Your guide to this review today is by product expert Nick Bulanda
Published July 24, 2019
Living as citizens in the United States, we're lucky to have an incredibly vast variety of landscapes available for us to visit, whether in the form of State or National parks or just the good old outdoors. Though the recreational activity of hiking isn't exclusive to the United States by any means, we do have some of the most gorgeous hiking trails and locales in the world, from the Appalachian to Yosemite.
Hiking is a phenomenal way to spend bonding time with friends or family, get in touch with nature, and it's even definitively shown to be great for your health. One very basic item that every hiker needs is a backpack. Whether you're going on a 12-day trek through harsh wilderness, or just for a few hours for the day, having a backpack to carry water, food, medical supplies, clothing and more is an irreplaceable asset on the trail.
In that spirit, and to help you, we've searched around and found the 10 best backpacking backpacks for travel. These backpacks are made to withstand the elements, and provide you with both the storage and comfort you need to enjoy your journey through the wild.
Top 10 Best Backpacking Backpacks for Travel
Though it may be a military backpack, our pick for Best Choice is suitable for pretty much anyone who needs some storage on the go. At a price that's far from breaking the bank, you're getting a compact, durable and secure traveling pack that expands to suit your requirements. This backpack features many of the amenities perfect for experienced hikers, but without being overbearing for newcomers to the sport to pick up and head out worry free.
This PANS Military Backpack has storage space for all the tool, necessities and unnecessary gadgets you could ever want to bring along. The mesh water bottle pocket on the side allows you to keep your hydration handy at all times, very important during even short hiking trips. With adjustable straps and even an adjustable chest belt, there's no need to worry about this backpack not being suited for you.
Variety of Colors Available When Needed
Expands from 39 to 64 Liters
Four Spacious Compartments
Mesh Side Pocket Perfect for Water Bottles
Weight: 3.6 lbs.
For our Premium Pick, we've elected to go with this excellent backpack courtesy of expert manufacturer Osprey Packs. All three color options feature the same comfortable and supportive anti-gravity suspension straps, making the backpack feel lighter than it actually is. The internal water reservoir sleeve allows you to keep you hydrated even when your bottle is empty, but shouldn't be used as a first option for water. Plus, with its trekking pole attachments, you won't have to worry about being forced to hold onto your poles the enter hike. With all of these additions, plus the satisfying amount of storage capacity, there's no doubt this is one of the best backpacking backpacks for travel out there.
Trekking Pole Holder Attachment
Internal Water Reservoir
Model: AG 65
Weight: 6.2 lbs.
For our Best Value selection, we believe this durable and lightweight backpack from Venture Pal will suit your fancy. Coming in around the price of an evening dinner, this extra-strength backpack has everything required to bring along the hiking necessities. With 35 liters of storage space, durable material and weighing in at under a single pound, it's hard to pass up this quality-made hiking pack. Plus, if you find yourself unhappy with your purchase, Venture Pal provides a 100% lifetime warranty for the product. Somehow we suspect that you'll be more than happy after this buy, as long as you're a no-frills type of backpacker.
Water-Resistant and Tear-Resistant
Plenty of Compartment Space
18” x 13.4” x 7.8"
Brand: Venture Pal
Weight: 11.2 oz.
Already we have another backpack option from Osprey Packs, this time the Stratos 36 Hiking Backpack. The Stratos 36 comes in a variety of colors and offers an appealing combination of comfort and storage that should be enough for the most serious of outdoor enthusiasts. The backpack comes with a removable rain cover for those unfortunate wet days on the trail, features an easy access hydration sleeve and zippered hip belt pocket, and a ventilated mesh back with airspeed suspension straps. The only thing holding the Stratos 36 back from its counterpart in the AG 65 is the lack of an included top lid.
Trekking Pole Carrying Attachment
Rain Cover Included
Internal Water Reservoir Sleeve
Comfortable, Light and Spacious
Model: Stratos 36
Weight: 4.2 lbs.
Next up, for our more fashion forward readers, we have this sleek and elegant backpack made by manufacturer Hynes Eagle. Despite its chic appearance, this backpack functions perfectly well as a traveling backpack, and is the maximum size for most airline carry-on bags. It may not be something you want to take out into the mud or rain, but it won't be out of fear for your belongings as they'll be safe and sound on the inside. The backpack also doubles as an easy-to-carry duffel bag, should the need ever arise on your travels. It may be a little too easy on the eyes for many outdoor lovers, but we try to make sure there's something for everyone here.
40 liter Capacity
Perfectly-Sized Laptop Sleeve Pocket
Side Water Bottle Pocket
Weight: 2.3 lbs.
This recognizable name brand backpack is a highly-rated lightweight options for a sports travel bag. This might not be the best backpack to take out into the mountains on a two week trek, but it will be more than able to handle serving as your primary bag for short hikes or in general travel. With its comfortable and adjustable shoulder straps, this backpack should be able to fit anyone, and allow them to carry their travel items with ease.
Made with 100% Polyester
Laptop Sleeve Designed for 15" Laptop or Smaller
Adjustable Heat Gear Shoulder Straps
Water-Repellent Front Pocket
Brand: Under Armour
Model: Recruit 2.0
Weight: 1.44 lbs.
This heavy-duty but lightweight black military-style backpack is the perfect three day bag, with enough space for everything you'd need for a long weekend trip. An incredible crossover bag for the hiker working from amateur to experienced, this bag gives you a durable exterior and a spacious interior, and doubles as either a backpack or a duffel bag. Whether you need a rugged carry on or a lightweight but strong hiking backpack, this bag can do either or both on the same trip. It's simple black design is just icing on the cake.
Expandable Primary Compartment When Needed
Padded Waist Band
Brand: Sandpiper of California
Model: Bugout Backpack
Weight: 2.9 lbs.
Osprey Packs makes their third and final appearance on our list with their Quasar daypack. A more lightweight backpack compared to the feature-heavy Osprey options previously found on our list, the Quasar still maintains the high quality standard set forth by its higher-priced counterparts. With a small removable hip belt and highly adjustable back straps, it doesn't give up too much of the comfort either. The backpack's back is made of a smoothed-out breathable mesh, helping you avoid sticky and sweaty polyester on your skin during the hot days of summer.
It's clear we're fans of Osprey, but it's only because their products are able to do everything a hiking backpack should do while looking maintain sleek and thoughtful design while doing it. Each of their backpacks ranks among some of the best backpacking backpacks for travel, and this one we'll do you quite well.
Front Panel Organizational Pocket with Bungee Supression
Removable Hip Belt
Breathable Mesh Back
Blinker Light Attachment (Light Not Included)
Weight: 1.7 lbs.
If safety is a concern for you, you might want to look into this backpack from OlarHike. The bag comes in at an incredibly fair price point, and features safety enhancing reflective tape on the front, sides and top. With 35 liters of storage capacity, it's no slouch in the space department either. This bag is definitely not a bad choice, especially for those who plan on being active in the dark.
35 liters of Storage
Easy to Fold and Store When Not in Use
Reflective Stripes for Safety at Night
Heavy-Duty Metal Zippers
Weight: 0.65 lb.
It might not look like much, but anybody who's owned a JanSport backpack knows that they're quite reliable. With a huge choice of color and design options, you'll be able to find a backpack suited for any sense of style, and these bags are perfect for all ages. The backpack features adjustable shoulder straps and an exterior pocket along with its primary compartment. This isn't a bag we'd recommended for a multi-day trip, but for regular travel and camping trips, you can't go wrong with a simple and reliable JanSport, easily earning a place in the top 10 best backpacking backpacks for travel.
Made with 100% Polyester
Two Pocket Storage
Weight: 8 oz.
Best Backpacking Backpacks for Travel Review & Buying Guide
The Importance of Backpacks, or: Why They Call It Backpacking
The history of modern backpacks dates back nearly 100 years, and is actually quite an interesting story if you sit down and read all about it. In short, nylon and polyester revolutionized backpacking, and hiking has become easier and more convenient than ever before. With modern backpacks, you can head out into the wilderness for hours, days or even weeks and bring along everything you'll need to survive.
Bringing along a sturdy backpack is one of the bare essentials you'll need if you decide to take even a short hiking trip. You'll need to bring along water, a first aid kit, potentially another layer of clothing, and that's already more than you should be carrying while hiking.
Factors of Focus: How to Find the Best Backpacking Backpack for Travel
First and foremost, you want to make sure to buy a backpack that isn't going to be a strain on your back during your travels. It's more than possible to find a comfortable backpack that has all the storage space and extra features you need. You just need to look!
The next thing to take into consideration is the balance between storage space and size. After all, the more you can fit in a backpack, the bigger it's likely going to be. However, the best way to offset this is to find the backpacks that take the most advantage of their size. Extra compartments and pockets are a huge plus. Also remember to consider the carry-on size of your airline if you happen to be flying on a plane. You won't want a bag that's too big to be considered.
Finally, you are going to want to pay attention to the strength of the material the backpack is made out of. The best backpacking backpacks for travel should be waterproof or water resistant, as well as made with a strong enough fabric to avoid wear and tear, as that's an inevitable part of hiking. Thankfully, durability is pretty common when it comes to backpacks made for hiking and travel.
If you've never been hiking before, all that can be said is that it is an indescribable experience. Experiencing the true beauty of nature is something that everyone should be able to do, ideally once or twice a year at least! We'd do it every day if we could, and that's why buying the right backpack is like making a smart investment. Every time you venture out onto the trail, there are any number of items you'll need or want to bring with you, and a backpack is simply the easiest and most efficient way to do that. Nobody wants to be caught out in the middle of nowhere without first aid, water, or anything else they might need. Now, you never have to be.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How much water should I be drinking on a daily basis while hiking?
A: Excellent question! Hikers should try to drink about a gallon of water a day, or four liters for you non-Americans out there. You can tell your drinking enough water if your urine is up to your normal standards as far as quantity and color go. If it's darker or you're going less than usual, up your water intake and see how it responds. If conditions don't improve, consult a medical professional.
Q: What kind of gear will I need to bring along in my backpack?
A: The answer to this question very much depends on your destination and the terrain you'll be hiking it, as well as your experience level and how long you'll be gone. For a daylong trip, bring enough water as noted above, some snacks and maybe a light meal for energy, and some extra clothing depending on weather conditions. For longer trips, you'll need to think about long term food and water needs, extra clothes, camping supplies, a flashlight, maps and more.
Q: Is hiking more physically demanding than going for a walk?
YES. Hiking happens along uneven, sometimes rocky, terrain, often up- or downhill. You'll need to wear appropriate clothing as well as hiking boots. Do some research on the area or specific trail if possible that you'll be hiking on, and try to find out the difficulty level. That should give you a better idea of what to expect.