Best Hiking Backpacks and a Guide to Hiking Backpack Shopping

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Consider getting a backpack that is suitable for any outdoor activity? Go for a good hiking backpack. More than just a piece of luggage, your backpack will be your best travel companion. Whether for a day hike or a trek for several days, you have to make a careful decision so that it will meet your needs and requirements in the long run.

We understand that a good backpack is a very essential item, so it can be tricky when choosing the right backpack. Many factors should be taken into consideration, such as materials, weight and capacity. Poor quality material does not provide good ventilation and a heavyweight backpack can make it bulky and less comfortable. 

Choosing a good quality backpack is important, which is why we are here to help you discover a wide range of hiking backpacks and make your final choice - a guide for hiking backpack shopping from the CabinZero team. We will cover a variety of hiking packs from backpacks for day hikes to the well-made rucksacks for more intense hiking trails. 

Hiking backpack

A Simple Guide to a Good Hiking Pack - Features to Look for in a Hiking Rucksack

When it comes to choosing the right backpack, there are several factors that come into play. To make the process easier, first thing first, you need to consider what gear you will be carrying with the backpack. There are several basic elements that would help you decide which cool backpack is suitable for you, such as: 

Choose a Hiking Pack to Go with the Seasons

Choosing the right backpack following the seasons is very important. For example, in winter you will be wearing more layers and therefore want more storage space. Also, your winter hiking gear will be heavier than your summer hiking gear. 

Ventilation in the Back Panel and Shoulder Straps 

A typical good hiking backpack will contain wedge foam and mesh panels or an airflow system that allows breathability. Make sure you check the ventilation system of both back panels, shoulder straps and waist straps when shopping for a new hiking pack.

Waterproofing - A Good Hiking Pack Secures Your Belongings in the Rain

We tend to carry electronic items that are vulnerable to moisture. The good news is, most hiking backpacks offer decent water resistance with their durable materials. However, you should also be aware that if the backpack is to be exposed to water regularly, there is a risk of leakage. So make sure you check how  water-resistant / waterproof backpack is. 

Hiking Backpack Weight and Supported Loads

Beyond space and storage capacity of your hiking backpack, it is also important to consider its total weight and it is necessary to know the total load supported (including your belongings). This will give you an idea of what to put on your back. And if you prefer minimalism, you can go for a lightweight backpack. 

Padding and Support - Look for the Foam Padding of the Hiking Backpack

The thickness and quality of the padding on a hiking backpack, especially the shoulder straps and hip belts, is an important factor in choosing a good hiking backpack. 

A properly fitted backpack would send most of the weight to your hips while the shoulder straps support the weight and keep the bag tight on your back. 

One thing to note is that all heavy travel backpack have foam padding for extra comfort while lightweight backpacks might not have foam padding at the waistband or shoulder straps.

Ideal Numbers of Compartments of Hiking Packs

If you plan to carry a significant amount of stuff during your hike, then organisation is of utmost importance. This is where the numbers of outer and inner pockets and compartments of a backpack prove their distinct advantage, with plenty of access points for creative packing. 

Lightweight Hiking Backpacks

A lightweight backpack means less padding. You’ll find streamlined features, reduced padding, and a more basic frame, some even do without metal supports. 

Lightweight backpacks tend to have thinner fabric, which makes them more vulnerable to tearing when rubbing against rocks or just storing sharp-edge items.

Choose the Right Suspension for Your Hiking Rucksack

Now it’s time to figure out what kind of suspension can hold your stuff while still making you feel comfortable on your hike. 

  • Hip belt - When carrying heavy loads, most of the weight from the bag (up to 80%) should be supported by the hip belt. Large models designed for long-distance hiking usually use a relatively stiff, padded hip belt that anatomically wraps around your hips. Smaller hiking backpacks that are designed for lighter loads have less padded hip belts and only offers a lap strap without any padding.
  • Shoulder straps - The best shoulder straps are curved to conform to your body shape. The padding does not have to be very thick, as most of the weight should be transferred to the hip belt. However, the shoulder straps should be comfortable to wear, without any friction or pinching. 
  • Load lifters - These straps are there to secure the top edge of the hiking backpack. You can shift the bag upwards while keeping it balanced on your hips by adjusting these straps. 
  • Sternum straps - This adjustable shoulder strap is just above your breastbone and connects the two shoulder straps to keep the backpack as stable as it can on your body.
  • Back panel - This is the part of the backpack that interferes with your back. To prevent the backpack from stinging you or hurting your back, all backpack panels whether on a heavy or lightweight backpack, should be padded. One downside is that this can make your back sweat. To minimise this, some backpack manufacturers have developed an air mesh system to allow some extra ventilation. 
  • Frame components - A backpack with an internal frame provides rigidity and makes it easy to transfer the load to your hips.

  • Consider the Back Length

    Back length refers to the height portion of the bag that interferes with your back. This feature does not necessarily depend on the size of your whole body, you can be very tall but have a small back, and vice versa. 

    To find a hiking backpack with a suitable length for your back, first you need to measure the distance between the iliac crest and the 7th cervical vertebra. You can get this measurement on your own or at the backpack store. Some backpacks have adjustable torso-length straps, which allows you to find the one that suits you best. 

    Consider the Back Shape

    When it comes to considering the back shape, choose the backpack that is dedicated to fit your physique. For example, a hiking backpack for women will have a narrower back, especially at the waist and shoulders. A backpack that is too wide or too narrow will be a problem, especially when carrying heavy loads as the weight will be less well distributed. 

    Consider the Chest and Waist Straps

    A waist belt is very essential for a hiking or trekking backpack over 20 litres. It guarantees a good balance for you and helps in distributing the loads in an optimal way. With the ventilated padding, it guarantees good perspiration wicking and maximum comfort. A hiking backpack with a good chest strap that is closely and comfortably attached to your body will prevent twisting and help with extra security and stability.

    Our Top Choice for the 10 Best Hiking Bags and Trekking Backpacks 

    CabinZero Military Backpack - A Tactical Daypack for Hiking

    CabinZero Military Backpack - A Tactical Daypack for Hiking

    This minimalist and versatile backpack from CabinZero is designed for both everyday use as well as outdoor activities like hiking or sporting activities. 

    With military-grade nylon, webbing, air-mesh shoulder straps, top and side grab handles, and a water bottle pocket, this backpack is as resilient as you are. It is also equipped with a padded laptop sleeve for your laptop, or tablets and books. There is a big compartment inside and another 2 small compartments for some extra organisation. 

    With the capacity of 44L and its extra lightweight feature, the CabinZero Military backpack can hold all of your stuff for the day without leaving you any discomfort.

    Weight: 950 g / 2 lb 2 ounces | Capacity: 44L | Water-resistant: Yes | Colors: 6 | Material: 1000 Denier nylon fabric

    The North Face Recon Backpack - A Hiking Daypack with Great Features

    The North Face Recon Backpack - A Hiking Daypack with Great Features

    This high-end travel backpack from The North Face is a state-of-the-art model designed to offer maximum comfort. It is ideal for travel, sports, and any other outdoor activity like hiking or cycling. 

    >> Check out: Best Cycling Backpack

    Thanks to the FlexVent system, this backpack keeps your movements free with the adjustable straps and removable belt, which makes it possible to adjust the size and the belt. With its large capacity, it can hold a laptop with a ripstop nylon pocket. It also features a padded airflow system that allows breathability and keeps gear dry.

    Weight: 1.13 kg | Capacity: 30L | Water-resistant: Yes | Colors: 8 | Material: 100% Polyamide 

    Vaude Wizard Hiking Backpack - A Stylish Daypack Look for Hiking 

    Vaude Wizard Hiking Backpack - A Stylish Daypack Look for Hiking

    The Wizard model of Vaude is a practical hiking backpack for all types of outdoor adventures. It has a large main compartment with a water pocket and a discreet zip system. A camouflage raincoat is also provided to protect your belongings. 

    Suitable for all users, this hiking backpack is equipped with adjustable shoulder straps and a comfortable ventilated mesh back. With a capacity of 28L, this hiking backpack is ideal to store all of your belongings on the hike. 

    Weight: 990 g | Capacity: 28L | Water-resistant: Yes | Colors: 5 | Material: 100% Polyamide

    CabinZero ADV Pro Backpack - A Minimalist Daypack Choice for Hiking

    CabinZero ADV Pro Backpack - A Minimalist Daypack Choice for Hiking

    The ADV Pro backpack from CabinZero is another minimalist choice of a backpack for hiking for those who would love a basic backpack for multipurpose use. 

    This backpack has a distinctively minimal but optimal design, including a quick-access zip pocket, a main compartment that can be loaded from the top of the front, a water bottle holder, this versatile backpack can be used as your day hike backpack. 

    Equipped with the sternum and waist strap, along with the airflow system on the rear panel and the shoulder straps, this backpack is made for all adventures, including outdoor activities and travelling. 

    Weight: 1.5 kg / 3 lb 5 ounces | Capacity: 42L | Water-resistant: Yes | Colors: 4 | Material: Matt finish Nylon 500 Denier Rip-Stop fabric

    Mardingtop Tactical Backpack - The Ultralight Backpack for Hiking

    Mardingtop Tactical Backpack - The Ultralight Backpack for Hiking

    This model of hiking backpacks from Mardingtop is excellent gear for your outdoor excursions. It is ideal for trekking, hiking and mountaineering. 

    With the 40L capacity, this multifunctional model allows you to transport your gear in an optimal way with different compartments offering extra organisation. This hiking backpack also features a pad-lockable closure system, which keeps your belongings safe and adds an extra layer of protection. As for the straps and belts, these are all padded to easily adapt to a variety of sizes. 

    The water-repellent fabric of the backpack is not recommended in washing machines. You can clean it with a damp cloth if necessary, and try to avoid laundry products and bleaches. 

    Weight: 770 g | Capacity: 40L | Water-resistant: Yes | Colors: 8 | Material: 600D polyester

    Zeewoo Trekking Backpack - A Good Companion for Your Trekking Gear

    Zeewoo Trekking Backpack - A Good Companion for Your Trekking Gear

    The Zeewoo trekking bag is suitable for sports and outdoor activities like mountaineering, trekking or camping, etc. 

    Designed with high-quality materials, this backpack is made of waterproof terylene fabric on the outside, and cotton and polyester on the inside. With the 40L capacity, this hiking backpack can hold your clothes, books, a sleeping bag, a laptop and an umbrella comfortably. 

    Travel lighter and easier with this model as it does not have a metal frame, which makes walking and trekking easy. Equipped with adjustable padded shoulder straps, it can adapt to all users’ sizes.

    Weight: 1.08 kg | Capacity: 40L | Waterproof: Yes | Colors: 1 | Material: Terylene fabric

    Hikelite 26 Osprey Hiking Backpack - A Trekker's Choice

    Hikelite 26 Osprey Hiking Backpack - A Trekker's Choice

    The Hikelite 26 Osprey backpack is ideal for short mountain hikes or everyday activities. It is a simple backpack but offers maximum comfort, exceptional ventilation and practical features. 

    This hiking backpack is impressive for its breathability thanks to the AirSpeed back panel. It also has a built-in, removable waterproof cover that can protect your belongings in all kinds of weather conditions. 

    With the 26L capacity and the detachable straps, it is adjustable for all sizes and ideally suited for carrying all your essentials during the day. 

    Weight: 740 g | Capacity: 26L | Waterproof: Yes | Colors: 5 | Material: 100D Nylon Mini Diamond Shadow

    Mountaintop Trekking Backpack - A Rucksack Choice for Heavy Loads

    Mountaintop Trekking Backpack - A Rucksack Choice for Heavy Loads

    The Mountaintop Trekking Backpack is a solid and robust hiking backpack that is suitable for mountain activities, camping in nature or travelling. 

    This backpack has a large capacity of 50L/60L with convenient arrangements, with the main compartment of 5L, and the other compartment is for the sleeping bag. It also has 2 belt pockets, 2 cover pockets, 1 bladder sleeve and a rain compartment. It comes with 2 water bottle compartments on both sides.

    Adjustable in length, this backpack has a chest strap with an adjustable buckle from the top to bottom. It is also equipped with padded shoulder straps, which promotes airflow along your back and shoulders. 

    Weight: 3.77 lbs (1.71 kg) | Capacity: 50L | Waterproof: Yes | Colors: 2 | Material: 90% Nylon+10% Polyester

    Nacatin Hiking Backpack - An Ultralight Premium Hiking Pack

    Nacatin Hiking Backpack - An Ultralight Premium Hiking Pack

    This model from Nacatin is a mixture of many outdoor activities such as hiking, trekking, climbing or mountaineering. It is also an ideal backpack for travelling.

    With a large capacity of 70L, it allows you to keep all your daily necessities in a practical backpack. It has a large front pocket, several side pockets and other compartments for your sports equipment. 

    This backpack keeps your belongings safe in any kind of weather conditions as it is made of advanced polyester fabric and a waterproof cover again the most torrential rainy weather. 

    For additional protection, this Nacatin hiking backpack is equipped with padded shoulder straps and belts to even out strength and minimise discomfort.

    Weight: 455 g | Capacity: 70L | Waterproof: Yes | Colors: 2 | Material: polyester + sponge + steel

    Deuter Hiking Backpack 20L - A Stylish and Lightweight Trekking Bag

    This clean and multi-talented hiking backpack from Deuter is made for all expeditions including those sporty hikes. 

    Thanks to the Aircontact back system, this hiking backpack offers extra comfort for your back with superb ventilation. It also has a flexible and tensioned Delrin® U-shaped frame for extra stability. The frame and form of this backpack are designed to optimise even load distribution and load transfer. 

    Weight: 1020 g | Capacity: 20L | Waterproof: Yes | Colors: 3 | Material: 210D polyamide fabric

    FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions about Hiking Backpacks

    What is the best hiking backpack?

    This really depends on the duration of your trip and what you bring along with you. If you are going on a 3-day trip or longer, we suggest choosing a 50-60L hiking backpack to fit enough clothes, water and food. 

    If you are taking a shorter trip or a half-day hike, a hiking backpack between 20-35L will do. 

    What should I look for when choosing a backpack for hiking?

    A good hiking backpack should hold enough storage to carry all of your hiking gear and fit your body perfectly without adding too much weight. Some really good hiking backpacks are equipped with body-hugging straps, hip-belt pockets, durable zippers and waterproof built-in features. 

    Make sure you try on the backpack to see if the bag and its hip belt fit your body type. Most of the weight should rest on your hips for extra load support and comfort. Also, always go for a backpack with durable water-resistant fabric materials. 

    What is the best hiking backpack for women?

    As women generally have a smaller body frame than men, some men’s backpacks will be loose on women’s bodies and make the hike uncomfortable and bulky. Women’s hiking backpack hip belts usually fit a range of hip sizes from mid 20 inches to mid 40 inches. If you are out of this range, you might need something smaller or bigger to support the loads. 

    How to know if a backpack fits my body?

    You can measure from the base of your neck to the top of your hip bone. This will help you to choose from size S, M, or L backpacks. However, bear in mind that the chart size isn’t the same for every brand so make sure you check the chart carefully before you make any purchase.

    Can I use a regular backpack for hiking?

    Yes. If you are going on a short-day hike trip or a weekend getaway, you can absolutely use your regular travel backpack for your hiking gear. However, if the loads you’re carrying get heavier, it’s time to get a backpack designed for hiking as it will help with load distribution and better comfort. This is because regular backpacks are not designed for distributing weight between your shoulders and waist, but your shoulders only, which can lead to bad postures and discomfort. 

    It is occasionally a better idea to go on shorter trips with a regular travel backpack with a good hip belt as these backpacks are just about right to hold all of your essentials comfortably. 

    Have you got your favourite hiking backpack? If there is any backpack for hiking you think should be on this list, please share with us in the comment section below. 

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