12 Best Hiking Rucksacks and Walking Backpacks for 2021

Find the best hiking rucksacks and camelbaks to make everything from a day hike to a multiday trek comfortable.

12 Best Hiking Rucksacks and Walking backpacks for 2021

Are you looking to buy the best hiking rucksack for a 3 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

Sale
Osprey Talon 33 Men's Hiking Pack Eclipse Grey - L/XL
12 Reviews
Osprey Talon 33 Men's Hiking Pack Eclipse Grey - L/XL
  • PFC- DWR coating
  • Adjustable AirScape back plate
Vango Ozone 30 Rucksack, Grey, One Size
3 Reviews
Vango Ozone 30 Rucksack, Grey, One Size
  • The Vango Ozone 30 Ultralite Trekking Rucksack 30L is the ideal rucksack for multi-sports enthusiast
  • This rucksack puts trekkers at the forefront as it provides you the freedom to roam in comfort alon
Sale
Jack Wolfskin Kids Little Joe Backpack, Night Blue,Size: One
4,548 Reviews
Berghaus Unisex Twnty4Seven Plus Backpack 20 Litre, Eclipse/Eclipse
352 Reviews
Berghaus Unisex Twnty4Seven Plus Backpack 20 Litre, Eclipse/Eclipse
  • SMART STORAGE - Internal and external pockets including a laptop-friendly sleeve keep all your gear in order
  • BREATHE EASY - Vented-foam Flow back system lets your skin breathe
Sale
Kelty Riot Unisex Outdoor Hiking Backpack available in Deep Teal - 15...
23 Reviews
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)
240 Reviews
Osprey Hikelite 26 Unisex Hiking Pack - Shiitake Grey (O/S)
  • AirSpeed ventilated trampoline suspended mesh backpanel
  • Internal hydration sleeve
Arcteryx Unisex's Brize 25 Backpack, Black, 62 cm
32 Reviews
Arcteryx Unisex's Brize 25 Backpack, Black, 62 cm
  • Technical hiking pack
  • Main compartment with easy accessed from zippered top panel
Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor Backpack, Adjustable 25-40L Volume Ultralight...
4 Reviews
Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor Backpack, Adjustable 25-40L Volume Ultralight...
  • Think Outside: Meet the pack that does it all. The Flex Capacitor features adjustable volume to handle both short and long hauls, and a Y flex suspension system that carries above its weight class. With three sizes in a 25-40, 40-60, and 60-75 L capacity, there is a Flex pack to fit your needs. A bucket lid with a stash pocket closes everything up, while dual stretch pockets on the shoulder straps and side of pack cover shove it needs.
Sale
Salomon Agile 6 Set Unisex Hydration Vest 6L Trail Running Hiking, Blue...
194 Reviews
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
Sale
Columbia Unisex Atlas Explorer Backpack, 25L
  • 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...
10 Reviews
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)
61 Reviews
Osprey Rook 50 Men's Ventilated Backpacking Pack - Black (O/S)
  • The Light Wire internal frame and adjustable tensioned back panel helps provide a stable and comfortable carry
  • Zippered sleeping bag compartment with floating divider

Get straight to our reviews on walking poles 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.

In-depth Reviews of the Best Hiking Rucksacks

Best Men’s Hiking Rucksack

Sale
Osprey Talon 33 Men's Hiking Pack Eclipse Grey - L/XL
12 Reviews
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

Cons

Best Women’s Hiking Rucksack

Vango Ozone 30 Rucksack, Grey, One Size
3 Reviews
Vango Ozone 30 Rucksack, Grey, One Size
OVERALL BEST Women’s Hiking Rucksack - This lightweight women’s backpack is compact and durable. It features a distinctive load stabilising compression that compresses the load towards the wearer’s centre of gravity.

Pros

Cons

Best Kid’s Rucksack

Sale
Jack Wolfskin Kids Little Joe Backpack, Night Blue,Size: One
4,548 Reviews
Jack Wolfskin Kids Little Joe Backpack, Night Blue,Size: One
OVERALL BEST Kid’s Rucksack - This kid’s backpack has plenty of space for a spare uniform, toys, jumper/cardigan, and shoes. It features a chest clip strap and easy-to-reach side pockets.

Pros

Cons

Best Daypack

Berghaus Unisex Twnty4Seven Plus Backpack 20 Litre, Eclipse/Eclipse
352 Reviews
Berghaus Unisex Twnty4Seven Plus Backpack 20 Litre, Eclipse/Eclipse
OVERALL BEST Daypack - This is a lightweight and durable unisex rucksack for hiking. It has adequate space and is water-resistant. It lets you access water bottle tubes at the top easily.

Pros

Cons

Best Rucksack for Hot Weather

Sale
Kelty Riot Unisex Outdoor Hiking Backpack available in Deep Teal - 15 Litres
23 Reviews
Kelty Riot Unisex Outdoor Hiking Backpack available in Deep Teal - 15 Litres
OVERALL BEST Rucksack for Hot Weather - This lightweight and compact hiking rucksack can pack in all your essentials. It’s comfy, durable, and features a good compartment layout.

Pros

Cons

Best Lightweight Backpack

Osprey Hikelite 26 Unisex Hiking Pack - Shiitake Grey (O/S)
240 Reviews
Osprey Hikelite 26 Unisex Hiking Pack - Shiitake Grey (O/S)
OVERALL BEST Lightweight Backpack - This lightweight backpack is pretty durable and comfy. It features a mesh back panel and detachable rainproof cover. It also has easy-to-reach elasticated side pockets.

Pros

Cons

Best Unisex 20-25 L Hiking Backpack

Arcteryx Unisex's Brize 25 Backpack, Black, 62 cm
32 Reviews
Arcteryx Unisex's Brize 25 Backpack, Black, 62 cm
OVERALL BEST Unisex 20-25 L Hiking Backpack - This lightweight, waterproof backpack is designed for hiking and trekking. It features multiple deep side pockets. It also has a super comfy harness.

Pros

Cons

Best Unisex 30-40 L Hiking Backpack

Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor Backpack, Adjustable 25-40L Volume Ultralight Backpacking Pack with Y-Flex Suspension System,...
4 Reviews
Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor Backpack, Adjustable 25-40L Volume Ultralight Backpacking Pack with Y-Flex Suspension System,...
OVERALL BEST Unisex 30-40 L Hiking Backpack - This hike bag is designed for both long and short hauls. It features a flex pack to meet your needs. It also has two stretch mesh side pockets, along with two stretch mesh hydration pockets.

Pros

Cons

Best Camel Pack for Fell Running

Sale
Salomon Agile 6 Set Unisex Hydration Vest 6L Trail Running Hiking, Blue (Nebulas Blue), One Size
194 Reviews
Salomon Agile 6 Set Unisex Hydration Vest 6L Trail Running Hiking, Blue (Nebulas Blue), One Size
OVERALL BEST Camel Pack for Fell Running - This Camel backpack sits comfortably on your back. You’ll just need to tighten the adjustable straps for stability.

Pros

Cons

Best Budget Hiking Rucksack

Sale
Columbia Unisex Atlas Explorer Backpack, 25L
OVERALL BEST Budget Hiking Rucksack - This is a durable, roomy, and versatile hike bag. It features padded and adjustable shoulder straps and dual water-bottle pockets. It also has adjustable sternum straps.

Pros

Cons

Best Eco Backpack/Rucksack

Jack Wolfskin Unisex's ECOLOADER 24 PACK Outdoor-Backpacks, Dark Sky, One Size
10 Reviews
Jack Wolfskin Unisex's ECOLOADER 24 PACK Outdoor-Backpacks, Dark Sky, One Size
OVERALL BEST Eco Backpack/Rucksack - TThis lightweight hike bag has PFC-free, water-repellent coating. It features slightly padded shoulder and back straps. It also has an unpadded waist belt.

Pros

Cons

Best Trekking Backpack for Overnight Hikes

Osprey Rook 50 Men's Ventilated Backpacking Pack - Black (O/S)
61 Reviews
Osprey Rook 50 Men's Ventilated Backpacking Pack - Black (O/S)
OVERALL BEST Trekking Backpack for Overnight Hikes - This men’s rucksack has a comfy and superb build. Its shoulder and waist straps are just about perfect as they help distribute the weight closer to your body.

Pros

Cons

Extras for Hiking

It’s crucial that your rucksack for hiking contains certain items to make you well-prepared for different situations. Since the British weather is pretty unpredictable, carrying along a waterproof backpack rain cover would be wise.  There are heaps to choose from (ours are reflective as well and fluorescent incase we need to be spotted on hillsides etc)

Else, you could buy the Arc’teryx Unisex Brize 25 Backpack. This lightweight backpack is waterproof and windproof. This ultralight dry sack from Osprey is also a good choice for efficient packing and keeping your gear dry.

For navigation, your rucksack should pack a handheld GPS systemwe love the Garmin Etrek GPS unit (small, easy to use). For backup, in case the battery on your GPS dies, you should also carry a map and compass.  Talking of battery life on the go I swear by my portable solar panel charger (just hang out of the backpack and charge on the go). 

To tend to simple injuries, taking a first aid kit is an essential I always carry along with Bivvy bags  like the apply named Dont die in the woods Emergency Sleeping Bag! (useful for waterproof seating and heating if someone is hurt!). You can keep protein and energy bars, dried fruits, seeds, and nuts in your hike bag for nutrition. For hydration, don’t forget to pack foldable or reusable water bottles or use the hydro flasks.

Walking poles, an anti-chafing cream like this Body Glide Unisex Anti Chafe Balm Stick, and waterproof zip-off trousers are other extras to pack. Your hiking rucksack should also carry a headlamp and a packable raincoat.  Have a peak at our amazing gift guide for walkers for more ideas if you need them for things to fill your best hiking backpack with.

Frequently Asked Questions About Hiking Rucksacks

Most frequent questions and answers

What are the best hiking rucksacks to buy?

The best hiking rucksacks should be lightweight, comfy, and durable. They should have quick-access pockets and sturdy loops, straps, and hip belts. You can buy our star buys, which are:

How big should a day hiking backpack be?

A day hiker’s backpack should have a capacity of 20-30 litres. If you need the best daypack rucksack, you can get our star buy – the Berghaus Unisex Twnty4Seven Plus Backpack 20 Litre.

What are the best brands of hiking backpack?

Osprey, Vango, Jack Wolfskin, Berghaus, Kelty Riot, Arc’teryx, Salomon, Columbia, and Sierra Designs are the best brands of hiking rucksacks.

Is a hiking backpack worth getting, or will a normal backpack do?

You can make do with a normal backpack for day hikes, but they won’t be as comfy and feature-rich as hike bags. However, for overnight or multi-day hiking, you’ll have to carry a lot of gear and need hike-specific features. This makes it crucial to buy a hiking rucksack. For overnight hikes, I recommend this Osprey Europe Men’s Rook 50 Ventilated Backpacking Pack.

Have you used any of these hiking rucksacks or walking backsacks? Then please leave your review in the comments box below. Is your favourite hiking rucksack not on the list? Be sure to let me know in the comments below so I can review it.

Last update on 2021-11-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API