A hiking backpack is an essential piece of kit, here we have rounded up the best hiking backpacks for 2023

It is important to choose a hiking backpack or daypack that is not only durable but also has the right capacity to accommodate all your essentials. Additionally, consider the comfort and fit of the backpack as this will greatly enhance your overall hiking experience.

Main image: Berghaus

For the time being, we’ll concentrate on daypacks that can fit all you need for a day in the hills without sacrificing support or durability. We examined some of the best hiking daypacks available, most of which are expensive, but we also looked at several cheaper ones. too.

Once you’ve got your brand-new hiking backpack and given it a few practice familiar hill days, it may start to need some TLC. Cleaning your backpack on a regular basis is a great way to help it last longer. If you’re not sure how to best care for your kit, outdoor expert Chris Townsend has some great tips on how to clean your backpack.

When backpacking with a partner or friend there are some logistical benefits to sharing a space together in the outdoors. Here’s how hiking with a friend or your significant other can bring significant gains in our article on: How to share backpacking adventures (and both survive to tell the tale)

We’ve also got a handy guide that answers the question: can you use a regular backpack for hiking? Gear shouldn’t be a barrier when it comes to enjoying the outdoors but it’s always good to know the limitations of what you’re taking.

Our picks of the best hiking backpacks

In this article you will see a wide variety of backpacks. All of the items selected for this guide have been tested by our team of experts. There are plenty of options whether you’re working to a budget or looking for the best of the best, we’ve got great advice to guide you on your next investment.

How we test the best hiking backpacks

In this best hiking backpacks guide. Fiona Russell tried out the women’s packs, while Chris Townsend tried out the men’s. Fiona is tall and thin, with a small chest. She put the daypacks through their paces while hiking trails and hill routes in Scotland. The weather ranged from mild to damp and windy. She then asked a female friend who was shorter in size but had a bigger chest to try on the packs.

Chris stands 5ft 8in tall, with a stocky body, and short legs. He put these packs through their paces on lower-level excursions in the Cairngorms National Park in late autumn and winter. The weather was wintry, with snow and ice on the ground at times, and stormy. The packs’ sturdiness certainly got a good testing, as did ease of use with gloves.

Berghaus Remote Hike 25

Berghaus Remote hiker review

  • Pros: Large pockets, easy access, lightweight, low cost
  • Cons: None
  • RRP: £75 | International shipping available (Buy now from berghaus.com)
  • Weight: 770g
  • Rating: 5/5

Capacity: 25 litres | Materials: PFC-free nylon 200D ripstop | Closure: zip-round panel | Back system: framesheet with mesh-covered foam panels | Back length: 49cm | Hipbelt: padded | Pockets: elasticated front stash, 2 side mesh, 2 mesh hipbelt, top zipped security | Features: Side compression straps, ice axe/trekking pole loops, external hydration sleeve | Sizes: one 

First up in our guide to the best hiking backpacks is the Remote Hike 25. The Remote Hike 25 is comfortable to carry and has a functional design, with thick mesh-covered dual-density shoulder straps, hipbelt and back padding. It has a non-padded channel down the centre of the back to allow airflow and reduce sweat build-up, and pockets are roomy and expandable. It is lightweight and low cost, making it a great choice for 3-season hillwalking.

Read more: Berghaus Remote Hike 25 review

Osprey Talon Earth 22

Osprey Talon Earth 22 review

  • Pros: Recycled materials, easy access
  • Cons: Expensive, quite heavy
  • RRP: $129 | £90 (Buy now from ospreyeurope.com)
  • Weight: 1060g
  • Rating: 4/5

Capacity: 22 litres | Materials: bluesign-approved recycled 100D x 210D high-tenacity nylon with PFC/PFAS-free DWR | Closure: zip-round panel | Back system: recycled framesheet, 50% recycled mesh-covered cut-out EVA foam | Back length: adjustable, 49-56cm | Hipbelt: padded | Pockets: 2 side mesh, 2 zipped hipbelt, zipped top, internal zipped security, padded laptop sleeve | Features: side compression straps, bike helmet attachment, tuckaway ice axe loop, external hydration sleeve | Sizes: one

Osprey’s most sustainable hiking backpack is comfortable to carry with well-padded shoulder straps, back and hipbelt. The mesh-covered back allows more air flow than some designs, and the back is adjustable. The main compartment has good access via a long zip, and the side and hipbelt pockets are roomy. However, there is no front pocket, and the laptop padding adds weight. Overall, the pack is an excellent option if the features work for you which is why we’ve given it our recommended tag in our guide to the best hiking backpacks.

Read more: Osprey Talon Earth 22 review

Montane Orbiton 20

Montane orbiton review

  • Pros: Weight, cost, access
  • Cons: Small pockets
  • RRP: $195 | £160 (Buy now from montane.com)
  • Weight: 815g
  • Rating: 3.5/5

Capacity: 20 litres | Materials: 210D grid nylon | Closure: 2 zip-round panels | Back system: framesheet, padded panels | Back length: 47cm | Hipbelt: padded, adjustable for walk, run or bike | Pockets: zipped front, 2 stretch mesh side, 2 stretch mesh shoulder strap, zipped inner, inner organiser, padded laptop/tablet/phone sleeves | Features: side compression straps | Sizes: one

This hiking pack is designed for walking, running and biking, and for both outdoor and urban activities. It has a hipbelt that can be adjusted with stud fasteners, and the hipbelt, shoulder straps and back are lightly padded. The foam is mesh-covered and there’s an airflow channel down the back to reduce sweat build-up. The pack has two compartments, each easily accessed via a long zip, and side pockets angle round the hipbelt for access while wearing the pack. The more urban-compatible features are a padded laptop sleeve and a padded tablet/phone sleeve. Overall, this is a neat little pack that carries well, but there are better choices for hillwalking.

Read more: Montane Orbiton 20 review

Lowe Alpine Women’s AirZone Trek 26L daypack

Lowe Alpine Airzone review best buy and best hiking backpack

  • Pros: Comfortable, waterproof, mesh back
  • Cons: Small clips
  • RRP: $175 | £130
  • Weight: 815g
  • Rating: 4.5/5

Capacity: 26 litres | Materials: 210D 6.6 Mini Ripstop / HydroShield nylon with PFC-free DWR | Closure: large zip top | Back system: AirZone + back system with FormKnit technology foam | Back length: 43-48cm | Hipbelt: padded | Pockets: 2 side mesh, 2 zipped hipbelt, zipped top, zipped internal, internal hydration sleeve  | Features: forward pull hip-belt, axe attachment, walking pole attachments, sternum strap with whistle, hydration bladder compatible, upper and lower side compression straps, detachable raincover | Sizes: one 

The Airzone Trek is a comfortable pack with light padding in the hipbelt and shoulder straps, plus a suspended back system. There is 5cm of torso adjustment and sternum strap adjustment for different size chests. There are plenty of useful pockets, including a main compartment with a two-way zip and drop-down front panel, an internal bladder pocket, hanger and single feeder hole for the drinking tube, and a smaller internal packet with zipped access from the top of the pack. There are zipped pockets on the hipbelt, but they are a squeeze for a mobile phone. Small reflective details, four compression straps and attachments for walking poles and ice axe add to the attention to detail. The fastening clips are small and fiddly to operate with gloves.

Read more: Lowe Alpine Women’s AirZone Trek 26L review

Haglöfs Women’s L.I.M 35 hiking pack

Best hiking backpacks - Haglof LIM 35

  • Pros: Comfortable, lightweight, ventilated back
  • Cons: No torso adjuster, small clips, one size
  • RRP: £140 (Buy now from alpinetrek.co.uk)
  • Weight: 929g
  • Rating: 4/5

Capacity: 34 litres | Materials: bluesign-approved 70D*140D diamond rip-stop polyamide | Closure: 2 clipped top lid | Back system: airback suspension system | Back length: 49cm | Hipbelt: padded | Pockets: 2 side mesh, 2 zipped hipbelt, zipped top, internal hydration sleeve | Features: compression system, gear attachment, adjustable sternum strap, load lifters | Sizes: one 

The Haglöfs L.I.M 35 pack is a lightweight and pared-down pack with a well-designed mesh back for good ventilation and comfort levels. It has a traditional top opening with lid and a sophisticated cinch system, and a main compartment and hydration pocket and hanger, plus a zipped external top lid pocket and two roomy zipped hip pockets. However, there is no torso length adjustment, and it is quite a long pack so it may not suit shorter women. The zip pulls are minimalist and clips at the hip-belt, sternum and for the top lid are fiddly with gloves on. It is worth considering if you are looking for a lightweight pack that is comfortable to carry and has a simple design.

Read more: Haglöfs L.I.M 35 pack review

Mystery Ranch Women’s Coulee 30 daypack

Mystery Ranch Women’s Coulee 30 daypack

  • Pros: Two sizes, adjustability
  • Cons: Poor zip design, complicated zipping, pricy 
  • RRP: $189 | £190 (Buy now from mysteryranch.com US only)
  • Weight: 1158g
  • Rating: 3.5/5

Capacity: 30 litres | Materials: 100% recycled nylon 210D Robic nylon, external DWR, internal PU coating, both PFC-free | Closure: three-zip lid and front access | Back system: padded | Back length: XS/S: 33-46cm; M/L: 41-46cm | Hipbelt: padded | Pockets: 2 back fabric, 2 side mesh, 2 zipped hipbelt, zipped top, internal hydration sleeve | Features: YKK zips with DWR finish, interior attach loops, torso length adjustment, double-layer base, side compression, tool attach points | Sizes: XS/S, M/L

This hiking pack is designed to fit a wide range of females, with two sizes, torso length adjustment, and a moveable sternum strap. The three-zip access is inventive, but there is a gap where the zips meet. The main compartment has a rear pocket for a hydration bladder, two feeder holes for the drinking tube, and two stretchy open-top side pockets. The two zipped waistbelt pockets sit far back and are not easy to unzip. There is plenty of padding in the hipbelt and shoulder straps, but the rear of the pack is padded, causing a sweaty back.

Read more: Mystery Ranch Women’s Coulee 30 daypack review

Other hiking backpacks worth looking at…

TrekMates – DryPack RS 30

Pros: Comfortable, light, waterproof.

Cons: Stability when fully loaded.

    • Rating: 4/5
    • RRP: £55
    • Weight: 512g
    • Women’s version: Yes

Our thoughts

The Drypack is a 30L rolltop waterproof container attached to a back system and harness to make it a useful and practical rucksack. To test waterproofness, it was filled with water from the bathtap and held up to look for drips. The shoulder straps and hip fins are comfortable, and the back is unlined foam with a channel to allow air circulation. There are two large side mesh pockets and Daisy chain webbing to attach other kit.

Full review can be found in guide to The best hiking backpacks for men

mystery ranch hiking backpack

Mystery – Ranch Scree 32

Pros: Comfort, adjustability, internal and external storage options

Cons: Weight, price

  • Rating: 4/5
  • RRP: $219 | £210 (Buy now from mysteryranch.com US only)
  • Weight: 1320g
  • Women’s version: Yes

Our thoughts

The Scree 32 mixes new and traditional hiking backpack design ideas when compared to others in our guide to the best hiking backpacks. with three chunky zips, two for the lid flap and one running down the centre of the main compartment. The shoulder straps are wide and well-padded, attached to a sliding velcro patch for easy back length adjustment. The hipbelt is removable with two zipped pockets, two zipped lid pockets, one small, one large and two user accessible side pockets big enough for bottles. Compression is via webbing straps and can be reconfigured to attach bulky gear externally. The Scree 32 is stable, comfortable and usable, but it is a little heavy and very expensive.

Full review can be found in guide to The best hiking backpacks for men

Montane – Women’s Azote 30

Pros: Lots of useful features for year round walking

Cons: no rain cover

  • Rating: 5/5
  • RRP: $170 | £110 (Buy now from blacks.co.uk)  
  • Weight: 930g
  • Men’s version: Azote 32

Our thoughts

This hiking backpack is a great mountain-walking rucksack, with ample room for spare gear, layers, waterproofs, emergency shelter and crampons. It has a floating lid, mesh pockets on the hip belt, a huge mesh pocket on the front, a zip entry point on the main compartment, and a back system with a hook and loop flap for easy adjustability.

Full review can be found in guide to The best hiking backpacks for women

Salewa MTN Trainer 22 hiking backpack

Salewa – MTN Trainer 22Ws

Pros: good venting, comfortable carry. 

Cons: price

  • Rating: 4/5
  • Price£115
  • Weight: 772g
  • Men’s version: MTN Trainer 25

Our thoughts

The MTN trainer hiking pack compares favourably to other packs in our guide to the best hiking backpacks with its class for comfort and user friendliness. The most noticeable features are the split shoulder straps and hip belt, designed for extra ventilation. The pack sits close to the back and is stable to carry, with a wide channel and mesh covered foam pads designed to allow airflow. For 22 litres, it feels roomy and the external mesh side pockets add volume. The stash pocket in the top and the single hip pocket are also generously sized. There is a “twin compression system” drawcord that pulls everything in tight to a central point if the pack is heavy.

Full review can be found in guide to The best hiking backpacks for women

What to look for in the best backpacks


Hiking packs for hillwalking run from 20 to 35 litres in volume. Regardless of the claimed capacity will a pack hold all the gear you want to carry? Litres are not a fixed amount when it comes to packs! It’s always worth thinking how your gear will fit inside. If you think you might want to carry extra gear at times, look for straps and shockcord for attaching it.

Back length

Back length isn’t as important with small packs as it is for big ones designed for heavy loads. As long as the top of the pack isn’t far below your shoulders when the hipbelt is round your hips, the pack should carry okay.

Back system

For heavier loads an internal frame or stiff framesheet that transfers the weight to the hipbelt is useful. In small packs this isn’t essential, though one does make packing easier and stops hard items poking you in the back.

Hipbelt/ waist strap

Padded hipbelts should fit snugly round the hips.


Pockets are useful for organising gear, especially small items that might be needed during the day. Mesh pockets are useful for wet items, allowing them to drain and dry out. Check that pockets are the right size for your gear.


External straps can be used for attaching items such as foam pads or trekking poles and for compressing the size of the pack when a small load is carried. They should be easy to adjust and not interfere with access to pockets.