best hiking backpacks

Best Hiking Backpacks of 2020 Complete Reviews with Comparisons

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We all need a break from time to time. Our busy schedules and hectic lifestyles can negatively impact our lives if we don’t try to relax and unwind.

Many of us have different ways to get away and reduce stress, like walking, meditating, or hiking. Hiking is particularly effective because nature can have a profound impact on our well-being, as well as provide a good workout for our bodies.

If you love nature, adore landscapes, and have a thirst for adventure, hiking may be the best activity for you. As you can imagine, a hiking backpack is a must-have on these journeys.

If you are either an experienced hiker or just starting to enjoy this activity, you are probably looking for a hiking backpack. Which should you choose, though?

We compiled five of the best hiking backpacks to provide you with the necessary information for choosing the best backpack. Let’s check out the following sections.

Best Hiking Backpacks
Comparison Chart

Osprey Packs Stratos 36 Men’s Hiking Backpack

Osprey Packs Atmos AG 65 Men’s Backpacking Backpack

Venture Pal 40L Lightweight Packable Waterproof Travel Hiking Backpack Daypack

Kelty Red Cloud 90 Backpack

High Sierra Classic 2 Series Summit 40 Internal Frame Pack

Best Hiking Backpacks Reviews

Osprey Packs Stratos 36

The Osprey company is renowned for its hiking equipment, especially backpacks. One exceptional example is the Stratos 36. The company manages to balance this backpack perfectly. It is between the size of a daypack that might be too small and that of a larger weekend-style backpack.

Product Highlights

The extremely well-ventilated Osprey Stratos is designed for adventures in warm conditions. This backpack has its own size-adjustable handle so that it can suit any torso, and it also comes in four different size capacities.

For maximum comfort and breathability when the sun is glaring down on you, each Stratos pack features an airspeed suspension system. Additionally, it prevents chafing and discomfort with a seamlessly incorporated hip belt interface.

Adding to all these exceptional features, this backpack is equipped with a rain cover for improved rain and weather protection. This is an exceptional choice for any hiking lover, seamlessly blending versatility and practicality.

What I Like

While hiking, this backpack is versatile, given the size and features. It is designed to suit every need while day hiking, as well as being decently suited for staying overnight. This makes it perfect to take it with you during a daytime trip, as well as a hike after sundown.

It also has a capacity of 36 liters; while average for most backpack sizes, this makes it ideal for people who love day hiking and who also need to pack frugally for an overnight stay.

Many companies struggle to design a sufficiently sturdy backpack while simultaneously making it breathable to suit both hot and cold conditions. Osprey struck gold with this backpack, managing to achieve exactly that.

What I Don’t Like

By design, this backpack is made to suit many different conditions and weather situations. It also provides you with versatility in your hiking conditions. Due to this aspect, this backpack’s capacity is in between specifically designed backpacks for day or overnight hiking. This makes it slightly cumbersome to wear.


  • Versatile and doubles as regular backpack
  • Ventilated design for improved breathability
  • Enhanced comfort with an integrated hip belt
  • Equipped with a rain cover


  • Quite simplistic design
  • Capacity is in between day and oversize hiking backpack sizes

Osprey Packs Atmos AG 65

Another great product from Osprey illustrates just why this company is leading the hiking backpack industry. This backpack has established its fame among hiking lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. It features outstanding breathable fabrics, as well as easy-to-use features.

Product Highlights

Among the great features of this backpack are multiple large pockets that are very useful in carrying medium-sized objects. You can carry items like cameras, phones, a GPS, and more. This backpack also allows you to open and close these pockets and retrieve your desired object without having to stop moving.

Dual mesh pockets perfectly hold water bottles vertically or at an angle, making them easy to retrieve. Beavertail, stretch mesh pockets are great for storing items that are lumpy or rough, like shoes. Plus, they are equipped with 2 zipped pockets behind them for greater organization.

This backpack is also equipped with a zippered sleeping bag compartment that has a retractable splitter on the bottom of the backpack. It is also greatly suited for other items like dirty or wet gear.

Additionally, it boasts double-strapped, zippered lid pockets for storing tiny items. If you prefer a tidier look, you can tuck these straps inside your backpack. On the bottom of the pack, there are also two ice ax attachments.

A front, large pocket is well-suited for rain covers or wet equipment, and it features a 3-liter sleeve inside. The rain cover included can endure 1 or 2 rain showers, but in a torrential storm, the water will gradually penetrate the backpack.

Osprey provides the sternum strap and a free emergency whistle. There are also dual top and lower side compression braces to adjust the load and facilitate a sleek look.

What I Like

This backpack is an excellent choice for all types of hikers, providing pleasant suspension, as well as numerous great features. The straps are comfortable and minimize weight as much as possible.

The anti-gravity straps are quite self-explanatory, avoid pressure points, and distribute the weight evenly. The trampoline-style construction was taken to another level, incorporating the whole back and waistband.

This allows this pack to breathe extremely well and carry up to 40 pounds easily.

What I Don’t Like

This pack does not perform very well in rainy conditions, because it is not completely waterproof. It is also not suited for very long trips.


  • Great ventilation and breathability
  • Improved comfort for long walks
  • Multiple pockets for excellent organization
  • Built with high-quality materials
  • Adaptable hip, belt, and shoulder straps


  • Rain cover not suited for torrential rain or strong winds
  • Can feel slightly uncomfortable when overloaded

Venture Pal 40L Lightweight Backpack

Coming in a wide variety of options, this lightweight backpack is waterproof and foldable, giving it great versatility and usefulness.

Product Highlights

This backpack is a beautiful daypack with a wide range of enjoyable styles and a special feature package. Boasting many colorful looks and an interior water storage pocket, the Venture Pal is a select choice and distinguishes itself from other backpack brands.

This kit fits a particular niche with its moisture-bound nature. However, the overall quality of this bundle is for adventurous people wherever they want to go. A nice and large storage capacity makes it great for any journey.

Meanwhile, comfort is maximized with a lightweight design, adjustable chest straps, and padded shoulder straps.
The versatility and uniqueness provided by this backpack ensure that all your adventures will be memorable. There is a perfect Venture Pal model that will satisfy all your needs.

Nothing compares to a good, relaxing, inspiring journey through the wild. Of course, proper gear is essential to provide you with the best experience. This is exactly why you should shortlist this product.

What I Like

This backpack is not only beautiful and voguish, but it is also equipped with a plethora of features. One such feature is the pocket that allows you to keep wet or dirty clothes away from the other objects.

Although it is lightweight and compact, this backpack is also very comfortable and sturdy. It features padded straps, improved zippers, and fortified stress points.


  • Comes in different voguish designs
  • Waterproof for all-weather hiking
  • Lightweight, durable, and tightly packed
  • Has a water pocket


  • Strap padding is somewhat short
  • Some state that the backpack is not so sturdy

Kelty Red Cloud 90 Backpack

Kelty products have always been exceptional, providing help in many adventures for numerous people. They achieved the gold zone of design, seemingly producing backpacks that are all well made, sturdy, and practical.

Product Highlights

The suspension design on this backpack is marvelous, and it is perhaps the best feature this backpack provides. You no longer need to worry about your measurements, because this suspension design can adapt to any and all sizes.

This backpack is lightweight, as well as durable. It features an HDPE frame sheet that acts as a shock absorber and ensures high-capacity load bearing.

The improved fabrics allow you to carry this pack for long periods of time without sweating because it is breathable and allows ventilation. It is well-suited for hot conditions and provides a comfortable wearing experience.

This backpack is highly versatile and boasts a high storage capacity and numerous features. It has a large zippered front pocket, two zippered side pockets, and double mesh water bottle containers. Plus, there is a removable lid that substantially improves organization.

What I Like

This backpack is extremely well-suited for many situations due to its exceptional design and a great variety of features. It provides high-capacity load-bearing and a suspension design that can fit any torso and any size.

Its very durable build will last you many years and is suitable for all kinds of journeys and environments.

There is an extremely well-ventilated panel that allows you to carry the backpack for a long time without making you sweat or overheat. This is especially great for people who love warmer environments.

What I Don’t Like

This backpack does not come in a wide variety of colors or styles. Thus, there is not much room for expression or stylistic preference customization.


  • PerfectFIT feature ensures perfect fit for any size user
  • Great organizational potential
  • Very comfortable for long hikes
  • Ample storage space
  • Sturdy and able to withstand many different weather conditions


  • Comes without a rain cover
  • Slight issues with the lower compartments

High Sierra Summit 40 Internal Frame Pack

This backpack is perfect for many different hiking situations. Its great practicality and sturdy design ensure a long lifespan, as well as versatility.

Product Highlights

There are a multitude of backpacks to choose from, depending on your needs and preferences. If you’re looking for a weekend style or overnight pack, there is almost no better choice than the High Sierra Summit 40.

The kit is made with a mini-hex ripstop, mini-weave Duralite fibric. The lower part is built with 1680D Ballistic for sturdiness, and the torso straps can adjust from 14 inches to 18 inches. This backpack weighs 4.5 pounds and suits waists measuring from 26 inches and above.

The main compartments of this backpack can be filled to the brim due to an adjustable lid and drawstring closure. The front section is big enough to fit a sleeping bag, but it is also divided, so it can store other equipment, as well. The kit also includes two mesh pockets that can store 1L bottles of water.

The padding of the pack is constructed of a Hex-Vent fabric, which improves your comfort level. Adjustable load lifts facilitate heavy load transportation without tiredness.

The sternum strap can also be adjusted to balance the equipment you carry, and the aluminum frame bar is adjustable.

An airflow channel for optimal ventilation is provided by a molded foam backplate. Compression bands on the side and the base of the pack enable excess equipment to be protected and stabilized.

 This product is ideal for hiking lovers due to the practical nature and numerous features, as well as the build quality, sturdiness, and versatility.

What I Like

With Hex-Vent mesh padding, the shoulder straps are built for support and simple usage. The shoulder pads do extremely well in distributing the weight of your load.

This pack is extremely durable, suited for many different weather situations, and offers protection against rain with the included rain cover. The front compartment is great for sleeping bags, as well as other gear, due to it being divided.

Also, the compression braces on the bottom and sides are transposable. This backpack is perfect for any outdoor enthusiast who loves a good hike and needs ideal equipment to satisfy all their needs on their journey.

What I Don’t Like

This backpack can carry massive loads, providing you with the ability to go on a long-term trip. However, it is inevitable that this will not be comfortable because of the shoulder padding and weight distribution.


  • Comes with a rain cover
  • Well-made compression straps
  • Versatility and ease of use
  • Sturdy and durable


  • Might not be the most budget-friendly
  • Opens in the top-load style

Buyer’s Guide

In this article, we discussed five of the best hiking backpacks. Now, it is time to guide you through choosing the best one for your needs.

The question is — how exactly do you know which backpack is the best option for you? Next, we will discuss the characteristics that you should take into account when buying a new backpack.

Types of Backpacks

Primarily, you will need to know exactly which type of backpack should be used in a given situation.

Day Packs

As the name implies, these backpacks are designed to suit single-day or overnight trips, typically with a capacity between 15L and 35L.

Internal Frame Packs

These backpacks are equipped with an internal frame that ensures sturdiness and durability, while also protecting your equipment. These are slightly more robust than day packs and allow for longer journeys.

External Frame Packs

These are the best fit for people who enjoy trips and adventures that span many days or even weeks. These are extremely sturdy and boast massive load capacities, making them ideal for multi-week trips.

Frame packs are an exceptional choice and perform well on long journeys, but most people are often looking for day packs.

This is the reason why the top backpacks among them all are daypacks. Keep in mind that some of these daypacks can be used for multi-day trips, as well.


When you are looking for a new backpack, it is highly advisable to pay close attention to its load capacity.

This is expressed most often in liters, and it indicates how much equipment it can possibly carry. It also indicates how suited it is for different trip lengths.

This is the most common metric, but it is not universal. Different brands and companies use other techniques to illustrate the capacity of their backpacks, such as the number or kind of items they can carry.

Typically, when it comes to size, the 10L to 25L backpacks are best suited for single-day trips. Meanwhile, backpacks between 20L and 40L are best for overnight trips, and backpacks between 30L to 50L are good for longer journeys.


Backpacks that are specifically made for hiking are usually very durable due to the conditions they are meant to withstand. However, they are also lightweight, offering great comfort while hiking.

These backpacks are most often made with nylon. Cordura, canvas, and polyester are materials that are very durable while still keeping their lightweight properties.


Depending on your intended goal for the respective backpack, the weight you choose varies. Typically, the longer the journey, the bigger the pack should be so that it can carry more essential equipment.

Usually, backpacks should not go over 5 pounds, because this can lower the amount of essential gear you can carry. Look for a decently balanced weight-to-capacity ratio, while also considering how long your trip will be.


The price can be influenced by many different factors ranging from quality to materials, capacity and brand. This is an important aspect to consider in choosing a hiking backpack.

You should try to strike a balance between quality, practicality, and price. Also, consider why you are buying a backpack, create a budget, and adapt your options based on those criteria.


This section purports to answer the most commonly asked questions. If you want to know the best method to pack a hiking backpack or you are curious about what they are made of, take a look at the following sections!

How to pack a hiking backpack

Your skills in packing a backpack will grow over time. Initially, you should make a list of the essentials and pack them one by one, crossing them off the list as you go.

What are backpacks made of?

Backpacks should be resilient and sturdy due to the conditions they are meant to withstand. The type of backpack influences the materials used in constructing it.

Here is a list of commonly used materials in making a backpack: cotton, canvas, packcloth nylon, Cordura nylon, polyester packcloth nylon, ripstop nylon, PVC fabric, and leather.

What size hiking backpack to use

The size of the hiking backpack corresponds to your height, weight, strength, and capacity preferences. You should take into consideration your body and the length of your trip to figure out what size backpack suits your needs.

Buying one that is too big will be cumbersome, while one with an insufficient size would prove impractical if it doesn’t suit your particular needs.

Broadly speaking, the backpack that has the perfect height for your sternum and is tight on the hips would be the ideal choice.

How to choose a hiking backpack

There are a wide variety of hiking backpacks, all with different features, sizes, and purposes. Thus, it may be slightly difficult to choose one for your specific needs. Here are some criteria you should take into consideration:

  • Types of backpacks
  • Price
  • Weight
  • Materials
  • Capacity

If you are looking for more information about how exactly you should choose your hiking backpack, consult the “Buyer’s Guide” above.

How should a hiking backpack fit?

Hiking backpacks are usually meant to be worn for long periods of time and to carry essential equipment for your trip. Therefore, this aspect is very important.

How your backpack fits you and how comfortable it is to wear should not be overlooked. On a long trip, an uncomfortable backpack that doesn’t fit you well will ensure a cumbersome journey.

Typically, a hiking backpack is equipped with multiple straps that are most often adjustable to fit your particular body shape.

Final Verdict

All in all, we recommend the Osprey Packs Stratos 36 as being our favorite hiking backpack of this year. It can be used for short day trips, or you can also pack frugally for a night in the wilderness due to the medium size of the product.

It is durable, comfortable, and certainly a trustworthy companion on your trips!

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