Why sleep next to 15 other groups when you can carry your belongings into the backcountry and set up camp — most likely alone — literally anywhere you choose? The beauty, solitude, and challenge of backpacking is the reason that nature lovers will carry nights’ and even weeks’ worth of gear on their back for miles without hesitation. If you’re intimidated, don’t be — because hauling enough food, clothing, and shelter in a backpacking pack is only as tough as your body and mind make it.
Nowadays, there are hundreds of backpacking packs available, from lightweight and minimalist to feature-laden and burly. Each style has its pros and cons, but the trade-offs that you’re willing to make depend on how you typically travel. Some hikers like to carry the minimum number of necessities in as light a pack as possible, while others don’t mind the trade off of hauling a heavier pack to have some luxuries at camp. Whatever your preference, this buying guide will help you choose the best backpacking pack to carry your belongings comfortably, no matter the distance.
Osprey Aura AG 50 Backpack (Women’s)
Osprey has long been one of our favorite brands for backpacking and hiking. Their Aura AG (women’s) and Atmos AG (men’s) are some of the most well-respected backpacking packs in the industry, thanks mostly to the Anti-Gravity (AG) suspension system. This is a single, soft, perforated mesh back panel connects through the hip belt, suspends the pack off of your back, and delivers some of the best comfort and breathability available. This one-piece design is available in different sizes, and it’s incredibly customizable for the just-right fit.
Gregory Men’s Baltoro 75 Pack
We think Gregory’s Baltoro is best described as a load-warrior. At nearly 5 pounds, it’s on the heavier side of the scale — but this weight is not wasted. The Baltoro is one of our favorite backpacking packs, thanks to a burly suspension system, ample adjustability in the harness, added padding where you need it most, and tons of load-stabilizing straps for a more balanced carry. In fact, it’s the pack that we’d choose for any trip longer than a few nights, because the added comfort is worth it when you’re lacing up day after day.
Kelty Redwing 50 Backpack
Not everyone has the storage space to have multiple packs for different occasions. Enter Kelty’s Redwing 50, one of the more versatile backpacking packs we’ve tried, with smart organizational features for nearly every travel scenario you’ll encounter. Heading out for an overnight backpacking trip? Load it to the brim, make some quick fit adjustments, and hit the trail. Taking a longer out-and-back hike for a day? Bring what you need, then cinch down the compression straps to reduce any unused space and keep the load close to your torso.
Osprey Archeon 70 Men’s Backpack
Osprey’s new Archeon is definitely the sexiest, and seems to be one of the most durable backpacking packs we’ve tried. This is their utilitarian offering, capable of everything from 2-night trips in a nearby canyon to weeklong jaunts through the Italian Alps. It’s built to last a lifetime, and guaranteed to do so with their “All Mighty Guarantee.” At first sight, we fell in love with this pack’s clean lines, simple style, impeccable attention to detail, and beautiful canvas-like fabric. Even better, it’s built with recycled materials.