in its price-bracket. The high density foam padded back panel provides decent comfort levels when loaded, and the large Airflow channels keep the air rolling in and out nicely.

The Titan also has a handy removable media pocket on the shoulder strap and its other features include:

  • Lots of good gear loops
  • Bed roll strap
  • Really big front pocket
  • Integrated rain cover
  • Water bladder pocket with two ports

Cons – This pack is not super durable and it can be difficult to reach the water bottle from its pocket.

Verdict – Great value for money and an ideal entry level pack.

Find the latest price on:

Thule Womens Guidepost 65

Women’s Thule Guidepost 65l

At 2.3kg the Thule Guidepost 65 isn’t the lightest women’s backpack around, but that little bit of extra weight is much easy to deal with when every gram is carefully designed to provide exceptional comfort and functionality. This full-featured backpack is ideal for week-long treks but can also be slimmed down a little for short overnighters: take off the removeable top lip and you’ve instantly shaved off a few hundred grams. Or leave the lid on for the longer treks and you can transform the top lid into one highly innovative summit pack that can carry a very generous 28l of gear.

There are a load of other great design features, but what really makes this Guidepost stand out is the pivoting hipbelt (similar to the Arc’teryx Altra) that really helps stabilise the load when negotiating tricky terrain. For a truly customised fit, you can order the belt specifically to your hip size. Together with the adjustable shoulder straps and back panel, the cosy padded pivoting hip belt adds a huge amount of comfort, turning heavy loads into something much more manageable on long treks.

For more information read our full review of the Thule Guidepost.

Other great features include:

  • A large J zip access panel
  • Rain cover
  • Roll top waterproof hip belt pocket
  • Adjustable sternum straps
  • Bottom compression straps
  • Side compression straps with pole loops
  • Angled water bottle pockets
  • Sleeping bag compartment with divider
  • Large front pocket with side zip access
  • Large zippered front pocket
  • Lots of gear loops

Cons – A little on the heavy side
Verdict – A full-featured backpack that is customisable for the perfect fit to comfortably deal with heavy loads on long treks.

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | Backcountry

ULA Equipment Circuit 68

ULA Equipment Circuit 68

Competing fiercely with the ever-popular Osprey Exos when it comes to lightweight backpacking, the featherweight design of the ULA Equipment Circuit is only 1.16kg. What if offers over the Exos, however, is an extra 20 litres of storage! And although it is a touch more expensive, the Circuit also offers lots of options when it comes to customising the fit. You can choose the torso size, hip belt size, shoulder strap shape, pack colour, and you can even opt to get your trail name embroidered onto the pack for an extra fee!

Despite its low weight, the Circuit still manages to provide good levels of durability due to ULA’s new 210 Robic fabric. It also combines a carbon fiber suspension loop with a dense foam frame and a single aluminum rod to create a highly supportive and comfortable back panel that moves well with your body.

Its design and storage features include

  • Side pockets
  • Front mesh pockets
  • Zippered hip belt pockets
  • Roll top closure
  • Side and top compression straps
  • Ice axe/pole loops
  • Hydration sleeve
  • Front shock cord

Cons – Limited access to main compartment and no rain cover.
Verdict – A superb option for fast and light backpackers and one of the the best backpack for long hikes and thru hikes.

Find the latest price at:
ULA Equipment

Arc'teryx Bora AR 63

Arc’teryx Bora AR

New in 2018, the Arc’teryx Bora AR is another superb backpack for multi day hikes and treks. What sets the Bora apart from the rest of the options on our list is its supremely durable fabrics that offer unrivalled weather protection. The already impressively durable 420 and 630-denier nylon fabrics of the body are also capped with weatherproof AC² fabric in areas that are most exposed to the conditions. This makes up for the lack of rain cover.

The Bora uses the same Gridlock shoulder strap system as the Altra for a customisable and comfortable fit. But Arc’teryx have developed the pivoting hip belt of the Altra to create the patented RotoGlide hipbelt that glides side to side as well as up and down to fit better with the movement of your body as you walk.

Other features include:

  • Water bladder compatible
  • Side pockets for water bottles
  • Top loading with side access
  • Removable lid
  • Kangaroo pocket
  • Hip belt pockets
  • Ice axe loops

Cons – Lacks a sleeping bag compartment and has limited access compared with the Altra.
Verdict – This is an exceptionally comfortable option for those tackling adventures in winter conditions and on challenging terrain.

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI | Backcountry

Best backpacks for hiking

Backpacks for hiking buying guide

Weight of backpack

As one of the top four heaviest things you will carry – tent, sleeping bag and sleeping pad being the other three, making sure you don’t carry unnecessary weight on your shoulders before you’ve even filled your backpack is key. That said, you also need to make sure that your backpack is not so lightweight that it can’t withstand the weight of its contents or won’t go the distance when it comes to durability. The weight of your bag will largely depend upon the size of it, but the material and the presence of a frame will also have an impact. Unless you are going down the ultralight backpacking route of small frameless packs, most of the best backpacks for hiking and trekking have a built-in frame for support and stability.

Volume of your bag and the duration of your hiking trip

In the world of lightweight backpacking where there is so much ultralight and compact backpacking gear available, there’s no need to have a backpack that can hold much more than 50 litres of gear. However, that requires going pretty bare-bones on gear, or getting the absolute lightest of everything (which often means the most price options too!). Whilst the best backpacks for day hiking would have a volume of 20 to 30 litres, multi-day backpacking and hiking trips require something between 50 and 75 litres.

Here’s a quick guide on what your backpack capacity should be based on the length of your trip:

1-3 day trip = 40-60l
3-7 day trip = 50-75l
8+ day trip = 65l+

Another thing to consider when choosing what volume backpack to go for is where and when you will be using it. During winter you should expect to carry a heavier load than during the summer. Equally, if you are hiking at altitude you will need to carry more.


If you have an uncomfortable backpack, type-I fun (general frivolity) can very quickly turn into type-II fun (retrospective enjoyment), or worse still, type-III fun (just plain misery). If it means choosing a backpack that is heavier than you would prefer, then so be it – a comfortable backpack is simply not worth compromising.

To ensure your backpack is the best fit for you, testing it with some weight in is essential. Either head to the store and ask them to load it up for you to try, or order online and hike your stairs with your pack loaded with books. You can always send it back, assuming you’ve not put it through its paces outdoors.

The following things all help to ensure that wearing your loaded backpack for hours on end will be as comfortable as possible:

  • Back panel
    Back panel
    This should provide good airflow between you and the pack, and will help temperature control when things start to get sweaty on the trail. It should also be padded or made up of a comfortable trampoline-like mesh. Some packs provide extra lumbar padding and support.
  • Padded hip belt
    Hip belt
    This should be padded with straps that can be adjusted to fit your body and spread weight evenly. Some backpack brands, like Thule, have the option of choosing a specific sized hip belt to suit your body size.
  • Sternum strap
    Sternum strap
    This is a small strap that attaches across the chest and connects the shoulder straps. It provides extra stability and you can often slide the strap up or down to reposition as necessary.
  • Load lifter
    Load lifter straps
    These connect the top of the shoulder straps to the top of the bag and can be tightened to ensure a loaded bag doesn’t pull away from your body.
  • Shoulder strap
    Shoulder straps
    These are padded and adjustable, and their position on the bag can also be altered to suit your torso length and preference.

Size guide

Most packs come in different sizes based on the length of the wearer’s torso. Torso length can be measured from the base of the neck (find this point by bending your head forward and feeling the protruding vertebrae), to your iliac crest (find this by putting your hands on your hips and tracing a line between your thumbs). Your measurement will then correspond with the individual brands’ sizing systems.

Design and storage features of the best backpacks for hiking

When choosing a backpack for hiking, look out for the following features:

  • Rain cover
    Rain cover – most decent backpacks should come with a rain cover that lives in its own pocket and is either removable or integrated.
  • Hydration sleeve
    Water bladder sleeve – usually found inside the main compartment of a backpack, with a port for the tube to exit the bag and a clip to secure it on the shoulder strap.
  • Side access
    Access – as well an opening on the top of the bag, many bags also have zippers on the side or front to access the main compartment.
  • Sleeping bag compartment
    Sleeping bag compartment – accessed via its own zipper at the bottom of the backpack and usually with a divider that can be left open if required.
  • Hip belt pocket
    Hip belt pockets – great for things you need to access easily when hiking; snacks, compass, phone etc.
  • Gear loop
    Gear loops – to attach things to the outside of your pack: ice axe, walking poles, sleeping pad etc.
  • Front pockets
    Front pocket – either a mesh pocket to stuff extra layers in, or a zipped compartment for storage of extra gear or food.
  • Top lid of bag
    Top lid – either integrated or floating with pockets to provide organised storage. A floating lid enables extra gear to be placed under it, and they are often removable to save weight or to use as  a small summit bag.
  • Side pocket
    Water bottle pockets – your water bottle should be easy to access when wearing your pack.
  • Compression straps
    Compression straps – to cinch in the pack providing a more balanced centre of gravity.

Joey Holmes

Joey Holmes
Joey is based in Cornwall, UK, and runs Cool of the Wild. She can’t get enough of being outdoors – whether that’s lounging around the campfire cooking up a feast, hitting the trail in her running shoes, or attempting to conquer the waves on her surfboard – she lives for it. Camping is what she loves to do the most, but has also spent many hours clinging to the side of a rock face, cycling about the place, cruising the ski-slopes on her snowboard, and hiking small mountains and big hills.

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