Having good hiking shoes and a reliable and comfortable backpack is essential if you’re an avid hiker. The right pack will make all the difference on a long hike. Whether you need a small day pack for a short trip or looking for a larger backpack for an extended hike, we’ve got you covered.
As an avid hiker, I have used many different packs. I spend much of my summer hiking the mountains around where I live. The perfect backpack is lightweight, comfortable to wear, has enough space to carry everything, and is durable. I’ve spent time evaluating and ranking the finest backpacking backpacks of 2022.
Based on customer reviews and ratings, here are the 7 best hiking backpacks for 2022. We’ve looked at various factors, including features, comfort, and price, to find the best packs for every type of hiker.
Without further ado, let’s get started!
What Is The Best Hiking Backpack?
Here is our ranked and reviewed list of the best hiking backpacks.
The 7 Best Hiking Backpacks
- Best Overall Hiking Backpack – Osprey Atmos AG 65 / Aura AG 65
- Best Budget Hiking Backpack – REI Co-op Trailbreak 60
- Best Ultralight Hiking Backpack – Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Southwest
- Best Hiking Backpack for Heavy Loads – Osprey Aether 65
- Best Backpack for Camping – Jack Wolfskin Highland Trail 55
- Best Day Hiking Backpack – Deuter Speed Lite 21
- Best Hiking Backpack for Photographers – Flipside Trek BP 450 AW
1) Best Overall Hiking Backpack – Osprey Atmos AG 65 / Aura AG 65
The Osprey Atmos AG 65 (men’s) and Aura AG 65 (women’s) are our picks for the best overall hiking backpack for a few reasons. First, they’re some of the most comfortable packs you can find, thanks to their “Anti-Gravity” suspension system. This system uses a suspended mesh back panel that conforms to your body and provides excellent ventilation. The Atmos and Aura also have a very well-thought-out pocket design that makes it easy to organize your gear with high-quality materials that can withstand abuse. Finally, they come in at a reasonable weight for a pack of this size (4.5 pounds for the Atmos AG 65 and 4.4 pounds for the Aura AG 65).
For this season, the bag has two new side zips, a torso length adjustment, and an integrated rain cover. Osprey also modified the pack’s textiles, emphasizing sustainability (like many other companies, they’ve switched to a PFC-free durable water repellent finish). The Atmos AG 65 remains at the top of our list thanks to its perfect balance of weight, carrying comfort, and features for everything from quick overnight excursions to lengthy backpacking trips.
- Weight: 4.6 lbs
- Material: 210D honeycomb nylon, PFC/PFAS-free DWR
- Capacity: 65L
- “Anti-Gravity” suspension system for comfortable carrying
- Well-thought-out pocket design
- High-quality materials
The Osprey Atmos AG 65 (men’s) and Aura AG 65 (women’s) are our top picks for the best overall hiking backpack, thanks to their comfortable “Anti-Gravity” suspension system, well-thought-out pocket design, and high-quality materials. They’re also a great value, coming in at a reasonable weight for a pack of this size.
2) Best Budget Hiking Backpack – REI Co-op Trailbreak 60
The REI Co-op Trailbreak 60 is the best budget hiking backpack. It has many features found on more expensive models but costs much less. It has an internal frame, adjustable torso length, hip belt pockets, and access to the main compartment from the top and side. Plus, it’s comfortable to carry thanks to the padded back panel, shoulder straps, and hip belt. It has a maximum load capacity of 35lb with a sleeping bag compartment which is ideal for overnight and multi-day treks.
The only downside of the REI Co-op Trailbreak 60 is that it doesn’t have some of the bells and whistles found on more expensive models. While padded, the harness system is not as premium as the higher-end models and, therefore, not as comfortable to wear for long periods. And its suspension system isn’t as good at ventilating your back or hauling heavy loads. But if you’re looking for a capable and affordable hiking backpack, the Trailbreak 60 is a great option.
- Weight: 3.8 lbs.
- Material: Ripstop nylon
- Capacity: 60L
- Internal frame
- Adjustable torso length
- Padded back panel, shoulder straps, and hip belt
The REI Co-op Trailbreak 60 is the best budget hiking backpack. It’s comfortable to carry, has an internal frame, and is adjustable to fit a range of torso lengths. Plus, it has a maximum load capacity of 35lb, which is ideal for overnight and multi-day treks.
3) Best Ultralight Hiking Backpack – Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Southwest
The Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Southwest is the best ultralight backpack. It adapts to handle gear for weekend sections or thru-hikes. The pack’s Dyneema construction is low weight and with remarkable strength and water resistance, but it is not overly breathable. It’s ideal for carrying heavy weight but not optimal for hot weather hiking.
The Southwest is a tough hiker with aluminum stays and a solid foam back panel, carrying loads of up to 40 pounds with ease. The design is uncompromisingly spartan, with just the main compartment and a few exterior pockets for organization. The pack is light and straightforward to use. It’s no surprise that it’s one of the most popular UL packs on the trail, weighing in at just over 2 pounds.
- Weight: 2.18 lbs.
- Material: Dyneema
- Capacity: 55L
- Lightweight Dyneema construction
- Spartan design
The Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Southwest is the best ultralight backpack and an excellent choice for those who want a light, tough pack for serious hikes. It’s not particularly breathable, so it’s not the best choice for hot weather. But it’s an excellent pack for the weight-conscious hiker.
4) Best Hiking Backpack for Heavy Loads – Osprey Aether 65
Though not the lightest pack, the Osprey Aether is the best hiking backpack for heavy loads. With a comfortable and adjustable fit, this backpack will make carrying a large load feels like a breeze. The back panel and shoulder straps are solid and comfy even when carrying loads up to 50 pounds. There are several compression straps to keep the weight close to your body or can be used to carry wet clothing outside of your pack and large hip belt pockets.
When the rain hits, you can easily protect your gear with the included pack cover. Constructed with higher-end sustainable materials and A¥an injection-molded back panel, the Aether 65 is ideal for a week on the trail or a gear-intensive weekend.
The pack does experience some sway due to the hip belt, and the 5-pound weight might not make this the best choice for ultralight backpackers. But if you want to carry a heavy load and have all the features you need for a comfortable backpacking trip, the Aether 65 is hard to beat.
- Weight: 4.96 lbs.
- Material: 420HD nylon packcloth, PFC-free DWR
- Capacity: 65L
- Fit-on-the-Fly hip belt
- Included rain cover
- Comfortable and adjustable
- Great for Heavy Loads
The Aether 65 is best suited for weekend or week-long backpacking trips where you need to carry a lot of gear. Lighter options are available if you are looking for a pack to take on shorter hikes with less equipment.
5) Best Backpack for Camping – Osprey Archeon 70 Pack
Osprey makes some of the best backpacks on the planet, and the Archeon 70 is no different. The high-quality recycled materials give the feel of a pack that will last a lifetime.
The pack size is perfect for camping gear, and the compartment breakdown is ideal for organizing all of your equipment. It also has an adjustable harness system and comfortable shoulder straps to ensure it fits snugly on your back, regardless of your body type. It has a dedicated sleeping bag compartment with a floating divider, floating top lid, exterior main zip pocket, hip belt pockets, and webbing attachment points.
The Archeon 70 is the best backpack for camping if you want a pack that will last forever and has tons of compartments to organize your gear.
- Weight: 6.1 lbs.
- Material: 1880D Recycled Nylon Canvas
- Capacity: 70L
- Durable recycled materials
- Adjustable harness system
- Dedicated sleeping bag compartment
The Osprey Archeon 70 is the best backpack for camping if you want a pack that will last forever and has tons of compartments to organize your gear.
6) Best Day Hiking Backpack – Deuter Speed Lite 21
The Deuter Speed Lite 21 is an excellent backpack for day hikes. It’s lightweight and includes several features that make it comfortable to wear, including an adjustable sternum strap, perforated shoulder straps, and a mesh back panel. The pack also has several pockets and compartments, including a front stash pocket, a side mesh pocket, and an internal pocket for your valuables.
The pack is small and easy to stow in luggage if you are traveling and want to do some day hikes while on vacation. The Deuter Speed Lite 21 also comes in larger sizes if you need more carrying capacity. The smaller Speed Lite 21 has a minimal hip belt and no hip belt pockets.
Whether you’re looking to head downtown on your bike or take a quick trek up the mountain, the Deuter Speed Lite 21 is the ideal lightweight day pack for the job.
- Weight: 1.08g
- Capacity: 20L
- Comfortable shoulder straps
- Great storage compartments for a pack its size
7) Best Hiking Backpack for Photographers – Flipside Trek BP 450 AW
If hiking is all about taking the best photos thana the Flipside Trek BP 450 AW is the best backpack for you. This backpack is designed to protect your hiking camera and has many features that will make your hikes more comfortable. The main compartment can carry a DSLR with an attached 70-200mm lens and extra lenses, making it perfect for photographers who need a versatile pack. The Flipside body-side access allows you to access your camera quickly, and the hinged lid protects your gear from the elements. The divided compartments make it easy to organize your belongings, and the ActivZone suspension system ensures all-day comfort. This backpack also has multiple attachment points for carrying gear outside the bag, making it the perfect choice for photographers needing a versatile and durable backpack.
- Weight: 3.72 lbs.
- Material: Nylon
- Capacity: 10L + Camera Storage
- Hinged lid for easy access to your gear
- Split compartments for organization
- ActivZone suspension system for comfort
- Multiple attachment points for gear
The Flipside Trek BP 450 AW is the best backpack for photographers who need a versatile and durable pack. The body-side access allows you to access your camera quickly, and the hinged lid protects your gear from the elements. The multiple attachment points for carrying equipment outside the bag make it the perfect choice for photographers who need a versatile and durable backpack.
Hiking Backpack Purchase Guide
When choosing a hiking backpack, you must consider what type of hiking you will do. Are you going on short day hikes or extended backpacking trips? Will you be carrying a lot of gear or just the essentials?
Small Backpacking Pack (20-35L)
A small pack is ideal for short day hikes or weekends away. It should have enough space to carry all the essentials, like food, water, and a first-aid kit.
Medium Backpacking Pack (35-50L)
A medium pack is suitable for long day hikes or overnight trips. It will have enough room for extra clothes and gear, like a sleeping bag and tent.
Large Backpacking Pack (50L+)
A large pack is best suited for extended backpacking trips or thru-hikes. It will have plenty of space for all your gear, plus room to spare for any unexpected items you may need.
Extra Large Backpacking Pack (70L+)
An extra-large pack is best suited for extended backpacking trips or expedition-style hikes. It will have enough space for all your gear, plus room to spare for any unexpected items you may need along the way.
Backpack Weight and Load Range
When choosing a hiking backpack, it’s essential to consider the pack’s weight. A heavier bag will be more challenging to carry, so it’s best to choose a bag that’s as light as possible without sacrificing durability or features. The load range is the amount of weight the backpack can comfortably carry.
Ultralight Backpacking Packs
Ultralight backpacks are very light packs. They’re typically made with more lightweight materials and have fewer features than traditional backpacking packs. The decrease in weight means a loss in material durability and overall features. You cannot overload an ultralight pack. They have minimal frames and thinner materials.
Harness Padding and Support
The shoulder straps and hip belt padding is essential for comfort, especially if you’re carrying a heavy load. A well-padded harness will distribute the weight evenly and help prevent pain in your shoulders and back. Hip belts are not necessary for all hikers but can be helpful if carrying a heavy load. They transfer some of the weight to your hips, which can help reduce back pain.
The suspension system helps to distribute the pack’s weight evenly and keep it close to your body. A sound suspension system will have adjustable straps that allow you to customize the bag’s fit. The best suspension systems will also have a frame that helps to distribute the weight evenly and keep the pack from sagging. This is the same for hiking backpacks, skiing packs, or even packable backpacks.
Waterproof backpacks are best suited for hikers who need to protect their gear from the elements. These packs are waterproof and have sealed seams to keep water out. Waterproof backpacks are typically heavier than non-waterproof packs, so they’re best suited for hikers who don’t mind carrying a little extra weight.
What to Carry in Your Backpack
When hiking, you will want to ensure you have the right things to make the most of your day in the mountains. You will want a packable raincoat in inclement weather, a set of trekking poles, and the essentials, like food, water, and the right clothing. Check out our hiking 101 guide for more ideas on what should be in your bag.
How much is a good hiking backpack?
A good backpacking pack can cost anywhere from $50 to $200. It all depends on the features and quality you require.
Choosing the best hiking backpack for your needs can be a daunting task. There are many factors to consider, from pack size and weight to suspension and waterproofing. But with a bit of research, you should be able to find the perfect pack for your next hike. Thanks for reading, and see you on the trail!