A look at some of the best budget hiking backpacks, ranging from daypacks to bigger backpacks for multi-day trips.
A good hiking backpack is an essential part of your hiking gear whether you are day walking or wild camping. It is possible to spend a great deal on a backpack, but it isn’t necessary. There are many excellent models that are accessible for people who are on a budget. Here, Chris Townsend and Will Renwick look at a selection in different sizes from reputable companies. Whichever budget backpack you choose, ensure it fits and carries comfortably. Looking for something lighter? Our gear team have also recently rounded up the best lightweight backpacks.
Best budget daypacks
Daypacks for three-season hiking generally have capacities of 20-30 litres. This should hold all you need for a day out.
Berghaus Arrow 30
Price: £65 | $95.99
First on our list of the best budget hiking backpacks is the 30-litre Berghaus Arrow. It’s a traditional-style rucksack with a buckled lid and two big, zipped, side pockets. There’s also a zipped lid pocket and an inner hydration sleeve.
The Arrow 30 is made from coated polyester and has a padded back with ventilation channel, a waist strap, and a sternum strap. There are attachments for walking poles and a rain cover. The Arrow weighs 745 grams.
Alpkit Presta 25L
Price: £70 | $94
The Presta 25-litre daypack has zip access, padded back and hip fins, stretch side and front pockets, hip-fin pockets, internal valuables pocket and hydration sleeve, and side straps.
The back has ventilation channels and there’s an emergency safety whistle built into the sternum strap. It’s made from coated ripstop nylon with a PFC-free durable water repellency treatment and weighs just 630 grams.
Available at: alpkit.com
Osprey Skarab 30
Price: $130 | £100
Weight: 1 lb 54 oz | 700g
Osprey themselves describe this as ‘no-frills’. They’re being modest. Yes, it’s a does-the-job pack but there are some nice details here. These include a sliding sternum strap with a magnet to attach the hose from one of Osprey’s own hydration bladders, an external bladder compartment, trekking pole loops, a waterproof cover and a pocket that’s specifically designed for sunglasses or goggles.
The back panel has a thick foam that gives rigidity to the pack and stops things from poking into your back. This is perforated and covered by a mesh layer, thus enhancing airflow across the back.
The main access is via a bucket style top zip and this makes large items easy to load and unload – and small items easy to locate.
Available at: ospreyeurope.com
The best budget backpacks 35-50 litre
Medium-sized packs in the 35-50 litre range are suitable for winter hiking with extra clothing and hardware for snow and ice, hut-to-hut (or hotel to hotel) trips where you need more than a daypack, and for three-season overnight camping trips.
With compact gear those at the larger end may also be suitable for multi-day backpacking. They aren’t too big for three-season day hiking either and could be described as general-purpose packs. Here are some of the best budget backpacks for 35-50 litre packs.
The North Face Hydra 38-Litre
Price: £140 | $170
Weight: 2 lbs 3 oz | 992 g (S/M)
The Hydra is a fully specified pack with an internal aluminium frame and a mesh trampoline back panel that creates an air gap so your back stays dry, making it good for hot weather hiking.
The pack has a padded hipbelt, buckle fastened lid and six pockets – two mesh side, large front stash pouch, zipped lid, and two zipped hipbelt. There’s a hydration sleeve inside, external lash points for extra gear, and a sternum strap with built-in safety whistle.
There are two sizes. The average weight is 992 grams.
Lowe Alpine AirZone Camino Trek 40 – 50L
Weight: 3 lb 52 oz | 1.65kg
The Camino Trek is a versatile pack as the 40-litre capacity can be increased by 10 litres by raising the lid which attaches with buckles at the front and the back.
As well as the top opening there’s a zipped front panel for easy access to the contents. The pack has an internal frame and Lowe Alpine’s AirZone breathable back to maximise airflow and keep your back dry.
The hipbelt is padded. Features include a lower compartment with zipped entry and an internal zipped divider panel, bellows side pockets, stretch water bottle side pockets, lid pockets, hipbelt pockets, rain cover, front bungee system for attaching extra gear, side compression straps, and ice axe loops.
There are two sizes, weighing 1.53 and 1.6kg.
Deuter AC Lite 25 EL
This 25-litre pack for day hiking has a ventilated harness system, lots of storage options and plenty of nifty details.
The ventilation comes from a suspended mesh harness which creates a substantial air gap. There’s also padding around the base of the harness and through the straps.
There’s a non-removable hip belt and sliding sternum strap that can be removed. Access into the pack is actually through the front of it via a long zipper, the thinking there being that it gives you more oversight into the pack and makes your belongings easier to locate.
Details include an attachment for trekking poles, a mesh helmet holder, emergency whistle, glasses holder on the shoulder strap and a rain cover. There are side mesh pockets and there’s also an inside compartment to keep a head torch or small valuables safe.
Available at: deutergb.co.uk
Quechua Mountain Hiking Backpack 40L
Weight: 2 lb 77 oz | 1.26kg
With its 40-litre capacity, floating lid, numerous pockets and stretchy mesh front pocket this is a backpack that should suit short weekend backpacking trips where extensive supplies aren’t required. Those with lightweight kit will also find this big enough for longer trips.
It has a padded back with a stretched mesh that creates an air gap and a 3D mesh across the harness and lumbar also helps to create ventilation.
It has nine pockets, including a bladder compartment and two belt pockets, a rain cover at the base and bungee toggles for attaching trekking poles. Access to the main compartment is via the top lid and also a long side zip.
You’ll find this in two sizes: size S (for those shorter than 170cm) and size L for those over 170cm.
Available at: decathlon.co.uk
The best budget hiking 50 litre plus backpacking packs
Packs over 50 litres are for big loads for multi-day camping trips. These are the packs where a proper fit is essential for comfort. Most packs have adjustable backs or come in more than one size.
Sierra Designs Gigawatt 60
Price: £110 | $119.95
Weight: 3 lb 98 oz | 1.81kg
This 60-litre pack has a back that’s adjustable to fit torsos from 40 to 43cm. For support and comfort there’s a sprung steel perimeter frame and a padded back panel with airflow channels. The hipbelt is wide and well-padded.
The main compartment can be accessed by a diagonal top zip or a zip side. There’s a zipped top pocket and huge zipped hipbelt pockets. On the sides and back there are oversized mesh pockets.
The pack also has compression straps and ice axe/trekking pole loops. It’s made from durable 300-denier ripstop polyester and weighs 1.84kg.
Vango Sherpa 60:70
Weight: 5 lb 42 oz | 2.46kg
Vango’s Sherpa pack is recommended by the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award due to its fit, comfort and durability. It has a back system that can be adjusted while wearing the pack.
There are two back lengths as well, the shorter one designated the 60:70S. The big hipbelt and the shoulder straps have thick padding and there’s a padded back panel that slides up and down twin frame bars to adjust the fit. The pack is made from 600 denier coated polyester. There are two compartments. The larger upper one has a buckle fastened lid, the lower one has zipped access.
Gear can be further organised in eight pockets. On each side there are zipped expansion and open-topped mesh pockets. The lid has zipped pockets inside and out.
On the front there’s a flat waterproof zipped pocket designed for maps. Finally there’s a single zipped pocket on the hipbelt.
Side and lower front compression straps can be used for attaching extra gear and if that’s not enough there are daisy chain loops on the front for attaching bungee cord.
Other features are ice axe/trekking pole loops and a rain cover in the base. The Sherpa 60:70 weighs 2.46kg.
Jack Wolfskin Highland Trail 55+5
Price: $169 | £130
Weight: 6 lb 95 oz | 3.15kg
This trekking pack has good eco credentials. The main fabric that’s used throughout it, for instance, is made from recycled plastics and it’s also PFC-free and bluesign approved – an industry mark to recognise sustainable manufacturing.
The back length can be adjusted and kept in place by a Velcro tab and there’s plenty of padding, particularly around the hipbelt and lumbar.
It features a sliding sternum strap, hipbelt pockets, stretch mesh pockets for storing a waterproof jacket, trekking pole loops and a floating top lid that adds an extra 5 litres to the 55-litre capacity.
Access to the main compartment is via the top and the bottom of the pack.
Read Chris Townsend’s full Jack Wolfskin Highland Trail review.
Available at: jack-wolfskin.co.uk
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