Best Hiking Backpack

Cool mountain air, peace and solitude and…… broken zips.

Nothing ruins a weekend getaway quite like questionable quality hiking gear, especially when you depend on it to carry all of your belongings. From day hike to expedition, choosing the best hiking backpack is essential to keeping yourself energized, dry and alive. With so many sizes, brands and features available, it can quickly become overwhelming to the novice outdoorsman. Day pack? 60 litre? Internal frame? What does it all mean?

Never fear! We’re here to help. To assist in your journey, we have compiled a list of trail proven backpacks available now at retailers throughout the UK. Each manufacturer has a history of producing high quality outdoor equipment, and have built a loyal following.

Options are many and opinions abound, so we will leave it to you to choose the right one. To help, we have also included a quick guide on what to look for when shopping around, as there can be a lot to look for. Size, weight, purpose, and material are all factors to be considered, and that’s before you get to pick a colour!

Man best backpack for hiking

Features of the Best Backpacks for Hiking

When beginning your search, the most important aspect to consider is how long you will be hiking, whether you plan to spend the night in the wilderness and, if so, how many nights you will be sleeping outdoors and whether you might be carrying an adventure tent or bivvy bag. Given the plethora of additional gear needed on a longer journey, such as sleeping bags, gas stoves, and food; making sure you have enough space will help to avoid any last minute headaches or tough decisions on what to leave behind.

Hiking backpacks are broken down into two broad categories, daypacks and trekking packs, also known as backcountry packs. Daypacks tend to be smaller, lighter, and perfect for a quick hike through the woods. They hold the essentials; map, compass, water, and most importantly, snacks. Sizing is based on liters, and generally anything under 30 L is considered as a daypack.

Trekking packs are much larger and more voluminous, enabling you to carry enough gear for week long stays. Anything over 60 litres is generally considered a trekking pack. These packs often have features such as hiking pole loops, optional waterproof flys, adjustable hip belts, and more. They should be able to comfortably fit sleeping, shelter, and cooking equipment needed by each individual in the party.

top walking rucksack

Packs between 30 and 60 litres are perfect for ultralight minimalist hikers and those on an overnight stay, as they carry less gear than a trekking pack, but can fit a minimalist tent and sleeping bag in a pinch.

Whether on a day hike or a multi day expedition, you’ll want to ensure your gear is hardy and can stand up to some wear and tear. Material, buckle and zipper quality is paramount to the packs functionality, so are always an important consideration.

Pocket design can differ between manufacturers. When shopping, try to picture what you will be needing to carry. Ensuring the pack has enough mesh pockets, loops and compartments will help keep you organized on the trail, and keep items where you need them.

Look for pockets with easy accessibility, as it can be a chore to take your pack off every time you want to snap a photo. Most modern packs also have pockets and openings for hydration packs or water bladders, which will keep you topped up with essential fluids. These are often purchased separately, but will help to keep you hands free, reduce plastic bottles and cut the weight you’ll be carrying.

Finally, size and adjustability are important factors to consider, as an incorrectly sized pack can lead to sore joints and unhappy campers. Hip and chest belts are adjustable to diffuse some of the weight of the load from your shoulders. Those hikers with a longer torso will want a taller pack. Bag weight is also important to consider, as you will want to stay as light as possible.

Osprey Talon 33 Backpack

Osprey Talon 33 main

Osprey has been making quality backpacks since 1974, and is known as a leader in the industry. Their Talon series has been at the forefront of their product line for years. The Talon 33 backpack is no exception.

The perfect daypack for an all day mountain trek, this roomy and ergonomic pack fits like a trekking pack, but in a sleek, condensed size that was newly redesigned for the season.

The Talon sizes in at 33 litres, and boasts an injection moulded framesheet, breathable back panels to keep you cool and dry, adjustable torso length and a padded hipbelt, as well as a hydration system sleeve with external access.

For the modern outdoorsman, there is a non scratch pocket for your sunglasses and cell phone, internal key attachment clip, as well as an external mesh pocket for your rain gear.

Osprey Talon 33 rearThere are two other easily accessible external mesh pockets to hold your water bottles or other loose gear. For the adventurous, multiple loops and attachment points are included for helmets, ice axes, and hiking poles.

The top lid securely fastens and includes a convenient pocket. Hip belt includes pockets for storing your most often accessed equipment. Just to prove they’ve thought of everything, the sternum strap even includes an emergency whistle, just in case!

In summary, the Osprey Talon 33 is a credible choice for all-round best hiking backpack. It does everything exceedingly well, and if you think 33 litres is the right size for you, then we say go for it!

Available in Ceramic Blue, Stealth Black, and Cosmic Red.

Pros
  • Injection-molded back panel and continuous-wrap harness and hipbelt
  • Made with high-quality recycled nylon for long-lasting durability
  • Large mesh front panel pocket is a great place to stuff an extra jacket for easy access
  • Includes two ice axe attachments and an ‘on the go’ trekking pole attachment
  • Dual upper and lower side compression straps keep the load from bouncing around
  • External hydration reservoir sleeve allows easy access to your water supply (hydration pack not included)
  • Includes 2 stretch-mesh side pockets, 1 easy-access, expandable stretch-mesh harness pocket and 2 zippered hipbelt pockets
Cons
  • More expensive than other backpacks in category

Lowe Alpine Airzone Trail Backpack

Lowe Alpine AirzoneThe Airzone Trail is an exceptional all round daypack by Lowe Alpine, a backpack maker who specialize in world class carry systems – originally founded in 1967, they are now owned by Rab.

Sized at 30 litres, the Airzone Trail can accommodate many hiking scenarios. With its clean lines, simple yet modern design, and comfortable fit, it will ensure you have all you require for a long day on the trail.

Lowe Alpine Airzone rearThe pack features several easy to access compartments, as well as Lowe Alpine’s proprietary AirZone tensioned mesh, which creates space between you and the pack, preventing irritation from all day use.

A large oval cut out helps to support the pack, and provides airflow, to keep you cool and dry. The pack has hydration compatible compartments that support most hydration systems or bladders so you can hydrate on the go.

Hiking pole attachments are included. One of the most important features is the included raincover, which is an optional accessory for some other manufacturers, and ensures you stay dry when inclement weather inevitably occurs.

The straps and hip belt are fully padded and adjustable for all day comfort, and weighing in at 1.12 kg, the Airzone Trail is light enough to put your shoulders at ease. Available in black and marine blue.

Pros
  • AirZone tensioned mesh keeps you cool by creating space between you and the pack
  • Hydration sleeve that is compatible with most hydration systems
  • Side compression straps on top and bottom so you can fit the most gear
  • Included waterproof rainfly helps keep your gear dry
  • Hiking pole loops keep your poles stowed and within reach
Cons
  • Limited colour availability at this time

Osprey Europe Kestrel 48 Hiking Pack

Osprey Europe Kestral 48 Hiking main

Another Osprey pack, the Kestrel line is made for the adventurous hiker and is perfect for a weekend trip in the rugged backcountry.

Available in black, Picholine green, Loch blue and Rouge red, the Europe Kestrel  48 Hiking Pack boasts a sleek and durable design, to be enjoyed for years to come.

It includes a detachable and integrated rain cover and zippered sleeping bag compartment with floating divider and removable sleeping bag straps, to keep everything organized.

For hiking in icy and mountainous regions, the pack features storage for crampons, dual tuckaway ice tool attachments, stow on the go trekking pole attachment, and dual front-panel daisy chains for helmet storage. For back support, the Kestrel includes Osprey’s lightweight AirScape backpanel with adjustable harness.

Kestrel 48

The pack is available in a small and large torso size, with the large weighing 1.8 kg and the small 1.5 kg. Capacity is 48 Liters for the large, 46 Liters for the small.

Side zip access to the main storage compartment ensures quick access to larger gear. Zippered hip belt pocket holds a compass, cell phone or lighters so they are always within reach. Side compression straps are included for maximum storage efficiency, and can fit a one or two person tent with some planning.

The hydration sleeve is compatible with most hydration systems, and is located in an external sleeve to keep your equipment dry. FInally, mesh pockets on the sides and front provide extra storage for water bottles and clothing.

Pros
  • Integrated and detachable rain fly
  • Ice tool attachments, trekking pole loops, crampon storage and dual front panel daisy chains
  • Side zip access to main compartment
  • Zippered sleeping bag compartment with floating divider and removable sleeping bag straps
  • External hydration sleeve separate from main compartment
Cons
  • Not enough space for longer backcountry trips. Just enough room for an overnight or weekend trip unless ultralight hiking

Kelty Zyro 58 Backpack

Kelty Zyro 58 beluga_main

Founded in 1952 by Asher Kelty, Kelty is another equipment manufacturer widely regarded in the outdoor industry. They were the first company to modernize and produce an external frame backpack specifically for civilian use.

The Zyro 58 L internal frame backpack is their latest model, building upon the company’s rich history. The Zyro is designed to maximize airflow and increase breathability, all while supporting and evenly distributing the load using its NadaTech suspension.

The harness and back support are engineered to limit points of contact and create space between the wearer and the pack to optimize airflow and moisture management.

Kelty Zyro 58 beluga peat paddingThe hip belt, straps and harness utilize Kelty Perfect Fit technology, enabling anytime adjustments on the go. A variety of pockets and zippered sleeping bag storage make packing up camp efficient and organized.

At 58 Liters, this pack is perfect for longer trips, with excess room for food and cooking storage. Stretch water bottle pockets and zippered hip belt pockets make storage a breeze.

The shell is constructed of durable 210 D Nylon with 420 D Nylon reinforcements, with a sprung steel internal frame which keeps the pack light at 1.42 kg. The top lid is removable and includes a zippered pocket, which is great for a night in the tent, enabling you to leave the bulky pack outside.

Pros
  • NadaTech suspension minimizes points of contact and maximizes breathability
  • Perfect Fit technology for easy adjustment
  • Zippered sleeping bag access
  • Constructed of durable 210 D Nylon with 420 D Nylon reinforcement
  • Removable top lid with large zipper pocket
Cons
  • Lacking hydration compartment

Berghaus Trailhead 65 litre rucksack

Berghaus Trailhead 65l mainA dependable pack that lends wells to multi day excursions, the Berghaus Trailhead 65 L is an excellent walking rucksack option for your next hiking adventure. A UK based company founded in 1967, Berghaus has been trusted by outdoorsmen and mountaineers for generations, and the Trailhead 65L is excellent value for money in our view at <£100.

Berghaus Trailhead 65l sizeBuilt off 400 D and 600 D water resistant nylon, the Trailhead is a durable 65 litre hiking pack. The Berghaus proprietary Biofit system uses advanced padding and adjustable chest and tension straps to relieve pain points.

Interior bivy compartments separate your gear, keeping wet gear from touching dry gear, or just keeping your supplies organized. Weighing in at 1.89 kg, this pack is slightly heavier than others in its category, but is lower price and obviously larger in volume.

Pros
  • Low price makes the Trailhead 65 an excellent entry level option
  • Hydration bladder compatible
  • Biofit suspension system relieves pressure point to ensure a comfortable fit
  • Built of durable 600 D and 400 D water resistant nylon fabric
  • Included water resistant raincover
  • Interior bivy compartments
Cons
  • At 1.89 kg, the Berghaus Trailhead is heavier than other packs in its class

North Face Terra 65 backpack

The North Face Terra 65 Backpack_main

The North Face Terra 65 is one of their most comfortable packs, designed following years of testing and user input.

The torso length is adjustable so it can be tailored to each individual hiker, and it features an Optifit suspension and Dyno Lift system capable of cushioning and distributing the load weight.

The North Face Terra 65 Backpack paddingThis pack is designed for long days on the trail and nights in camp, and its 65 liter capacity is perfect for those seeking extended outdoor adventures. Ample room for tent, sleeping bag and food, you might even have room left over for a pint or two!

The pack is hydration system compatible, and includes exterior sleeping pad straps to accommodate modern fold up sleeping pads by brands such as Thermarest. Cushy foam is used on the straps and hip belt wrapped in breathable mesh materials, which maximize breathability and comfort. Walking pole loops and ample pockets keep your smaller items stashed away but accessible.

Pros
  • -Optifit suspension and Dyno Lift system ensure comfort on long hikes
  • -Well priced for its class
  • -Large pack capable of hauling lots of gear into the backcountry
  • -Sleeping pad storage for camping on rough ground
Cons
  • Limited color combinations

These are just a few of the many options available at your local UK retailers, but are some of the best hiking rucksacks available. Each company has a long history of producing fine outdoor goods.

When shopping, be sure to remember to keep in mind how long you will be staying outdoors, and whether you will be staying the night. Nothing ruins a trip worse than having to carry your sleeping bag in the pouring rain.

Also, be sure to keep weight, durability, number of storage compartments, and accessory pockets and loops in mind, and have a good idea of what you will be taking with you. Most of all, have fun! Choosing the right pack offers you the freedom to explore and get out into nature, and if well cared for, can carry you on many adventures throughout the years.

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