Hiking equipment

Tips for Finding the Best Hiking Backpacks

Veteran hikers make intelligent decisions while choosing their hiking backpacks. They know that a great backpack will provide them with a comfortable journey. The best biking backpacks are a must for these hikers. Itt is their most important piece of outdoor gear.

Imagine carrying a backpack that is too small to accommodate all your gears on your hiking trail or an oversized backpack that poses the risk of shoulder, back or even knee problems. You are definitely going to have a miserable journey.

When it comes to choosing the best hiking backpacks, there are three chief elements which you need to know: backpack size, fit and features. Admittedly, finding the perfect hiking backpack, with great features can be tricky but is not impossible. You will find a great selection of backpacks on our shopping page.

Your Backpack Size Matters

But first things first. Make your mind up on what type of hiking, or cycling, you will be taking and for how long. Give a thought about the amount of gear that you require as well as the size of each item. In case, you are planning hiking up a mountain for 8 hours to reach your destination, you will certainly want the least amount of weight possible on your back. Don’t go for an over-sized and over-packed backpack in that case. Andgo for a lightweight backpack.

When you’ve decided the types and lengths of hikes you are about to take, you can pick a size from the best hiking backpacks available. Note that the size of hiking backpacks is firstly classified in liters. It is the volumetric capacity they were designed to carry. Secondly, they are classified by size.

A backpack between 30 and 80 liters would be ideal depending on your gears and the number of days you plan to spend. Multi day hikes require large backpacks. In this case lightweight packs are essential. Or even an ultralight pack. In order to determine which backpack size is appropriate for you, you will have to ascertain your fit.

How Does the Hiking Backpack Fit?

Focus on your torso length and waist width when trying to find a well-fitted hiking backpack.

Finding your torso length

Stand straight, tilt your head forward, and find the C7 vertebra, the prominent bump where your neck connects to your shoulders. Next, find your iliac crest, the top of the hip shelf on the sides of your hips. You can ask a friend to measure the distance from your C7 vertebra down to the point of your back which is at the same level as your iliac crest. This distance is your torso length.

Finding your waist width

Trace your hips again and making use of a measuring tape, measure your hips. Even though this measurement won’t exactly find out your backpack size as the torso does, it can help verify if the hip belt on your best hiking backpacks will fit. Since your hips are located higher than your waist, the measurement will be akin to your pants size.

Now you will know whether you should be opting for an x-small, small, medium or large. Note that backpack sizes may range from brand to brand so you should refer to the size chart before settling on a backpack.

Essential Hiking Backpack Features to Look Out For

While deciding on the best hiking backpacks features can often be the deciding point for purchase. Some features are indispensable for certain trips. For instance, features such as integrated rain covers are perfect in wetter climates whereas hydration compatible backpacks are ideal for all travel, particularly in hot, dry climates.

Backpack Frame

You will find three frame types for hiking backpacks and each will have their advantages and disadvantages.

Frameless backpacks are for you if you are looking for something very lightweight. You will get backpacks with a removable frame or no frame at all.

Go for an external framed backpack if you will be carrying heavy and maybe slightly abnormal loads. They come with good ventilation and are great for carrying abnormally sized equipment like inflatable boats.

Internal framed backpacks are widely used and are designed to hug the shape of your body while dispersing the weight of the load.


You can’t avoid a sweaty back when you carry an internal frame hiking backpack. However, the sweaty back can be lessened with a great ventilation system. The best hiking backpacks come with ventilation system integrated into the back panel. You will find backpacks with a tension-mesh suspension that permits air to flow and enhances back ventilation.


Look for adequate padding as comfort is vital when you will be carrying the backpack for a long period of time. Since the majority of the pack load will rest on your hips, a padded hip belt is essential. Equally important are padded shoulder straps. If you carry a heavy load with minimally padded shoulder straps, you may have a sore back or shoulder joints after a long day.


For some hikers, the more pockets on their backpack, the better. For others, more pockets simply mean more hassle. If you want a backpack with pockets, you should know which ones are functional.

Hip belt pockets are great for Chap Stick, snacks, cell phone or a GPS. They are easily accessible and you can find exactly what you’re looking for while on the run or without having to take off the backpack.

The best hiking backpacks will very often feature elasticized side pockets. You can carry your essentials like the water bottle for quick hydration, sandals which you will need once you reach your camp, and many more items.   

Front Pockets with a zipper or a pocket with a buckle closure are great to stash a map or a dry sweater. You may even find smaller internal pockets for organizing in some front pockets. Some front pockets are waterproofed for separating your wet equipment from the dry equipment.

Lid pockets which are usually quite small are designed for small or flat items. You can stash your gloves or torque if you are hitting a colder spot.

Load Lifter Straps

The best hiking backpacks come equipped with load lifter straps feature. They are crucial to the fit of the backpack. These straps can be the difference between sore shoulder joints at the end of a day of your hiking trip and no soreness at all.

While carrying the backpack on your back with the hip belt fastened, pull the load lifter straps to ensure your backpack is close to your back. When the straps are too loose, the backpack will hang off your back. It may irritate your shoulders and feel less stable.

Again, too tight straps will cause problems. You can have them tightened enough that a 45° angle is formed between your back and the backpack.

Get Hiking!

These easy tips will make finding the best hiking backpacks super easy. Once you’ve decided which one is the right fit for you, enjoy finding it in your favorite color. Pack it up and get hiking. Preferable with an ultralight backpack.

Check also our sleeping bags

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