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The best hiking backpacks reviewed (2023)

Oct 25, 2023Oct 25, 2023

The art of constructing a hiking backpack rivals that of Venetian glass. And for a piece of equipment so functional, that may come as a surprise. But a comfortable and durable pack demands serious and careful thought behind each component.

In addition to the details of a hiking backpack, there is the wide variety of outings they’re used for. From daypacks to big backpacking packs, these all need slightly different features so they can excel at their task. A winter hiking pack will inevitably differ from a summer hiking pack, for example.

Atom Packs The Atom + EP50 – Best hiking backpack 2023

Vango Sherpa 60:70 – Best budget hiking backpack

Gregory Focal 48 – Best overnight hiking backpack

Osprey Kyte 58 – Best for backpacking

Mammut Trion 50 – Best winter hiking backpack

Osprey Sirrus 26 – Best daypack for summer

Ortlieb Atrack – Best waterproof hiking backpack

The hiking backpack, though a staple of hiking gear, can be a confusing item to buy. What we’ve done here is bring together our top-performing hiking backpacks from our more focused pack buying guides and recommend them to you as a collection of champions.

Winner of the [Trail Gear of the Year awards

There's an assumption that when you’re starting out as a greenhorn hiker, you begin with cheaper

Over a three-day, 100+km east coast hike, we found the Grogory Focal 48 comfy, providing top-notch

The Kyte (or men's Kestrel) packs are dependable and durable mainstays of the Osprey range. The

Mammut's Trion 50 is a lighter, less expensive sibling to the Trion Spine 50. The Trion 50 is

The Sirrus and Stratos range is one of Osprey's best-selling lines. The comfort, quality, and

We’ve used this pack for travel in addition to hiking, and it's proven to be a very durable pack.

Hiking backpacks normally sit within one of three categories: trekking, backpacking, and mountaineering.

Trekking packs are the most versatile. They vary in volume from small daypack (15-30L) to overnight (35-50L) pack. You can use them for your hillwalking treks all year round.

Backpacking packs are big volume gear haulers for long multi-day trips. They often have lots of clever pockets and very supportive back systems to help you carry all your kit in comfort and stability.

Mountaineering packs are light and tough. They don't have as many features as the other types of hiking backpacks, but instead cater to carry the gear winter adventurer needs.

Ranging from small to very large volumes, it's important to understand which volume of pack is right for you. Use this to give you some guidance:

15-25 litres: Fastpacking or super light hillwalks. 25-35 litres: Day hikes in milder conditions. 35-55 litres: Longer hillwalks and mountain hikes; hut-to-hut trips; lightweight wild camps; winter mountaineering. 55-75+ litres: Long-distance treks and epic trips.

But things vary depending on how you pack. If you like extras such as a lightweight chair, you're going to need more space.

Back systems can seem confusing because of all the technical names brands like to slap onto their designs. But they boil down to three types:

Padded foam back systems offer great comfort and stability, sitting snug on your back.

Suspended mesh back systems hold the pack away from your pack, which also aids ventilation and is great in warmer conditions.

Channelled back systems look to be a mid-point by having excellent ventilation and excellent stability.

The choice is a personal one. Try each one before you buy to find which you prefer.

Hiking backpacks often come in different back lengths. Carefully measure your back length to know which size is right for you.

There are also often women's versions too. Some brands are even offering extended length or width sizes to cater for a wider variety of body types.

Many hiking backpacks have a water repellent coating on the fabric, so they can withstand some moisture. But most aren't fully waterproof.

A raincover is a good solution to this, and many hiking packs come with one. It's also wise to stash your gear in dry bags too.

Pack brands spend a lot of time designing storage for packs. Each model offers different options. Think about the gear you take, what you like to have access to on the move, and if you need to attach anything externally. Match these as best you can to a pack that has the ideal pocket and storage arrangement.

Cleaning your pack after each heavy use or at least every season will ensure the fabrics last longer and you get a better return on your investment.

Brands and retailers usually offer repair services for outdoor gear too. Packs are one of the easier pieces of equipment to repair, so make use of repair services if and when you need to.

The art of constructing a hiking backpack rivals that of Venetian glass. And for a piece of equipment so functional, that may come as a surprise. But a comfortable and durable pack demands serious and careful thought behind each component. Best hiking backpack 2023 Best budget hiking backpack Best overnight hiking backpack Best for backpacking Best winter hiking backpack Best daypack for summer Best waterproof hiking backpack 15-25 litres: 25-35 litres: 35-55 litres: 55-75+ litres: Padded foam Suspended mesh Channelled