Updated on December 24, 2018
Hike, mountain, trek, they all have something in common: whether you leave for a few hours or a few days, the trip certainly requires a good backpack to carry everything you need for this activity.
After several hours of research, I made my selection for you 7 best hiking backpacks among more than forty models available at the moment.
And it is the Lowe Alpine Cerro Torre that stands out for me in this selection, as much for its quality as for its price.
You will also find a guide at the end of this article, to help you make the purchase that suits you best.
The best cheap hiking backpacks
Two entry-level models that are actually very close to the mid-range for a cost of less than 200 euros. What to hike without a second thought.
Lowe Alpine Cerro Torre: the best of the market
Suspension suspension technology in the back
Recognized quality for 30 years
The integrity of the bag depends solely on the adjustment system
Founded in 1967 in the USA, Lowe Alpine by renowned mountaineer Greg Lowe, who is at the origin of several innovations in the field, including some waterproof textiles.
We can already consider from the start the Cerro Torre 65:85 as certainly a very good backpack, planned for long hikes and a safe value of the market, for a rather reasonable price of about 200 euros currently.
In addition, this is the favorite product of my selection, which wins this title thanks to its back adjustment system that I will detail later in the article.
This model is offered in two sizes. The one presented here is the "regular" whose dimensions are 40 x 77 x 30 centimeters for a total capacity (and expandable) of 65 to 85 liters, which makes it a quite serious backpack for long trips of more of a day in all conditions.
Its main quality comes from the possibility of adjustment of the harness in the back thanks to a proprietary system whose operation is of a disconcerting simplicity (when one has the habit of adjustable backpacks by pulling on the left, on the right, in tightening, etc …).
Simply lift or lower the two shoulder straps in one movement, which are connected directly to the frame of the bag and give the possibility of distributing the weight of the load (which can reach 25 kilos without difficulty) while marrying perfectly back to the desired height.
I am quite convinced by this system and highly appreciate getting this kind of quality for a backpack less than 250 euros.
This is obviously not the only strength of Cerro Torre 65:85 which also offers all the best features of a good hiking backpack such as a rain cover, many pockets easily accessible for storage (including two included on the straps at the hips) and of course a waterproof material, but which breathes effectively.
Smaller friendly: the detachable part of the top, on the latest model dated, can turn to provide a small backpack extra!
So that's why this bag is my favorite and to be clear, I could not find him a notable defect, which is impressive, although it seems obvious that in case of breaking the suspension system in the back, the bag is no longer usable, since it is the whole system that collapses.
But if you are looking for a quality bag at an honest price, the Cerro Torre 65:85 is undoubtedly the ideal candidate.
Gregory Octal: Simple, light and efficient
Good value for money
All the essential features of a hiking bag
Limited use for long trips
Gregory does not define himself as a big company, but prides himself on offering the best possible help to his clients on their travels. The brand has existed since 1977 and is present throughout our selection, the excellent quality of its products being mainly responsible.
There is obviously one for all purses, all tastes and all genres.
This selection begins with one of Gregory's entry-level products, a backpack specifically designed for women, the Octal 45.
Let's review its technical aspects and its price as well as its main qualities and defects.
The Octal 45 is therefore a backpack for women's use and generally offered around 190 euros (for the M version exposed here).
It is available in 3 different sizes, each with different sizes, torso sizes and capacities: XS, S and M.
The M that is presented in this selection weighs 1.12 pounds for dimensions of 71 x 32 x 29 centimeters, a torso size between 46 and 51 centimeters and finally a capacity of about 48 liters.
All models available for sale can hold up to a maximum of 14 kilos of load, regardless of their other specificities.
This bag is made entirely of nylon with an aluminum frame. It has a "Aerospan" ventilation and suspension system that allows the unit to breathe properly, ensuring optimal support and proper load distribution.
At the level of its options, it is minimalist and offers essential possibilities, neither more nor less: a waterproof cover that fits immediately in the upper pocket, a quick hook for the sunglasses on the shoulder strap, an easily accessible pouch for a water bottle and of course a location that allows the deployment of an internal hydration system.
This is probably the most suitable backpack for casual travelers who want a quality transport tool, without looking for complexity.
On the other hand, it seems to be less useful for journeys of several days, because of the fairly basic quality of the canvas used and a limited capacity, which are not suitable for prolonged use.
The best mid-range hiking backpacks
Most of these backpacks are for the eternal travelers and are all excellent, with a special favorite for my personal selection, the Osprey Levity 60.
Osprey Levity: the best mid-range
Many options for its lightness
High price that is only justified for regular use
I do not think there is much need to present the Osprey brand, arguably one of the most popular in the world of hiking.
And for those who do not know, a quick little historical point.
Osprey was created in 1974 in California and quickly became a reference in backpacks thanks to the quality of the products, an epic guarantee and a very good availability. The brand can be found everywhere, so the bags can be tested and tested by customers in less specialized stores, to the satisfaction of all.
Today, Osprey is the brand whose bag is the most common representation in advertisements and minds.
The Levity 60 is the brand's worthy emissary, winning several awards for its quality and is a fairly new model that works perfectly whether you're an occasional walker or a confirmed hiker.
In terms of dimensions, the Levity 60, sold between 230 and 280 euros is available in several sizes (Small, MD and LG, the latter being the one we present in this article) of about 72 x 40 x 33 centimeters and can support a maximum load of about 15 kilos.
This is a backpack to take seriously and to quote an expert in the field: "This is the kind of bag you will not find a photo where it is used, because the hiker who owns it is the kind of anyone who thinks that a mobile phone is too heavy to carry and useless for his trip. "
The frame is ultra-light, with a thin, flexible rear frame and a rear panel designed with Osprey "AirSpeed" technology. All this forms a super-resistant nylon textile bag, which filters moisture very well.
Accessory side, it has including an attachment point for rope knots, access from above and the side of the bag including a proprietary rope compression system and of course the fasteners and locations necessary for the addition of a hydration pocket. The whole vacuum weighs less than 900 grams, which I find quite amazing for a bag of this quality.
Osprey continues its journey in 2018 with an excellent backpack for which I regret only one thing: the basic price that can scare the neophytes, but is well worth it if you take your hikes seriously.
Gregory Optic: in the optics of privileging the lightness
Ultra light and easy to handle
Comfortable lumbar cushion
No access to the bag other than the top
No additional pocket
We have already mentioned elsewhere in the article an entry-level product of this brand, which is perfect for small hikes that do not last more than a day, especially because of its capacity and its textile material of fairly basic quality.
But with the Gregory Optic 58, we reach the next level.
A very light rucksack weighing just over a kilo, but behaving like the bigger ones.
The model unveiled in this article is the one considered regular, with dimensions of 30 x 14 x 63 cm but there is also a size M model designed specifically for women, since it is considered a backpack "man ".
The bag is designed with a lightweight yet durable aluminum frame, which can be seen directly through the bag's fabric. It is complemented by an internal support that allows the bag to keep its shape and hold even under heavy loads, which usually tend to deform and thus change the balance of this load.
Also found on the Optic 58 is the "Aerospan" suspension system already found on the Octal 45, which makes you breathe effectively and prevents excessive sweating that stays in your back.
In addition, we can also note the presence of a thick lumbar cushion, very comfortable for long hikes. This probably adds a little weight to the backpack, but for a good reason.
In terms of weight and load, the lightness of the Gregory Optic 58 comes not only from its aluminum frame, but also because no access from below or no additional pockets are available on the bag that does not offer besides a load of fifteen kilos, which can frankly limit its interest for some.
But if you do not expect to access your backpack once stopped, this should probably not prevent you from acquiring this model, which is excellent on all other points.
Granite Gear Crown: it does not leave marble
Cushions in the back to avoid contact with the bag
Too few extra pockets available on the bag
Here is another American brand that has proven itself and has gained some notoriety among hikers certainly due to the proximity work it does with professionals in the field.
And if we are concerned about the environment, we can appreciate the actions of Granite in this area, because the brand is very active in environmentalism. A good point for them to enter.
The bag shown here is 30 x 8 x 64 centimeters for less than a kilogram. A bag that is very light but with a very good capacity of 60 liters for a load possibility that can go up to 15 kilos.
This is a backpack that is all close to what is traditionally done and is more for hiking than for long trips and mountaineering.
On the part in contact with the back are found a large number of "pads", these cushions that add comfort and in this case allow your back not to be in direct and permanent contact with the frame of the bag.
Frame that is not quite rigid but a little flexible, which in case of maximum load will marry the shape of the body, which seems almost non-existent, absolutely does not obstruct movements.
The shoulder straps include two small storage pockets but those on the hips do not offer. However, they allow you to attach a belt of accessories and storage thanks to its universal fastening system MOLLE.
Finally, the top of the bag is expandable and can easily hold larger equipment (a tent why not) but for a weight obviously limited.
In short, if we do not count the regrettable lack of additional pockets available, the Granite Gear is an excellent backpack, perfect for hiking but not at all planned for mountaineering.
The best high-end hiking backpacks
The best of the best for hikers, trekkers and mountaineers of all kinds who are not cold in the eyes or the wallet.
Gregory Baltoro 65: the best of high-end
Straps that move independently and all detachable
Textile a little below the high-end standards
Here is finally the last backpack Gregory brand that extends across all ranges of our selection here with a model that is among the favorites of the brand, acclaimed by many hikers for its availability and reliability.
Let's start with its technical characteristics.
The bag is available in 3 sizes men S, M and L, the third being the one we are now looking at, sold around 300 euros (There are of course also 3 sizes women XS, S and M available at similar prices).
It measures here 35 x 70 x 36 centimeters for a capacity of 65 liters and a maximum carry of about 22 kilos. Its empty weight is 2.3 kilograms, which is rather heavy for a bag of this size, but this fact is offset by its many features.
My main interest for the Baltoro 65 comes from the fact that each strap (shoulder and hip) can move independently of each other, allowing to have almost total freedom of movement, as if the bag was not present in the back.
These straps are in addition all detachable to be replaced if necessary by others of different sizes. Unbeatable flexibility for this model.
In addition, the lumbar cushion has a removable reinforcement that allows more or less comfort depending on the load you carry.
In terms of access, the bag is of course openable from above and has a large pocket at the back and a compartment provided for the sleeping bag on the underside.
Several other pockets are easily accessible and include a water bottle holder that can be hidden inside the bag and released only when needed.
There is also raincover protection in case of rain, as is the case on most hiking backpacks.
The suspension system is quite classic but quite adjustable and customizable especially as many sizes for the bag are available for sale.
Few negative things go against the Baltoro 65, high-end model that can just be blamed for a design in a sustainable textile certainly, but a little below what other brands offer for a comparable price.
Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor: a serious name, a serious backpack
"Y" frame that perfectly distributes the weight
Padding at the back
Upper pocket too small
This hiking backpack from Sierra Designs, an American company created in the mid-1960s, is different in many respects.
But let's first look at its basic characteristics.
The Flex Capacitor 40-60 is available in several sizes (S, M and L). The wide model being the one of which we will speak here and that it is possible to acquire for approximately 200 euros (attention, many models are delivered directly from the USA and can then cost up to 300 euros. it can be found at 200-220 euros on the net).
It measures 76 x 33 x 25 centimeters and can hold a volume of 40 to 60 liters for a maximum lift that varies between 15 and 22 kilograms. Nothing exceptional at this level, these specificities meet market standards.
It is composed of nylon rather resistant and for the paddings at the level of the lumbar and the shoulders, of foam in EVA.
Its first difference concerns the superior access to the bag which is made by zipper that rotates around the bag, unlike the usual "lids" which are detachable and sometimes transformable into a rain cover or backpack. Because of this, there are no pockets available in this compartment (but there is one on top which is in my opinion a little too small).
Its second difference comes from the compression straps, which are sometimes present on the sides but which also exist here on the Flex Capacitor all along the bag, with 4 straps at the front of the bag to be able to reduce its size to the maximum and thus increase his freedom of movement.
I find it a pity that the underside of the backpack does not contain an extra pocket for a sleeping bag for example. Nevertheless, the classic storage pockets on the side are present.
His third difference is focused on the back of the bag, the system of support and straps on the shoulders. There are very large padded parts that perfectly fit the shoulder blades and lower back, with obviously the hip pockets but also, it is noticeable, a pocket for small bottle of water on one of the shoulder straps.
And inside is also a Y-shaped frame, one of the only existing on the market, that works excellently to manage the weight and gives the impression of being one with the bag.
Finally, there is the presence of a sleeve provided for a hydration system inside the bag, which is completely removable.
In summary, one of the best high-end bags at a mid-range price, although some features are missing.
The products of my selection on offer for the moment
How to choose your hiking backpack?
There are hundreds and hundreds of brands and types of backpacks on the market for hiking, camping, trekking and mountaineering. The differences and specifics between all these possibilities are not always necessarily clear and well explained. In addition, many specialty stores direct us to partner brands or their own businesses, which does not always end with the best possible purchase. If you're an accomplished hiker, I guess this article can comfort you in choices you make.
If you are a beginner or an occasional walker, I am convinced that this small overview of the criteria to be taken into account when buying a backpack hiking allows to see more clearly in the cloud of products available. So here is a series of items to consider before buying.
This is probably the basic criterion to take into account. If you only walk for one day and have no camp, then it seems logical to select a backpack provided for this purpose. A comfortable bag, which can hold a maximum of 10 kilos and does not necessarily have space for a sleeping bag and dozens of extra pockets. A good example of our selection is the Granite Gear Crown, my favorite, which is one of the most comfortable, lightweight and can still carry up to 15 kilograms of load. You can carry your hydration system or your water bottles, a snack, a map, compass and everything you need for a day trip without ever running out of space and without having to worry about a heavy often more expensive bag (even if more functional) .If, on the other hand, you plan to leave several days, to camp in the woods or in the mountains, you certainly need a more complete bag, with more accessories, a higher and easily adjustable load capacity in the suspension system, as in the case of the Gregory Baltoro 65, which is a must and can support more than 20 kilos while remaining quite flexible .It is very important in this case to make sure that the available pockets are easily accessible, so that you do not have to stop immediately en route and that there is enough space for a sleeping bag, a small skillet and all which is necessary for a journey of several days.
The capacity and strength of the bag
As is often the case for the purchasing guides that I write, the second criterion goes hand in hand with the first one but deserves to dwell on it a little bit. When making your selection, it is imperative to make sure of the the capacity of the backpack you are considering.First, because a bag too heavy that is not designed to contain such a load can be quite pierced (we have seen elsewhere in the selection, some nylons are more fragile than others) and if this should happen during your trip, it can mean big problems including the loss of essential equipment.Then, because depending on the number of days you want to travel, a bag with a too small capacity does not allow you of course not to carry your complete kit (tent, sleeping bag, food). I could see hikers being forced to bring a complementary bag hooked to the first to carry all their equipment, which is a shame.
Incidentally, note that some models such as Cerro Torre Lowe Alpine have a top cover that can turn into a backpack, if you really have difficulty gauging your needs once en route, which can be useful .Bref, make sure that your bag usually provides between 40 and 60 liters of volume for a maximum load between 15 and 20 kilos if you travel several days, less if you are a casual hiker that only travels one day
The size and the comfort of portage
This is an element that is quite subjective but whose accessibility can be fairly simply judged from one bag to another.It must of course be verified that the bag is adapted to your size and the size of your back (which can do not match) and it is comfortable enough for long hours of walking, not sacrificing a certain quality of movement.For the size, most brands offer measurement tools available on their websites or that are clearly indicated in the description of the product (even measure yourself), but generally the sizes are easily differentiated between men and women, with standard sizes (S, M, L). At the level of comfort, it is sufficient to look at the padding of the bag at the back and lumbar and hip straps. In some cases, the padding is removable, in others it ensures that your back does not touch the contents of the bag directly.
It is sometimes difficult to ensure comfort without having first tried the backpack, but fortunately, nowadays, most major brands (such as those presented in our selection) are optimized for comfort maximum where the bag is one with the person, or is very close. You can buy these brands with confidence.
The accessories of the bag
Different bags have different options. In the case of bags intended for shorter hikes, there are more often a limited number of pockets, tightening ropes, etc … Nevertheless, some options may be interesting for regular use. Fastening straps to mount the bags along the mountains on a carabiner for example. You can also look for a bag with a compartment for the storage of a bottle of water directly accessible on the shoulder strap, like this one. This is the case of the Flex Capacitor brand Sierre Designs.Most hiking backpacks offer standard accessories such as the famous pocket designed to install an internal hydration system or elastic pockets on the sides of the product.
It's up to you to evaluate the kind of bag that best suits your needs. Personally, I appreciate any bag that allows me to quickly store my sunglasses or one of the straps or to access my water bottle without having to stop and open the bag to perform this action quite basic, especially if I leave for several days. Minimalist or not, you are certain to find shoes at your feet or rather bag at your back.