Which high-end hiking backpacks are best?
It doesn’t matter whether you’re heading out for a quick day hike or planning on spending a week or more in the wilderness, a high-quality hiking backpack is necessary for a comfortable and enjoyable outdoor trip.
While you can sometimes find an acceptable budget backpack designed for casual hikes, they will often lack the comfort, precise fit, and additional features associated with high-end hiking packs. Praised for its high-quality components and large number of convenient storage pockets, the Osprey Atmos 65 AG is a top choice for backpackers and hikers.
What to know before you buy a high-end hiking backpack
The first thing to consider when choosing the best high-end hiking backpack is how you plan on using it. Hiking packs are often categorized according to their intended usage, which includes daypacks, overnight packs, weekend packs, and multi-day packs. The total capacity will increase relative to the duration of your hike, which is why it wouldn’t be practical to use a multi-day pack for a day hike or a daypack for a week-long expedition.
Pack size goes hand in hand with intended usage. Packs designed for day use often sport a capacity of less than 35 liters. Overnight and weekend packs will usually fall in the 40-65 liter range. Though some ultra-lightweight hikers will be able to use a pack with a smaller capacity for a multi-day hike, most hikers will want a pack with a capacity greater than 65 liters for extended backcountry trips.
The style and fit of a hiking pack will play a major role in the overall comfortability. Those who plan on carrying heavy loads will want to focus on the fit, as improper fits can lead to back pain and put unnecessary stress on different parts of your body.
What to look for in a quality high-end hiking backpack
Comfort is crucial when it comes to hiking backpacks. While much of the comfort will be achieved by finding the perfect fit, high-end hiking backpacks are also more likely to have shoulder and waist straps featuring extra padding or cushioning, relieving pressure points and distributing weight more evenly. Some may also sport a suspension system, which takes the bulk of your pack’s weight off your shoulders.
The best high-end hiking backpacks will feature both an internal hydration reservoir sleeve and a port in which to run the drinking hose. While not all hikers utilize a hydration bladder, it is still a convenient feature to have available, especially when embarking on longer treks.
The number of pockets that you’ll want to store your gear will ultimately come down to preference, as some people prefer one large main compartment, while others enjoy a plethora of smaller pockets to better organize important items. Whichever your style of hiking, be sure to find a backpack that has pockets with secure closures and enough space to keep your gear protected.
Anyone purchasing a high-end hiking backpack will undoubtedly want it to perform well in a variety of conditions, standing up to regular outdoor use. Having a pack made from sturdy and water-resistant materials will also help keep your gear dry. Many will be made from nylon but there are also high-end packs made from cuben fiber, which is a strong, lightweight, and waterproof material.
High-end hiking backpacks may also sport additional features such as whistles, an ice axe loop, compression straps, outer mesh pouches, a sternum strap, waist strap pockets, a sleeping bag compartment and more.
How much you can expect to spend on a high-end hiking backpack
Small capacity day hiking packs can be purchased for under $100, though larger overnight and multi-day hiking backpacks are likely to cost up to $400 depending on the size and features.
High-end hiking backpack FAQ
Can I bring my hiking backpack on a plane?
A. In most cases, yes. As long as your hiking backpack meets the airline’s carry-on bag size requirements, there should be no issue substituting your hiking backpack in place of a traditional suitcase. Just be sure to remove any hazardous items, such as compressed stove fuel.
How should I wash my hiking backpack?
A. A majority of high-end hiking backpacks are not suitable for a washing machine, so hand washing is important to keep the pack clean. By using a mild soap, you can gently scrub your pack with a sponge or soft brush to remove any dirt or debris and then let the air dry.
What are the best high-end hiking backpacks to buy?
Top high-end hiking backpack
What you need to know: A comfortable multi-day pack for both beginners and experienced hikers.
What you’ll love: The Anti-Gravity suspension system makes carrying heavy loads a breeze, while also allowing for increased airflow on your back and shoulders. The separate sleeping bag compartment and a number of zippered pockets make your gear easily accessible when on the trail.
What you should consider: Ultra-light backpackers may think this pack is slightly too heavy.
Top high-end hiking backpack for the money
What you need to know: A unisex pack that’s the perfect option for quick trips up the mountain.
What you’ll love: The breathable straps and back panel will keep you cool during hot days, while the multiple straps will help balance the weight for a more comfortable fit. The recycled polyester material even features a DWR finish for superior water protection.
What you should consider: This pack is not meant for overnight excursions.
Worth checking out
What you need to know: An ultra-light hiking backpack designed for more experienced hikers.
What you’ll love: The extremely lightweight and waterproof Dyneema fabric means you can leave the rain cover at home, saving you space and weight in the long run. The large roll-top central compartment offers plenty of room to store all of your gear without any bulky pockets or pouches.
What you should consider: Due to its ultra-lightweight design, it’s not ideal for carrying heavy loads.
Where to buy: Sold by Backcountry
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Matthew Young writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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