Best Hiking Backpacks For Men & Women 2021

People hiking along a mountain trail

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What are the best hiking backpacks in 2021?

How to find the best backpack for your needs?

One thing is clear, nowadays it isn’t only about the looks anymore. There are quite a few features to pay attention to. You want your backpack to feel good on you. You want this bag to improve your hiking experience. Thus, at least a very basic and short research is necessary, a research into different styles, different materials, different features. To help you with that, we’ve created this list of high quality backpacks.

On top of the list are our favorites, Osprey Atmos and Aura.

Check it out to find the backpack of your dreams.

Best Hiking Backpack For Men – Our Favorite

1. Osprey Atmos AG 65 (click for more details)

Ergonomic hiking and camping backpack for men.

One of the best hiking backpacks for men, our favorite.

Featuring an improved Anti-Gravity system, the Osprey Atmos AG 65 offers comfort and breathability, as well as organization. The mesh system at the back keeps the backpack off your back, and thanks to the broad mesh back panel you get even more airflow. The harness of the Atmos AG 65 is designed with hikers in mind. It features well-padded shoulder straps and load-lifters with padded stiffener.

The harness can be easily adjusted.

There are several pockets and compartments:

  • Removable lid with a couple of zippered pockets (when you remove the lid, there’s a flap cover for the main compartment);
  • Two vertical front pockets;
  • Side mesh stretch pockets;
  • Front stretch pocket;
  • Two hip belt pockets;
  • Main compartment with internal hydration reservoir sleeve;
  • Lower sleeping bag compartment with an internal droppable divider.

That’s enough space to accommodate all of your gear.

The backpack features upper and lower compression straps, removable sleeping pad straps, trekking pole attachment, tool loops and bungee tie offs.

The Atmos AG 65 comes in different sizes.

Available also in 50 liter size.

DIMENSIONS: 34.2″ x 16.1″ x 15.4″ (87 x 41 x 39 cm)

SIZE: 65 liter

WEIGHT: 4.85 lbs (2.2 kg)

Best Hiking Backpack for Women – Our Favorite

2. Osprey Aura AG 65 (click for more details)

A well-made women’s hiking backpack with a removable lid.

Overall the best hiking backpack for women, our favorite.

Osprey Aura is one of the most popular women’s backpacks, and for a reason. It features a solid back support, double frame system and an Anti-Gravity system. Aura AG Ventilation system is great. The bag has a 3D cavity back panel, which creates a small space between the bag and your back. As the result you sweat less. As the ventilation system covers the entire frame, including the Fit-on-the-Fly™ hipbelt.

Osprey Aura AG is the women’s version of the Osprey Atmos AG.

This pack is weather-resistant. The 100D x 630D Nylon Dobby material this backpack is made of assures to keep the bag dry in fairly wet weather conditions. All of that makes it a top womens backpack for hiking.

There are several pockets and compartments:

  • Removable lid with a couple of zippered pockets;
  • Two vertical front pockets;
  • Side mesh stretch pockets;
  • Front stretch pocket;
  • Two hip belt pockets;
  • Main compartment with internal hydration reservoir sleeve;
  • Lower sleeping bag compartment with an internal droppable divider.

It really is a very good backpack, but think twice about the size.

Because 65 liter is really a lot.

Available also in 50 liter size.

DIMENSIONS: 33.5″ x 15.7″ x 15″ (85 x 40 x 38 cm)

SIZE: 65 liter

WEIGHT: 4.56 lbs (2.1 kg)

More: Best Hiking Backpack For Women

River Gauja in Sigulda

Best Hiking Backpacks For Men & Women

What are the other options? And which one to choose?

What are the best hiking backpacks at the moment?

3. High Sierra Appalachian 75 (click for more details)

A spacious hiking backpack with a wide hip belt.

The Appalachian 75 is a durable, medium-priced backpack with quality zippers.

It’s crafted of Nylon Mini-Diamond Ripstop and Mini-Weave Duralite fabric, and is designed to last. Its internal frame with contoured bars, padded back panel with airflow channels, Ergo-Fit shoulder harness and waist belt with Vapel mesh Airflow provide comfort and ease of carrying. The sternum strap keeps shoulder straps centered on shoulders.

The backpack has multiple pockets: a top-load main compartment, bottom sleeping bag compartment with a divider, internal hydration reservoir sleeve with dual exit ports, zippered side pockets and side mesh pockets for water bottles. What we really like about this pack, is that you can access the main compartment also from the front, by unzipping the front panel.

The bag comes with a rain cover tucked away in a bottom pocket.

DIMENSIONS: 34″ x 14.25″ x 10.25″ (86.4 x 36.2 x 26 cm)

SIZE: 75 liter

WEIGHT: 5.8 lbs (2.6 kg)

4. Osprey Rook 65 (click for more details)

A quality, highly ventilated and comfortable backpack for hikers.

Osprey makes some of the best mens hiking backpacks, and the Osprey Rook 65 isn’t an exception. Featuring the AirSpeed suspension system with light wire alloy frame and a plastic frame sheet, the Rook pack features strong support for your load.

The mesh back panel, shoulder straps and hip belt keep you cool and comfy. Adjustable torso fits a wide range of torso lengths. Load lifters and adjustable shoulder straps help you distribute the weight of your pack comfortably. The bag features a roomy top-loading main compartment with an internal hydration reservoir sleeve which can hold up to a 3L reservoir (sold separately), and a sleeping bag compartment with a divider.

The Rook is made of durable 600 D Nylon, and the bottom is reinforced with even stronger material — 1000 D Nylon. There’s a zippered pocket on the lid, side mesh pockets and zippered hip belt pockets. The backpack has loops on the front to attach additional gear, external compression straps and removable sleeping pad straps.

50 liter backpack is available, too.

DIMENSIONS: 29.1 x 16.3 x 14.2 (74 x 41.4 x 36 cm)

SIZE: 65 liter

WEIGHT: 3.52 lbs (1.6 kg)

5. Kelty Coyote (click for more details)

A very roomy unisex hiking pack with multiple pockets.

One of the best hiking backpacks for men and women you can buy.

First of all, this backpack is all about pockets and compartments. There is a large top loading access to the main compartment with a sleeve for a water reservoir (sold separately) and a sleeping bag compartment. Also there are large zippered side pockets, side water bottle pockets, hip belt pockets, organizational pocket on the front and a shove-it pocket. All of that makes organization of your gear simple and effortless.

The Kelty Coyote features the new Fit Pro technology, which provides a quick and customized torso fit for all shapes and sizes, while the Amp Flow ventilated back panel keeps you cool and dry every day. And if we talk about the features, you can’t skip the advanced perimeter internal frame — it’s there to offer you supreme stability on the trail.

Kelty Coyote is one of the very best backpacking backpacks for organization.

Another thing we love about this backpack, is its removable lid. You can easily turn it into a small sling pack (it has a built-in crossbody shoulder strap).

The bag features a hex mesh back panel and a sturdy bottom with lash points (for even more gear).

DIMENSIONS: 30″ x 17″ x 12″ (76.2 x 43.2 x 30.5 cm)

SIZE: 60 liter

WEIGHT: 4lb 6oz (2 kg)

6. Osprey Stratos 36 (click for more details)

A smaller walking backpack for shorter hiking trips.

The smallest pack on this list. It will work great for shorter hiking trips.

Just like the rest of Osprey packs on this list, the Stratos has:

  • Internal hydration sleeve which accommodates up to a 3 L reservoir (sold separately);
  • Stow-On-The-Go trekking pole attachment which allows you to attach and carry trekking poles while wearing the pack;
  • Integrated and removable rain cover.

This hiking backpack also features several pockets, including stretch mesh pockets on both sides, two zippered hip belt pockets and easy access pocket in the lid. There’s a single vertical zipper which allows access into the main compartment. You don’t have to open the top lid and go through all your stuff. The Stratos features AntiGravity system which includes a fully adjustable, single-piece ventilated back panel and hip belt with highly breathable suspended mesh.

Even though it’s only 36 liter, it’s still quite big — 27 inches high, 13 inches wide.

That’s still enough space for your gear.

Also available in 24 liter, 34 liter and 50 liter.

DIMENSIONS: 27″ x 13″ x 12.6″ (69 x 33 x 32 cm)

SIZE: 36 liter

WEIGHT: 3.3 lbs (1.5 kg)

7. TETON Sports Scout 3400 (click for more details)

A roomy internal frame hiking backpack for beginner hikers.

It’s a beginners hiking backpack suitable both for men and women.

Even though, this backpack is significantly cheaper than some other backpacks on the list, it still features an internal frame. The padding of the backpack is reasonable, and there’s a decent hip belt, a feature you’ll love on long hikes.

The TETON Sports Scout 3400 is made of 600D diamond ripstop and 600D Oxford canvas shell. It’s not waterproof, but it comes with a rain cover, that can be hidden in a dedicated pocket. The backpack features a large sleeping bag compartment, one big main compartment and several smaller ones. It’s a rather heavy backpack – 4.5 lbs (2 kg).

However, if you are an avid hiker and go on long hikes often, it’s not the best backpack for you. The padding is too cushy, as well as there is no advanced ventilation system.

The bag is available in several colors.

DIMENSIONS: 30″ x 17″ x 12″ (76.2 x 43.2 x 30.5 cm)

SIZE: 55 liter

WEIGHT: 4.5 lbs (2 kg)

Best Small Hiking Backpack

8. Osprey Talon 22 L (click for more details)

A highly durable and lightweight daypack for backpacking.

Overall the best hiking daypack for men, our favorite.

More: Best Hiking Daypack For Men, Best Women’s Daypack for Hiking

The Osprey Talon is a lightweight daypack made for day hikes, biking and day trips. It features great ventilation and load stabilising suspension system. Its Air-scape backpanel, adjustable shoulder harness and hip belt create a breathable, close-to-body fit. An external hydration sleeve can accommodate up to a 3 L reservoir (sold separately).

Besides the external hydration sleeve, the Osprey Talon 22 has several pockets: stretchy side mesh pockets, stretchy shoulder strap mesh pocket, two zippered hip belt pockets, exterior zippered pocket, and an exterior elastic pocket for a wet rain jacket or rain poncho.

The backpack features LidLock helmet attachment and an attachment for an ice-axe. Stow-On-The-Go trekking pole attachment allows you carry trekking poles while wearing the pack.

Made of recycled high tenacity nylon, the Talon daypack is very durable.

DIMENSIONS: 20″ x 9.8″ x 9.06″ (51 x 25 x 23 cm)

SIZE: 22 liters

WEIGHT: 2 lbs (0.9 kg)

Hikers wearing hiking backpacks

A Full Size Backpack or Daypack?

The main difference is the size.

Hiking daypacks are small backpacks meant for short hiking trips or day trips. They range from 18 liters to 35 liters. While 18 liter packs are designed to hold only essentials, 35 liter daypacks are big enough to accommodate some additional gear.

Full size hiking backpacks, however, are much larger, thus they are suitable for longer and more serious hiking trips. Largest hiking backpacks are suitable for long self supported backpacking trips when you have to carry a tent and food.

As a rule, hiking backpacks are packed with features and boast amazing suspension and ventilation systems. Hiking backpack back support is better, and the harness as well. The largest daypacks may have some of these features too, but mostly daypacks are basic.

How to Choose the Perfect Backpacking Backpack?

As daunting as it may seem, mostly it’s not that hard to choose a backpack.

Generally speaking mostly it’s about these 4 simple things.

1. What Will You Be Using It For?

Are you planning to use your new backpack on short or long hikes?

Will you be carrying a lot of gear or only the essentials? What’s the weather like — will it be sunny or rainy? Or are you planning to use it a lot and in all weather conditions.

This will determine:

  • how big;
  • how durable
  • and what material your bag has to be.

The longer the hike, the larger the bag. If you are going on a multi-day adventure, you have to get larger bag, unless you do hut-to-hut-hiking. If you are carrying a tent and a sleeping bag, as well as food, get yourself at least a 65 liter backpack. For multi-day hut-to-hut-hiking, 40-50 liter pack is enough.

If you go on hikes only once in a while, you don’t need a very professional pack. Check out cheaper options! There are plenty of cheap (and good) hiking backpacks available on the market.

Man wearing a hiking backpack - The best hiking backpacks for men

2. Features

Here are some of the most popular features.

Look for ones that matter to you.

Internal frame. Most of the best hiking backpacks for men have an internal frame. Internal frame keeps the backpack upright and eliminates sagging. An internal frame distributes the weight of your pack and reduces pressure on your shoulders. Unlike internal frame backpacks, frameless backpacks are not rigid. You can easily fold them or compress them.

If there is no frame, all of the weight of the pack is on your shoulders.

External frame. It’s not really a thing anymore. Over the last decades, backpack design has improved, and most frame-backpacks have an internal frame.

Back ventilation system. Thanks to cushions and ridges, air circulates between you and the backpack. The backpack isn’t completely flat against your body.

As a result,  you sweat less and feel more comfortable during the hike.

Suspension system. It lets your customise your fit and distribute the weight more evenly.

Dedicated sleeve for a hydration system. Most likely with drink tube exit port. It helps you stay hydrated during the hike.

You don’t have to take off your backpack just to take a sip of water.

Lash attachment points. For helmet, hiking poles, ice axe, etc.

Easy access to the main compartment. If there’s a U-zipper or a side zipper, you can easily access your gear in the main compartment through it. Don’t forget about packing cubes, to take organization of your stuff to the next level.

No more digging through all your stuff!

Removable top lid that can be used as a day pack. If it has a built-in strap, like the Kelty Coyote trekking pack.

3. Comfort Level

All of the best hiking backpacks have well-cushioned back and shoulder straps.

Trekking and backpacking packs also feature an adjustable harness system that offers better load control and ensures comfort. These kind of bags also have a spine channel that provides ventilation. It creates a small space between the backpack and the back, as the result of what you sweat less.

When in doubt, go to a shop and try out at least a few different backpacks.

4. Price

The drawback for some will be the price — a trekking backpack can be pricey.

However, if you are hiking very often, or if you travel a lot (and are looking for a travel backpack) we strongly suggest you to invest in quality gear. Your body will thank you for that later.

It just feels so much better to have quality gear.

Especially when it comes to gear you use a lot.

What is your experience with hiking backpacks? What’s the best hiking backpack you have used or tried so far?

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