Best Hiking Backpack – Reviews and Top Picks for 2017

Can’t wait for your next adventure into the wide open spaces of America’s National Parks or losing yourself on a distant mountain peak? You might be looking for a hiking backpack ready to be filled with five days worth of clothes, food, sleeping bag, and hiking gear. Which one do you get? You know it needs to be big, versatile and light enough for long treks up rugged trails. We’ve brought together some of the best packs on the market and completed product reviews in one easy place to help you make a smart and informed choice for your busy lifestyle. Read on and find the best hiking backpack that will fit your budget, vacation plans, and size.

Best Hiking Backpack Product Reviews

Osprey Aether 70-Litre Backpack – Top Pick

For years Osprey has been producing quality hiking equipment for the experienced outdoorsman.  They thoroughly test all of their designs with real-world situations to ensure that you are receiving a backpack ready to head out for a full week of rugged exploration without slowing you down.  The Aether 70-litre provides a roomy pack ready to stow your sleeping back, clothes, food, water, and first aid kit in a well-balanced unit.

Fully Adjustable Frame Fitted for You

Osprey has created the LiteWire alloy wire frame that fits and flexes with your body all day long.  Designed to evenly distribute the load between hips and shoulders, you’ll be able to hike all day long without your body wearing out. From extra small to extra-large, the fully adjustable mesh straps can be positioned to allow you the full range of motion while maintaining a position as you climb over mountains and streams.

Huge Capacity is Well Balanced for Long Hikes

The 70-litre capacity features more room for all your gear.  Meanwhile, the carefully positioned pockets and straps ensure that the whole pack stays perfectly positioned.  You won’t wear down from the fatigue of carrying too much gear, as the belts allow your body to evenly wear the weight. Divided large compartments help you sort clothes, sleeping bag and food.  Exterior zippers allow easy access to snacks and hydration.

On-the-Fly Attachments Never Slow You Down

The versatile design allows you to position straps as you need them on the outside of the large backpack.  Stow your walking poles without skipping a step, clip on a water bottle or slip your sweater into an oversized out pocket without pausing on the trail.  You’ll never have to stop to unload in order find a balanced position for the camera you no longer need to carry.

In the end, you can’t beat the Osprey Aether 70-litre backpack for size, versatility, fit and performance.  Ready to take years of rugged excitement, it is well worth the investment for the serious explorer.

Venture Pal Lightweight Packable Durable Travel Hiking Backpack Daypack – Budget Pick

If you love hiking, you love traveling.  However, packing your usual gear when flying can be a real pain.  Venture Pal has put together this economical roll-up day pack ready to be deployed for a day of exploring when you are far away from your regular hiking supplies.

Lightweight Design Folds Up for Easy Packing

Without spending too much, you can add the Venture Pal to your hiking kit. It has no metal frame and constructed out of lightweight but durable nylon, ready to be rolled up and stuffed into a pocket of your luggage. Pull it out, shake it, stuff it, and you are ready to climb over ancient ruins or an enormous adventure park for the day.  It literally weighs only a few ounces, so won’t impact weight limits when deciding what you can bring with you on your trip.

Plenty of Room for Snacks, Sweaters, and Gear

With overall dimensions of 20-inches high and 13-inches wide, there is room for the extra sweater, a small laptop, snacks, and hydration pack without blinking.  Zippered inside pockets keep pens, memory sticks, and first aid in easy reach. Outside mesh pockets are perfect for stowing a bottle of water. There is a movable divider in the main compartment, ready to separate your wet bathing suit from dry clothes as needed.

Breathable Mesh Lets You Wear it All Day

The wide mesh straps deliver a comfortable fit with ventilation so you don’t sweat from just wearing it for the afternoon. Once the pack is fully loaded, it has an ergonomic shape ready to remain balanced reducing your fatigue after a whole day on the move. Meanwhile, the rugged nylon is water resistant ready to run through a shower while keeping your gear dry.  The elastic loop on the front is perfect for hiking poles or your umbrella.

In the end, the Ventura Pal Daypack is an excellent buy for the price ready to explore with you on a moments notice without slowing down your worldwide trip.

Maxpedition Falcon-II Backpack

Maxpedition took their styling cues from the hunting and military group with its rugged, camouflage color inspired design that looks all business and backs it up with all the versatility you need.  Opting for a square and functional shape, straps are wide and made out of military-grade nylon.  Even the Falcon-II backpack’s name sounds like it is ready to get down and dirty.

Rugged Construction Stands Up to Long Journeys

Created for the urban explorer, the Falcon-II features a roomy main compartment and two rectangular front pockets that are ready to fit and protect your laptop and other devices. Squared off corners are all reinforced to stand up to plenty of rigorous movement and sudden impacts. Clips, buckles, and zippers ensure that everything stays exactly where you intend when you head out for the day.

Water and Weather Resistant Materials Keep Your Gear Dry

Maxpedition added 1050-Denier nylon that easily sheds water and even resists penetrating mist.  The zippers are double sealed to further block out moisture from seeping into the pack while you navigate the back country. Buckles are constructed out of heavy-duty plastics that will never rust or fall prey to mold and mildew.

Expandable Space in a Compact Design

Instead of expanding up as so many long-distance packs do, when you need more room on the Falcon, pop open the front compartments.  They expand outward and will never increase the width of the pack.  You’ll always have full-motion for your arms while the extra snacks, sweater, or shoes have a space to ride until you reach the night’s camp.

The cons: Many users have noted that the compact design does not truly work for their larger and taller body size.  The frame is not adjustable.  While extra long straps allow for wider chests, they don’t have anywhere to be stored for shorter individuals.  Make sure to try this one on before you buy.

Osprey Men’s Atmos 65 AG Backpacks

Osprey continues to expand their selection of outdoor equipment with several lines of backpacks ready to tackle those long hikes through the back country. The Atmos delivers a few extras you won’t find on other units in a slightly smaller pack compared to their headlining 70-liter unit.

Dual Zippered Front Pockets Provide Easy Access to Priority Supplies

Perfectly situated in the middle of the front of the back, two zippered pockets are ready to be used for small and important items.  The large zipper allows you to stow your cell phone, a quick snack, a roll of rope or other small gear. Protected from the elements, its tough nylon shell outperforms the other mesh pockets located on the sides.

Removable Floating Lid Helps You Slim Down on Short Hikes

Are you heading out for an afternoon and leaving most of your equipment at the base camp? Zip off the floating lid and leave it behind.  What makes the Atmos lid unique is that the fly-cover to protect the entire pack during a rain shower is mounted into the main unit, not the lid.  Convert your Atmos into a daypack, stuff the floating lid to use as a pillow, and head out for easy exploration without the full-sized pack on your back.

Stow-on-the-Go Straps Free Up Your Hands

How many times have to been marching along and want to put away your hiking poles or an extra layer, but first you have to call a halt to order to unzip and fit the extra item inside your pack?  Don’t do it.  With the Atmos, there are several elastic straps and loops convenient located for you to reach with even skipping a step.  Simply stow your poles in the convenient strap and keep on walking.  When the hill gets steep again, they are only a grab away.

Cons: Like its big brother the Aether, the Atmos offers adjustable sizing through the full clothing range up to XL.  However, don’t order a pack based on your T-shirt size as it’s likely to feel too small.  Try one on at a sporting goods store first. You do pay premium bucks for an Osprey pack, so make sure you are going to get plenty of use out of this purchase.

TETON Sports Scout 3400 Internal Frame Backpack; with a New Limited Edition Color; Free Rain Cover Included

If you are not into the hardcore long-distance hiking and camping scene, you may not want to invest hundreds into your backpack, but that doesn’t mean you don’t want a roomy pack ready to head out for a weekend at the lake or a quick trip to the islands.  Teton works to produce good quality sports gear that will meet most requirements but isn’t ready for marathons over rugged mountains.

Explore without Blowing the Budget

Are you taking a bucket-list ride down the river on a white water raft and don’t expect to return to the great outdoors anytime soon? That is when you should be considering the Sports Scout 3400.  This large pack has a roomy compartment for the sleeping bag and dividers for your clothes, toiletries, and first aid kit.  There is space for water bottles, keys, wallet, and other small articles in a lightweight and adjustable pack. You will be pleasantly surprised at everything it can do without emptying out the checking account.

Top Expands for Extra Room

The top compartment has plenty of space for those extra layers you might need during the day.  It also readily expands so you can add a pair of shoes or your lunch kit without unpacking the whole piece.  It closes with an adjustable drawstring that clips into place on the front.  Elastic loops on the side are perfect for your water bottle or hiking poles.

Rain Cover Protects Your Gear

Every unit comes with a free rain cover, which is often an inexpensive but additional cost on most backpacks.  This thin piece collapses into a towable piece that rolls out to protect the entire pack when you encounter a determined rain storm ready to soak everything in camp. The internal frame stands up to a decent amount of abuse.

Cons: This is not designed to climb Mount Everest or spend days hiking the Adirondack Trail.  The straps and elastic loops are known to give out after a short expedition.  It is slightly smaller than other large packs and does come with adjustable waist and shoulder straps, but it is only made in one size.  It’s a great option when kitting out the teens out for weekend adventures at the family campground.

Osprey Packs Talon 22 Backpack

You don’t need a massive backpack when you are taking an afternoon to check out the local park system.  The Osprey Talon 22 offers all the room you need for safe hiking supplies with the same careful construction offered in their full-size units. When you use your bicycle to commute or simply spend your days running around town, do it in total comfort with a premium pack from Osprey.

Perfectly Sized for Day Tripping Expeditions

The pack has a 22-liter capacity, ready to fit your small devices, wallet, keys, and an afternoon snack or all the space needed for a hydration pack, lunch, a thermal layer and a first aid kit. There are two side zippered pockets for easy access when on the move.  There are loops and straps to hook walking poles, umbrellas, or your selfie-stick.

LidLock Helmet Attachment for Pausing on Bike Commutes

What do you do with your bike helmet when you stop for lunch?  Add the quick LidLock attachment and hook your helmet to your Talon.  You’ll never forget it on the counter at the coffee shop again. This unique option is not found on any other pack in the market.

Airscape Back Panel Keeps You Cool and Dry

Osprey included all the same technology applied to their large packs to the smaller Talon, including the Airscape mesh straps that provide ventilation all along your back.  Instead of building up the sweat, you’ll feel cooler and drier as you tackle that next boulder.  Secure straps ensure that the pack is balanced on your back without hindering your hip or arm movement. You’ll wonder why you ever day tripped without your Talon.

Cons: You will always pay a premium to add an Osprey to your outdoor equipment collection. This is not intended for overnight hiking as it is much smaller with no room for bedding and an extra change of clothes. As with most packs, sizing tends to run smaller so select yours carefully for the best fit.

SwissGear Travel Gear 1900 Scansmart TSA Laptop Backpack – 19″ e-Bags Exclusive

Now not everybody hikes across meadows, hills, and forests.  If you are an urban backpacker, you are probably carrying all your devices, media storage, files, and a random assortment of other office necessities.  SwissGear has built a collection of backpacks that cater to the young professional’s needs for a handy laptop case in a familiar design.

Cruise through TSA at the Airport

There is nothing like a security checkpoint to slow down the entire day.  Speed through airport security with the smart options included in this bag.  Slip your protective sleeve out of the main compartment in just seconds.  Once your laptop is screened, it only takes a few moments to securely place it back exactly where it belongs. You won’t spend extra time unstrapping, clicking, or sorting while digging the PC out of the bottom of the bag.

Fit a 17-inch Laptop Plus Plus Plus

Many laptop backpacks will only fit a 13 or 15-inch laptop.  Your executive 17-inch slides right into the extra roomy main section. Meanwhile, plenty of extra slots, pockets, straps, and crannies provide smart space for pens, jump drives, phone, tablet, extra battery and power cord. Just be careful you don’t lose the morning’s reports in all that extra room.

Avoid Back Fatigue during Your Urban Commute

The thick cushioned straps fit the pack securely to your back and help you balance the load as you work your way through bus stops, hopping trains, and climbing the escalator. With both hands-frees, you can balance your cup of joe and phone while multitasking your way through the day.

Cons: If you are looking for a hiking backpack, you simply don’t want a SwissGear pack.  They are perfectly engineered for protecting and transporting your mobile office, not escaping it.