Whether you are off up the mountains for a one day hike or maybe for a few days at a time, you will always want to make sure you have the right equipment.
Those of you who have been hiking or hill walking for many years will most likely have tried out a few hiking packs, and probably found some to be better than others.
When you read what these experienced hikers have to say, it really does help a lot in picking out the right backpack for the job. Choosing the best backpack for hiking isn’t a simple job so hopefully this will be of some help to you.
It is well known that day hikers generally carry a much smaller pack with only a few articles of extra clothes, a simple emergency first aid kit, some water, and perhaps some food in their pack.
Overnight hikers on the other hand, will carry larger packs and more gear since they may need a shelter of some sort and extra insulation for warmth in which to spend the night.
Our Top 5 List of Hiking Backpacks
Best Rated Osprey Europe Men's Kestrel 48 Hiking Pack
96% buyer satisfaction based on 500+ online buyer reviews
- Best rated hiking backpack on the market
- Airs cape back panel with adjustable harness
- It comes with a zippered sleeping bag compartment with floating divider and integrated removable rain cover
- It has side zipper access to the main compartments
- Stow-on-the-go trekking pole attachment
- Zippered hip belt pockets and dual stretch mesh side pockets
- This small model is 33.02 x 33.02 x 76.2 cm, weighs 1.56 Kilograms and has a 36L capacity
- There are 4 sizes available from 36L up to 68L capacity
You will see straightaway that this is a serious hiking backpack that's made for regular use and is suitable for all conditions. It's not cheap but you will never regret spending the extra. Well worth the price!
This is our number one choice for size, easiest to carry, comfort, durability and all round quality. Also there are 4 sizes so there's something for everyone.
Trespass Albus Backpack, 30 Litre - Best Seller Online
92% buyer satisfaction based on 9,000+ online buyer reviews
- This is a best seller and is available in 10 colours and is of course a great deal more affordable
- This pack has a 30 litre volume capacity
- Multifunctional - ideal for hiking or just normal everyday activities
- 3 zip compartments
- A number of internal Pockets
- Key ring
- One of the best value models though we wouldn't be going camping for a week with this model!
You may think this is a cheap option and should be avoided but that's not the case. Of course you won't be taking it to Everest base camp, it's not built for that, but its excellent value and definitely worth a look for the occasional hiker
G4Free 50L Rucksack
90% buyer satisfaction based on 1,000+ online buyer reviews
- Available in 6 colours
- This is a50L hiking backpack that is made from waterproof nylon
- The size is 14.2 x 9.4 x 23.6 inches and it weighs in at 1.2KG.
- This backpack is large and roomy. One It has one large front zipper pocket and one large deep main pocket as well as a zipped one for shoes or dirty clothes.
- There is a compartment in the main pocket designed for putting a hydration bladder, though you will have to buy that separately
- The strap is great and it comes with a breathable mesh back panel to help reduce sweat or overheating
- The hiking backpack comes with a rain to protect your stuff and there is plenty of room for a hydration bladder, your iPad or anything you want to carry
This is what we would call a standard hiking backpack. Well made, good capacity and will do most trips. It's mid range for size and price and really you can't go wrong with a backpack like this.
HOMIEE Hiking Backpack 45L
90% buyer satisfaction based on 900+ online buyer reviews
- Available in 4 colours
- 45L large capacity, with 1 laptop bag for 17'' computer along with plenty of individual poacket
- Excellent chest and shoulder straps that can adjust up or down and prevent the shoulder strap moving from left and right,
- Breathable mesh shoulder straps and back panel help relieve the stress from your shoulders and keep you cool
- Comes with a 1 Year Warranty
- Size: 23.6'' x 14.2'' x 8.7'' and weight is 0.7KG.
Again, this is what we would call a standard hiking backpack. Well made, good capacity and will do most trips. It's mid range for size and price and really you can't go wrong with a backpack like this.
Its a bit lighter in construction compared to the model above but for me, that's a good thing. Both models are great.
Doshwin 70L Hiking Backpack
90% buyer satisfaction based on 350+ online buyer reviews
- Available in 4 colours
- Large capacity: 70L
- Lightweight: only 1.2 KG (2.7 lbs)
- Multi-pocket: 10 pockets
- Durable, water and scratch resistant
- Multi-purpose: hiking, camping, travelling, trekking, etc.
- This model is very good value and definitely a great choice for the occassion hiker
The large 70l capacity is a massive selling point for this backpack, along with a very reasonable price. For the money, this model is very well made and I could easily recommend it for anybody starting out in hiking.
Backpack Buying Guide
There are many of these type of hiking backpacks available on the UK market. Above we have listed the top 5 of the better ones, there are of course many important features that a backpack should have. These include padding, the amount of room, the comfort of the straps etc.
Generally speaking, backpacks are used mainly for backpacking, hiking or when camping. However that is simply no longer the case. These days they are used for a whole variety of purposes. These include:
- Hiking & Camping
- Traveling - day trips, weekend trips, longer trips
- Hand luggage - this includes at airports and also as carry on luggage, TSA friendly, and anti-theft backpacks
- For business and especially for carrying laptops of different sizes (14-14.9", 15-15.9", 16-16.9" and 17"+) and daily commuting
- For college and school
- For sports of all types including going to the gym
- For cyclists
- For fishing
- As a fashion accessory including designer backpacks
As you can see from the list above, backpacks are so much more than just for the traditional uses of hiking and camping.
Gear Load Comparisons
There are four gear load comparisons that are typically understood by hikers and those are, base pack weight, total pack weight, total base weight ("from the skin out weight"), and total weight.
- Base Pack Weight - this is the weight of pack and gear carried in the pack, but no consumables
- Total Base Weight -this is the base pack weight plus weight of clothes worn and gear not carried in the pack
- Total Pack Weight - this is the base pack weight plus the weight of consumables (food, water, and fuel)
- Total Weight - this is the weight of everything, which is the total pack weight plus the weight of clothes worn and gear not carried in the pack, or the weight of everything you take with you whether worn or carried
The total pack weight will decrease from the beginning of a trip to the end of the trip because you are eating through your food and drinking water.
It is useful to weigh your pack at the beginning of a trip to see how close your actual weight is to your calculated weight. The best trip planning is done when you are working with real weight values.
Important Backpack for Hiking Buying Questions?
- Which type of backpack do you need?
- How will the backpack fit?
- What size or capacity is the backpack?
- What features do you want in your backpack?
- What fabric the backpack is made from?
- Do you have a preferred look or appearance for your backpack?
- Do you have a preferred brand?
- How long are your hikes going to be?
- Is waterproofing really important to you?
Backpack Size & Capacity Comparison Guide
- 18 litre backpacks measure 18 x 9 x 7" and are ideal for cycling, running or light hiking
- 20 litres is a very small backpack
- 23 litre capacity measure about 19 x 13 x 5" and will hold books, notebooks, writing instruments and a laptop
- 33 litre capacity measure about 19 x 14 x 8.5" are good for daily business use and will have various compartments, padded straps and a laptop
- 33-35 litres measure about 19 x 11 x 6" and they are good for carry on luggage (On average about 10 Kg when packed) or a hiking daypack
- 39 litres measure about 21 x 13 x 9" and is good for a universal backpack and most of these are expandable
- 50 litres measure about 23 x 15 x 8.5 and are ideal for hiking and camping
It is never simple to be 100% accurate about the size or capacity of a backpack. That is because the many makers of these use different rules to measure the actual capacity.
The best definition, and the one that most manufacturers use, is to measure the volume of their backpacks by adding up the total volume of the closed storage on their packs. That includes the main compartment, and the various pockets on the pack.
Some smaller manufacturers will include open pockets like side water bottle pockets or rear mesh pockets in addition to the closed storage. It isn't always easy to directly compare like for like.
Backpack capacity is measured in litres, and in all honesty, that type of measurement doesn't really help most people. which is why we have helped explain what it really means in the above table.
For hiking you probably don't have to worry too much about having some type of anti-theft backpack. Some hikers may see this as a really important feature, especially if staying in hostels.
The types of pickpocket you see in airports, ports, train and bus stations take advantage of any places where lots of travelers are assembled.
That allows them to get easy access to pockets and bags. If you make these tough for them to get into, then they will more than likely leave you alone.
Typically these bags have seams covering the main zipper area. Most of them use the material on the straps to do that. In addition to that, they will also be rip resistant, and some of them will be anti-slash.
A favourite trick of thieves is to use a sharp knife to slash the bottom of the bag, and then quickly remove items inside. An anti-slash bag will stop that.
Locks and Zippers
A big weakness in most luggage is the quality of the zippers. Not only do these come off, but they can often stick and jam. Always look for good quality metal zippers, ideally dual zippers, that can be pulled together, and then a lock attached to the ends of the zippers.
Many of these, but not all, will have hidden compartments. These can be useful especially for important documentation.
This does need quite a lot of thought. Over the years backpacks have become much better designed and manufacturers have added many features. We have listed the main ones below:
- Size of the main compartment - this is one of the most important features and is often overlooked.
- Padded straps - these provide comfort when carrying the backpack. They should be wide and comfortable to stop them digging into your shoulders.
- Water bottle pocket - some people prefer to have a water bottle or drink's holder. This is available on some backpacks, and on some models there are a couple of these, usually on the side of the pack
- USB charging - today a lot of backpacks come with a charging point using a USB to charge up phones etc.