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. Without it, you obviously can’t hope to carry any other gear. But choose the wrong one and you’ll be in for a lot of unnecessary discomfort and hassle. Not too long ago, hiking packs involved large, bulky external frames. These days, backpacks incorporate smart, ergonomic frames and strap design and high-tech, lightweight materials to keep your equipment safe and your body functioning at its best.
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 are some backpacks that suit a variety of hikers’ styles and needs.
Extra ventilation keeps things cool. Amazon
This excellent, all-around backpack is designed for loads under 40 pounds. It features extensive ventilation to help beat the heat, and weighs a comfortable four pounds, eight ounces. An anti-gravity suspension—the AG in the name—helps spread the pack load more evenly across the shoulders and hips and reduces pressure points. Numerous pockets, including zippered hip-belt pockets, help to organize everything from maps to snacks to smartphones. If you don’t plan on traveling with too much gear, the top-lid is removable.
Hidden front zipper accesses main compartment. Amazon
The Blaze is rated to carry 50 pounds of gear, an impressive amount when you consider that it only weighs 3 pounds. Six external pockets, two large side pockets, a front mesh pocket, and two large hip pockets store the gear that needs easy access. The top lid is removable and can be used as a day pack or chest pack. The main compartment can be accessed via the top or through a convenient front zipper—perfect for getting items out without having to remove everything. Made from rugged Robic nylon, the pack also has a water-repellent coating adds an extra layer of rain protection (though a pack cover should be used in heavy rain).
Ventilated back panel. Amazon
This smaller, three-pound 11-ounce backpack is designed for one- or two-day treks. The Perfect Fit Suspension and compression straps are adjustable for comfort, while the Hex Mesh back panel provides ventilation and reduces overheating. A stretch front pouch, and seven front and side zippered pockets keep items like cell phones, keys, guides, and snacks organized and easy to find.