The 5 Best Backpacks for Hiking
Hiking is an incredible pastime for outdoor lovers around the world. When you are prepping for a hike, there are four key things to consider:
1. TRIP DURATION
What size pack do I need? The longer you plan to spend on the trail, the bigger pack you’ll want. Backpacks are sized by how much they can hold (volume), which is measured in liters.
We came up with a brief reference guide:
- Weekend trips (1-3 nights = 35-50 liters)
- Multi-day (3-5 nights = 50-80 liters)
- Long trips (6 nights+ = 70 liters+)
If you’re going out in the winter, you'll want to plan for a larger pack to fit extra insulation and a thicker sleeping bag.
The strength/durability of the backpack is important. Can it withstand the elements you encounter? Can it fit everything you need without bursting? Can it weather the elements? Consider these things carefully before making your purchase.
Weight is an important thing to consider when buying a hiking pack. Don't get romanced by an "ultra-light" pack when you need something more durable. And don't get a super heavy pack for a quick 1-day hike. Make sure you take this into consideration when getting a pack.
The last thing to consider is the size of your pack. To find the right measurement for your body type, grab a flexible tape-measure and a friend that can assist. Tilt your head forward and have them feel along the base of your neck for a bony bump. The bottom of your torso length is at the top of your hip bones. Your torso length is the distance between these two points.
Here’s a short guide for how companies determine the size of the backpack:
- Extra Small: up to 15 ½”
- Small: 16″ to 17½”
- Medium/Regular: 18″ to 19½”
- Large/Tall: 20″ and up
Make sure to get the right size backpack for your body!
Now, On To The Packs...
Here's our ranking of the 5 best backpacks for hiking (based on research, preference, reviews):
1. The Cotopaxi Taboche 55L Backpack
2. The Osprey Ariel
Another fantastic pack. The Ariel looks similar to the Taboche at first glance. It is built for longer hikes, and comes with a price point to reflect that. We have nothing negative to say about the Ariel though.
3. The Teton Sport Scout 3400
Teton has some great products, and they focus on cheaper price points. This pack is not as high quality as the first two, but it's still a great choice.
4. The North Face Cobra
The Cobra is an incredible pack. Coming in a $250, it's more expensive than the Scout or the Taboche, but it's a great all-around pack. Highly recommend.
5. The Deuter Air Contact
Another fantastic option. Deuter is known for high quality packs, and this one is our favorite of theirs. It's a little pricey (the high end version coming in at $450), but it's worth every penny.