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- DWR coating
  • Adjustable AirScape back plate
Berghaus Unisex Twenty4Seven Plus Backpack 20 Litre, Comfortable Fit,...
  • 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
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
Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor 25-40 Hiking Backpack Waist Belt -...
  • 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.
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)
  • 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 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: