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Backpacking backpacks Reviews and Buyer's Guide (Feb 2019)

Going on a backpacking trip is quite an adventure and so is packing for the trip. Besides choosing what to bring, one of the biggest issues is how to choose the right backpack.

There are hundreds of different models to choose from, so how can you make sure you choose the right one for your needs?

The 183 Best Backpacking Backpacks

RankBackpacking BackpackRating
1Arcteryx BoraArcteryx Bora
Available on Amazon
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4.8725 reviews
2Ethnotek RajaEthnotek Raja
Available on Amazon
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4.8022 reviews
3Gregory BaltoroGregory Baltoro
Available on Amazon
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4.77958 reviews
4Osprey EscapistOsprey Escapist4.731,833 reviews
5Osprey AtmosOsprey Atmos4.732,529 reviews
6Osprey AetherOsprey Aether4.701,021 reviews
7Montane FeatherliteMontane Featherlite4.7034 reviews
8Gregory DenaliGregory Denali4.6739 reviews
9Osprey RavenOsprey Raven4.64213 reviews
10Mystery Ranch SteinMystery Ranch Stein4.6213 reviews
11Osprey ArielOsprey Ariel4.62520 reviews
12The North Face BancheeThe North Face Banchee4.5928 reviews
13Osprey TalonOsprey Talon4.581,636 reviews
14Osprey AuraOsprey Aura4.58871 reviews
15Deuter ACTDeuter ACT4.57429 reviews
16Deuter FuturaDeuter Futura4.57150 reviews
17Osprey ExosOsprey Exos4.561,149 reviews
18Osprey XenithOsprey Xenith4.54191 reviews
19Osprey FarpointOsprey Farpoint4.541,512 reviews
20Gregory JadeGregory Jade4.54167 reviews
21Maxpedition JumboMaxpedition Jumbo4.521,193 reviews
225.11 Tactical Rush5.11 Tactical Rush4.508,731 reviews
23Gregory AmberGregory Amber4.48129 reviews
24Deuter AircontactDeuter Aircontact4.4861 reviews
25Osprey KestrelOsprey Kestrel4.471,013 reviews
26Osprey SkarabOsprey Skarab4.4769 reviews
27Deuter PaceDeuter Pace4.4719 reviews
28Vaude AsymmetricVaude Asymmetric4.4723 reviews
29Gregory WanderGregory Wander4.4538 reviews
30Sierra Designs Flex CapacitorSierra Designs Flex Capacitor4.4511 reviews
31Osprey XenaOsprey Xena4.4456 reviews
32Osprey TempestOsprey Tempest4.42458 reviews
33Exped LightningExped Lightning4.4247 reviews
34Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400Hyperlite Mountain Gear 34004.4015 reviews
35The North Face ReconThe North Face Recon4.4014,691 reviews
36Granite Gear AthabascaGranite Gear Athabasca4.4015 reviews
37Patagonia Nine TrailsPatagonia Nine Trails4.4041 reviews
38Deuter FoxDeuter Fox4.40160 reviews
39Vaude AstrumVaude Astrum4.4032 reviews
40Osprey StratosOsprey Stratos4.391,310 reviews
41Osprey MantaOsprey Manta4.39363 reviews
42Osprey QuasarOsprey Quasar4.39475 reviews
43Dakine EveDakine Eve4.39424 reviews
44Thule VersantThule Versant4.38110 reviews
45Dakine PromDakine Prom4.387,456 reviews
46Osprey KyteOsprey Kyte4.37327 reviews
47Osprey RaptorOsprey Raptor4.36729 reviews
48Deuter Speed LiteDeuter Speed Lite4.36835 reviews
49Deuter GroedenDeuter Groeden4.3519 reviews
50Slumberjack CarbineSlumberjack Carbine4.3565 reviews
51Osprey SkimmerOsprey Skimmer4.34164 reviews
52Granite Gear VirgaGranite Gear Virga4.3457 reviews
53Deuter ClimberDeuter Climber4.3415 reviews
54The North Face BorealisThe North Face Borealis4.3318,250 reviews
55Gregory TempoGregory Tempo4.3311 reviews
56Deuter GigaDeuter Giga4.3346 reviews
57Maxpedition FatboyMaxpedition Fatboy4.331,763 reviews
58Slumberjack Rail HaulerSlumberjack Rail Hauler4.3315 reviews
59Mammut LithiumMammut Lithium4.3010 reviews
60Maxpedition SitkaMaxpedition Sitka4.301,023 reviews
61Osprey JetOsprey Jet4.29150 reviews
62The North Face FlyweightThe North Face Flyweight4.2994 reviews
63Marmot KompressorMarmot Kompressor4.28244 reviews
64Jack Wolfskin MoabJack Wolfskin Moab4.2833 reviews
65Maxpedition LunadaMaxpedition Lunada4.28203 reviews
66The North Face TerraThe North Face Terra4.27317 reviews
67Osprey VivaOsprey Viva4.2678 reviews
68Osprey DayliteOsprey Daylite4.251,085 reviews
69Dakine MissionDakine Mission4.251,360 reviews
70Mountainsmith ApexMountainsmith Apex4.2585 reviews
71Salomon TrailSalomon Trail4.2540,197 reviews
72Maxpedition KodiakMaxpedition Kodiak4.25343 reviews
73Teton Sports TalusTeton Sports Talus4.2530 reviews
74Zomake UltraZomake Ultra4.255,187 reviews
75Dakine NoraDakine Nora4.24112 reviews
76Lowe Alpine EclipseLowe Alpine Eclipse4.2431 reviews
77Mountainsmith DayMountainsmith Day4.24472 reviews
78Deuter ZugspitzeDeuter Zugspitze4.2313 reviews
79Fjallraven KaipakFjallraven Kaipak4.2212 reviews
80Osprey SirrusOsprey Sirrus4.22499 reviews
81Thule UpslopeThule Upslope4.2249 reviews
82Dakine CapitolDakine Capitol4.21789 reviews
83Gregory JunoGregory Juno4.2126 reviews
84Jansport HatchetJansport Hatchet4.21815 reviews
85Gregory MatiaGregory Matia4.2072 reviews
86Kelty RedcloudKelty Redcloud4.2011 reviews
87Patagonia LightweightPatagonia Lightweight4.201,752 reviews
88Outdoor Research IsolationOutdoor Research Isolation4.2031 reviews
89Deuter KikkiDeuter Kikki4.19117 reviews
90Gregory DevaGregory Deva4.18381 reviews
91Lowe Alpine Cerro TorreLowe Alpine Cerro Torre4.1823 reviews
92Dakine GardenDakine Garden4.171,316 reviews
93Granite Gear LutsenGranite Gear Lutsen4.1766 reviews
94Patagonia Storm FrontPatagonia Storm Front4.1713 reviews
95Deuter PicoDeuter Pico4.1795 reviews
96Deuter GigantDeuter Gigant4.1746 reviews
97Marmot GravitonMarmot Graviton4.1511 reviews
98Maxpedition CondorMaxpedition Condor4.15495 reviews
99Osprey VoltOsprey Volt4.14142 reviews
100Gregory ZuluGregory Zulu4.14434 reviews
101Gregory JGregory J4.1468 reviews
102The North Face VaultThe North Face Vault4.134,955 reviews
103Dakine DuelDakine Duel4.13779 reviews
104Maxpedition MalagaMaxpedition Malaga4.13186 reviews
105Quechua ForclazQuechua Forclaz4.126,299 reviews
106Osprey MiraOsprey Mira4.11176 reviews
107Thule StirThule Stir4.11136 reviews
108Patagonia LinkedPatagonia Linked4.1023 reviews
109Maxpedition MonsoonMaxpedition Monsoon4.10133 reviews
110Dakine GromDakine Grom4.09758 reviews
111Gregory TargheeGregory Targhee4.0971 reviews
112Gregory AlpinistoGregory Alpinisto4.0942 reviews
113Kelty RedwingKelty Redwing4.091,910 reviews
114Gregory DriftGregory Drift4.0810 reviews
115High Sierra SummitHigh Sierra Summit4.07337 reviews
116Gregory MavenGregory Maven4.0617 reviews
117Kelty TrekkerKelty Trekker4.0621 reviews
118High Sierra RappelHigh Sierra Rappel4.06180 reviews
119Lowe Alpine AirZoneLowe Alpine AirZone4.0565 reviews
120Orange Mud EnduranceOrange Mud Endurance4.0511 reviews
121Gregory SalvoGregory Salvo4.0442 reviews
122Kelty RedtailKelty Redtail4.0414 reviews
123Sherpani IndieSherpani Indie4.0419 reviews
124High Sierra TitanHigh Sierra Titan4.031,269 reviews
125Thule GuidepostThule Guidepost4.0231 reviews
126Gregory ParagonGregory Paragon4.0061 reviews
127Kelty CoyoteKelty Coyote4.00216 reviews
128Gregory MiwokGregory Miwok4.00106 reviews
129High Sierra PathwayHigh Sierra Pathway4.00279 reviews
130Deuter QuantumDeuter Quantum4.0025 reviews
131Teton Sports Mountain AdventurerTeton Sports Mountain Adventurer4.0067 reviews
132Granite Gear CrownGranite Gear Crown3.99158 reviews
133Patagonia CragsmithPatagonia Cragsmith3.9811 reviews
134Vaude BrentaVaude Brenta3.9818 reviews
135Exped SummitExped Summit3.9815 reviews
136Venture Pal LightweightVenture Pal Lightweight3.984,925 reviews
137Deuter Trans AlpineDeuter Trans Alpine3.9721 reviews
138Quechua ArpenazQuechua Arpenaz3.9717,201 reviews
139Gregory StoutGregory Stout3.96154 reviews
140The North Face FoveroThe North Face Fovero3.9211 reviews
141High Sierra CirqueHigh Sierra Cirque3.92254 reviews
142Deuter PulseDeuter Pulse3.9212 reviews
143Dakine GretaDakine Greta3.9114 reviews
144Mountain Hardwear ScramblerMountain Hardwear Scrambler3.91154 reviews
145The North Face CobraThe North Face Cobra3.8823 reviews
146Gregory SulaGregory Sula3.8815 reviews
147Oakley IconOakley Icon3.87738 reviews
148Vaude JuraVaude Jura3.8510 reviews
149Maxpedition RemoraMaxpedition Remora3.85290 reviews
150Deuter HelionDeuter Helion3.8418 reviews
151Fjallraven KankenFjallraven Kanken3.8411,270 reviews
152High Sierra AppalachianHigh Sierra Appalachian3.83867 reviews
153Arcteryx AltraArcteryx Altra3.8271 reviews
154Gregory BorderGregory Border3.8127 reviews
155Kelty RiotKelty Riot3.8117 reviews
156High Sierra Long TrailHigh Sierra Long Trail3.81596 reviews
157Arcteryx CierzoArcteryx Cierzo3.8156 reviews
158Thule CapstoneThule Capstone3.81126 reviews
159Gregory MayaGregory Maya3.80107 reviews
160Gregory SuciaGregory Sucia3.8012 reviews
161High Sierra ExplorerHigh Sierra Explorer3.74648 reviews
162Gregory PatosGregory Patos3.7316 reviews
163Kelty LakotaKelty Lakota3.7264 reviews
164Deuter AirliteDeuter Airlite3.7198 reviews
165OXA UltralightOXA Ultralight3.70541 reviews
166Berghaus TrailheadBerghaus Trailhead3.6914 reviews
167High Sierra SentinelHigh Sierra Sentinel3.67508 reviews
168Mountain Hardwear HuecoMountain Hardwear Hueco3.6636 reviews
169Fjallraven High CoastFjallraven High Coast3.6637 reviews
170Dakine AtlasDakine Atlas3.62115 reviews
171Deuter GrodenDeuter Groden3.6120 reviews
172Salomon SkinSalomon Skin3.60249 reviews
173Nike CheyenneNike Cheyenne3.5916 reviews
174High Sierra HawkHigh Sierra Hawk3.5846 reviews
175Gregory SketchGregory Sketch3.5793 reviews
176Red Rock AssaultRed Rock Assault3.554,151 reviews
177Timbuk2 HitchTimbuk2 Hitch3.5020 reviews
178The North Face ShadowThe North Face Shadow3.4743 reviews
179Fox Outdoor Rio GrandeFox Outdoor Rio Grande3.34238 reviews
180Dakine IntervalDakine Interval3.2729 reviews
181Kelty RuckusKelty Ruckus3.2436 reviews
182High Sierra QuickshotHigh Sierra Quickshot3.23802 reviews
183Fox Outdoor Tactical DutyFox Outdoor Tactical Duty3.21223 reviews
How we rate the bags

We have checked 194,546 Backpacking backpack reviews, so we can show you the weighted average rating of all the bags.

Using the average ratings, you can check what all the reviewers think instead of just viewing the subjective opinion of one specific reviewer.

It's much simplier to find the best bags that way.

Buyers Guide to Backpacking Backpacks

There is a reason that a backpacking is known as such – you carry all of the belongings that you need in a backpack for an extended period of time. So, it really should come as no surprise that the most important part of such a trip is well, the backpack. Thus, you have to pay a great deal of attention to the kind of bag that you are buying.

Now, if you previously only have experience with buying school bags, you may be in for a bit of a shock. There are thousands of backpacks to choose from but only a handful are just right for you. Don’t worry, though, thanks to this guide, you will not feel as though you are looking for a needle in a haystack. Here is everything that you need to know about making a bag-based decision:

Finding the Backpacking Backpack You Will Love to Travel With

On a backpacking trip, you will end up losing a lot of your belongings and then finding new ones. Despite this, there is one thing that you will hang tightly on to – your backpack. This is because when you are crisscrossing across the country or the world, your backpacking backpack will become your lifeline. In fact, it will practically become an extension of yourself.

As you can see, choosing the perfect backpacking backpack for you is no small task and definitely shouldn’t be taken lightly. So, without further ado, here are the characteristics that you will need to consider during your selection process:

What Storage Capacity Do You Need?

One of the first things you will analyze about a backpacking backpack is just how much it can hold. Now, this does depend on a few things. As you can imagine, the length of your trip is a rather important factor here. However, so is the items that you are planning on carrying. For instance, if you are mostly planning on carrying clothes, a smaller bag will be able to hold enough for a longer trip. On the other hand, if supplies or digital equipment will also feature in your luggage, you are going to need more space.

If you are only planning on exploring a small space like a city and will not be away from your essentials for more than three days, you will find that backpacks between 45 and 55 liters will suit you well. In the event that your trip is going to be a week or so long, then one able to hold at least 70 to 90 liters will be better.

Shape and Size

A mistake that many first time backpackers make is buying getting an overly large backpack ‘just in case’. While this might sound like a good idea, there are a few downsides to this plan. First, very big backpacks can be cumbersome and can make it difficult for you to walk. Not to mention, if you don’t have enough of items to place in the bag, the belongings that are in there will shift around as you move. Furthermore, a bigger bag will weigh more, even when it is empty. This means that you will be carrying around additional weight for no good reason.

So, what should you get instead? Well, as mentioned, only get a backpack that will actually fit your capacity requirements. Also, you should stay away from bags that have a greater width than height. Long and thin bags are ideal as they are more stable and allow you a greater range of motion.

If you have no choice but to get a large bag for a long trip, there are some dimensions to pay attention to. First, the bag should never be longer or sit below your hips. This will impede movement. Now, due to the length of the backpack, there is a good chance that it will be taller than your head when it is strapped on your bag. Still, it should not be taller than a few inches to avoid your gait from been thrown off.

If you are a woman, you may wonder if women-specific backpacks are for you or if they are just a marketing scheme. Well, these backpacks are actually designed for women – specifically to fit shorter torsos, narrower shoulders, and wider waists. If you are on the shorter side, these backpacks can come in handy. However, if you are tall and have a more athletic build, regular backpacks should be just fine for you.

Now, you should keep in mind that these bags will also function as travel backpacks and will need to be transported by an airline. So, you should check that the dimensions of the bag fit the restrictions placed on checked luggage.

Fabrics to Look For

Backpacks are made from different types of fabric and each has their own set of properties. So, when considering the material that the backpack is made from, you will need to first determine what characteristics that you are looking for most.


Do you want your backpack to last as long as possible despite years of use and abuse? Or maybe you will be heading out camping during your journey and need something a more durable backpack. Regardless, there are three main types of fabric that you can consider for these situations. For toughness, either Cordura nylon or ballistic nylon will be incredibly resistant to abrasion.

Ripstop nylon is also quite abrasion resistant but where its real strength lies is with rips and tears. This material ensures that in the event of any rips, that the tears will not increase in size, preventing further damage to the backpacks.

Low Weight

There is no denying that your backpack can get quite heavy, particularly if you are headed out on a longer trip. Looking for backpacks made from lightweight materials can help to knock off some weight from your overall load. For this purpose, either ripstop nylon or Dyneema will work well. While Dyneema is lighter and stronger, it also has a much higher price tag attached than ripstop nylon.

Water Resistant

Irrespective of where you are backpacking, having a backpack that is able to keep moisture away from your belongings at least for a while is required. Now, many of the materials used to construct backpacks aren’t actually waterproof themselves. Instead, they are coated with either polyurethane or a similar water-resistant coating. While this will not make the backpack completely waterproof, it will help to keep your things dry until you find shelter.

Internal Frame vs. External Frame

When looking for larger backpacks for backpacking, you will inevitably have to face making a decision between a bag with an internal frame or an external frame. These days, you are most likely to find an internal frame backpack with the external frame option being quite rare.

As the name suggests, the frame of an internal frame is within the bag. This makes it lighter and easier to carry when headed out on trails. The only caveat is that these bags can be quite warm to carry and there is a limit to how much equipment that you can take.

External frame backpacks, on the other hand, are where the backpack is hung from a larger frame. Due to this, you are able to store more items outside the bag, including things like sleeping bags and tents. Of course, the downside is that these bags can be heavy, even when empty. Also, while they work great on flat ground, they can be difficult to move with on uneven terrain.

The Suspension System

Since there is a good chance that you will need to carry heavy loads, the suspension system of your backpack is very important. It will determine just how comfortable it is to carry your bag for long periods of time when it is at full capacity.

First and foremost, you will need to look at the shoulder straps on the bag as they are the main support system. These straps should be wide enough so that they can evenly displace the weight of the bag without sinking into your skin. For added comfort, additional padding can be helpful as well.

Just as important is the hip belt because your body tends to carry most of the weight thrust upon it on your hips. The hip belt should be at the top of your hip bones and needs to be well padded to stop chaffing. The belt must be adjustable so that it can be securely fastened around your waist.

Now, most large bags lack proper stability. In these instances, a sternum strap that goes across your chest can help. These need to sit just below your collarbone for greatest efficiency.

Top Loading vs. Panel Access

With larger backpacking backpacks, access can be an issue. Typically, you will find that packs either have access points at the very top of the bag or that the bag is divided into zippered panels. Top loaders are often easier to pack and can even hold a greater number of items. At the same time, organization can become nearly impossible which is why most people prefer the individual compartments of the panel design.

Additional Features

Here are some other traits that you should look for in your backpack:
  • Removable Daypack: once you have settled down at your lodgings, it is unlikely that you want to carry a huge backpack everywhere that you go. This is why you should look for backpacking backpacks that have detachable daypacks. These are smaller and great for short trips.

  • Sleeping Bag Compartment: whether you are sleeping outdoors or trying to make an unfamiliar bed more comfortable, a sleeping bag can be quite handy. To make it easier to organize your bag, get one with a separate sleeping bag compartment.

  • Compression Straps: having all of your belongings moving around while you are walking can make it difficult to get around easily. Compression straps can improve the situation by holding all of the things in place, even when the bag is not at full capacity. They also help to keep the bag stabilized against your back.

  • Hydration Features: backpacking is thirsty work so you are going to want water on hand at all types. Backpacks offer two separate hydration option. The first is external mesh pockets that can hold water bottles. The other is hydration pouches that can store reservoirs and often have tubes and sip mechanisms attached.

These are all of the tips and tricks that will help you to find the backpack that will be the only travel companion that you will need.

52 More Backpacking Backpacks

Classic backpacking backpacks and models that haven't yet got enough reviews to be ranked.

RankBackpacking BackpackRating
Exped ExpeditionExped Expedition
The North Face Ice ProjectThe North Face Ice Project
The North Face AleiaThe North Face Aleia
The North Face LitusThe North Face Litus
The North Face AngstromThe North Face Angstrom
Gregory TahquitzGregory Tahquitz
Gregory PierpontGregory Pierpont
Gregory VelataGregory Velata
Gregory SatumaGregory Satuma
Gregory AmasaGregory Amasa
Kelty SiroKelty Siro
Kelty RevolKelty Revol
Kelty RevaKelty Reva
Kelty SiraKelty Sira
Kelty SanitasKelty Sanitas
Kelty YukonKelty Yukon
Mountainsmith RockitMountainsmith Rockit
Mountainsmith PursuitMountainsmith Pursuit
Lowe Alpine VectorLowe Alpine Vector
Lowe Alpine CholatseLowe Alpine Cholatse
Lowe Alpine ZephyrLowe Alpine Zephyr
High Sierra LightningHigh Sierra Lightning
High Sierra SymmetryHigh Sierra Symmetry
Mountain Hardwear DirettissimaMountain Hardwear Direttissima
Mountain Hardwear RainshadowMountain Hardwear Rainshadow
Burton Kettle Pack
Mammut CreonMammut Creon
Mammut LithiaMammut Lithia
Mammut RideMammut Ride
Patagonia Crag DaddyPatagonia Crag Daddy
Patagonia AscensionistPatagonia Ascensionist
Deuter AttackDeuter Attack
Deuter TravellerDeuter Traveller
Vaude SimonyVaude Simony
Exped TyphoonExped Typhoon
Exped CoreExped Core
Exped ThunderExped Thunder
Montane AnacondaMontane Anaconda
Montane CobraMontane Cobra
Montane MedusaMontane Medusa
Montane Grand TourMontane Grand Tour
Montane UltraMontane Ultra
Salomon PeakSalomon Peak
Berghaus TwentyFourSevenBerghaus TwentyFourSeven
Ferrino TransalpFerrino Transalp
Ortovox TradOrtovox Trad
Ortovox PeakOrtovox Peak
Slumberjack SpoorSlumberjack Spoor
Slumberjack StriderSlumberjack Strider
Watershed WestwaterWatershed Westwater
Deuter RiseDeuter Rise
Karrimor Hot RockKarrimor Hot Rock

Last updated on February 09, 2019