Top 10 Best Hiking Backpacks in 2018

Woman with hiking backpackFew 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.

Having checked thousands of hiking backpack reviews, we can say that the Gregory Denali 100 is the best choice for most people.

Gregory Denali 100

Gregory Denali 100

The best reviewed hiking backpack
Rated 4.87 out of 5

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PS: We have checked 3,915 reviews to make this top 10 list!
1Gregory Denali 100Gregory Denali 1004.87Check Price
2Vaude Asymmetric 48+8Vaude Asymmetric 48+84.83Check Price
3Osprey Xenith 88Osprey Xenith 884.82Check Price
4Granite Gear Lutsen 45Granite Gear Lutsen 454.77Check Price
5Deuter Aircontact Lite 65+104.76Check Price
6Gregory Baltoro 65Gregory Baltoro 654.76Check Price
7Osprey Atmos AG 65Osprey Atmos AG 654.74Check Price
8Osprey Xena 70Osprey Xena 704.74Check Price
9Thule Versant 60Thule Versant 604.73Check Price
10Mountainsmith Apex 60Mountainsmith Apex 604.72Check Price

How we rate the bags

We have checked 3,915 hiking 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.

Not sure what hiking backpacks to choose? Read on as we are going to take a closer look at each bag!

1 – Gregory Denali 100

5 review stars Rating 4.87 based on 39 reviews

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Gregory Denali 100

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Gregory Denali 100:

Reviewers like these things about the Gregory Denali 100

  • A lot of users have mentioned that the Gregory Denali can be used for hiking and travel.
  • Others thought that it the pack is durable due to its 210D Nylon and 420D High-Density Nylon material.
  • Several reviewers thought that the bag could be scaled down due to its removable frame stays and bivy pad.
  • Users found it comfortable to use even with heavy loads.
  • According to some users, its loops and daisy secure gears in place.
  • A user mentioned that it has excellent load stability.
  • Another reviewer thought that it has sufficient pockets which provide make it easy to organize things.
  • Testers found that the bag is large enough to carry a heavy load.
  • Other testers noted that it is lightweight.
  • Many wrote that it is comfortable to carry the bag due to its padded shoulder pads.
  • They also said that its suspension system helps carry more weight.
  • Several of those who have tried the bag thought that it works best when used in rough terrain.
  • A lot of testers felt that the bag is stable and did not move or sway around.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A reviewer thought that the bag might be cumbersome.
  • Another user found that it does not include an integrated rain cover.

2 – Vaude Asymmetric 48+8

5 review stars Rating 4.83 based on 19 reviews

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Vaude Asymmetric 48+8

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Vaude Asymmetric 48+8:

Reviewers like these things about the Vaude Asymmetric 48+8

  • Many users said that this bag has lot of adjustment options and is very comfortable.
  • Some of the users said that the bottom zip access of the main compartment is quite functional.
  • Reviewers said that the hydration pocket for the bladder is quite nicely placed.
  • A user’s guide come along with the bag and is quite useful as commented by the reviewers.
  • Many buyers claimed that the load positioning in the bag is uniform.
  • The side mesh pockets of the bag make it very convenient to store frequently used content.
  • The internal frame of the bag keeps the body posture correct as per a user.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • Reviewers said that this bag should have had larger straps.
  • Some users said that the strap loosens if the bag is fully loaded.
  • Many users said that this bag is not for extreme activities like canyoneering.

3 – Osprey Xenith 88

5 review stars Rating 4.82 based on 200 reviews

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Osprey Xenith 88

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Osprey Xenith 88:

Reviewers like these things about the Osprey Xenith 88

  • Reviewers agree that the Osprey Xenith backpack provides comfort to the user of the pack.
  • Reviewers noted that it has enough pockets to secure and store essential items and equipment.
  • Other reviewers thought that it has designated loops for ice ax tools.
  • Users noted that the harness could be adjusted to suit the body structure of the user.
  • Testers thought that it is compatible with hydration systems.
  • Reviewers found that the pack is equipped with a lot of adjustment straps to balance the load evenly.
  • Reviewers noted that its compartments are easy to access.
  • Other reviewers said that it is equipped with a padded panel to protect and support heavy loads.
  • Users thought that the bag is large enough to carry necessary equipment.
  • They have also mentioned that the bag may be used for climbing and hiking.
  • According to those who have used the backpack, the pack is equipped with a peripheral frame which efficiently transfers weight to the hip belt.
  • Reviewers pointed out that its anatomically contoured shoulder straps provide support and comfort to the user.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A user thought that the backpack looks too bulky.
  • Another user noted that zippers might snag when used for opening compartments.
  • A reviewer said that the pack did not fit him at all.

4 – Granite Gear Lutsen 45

5 review stars Rating 4.77 based on 66 reviews

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Granite Gear Lutsen 45

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Granite Gear Lutsen 45:

Reviewers like these things about the Granite Gear Lutsen 45

  • Several reviewers thought that the Granite Gear Lutsen backpack is designed for users who are into thru-hiking or traveling.
  • Other reviewers found that its loops make it suitable for attaching several things.
  • Several users discovered that its adjustable hip belt and frame allows it to fit their hip size and length of their torso, respectively.
  • Reviewers found that its pockets might carry several equipment and belongings including a compass and a wallet.
  • Testers lauded its convenient extra storage.
  • Many users felt that their backs were well-ventilated due to its foam with air channels.
  • Many of those who have tried using the backpack praised its compression straps which may also be used to secure snowshoes to the backpack.
  • Some testers noticed its water resistant barrier zippered tricot line hip belt pocket.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A user found that the top lid pockets have a tendency to flop when the main pack compartment is not full.
  • Another user mentioned that the frame adds weight to the bag.
  • A reviewer thought that the lumbar padding was uncomfortable.

5 – Deuter Aircontact Lite 65+10

5 review stars Rating 4.76 based on 57 reviews

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Here’s what the reviewers think about the Deuter Aircontact Lite 65+10:

Reviewers like these things about the Deuter Aircontact Lite 65+10

  • Almost of the reviewers said that the pack is rugged, heavy duty and durable for travelling and trekking.
  • Many said that the bag is well designed and fits their body perfectly for comfortable carry.
  • They mentioned that the straps are highly adjustable to evenly distribute the weigth for easy carrying for longer hours.
  • Trekkers said that the pack has lots of room and helped them carry all extra gears for camping and trekking.
  • They also said that the front zipper are very useful for accessing the compartments easily.
  • A few buyers are happy with the ventilation system of the pack and they said that their travels were not sweaty on their back.
  • A buyer also said that the great number of organizational pockets helped them carry stuffs organized for their trips.
  • Another user was happy to mention the waist belt pocket for emergency items with easy access.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • Many of the reviewers complained that the bag is heavy to carry when fully loaded.
  • A few buyers said that their is only one external side pocket for water bottles.
  • Another user said that the pack is not good for rainy weather as it is not fully water resistant.
  • A user also mentioned the pack to be little more expensive compared to others with the same features.

6 – Gregory Baltoro 65

5 review stars Rating 4.76 based on 902 reviews

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Gregory Baltoro 65

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Gregory Baltoro 65:

Reviewers like these things about the Gregory Baltoro 65

  • Testers found out that the Gregory Baltoro backpack is sturdy due to its 210D nylon and 300D nylon materials.
  • Other testers indicated that it consists of a vented back panel.
  • They further mentioned that such back panel comprises a foam and silicone lumbar grip for a precise fit.
  • Several users said that it is comfortable to wear.
  • Other users found that it has a large main compartment to store essentials.
  • Some reviewers indicated the presence of a removable rain cover which could be stowed in its own zippered pocket.
  • They further mentioned that the bag has a hip belt accessory pocket.
  • Other reviewers said that it has a lightweight design.
  • Several testers found that the transfer between the hip and shoulder straps is seamless.
  • Some users pointed out that it has a lot of different compartments.
  • They also pointed out that the pack has excellent support.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A tester discovered that the bag is quite heavy.
  • A reviewer mentioned that the pack does not suit every body structure.

7 – Osprey Atmos AG 65

5 review stars Rating 4.74 based on 2483 reviews

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Osprey Atmos AG 65

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Osprey Atmos AG 65:

Reviewers like these things about the Osprey Atmos AG 65

  • Almost all of the reviewers said that it is a comfortable pack for daily commuting and also for weekend trips.
  • They also said that the adjustable torso length and hip belts help to keep the pack close to body for easy movements.
  • Many of them said that pack is built with good ventilation system that helped them to carry the pack for longer hours.
  • Some of them said that the hip belt pockets are large enough to help keep more stuffs for easy access.
  • The travellers are also happy to have a removable sleeping bag compartment zippered at the bottom of the pack.
  • Some reviewers said that the pack comes with great organizational pockets to keep things organized while travelling.
  • A user also mentioned that the dual entry water bottle pocket is amazing to carry.
  • Another user said that the pack comes with removable floating top which helps to reduce the overall weight of the pack also.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • Many users complained that the pack doesn’t have an integrated rain cover.
  • A user said that the external mesh pockets are more prone to ripping.
  • Some buyers have also said that the backpack is overall a heavy pack.

8 – Osprey Xena 70

5 review stars Rating 4.74 based on 58 reviews

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Osprey Xena 70

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Osprey Xena 70:

Reviewers like these things about the Osprey Xena 70

  • A lot of users thought that the Osprey Xena backpack has ample storage for necessary equipment and personal belongings.
  • Other users noted that its hip belt and shoulder straps are moldable and are anatomically contoured.
  • Many of those who have tried the backpack thought that it is comfortable and firm.
  • Several users observed that its shoulder straps also provide support to the users.
  • They also mentioned that the bag is durable due to its 210D High Tenacity Nylon material.
  • Reviewers have found that it has sufficient pockets making it easy to store and secure things in place.
  • Users found it easy to store their ice ax tools due to specific loops dedicated for such gears.
  • Testers found it easy to access its top-loading main compartment through its curved side zippers.
  • Many testers noted that its external hydration sleeve feature simplifies refilling.
  • They also thought that its hydration sleeve protects the pack from spills.
  • Other reviewers said that it is designed for women’s use.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A user remarked that it is not for petite women.
  • Another user thought that it does not come with a cover to protect the pack.

9 – Thule Versant 60

5 review stars Rating 4.73 based on 47 reviews

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Thule Versant 60

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Thule Versant 60:

Reviewers like these things about the Thule Versant 60

  • Several reviewers thought that the Thule Versant backpack is ideal for everyday use, light camping, and travel, among others.
  • Testers praised its 420D Cordura and 100D Nylon fabric body which makes the backpack more durable and well-balanced.
  • Users noted that the bag has sufficient compartments to store essential items and personal belongings.
  • Users thought that its hip belt might be customized in three different configurations.
  • Several users noted that the roll top pocket on the hip belt of the pack is resistant to water, protecting electronics.
  • According to other users, it is also lined with waterproof material, making the bag sufficiently resistant to water, especially when equipped with a rain cover.
  • Those who have used the bag found it comfortable to use due to its adjustable hip belt and torso strap.
  • Users praised its versatility due to the fact that its top can come off and become a sling pack for summer hikes.
  • Many reviewers found its design as lightweight and comfortable.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A user thought that the backpack was a little small for extended excursions.
  • A reviewer found out that the pack may not fit for taller guys well.

10 – Mountainsmith Apex 60

5 review stars Rating 4.72 based on 44 reviews

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Mountainsmith Apex 60

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Mountainsmith Apex 60:

Reviewers like these things about the Mountainsmith Apex 60

  • Almost all the testers said that it is a sturdy and durable backpack for weekend and longer vacations.
  • They also said the pack is super comfortable wear and carry.
  • Numerous of them confirmed that the pack stays stable to the back with good adjustable systems.
  • Many users admited that the pack has great capacity with good number of organizational pockets to keep things organized.
  • Some buyers mentioned it as a versatile pack with top quality built for trekking and camping.
  • Most of the reviewers are thankful for the great price of the pack.
  • Travellers said that the side pouches and external loops were helpful to carry trekking gears easily.
  • Many of the travellers said that harness and waist belt is super comfortable with extra padding.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • Some complained that the pack doesn’t come with a rain cover.
  • A few complained that the pack doensn’t have a bottom compartment to carry their sleeping bags for camping.
  • A user said that the side water bottel pocket is not reachable when the pack is on his back.

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Buyer’s guide to hiking backpacks

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

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.

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.

Selected reviews

Dirtbag Dreams reviewed the Gregory Baltoro 65

This is a super comfortable backpack, with lots of bells and whistles. The price you pay for comfort is weight – so if you’re the type of person who prefers to go light and fast, it might not be the pack for you. But if you’re looking for all the convenient features, extra pockets, and comfort, you might be okay with carrying an extra pound or two.

Posted 17 May 2018 by Logan Pitney – Read full review

Her Packing List reviewed the Thule Versant 60

Absolutely, especially if you can snag one on sale from eBags! It’s a perfect backpack for the petite long-term traveler who wants the flexibility to carry on a small load or check a larger load.

Posted 14 September 2017 by Ali Garland – Read full review

Backpack Gear Test reviewed the Gregory Baltoro 65

I was very pleased with the Gregory Baltoro 65. It is a comfortable pack when under heavy loads and over long distances. It compresses down well for use as a day pack from a base camp. It is very well constructed and can repel a ridiculous amount of rain. Packing is easy and there are enough options for small gear storage.

Posted 23 November 2015 by Duane Lawrence – Read full review

Simply Hike reviewed the Gregory Baltoro 65

My overall verdict is the Baltoro is a great backpack tons of pockets, compression straps and other features – you can really get the pack to suit your needs. The Response AFD system works a treat one of the best fits I’ve ever had with a rucksack of that size. The only downside really was the overall weight of the bag, although when it was on my back it really didn’t make much of a difference.

Posted 20 June 2014 – Read full review

Notes about this top 10 list

The list was last updated 19/09/2018.

The list shows the best reviewed hiking backpacks from a much bigger list of selected products. The list should not be considered a complete list of all available, excellent hiking backpacks

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

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So far we have checked more than 2,1 million reviews!

Using our bag review summaries, we aim to help you find the perfect bag without having to spend a lot of time reading an endless list of reviews.

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