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Hiking is a wonderful way to see the outdoors, whether you’re on an epic adventure through the wilderness or a weekend trip with friends. Of all the equipment you’ll need, one of the most important is your backpack. The best ones incorporate smart, ergonomic frames and strap design and high-tech, lightweight materials to keep your equipment safe and your load light.
When shopping for a backpack, consider weight, price, and volume—that is, how much the backpack can carry. Backpack makers also include all sorts of conveniences, like extra pockets, organizational tools, and lids that can be removed to use as day packs. Here’s some more advice about what to look for.
- Weight: Hiking backpacks used to be limited to those with bulky metal frames that weighed you down. Thankfully, today’s designs come with no shortage of innovations that have made packs not only lighter, but also more ergonomic and functional. Backpacks can range from 1 to 6 pounds, and when packed with gear should weigh less than 10 percent of your body weight.
- Materials: Take advantage of modern fabrics that prevent ripping, water damage, and UV fading. Nylon is the most commonly used material in hiking packs, and is often coated in PVC or polyurethane to make it water resistant. Rip-stop nylon, which is woven with durable threads, is another great option to avoid wear and tear on your pack.
- Volume: Before you pack up for the next adventure, consider how much you’ll need to carry in your backpack. For a short weekend trip, you can use a lighter, 30-50 liter pack, while journeys in the three to five day window are better suited for a 50-80 liter hiking backpack.
Our Picks for the Best Hiking Backpacks on Amazon
Top Pick Overall: Mubasel Gear Insulated Hydration Backpack
Premium Pick: Osprey Atmos AG 65 Men’s Backpacking Backpack
Popular Science is here to help you choose among the most popular products on Amazon, and hidden gems our experts think are worth checking out.