Best Backpacking Backpacks

You Can Buy In 2020

best backpacking backpacks top review
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Best seller

Gregory Baltoro 75L Backpack Review

Best deal at: moosejaw.com
$329.95
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Best seller

Gregory Deva 70 Backpack Review

Best deal at: moosejaw.com
$299.95
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Editor choice

Osprey Atmos AG 65 Backpack Review

Best deal at: moosejaw.com
Weight: 3 - 4.99
$270.00
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Best seller

Osprey Men’s Exos 58 Backpack Review

Best deal at: moosejaw.com
Weight: 1 - 2.99
$220.00
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Best value

Kelty Coyote 80 Backpack Review

Best deal at: moosejaw.com
Weight: 5 - 7.99
$199.95 $139.99

Welcome to our pick of the best backpacking backpacks of 2020. Our purpose isn’t just to help you find the best backpack, but to also help you save money as well.

When you find the backpack that you like, view the product page to see who has the lowest price or set a price drop alert and we’ll notify you when the price drops. 

Whether you want the cheapest backpack, the one that has all the bells and whistles or an ultralight that won’t drag you down, our guide has the advice you need to find the best backpack to fit your needs.

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Best Backpacking Backpacks of 2020

Check out the best overall backpacking backpacks, weekend backpacks and budget backpacks

Stores With The Best Prices

Price history
×
Price history for Osprey Men's Atmos AG 65 Pack
Latest updates:
  • $270.00 - September 17, 2020
  • $201.95 - August 28, 2020
  • $270.00 - August 1, 2020
  • $269.95 - July 7, 2020
  • $270.00 - May 26, 2020
  • $201.95 - May 1, 2020
Since: May 1, 2020
  • Highest Price: $270.00 - May 26, 2020
  • Lowest Price: $201.95 - May 1, 2020
9Expert Score
Osprey Atmos AG 65 Rating

The Osprey Atmos AG 65 is by far the best backpack available on the market. The anti-gravity suspension system is crazy comphy!

Comfort
10
Features
10
Weight
9
Adjustability
10
Function
8
Positive
  • The most comfortable backpack
  • Very Durable
  • Ton's of features
Negatives
  • Hip pouch zippers not smooth
  • Snow and debris get's caught in and behind anti-gravity system

Osprey Atmos AG 65 Overview

If you are looking for the best backpack with ton’s of features that’s really comfortable, this is the backpack for you. 

I can’t stress enough how comfortable the anti-gravity suspension system is. It really does make the backpack feel way lighter than it really is. 

This is an excellent 3-4 day backpacking backpack as it is really durable and has all the features you need for all types of backpacking adventures. 

8Expert Score
Kelty Coyote 80 Rating

The Coyote 80 backpack is a close 2nd behind the Atmos 65 backpack and because of it's price, it's our favorite budget backpack.

Comfort
9
Features
9
Weight
8
Adjustability
9
Function
9
Positive
  • Best Overall Budget Backpack
  • Very comfortable
  • Same features as packs twice the price
Negatives
  • Bottom fabric should be thicker
  • No rain fly

Kelty Coyote 80 Overview

If you are looking for the second best backpack on the market, but are more budget minded, then this is a no brainer!

This backpack has all of the same features of the other backpacks, but at a fraction of the price. 

Really, really quiet and is our best hunting backpacking backpack. 

Stores With The Best Prices

Price history
×
Price history for Gregory Women's Deva 60L Pack
Latest updates:
  • $299.95 - September 8, 2020
  • $224.96 - September 1, 2020
  • $299.95 - July 8, 2020
  • $224.96 - June 30, 2020
  • $299.95 - May 27, 2020
  • $224.96 - May 15, 2020
  • $299.95 - December 4, 2019
  • $224.96 - November 25, 2019
Since: October 29, 2019
  • Highest Price: $299.95 - October 29, 2019
  • Lowest Price: $224.96 - November 25, 2019
8Expert Score
Gregory Deva 70 Rating

We loved the Gregory 70 backpack due to the comfort, features and the small daypack that comes with it called the "sidekick".

Comfort
9
Features
8
Weight
8
Adjustability
9
Function
9
Positive
  • Comfortable in all the right places
  • Convenient Features
  • Great lumbar support
Negatives
  • No Stow-on-the-go for trekking poles

Gregory Deva 70 Overview

This is the best women’s backpack that we’ve tested. It has comfort in all the right places and adjustability for a wide range of women’s body types. 

The sidekick is a great feature for the backpack as it has two shoulder straps compared to other backpacks that make the top lid merely a fanny pack. 

We really liked the water bottle holster as it comes with a draw cord! I can’t tell you how many of these have elastic that fails within the first year!

Stores With The Best Prices

Price history
×
Price history for Gregory Men's Baltoro 75L Pack
Latest updates:
  • $329.95 - September 8, 2020
  • $247.46 - September 1, 2020
  • $329.95 - July 8, 2020
  • $247.46 - June 30, 2020
  • $329.95 - May 26, 2020
  • $247.46 - May 15, 2020
  • $329.95 - December 4, 2019
  • $247.46 - November 25, 2019
Since: November 25, 2019
  • Highest Price: $329.95 - December 4, 2019
  • Lowest Price: $247.46 - November 25, 2019
8Expert Score
Gregory Baltoro 75 Rating

The Gregory Baltoro 75 has a ton of amazing features compared to the other backpacks, but there are durability concerns.

Comfort
9
Features
8
Weight
6
Adjustability
9
Function
7
Positive
  • Comfortable - hip belt rotates independently of frame
  • Custom raincover included
  • Waterproof hipbelt pocket
Negatives
  • Durability Concerns
  • Tad heavier than reported

Gregory Baltoro 75L Overview

Similarly to the women’s Deva 70, this backpack has a ton of amazing features. We loved the waterproof hip belt feature. Just make sure that it fits your phone size. 

Suspension system is really comfortable and the zippers are smooth. 

As we only used this pack for a short time in our review, we didn’t have  durability issues… however, TON’s of people online had issues with the fabric around the hip belt coming apart. 

 

Stores With The Best Prices

Price history
×
Price history for Osprey Men's Exos 58 Pack
Latest updates:
  • $220.00 - September 18, 2020
  • $219.95 - July 15, 2020
  • $220.00 - November 27, 2019
  • $164.95 - November 16, 2019
Since: November 16, 2019
  • Highest Price: $220.00 - November 27, 2019
  • Lowest Price: $164.95 - November 16, 2019
8Expert Score
Osprey Exos 58 Rating

The Osprey Exos 58 is a crazy light backpack that's really comfortable. Great backpack for the minimalist and ultra-light backpacker.

Comfort
9
Features
7
Weight
10
Adjustability
7
Function
7
Positive
  • Super Light
  • Very comfortable fit
  • Easy to load
Negatives
  • No hip pouches
  • Color options are just ok

Osprey Exos 58 Overview

Yes, this backpack is on the small side of things for a multi-day backpacking trip. And this is for a reason. This is one of the best backpacks on the market for the ultra-light backpack. 

The Exos 58 is really comfortable as it uses the Airspeed suspension system (similar to the Anti-Gravity of the Atmos 65), but it surprisingly lacks hip pouches. 

What To Look For Before You Buy

Before you buy a backpack, here are the biggest tips that will help you narrow down your search.

Backpack Buying Guide

Second to footwear, a hiker’s backpack can be considered the most important gear item in their inventory. A properly fitted backpack can make the difference between an enjoyable trek through the woods and a miserable death march.

I consider the backpack as one of the most critical pieces of gear I own. It must be large enough to fit all my gear and be comfortable for extended periods of time. These 2 “simple” requirements spawn much debate amongst the backpacking community as to what is the best backpacking backpack.

Unfortunately, these 2 requirements have no true answer as each person’s idea of what is acceptable varies. If you are looking for a backpack suggestion, read no further. The intent here is to provide you with some tips to help you find the right backpack for your needs. These tips are directed to the soon-to-be backpacker who still has a fair amount of gear to purchase.

If you already have your gear, keep on reading. You may still pick up a few ideas for your next backpack purchase.

Tip #1: When To Buy A Backpack

Buy your backpack before the bulk of your gear. 

Some people suggest making your backpack purchase only after you purchased the rest of your gear. Although this methodology certainly takes the guess work out of the equation, it is often not practical. If you want to field test gear besides a backpack, how do you carry it on your reconnaissance mission?

To that end, my suggestion is to make your backpack purchase early on. Doing so gives you the ability to field test the rest of your gear on actual backpacking trips. Sure, you can field test a piece of gear in your backyard, but there is no substitute for a backpacking trip.

backpacking backpack trail guide

Tip #2: Different Types of Backpacks

external frame backpack

There are 3 main types of backpacks.

1.   External frame

  • Best for hikers who have a thing for “old school” hiking
  • Less expensive than internal frame packs
  • Superior ventilation
  • Heavy
  • Large in size
  • Requires skill in packing

internal frame backpacking backpack

2.  Internal frame

  • Most commonly used pack amongst backpackers
  • Keeps gear inside the pack
  • Lighter than external frame packs
  • Excels at stabilizing the load for a more comfortable experience
  • Can be expensive
  • Mediocre to poor ventilation

3.Frameless

  • frameless backpacking backpackBest for ultralight backpackers or short trips (loads in the 20 lb. range)
  • Inexpensive
  • Lightest option
  • Not designed for carrying heavy loads for long periods of time
  • Mediocre to poor ventilation
  • Requires a knowledge of proper packing technique

Tip #3: Backpack Sizes & Capacities

What type of backpack do I need for backpacking?

hiking backpacking size capacity chart

The size of backpack that you need for backpacking will vary based upon a couple things. First decide how long you are wanting to go backpacking: 

  • Overnight backpacking trip (1 night)
  • Weekend backpacking trip (2-3 days)
  • Week long (4-7 days)
  • Expedition (7 days+)

Another thing to consider is the gear that you have available to you. High end backpacking gear is typically lighter and smaller to pack. So you can purchase a smaller backpack. On the contrary, less expensive backpacking equipment typically has more bulk and is heavier. 

If you are new to backpacking, you may want to purchase a larger backpack than you initially need just due to the sizing of your gear. It’s not a big deal, as it’s really, really common to downsize pack sizes as you upgrade your gear. 

Unless you have lots of money to spend on gear for a sport you don’t know if you will stick with, the chances are you will be buying other gear that is money-conscious. In other words, you may be sacrificing smaller sizes and lower weights for less costly gear.

Buying a large backpack allows you to buy less expensive gear and ensure that you can carry it all. Plus, every person carries a different amount of gear depending on what they need to enjoy their backpacking experience.

Buying a larger backpack allows you to carry what you “think” you will need. The key word here is think. We will get back to that subject later.

best backpack size gear capacity

Unless you are planning trips with upwards of a week between resupply or are doing major winter trips, you should not need a pack larger than 80 L. If this is your first time out, I would highly recommend not planning these 2 activities.

When selecting a backpack, a hiker should start by considering the following:

  • Weight of gear
  • Volume of gear

Weight of gear should take into account your base weight (i.e. all items besides water and food) and then subsequently the maximum amount of water and food you expect to carry. There are several reasons for this. First, a backpack should be capable of comfortably supporting your base weight since you are guaranteed to carry that weight 100% of the time.

Second, the weight of water and food adds up quickly, but as the days go on this weight will decrease. In other words, there is no point in carrying around a heavy backpack for the 5% of the time you are carrying a maximum load. Most high-end pack manufacturers specify their equipment’s weight ratings in both base weight and maximum weight to help with your decision.

Volume of gear is important because you need to make sure you can fit all your gear into the pack. Just because you have light gear does not necessarily mean you have a small volume. If starting out, the general rule of thumb is to purchase an oversized pack. Once you acquire all your gear you will have a better understanding of how much space your gear takes up and then you can downsize as needed. For most backpackers, a 65 L pack is more than plenty.

Tip #4: Go overboard

Buy a pack with lots of bells and whistles. Hip-belt pockets, multiple access points to the compartments, multiple compartments, side pouches, front pouches, etc.

Sure, you are going a little overboard here, but the intent is to get something that will fit all your gear and in the process help you decide what you need or like from a pack.

Chances are you will never use a certain feature, but if you are completely new to backpacking you do not know what your preferences are yet. Explore and have fun.

Tip #5:Where To Buy A Backpacking Backpack?

where to buy backpacking gear

After narrowing down your backpack choices the next logical step is to try them out. I highly discourage buying backpacks online without trying them out first. One option if you don’t have a retailer close with the backpack that you want, is to purchase a couple of them to see what you like and return the other. 

When in the store you should be concerned primarily with fit and comfort.

Some tips are:

  • Take your gear with you and place it in the pack. This helps you determine if the volume is right and how easy it is to pack. It may seem trivial, but a cumbersome packing routine gets old after a few days.
  • Have the salesperson fit you for the right size pack or to help make adjustments on a particular pack so it fits you in the best way possible.
  • Don’t be afraid to look ridiculous. Walk up and down steps, bend over, move side-to-side. Do anything that helps to simulate real-world activities.
  • Pay close attention to the finer details. For instance, I like my hydration port on the right side. Some packs only have it on the left side. Again, it may seem trivial but the pack is your life for long-distance trips.
  • I recommend shopping at stores that have a 100% guarantee on equipment such that I could return a product if I find it is not sufficient after a few trips. Please do not abuse these store policies!

After purchasing your new pack make sure to get out on the trail right away to give it a real test drive.

For your first time purchase, the best path to take is to find a store near you. Going to a store lets you see and touch the gear.

More importantly, there will most likely be a semi-knowledgeable worker there who can measure you for the proper size pack, show you how each of the packs work and usually load up a pack with some weight for you to try out while in the store. Be sure to wear each pack for a few minutes. Use this time to walk around the store and get googly-eyed over all the awesome gear that you will soon be purchasing.

Don’t put too much emphasis on brand names, be open-minded. If you do not have a store near you, the next tip is critical.

Tip #6: Buy from a retailer with a good return policy

This is an extension of tip #5 if you are going to purchase a couple backpacks online and return the one that you don’t want.

Chances are your first backpack will not be your last. If you are like me, it may not even be included in your line-up of many backpacks that all have their own place and time for use. Many stores offer a full refund on returned gear, even if it was used.

Having this option makes your purchase a little bit easier. You do not need to fret as much about whether or not the pack is perfect for you. Please do not abuse refund policies. There is no excuse for abusing gear and returning it.

Tip #7: Field test

field test backpacking gear

You now have a backpack and maybe some other gear. Go out and give it a try on an overnighter.

If it is uncomfortable no matter what adjustments you make to it, return it and try another pack. Remember though that some discomfort is inevitable. After all, you are essentially carrying a bag of rocks on your shoulders and back.

Tip #8: Reevaluate

For many, your first backpack will go through many field tests as you accumulate gear that also needs to be field tested. As the rest of your gear comes together and you gain more experience you will have a better understanding of what you “think” you need.

Most likely, your needs will have changed since your first backpack purchase. Reevaluate your needs and determine if a different backpack is in order. This is the time to start shedding pack weight and getting a smaller, lighter pack with fewer bells and whistles.

Summary

I hope these 8 tips help you make a good first backpack purchase. If you are looking for some specific recommendations feel free to leave a comment below with what types of things you are looking for and I will do my best to provide a few recommendations.

Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, which means we may receive a small commission if purchases are made through those links. We do not represent any outdoor gear company and thus will provide unbiased and hosted reviews. By no means do affiliate links add any cost to you, but the commission from those links helps us keep the site online.
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