best hiking backpack

Best Hiking Backpack – Find the Best One for You

A backpack can get you in the great outdoors for long amounts of time by carrying life-sustaining gear for you.  Backpacks come in two types, called front loaders or top loaders.  Which one you decided to get will depend on what kind of packing you will be doing.  Top loaders are more balanced and in general more comfortable.  This makes them ideal for many hours on the trail.  Front loaders are perfect for city travel and day hiking trips.  They are not as balanced nor comfortable but this type allows you to take out supplies without unloading the whole backpack.  Plain and simple, backpacks are a fun and essential item to have for extended hikes.  

Our Choices for the Best Hiking Backpacks of 2018

In the chart below, you will find our top 10 rated hiking backpacks.  For a more in-depth review of each model, please click on "Read Review."

Product Image

Product Name

Rating

Review

Earth Pak Backpack

4.7 out of 5

Gonex Ultralight Handy Travel Backpack

4.7 out of 5

best hiking backpack

Hikpro Ultra Lightweight Packable Backpack

4.7 out of 5

Mountaintop 40 Liter Hiking Backpack with Rain Cover for Outdoor Camping

4.4 out of 5

best hiking backpack

OutdoorMaster Hiking Backpack

4.4 out of 5

best hiking backpack

Outlander Hiking Backpack

4.6 out of 5

best hiking backpack

Sunhiker Cycling Hiking Backpack

4.0 out of 5

TETON Sports Scout 3400 Internal Frame Backpack

4.5 out of 5

best hiking backpack

Venture Pal Lightweight Packable Durable Travel Hiking Backpack Daypack

4.4 out of 5

WALUCAN Lightweight Foldable Packable Durable Travel Hiking Backpack

4.3 out of 5

Top 10 Best Hiking Backpacks of 2018

  1.  Venture Pal Lightweight Packable Durable Travel Hiking Backpack Daypack
  2.  Mountaintop 40 Liter Hiking Backpack with Rain Cover for Outdoor Camping
  3.  TETON Sports Scout 3400 Internal Frame Backpack
  4.  OutdoorMaster Hiking Backpack
  5. Sunhiker Cycling Hiking Backpack
  6.  Outlander Hiking Backpack
  7.  Earth Pak Backpack
  8. Hikpro Ultra Lightweight Packable Backpack
  9. Gonex Ultralight Handy Travel Backpack
  10. WALUCAN Lightweight Foldable Packable Durable Travel Hiking Backpack

How to Choose the Best Hiking Backpack

When choosing a backpack, think about how you will be using you pack.  What kind of gear will it be carrying?  Will you be doing overnight camping trips requiring a tent, sleeping bag and food, or just some day hikes?  Do you want a backpack for city travel mostly, or extended backwoods trips.  Each individual review will cover the benefit of each backpack and what kind of trips it would be perfect for.  

Things to Consider When Buying a Hiking Backpack

When purchasing a camping hammock, you get to decide what factors are your greatest needs. I've put together some things you may want to consider. Some things to keep in mind are going to be price, comfort, ease of set up, color preferences, weight load capacity, weight of hammock, warranty, and durability. These are going to be your main things to consider, though you may come up with more as you learn more about what will meet your needs the best.

Hiking Backpack Size

How big of a backpack you will need is really going to depend on how much you want to put it in it and carry.  This seems simple and it really is.  The longer you will be camping, you may want to consider a larger pack.  However, some hikers are enjoying ultralight camping.  With ultralight camping you try to get by with the bare minimum. 

Hiking Backpack Accessories

While you are in the market for a backpack, you might also want to pick up some backpack accessories.  Here is a list of items you might want to consider buying:

A Rain Coat - You might not need one but if you do, it can be a real lifesaver.

A Sleeping Bag - Make sure to get one that is suited for the temperatures that you will be camping out in.

A Dry Sack - If you will be canoeing, kayaking or anywhere around water you may want to consider buying a dry sack for an unexpected spill into a lake or river.  A dry sack might just save your cell phone and gps.  An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure.

A Tent - Nothing beats sleeping out in a sleeping bag in the great outdoors.  Unless it rains.  Then you will wish you had a tent.  There are ultralight tents on the market if weight is an issue.

Water Filter System - You may want to consider having a way to safely drink water. Water filter systems are nice in both emergencies and because you won't have to carry all the water you need for your trip.  

Freezer Dried Meals - A nice thing about freezer dried meals is that you can dine in style by just adding some water.  Freezer dried meals are lightweight and provide a way to have tasty snacks and dinners along the trails.  

Types of Backpacks 

 

There are two main types of backpacks on the market.  The first type is a top-loading and the second type is a front loading.  I've outlined the differences below.

Top-Loading - Top loading backpacks only load at the top.  Top loading backpacks are usually used more for hiking, mountaineering or technical trails.  They aren't used quite as much for regular traveling.  The top loading backpacks are more narrow and long than the front loading.  The long and narrowness of this type of backpack makes it nice for keeping your items centered on your back when hiking.

For regular travel or trips a top loading backpack can be annoying because you will have to dig through your back or empty it out to find something at the bottom.  With a top loading pack, you will want to pack smart plan ahead so that you don't have a frequently used item at the bottom.  It can be hard to see down to the bottom of a top loading back because of the darkness so usually you will have to empty out the entire pack unless you are good at feeling for objects.

Front-LoadingA front loading backpack is the type that unzips completely.   Think of how a suitcase works and you pretty much have the design of a front-loading backpack.  Front loading backpacks most often come with zippers that lock into place.  This is an added security feature.  The zippers also often have loops which makes it nice for adding on a combination lock to keep your gear safe.

Front loading back packs usually have zip off bags which make it nice for short excursions.  Some front loading backpacks have metal frames while some do not.  Some even have wheels so you can roll it like a suitcase. While this might be ideal for airline travel it's going to add on to your weight when backpacking.  Usually front loading back packs weigh more than top loading backpacks.

Front loading backpacks are often reported to be not as comfortable as top loading backpacks.  In general, the straps are not as padded on most.  Top loaders are usually best for hiking long distances.

Pros and Cons of Different Types

Top Loading Back Packs

Here are some advantages and disadvantages of Top Loading Packs listed into Pros and Cons. 

Pros

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     Well balanced 
  • plus
    Comfortable
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    Easy To Fill

Cons

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    Often Have To Unload The Whole Pack To Get Something At The Bottom
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    Straps Can Get Caught and Torn
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    Items Can Fall Out When Traveling Through Airports, Buses, etc. Not as Secure

Front Loading Backpacks

Front loading backpacks have some advantages and disadvantages depending on how you are traveling with it.  I've listed the pros and cons here. 

Pros

  • plus
    Easy to get items without unpacking the whole pack
  • plus
    Lockable zippers for added security
  • plus
    More secure for traveling through airports and buses.  

Cons

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    Most often heavier than front loading packs.  
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    No extra straps and loops for attaching on things on the outside of pack
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    Less padding in the straps.  Some feel they are not as comfortable as top loading packs

Features of Hiking Backpacks

 Top Loading Backpack Features - Top loading backpacks usually have lots of straps, clips, loops and bungee cords.  These extra straps, etc. make it perfect for hooking on a sleeping bag or tent that won't fit in your bag.  With the straps come some annoyances in that they can't be zipped way so you need to be careful to not tear them or get them caught on anything.  With top loading packs you also have to be more careful if you are taking them traveling through airports and buses because they aren't as secure.  

Front Loading Backpack Features - When purchasing a front loading backpack, look for zippers that lock into place.  Because this type is not a top loading pack, you don't want to have zippers coming undone just to find out later at your campsite that some of your goodies you hoped to snack on are gone.  Look for the types of back packs that have loops on the zippers so that you have the option of attaching a combination lock to keep your gear safe.  This is especially helpful when traveling by air or bus.  This shouldn't be necessary on the trails but it's still a nice feature to have.  Another nice feature of a front loading back pack is to look for bags and sections that zip off.  This will enable you to use just parts of your bag for short excursions.

Look for the feature of having a hip belt and shoulder strap.  This is nice for when you need something to grab onto.  Some bags will have a few extra handles that will make carrying the bag so much easier and also feature lockable zippers. 

Best Hiking Backpack

After carefully reviewing the top 10 hiking backpacks on the market, I've picked the Earth Pak Backpack as my choice as the best double camping hammock on the market. 

Things to Consider Before Buying a Hiking Backpack

Before buying a hiking backpack you want to make sure that you consider three things.  

Make sure that the backpack is comfortable.

If there is one thing that can take the fun out of a backpacking trip quickly, that is wearing an uncomfortable pack.  Make sure to get a backpack that fits comfortably.  If you will be hiking far with it, top loaders are generally more comfortable.  This type is also more balanced. 

Think about if you will be taking long hiking trips or traveling a lot through airports and bus stations with it. 

Top loaders aren't as secure for traveling through bus stops and airlines.  Things can fall out of the top.  However, front loaders are better for on the trails.  

Think about what you will be packing in your backpack

If you want to carry a tent and sleeping bag outside of your pack, then go with a top loader because it will have straps. However if you are going to have lots of small items, then a front loader might make more sense.  With a front loader you won't have to unload the whole backpack to get something from the bottom of the pack.  

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying a Hiking Backpack

Think about why you want to buy a backpack in the first place.  Then ask yourself these questions:

1. How big of a backpack do I need?

Sorry to answer a question with a question, but will you be doing long camping trips or just day hikes?  First think about how much you will be taking on trips.  

2. How much will a backpack hold?

This all depends on which type of backpack you get. 

3. Can I wash my backpack?

Yes, most backpacks are machine washable.  Follow the instructions that come with your backback.  

Why a Hiking Backpack Is Awesome

Backpacks are so great because they will allow you to go places that you couldn't go without them.  You can go backwoods for weeks with the right backpack or take one for a cross country road trip.  Backpacks can carry your food, shelter and fluids that you need to live and survive.  

 Front Loaders Work Great for Short Trips

Many front loading backpacks can be taken apart and used as separate pieces.  This is a great feature for when you are going to work or just taking a short day trip.  Backpacks can have so many uses other than but including back wood trips. I like to take backpacks to events when I'll be gone all day.  

Top Loaders Can Get You There

I love top loading backpacks.  My top loading backpack equals freedom.  I can take it for miles and pack a tent, hammock, food, gear and sleeping bag.  A front loader means you literally could go off for the summer, just so long as you have a place to restock your food and fluids.  

Recommended Bestsellers

SaleBestseller No. 1
Venture Pal Ultralight Lightweight Packable...
  • DURABLE. This Venture Pal Backpack is made with high quality...
  • COMFORTABLE. Breathable mesh shoulder straps with plentiful...
  • MULTI COMPARTMENTS and KEEP THINGS ORGANIZED. This backpack...
Bestseller No. 2
AmazonBasics Internal Frame Hiking Backpack with...
  • Internal-frame backpack with 75 L capacity (70 L + 5 L...
  • Extensive storage pockets and compartments; large...
  • Adjustable straps and padded shoulder straps for a...
Bestseller No. 3
Mountaintop 40 Liter Hiking Backpack for Outdoor...
  • 6 ADJUSTABLE STRAPS- For tying up your pack or hanging...
  • Computer Compartment:Your Laptop(big enough for a...
  • It meet size requirements for most airlines.

Common Questions

Here are some articles that answer the most popular questions about hiking backpacks. 

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    What type of hiking backpack do I need?
  • chevron-circle-right
    What size backpack will I need? 
  • chevron-circle-right
    How durable is the backpack? 
best hiking backpack

Conclusion

I've covered the different types of backpacks and the usefulness of each kind.  I've also covered the pros and cons of front loaders and top loaders.  Each type is different and will have it's advantages and disadvantages.  If you are doing city traveling, I'd recommend a front loader.  A front loader will allow you to get gear in and out without unloading the whole backpack.  However, for the trails, especially long trail hikes, I recommend a top loader.  A top loader is going to be better balanced.  In this guide, I've also covered accessories.  Some accessories like a little lock will be great for city travel on those zipper cords.  But on the trails a lock will just be added weight.  It really all depends on the kind of travel that you will be doing with your backpack.   I hope that this guide that went over the features of each type of backpack helped you to choose one that is right for you.