12 Best Hiking Rucksacks and Walking Backpacks for 2023

12 Best Hiking Rucksacks and Walking backpacks for 2021

Are you looking to buy the best hiking rucksack for a three week mountain trek or simply a day long walk with family? Whatever your hiking backpack needs and budget I have you covered here with 12 of the best walking backpacks reviewed.

All our family carry a hiking backpack when we walk – the kids use small camel packs and we use daypacks (gone are the days of needing a 80kg camping backpack for now).  The kids love the camelpaks like the Mini Mule CamelBak because they are lightweight, have the drink spout (endless fun there) and have storage pockets for all manner of kids stuff!

For me I love my 30l Vango Ozone Rucksack for comfort and its way it packs means i am more stable on my feet!  Hubby is the main mule on all our walks and needs space for the food and picnic set so he carries a Osprey Talon 33 normally

Osprey Talon 33 Men's Hiking Pack Eclipse Grey - L/XL
  • PFC free DWR coating
  • Adjustable airscape backpanel
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Berghaus Unisex 24/7 Backpack 20 Litre, Comfortable Fit, Durable Design,...
  • BREATHE EASY: Thanks to the extra breathable, vented- foam Flowback system, you can save breaking a sweat for the gym or the trail and let your skin breathe There are even attachment points for walking poles to make your life just a little easier
  • INTERACTIVE DESIGN: A height-adjustable chest strap makes sure you get the right fit and, as the pack is compatible with hydration systems, you can stay refreshed all day long
Kelty Riot Unisex Outdoor Hiking Backpack available in Deep Teal - 15...
  • Front shove-it pocket, stretch mesh shoulder strap pockets and side access zipper pocket
  • Internal organistation with panel loading
Osprey Hikelite 26 Unisex Hiking Pack - Shiitake Grey (O/S)
  • AirSpeed ventilated trampoline suspended mesh backpanel
  • Internal hydration sleeve
Arcteryx Brize Backpack Casual Daypack, 62 cm, 25 liters, Black
  • Technical hiking pack
  • Main compartment with easy accessed from zippered top panel
Salomon Agile 6 Set Unisex Hydration Vest 6L Trail Running Hiking, Blue...
  • Lightweight 6-litre backpack for mid-distance endurance activities (3-10 hours): securely carry hydration, jacket, car keys, credit card and mobile phone in large main compartment
  • Adjustable padded straps for versatility and comfort, Perforations for increased ventilation, Attached elastic key holder, 1 inside zipped pocket
Columbia Atlas Explorer Backpack Unisex Backpack
  • Versatile 25-liter backpack for comfortable carry of essentials from day job to day hike, including 15 Inch laptop space with padding and fleece lining
  • Stow-and-go features including flat-padded bottom panel, adjustable sternum and shoulder straps and dual water-bottle pockets
Jack Wolfskin Unisex's ECOLOADER 24 PACK Outdoor-Backpacks, Dark Sky, One...
  • Daypack
  • Back system with sustainable algae foam padding
Osprey Rook 50 Men's Ventilated Backpacking Pack - Black (O/S)
  • Adjustable AirSpeed ventilated trampoline suspended mesh backpanel
  • Integrated & detachable raincover

Get straight to our reviews on hiking rucksacks by clicking here

Types of Hiking Rucksacks

There are three main types of hiking rucksacks. Frameless backpacks are typically used as day packs. For multi-day hikes, you can use internal-frame or external-frame backpacks.

Frameless backpacks: These day packs are ideal for short day hikes. Such hikers’ backpacks are even good for short overnight trips. If you’re looking for lightweight rucksacks, they will be a good choice. The day packs have a foam padding or plastic sheet (called framesheet) in the back panel for more rigidity.

 Since these packs lack a rigid frame, most of the weight hangs on your shoulders. That’s why they aren’t suitable to carry heavy loads. But you can easily carry a modest load in these walking rucksacks. 

Internal-frame backpacks: These body-hugging hiking rucksacks have a rigid or semi-rigid frame construction that’s hidden inside the back panel. The frame could be made of aluminium, carbon fibre, plastic sheets, or foam. 

These walkers’ backpacks have straps, harnesses, and other adjustments to conform to the shape of the wearer’s back. So, they give you a body-hugging fit and excellent stability even on uneven, off-kilter ground. You can carry light to heavy loads in these backpacks.

External-frame backpacks: These hiking rucksacks have an external frame to support the load. This frame is usually made of aluminium. Since the frame extends beyond the backpack, these are ideal for carrying very heavy loads. You can also carry irregular loads, like an inflatable kayak or oversized tent, easily. 

Such hike bags come with a harness (hip belts and shoulder straps) and allow excellent airflow through the back section. They shift the load from your shoulders to the hips via the hip belt. Since your hips are supported by larger muscle groups, they can carry a bigger load than your shoulders. That’s why these hiking rucksacks are ideal for carrying heavier items or those of irregular shape.

Men’s vs. women’s rucksacks: There are many unisex hiking rucksacks today that both men and women can use. Still, some women may prefer to use women’s rucksacks so they fit better and they get less bruising and chaff. These typically come with narrower shoulder straps, smaller pack sizes from shoulder to hip (as women have shorter torsos), and different hip belts (as women have broader hips). 

It’s crucial to note that women have a lower centre of gravity than men. Hence, women’s backpacks are designed accordingly to distribute the load better and be comfier to carry in the long run.   For me thats why i use the Vango Ozone 30 Backpack for hiking as it places and compresses the load into the rucksack to give me greater balance.

However, not all women prefer to use women’s backpacks. I know a few who prefer to use men’s rucksacks due to their broader shoulder straps, longer torso, and other features. So, it’s all about your personal choice when selecting the right hike bag.  

Buyer’s Guide to Hiking Rucksacks

You need to consider the following factors to buy a hike bag that will suit your needs the best:

Cost

The cost of a walking rucksack usually depends on two factors – the quality of materials used and the features it has. If you go on short hikes once in a while, you can get a small hiking backpack costing in the range of £30 to £60. For the best daypack, our star buy is the Berghaus Unisex Twnty4Seven Plus Backpack 20 Litre costing around £50. 

If you’re an experienced and frequent hiker, getting a top-of-the-range hiker bag would be a good investment. You can get them in the range of £80 to £110. These hiking rucksacks are durable and have good ventilation as well as sturdy shoulder straps and hip belt.

Size

30-50 litres daypack rucksacks are suitable for your day hikes or 1-3-night trips. For multi-day hikes extending between 3 and 5 nights, hiking rucksacks in the 50-80-litre range would be great. For hikes of 5 days or more, rucksacks for hiking should have the capacity of 70 litres or more. 

You’ll also find walkers’ backpacks to match varying torso lengths. But since different manufacturers use different methods to calculate torso length, you should get the correct information to find the right fit. You should also check if your backpack hip belts can accommodate your hip circumference.

If you play specific sports, you can even find backpacks designed for them, such as runners’ backpacks. If you’re looking for the best Camel backpack for fell running, I suggest buying the Salomon Agile 6L Unisex Hydration Vest. If you need hydration packs for road cycling or mountain biking, you can check out the range of Camel rucksacks. 

Material

Most waterproof rucksacks are made of nylon. Since this synthetic fibre is tear-resistant and durable, it maximises your backpack’s longevity. Ripstop is a commonly used nylon fabric in hiking rucksacks. Another tough nylon fabric used for making durable walking rucksacks is ballistic nylon.

If you’re looking for budget backpacks, the ones made of polyester are worth considering. But if budget isn’t a constraint, you can look for lightweight rucksacks made of canvas. Those looking for windproof and waterproof backpacks too can use them. For strong and durable hiking rucksacks, you may also check the ones made of Cordura or PVC. 

Comfort

This is another important factor to consider. Your hike bag should be comfy to carry. This means it should distribute the weight evenly on your shoulders and/or hips. It should also be breathable and make everything accessible when required. If you’re hiking to wet terrain or one with unpredictable weather, a waterproof rucksack would be a comfy and wise option to buy.

Quickly before we go into our in depth reviews of our best hiking rucksacks and walking backpacks, here are quick links to our other picnic and hiking essentials on the site.  If you have all these, you are sure of the perfect time when you go outdoors!

Can you think of another essential outdoor or picnic item I need to include? If so, drop me a line in the comments.

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In-depth Reviews of the Best Hiking Rucksacks

Best Men’s Hiking Rucksack

Osprey Talon 33 Men's Hiking Pack Eclipse Grey - L/XL
OVERALL BEST Men’s Hiking Rucksack - This top-loader lightweight men’s rucksack is crafted for dynamic body movement. For comfort, it has a breathable injection-moulded AirScape back panel.

Pros