Hiking Backpack 101 What You Need to Know

This article will discuss all about hiking backpacks and all the information you need in order to find one that suits you most, along with some tips on packing light. The backpack is a crucial gear required by hikers since it lets them carry equipment or sustenance during the entire trip.

A proper pack can make carrying that extra weight more tolerable and it will let you enjoy the view and surroundings more. Day hikes or day-long journeys, there is a backpack that is right for any kind of occasion.

Backpack Design

In order to buy a backpack that fits you just right and gets the job done, you must first know all of the important parts that comprise it. That way, you will figure out the things you need out of the pack faster and it will help you narrow down your choices.

You should always look for a backpack that will cover everything that you need because doing so will not only make your hiking trips easier and free from any kind of trouble, it will also keep you from buying another bag.

Also, it is ideal if you have backpacks for any kind of outdoor activity, whether you are going on a day hike, a weekend camping activity, hikes that can go for days or trekking expeditions. That way, you will be sure that you have all your needs met, no matter the location or conditions.

Main compartment

One good feature of the best hiking backpack is the inclusion of a big top-loading compartment so you can store most of your gear in there. That is basically all that a hiker or backpacker requires. Additional elements like compartments and zippers might add some extra weight but if you need to tote along more necessities, you can go for a pack that includes those components. You can store gears like sleeping bags or pads or shelter at the bottom of it and you are good to go.

Rear mesh pocket

Majority of backpacks include a bigger mesh pocket located at the rear. This is actually convenient while hiking. This is ideal for those who want to store items faster or procure them in a quick, easy manner, like water purifiers or a compass. It also makes for a good spot to stash gear that you are trying to dry.

Hip belt

Any good pack includes a properly fitting hip belt. The hip belt will carry majority of the weight on your backpack towards your hips and this will keep your shoulder comfortable and prevent them from getting fatigued. A hip belt should provide comfort and move the weight without sliding down.

Shoulder straps

The shoulder strap will carry a big quantity of the weight, just as a hip belt does. Good straps have padding on them to provide comfort and are well-spaced to prevent rubbing or chafing.

Ventilated back panel

This is very important since a breathable back panel will provide even more comfort as the wearer hikes along, especially during hot weather. The back panel should be capable of offering enough ventilation or air distribution so that the wearer’s sweat can disperse from his or her back instead of seeping throughout his packs and clothes. Hikers who make use of packs with breathable or well-ventilated back panels sweat less while this back panel lets them cool down and get rid of the heat. A good back panel other than it being ventilated should also be ergonomically designed.

Shoulder pouch

Shoulder pouches are bonuses where you can store personal effects like sunglasses and cameras. They will be protected well enough once stored inside those pouches apart from being accessible.

Water bottle holder

Drinking water while on the move is important in getting your energy levels up and about. Thus, hydration should always be easily accessed. The best hiking backpack should include this useful feature.

Waterproof/water-resistant properties

In reality, it is best if you do not rely on any backpack that claims to be waterproof. Although some fabrics are indeed waterproof, some parts, especially the seams stitched unto the backpack are not waterproof at all, and they will stay that way even if you put them all over them.

In case you have plans to hike on areas with unpredictable weather conditions, you might want to store crucial items like clothing, electronic gadgets and sleeping pad/bags in waterproof pouches or plastic sacks inside the backpack for good measure.

Hydration system

In case you are the kind of hiker who needs the H2O on the regular, a pack without this feature is always a no-no. Majority of packs include this feature though but most of them do not include a water bladder. Water bladders or containers are always sold separately.

Top lid

Majority of packs do not have top lids to reduce the overall weight and instead include clips, straps or roll-top closures for security measures. Those features mentioned are effective though.

Sternum strap

The sternum strap is nowadays a frequent feature on majority of packs. It provides wearers the option to link the shoulder straps all over the chest for security purposes. Better sternum straps have a flexible portion plus an emergency whistle.

Load-lifter strap

This kind of strap is employed to draw the shoulder straps’ tops back to the direction of the backpack. This feature will move several of the pack’s weight towards the front of the wearer’s shoulders and let go of accumulating downward pressure.  Most backpacks do not have this feature, nor do you actually need it if you are only carrying a bit of load.

Trekking pole/ice axe loops

The addition of a trekking pole and ice axe loops is a good bonus, especially if you frequent elevated or alpine tracks. These features allow hikers to pack those sticks when they’re not in use.

Make Your Load Lighter With These Tips

Consider the equipment you have on hand

Take a stab at listing your hiking gear and weigh them. By doing this, you will determine how effectual your equipment is in terms of weight. You will also be able to determine which of those items might require replacements for upcoming hiking journeys. You can replace heavier gear with lighter versions that perform just as good.

Carry the lightest gear on hand

By and large, lightweight items tend to have higher price levels. Choose the lightest among backpacks, shelter and sleeping bags or pads depending on your budget. Following this, you can change other heavier elements with lighter ones.

Consider the design of a backpack

If you can, you must shorten the backpack’s webbing where possible as most of the time you would not be using some of these items. If you want to take longer trips, you can make do with a spare lid.

Bring only what you really need

This is crucial; bring only the things you really need, not the items that may be beneficial while on the road. It is good that you can tote along specific indulgences like electronic gadgets and books for entertainment or comfort purposes, but do not over-indulge. If at all possible, you can seek lighter substitutes for those items.

Select clothing and sleeping bags or pads with down insulation

Down insulation is considered better as compared with its synthetic contemporaries however it has a tendency to offer lesser insulating value once it gets soaked, so be careful handling and storing items with this kind of fill.

Pack items depending on the weather of your destination

Choose clothes, sleeping pads or bags and shelter that will suit the area’s weather and season. If you are headed to a location with cold or snowy weather, you should include clothing that can be employed by means of layers. Layering clothing is more efficient as compared with bringing along hefty coats and sweaters. Layers can either be matched or mixed thus you will still look good despite only carrying a few items of clothing.

Look for versatile items

Items with two or more functions are handy, convenient and will lessen your load. A lot of individual items can have two or more purposes by themselves or they can be matched with another item to offer new functions. This suggestion will not only decrease your load, it will also help streamline your slant to lighter hiking.

Eat the heaviest among food items first

If, for example, you want to include food and snacks on your pack for the trek, you will note that these items will take significant amount of space and will also add weight. Moderate this issue by chewing down on the heaviest food item at the outset so you won’t be burdened by all that extra weight.

Only carry water that you need

Water has a significant weight and it can add to the load. In order to minimize the weight it gives, you should first familiarize yourself with the location that you are in and guarantee that there are water sources ahead. Once you have learned of those water source locations, you must bring sufficient amount of H2O that will tide you over until you reach the next water source. However this will depend on your planned destination—hikes on arid desert trails and alpine areas will take meticulous, careful planning.

5 of the Best Hiking Backpacks

These hiking backpacks reviewed in this article are just some of the most recommended. They differ in terms of size, brand and functions and hopefully by the end of this article, you will have found what you need. Read on and gather more information on these potentials.





 TETON Sports Scout 3400 Internal Frame Backpack, Orange $$$  4.5 / 5
 G4Free Large 40L Lightweight Water Resistant Travel Backpack/foldable & Packable Hiking Daypack $  4.3 / 5
 TETON Sports Explorer 4000 Internal Frame Backpack $$$  4.6 / 5
 Mountaintop 65L Internal Frame Backpack Water-resistant with Rain Cover $$$  4.5 / 5
 Mountaintop 50L Hiking Backpack with Rain Cover $$  4.4 / 5
 WASING 55L Internal Frame Backpack with Rain Cover $$  4.7 / 5
 OutdoorMaster Hiking Backpack 50L with Waterproof Backpack Cover $$  4.4 / 5
 Everest Hiking Pack $$  4.2 / 5
 Eaglewill 50L Outdoor Backpack $  4.5 / 5
 OXA Vintage Canvas Backpack $$  4.4 / 5

TETON Sports Scout 3400 Internal Frame Backpack

The Sports Scout 3400 backpack includes aluminum stays, cushioned straps, plenty of pockets, an integrated rain-fly and torso adjustments. This is a sturdy hiking backpack with equally durable zippers, waist and shoulder straps with padding, bendable aluminum stays and mesh lumbar support. The bright yellow rain-fly remains concealed not unless you need it then it draws out if required to safeguard your backpack and equipment from the rain.

Its main compartment locks securely by means of two-barrel drawstrings plus it has gear loops where you can hang items like ski poles, shoves or ice axe. The top carry-loop makes loading the pack into the car easy and effortless.

This is a good pack when you take in its built quality, features and price tag. This is the perfect bag to take along if you are planning some hiking trips across the state or overnight stays at a camp site.

G4Free 40L Lightweight Water Resistant Travel Backpack and Packable Hiking Daypack

G4Free 40-liter water-resistant lightweight backpack-slash-hiking daypack is a convenient piece of equipment. Its 40-liter capacity can store all of the essentials you need for a backpacking trip. The pack features plenty of room for putting up with items like clothes, sleeping pad, towels or shelter among others. This model pack is portable and light enough that it won’t bring so much additional weight.

If not in use, you can fold it into a smaller pouch for easier storage and this feature makes packing the bag in suitcases easier and it won’t take up so much room. The bag is made of first-rate fraying and water-resistant nylon so it’s durable enough to last strenuous hiking trips. It is hard-wearing and will provide everlasting performance with minimal weight. It’s perfect for everyday use, hiking and as an alternative to suitcases.

TETON Sports Explorer 4000 Internal Frame Backpack

If you are on the hunt for a new hiking backpack, do consider TETON Sports Explorer 4000. It has the capacity and the durability that you need for a pack that can withstand rigorous activities like backpacking. It has a roomy 65-liter capacity where you can store all of your basic hiking equipment and is enclosed by a durable material that won’t easily fade with each use.

This pack is light at 5 pounds and features a cushioned/padded back, a waist belt and straps for maximized comfort. It is hard-wearing and includes water-resistant zippers that are capable of protecting your valuables like phones, GPS devices or other electronic gadgets.

Mountaintop 65L Internal Frame Backpack Water-Resistant Hiking Backpack

Mountaintop’s 65L Hiking Backpack features great capacity, quality build and material which make it ideal gear for camping, hiking and backpacking activities. The bag is built to be comfortable and versatile in terms of functions. It includes a bladder compartment with a useful hydration access, front pocket with zippers, a divider for the sleeping bag compartment, primary compartment, 2 top lid pockets, 2 mesh side pockets and hip belt pockets.

The pack is made of water-resistant nylon material which can withstand water and prevent it from getting inside the bag. It also includes tool attachment features like bottom loops, D hooks, 8 compressions straps, trekking pole and key rings for fastening additional items and other sorts of accessories.

Mountaintop 50L Hiking Backpack with Rain Cover

Mountaintop’s 50-liter hiking backpack includes a breathable cushioned mesh back panel to provide optimal comfort while covering miles. It also facilitates air distribution in the back of the wearer. It has solid and deep cushioned shoulder straps and its hip belt provides good air circulation all over the user’s back and shoulders.

It also includes a sternum strap with emergency whistle buckle and has high-visibility color rain cover. Other than these useful components, the pack also includes one bladder sleeve, a rain cover compartment, a front pocket, 2 lid pockets, 2 hip belt pockets and two mesh bottle pouches. The pack comes with a 90-day limited manufacturer’s warranty.


Purchasing a backpack is a cakewalk once you grasp the fit, kind and capacity that will suit your preferences. In order to get the best pack, you should first measure yourself and choose a kind of pack that depends on how you are going to employ it once it is bought. Similarly, the capacity of the backpack must also fit your requirements. For example, hikers can, at times, buy varying kinds of backpacks that feature a range of capacities for assorted hikes. There are packs meant for day hikes only, weekend camping, treks that will last for several days and much more.

Consumers should also take note of the backpack’s material. Like its components, it should fit their needs as well. To keep things waterproof, plastic material is suitable but they are not as durable as polyester and canvas packs.

In addition, you should also determine your budget; find out whether you are more than willing to splurge, save up or look for more frugal options like buying a used backpack. Yes, the option of finding a second-hand backpack is also available. You can seek help from your friends, family and other hikers in this regard.  You can scour one around your area or look for one online.

However, if you want to make a lifelong investment, maybe you can instead settle for a brand new purchase. Both brick and mortar stores and various online marketplaces make it possible for you to find the backpack of your dreams.