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Which backpack is best for hikers

How to choose the best hiking backpack

When heading out on a hike, you’ll need a reliable backpack for all your necessities. It’s vital to choose a pack to accommodate your gear while offering a comfortable fit on your shoulders, back and hips. 

You wouldn’t want to use a 70-liter backpack for a quick day hike, which is why we’ve broken down our hiking backpack categories based on capacity and intended purpose. Keep reading to view our top picks in each category so you can hit the trail as soon as possible. 

Types of backpacks

Hiking backpacks come in a wide variety of sizes, materials, colors and frame types. It can be challenging to know which model will work best for you. Once you know whether you’ll be doing more day hikes or backpacking trips, you can narrow down the type of backpack you’ll need. We’ll examine the four main types of backpacks: daypacks, overnight/weekend packs, multi-day packs, and extended trip packs. 

Hiking daypacks

For single-day hikes, a pack with a capacity of 20-30 liters should fit just right. These packs are typically not big enough to hold a tent or sleeping bag but can easily store food, water, extra clothing and first aid kits. 

Osprey Daylite Plus 20L Daypack

A versatile hiking pack you can also use for travel, the Daylite Plus features multiple zip compartments, side mesh pockets and a front “shove-it” pocket that you can use for quick access to a rain jacket or other essentials. Osprey has included a cushioned back panel and mesh straps for better breathability to keep you comfortable while hiking.

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Deuter Speedlite 20L backpack

The 20-liter Speedlite is a durable, lightweight hiking companion compatible with hydration bladders up to 3 liters. The padded shoulder straps add extra support, while the side compression straps keep all your contents compact and secure while on the trail. Also available in 24-liter.

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HIKPRO 20L Packable Daypack

As far as budget packs go, you won’t find a much better option than the HIKPRO daypack. Simple, water-resistant, tear-resistant and highly packable, this pack has everything you need for a quick trip down your favorite trail, and with a weight of just 7.5 ounces, it won’t weigh you down.

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The North Face Borealis 28L Backpack

The Borealis is a classic daypack that is just as useful in the woods as it is in the city. If you’re a hiker looking for a pack that you can also use for travel, work and school, this is a perfect crossover option.

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Overnight hiking backpacks

An ideal pack for a night or two out in the woods is 30-50 liters. However, with the rising popularity of ultralight backpacking, some hikers may be able to use a pack of this size for longer trips.

Osprey Stratos 36L Backpack

A 36-liter capacity may not seem like a ton of space, but you’ll be surprised with how much you can fit into this Osprey bag, especially with the bottom zip sleeping bag compartment. Complete with an integrated rain cover, you won’t have to worry about the pack getting soaked through when the weather turns.

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FENGDONG 40L Hiking Backpack

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly overnight option, you’ll want to check out this 40-liter pack. Built using water-resistant materials, this pack has exterior straps that can securely hold a sleeping bag or tent and includes hip belt pockets for quick access to your phone, multitool or snacks.

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Diamond Candy 40L Hiking Backpack

You don’t have to break the bank to find a functional overnight bag. The 40L pack from Diamond Candy keeps your contents dry in wet conditions and your body comfortable with adjustable straps and a reinforced cushioned back panel.

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Kelty Redwing 50L Backpack

The FitPro suspension system featured on this backpack lets you distribute the pack’s weight across the padded shoulder and hip belt so that you can have a comfortable fit on strenuous uphill climbs. With plenty of separate storage pockets, you can keep your gear and accessories organized.

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Multi-day hiking backpacks 

A multi-day hike is perfect for 50-70 liter packs, which are large enough to hold all the essential gear, extra clothing, food and accessories. 

Loowoko 50L Hiking Backpack

A durable budget option suitable for both men and women, this 50-liter pack can easily fit the necessary items for a three or four-day backpacking trip. You can use the side compression straps to hold your packed tent in place when you want to save interior space for a bear canister, jackets or maybe even a camp chair.

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TETON Sports Scout 3400 55L Backpack

TETON Sports is one of the most affordable outdoor brands that still offers high-quality products and their fully adjustable 55-liter Scout pack is excellent for longer treks in the wilderness. The sleeping bag compartment lets you access your sleeping bag with ease, and the front bungee straps are ideal for holding a jacket or poncho in place when not in use.

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Osprey Atmos 65 AG Backpack

If you’ve been on a backpacking trip recently, you've probably seen several hikers sporting this popular model from Osprey. One of the best overall multi-day and thru-hiking packs, the Anti-Gravity suspension system makes even the heaviest loads feel light and manageable. Also available in women’s sizes.

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Extended trip backpacks

Packs with a capacity of 70 liters or greater are designed for extended wilderness stays. These packs are also great for family or group backpacking trips. 

Gregory Stout 70L Backpack

You can use a 70-liter pack for shorter trips that might require extra equipment or longer outings where you’ll need to pack for the long haul. The Gregory Stout is a trustworthy, lightweight pack that is hydration compatible and ready for your most demanding adventures.

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Kelty Coyote 85L Backpack

With an empty weight under 5 pounds, this large backpacking pack can comfortably carry loads up to 65 pounds. With strategically placed compression straps, exterior gear loops and storage compartments, you’ll have all the features you’ll need for a successful hike.

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TETON Sports Grand5500 90L Backpack

This 90-liter pack has more than enough space to hold everything you need to make your time in the outdoors enjoyable. This model has several unique features, such as a detachable storage pouch and a three-in-one poncho/rainfly/tarp combo.

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Matthew Young is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

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