Searching for the best hiking backpack can be as difficult as finding a needle in a haystack, with so many different varieties available all offering their own unique benefits. As different as every hiker is, so to is what they require from a backpack to suit their needs.
Whether you’re looking for something lightweight, need a camping backpack to hold a little more gear, or want something with a frame, there are so many variables to consider when choosing the best one. The best camping backpack will determine solely on your individual needs, so there’s no one size fits all approach.
The decision to buy a new backpack for hiking shouldn’t come lightly, as it’s the most prized possession a hiker can own. Our backpacks hold everything from our food supplies to medical equipment, so not only does it need to be spacious but durable and reliable enough to last through our strenuous hikes.
Before you can find the best hiking backpack, there are a few questions you should consider. As each hiker has unique needs and requirements to meet, there’s never going to be one backpack that can suit them all.
Deciding whether or not to have a framed backpack is one of the biggest decisions the hiker has to make, as the benefits can be quite different with each style. Here are the main categories of backpack and what their frame style has to offer.
These frames offer optimal ventilation, so they’re great for warm conditions. They can assist you carrying an uneven load with plenty of room for organizing your things.
The most popular choice for hikers, the internal frame backpack has been designed to hug your body effortlessly. These keep the weight off your hips as you hike and allow you to walk on uneven and rough terrain while keeping you stable.
These hiking packs are ideal for ultralight enthusiasts, as the removal of a frame makes them extremely light to carry around.
There are a few different sizes available for backpack, and it all depends on how much you’d like to carry within. Backpacks are generally divided into the length of a hike, as the more days you’re travelling the more supplies you’re going to need. Here is a rough guide from REI about how to determine the size needed from your hiking backpack:
When considering the extra features you want in a backpack, you can go as little or as large as you want. Keep in mind that one of the main aims of hiking is to connect with the wilderness, so you should limit the number of features to just the necessities.
A waterproof hiking backpack is different to water resistant, so be sure you know what you actually need. Waterproof bags can be submerged in water completely, whereas water-resistant can only shield from rain and other liquids. Often times finding the best waterproof backpack isn’t a necessity, so opt for resistance when you can.
How many compartments you need and the size of them will depend on the hiker, so consider your essential items and what might need to fit where.
A backpack’s ventilation is important to some, particularly when travelling in hot and humid conditions. Some backpacks feature a mesh panel and others a ventilation chimney, depending on how much airflow you require.
A common feature on most hiking backpacks is a sleeve for your water supply, but some backpacks offer more than this. Depending on your water needs and how you want to access it, this feature will differ for everyone.
As you can see, with so many variations and features available, choosing just one style for the best hiking backpack is impossible. The backpack you choose should suit you personally as a hiker, so be sure to truly understand what you need most from this important accessory.
A camping backpack should be reliable above all else, so this is one area where you don’t want to skimp on price and quality. As these accessories need to carry your essential supplies for days, weeks, and months, you want the peace of mind that you’ve gone with a superior brand.