Choosing the right backpack for hiking and camping is never a quick process. Different people need different features for their travels.
Depending on the weather, terrain, and travel distance, you will find that certain backpacks offer better value for the money.
The following article focuses on a range of backpacks with special features, specific applications, and also for general purpose use.
After reading these reviews as well as the buyer’s guide that follows you should have a better understanding of which features are essential in a backpack and what you should expect to see in the best hiking backpack.
Also, if you're specifically looking for a budget pick, check out our recommendations for the best hiking backpack under $100.
The Quick Answer
The best hiking backpack won’t be the same for everyone. That being said, we give the thumbs up to the 70L+10L model by Mountaintop.
It’s the best value for the money considering its excellent waterproofing and high storage capacity.
Our Hiking Backpack Comparison
Sometimes hiking backpacks will share common features. This often happens in backpacks that are the same size or are made for a specific task or environment.
This short comparison chart should serve as a good preview before we delve into detailed reviews for each product.
Hiking Backpack Reviews
1. Best Day Hiking Backpack: Osprey Men’s AtmosAG 65
The Atmos AG 65 uses side compression straps and internal compression straps to minimize the strain you typically get from long hikes. But is it the best hiking backpack? It very well could be if it fits you and you need it for day hikes.
The hip straps are adjustable, and they also have front pockets which allow for convenient access to small items such as compass, phone, power bar, bandages, or anything you might need in a hurry.
The harness is also easy to adjust, making the backpack one of the easiest models to fasten. It allows for more room for error when it comes to measuring your torso. What’s even better is that you can also strap your trekking pole to the harness.
The antigravity suspension which features an ultralight mesh is a technology used by Osprey only in the Atmos and Aura models. It extends all the way from the top panel of the backpack to the hip line and it also serves as a ventilation feature.
Who It’s Best For
If you’re looking for light hiking or something to carry your stuff in for a longer trip, the Osprey Atmos AG 65 can accommodate you. It is probably the best hiking backpack for traveling during the day.
It has plenty of storage compartments, adjustable straps, and a good ventilation system that prevents your back from overheating in the sun.
2. Best Camera Backpack: Canon Deluxe 200EG Camera Backpack
If you enjoy taking tons of pictures on your hikes, then this tiny backpack might just be the best hiking backpack for you. It doesn’t hold too much but it has enough capacity for short trips. It also has great storage for cameras and lenses, and it offers protection by using waterproof and water-repellent materials.
Whatever gear you need to take with you, there’s either a compartment or a strap that can hold it. There are tripod attachments on the straps and special pockets with padding for cameras and lenses.
The weight of 2.45 pounds is really easy to carry. It also helps that the backpack comes with padded straps. While there’s no ventilation to speak of, the backpack does have a good fit and at least prevents chafing on your back and under the straps.
Who It’s Best For
The Cannon Deluxe camera backpack is the best hiking backpack for light hiking for anyone who likes to document their travels. It’s a good example of tech meets nature.
It doesn’t put a massive strain on your back and it also has plenty of storage space for all your travel essentials.
3. Best Hiking Backpack for the Money: Mountaintop 70L+10L Backpack
Mountaintop has been making quality camping and hiking equipment for over three decades. This large 70L+10L hiking backpack is a very versatile design with high storage capacity.
What makes it versatile are both the height and width customization and the added protection that comes in the form of a rain cover.
Waterproof materials are nice to have but sometimes a rain cover that protects the entire backpack is even better. It won’t help much if you fall into a body of water but for everything else, it’s a perfect layer of protection.
The eight compression straps help with the weight distribution a lot and are much needed for a 70L capacity backpack.
Why is it the best hiking backpack on a budget? It simply offers so much customization and protection from elements without sacrificing storage capacity.
You can even set up a hydration system through a side panel of the backpack. It also manages to offer great ventilation despite the use of very thick padding.
Who It’s Best For
This Mountaintop model is the best hiking backpack for anyone looking to venture on long hikes on a budget. It has a very high storage capacity and can be adjusted to fit both men and women of different sizes.
It also works in multiple weather environments as the included rain cover does a good job of protecting the backpack and its contents from continuous showers and snow.
4. Best Baby Hiking Backpack: LuvdbabyBaby Backpack Carrier
Why is this backpack the best hiking backpack for adventurous parents? It’s because it is very durable and offers maximum comfort and safety to your baby while you’re carrying it in the great outdoors.
Luvdbaby didn’t pull any stops in giving their best effort to provide enough capacity for all baby essentials.
The numerous pockets are nice to have given how many small accessories you need with you when you’re taking care of a baby on the road. However, the cherry on top is the diaper changing pad. This feature makes sure you can change your baby safely no matter where you are on the trail.
The material used is waterproof and although it’s not recommended you trek through rain with a baby strapped on, it does help protect the contents of the backpack from water damage. All the straps and harnesses used are highly customizable so that both you and your baby can get the most comfort while hiking.
Who It’s Best For
As the name implies, this is the premium or best hiking backpack for parents that want to take their young one on an adventure. The backpack is built for baby safety and comfort and for parent comfort.
You can store in it anything your baby needs and also use the diaper changing pad in emergency situations. It also has a strong kick-out stand that keeps your baby in a safe position while you adjust or take off your backpack.
5. Best Military Backpack for Hiking: 5.11 Outdoor Tactical RUSH72
The Tactical RUSH72 by 5.11 Outdoor is designed for compact storage and short trips. It is as sturdy as you would expect of a military backpack.
It’s perhaps the best hiking backpack in terms of durability. Its ability to mold to its user’s back regardless of gender makes it a very appealing choice.
The RUSH72 comes in a variety of colors so you can rely on it at any time of day. Although it is a tactical design, it doesn’t come in any camouflage patterns.
It may not have the most impressive looks, but it is durable. The YKK zippers are a trademark of best hiking backpacks.
What it lacks in exterior compartments the RUSH72 makes up for with interior flexible compartments. This makes it easy to keep any tactical gear you carry in an easy-to-access location.
Who It’s Best For
The RUSH72 is the best hiking backpack for anyone that likes traveling light. The good interior compartmentalization allows you to pack plenty of different clothing and other supplies for at least a three day trip.
The small size of the RUSH72 also makes it a good companion for air travel as you don’t have to check it in.
6. Best Hydration Hiking Backpack: Live Infinitely Hydration Backpack
What makes the best hiking backpack with a built-in hydration system? It’s usually a good combination of adjustability, proper bladder design and plenty of storage space. Live Infinitely provides the perfect balance of these features with their hydration backpack.
The high quality bladder is made of plastic and silicone and features a 3.5 inch opening. This makes it easy to clean and allows easy access if you want to use ice for cooling. If only Live Infinitely would’ve included a cleaning tool in the deal.
You can fit quite a lot of essentials in this backpack. Whether you’re planning a short hike or a long camping trip, you have plenty of interior storage as well as numerous exterior pockets for small items and quick access.
The use of 600D polyester makes this backpack water resistant (not waterproof). An even cooler feature is the built-in headphone jack and protective phone pocket. You can listen to your favorite hiking playlist without having to fiddle with your phone on the trail.
Who It’s Best For
For anyone that’s looking for a built-in hydration system with a cooling option and enough storage capacity for short hikes and camping trips, this is the best hiking backpack. It offers great insulation, so you can make use of ice cubes for a relatively long time.
Although the design is smaller than other similar products, it is highly adjustable and comfortable.
7. Best Waterproof Hiking Backpack: Everest Hiking Pack
Everest made their hiking backpack to be very affordable and waterproof. Despite its high storage capacity its design doesn’t allow it to be used for long trips. The lack of a metal frame doesn’t help the weight distribution much.
On the other hand, the high quality waterproof polyester truly provides excellent protection from the elements. You can even try to soak the backpack in the shower and see the results for yourself.
The straps can be adjusted but that won’t give you much comfort unless the size of the backpack is a perfect fit for you. It doesn’t have the same height adjustment features of other backpacks.
The 40lb max weight capacity gives you enough room to work with for both short and long trips, although it can be quite uncomfortable to hike with this backpack on your back for more than a few days. The best features it has to offer are the waterproofing and the price tag.
For the amateur hiker or the budget-conscious hiker, they are enough to make it worth the purchase.
Who It’s Best For
The Everest hiking pack is hands down the best hiking backpack for people on a tight budget. It offers an impressive storage capacity for its price tag and it’s made of durable and waterproof materials.
However, it will work best for short camping trips and short hikes.
8. Best Small Hiking Backpack: Venture Pal Lightweight Daypack
This daypack made by Venture Pal is one of the smallest hiking backpack designs that don’t sacrifice utility to accommodate its compact design. It’s built of lightweight and water-resistant materials which makes it a good choice for short hikes in any kind of weather.
It has a traditional sideways zipper opening which allows for easy access to your essentials. There are also two front pockets featured, which are great for holding phones, flashlights, water bottles or anything else you might need in a moment’s notice.
The multi-compartment design really reminds you of how purses are built. There’s a little bit of room for everything with the proper divider to make packing as organized as possible. The shoulder straps are well padded and help a bit with weight distribution.
Who It’s Best For
Although it’s a unisex design, this daypack by Venture Pal is probably the best hiking backpack for women going on short trips. It has good capacity and plenty of compartments and pockets to store a variety of essentials.
The straps are adjustable but won’t change the comfort level too much unless you have a smaller torso.
9. Best Canvas Hiking Backpack: Ibagbar Canvas Backpack
Not everyone hikes in the middle of the winter or when it’s raining like crazy. Ibagbar managed to come up with an interesting hiking backpack design that not only works for weekend camping but also doubles as a very useful carry-on bag for everyday use.
The detachable shoulder strap lets you convert this canvas backpack into a shoulder bag or a duffle bag. It also features a special laptop compartment, so you can use it to pack everything you need on a daily basis from work items to gym clothes.
How does it fare in a camping situation? It does alright considering it’s mostly made of cotton canvas with synthetic leather accent. It’s not waterproof or water-resistant but it can serve you well in dry weather.
Perhaps the only real downside is the lack of a metal frame which would help a lot with weight distribution as well as increase the overall durability of the backpack.
Who It’s Best For
If you’re only an amateur hiker but you still need a rather large bag on a weekly basis then this canvas backpack from Ibagbar might be the best hiking backpack for you. You can take it on a camping trip in the weekend or you can turn it into a shoulder bag and carry your laptop to work daily.
It won’t handle harsh weather conditions, but it doubles well as a stylish casual bag for everyday use.
Buying Guide: What to Look for in Your Best Hiking Backpack
Different locations and seasons may ask for a particular type of hiking backpack. Sure, there are models that will work in any environment but those might put a serious dent in your budget.
Here’s a list of must-have features that the best hiking backpack should have, with explanations on when and where you might need them.
Many people jump to the conclusion that when it comes to backpacks, the bigger they are the better they are. While in theory the more capacity you have is a good thing, the way the capacity is dispersed is also very important.
The best hiking backpack size you can get is your own torso’s length. Whether you attach accessories on top and on the bottom after that, it’s a whole different issue.
In order to put as little strain as possible on your back, a torso-sized backpack will be your best bet. A backpack that’s half your size will be harder to carry on hiking trips than a lighter proper-sized backpack.
It’s best to look for extra horizontal storage capacity than vertical storage capacity if you really want the best hiking backpack.
Gender Specific Design
Don’t think that gender specific backpacks are differentiated just by the pretty colors. The reasoning behind making backpacks differently for women and men has a scientific basis. The different anatomy makes it necessary sometimes.
A shorter distance between the shoulder straps makes for a better fit for women. Women’s hiking backpacks also have a different design of the hip straps to accommodate a thinner frame.
Of course some backpacks are so adjustable that there’s no need to get gender-specific models. After all, it’s a matter of fit. You should get the one that feels most comfortable on your back.
You would think that most backpacks these days are waterproof but hiking backpacks are still mostly optimized for specific conditions. Some of them may keep the insides dry during short bursts of rain but that doesn’t mean you can take them with you hiking in the winter.
It rarely makes sense from a financial standpoint to make a backpack that’s perfect for any weather scenario.
You want to have a waterproof hiking backpack if you are camping in very humid areas and wet seasons. If you plan on hiking or trekking through the desert, you’ll hardly ever need a waterproof backpack.
Type or Intended Use
One of the reasons why the best hiking backpack overall might not be the best fit for you is the intended use of that specific backpack. Some are designed to be the absolute best choices for a specific environment, season, terrain, or even a specific time of day.
There are backpacks specifically designed for hiking in the snow, some for trekking in the desert, and even ones just made for hiking during the day. Depending on what you need the backpack for, it’s best to always check the manufacturer’s recommendations when it comes to usage.
How do you get the optimal capacity backpack? There’s no right or wrong answer here, just some facts to consider.
Before you go out and buy the best hiking backpack, you should have at least an idea of what you want to fill it with. There’s no better way of figuring out what capacity you need than knowing beforehand the items it has to hold.
There is also a debate about whether or not it’s best to have a high capacity backpack regardless of the situation. Some seem to think that getting more storage capacity than you need could tempt you into carrying junk you don’t need on your trip.
This is one of those situations where more isn’t necessarily better, so plan ahead carefully if you want to be efficient.
Durability vs. Comfort
Yes, durability and comfort don’t always go hand in hand even when it comes to the best hiking backpack. Ultralight backpacks are generally more comfortable to carry and not just because of the weight.
For experienced hikers, there are usually two main concerns with ultralight designs.
First of all, the materials used clearly won’t last long. They help lessen the load on the hiker’s back, but they don’t make for a good long-term investment.
Secondly, packing an ultralight hiking backpack can be a head scratcher at times. Because you have less compartments and storage options, you may have to get creative with how you stuff your essentials in the backpack.
Sleeping Bag Storage
Having a sleeping bag compartment is essential in almost any hiking backpack. Whether you’re going on a one day hike or camping for a week, the sleeping bag is voluminous.
Even if you don’t take a sleeping bag with you, that still leaves you with a rather large compartment that can be used for storing extra clothes, food or water.
Suspensions add a lot to the level of comfort. Depending on the size of the backpack you buy, some systems may be more beneficial than others.
Fixed suspensions offer the best stability and help ease the strain on your spine. Keep in mind though that unless your hiking backpack is a perfect fit (torso size), fixed suspensions might be uncomfortable.
If you have a hard time finding the best hiking backpack size-wise you can always look for one with adjustable suspensions. Some manufacturers also offer interchangeable suspensions, which means you can buy different shoulder straps and hip straps and mix and match until you feel comfortable with the fit.
Ventilation and Padding
Proper ventilation is a trademark of the best hiking backpack regardless of which season or weather type it is intended for. It keeps the front of the backpack from absorbing excess moisture and it keeps your back cooler and drier.
Proper padding is important not only on the hiking backpack itself but also on the straps. It prevents chafing and ensures a tighter fit for an overall more comfortable hiking experience.
There are many features to consider when trying to figure out which is the best hiking backpack for you. Luckily, there is an endless supply of products on the market which you can choose from.
As long as you keep an eye out for must-have features and understand how the environment impacts your choice, you should have no problem finding the right fit.
Best Hiking Backpack FAQ
How do you wear a hiking backpack?
Once you have the perfect size backpack for your torso, it’s all about adjusting the straps properly. You should adjust the shoulder straps until your hiking backpack is positioned high on your back.
You should also adjust the hip straps until there is very little sideways movement. This helps ease the strain on your back and also prevents against chafing.
Can you wash a hiking backpack?
You can, and you should. Even the best hiking backpack won’t last you long if you don’t provide proper maintenance. To make sure the inside of the washing machine doesn’t get damaged in the process, you can put your hiking backpack in a pillow case or a laundry bag.
This keeps the zippers from either damaging the washing machine or ripping through your other clothes. The correct water temperature as well as the strength of the detergent can be found on the label of the backpack.
How do you measure a hiking backpack?
In order to find the best fitting backpack for your body, you need to measure your torso. You can do this by measuring down from the C7 vertebra to your hip line. Measuring width doesn’t really matter as some straps are adjustable.
Which hiking backpack is best?
There is no such thing as best overall when it comes to hiking backpacks. The best hiking backpack you can buy is the one that is most comfortable to carry for you and also the best hiking backpack for the environment you plan on hiking or camping in.
What do you put in a hiking backpack?
Not everyone goes camping or hiking with the same mindset or the same discipline. However, the essentials for surviving are always the first items you should pack: a change of clothing, food, water, medicine.
Tents, stoves, sleeping bags and other larger items can usually be strapped on top or under the backpack, which may even have special lateral compartments for these items.
What should a hiking backpack weigh?
It should never weigh more than you can carry. Keep in mind that because most hiking backpacks come with multiple straps and suspension features, there is a good weight distribution.
You might find it hard to lift a backpack with two hands but that same weight might feel like nothing once everything is strapped in place to your back. It all comes down to each person’s strength and conditioning.
What color hiking backpack?
While the actual styling of a hiking backpack should be the last feature to consider, the palette matters under certain conditions. If you’re hiking through the desert or during the summer you should aim for a light-colored backpack.
You want to draw as little sunlight as you can to keep your food from spoiling and your back from overheating.
How do you waterproof a hiking backpack?
There are special spray-on conditioners that can add a layer of extra protection to a backpack. However, you are better off buying a hiking backpack that’s made with waterproof materials, should you have the need for one.
Aftermarket products don’t last long, and some may even end up damaging the materials of your backpack.
Although the 70L+10L hiking backpack by Mountaintop is a great product which manages to appeal to a large consumer base, there are plenty of other choices too. This one is a good starter hiking backpack for people that are just getting into the hiking and camping experience.
For those of you out there that are particular about your needs, you should always choose the best hiking backpack that fits your requirements.