Top 10 Outdoor Hiking Backpacks in 2016

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There is a strange truth about going to hiking trips.

There are WAY too many people who think that they should not invest in backpacks. You will be going to outdoor hiking or camping trip once or twice a year, so why bother buying the most expensive backpack out there?

They say if I will spend only couple of hours hiking and will be going not so long distance, I don’t need the best hiking backpack.

However, it is not the case. If only it were that easy…

If your backpack is heavy and bulky, even if you are walking only for 20 minutes to the mall, there will be lots of pressure to your back and neck. Any type of walking will feel like hell. But if you really want to enjoy your hiking trip, you need to make your stuff lighter.

The truth is, you need a systematic approach in order to choose the most lightweight gear as possible. Everything needs to be as light as possible, including shelter, sleeping bag, and clothes.

So your backpack is the first thing to start reducing the overall weight.

Here is the list of most lightweight and high quality backpacks that we found very useful in hiking trips. You can still carry a  lot of stuff in those backpacks and you won’t feel the pressure and weight.

We have collected internal frame backpacks dividing it to two groups: larger ones and smaller ones.

Large Backpacks (55-70 L Volume)

Large backpacks are ideal for experienced hikers who go over for 6 days or more trips and who need to carry lots of stuff with them. It is great for mountain climbers, trekkers of high distances and expedition workers.

  1. Osprey Men’s Atmos 65 AG Backpacks (50L/65L, Available for men and Women) -$207-701 USD

Osprey-Atmos-65

Osprey Atmos 65 AG Backpack is one of the best backpacks out there. It has won a number of awards for its comfort, high quality and stability. It is one of the most popular backpacks among heavy backpackers. And it is a very good choice for hiking.

The backpack features Anti-Gravity suspension system, breathable ventilated materials on a back, adjustable harness, compression straps, dual zippered front panel pockets and a removable floating top lid.

This suspension system covers your back from 365 degrees spreading the load evenly to all of your body. Because it is made of high quality materials, it is water resistant and does not wear off quickly.

Also, the backpack provides a lot of flexibility with its compression straps. It is connected directly to the frame. As a result you can squeeze down to make the bag smaller if you are not carrying a lot of stuff.

As a bonus, the backpack offers removable sleeping pad straps, stow-on-the-go trekking pole attachment and a tool attachment.

It has one big internal compartment and front zippered pockets. There is an internal reservoir sleeve in the main compartment for storing your water.

2. Gregory Mountain Products Baltoro 75 Backpack (60L/70L/80L/85L, available for men and women) – $237 USD

Gregory-Baltoro-75

There is no doubt that Gregory Baltoro 75 Backpack is one of the best backpacks available out there. It also has won lots of awards from backpacking magazines last year.

One of the notable features of the backpack is its Response A3 suspension system which due to its construction makes heavy stuff feel noticably light. It offers lots of backpack sizes S, L, XL depending on your height. You need to measure your back and select the right size. After that, you can go to wonderful adventures with this backpack.

The backpack has a main compartment and front pocket, two zip side pockets and dual waistbelt pockets. There is a top lid which can be removed when not needed. Apart from that, there is a special place to store our sleeping bag under the front pocket. There is also a hydration sleeve in the main compartment.

3.  TETON Sports Scout 3400 Internal Frame Backpack(55 L, Unisex bag) – $ 60 USD

81+vOljT3XL._SL1500_

TETON Sports Scout 3400 is one of the best backpacks for its price. It is cost effective and yet made of good materials. If you are looking for a smaller bag for short day trips, this bag will be ideal.

The backpack has one big mesh storage pocket as a main compartment with hydration sleeve inside. The main compartment can be accessed both through top of the bag and through front. It has a couple of additional zippered pockets on the front side, both for keeping sleeping bag and your electronics.

The hip straps are also equipped with smaller pockets. On the bottom of the backpack, you can store the rain cover and sleeping bag.

Teton-Sports-Scout-3400

Both the shoulder straps and hip straps are adjustable to your height. While the backpack does not offer special bags for women, its shoulder straps can be adjusted for women’s body too, with chest straps.

As for the suspension system, it uses a lightweight aluminum material inside the internal frame.

 

Specs:

Size 30″ x 17″ x 12″
Shell 600D Diamond Ripstop / 600D PU
Hydration Capacity 101-Ounce (3 Liter), Not Included
Capacity 3400 Cubic Inches / 55 Liters
Color Mecca Orange | Hunter Green
Pack Weight 4.5 lbs
Waist Belt Adjustable 26″ – 60″
Torso Length Adjustable 15″ – 19.5″

Pros:

  • Lowest cost for functional backpack – it is one of the cheapest hiking backpacks overs there
  • The bag is adjustable to any size. Shoulder straps adjust to any size needed. You can adjust based on your height. You can also adjust hip straps.
  • Good quality and durability. The backpack does not wear off quickly
  • You can store a lot of stuff, yet it does not get bulky

Cons:

  • The bag is made of cheaper materials to reduce overall cost, but that doesn’t affect quality and durability. However some parts may get ripped of if you are using the backpack not carefully and if you are loading it with more weight than it is expected.
  • Sleeping bag compartment is smaller than most sleeping bags could fit
  • The backpack is too small for anyone more than  6′ tall, however, it fits perfectly for people 5’9″ and smaller
  • No breathable ventilation material on the back

Overall, it is a budget version of the modern hiking backpacks. It is good for short trips and for carrying less amount of gear.

4. Mountaintop[2016 NEW] 65L Internal Frame Backpack (65 L, Unisex) – $80 USD

Mountaintop

Mountaintop has recently introduced 65 L hiking backpack with an internal frame.

The backpack is made of high quality materials, and although it is very cost effective, the quality has not been sacrificed.

It has one main big compartment with hydration sleeve inside and lots of zippered compartments on the front and on sides. There is a zippered compartment at the bottom for storing a sleeping bag and other stuff, as it has a zippered divider. Side pockets and hip pockets make it easy to store quick access items such as snacks and mobile phone. Overall, there are 2 hip-belt pockets, 2 lid pockets, 1 bladder sleeve, 1 front pocket, 1 rain cover (included) compartment and two mesh bottle pouches.

Overall, there are 8 compression straps on the front of the backpack which can be used for compressing the backpack or for hanging lots of stuff. The torso can be adjusted to your height with 8 stage height adjuster system.

The backpack comes with a rain cover. The main advantage of this backpack is that it fits taller people over 6′ too.

Specs:
Capacity: 65L (3,967 cubic inches)
Fabric: Water-resistant Nylon
Item Weight: 4.9 lbs (2.23 kg)
Product Dimensions: 29.5 x 11.8 x 9.1 inches (75 x 30 x 23 cm)

Pros:

  • Cheap price
  • Great load balancing and weight distribution
  • Lot of storage room and pockets
  • Durable materials, endures lots of trips
  • Shoulder and hip pads are ventilated, breathable

Cons:

  • Although it is stated that it has 65 L capacity, it is smaller than other models of backpacks of the same capacity
  • Plastic zippers which may be broken when used not carefully (not YKK zippers)

 

Overall, it is a nice bag for the price.

5.  The North Face Terra 65 Exploration Pack (65 L, There is 55L version for Women) – $150.02 – $198.99

North-Face-Terra-65

Terra 65 backpack is a simple hiking backpack with lots of good features and good quality. At first, it seems like it is no different than any other hiking backpacks out there. But the bag stands out with its stable suspension system, flexible organization of pockets, and durable materials.

The backpack contains main compartment and a compartment for a sleeping bag at the bottom. The main compartment and a compartment for a sleeping bag can be joined together by removing a fabric that separates them. Front pocket zippers from both left and right sides. The main compartment can be accessed from top, from the bottom and from right side. There are overall 8 pockets on the sides and on a hip strap.

The backpack is made of combination of  600D polyester, 420D mini-ripstop nylon and 1200D polyester materials. The shoulder strap, the back and hip straps are also equipped with soft air mesh and padded cotton material to improve the ventilation.

The backpack uses Optifit suspension system which allows you to adjust the backpack to your own torso length. The backpack fits torso sizes from 15″(38cm) to 22″ (56 cm).

One of the notable features is that the hydration sleeve offers far more capacity – 3 liters which is large comparing to other backpacks.

Pros:

  • Very effective ventilation system on the back
  • Stable and comfortable suspension system with proper load distribution

Cons:

  • Does not come with waterproof rain cover
  • Side pockets are not expandable

 

Overall, it is one of the best backpacks for its price.

Lightweight Backpacks (40-55 L volume)

We have provided the list of backpacks of larger volume.

Below you will see best backpacks for hiking, trekking or backpacking with less volume.

They require less space for storage and they do not have a special compartment for a sleeping bag. The maximum weight that can be loaded in these backpacks is 18 kg.

6. Granite Gear Lutsen 45 Backpack (45L, Unisex) – $200 USD

Lutsen-45

Granite gear Lutsen 45 Backpack is one of the lightest backpacks out there. It only weighs 1.4 kg (3lb) when empty. Other backpacks of the same size weigh about 2 kgs (4.4lb).

It is made of combination of different light weight materials of nylon cordura with a maximum density of 210 denier. There is a thin mesh quick drying fabric on the shoulder straps and on the harness. The materials are treated with DWR water repellent composition barrier.

Lutsen Re-Fit suspension system is made of soft, ergonomic and ventilated backrest that can be adjusted accurately in height and in width to suit individual needs. The frame is made of polymer and can bear weight up to 18 kg.

Lutsen 45 Backpack has a main compartment and a completely removable top. There is a hydration pack in the main compartment.

The front pocket and side pockets are made of fully expandable soft materials. There are flexible pockets on hip straps.

Specs:  

Brand Granite Gear
Weight 3 lb / 1.4 kg
Gender Unisex
Capacity 2746 cu in / 45 L
Max Load Capacity 40 lb / 18 kg
Hydration Bladder or Bottle Included? Not Included
Hydration Compatible Yes
Backpack Features Hydration Compatible, Top Loader
Material 100D High Tenacity Nylon with Barrier DWR
210D High Tenacity Ripstop Nylon with Barrier DWR
Sizing S/M Torso Length: 14-18 in
L/XL Torso Length: 18-22 in
Made in China

Pros:

  • Very lightweight backpack
  • Fully water proof and water resistant backpack, can be used without rain cover
  • Adjustable harness
  • Exceptionally good ventilation system

Cons:

  • Compression straps are too thin and do not compress much
  • Does not have hydration bladder include

7.  Osprey Exos 48 Backpack – $132-$209USD

Osprey-Exos-48-Backpack

Osprey Exos 48 Backpack is probably the most lightweight backpack for hiking over there. It weighs just 1.13 kg (2 lbs, 8 oz) and has all the features of big backpacks: suspension system, weight distribution, exceptional ventilation on a back.

One of the notable features of Osprey Exos 48 Backpack is ventilated back made of soft foam.

Osprey Exos 48 Backpack

The backpack is made of silicone and polyurethane coated with water resistant mini rip-stop nylon. The suspension system is made of Aluminum frame covered with soft EVA foam and HDPE framesheet.

Most lightweight backpacks sacrifice number of storage compartments and use cheap materials. But it is not the case with Osprey Exos 48. The top removable lid provides a huge space for storing additional gear. Main compartment is spacey enough to fit most of your gear and there are expandable mesh stretch pockets on the front and on sides.

Although, the compression straps are really narrow, they do a great job of compressing your stuff. It has lots of holes for holding your additional gear.

The hip belt contains soft expandable pockets for your cameras, phones and snacks.

However, beware that the backpack has different sizes for different torso length. It is not adjustable.

Specs:

 

Best use Backpacking
Frame type Internal
Ultralight Yes
Gear capacity (L)
S (45 liters)
M (48 liters)
L(51 liters)
Gear capacity (cu. in.)
S
2,746 cubic inches
M
2,929 cubic inches
L
3,112 cubic inches
Weight
S
2 lbs. 6 oz.
M
2 lbs. 8 oz.
L
2 lbs. 10 oz.
Weight – metric
S
1.08 kilograms
M
1.13 kilograms
L
1.19 kilograms
Fits torso
S
16 – 19 inches
M
18 – 21 inches
L
20 – 23 inches
Fits waist/hips
S
27 – 31 inches
M
30 – 34 inches
L
33 – 37 inches
Material(s) Ripstop nylon
Frame material Aluminum
Number of stays 1
Suspended mesh back panel Yes
Pack access Top
Number of exterior pockets 4 + main compartment
Gender Unisex

Pros:

  • Ventilated back
  • Removable top lid
  • Light weight
  • Lots of expandable stretch pockets

Cons:

  • Although this is ultra light backpack, you should not carry more than 35-40 lbs (15-18 kg) of weight. Packing it heavily might result in aluminum frames to get bonded
  • If you are carrying more than recommended weight, shoulder straps get down and you have to adjust them often

Overall, Osprey Axos 48 is a good backpack and if you are a minimalist backpacker, this is what you need.

8. Deuter ACT Trail Pro 40 Backpack (40L, Unisex) – $170 USD

Deuter ACT Trail Pro 40

Deuter ACT Trail Pro is one of the technical light backpacks for those who go backpacking in short 2-3 day trips. It his relatively new backpack in the market. It has very comfortable suspension system and has a front access to main compartment.

The ACT Trail Pro has a main compartment, side pcokets and a special two way access to the main compartment through zippers on the front. There are zippered pockets on a hip strap for storing smaller stuff.

The backpack itself is made of micro-ripstop nylon material. The harness and shoulder straps are additionally covered with highly breathable 3D AirMesh lining.

ACT Trail Pro is made with Aircontact Trail System. The suspension system uses the breathable hollow-chamber foam pads that allows the weight to sit close to the back and close to the centre of gravity. It stabilizes the load evenly covering all over your back.

You need to choose our own size depending on your torso length and go with it.

ACT Trail Pro includes handful of additional features including a special storage for rain cover. There is a special compartment for your wet clothes. The backpacks contains ice axe and hiking pole loops. The special SOS label makes the ACT Trail Pro useful.

The backpack has a compartment for hydration reservoir, which is sold separately. The design of the bag includes compression straps and adjustable chest straps

Specs:

Material:
Deuter-Microrip-Nylon, Deuter-Super-Polytex, Macro Lite 210
Volume:
2319 cu in
Support/Suspension:
Aircontact Trail System
Shoulder Straps:
contoured with 3D Air mesh
Waist Belt:
yes
Hydration Compatible:
yes
Reservoir Included:
no
Access:
top, front
Pockets:
1 side, 1 front stow, 2 waist belt
Gear Loops:
yes
Ice Axe Carry:
yes
Trekking Pole Carry:
yes
Rain Cover:
yes, detachable
Compression:
yes
Weight Capacity:
30 lbs
Claimed Weight:
3 lb 9 oz
Recommended Use:
hiking & camping, backpacking
Manufacturer Warranty:
lifetime

Pros:

  • Load distributing suspension system
  • A separate compartment for wet clothes
  • Ventilated back
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons:

  • No cons found yet

 

9. Gossamer Gear Gorilla 40 (40 L, Unisex) – $205-$245 

Gossamer-Gear-Gorilla-40

Gossamer Gear is relatively new lightweight backpack(from 2015 release) for minimalist backpacking and hiking trips. The backpack comes in four sizes depending on your torso length.

Gossamer Gear Gorilla 40 backpack is made of custom 100 denier Robic ripstop nylon material. The harness is covered with additional air mesh fabric for lining.

The bag comes with a very large and adjustable mesh front pocket, two side pockets and a lid.

While the Gossamer Gear Gorilla Backpack is technically frameless, and it carries the same weight as the backpacks with frame. It balances weight with ultralight aluminum stay on the top, which does not add extra weight and still provides the benefits of internal frame backpacks.

gorilla_3_5

The backpack is equipped with a soft pad on the back. You can use it as a sit pad or as an additional unit for your sleeping bag.

The Gossamer Gear Gorilla comes with hip belt in different sizes, independent of the torso length of the pack. It adds extra flexibility for those who are very tall and skinny or for those who are short in height and have a wide hips.

The shoulder straps are narrowed down for more universal use.

Specs:

Specs Size

  • Small (13″ – 16″ torso) (33 – 41 cm.) Generally fits people 4′ 11″ to 5′ 4″

  • Medium (16″ – 19″ torso) (41 – 48 cm.) Generally fits people 5’4″ to 5’9″

  • Large (19″ – 22″ torso) (48 – 56 cm.) Generally fits people 5’9″ to 6′

Hip Belt Size (Sold Separately)

  • X-Small hip belt (22″ – 28″ waist (55.88 – 71.12 cm.)

  • Small hip belt (25″ – 32″ waist) (64 – 81 cm.)

  • Medium hip belt (32″ – 38″ waist) (76 – 96.5 cm.)

  • Large hip belt (38″ – 44″ waist) (91.4 – 112 cm.)

 

Average Weight (pack, stay and pad)

  • Small : 21.55 oz / 611 g

  • Medium : 24.3 oz / 689 g

  • Large: 26.15 oz / 742 g

 

Average Weight Hipbelt

  • X-Small: 4.2 oz / 120 g
  • Small: 5.6 oz / 159 g
  • Medium: 6.3 oz / 178 g
  • Large: 7.0 oz / 198 g
  • X-Large: 7.5 oz / 213 g

 

Capacity (Size Medium)

  • 2,354 c.i. (40 l.) total

  • 1,760 c.i. (28.84 l.) in main pack body to extension collar seam

  • 30 lb maximum carry capacity

Dimensions (Size Medium)

  • Height 23” to the extension collar only

  • Width 11”

  • Depth 6”

  • Extension collar adds another 9” of height

 

Materials

  • Custom 100 denier Robic ripstop nylon

  • Select use of 200 denier Robic nylon for reinforcement.

  • Select use of 70 denier silicone coated ripstop (silnylon)

  • Air mesh fabric for harness lining

  • Power mesh fabric pad holder

  • Custom stretch mesh fabric for big back pocket

 Pros

  • Extremely light backpack
  • Expandable straps
  • Side compression straps
  • Large pockets

Cons:

  • Little smaller than other backpacks of the same size and category

10. The ZPacks Arc Blast (52L, Unisex) – $325 USD

Z-Packs-Arc-Blast-52-L

ZPacks Arc Blast is the most lightweight backpack which weighs just 21.0 ounces (595 grams). It is a perfect backpack for minimalist and ultralight backpackers. The backpack stands out with its simplicity, ease of use and durability. You can carry more weight than expected, and it will still be strong and steady.

The backpack is made of minimal carbon fiber frame. The frame is curved which leaves a lot of airflow to your back.  The frame pieces and mesh back panel can be easily removed or replaced.

The Arc Blast backpack is made of Cuben fiber. Front pockets and side pockets are made of elastic mesh material.

The shoulder straps are adjustable to your torso length.

ZPacks Art Blast

The hip belt is large in width and it is also adjustable to your width. The belt is removable and interchangeable allowing you maximum flexibility when you need. The belt is attached right at the bottom of the frame, allowing it to transfer weight to your hips and shoulders as evenly as possible. The belt pockets are sold separately.

The main compartment can be accessed through a roll top Velcro opening.

The bag does not contain too much unnecessary straps. It only contains top strap and side straps which allows you to squeeze the bag to the right size when you are not carrying a lot of weight.

Zpack Arc Blast Hip Belt

The design of the backpack allows you to carry your hydration reservoir. It is just above/between the shoulder straps and it has a triangular cover to keep out water.

Specs: 
Total Volume: 52 Liters / 3,200 cubic inches – 21.0 ounces (595 grams)
Main Body Volume: About 39 Liters / 2,400 cubic inches
Body dimensions: 6.5″ x 12.5″ x 30″  (16.5 cm x 31.8 cm x 76 cm)

Pros:

  • Removable frame
  • Removable hip belt
  • Extremely ultra light and useful

Cons:

  • No hip belt pockets (purchased separately)
  • One year warranty only (vs. lifetime warranty)
  • Costly

Overall it is a good backpack for light trips. However, do not overload the backpack and treat it with care.

 

$150 USD

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