We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
In this review, we focus on hiking backpacks rather than the multi-functional packs you might use for toting items to school, work, and so on. Several of the products on our list would perform those everyday functions very well, but their primary purpose is to support people who want to explore the wild for a day, or longer.
This review also explores internal frame hiking backpacks—the kind that serious outdoor warriors use for extended exploration.
We evaluated hundreds of products in order to identify the five best hiking backpacks available.
Our final selection offers some interesting crossovers and solutions for every budget.
Hiking backpack manufacturers incorporate all kinds of materials in order keep the weight low and the backpack functional. We address those materials in this review. Then there's the question of capacity. Do you want a good day pack for short trips or something that will support longer adventures?
Some consumers want a backpack for work and/or leisure. Others want a pack that's completely focused on outdoor performance. Versatility is key! Our ratings also examine ergonomics—the physical comfort and support each pack provides. Ergonomics are particularly vital for those who carry large loads for long distances.
Joy fell in love with hiking and climbing about six years ago. Her favorite mountain of all time is Mt. Kilimanjaro, which she summited after a 10-day trek. Summit day itself was a 10-hour slog, but the satisfaction of reaching the crater and then the summit was unparalleled. The most important lesson Joy has learned is to listen to the experts, be prepared, and have the right gear.
Today's top hiking backpacks aren't just big canvas bags. They're far more sophisticated than that. Many packs sport facilities for hydration, hooks for extra gear, and other purpose-specific compartments. In this part of our ratings, we examine how each manufacturer uses features to maximize functionality.
Some of our finalists are surprisingly affordable, but each pack on our elite list is a premium product built to a high standard. In this part of our ratings, we summarize the value that each product provides.
The Teton Sports Scout 3400 Internal Frame Backpack isn’t a multi-functional day pack like some of the others reviewed here. Rather, it’s an internal frame pack designed for serious trekking.
That's not to say it isn't still light enough for day use, but with a capacity of 55 liters, it offers a lot more room than many competitors, including the ones on this list.
The fabrics used in its construction are 600D Diamond Ripstop polyester and 600D PU (polyurethane), yielding a durable, tear-resistant skin. Inside, there are flexible aluminum stays that add the support you need without making the whole pack too rigid. The Teton is available in two styles, but the only particularly noticeable difference between the two is the fact that one includes yellow visibility accents.
Hikpro cites multiple uses for its Ultralight Packable Backpack: camping, hiking, vacationing, school. It can hold 20 liters of material (far less than our Best of the Best product, the Teton), but the advantage here is that it’s extremely lightweight and, when folded, takes up very little space. For the purposes stated by the manufacturer, 20 liters is often enough.
There’s an outer pocket for easy access to small items, an inner pocket that securely stores valuables, and a main pocket for carrying the bulk of your belongings. In addition, two mesh side pockets may be used for items like water bottles.
Made of sturdy nylon, the pack is purported by the manufacturer to be both water- and tear-resistant. During our customer research, we did find a few incidents of compromised durability concerning the shoulder strap, outside pockets, and inside lining. Overall, however, most owners say that the materials are quite durable. Many have successfully carried the Hikpro throughout their international travels, trips to Disney, and so on.
The Outlander Packable Handy Lightweight Travel Backpack is described by the manufacturer as a “day to day” pack that’s also suitable for traveling. With a 33-liter capacity, it can hold more than both the Hikpro and Naturehike. Weighing just half a pound, it’s another compact space-saver worth considering.
The Outlander is made of nylon and, according to marketing materials, is both water- and rip-resistant. However, we did encounter more durability complaints about this pack than others. Some owners indicated that it was not completely waterproof; others complained that the pack fell apart after several weeks of rigorous use.
If you’re planning to carry textbooks or other heavy or sharp-edged materials in this bag, we would point out that there is very little padding (just thin nylon) between the carrier and the bag’s contents. Transporting heavy books or other unwieldy items could get uncomfortable because of this.
We note that the Outlander is available in two sizes: 20-liter and 33-liter. According to many of the owners we surveyed, the larger of the two is preferable.
The Everest Hiking Pack is made of 600D polyester rather than nylon. As such, it weighs a bit more (about three pounds when empty.) It can hold 48 liters and is classified by the manufacturer as a “medium” backpack. The only pack on our list that can hold more is the Teton, our Best of the Best product.
The main compartment is secured by a snap buckle, and there are zippered side pockets as well. An adjustable waist belt creates an extra sense of security against the body. In addition, owners benefit from a “bungee” cord organizer on the front that can hold bulky items
Satisfied owners say this is a rugged bag of exceptional quality. We’ve heard glowing comments from people who put this pack through constant abuse, day in and day out, as they traveled internationally.
Naturehike’s Outdoor Backpack is a lightweight day pack of medium size. Its 15-liter capacity is enough to hold the essentials for a short hike or trip. Owners appreciate the security afforded by the Naturehike’s chest and waist straps. The pack sits close to the body and is lightweight (95 percent nylon) and comfortable.
The pack includes a “main” storage area where most items go as well as an “assistant” storage space and outside pocket for smaller items. Water bottles may be stored in the side pockets. The backpack is not large enough to hold a laptop, but it can accommodate smaller electronics and other items.
The fact that it’s made of waterproof nylon is helpful for those who plan to carry food and/or electronics. And for bikers, the Naturehike’s mesh helmet net is a definite plus. Most owners rate this pack’s durability highly, although a few point out that it’s not made as well as it could be. Considering the low price, we think it’s a good deal.
By the time people start looking at internal frame hiking backpacks like the Teton Sports Scout 3400, they're usually getting pretty serious about their leisure activities — which might include overnight trips. That's not to say you can't use the Teton for day trips, of course.
This backpack weighs a fraction under 4 1/2 pounds, which is not at all heavy for a pack of this capacity. It's not gender-specific, and it offers plenty of adjustability. We've heard from satisfied owners who range from a 5-foot-2 to 6-foot-5! That being said, the pack is specifically rated for people who are 5-foot-9 and under. Padded shoulder and waist straps combine with a sternum strap and mesh lumbar support to give a snug, supportive fit. The back and hip have open-structured foam padding that cushions the body while maintaining good airflow.
In terms of versatility, the Hikpro goes a long way. We’ve heard from college students who take this pack with them to university as well as travelers and hikers who bring it along on day trips.
That said, the Hikpro’s capacity is not as large as some competitors, including that of our Best of the Best hiking backpack, the Teton. We wouldn’t go so far as to say that this pack would serve any person in any situation. However, we would agree that it adequately serves many people in many situations.
One of the compliments frequently paid to this product is the fact that it is comfortable to wear. This is due, in large part, to its lightweight material and low weight of just 6.5 ounces. Also, it doesn’t “sag” when holding heavier items like some backpacks do. Marketed as a unisex pack, buyers can get the Hikpro in a rainbow of colors. There’s sure to be a hue that suits just about everyone.
The Hikpro Ultralight Packable can be pretty suitable for shopping, if you want to avoid bringing lots of plastic and paper bags home from stores.
Outlander owners have taken their travel backpack across the world, to Japan, Hawaii, Iceland, and so on. It probably shouldn’t be the only backpack you bring on such a trip, but it’s certainly useful as a “packable” extra bag that could store wet bathing suits, dirty sandals, and the like.
It’s very comfortable to wear, with deep inner pockets, mesh side pockets for water bottles, and other handy storage spaces. As mentioned earlier, there is little padding between the wearer and the contents of the bag, so care should be taken not to pack anything too sharp or otherwise uncomfortable (at least not without additional padding).
With padding on the straps and back, most owners say this pack is very comfortable and easy to wear. We’ve heard of folks carrying it in 100-degree weather as well as 40-degree weather. Overall customer impressions are that the Everest is made of quality materials and stitched together particularly well.
It’s a light- to medium-duty pack, so in terms of versatility, you probably wouldn’t want to haul bricks in it. However, you could certainly fit a few textbooks or a two-person tent and some supplies inside, depending on your needs. Unlike the Teton, there’s no internal “structure” that causes it to hold a particular shape. Some people have complained that the bag leaned left or right while on their back. Still others complained that the waist strap rode up their back.
But the complaints are few, and for the relatively low price, this sturdy polyester bag is likely to give you a good experience.
There have been a few complaints registered about the short-lived durability of the Everest Hiking Pack, but the majority think this tough, waterproof hiking pack is worth the money.
In terms of comfort, the Naturehike gets a definite thumbs up. Lightweight and sturdy on the body, most owners rave about how easy it is to wear and use. The chest and waist straps are wide and comfortable.
Uniquely, a whistle is built right into the chest strap. If you choose, there’s room to store a small hydration bladder as well.
The bag is on the small side, but most owners say it’s quite durable, not to mention waterproof. It’s not meant for long-distance trips, and it might not even be suitable for students (a laptop does not fit inside). However, it’s great for people who plan to spend the day biking or hiking and want to bring a few small items with them.
It's easy to categorize the Teton Sports 3400 hiking backpack as a low-cost, no-frills option, but it's actually a lot better than that. Many owners have described it as an entry-level pack, but it's not without some great features.
For example, it includes a sleeping bag compartment which you often don't find on more expensive packs.
There are seven exterior pockets, a dedicated internal compartment for hydration, and a concealed rainfly in safety yellow. (The Teton is the only product on our shortlist to supply this protection at no cost!) There are gear loops that could be used as a towing point, a mesh and bungee exterior section for additional gear, and a handle at the top that helps with lifting when you're not actually wearing it.
The Teton Sports Scout3400 Backpack's added shoulder and waist straps combine with a sternum strap and mesh lumbar support to yield a snug, supportive fit.
The Hikpro may not appeal to some long-distance hikers because it does not contain a hydration bladder. There is one small internal pocket where a bladder could theoretically be stored, but most owners agree this isn’t practical.
However, the Hikpro does supply several mesh pockets for water bottles as well as three divided compartments for storage. For lots of people, this is all the structure they need.
One of the Hikpro’s biggest selling points is its light weight.It’s easy to wear and easy to store when not in use. We also like the fact that it’s priced low and comes in so many different colors.
The Outlander shares much in common with the Naturehike and Hikpro products on our list. When folded, it consumes very little space. And, it’s available in a number of attractive colors, so most people should be able to find one that suits them.
Compared to the other products on our list, however, no unique features stand out. The Outlander doesn’t have useful chest and waist straps like the Naturehike, nor does it have a built-in whistle. The fact that more durability complaints have been logged about this product than some of its competitors give us slight pause, too. Overall, however, most people say they love the product for what it is.
The Outlander Packable Handy Lightweight Backpack is an extremely lightweight nylon bag that’s great for day travel.
The Everest Hiking Pack is waterproof and includes some helpful features, including a key ring and bungee cording to help you secure bulky items. Made of polyester, the bottom is more rugged than the sides, but the entire pack is great for light- to medium-duty carriage of materials.
There are side compression straps which keep the material secure, although we’ve still heard a few complaints here and there about the bag leaning left or right. The waist strap is adjustable, and for most people, it’s a feature that makes wearing the Everest more comfortable, not less so.
The Naturehike is not a huge bag, but it’s suitable for those who have minimal carry-on needs. One of the pack’s most unique features is its mesh helmet net. Bikers in particular take advantage of this feature.
The entire bag is lightweight, breathable, and comfortable against the body.
Its top selling points are its waterproof nylon material, built-in emergency whistle (attached to the sternum belt), secure straps, and low price. It’s available in several colors, as well.
Naturehike owners rave about the multiple little compartments inside the backpack.
The Teton Sports Scout3400 costs just $99. For that money, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better hiking backpack.
This is the type of pack used by adventurers who want to get away from civilization for two days or more. Yes, it's a budget model, and the materials aren't technically of premium quality. However, they're still tough and tear-resistant.
Though the occasional owner has had problems with buckles, our research encountered no issues with the fabric itself. The Teton Sports Scout3400 has all the features that someone moving up to a "higher" level of outdoor activity would need. As many owners have expressed, it's an excellent entry-level trekking and mountaineering backpack. The only complaint of any particular note concerns its suitability for tall people. Most didn't consider it a problem, but a few did.
At a cost of $16, the Hikpro is quite affordable. Given its smaller capacity (20 liters) and lack of a hydration bladder, it won’t be the solution for everyone. But if you’re looking for a comfortable, easy-to-use daypack that requires very little effort, this is definitely one to consider.
For very little money — $58, to be exact — you can enjoy the benefits of the portable Outlander backpack. It’s got more room inside than some of its competitors (if you buy the 33-liter version), but it also has a few more durability issues. It’s not completely waterproof, but it will do a fairly good job shielding its contents from moisture. You can buy it in an array of pleasing colors, and if you’re planning to travel, you may find that this lightweight, packable sack is perfect for you.
Remember the 10 essentials for hiking: Footwear, GPS, water, food, clothing, safety items, first aid kit, multi-purpose tool, sun protection, backpack!
At a cost of $32, you’ll be paying more for the polyester Everest than many of its nylon counterparts. It’s heavier than its nylon competitors, too, but it’s waterproof and, according to most owners, rugged and up to the task.
If you buy this one, bear in mind that it’s definitely an “economical” choice when compared to similar packs that cost more.It doesn’t have quite as many compartments for storage as some higher-end models, and some people say the straps aren’t as adjustable as they would like.
But it does the trick for lots of people, and we’re proud to endorse the Everest Hiking Pack as one of the best on the market.
When purchasing a new hiking backpack, put some weight in it (approximately how much you think you'll be carrying), strap it on as you would for a trek, and take the time to walk around with it on to test its fit to your body, and the comfort level.
The slick-looking Naturehike Outdoor Backpack is a medium-capacity day pack made of durable nylon. It’s great for daytime adventuring on your bike or the hiking trail. At a cost of $14, it’s also a fairly risk-free investment.
Most owners are extremely happy with what they get for their money. Capacity isn’t as large as an internal frame backpack like the Teton, but it’s good enough for folks with modest to minimal needs. Durability complaints are few and far between. Considering the fact that this pack costs so little, that’s saying a lot.
We really like the sporty look of the Naturehike Outdoor Backpack. Combined with its multiple color offerings, overall quality, and extremely low price, we think lots of other people will, too.
All five of our finalists are affordable and deliver great quality, but in the end, the Best of the Best title goes to the Teton Sports Scout 3400.
For a decent price, the Teton boasts 55 liters of storage capacity—far more than any other pack here. It also offers several features (like the rainfly) that quite a few more expensive models either don't include or demand extra for.
The fabric is polyester rather than nylon, but it's thick enough to be hard-wearing, and there's no real weight penalty for the difference. It doesn't have an advanced suspension system, but it does have a properly supportive internal frame and good shoulder and waist belts. Attention has been paid to air flow; wearers tell us they're able to stay comfortable and cool.
The Teton Sports Scout 3400 offers a 55-liter capacity, a supportive internal frame, and quality waist and shoulder belts.
There's a small inner pocket for personal bits and pieces and seven outer pockets for all manner of gear. There are loops for attaching whatever you might want to stow (poles, ice axe, and so on). Owners also enjoy the freedom to attach other items to the outside.
There have been a few complaints from owners about durability. These complaints focus on the clips and catches rather than the fabric itself. Another mild concern is the fact that some people think it's a bit small for taller hikers. Overall, however, comments are very positive. The Teton Sports Scout 3400 is a very popular choice. If you're moving up from a day pack or just taking up distance trekking, this hiking backpack comes highly recommended.
Both the Naturehike and the Hikpro offer similar benefits: they’re lightweight, durable nylon packs that cost little and deliver big benefits. In the end, however, we must choose only one winner of our Best Bang for Your Buck award, and that product is the Naturehike Outdoor Backpack.
With a maximum capacity of 15 liters, it’s certainly not a large backpack. On the contrary, it’s a space-saving, waterproof pack for people with minimal travel needs. But it’s comfortable and durable, and it has some cool features that, for the money, represent an unbelievable deal.
The comfortable, durable Naturehike Outdoor Backpack has some cool features that, for the money, represent an unbelievable deal.
We’re particularly impressed by the Naturehike’s comfortable chest/waist straps and its mesh helmet net. The built-in whistle attached to the chest belt is a nice touch that’s demonstrative of Naturehike’s attention to detail and user convenience. For an extremely low price, you can have this sporty looking pack for your shorter day trips. The investment is so small, it’s virtually risk-free. What’s more, most owners rave about how happy they are with it. In an ideal world, every hiker and biker would have one of these colorful, convenient packs in their arsenal.