Top 40 Best Reviewed Hiking Backpacks - Buyers Guide 2018

Few things feel worse than carrying a hiking backpack that doesn't fit properly. Some hiking backpacks are just not good to walk with, even if the brands call them hiking packs, expedition packs and so on.

It's super important that you spend some time finding a hiking backpack that suits you, so you will enjoy your adventures instead of cursing about your pack the whole time.

You need to make sure the backpack you choose is comfortable to carry over long distances and at the same time, you need to chose the right size and also make sure quality of the pack is good enough.

To help you choose, we have checked 9,188 reviews to find the best reviewed hiking backpacks.

Check out the top 40 list below - and the top 3 most popular hiking backpacks, if you just want to check out some of the most popular models (the models that most people end up buying).
How we rate the bags

We have checked thousands of 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.

Top 3 most popular hiking backpacks 2018

The North Face Recon backpack
The North Face Recon
Rated 4.7 based on 5,024 reviews.
Osprey Atmos backpack
Osprey Atmos
Rated 4.8 based on 1,516 reviews.
Gregory Baltoro backpack
Gregory Baltoro
Rated 4.9 based on 439 reviews.

Below is the top 40 list based on the thousands of reviews we have checked.

Top 40 hiking backpacks 2018

Gregory Paragon backpack
Gregory Paragon
4 models available. 38, 48, 58 and 68
Size 38-68 L (2319-4150 CI)
Gregory logo
34 reviews

Gregory Wander backpack
Gregory Wander
3 models available. 38, 50 and 70
Size 38-70 L (2319-4272 CI)
Gregory logo
16 reviews

Kelty Revol backpack
Kelty Revol
2 models available. 50 and 65
Size 50-65 L (3051-3967 CI)
Kelty logo
4 reviews

Gregory Denali backpack
Gregory Denali
2 models available. 100 and 75
Size 72-97 L (4394-5919 CI)
Gregory logo
17 reviews

Gregory Baltoro backpack
Gregory Baltoro
3 models available. 65, 75 and 95
Size 65-95 L (3967-5797 CI)
Gregory logo
439 reviews

Marmot Graviton backpack
Marmot Graviton
5 models available. 34, 36, 38, 48 and 58
Size 35-58 L (2136-3539 CI)
Marmot logo
7 reviews

The North Face Fovero
The North Face Fovero
2 models available. 70 and 85
Size 70-85 L (4272-5187 CI)
The north face logo
5 reviews

The North Face Stormbreak backpack
The North Face Stormbreak
Size 38 L (2319 CI)
The north face logo
18 reviews

Gregory Amber
Gregory Amber
4 models available. 34, 44, 60 and 70
Size 34-71 L (2075-4333 CI)
Gregory logo
67 reviews

Thule Versant backpack
Thule Versant
3 models available. 50, 60 and 70
Size 50-70 L (3051-4272 CI)
Thule logo
16 reviews

Osprey Ariel backpack
Osprey Ariel
3 models available. 55, 65 and 75
Size 55-75 L (3356-4577 CI)
Osprey logo
249 reviews

Osprey Xenith backpack
Osprey Xenith
3 models available. 105, 75 and 88
Size 75-105 L (4577-6407 CI)
Osprey logo
204 reviews

Osprey Aether backpack
Osprey Aether
3 models available. 60, 70 and 85
Size 60-85 L (3661-5187 CI)
Osprey logo
699 reviews

Osprey Xena backpack
Osprey Xena
2 models available. 70 and 85
Size 70 L (4272 CI)
Osprey logo
24 reviews

Granite Gear Lutsen backpack
Granite Gear Lutsen
3 models available. 35, 45 and 55
Size 35-55 L (2136-3356 CI)
Granite gear logo
63 reviews

Osprey Atmos backpack
Osprey Atmos
2 models available. 50 and 65
Size 50-65 L (3051-3967 CI)
Osprey logo
1,516 reviews

Osprey Volt backpack
Osprey Volt
2 models available. 60 and 75
Size 60-75 L (3661-4577 CI)
Osprey logo
68 reviews

The North Face Recon backpack
The North Face Recon
Size 31 L (1892 CI)
The north face logo
5,024 reviews

Deuter Fox backpack
Deuter Fox
2 models available. 30 and 40
Size 30-40 L (1831-2441 CI)
Deuter logo
161 reviews

Fjallraven Kajka backpack
Fjallraven Kajka
5 models available. 100, 55, 65, 75 and 85
Size 55-85 L (3356-5187 CI)
Fjallraven logo
24 reviews

Gregory Stout backpack
Gregory Stout
4 models available. 35, 45, 65 and 75
Size 35-75 L (2136-4577 CI)
Gregory logo
47 reviews

Timbuk2 Jet backpack
Timbuk2 Jet
Size 30 L (1831 CI)
Timbuk2 logo
61 reviews

Mountainsmith Mayhem backpack
Mountainsmith Mayhem
2 models available. 35 and 45
Size 35-45 L (2136-2746 CI)
Mountainsmith logo
38 reviews

Gregory Deva backpack
Gregory Deva
3 models available. 60, 70 and 80
Size 64-80 L (3906-4882 CI)
Gregory logo
262 reviews

Osprey Viva backpack
Osprey Viva
2 models available. 50 and 65
Size 50-65 L (3051-3967 CI)
Osprey logo
16 reviews

Patagonia Cragsmith backpack
Patagonia Cragsmith
Size 35 L (2136 CI)
Patagonia logo
12 reviews

High Sierra Hawk backpack
High Sierra Hawk
3 models available. 40, 45 and 50
Size 40-51 L (2441-3112 CI)
High sierra logo
46 reviews

Mountainsmith Lariat backpack
Mountainsmith Lariat
2 models available. 55 and 65
Size 48-58 L (2929-3539 CI)
Mountainsmith logo
9 reviews

Thule Guidepost backpack
Thule Guidepost
2 models available. 75 and 85
Size 75-85 L (4577-5187 CI)
Thule logo
7 reviews

Fox Outdoor Tactical backpack
Fox Outdoor Tactical
Size 36 L (2197 CI)
Fox outdoor logo
15 reviews

Kelty Siro backpack
Kelty Siro
Size 50 L (3051 CI)
Kelty logo
6 reviews

Mountainsmith Pursuit backpack
Mountainsmith Pursuit
Size 50 L (3051 CI)
Mountainsmith logo
6 reviews

Gregory Zulu
5 models available. 30, 35, 40, 55 and 65
Size 30-65 L (1831-3967 CI)
Gregory logo

Kelty Reva
Kelty Reva
2 models available. 45 and 60
Size 45-60 L (2746-3661 CI)
Kelty logo

Kelty Sanitas backpack
Kelty Sanitas
Size 34 L (2075 CI)
Kelty logo

Patagonia Crag Daddy backpack
Patagonia Crag Daddy
Size 47 L (2868 CI)
Patagonia logo

Vaude Scopi backpack
Vaude Scopi
Size 32 L (1953 CI)
Vaude logo

Exped Thunder backpack
Exped Thunder
2 models available. 50 and 70
Size 50-70 L (3051-4272 CI)
Exped logo

Montane Medusa backpack
Montane Medusa
Size 32 L (1953 CI)
Montane logo

Montane Grand Tour backpack
Montane Grand Tour
2 models available. 55 and 70
Size 55-70 L (3356-4272 CI)
Montane logo

Review Summary

9,188 reviews of bags checked.

Average rating is 4.7 out of 5.
5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star

Top 10 hiking backpack brands

The 10 highest rated hiking backpack brands based on the 9,188 reviews we have checked + the highest rated bag from each brand.

BrandAverage ratingTop hiking backpack
Osprey4.8Osprey Xenith
Granite Gear4.8Granite Gear Lutsen
The North Face4.7The North Face Fovero
Gregory4.7Gregory Wander
Deuter4.7Deuter Fox
Fjallraven4.7Fjallraven Kajka
Thule4.6Thule Versant
Timbuk24.5Timbuk2 Jet
Patagonia4.4Patagonia Crag Daddy
Kelty4.4Kelty Sanitas

Related Ranking Lists

When it comes to hiking, no trip – however short – is complete without a hiking backpack. Since there is always something for you to carry, you need a bag to contain it all. Now, there are a great number of backpacks available on the market. This can lead to the question of which one is best for your particular trip?

A Guide to Choosing the Best Hiking Backpack (Buyers Guide)

While it may seem easy enough to choose, there are actually a lot of features to consider when choosing your backpack. This includes carrying capacity, materials, weight, durability, suspension systems, and much more. This is why, in this article, we have broken down the various elements for you. Here, you will be able to see what makes the best backpack and find some tips on how to choose the finest one for you. We have also chosen some backpacks that meet all of your needs and expectations when on a hiking trip.

How Long is Your Trip?

Hiking backpacks typically fall under the category of daypacks. As the name suggests, these are backpacks that are medium-sized. They are able to carry all of the items that you will need within a day. This is why, when choosing a backpack, you will first need to determine how long the majority of your hikes. Do they last a day or less? Or, do they extend for about two days at a time? By making the necessary calculations, you can figure out just how small or large your bag needs to be.

Now, it is quite common to reach for a larger bag as you may feel as though it will suit a variety of situations. The downside to choosing a bigger backpack, however, is that it will weigh more. It can be tiresome to carry more weight strictly than necessary, especially over rough terrain. If there tends to be a lot of discrepancy in the duration of your hikes, it is best to buy at least two bags for separate occasions.

The Carrying Capacity of the Bag

When you want to determine how much a particular backpack can carry, you don’t look at the size. Instead, you will need to focus on the carrying capacity or the volume of the bag. It is more common to find the volume of the backpacks to be displayed in liters. However, those that are offered in cubic centimeters tend to be a little more accurate.

Hike Length

Following the point made above, to figure out what capacity is right for you, you will to consider the length of the trip. If you are just planning on spending a day outdoors, then you should opt for a bag that is between 20 and 30 liters. This will be enough for you to put all of the food and water that you will need. There should be enough space for a light jacket as well.

If you will be spending at least one night in the wilderness, you may want a backpack that can hold around 35 to 50 liters. If you plan on spending upwards of three nights, then a backpack between 50 and 80 liters will be a better match.


Another thing to take into consideration is the weather that you will encounter. If you are hiking in the summer, you will need a minimal number of layers and therefore will not require an overly large backpack. In the winter, however, you will need to take a couple of warm, thick layers. You will need a greater amount of space in the backpack.

Woman with hiking backpack

The Length of the Bag

While you may not need to look at the size of a bag, you will need to examine the length of it. The length of the backpack will determine where it will sit when it is strapped to you. Ideally, the top of the backpack should not be loom over your head. Similarly, it should end just below your hips so that your walking will not be impaired in any way.

Of course, it is not just the length of the bag that you will need to gauge. You will also have to measure your torso. When taking the measurements, you will need to start from the base of your neck. There is a bony protrusion where your neck and shoulders meet. This is where you should place the top of the measuring tape. Then, place each hand around your hip so that each thumb is resting on your back. Make sure that this is being done at the spot just above your hip bones. Your thumbs will mark the spot where you should end measuring your torso.

Now it is simply a matter of finding the backpack that is this long. Extra small backpacks are usually about 15.5 inches long while the slightly longer options are between 16 and 17.5 inches. A regular hiking backpack also considered to be medium sized will be around 18 or 19.5 inches. The backpacks designed for the very tall measure about 20 or more inches.

The Suspension System

The suspension system refers to the way that the weight of the pack is distributed by the various straps on the backpack. Usually smaller packs only have shoulder straps while the more heavy duty ones may have hip belts and even sternum straps. The reason that the suspension system is important is because it avoids putting too much weight on your pressure points. This way, rather than making your shoulders take the brunt of the weight, it can be dispersed, settling it around your hips. This is a much more natural method for your body.

Shoulder Straps

With shoulder straps, the main focus is comfort. So, you should look for shoulder straps that are wide so that the weight will be distributed across your shoulders evenly. Another point to look at is padding. Well-padded straps will not dig into your shoulders while walking.

Hip Belts

Hip belts can be considered the main point on the suspension system. The two things to be concerned with hip belts is where they sit and the amount of padding involved. As with the shoulder straps, more padding means less discomfort. This is particularly important as the belt will be sitting where your hip bones protrude. The hip belts should encircle the top of your hip bones. The placement of the hip belt can be remedied by adjusting the shoulder straps.

Sternum Straps

Typically, women can find the placement of sternum straps most disconcerting. To remain comfortable, it needs to sit a couple of inches below your collarbones so that it will not chafe your chest while walking.

Women Specific vs. Regular Backpacks

There are backpacks that cater specifically to the height and dimensions of a female body. Female oriented backpacks are actually some of the few women specific items that are useful. This is because most traditional hiking backpacks are tailored to the average male height. Therefore, women who are shorter than most men might find such backpacks too long for them.

The same argument can be made for women who don’t have a straight-shaped body. Here, the women specific backpacks have sternum straps and hip belts that are made especially for wider hips and chests. As mentioned, these backpacks are usually only helpful for those on the smaller side.

For the truly petite individual, youth backpacks or those that are meant for children may be just as useful.

The Weight of the Pack

There is no fun in dragging a heavy hiking backpack around. This is why there are many companies that cater to light or ultra-light hikers. These backpacks weigh as little as possible so that you can keep the overall weight of your burden down. This is particularly important for those looking to cover the greatest amount of distance, in the shortest amount of time possible.

Of course, these light or ultra-light backpacks aren’t suitable for everyone. These should be avoided if you want to take a lot of equipment with you or if your main concern is comfort.

The Durability of the Bag

Each hiker requires their backpack to withstand different types of abuse. Some hike over mild terrain and with a light load and thus don’t require too much durability. Others, however, hike with a lot of brush or abrasive surfaces and do so with a lot of equipment. Here, the backpack will need to be a lot tougher.

When speaking of backpack durability, there are two important focal points. The first is the type of material that has been used to construct the backpack. For a less durable backpack, you can use one that is made from polyester. For something that is tougher, you can opt for either nylon or Cordura. If you are really concerned with rips or tears, you can even invest in rip-stop material – the same material used for parachutes.

The other thing to look for is how the bag is being held together. Usually, the toughest seams are the ones that have been tightly stitched together. It is preferable to look for a backpack that contains double-stitching that will withstand pressure even more.

Waterproof Features

This is not a feature that every hiker needs. However, if you hike in bad weather or have to cross bodies of water, a waterproof or water resistant backpack will be handy. The first step to choosing this type of backpack is to understand that backpacks aren’t a 100 percent waterproof. At some point, even the most well insulated pack will let water through.

Another important distinction to make is the difference between waterproof and water resistant. Bags that are waterproof can be submerged in water for brief periods of time. Water resistant bags though, will simply keep rain at bay and can’t be placed in water. If you want a backpack that is either water resistant or waterproof, you should choose ones where the pocket openings and seams have been reinforced as well. This is the only way to be sure that the water will not seep inside.

Top Loader vs. Panel Loader

If you are choosing a smaller hiking backpack that will serve you well for shorter trips, the way that you load the bag isn’t important. Nonetheless, if you are going on a multi-day hike, organization becomes a lot more significant.

The panel loaders zip up around the sides. This makes it simpler to organize all of your items as well as retrieve them later on. Nonetheless, it can be a bit cumbersome to open up this type of backpack. Top loaders are those that open up from the top. While these are simple to pack, it can be difficult to pack or unpack your things in any discernible order.

This are the things you will need to consider if you are attempting to choose the best hiking backpack.

Last updated on March 22, 2018

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