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The Best Hiking Backpack, Chosen By An Experienced Hiker

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There are two primary pieces of gear that'll make hiking infinitely more easy, fun, and comfortable: your footwear and your backpack. When choosing the best hiking backpack for you, you'll want to consider a few things - how long will you be hiking? What do you need to pack? What's the terrain and weather like in the area? What's your budget? 

Those questions are just the beginning. Finding the right backpack for you will have a lot to do with the kind of adventurer you are. There are hikers who will load their packs to the brim and bring comfy chairs, large tents, portable speakers, bulky food items and extra clothing. And there are hikers who prefer efficiency, who can head out with a water bottle, a few pairs of socks, and some small meals and call it a weekend. There's an old saying that goes "the best pack is the one you've got on," and in the spirit of that saying, let's get started on getting you outfitted. 

We've picked out six great hiking backpacks that offer a number of advantages depending on your use case and geographical location. All of these packs take into mind comfort, durability, and accessibility. So whether you're an ultralight enthusiast looking for something to get you into the woods for a weekend, or a gear head who can't set up camp without some creature comforts, you'll find something here you'll be sure to like. 

1. Our Pick for the Best Hiking Backpack


Osprey ATMOS AG 65 - Osprey, $325

Osprey is one of the more well-known names in the backpacking industry. The company turns out thoughtfully designed packs made from environmentally-conscious, heavy-duty materials. The ATMOS AG 65 is a perfect example of that. This backpack should be your go-to for long weekend trips or week-long excursions. The AG 65 features a slew of awesome features, like an integrated rain cover, an internal hydration reservoir, numerous easily accessible pockets, Osprey's AntiGravity suspension system to help ease the load on your back and hips, and a trekking pole attachment system for stow-and-go capabilities. The pack itself weighs just over four pounds when empty, and has a load range of 30-40 pounds. 

2. The Best Backpack for Long Treks


Mystery Ranch Glacier Pack - REI, $375

This option by Mystery Ranch is the box truck of hiking packs. It isn't light and it isn't small - it weighs six pounds and will hold around 80 pounds of gear - but it's what you want if you plan to spend days (or weeks) on the trail. The Glacier Pack has four exterior pockets, as well as a sleeping bag compartment plus a detachable lid that becomes a hip pack for quick trips around camp. The exterior also features a daisy chain of loops, so attaching gear quickly is a breeze. The pack is also made out of super durable Lite Plus Cordura nylon, so snags on branches and rocky terrain won't be something you'll need to worry about. 

3. An Ultra-Light Option


Hyperlite 2400 Southwest - Hyperlite, $349

The 2400 Southwest from Hyperlite is made for those who thrive on efficiency. This ultralight backpack weighs only two pounds yet can carry up to 40 pounds of gear and opens up to 40 liters of internal storage. This specific pack has been created for harsh, rocky environments where you'll likely be encountering errant branches and/or scrambles. That said, durability thrives everywhere. The pack is waterproof, but it should be noted that the bottom is not seam-sealed, so placing this on wet ground will dampen what you have inside, however that's easily fixed with a pack liner or waterproofing kit. 

4. The Most Spacious Option


Gregory Focal 48 Pack - REI, $220

Weighing in at a measly two pounds and able to hold up to 52 liters of gear, the Focal 48 from Gregory is another pack you can't go wrong with. The frame is made from ultralight, perimeter aluminum, and a fiberglass anti-barreling cross-stay ensures you'll be able to load this bag to capacity and hike out comfortably. Speaking of comfort, the pack also uses a "ventilated, suspended mesh back panel which features the Gregory FreeFloat dynamic ComfortCradle lower back system," meaning your back will still be sweaty...just as not as sweaty if you were using a lesser backpack. On the outside, you'll find six exterior pockets, some of which are stretch-mesh, so you'll have easy access to a water bottle or anything else without having to remove the entire pack. 

5. A Solid Option for a Weekend Getaway


Osprey Stratos 44L Backpack - Osprey, $220

For the weekend warriors who hike out Friday after work and are home by Sunday evening, the Stratos 44L from Osprey is calling you. The pack holds less than 30 pounds, so you'll need to be methodical when packing, but with an interior volume of 44 liters, that shouldn't be too tough. The Stratos 44 also features an included rain cover, mesh pockets on the side for easy access to your water bottle, as well as hip and front pockets for your phone, EDC, camera, etc. 

6. The Best Budget Hiking Backpack 


Loowoko 50L Hiking Backpack - Amazon, $42.79

The big arguments to be made against going the cheaper route tend to revolve around substandard materials (bad zippers, weak fabric, uncomfortable straps), but not everyone knows if they'll be into multi-day hiking - or hiking in general - so the thought of spending $300+ on a bag can be intimidating. If you fall into that camp, check out the Loowoko 50L backpack. This unit offers most of the benefits of the more expensive packs, but at a fraction of the cost. That said, this backpack doesn't have a frame, so you'll need to pay close attention to where you strap it and how tight. The Loowoko weighs just 2.6 pounds, will store up to 50 liters of your stuff inside, and can hold up to 50 pounds. On the exterior, you'll find a strap system for your tent, trekking poles, sleeping pad, and more - plus, it even comes with an included rain cover.

READ MORE: The Most Comfortable Hiking Pants for Men