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Camping

Best Backpack

When you think “hiking” it probably involves an image of beautiful mountain scenery from the vantage point of a summit, not the massive backpack you carry to get there. Reaching your summit can be made very difficult if the backpack you chose for hiking is not up to par. This list focuses on the five best backpacks that will help you reach your destination. These packs have all the essential features to get you through your hike, whether it be a weekend trip or longer. They are spacious enough to carry a tent, a ground pad, food supply, clothing, and a sleeping bag, along with anything else you may need for an overnight outing. The manufacturers understand a walk in the wilderness can cause some wear and tear on the pack so they included the bonus of a lifetime warranty and product replacement with your purchase.

Deuter ACT Zero 50+15 Backpack

The Deuter ACT Zero is hands down the best backpack on the market for hiking right now. It was made with the idea of a thru hike in mind, meaning the ACT Zero is capable of weathering thousands of miles in the wilderness. The ACT Zero will keep your belongings dry in rain or shine with the specially designed Wet Pocket. You can adjust the pack so it is the perfect custom fit for your height. This feature is extremely important because torso lengths vary person to person. When you hike, you don’t want too much weight on your shoulders and not enough balanced on your hips. Deuter made the ACT Zero so it would be comfortable, durable, and capable of carrying you through any hike.

Osprey Aether 60 Backpack

Osprey is well known for making some of the best backpacks available to avid hikers and alpinists. If you are looking for a comfortable, lightweight backpack for your first hiking adventure, this is the backpack for you. It has a variety of easy access compartments that will keep your belongings organized, plus it includes hydration compatibility. The Osprey Aether 60 Backpack can hold enough gear to keep you in the wild up to a week. This backpack is popular amidst pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago in Spain and thru hikers along the Appalachian Trail. If you prefer hiking during the fall months that conflict with hunting season, you may want to go with this pack simply because of its bright colors. The orange Osprey Aether 60 backpack will not go unnoticed, but please remember to still wear your neon vest.

Gregory Savant 48 Backpack

The Gregory Savant 48 Backpack is great if you have extra gear you need to carry on your hike. This backpack is the best choice if you are a Boy Scout Troop Leader or an Outdoor Adventure Guide who spends a lot of time on group hikes. The Gregory Savant 48 is durable and reliable but it has the space you need so you can store maps, informational materials, and first aid equipment, all within easy reach. The backpack has a higher weight capacity to allow for any extra equipment. The extra space is also good in the event someone in your group gets hurt and you need to help them reduce the weight of their pack by carrying some of it yourself. Anything can happen when you are out hiking and this pack helps you prepare for it.

Deuter Futura 32 Backpack

The Deuter Futura 32 Backpack is very similar to our first choice ACT Zero Backpack. However the Deuter Futura 32 backpack is smaller in size, making it a better choice for a hiker who plans on attempting a summit. Summit hikes generally take one day with overnight stays at the base of the mountain. Summit attempts can take anywhere between four and sixteen hours, meaning you need plenty of food and water with you but not necessarily sleeping equipment. The compression of this backpack also makes it a comfortable pick for your hike. It will balance evenly across your shoulders and back making it comfortable for the climb up and back down the mountain. This backpack is also good for youth hikers as it allows them to carry all of their gear but the smaller pack size makes it easier to carry than a regular sized hiking backpack.

The North Face Terra 35 Backpack

Our fifth pick is the North Face Terra 35 Backpack. This backpack was made to function as a daypack or an overnight hiking backpack. It’s compact, so you can use it for a summit attempt but it has enough space so you can store extra gear for hiking adventures lasting up to a week. North Face even has a built in safety whistle on the chest strap in the event you find yourself needing help or medical assistance on your hike. If you are looking to become a regular weekend hiker, this backpack is a good choice for you. The design allows for diversity in your hikes while accommodating for any equipment you may need to carry. Overall, this is a reliable, heavy duty backpack that is perfect for beginner hikers.

JanSport Classic Big Student Backpack

Jansport’s Big Student is one of the most popular backpacks in the market. Jansport's name and reputation for durable, long-lasting, lifetime guaranteed backpacks makes them a top choice for most consumers. The Big Student is designed to comfortably carry everything you need for a day at school. There are inner pockets for your pens, a cellphone, a day planner, and whatever else you may need to store on the go. The Big Student backpack has plenty of room to store a laptop, books, binders, and notebooks. It’s durable and sturdy with S-shaped straps that make it more comfortable when carrying a heavy load. With the Jansport Big Student, your student will be able to express their style in one of the twenty-plus color and design choices.

High Sierra Loop Daypack Backpack

The High Sierra Loop Backpack is a great choice for students on the go. This backpack comes in eighteen different colors and design patterns. It has compartments and pockets for organizing everyday items from notebooks, binders, and textbooks, to a spare set of keys. The High Sierra Loop Backpack includes a specially designed pouch for an mp3 player with a headphone port so students can listen to their music on the way to class. The backpack is well built with compression straps the help reduce bulkiness while providing addition back support. This backpack has adjustable, comfortable shoulder straps that make it durable for carrying a heavy load.

Jansport Odyssey Backpack

The Jansport Odyssey is perfect for students who have a lot of extra curriculars and need the extra space. This backpack features a specially designed, padded laptop pouch that can store up to 17” notebooks. The shoulder straps and back are padded to help reduce the strain of carrying a lot of weight. The Odyssey is strong and durable. The amount of space in this backpack make it great for traveling when it’s not being used for school. This backpack is one of the larger ones on this list. The Jansport Odyssey backpack is perfect for students who need to carry extra clothes to school for sports practice or marching band, or a packed lunch. This backpack is also great for students who like to be organized: there is a pouch, pocket, or compartment for everything.

High Sierra Fat Boy Backpack

The High Sierra Fatboy backpack is great for students at any level. This backpack is durable with 33 different colors and patterns that elementary and middle school students will love. The High Sierra Fatboy has plenty of room for the larger textbooks and an additional laptop that a college student needs to carry to class each day. This backpack features a special cellphone pouch on the shoulder strap for easy access and storage for any student on the go. The backpack is well padded for a comfortable trek from class to class. While there is no mesh side pockets for easy water bottle storage, there is plenty of space for storing one inside of the backpack.

The North Face Borealis Backpack

The North Face Borealis Backpack includes a variety of features that make it an excellent school backpack. There are mesh pockets on the sides on the backpack for storing water bottles or a cellphone for easy access. This backpack includes a headphones port along with a built in padded laptop sleeve that fits computers up to 15”. There are elastic straps on the front that are great for attaching a jacket during the winter or on rainy days. While this backpack is both durable and comfortable, due to distributing the weight across the back instead of weighing down the shoulders, it is a little smaller than the other backpacks listed above. The North Face Borealis Backpack provides a built in emergency whistle that is a good feature for any student who walks to school or class to have.

High Sierra Access Day Pack

The High Sierra Access Daypack is the best backpack for today’s college student. It offers everything you need in your backpack and more. The backpack has a padded computer sleeve that is made to fit laptops up to 15 inches but will stretch to fit some 17 inch laptops. It is large enough to hold all of your books and it has enough compartments to hold anything else you might need throughout the day. Although the backpack is not waterproof, it comes with a built in rain cover that will help prevent your belongings from getting soaked when you walk to class in the rain. Plus High Sierra offers a lifetime warranty that guarantees the replacement of damaged parts or the entire backpack.

JanSport Classic Big Student Backpack

Jansport’s Big Student is one of the most popular backpacks in the market. Jansport's name and reputation for durable, long-lasting, lifetime guaranteed backpacks makes them a top choice for most consumers. The Big Student is designed to comfortably carry everything you need for a day at school. There are inner pockets for your pens, a cellphone, a day planner, and whatever else you may need to store on the go. The Big Student backpack has plenty of room to store a laptop, books, binders, and notebooks. It’s durable and sturdy with S-shaped straps that make it more comfortable when carrying a heavy load. With the Jansport Big Student, your student will be able to express their style in one of the twenty-plus color and design choices.

North Face Surge Backpack

The North Face Surge Backpack functions as a daypack or a backpack. This backpack has a padded compartment made just for laptops up to 15 inches with another large compartment for additional storage. There is a pocket in the front built especially for your electronics. The side mesh pouch is perfect for holding a water or soda bottle. Of the backpacks on this list, this one is best suited for comfort. The North Face Surge Backpack is endorsed by the American Chiropractic Association and includes a hip belt to reduce the strain a heavy backpack puts on your spine. If you are attending a larger college this is the perfect backpack for your long walks to class.

Targus TXL617 17 XL Notebook Backpack

Coming in at number four, The Targus XL Backpack is perfect for the college student who wants to stay organized. This backpack has a compartment, pocket, or special storage space for everything you will need. There is a foam-padded compartment that will hold and protect laptops up to 17 inches. There are two side pockets: one for a water bottle and another for sunglasses. It has three main large compartments and three smaller front zippered compartments along with numerous pockets and storage spaces inside of the backpack. The Targus XL Backpack is not only built to carry everything college students need, it’s also a durable and lasting backpack.

North Face Jester Backpacks

The North Face Jester has a reputation for being one of the best backpacks for college students. While this Jester has no jokes in store for you, it does provide comfort, space to hold your books and a laptop, organizational pouches, and side mesh pockets to store your beverages. This pack has a bungee cord crisscross across the front that allows you to store additional items such as a hoodie or a rain jacket. There is a removable hipbelt that can help distribute the weight of your heavy textbooks so your legs can help reduce the pressure put on your spine. Plus it comes in four different colors and patterns that allow you to sport your books in style.

L.L. Bean Original Plus Book Pack

L.L. Bean Original Plus Book Pack

The L.L. Bean Original Plus Book Pack for kids comes in a variety of patterns for both girls and boys. The designs are bright and fun, one of them is a shark pattern and another is a pink floral design, and you can purchase a matching lunchbox. L.L. Bean offers a monogramming option so you can personalize the backpack with your child’s name or initials. This backpack is something you and your child can get excited about for the first day of school. There are pockets and compartments for anything: a bottle of water, emergency contact phone numbers, or spare keys. The main compartments of this backpack will hold all of your child’s notebooks and textbooks. Plus, the backpack is guaranteed to last throughout elementary school with L.L. Bean’s lifetime warranty promise.

JanSport SuperBreak Backpack

Jansport offers close to 50 different color and pattern varieties with this backpack. The backpack is large with padded shoulder straps. Your kid will be able to store their lunch in this backpack along with all of their school supplies. There is a large compartment for bigger items including textbooks, notebooks, a jacket or lunch along with a smaller compartment for pens, pencils, markers and other supplies. This backpack is great for kids of all ages, whether this is their first year of school or they are about to head into middle school. Jansport offers style, function, and durability with the Superbreak Backpack. With the Superbreak backpack, you will not find yourself needing an emergency replacement. You are more likely to get tired of the pattern or color you picked before anything malfunctions with this backpack.

REI Big School Backpack

REI Big School Backpack

The REI Big School Backpack is made specially designed for children. It comes in two bright color patterns, castle rock for boys and crown purple for girls. It includes numerous pockets along with a large main compartment for books and lunch. REI built loops on the outside of the backpack so parents can attach an LED light or reflective material that will ensure your child stays safe at the bus stop. The REI Big School Backpack is great for keeping your child organized. There are pockets and organizational pouches for everything: keys, lunch money, water bottles, and even organizing pens and pencils. Built in a daypack style for comfort and support, the REI Big School Backpack will keep your kid organized while carrying all of his or her supplies throughout their elementary or primary school days.

Lands'End School Uniform Solid FeatherLight Backpack

Lands'End School Uniform Solid FeatherLight Backpack

The Lands’ End School Uniform Solid FeatherLight Backpack comes in two styles: one for boys and one for girls. The backpacks are the exact same with the color choices being the primary difference. They boy’s version offers blues and oranges while the girl’s version offers a pink and purple. There are internal pockets for storing textbooks and notebooks with a separate pocket for pens and pencils. This backpack specialized in back support, offering the most comfort when carrying a full load of supplies. The side compression straps along with the sternum strap help center the weight of the backpack so it doesn’t pull causing back or shoulder pain for your child. The bungee cord straps on the front exterior of the backpack allow your kid to bring a coat or rain jacket so they can stay warm and dry in any weather conditions.

L.L.Bean Rolling Original Backpack

The L.L. Bean Rolling Original Backpack helps reduce the physical impact of carrying heavy textbooks to and from school everyday. It includes a retractable handle and stow-away shoulder straps so you can pull or carry the backpack. The backpack is large enough to store a lunch and all of your child’s school supplies. If your child is pulling the backpack, you can easily drape a jacket or coat across the top so it does not fall off. The front organizational pouch includes interior pockets for pens, markers, calculators and other small supplies. This backpack comes in three colors with the option of personalized monogramming with your child’s name.

Osprey Stratos 34 Daypack

The Osprey Stratos 34 Backpack can carry between 20 and 30 pounds of belongings. The mesh on the backside of the pack allows air to circulate between the pack and your body. This backpack includes an airspeed suspension system that allows you to compact the pack so it fits as comfortably as possible when trekking around the world. Osprey built the Stratos 34 with two mesh side pouches for water bottles and pockets on the hip belt for easy storage of money, ID cards, passports, wallets, rail passes, hotel key cards, and whatever else you may need quick access to. Most importantly Osprey guarantees this backpack with a lifetime warranty that includes replacement and repairs.

Kelty Impact 30-Liter Backpack

The Kelty Impact 30 can pack a lot of gear, either 30 pounds or however much you can pack to fit the space equivalent to 15 two-liter bottles of soda. This pack has a built in rain cover, which allows travel in rainy regions without your gear getting wet. This pack includes side pockets for easy access to water bottles along with pockets on the hip belt for easy access to money, passports, and identification. The Kelty Impact 30 is comfortable, durable, and easy to adjust to fit any frame. The shoulder straps and back panel have a mesh ventilation system to make carrying the pack more comfortable. The hip belt and lower back region of the pack also include extra padding to make a trek anywhere around the world easier on your back.

Deuter Futura 30 SL Backpack

The Deuter Futura 30 Backpack is a great pack for women to use for a backpacking trip. The Futura 30 backpack comes in an SL feature Deuter designed especially for women. This means the backpack is made in consideration of the physical attributes of women, such as narrower shoulders, defined hips, shorter backs, and shorter overall height. The Futura 30 backpack has plenty of side pockets for easy access to materials, including side pockets for water bottles. The backpack is well ventilated with plenty of padding to make carrying it as comfortable as possible. The backpack is easy to adjust, with a number of compression straps.

Gregory Z30 Backpack

The Gregory Z30 Backpack can carry up to 30 pounds of travel gear. This backpack is extremely comfortable, lightweight, and easy to load. It includes a built in rain cover that prevents your gear from getting wet in an unexpected downpour. The padding on the back panel of the pack keeps your back cool and dry while walking anywhere in the world, with the exception of the tropics or humid areas. There is plenty of space to pack all of your belongings, along with very small pockets on the hip belt. These pockets are small enough for a phone and identification. The Gregory Z30 backpack is durable and reliable, but make sure to get the size that is best suited for you as it comes in small, medium, and large. Each size includes the same features but the hip belt size changes.

Black Diamond Axiom 30 Backpack

The Black Diamond Axiom 30 Backpack can carry between 20 and 30 pounds of equipment. It is comfortable and well padded with an easy to adjust suspension system. The shoulder straps have measurement markers on them that make it easy to ensure they are even, keeping the weight of the backpack evenly distributed across the back. The pack features easy access pockets on the hip belt for phone, room keys, or a wallet. There are two side pockets on the pack for water bottles to keep you hydrated on your trip. This backpack comes in two sizes, medium and large. It is durable, and made to keep your belongings dry while on the go in inclement weather.

Deuter ACT Trail 32 Hiking Backpack

The Deuter ACT Trail 32 is the best daypack currently on the market. The manufacturers seemed to have thought of everything when making this pack. The ACT Trail 32 weighs less than 3 pounds with plenty of organizational pockets. It is a top loading pack, but has a zippered front pouch so your gear is easily accessible. There is an interior wet pocket where you can store clothes and valuables so they will be safe from rain. There are places to attach more gear to the outside with carabiners. The pack comes with a rain cover that will help keep the pack and it’s contents dry. Plus the specially designed aircontact system allows you to adjust the pack to fit your back perfectly. Topping all of this off is the built in hydration system that will store up to a 3 liter water bladder.

Osprey Stratos 24 Daypack

The Osprey Stratos 24 daypack comes in a very close second. It offers a variety of easy access pockets that allow you to store electronics, GPS, sunscreen, or car keys with easy access. There is a zippered pouch on the hip belt, a right shoulder strap, and even a specially designed loop for mountain climbers to attach an ice ax. The Stratos 24 is hydration compatible with a panel load design, meaning the compartments open from the front instead of the top. It has a compression system that allows you to secure items to the outside of the pack as well as the inside. There is a built in pouch on the bottom that includes an attached rain cover that will help keep your gear dry. Overall, this pack can carry between 15 and 25 pounds of equipment and averages out at approximately 2 pounds. You can even select a bright color for this pack so you stand out in hunting season.

Gregory Z30-Old Daypack

Gregory Z30-Old Daypack

Our number three pick is made to keep you both cool and dry while carrying up to 30 pounds of gear. The Gregory Z30 pack is perfect for a day hike or a very light overnight adventure. It has an advanced suspension system that allows extra airflow across your back with foam shoulder straps and mesh surfaces that wick away moisture. There are side pockets, a hip belt pocket, and zippered front and top pockets to store all of your gear. There are compression straps that help centralize the weight so the pack doesn’t pull away from your back. The Gregory Z30 is made up of a lightweight nylon that resists tears and abrasions with a base weight of a little less than 3 pounds.

Osprey Talon 33 Daypack

The Osprey Talon 33 Daypack is very similar to the Osprey Stratos 24. However, there are quite a few key differences. The Osprey Talon 33 is versatile: you can use it as a daypack or for a light overnight trip. There is a detachable top pouch that you can use as a fanny pack for some easily accessible essentials like sunscreen or bug spray. There are two side pockets and a front pouch where you can store your stuff. The main compartment is accessible from the top of the pack. There are hip belt pockets and an area at the top of the pack where you can attach rope in the event your adventure includes repelling or rock climbing. The Talon 33 can carry slightly heavier loads between 20 and 30 pounds with an overall pack weight of approximately 2 pounds. This pack is the best choice for hikers who want a dual use pack for overnight and day trips or if you live in a colder climate where you need additional layers for your hike.

CamelBak 2012 Fourteener Daypack

Camelbak has a reputation as being one of the best companies in terms of hydration products. The CamelBak Fourteener holds 3 liters of water in the built in Antidote hydration reservoir that comes with the pack. The Fourteener is a front access pack with has multiple organizational pockets, including easy access side pockets. This pack is designed to carry loads of between 10 and 25 pounds. It has side compression straps with areas for you to attach surplus gear with caribiners. Of the packs on this list, it’s a little on the lighter side so it is a great daypack but it won’t fare as well on an overnight excursion. On the bottom of the pack there are straps where you can attach your trekking poles, climbing rope, or an ice ax.

Lindsey Pritchett
I'm a passionate hiker, runner, and beachcomber. I love everything outdoors, especially sports. I used to play softball and soccer, now I spend my free time training for 5Ks and planning my next hike. In the summer, I spend about two solid weeks backpacking on the Appalachian Trail. Now I use my expertise to find the best products for your adventures.
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