The author Abigail Bliss showing the 8 best backpacking backpacks that she tested and compared, in a wooded trail

8 Best Backpacking Backpacks (Tested & Compared in 2023)

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These are the 8 best backpacking backpacks of 2023, based on my real-world testing and extensive research. 

Recently, my friend and I embarked on a 5-day backpacking trip in Southern Utah. Our goal? To test 8 of 2023’s most popular hiking backpacks head-to-head for durability, functionality, and comfort. We faced rugged terrain and heavy snow, with winter conditions providing the perfect testing grounds.

This guide includes my honest reviews, pros and cons, key features, and technical specs for each backpack. I’ll also help you choose the right pack for your needs, body type, and budget. 

Oh, I also did a Youtube video review too! But, first, a quick summary of my top picks. 

(Note: Travel Lemming purchased these packs without sponsored bias. It wasn’t cheap. Your support via our affiliate links helps us provide more comprehensive guides like this.)

8 Best Backpacking Backpacks

#1 Overall
Osprey Eja / Exos 48

Abigail’s Take: This ultralight backpack is high-functioning in every aspect. Its construction and custom-like fit provide unparalleled comfort. 48L of volume and a 30-lb (13.6-kg) carry capacity accommodate the essentials and more. The pack is also durable, eco-friendly, and backed by a lifetime warranty.  

Click for Best Price Full Review
Best Budget
Teton Sports Scout 45

Abigail’s Take: This is a stellar choice for any budget-conscious backpacker, regardless of experience level. Organizational features, an included rain cover, and a lifetime warranty sweeten the deal. Though 45L, the pack is surprisingly spacious and its singular size suits a variety of body types. 

Check Price on Amazon Full Review
Best Organization
Gregory Maven 55 / Paragon 58

Abigail’s Take: Expect stellar organization from this backpacking pack. Unique features include a “Quickstow” sunglass system and an optional sleeping bag compartment. Despite its several pockets, the 55L backpack is lightweight and has a 50-lb (22.7-kg) carry capacity. Bonus: a rain cover is included and Gregory offers a lifetime guarantee.  

Click for Best Price Full Review
Most Versatile
The Backpacker by SALKAN

Abigail’s Take: Digital nomads and vacationers traveling abroad will love this versatile backpack. It blends well into outdoor and urban environments with dual-purpose features. For more flexibility, I recommend the Backpacker bundle which includes both the 55L main pack and the 20L day pack.

Buy Now Full Review

Those were the quick summaries, but I have so much more to share about these backpacking packs. Scroll down for details about each option. Or use the jump links below to skip ahead if you’re excited to learn more about a particular pack. 


1. Osprey Eja / Exos 48 

Overall Rating: 4.9 / 5 Stars

This eco-conscious, ultralight pack checks all the boxes. Expect a comfortable fit, highly functional organization, and a stellar lifetime warranty. 

The author, Abigail carrying the Osprey Eja Backpack
Me testing the new Osprey Eja 48, this season’s best backpacking pack

Pros of Osprey Eja / Exos 48 

  • Available in gender-specific models, multiple sizes, and three capacities
  • Ultralight, yet highly durable 
  • 100% recycled and Bluesign®-approved materials 
  • Breathable with a comfortable, custom-like fit 
  • Thoughtful organizational features 
  • Covered by Osprey’s lifetime warranty 

Cons of Osprey Eja / Exos 48 

  • Rain cover sold separately 
  • Hip belt pockets are smaller than preferred 

Osprey Eja / Exos Review

Abigail smiling in the middle of the trail
Me backpacking at Lake Mead Recreational Area, Nevada

The Osprey Eja and its men’s version, the Osprey Exos, rank as this year’s absolute best backpacking backpacks. I love that these packs are available in gender-specific models and two sizes per capacity. This ensures a proper fit and therefore, optimal comfort. 

Shoppers can choose from 38L, 48L, and 58L versions, matching the pack to their gear and trip length. I tested the 48L pack which has a 30-lb (13.6-kg) max carry capacity. Its hip belt has a stellar load transfer ability and is well-padded, yet breathable. The same can be said of the backpack’s shoulder straps. 

The Eja and Exos have various organizational features, inside and out. Its main compartment is more narrow than other packs. But its base compression straps accommodate heavy, bulky gear. These straps are also removable, as is the pack’s floating lid.    

Abigail with her dog and her Osprey Eja Backpack
It was hard to find faults with this pack, both during testing and research

But even attached, this ultralight backpacking pack weighs as little as 2.597 lbs (1.178 kg). Even its heaviest model, the large/extra large Exos 58, is just 2.941 lbs (1.334 kg). Despite this, the pack is very durable and made to resist moisture and abrasion. To top it off, these materials are also fully recycled and Bluesign®-approved as highly sustainable.  

👉 Need More Info? Read my full Osprey Eja backpack review to decide if this pack is right for you. 

Key Features 

  • 👫 Gender-specific models, various sizes, and three capacities (38L, 48L, and 58L) 
  • 🔝 User-friendly height adjustable feature with a 4-inch / 10.2-cm range 
  • 🍃 Breathable with a great load transfer ability  
  • 🪶 Ultralight (as low as 2.597 lbs / 1.178 kg), yet very durable 
  • 🗂️ Functional internal and external organization 
  • ♻️ Eco-friendly fabrics and hardware 
  • 🛡️ Generous lifetime guarantee 

Key Factors & Ratings

  • 📏 Size (5/5 stars) – The main compartment is somewhat narrow, but the pack’s volume is well distributed to hold a variety of gear. 
  • 🪶 Weight (5/5 stars) – This ultralight backpacking pack weighs between 2.597 lbs / 1.178 kg and 2.941 lbs / 1.334 kg depending on the model. 
  • 🔝 Height Adjustable (5/5 stars) – Modify height with an easy-to-use ladder adjustment system that ranges 4 in / 10.2 cm.  
  • 😌 Comfort (5/5 stars) – A custom-like fit grants comfort, as does breathable padding and a high-functioning hip belt. 
  • 🗂️ Organization (5/5 stars) – Stay organized with internal and external pockets, compression straps, web lash points, and gear loops. 
  • ♻️ Materials (5/5 stars) – Its recycled nylon ripstop fabrics are tear and abrasion-resistant. They also feature a PFC/PFAS-free DWR (durable water-repellent finish). 
  • 🔩 Hardware (5/5 stars) – All buckles, zippers, and other hardware are durable and Bluesign®-approved for their eco-friendliness. 
  • 📸 Aesthetic (5/5 stars) – I’m a big fan of this backpack’s streamlined design, vibrant colors, and stellar fit. 
  • 🛡️ Warranty (5/5 stars) – Osprey will “repair any damage or defect for any reason free of charge,” no matter when you purchased your pack. 
  • 💰 Value (4.5/5 stars) – Overall, this backpack comes at an incredible value, but an included rain cover would have been ideal. 

Osprey Eja 48 Info

  • Max Carry Capacity: 30 lbs (13.6 kg)
  • XS/S Volume: 2746 in3 / 45 L
  • M/L Volume: 2929 in3 / 48 L
  • XS/S Dimensions: 27.56H x 14.17W x 11.81D in (70H x 35.99W x 30D cm)
  • M/L Dimensions: 29.53H x 14.17W x 11.81D in (75.01H x 35.99W x 30D cm)
  • XS/S Weight: 2.666 lbs (1.209 kg)
  • M/L Weight: 2.758 lbs (1.251 kg)
  • Main Fabric: recycled 100D nylon ripstop, PFC/PFAS-free DWR
  • Accent Fabric: recycled 400D nylon, PFC/PFAS-free DWR
  • Bottom Fabric: recycled 100D nylon ripstop, PFC/PFAS-free DWR
  • Colors: Deep Teal, Cloud Grey
  • Price: $240.00
  • Made In: Vietnam 

Technical Specifications vary by model; see the full review for more details. 

Product Updates

  • The new Osprey Eja and Exos backpacks are more narrow than the previous model.   
  • The updated model has improved comfort with more padding and an extended hip belt. 
  • The new version has seamless back panel mesh and a higher quality primary fabric for increased durability. 
  • The updated models have hip belt pockets; the 2018 version lacked this feature.  

2. Osprey Aura / Atmos AG LT 65

Overall Rating: 4.7 / 5 Stars

This warranty-backed, lightweight pack is ideal for multi-day trips and various body types. Its minimalist design meets all the essential needs. 

Abigail smiling for a photo while carrying her Osprey Aura AG LT 65
Me wearing the Osprey Aura AG LT 65
View of how the Osprey Aura AG LT 65 backpack fits on Abigail
How the backpacking pack fits my 5-foot, 100-lb frame (60-cm, 45.4-kg)

Pros of Osprey Aura / Atmos AG LT 65

  • Gender-specific models, multiple sizes, and two capacity options
  • Able to carry heavy loads (max carry capacity of 40 lbs / 18.1 kg) 
  • Streamlined organizational features
  • Durable, eco-friendly materials 
  • Rain cover included 
  • Covered under Osprey’s lifetime guarantee

Cons of Osprey Aura / Atmos AG LT 65

  • Rigid hip belt may cause discomfort if fit improperly 
  • A bit more expensive than similarly-sized packs 

Osprey Aura / Atmos AG LT Review

Skycie with her dog on a hike while using the Osprey Aura AG LT backpack
Skycie testing the Osprey Aura AG LT 65 on one of the best hikes near Las Vegas

The Osprey Aura AG LT 65 and its men’s version, the Atmos AG LT 65, rank as this year’s best pack for multi-day trips. It’s a highly spacious backpack and the updated version of one of Osprey’s most popular products. The extra small/small Aura AG LT that Skycie and I tested weighs 3.837 lbs (1.740 kg), which is 14% less than its original model. 

Yet, this LT (light) version can carry up to 40 lbs (18.1 kg) with its streamlined organization. Its breathable suspension and load-transferring hip belt make it quite comfortable. However, its hip belt is more rigid than other backpacks and proper fitting is crucial. 

Fortunately, the pack is available in various sizes and its torso length can be adjusted. Its materials are durable, eco-conscious, and water-resistant, and a rain cover is included. Osprey’s generous lifetime warranty further improves this backpack’s value. Though, its price tag is higher than similar products. 

👉 Get the Details: Check out my full Osprey Aura AG LT backpack review to learn more. 

Key Features 

Skycie using the Osprey Aura AG LT during a hike
This pack is built for long miles and tough terrain
  • 👫 Gender-specific models with two sizes per, plus two capacity options (50L and 65L) 
  • 🔝 Torso ladder adjustment system grants a 4-inch / 10.2-cm range 
  • 🗂️ Spacious and customizable organizational features 
  • 🌧️ Integrated rain cover included 
  • ♻️ Durable construction and eco-conscious materials (recycled nylon and PFAS-free DWR) 
  • 🛡️ Covered by Osprey’s “All Mighty Guarantee” 

Key Factors & Ratings

  • 📏 Size (5/5 Stars) – The Osprey Aura / Atmos AG LT has spacious compartments, plus the ability to customize its organizational features. 
  • 🪶 Weight (5/5 stars) – This updated model is 14% lighter than the original version, with its extra small/small Aura AG LT 65 weighing in at 3.837 lbs (1.740 kg).  
  • 🔝 Height Adjustable (5/5 stars) – Its injection-molded torso adjustment system is reliable and very user-friendly. 
  • 😌 Comfort (4/5 stars) – Overall, this pack is comfortable, but be mindful of fitting and what you store in its hip belt pockets. 
  • 🗂️ Organization (4.5/5 stars) – The light models have streamlined organizational features, but these essentials are high-functioning. 
  • ♻️ Materials (5/5 stars) – The Osprey Aura / Atmos AG LT is constructed with water-resistant and eco-friendly materials. Its high-tenacity nylon also has a ripstop quality, making it highly durable. 
  • 🔩 Hardware (5/5 stars) – This pack’s buckles latch securely, its zippers glide smoothly, and all hardware pieces are Bluesign®-approved. 
  • 📸 Aesthetic (4.5/5 stars) – I love this backpack’s vibrant color options and varied textures, but wish that the hip belt straps could be tucked in. 
  • 🛡️ Warranty (5/5 stars) – Osprey offers a stellar lifetime warranty. It covers the costs of repairs or replacement, regardless of when your pack was purchased.  
  • 💰 Value (4.5/5 stars) – All things considered, the Osprey Aura / Atmos AG LT 65 is a great value, but its price tag is higher than similar backpacks. 

Osprey Aura AG LT 65 Info

  • Max Carry Capacity: 40 lbs (18.1 kg)
  • XS/S Volume: 3845 in3 / 63 L
  • M/L Volume: 3967 in3 / 65 L
  • XS/S Dimensions: 30.71H x 15.75W x 12D in (78H x 40.01W x 30.48D cm)
  • M/L Dimensions: 32.68H x 15.75W x 12D in (83.01H x 40.01W x 30.48D cm) 
  • XS/S Weight: 3.837 lbs (1.740 kg)
  • M/L Weight: 4.013 lbs (1.820 kg)
  • Main Fabric: recycled 210D nylon honeycomb contrast, PFAS-free DWR
  • Accent Fabric: recycled 210D high tenacity nylon, PFAS-free DWR
  • Bottom Fabric: recycled 500D high tenacity nylon, PFAS-free DWR
  • Colors: Antidote Purple, Koseret Darjeeling Spring Green, Black
  • Price: $290.00
  • Made In: Vietnam 

See our full Osprey Aura / Atmos review for all models’ Technical Specifications

Product Updates 

  • The Osprey Aura and Atmos AG LT 65 weigh an average 12.6% less than the original models. 
  • The new LT (light) packs have fewer organizational features than the previous versions. 
  • The updated model has top access and one side zipper, while the former model has top, bottom, and dual side access. 
  • The updated model has a superior, more intuitive torso length adjustment system than the previous pack. 
  • The Osprey Aura and Atmos AG LT 65 are more affordable than the original versions ($290 vs. $340). 

3. Mountainsmith Apex 60 

Overall Rating: 4.6 / 5 Stars

This highly spacious, comfortable pack has an incredible max carry capacity, making it the best pick for thru-hiking. 

Using the Mountainsmith Apex 60 in Utah during winter season
Skycie testing the Mountainsmith Apex 60 in heavy Utah snow

Pros of Mountainsmith Apex 60 

  • Spacious compartments totaling 70L of volume 
  • Max carry capacity of 60 lbs (27.2 kg)
  • Breathable padding on the back panel, waist belt, and shoulder straps 
  • Durable, highly water-resistant materials 
  • Far more affordable than similar packs 
  • Covered by Mountainsmith’s lifetime warranty 

Cons of Mountainsmith Apex 60 

  • Singular size only caters to larger individuals  
  • Height adjustable feature is very difficult to maneuver 

Mountainsmith Apex Review

The author's husband with the Mountainsmith Apex Backpack and their dog
My husband is 6’ 1” (185.4 cm) and the Mountainsmith Apex is his favorite backpacking pack

The Mountainsmith Apex 60 is a stellar pick for long thru-hikes. Its compartments are incredibly spacious and total 70L of volume. Its even larger version, the Apex 80, extends to 90L. Both can carry up to 60 lbs (27.2 kg), great for trips that demand heavier loads. 

It’s available in a singular size, in which the hip belt fits waists measuring 28 – 48 in (71.12 – 121.92 cm). The torso length is also adjustable, catering to sizes ranging from 18 – 21 in (45.72 – 53.34 cm). However, this feature is difficult to maneuver with its double-sided Velcro. 

But still, the pack performs very well for those with the right frame. My husband is 6’ 1” (185.4 cm) and 190 lbs (86.2 kg) and loves the Apex for its fit, size, and comfort. It’s also highly durable, with Robic Dynajin Nylon Ripstop as its primary fabric. The material’s UTS (ultimate tear strength) coating adds abrasion resistance, as well as protection from moisture. 

Overall, the Mountainsmith Apex is of great value given its lifetime warranty. Plus, packs with a similar volume and carry capacity generally cost much more. 

👉 Learn More: My Mountainsmith Apex backpack review discusses all this pack’s features in great detail.   

Key Features 

The author's husband with the Mountainsmith Apex 60
Philip carried 34 lbs (15.4 kg) when testing this spacious pack
  • 🎒 Available in two capacities (70L and 90L of volume)
  • ⚖️ Can carry up to 60 lbs (27.2 kg)
  • 🗂️ Has spacious compartments and thoughtful organizational features 
  • 🍃 Breathable with generous padding 
  • ♻️ Durable, water-resistant fabric with a ripstop quality 
  • 🛡️ Covered by Mountainsmith’s “Forged For Life Guarantee”
  • 💰 Stellar value at $219.95 ($249.95 for the Apex 80) 

Key Factors & Ratings

  • 📏 Size (4/5 Stars) – Spaciousness is this thru-hiking pack’s key differentiator, but I wish that it fit a greater range of body types. 
  • 🪶 Weight (4.5/5 stars) – The Mountainsmith Apex 60 weighs 4.63 lbs (2.1 kg). It’s on the heavier side of backpacking packs, but its weight-to-carry ratio is very reasonable.  
  • 🔝 Height Adjustable (3/5 stars) – The pack’s torso adjustment feature could be much more user-friendly, but it allows for a 4-inch (10.2-cm) range. 
  • 😌 Comfort (5/5 stars) – Those with the right build will find the Apex highly comfortable given its breathability and generous padding.  
  • 🗂️ Organization (5/5 stars) – Large pockets, external organizational features, and top and front loading make it easy to pack and access your gear. 
  • ♻️ Materials (4.5/5 stars) – This pack is constructed to withstand the elements, and its high-visibility lining is made with recycled materials.  
  • 🔩 Hardware (5/5 stars) – All of the Apex’s hardware is sturdy and highly functional, but I wish that an emergency whistle were built into its sternum strap. 
  • 📸 Aesthetic (5/5 stars) – While minimalist, I’m a fan of this pack’s aesthetic and its alternative Smoke Blue color option. 
  • 🛡️ Warranty (5/5 stars) – Mountainsmith’s “Forged For Life Guarantee” grants repair / replacement for the entire life of the product. Reasonable conditions apply.  
  • 💰 Value (5/5 stars) – The Apex 60 costs $219.95, which is very affordable compared to backpacks with a similar volume and carry capacity. 

Mountainsmith Apex 60 Info

  • Max Carry Capacity: 60 lbs (27.2 kg) 
  • Standard Volume: 3661 in3 / 60 L
  • Extended Volume: 4272 in3 / 70 L
  • Dimensions: 30H x 12.5W x 9D in (76.2H x 31.75W x 22.86D cm)
  • Torso Size: 18 – 21 in (45.72 – 53.34 cm)
  • Waist Belt: 28 – 48 in (71.12 – 121.92 cm)
  • Weight: 4.63 lbs (2.1 kg)
  • Main Fabric: 210D Robic Dynajin Nylon Ripstop UTS
  • Bottom Fabric: 420D FD Nylon Oxford
  • Pack Lining: 210D Recycled Nylon SD Oxford PU
  • Colors: Phantom, Smoke Blue 
  • Price: $219.95
  • Made In: Vietnam  

See the full review’s Technical Specifications for details on the Apex 80. 

Product Updates

  • The updated Mountainsmith Apex 60 weighs less than the former version (4.63 lbs / 2.1 kg vs. 4.94 lbs / 2.24 kg). 
  • The new model’s primary fabric is 210D Robic Dynajin Nylon Ripstop UTS, whereas the former version featured 610D HP Cordura Nylon.
  • The former model catered to a greater range of torso lengths (16 – 21 inches / 40.64 – 53.34 cm). The new Apex has a range of 18 – 21 in / 45.72 – 53.34 cm.
  • The previous series included 60L, 80L, and 100L capacities, as well as a 60L pack specific to women. The current series’ limited selection includes 60L and 80L backpacks.  
  • The updated version has deeper side mesh pockets, but the previous version had an angled pocket for easier water bottle access. 

4. Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Southwest 

Overall Rating: 4.6 / 5 Stars

This ultralight pack is made with extremely durable materials and has an incredible load transfer ability. Comfortably carry up to 40 lbs (18.1 kg) in its 64.8L of volume.  

The author, Abigail, wearing the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest Backpack on a hike in winter
Me testing the Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Southwest on one of Utah’s best hikes

Pros of Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Southwest 

  • A highly durable, ultralight backpack 
  • Available in multiple sizes and three capacities 
  • Hip belt has a stellar load transfer ability 
  • Very water resistant with a secured roll-top closure 
  • Impressive volume and max carry capacity 
  • Made with eco-conscious materials 

Cons of Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Southwest 

  • More expensive than most backpacking packs 
  • Can be difficult to pack and access gear 

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest Review 

The Hyperlite 3400 Southwest Backpack on Abigail during a winter hike
The Southwest is one of the best lightweight packs on the market

Ultralight enthusiasts will love the Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Southwest. The black version that I tested weighs just 2.2 lbs (0.979 kg), which is less than any other backpacking pack on this list. Its white version of the same size is even lighter at just 2.0 lbs (0.896 kg). 

These color options’ weights differ due to their materials. The black version is solely constructed with DCH150. The white version’s base also features this fabric but its primary material is DCH50, which is slightly thinner. “DCH” stands for Dyneema® Composite Hybrids. This proprietary, lightweight material has incredible tensile strength and water resistance. 

Though, this level of durability doesn’t come cheap. The series’ most affordable model, the 2400 Southwest, costs $349. Its 3400 model is $379 and its 4400 model is priced at $425. These rates are significantly higher than other ultralight backpacking backpacks. 

But the 3400 Southwest is worth the investment for big trips and frequent trekkers. It’s great for carrying heavy loads given its 64.8L of volume and 40-lb (18.1-kg) carry capacity. I wish that the pack were easier to access and better accommodated bulky gear. But it features a unique roll-top closure and I love its load-transferring hip belt. This makes the pack quite comfortable despite its thin padding. 

👉 For More Info: Decide if this pack is worth the investment by reading my Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest backpack review.     

Key Features 

The author, Abigail, walking on the snow covered landscape while using the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest Backpack
I’m amazed by this pack’s weight, totaling just 2.2 lbs (0.979 kg)
  • 🎒 Available in multiple sizes and three capacities (40L, 55L, and 70L) 
  • 🪶 One of the lightest ultralight packs available — the white 3400 Southwest weighs just 2.0 lbs (0.896 kg) 
  • ⚖️ The 2400 and 3400 models have a max carry capacity of 40 lbs (18.1 kg); the 4400 can carry up to 60 lbs (27.2kg)
  • ✨ Comfortable given the hip belt’s load transfer capability 
  • ♻️ Constructed with highly-durable Dyneema® Composite Hybrids
  • 🌧️ Unique roll-top closure provides near-waterproof protection 
  • 🛡️ Covered by Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s one-year warranty

Key Factors & Ratings

  • 📏 Size (4.5/5 Stars) – The 3400 has an internal volume of 55L and an external capacity of 9.8L. I love its deep pockets and compression straps but wish that gear in the main compartment were easier to access. 
  • 🪶 Weight (5/5 stars) – Few ultralight packs are as impressive as the Southwest, with its 3400 model weighing in at just 2.0-2.2 lbs (0.896-0.979 kg). 
  • 🔝 Height Adjustable (N/A) – The Southwest does not have a torso length adjustment feature, unlike other top-performing packs. But it is available in multiple sizes, including small, medium, large, and tall. 
  • 😌 Comfort (4/5 stars) – The hip belt on this lightweight pack has an incredible load transfer ability. Its shoulder straps feature thin padding but are comfortable. Though, I wish the back panel’s padding extended the full length of the pack. 
  • 🗂️ Organization (4.75/5 stars) – The Southwest has a deep main compartment and several external organizational features. However, it doesn’t do a great job of accommodating heavy, bulky gear. 
  • ♻️ Materials (5/5 stars) – This pack’s materials stand out among other ultralight backpacks. Its Dyneema® Composite Hybrid fabrics are extremely durable, water-resistant, and PFC/PFAS-free. 
  • 🔩 Hardware (5/5 stars) – The backpack’s buckles, aluminum stays, and YKK zippers are all made with high quality.   
  • 📸 Aesthetic (5/5 stars) – I love the Southwest’s minimalist design and that its multiple sizes cater to various body types. 
  • 🛡️ Warranty (4/5 stars) – Hyperlite’s one-year warranty and its terms are fair, but this isn’t as generous as some other outdoor brands’ guarantees.   
  • 💰 Value (4.5/5 stars) – All things considered, the Southwest is a great value. It especially suits ultralight enthusiasts and those who frequently backpack through tough terrain. 

Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Southwest Info

  • Max Carry Capacity: 40 lbs (18.1 kg)
  • Internal Volume: 3400 in3 / 55 L
  • External Volume: 600 in3 / 9.8 L
  • Weight (White): 2.0 lbs (0.896 kg)
  • Weight (Black): 2.2 lbs (0.979 kg)
  • Back Width: 10.5 in (26.7 cm)
  • Height (Fully Unrolled): 34.0 in (86.4 cm)
  • Top Circumference: 40.0 in (101.6 cm)
  • Bottom Circumference: 33.5 in (85.1 cm)
  • Materials (White): DCH50 (Main Body) & DCH150 (Bottom)
  • Materials (Black): DCH150 (Main Body & Bottom)
  • Colors: White, Black
  • Price: $379.00
  • Made In: Mexico 

See my full Southwest review for the 2400 and 4400 models’ Technical Specifications.  

5. Teton Sports Scout 45  

Overall Rating: 4.6 / 5 Stars

The absolute best backpacking backpack for those on a budget. This user-friendly pack comes with a rain cover, many organizational features, and a lifetime warranty. 

The author, Abigail, admiring the scenic view while carrying the Teton Sports Scout Backpack for a review
Me testing the Teton Sports Scout 45 in Colorado

Pros of Teton Sports Scout 45 

  • Available in three capacities (45L, 55L, and 65L) 
  • Far more affordable than other backpacking backpacks 
  • Easy-to-use height adjustable feature 
  • Integrated rain cover included 
  • Reasonably comfortable with generous padding 
  • Comes in several vibrant color options 
  • Covered by a limited lifetime warranty

Cons of Teton Sports Scout 45 

  • Breathability could be improved 
  • Lacks hip belt pockets 

Teton Sports Scout Review

The Teton Sports Scout Backpack with other gear in a rocky landscape
This budget backpacking backpack has several organizational features

The Teton Sports Scout 45 is a stellar pick for new and budget backpackers. It’s a fantastic value and is priced at just $84.99. Yet, its materials and hardware are good quality, and even a rain cover is included. 

Overall, it’s reasonably comfortable with generous padding on the shoulder straps, hip belt, and back panel. Breathability could be improved, but I like that the pack fits a variety of body types. Though available in a singular size, its height adjustable feature suits torsos measuring 15 – 19.5 in (38.1 – 49.5 cm). 

The 45L backpack weighs 3.9 lbs (1.77 kg), which is in line with far more expensive backpacking backpacks. It has tons of internal and external organizational features, including a dedicated sleeping bag compartment. This and other pockets take spaciousness away from the main compartment, which some may not prefer. The Scout also lacks hip belt pockets. 

But still, I was able to fit all my essential outdoor gear and more in this pack. A max carry capacity isn’t specified. But users have reported carrying heavy loads comfortably, with some weighing as much as 40 lbs (18.1 kg). To top it off, Teton Sports’ limited lifetime warranty is highly generous.   

👉 On A Budget? Learn more about this backpacking backpack by reading my full Teton Sports Scout review.  

Key Features 

The author, Abigail hiking with the Teton Sports Scout Backpack in the forest
I took the Teton Sports Scout 45 on one of the best hikes near Denver
  • 🎒 Available in three capacities (45L, 55L, and 65L) 
  • 💰 Phenomenal value with prices ranging from $84.99 – $94.99
  • 🗂️ Tons of organizational features and a dedicated sleeping bag compartment 
  • ⚖️ 45L pack is a reasonable weight (3.9 lbs / 1.77 kg)
  • 🔝 The height adjustable feature is very user-friendly — accommodates torso lengths of 15 – 19.5 in (38.1 – 49.5 cm)
  • 🪶 Quite comfortable with generous padding and a load-transferring hip belt
  • 🌧️ Rain cover included 
  • 🛡️ Covered by Teton Sports’ limited lifetime warranty  

Key Factors & Ratings

  • 📏 Size (5/5 Stars) – Some may find the Scout’s various pockets limiting, but I was able to pack all my essential outdoor gear and more in this 45L backpack. 
  • 🪶 Weight (4.5/5 stars) – The Scout 45 is a very reasonable weight at 3.9 lbs (1.77 kg). However, the 55L and 65L models are on the heavier side, weighing 4.5 lbs (2.04 kg) and 4.6 lbs (2.09 kg), respectively. 
  • 🔝 Height Adjustable (5/5 stars) – This pack’s height adjustable feature is very easy to use and accommodates a 4.5-inch (11.4-cm) range.  
  • 😌 Comfort (4/5 stars) – Overall, the Scout is quite comfortable given its hip belt’s load transfer ability and mesh padding. Though, I wish these padded portions were more breathable. 
  • 🗂️ Organization (4.5/5 stars) – This pack has gear loops, compression straps, and a dedicated sleeping bag compartment. There are also water bottle pockets, zippered side pockets, a mesh front pocket, and a dual-access lid. However, hip belt pockets would have been ideal for frequently-used items. 
  • ♻️ Materials (4/5 stars) – The Scout’s primary fabric is 600D polyester diamond ripstop, which is quite durable. But I wish this and its other materials were lighter and more eco-friendly. 
  • 🔩 Hardware (4.5/5 stars) – This pack’s hardware may not be as high quality as other backpacking backpacks, but they function well and match its price point. 
  • 📸 Aesthetic (4.5/5 stars) – The Scout is available in several bold color options, as well as neutrals for those that prefer a minimalist aesthetic. 
  • 🛡️ Warranty (5/5 stars) – Teton Sports’ limited lifetime warranty guarantees that its gear “will be free of defects and misperformance for as long as you own the product.”
  • 💰 Value (5/5 stars) – This backpacking backpack is a stellar value. Starting at $84.99, its entry-level price point is ideal for those new to the sport or anyone on a budget.  

Teton Sports Scout 45 Info

  • Max Carry Capacity: Users have reported comfortably carrying up to 40 lbs (18.1 kg) 
  • Volume: 2746 in3 / 45 L
  • Dimensions: 28 x 15 x 10 in (71.1 x 38.1 x 25.4 cm)
  • Torso Size: 15 – 19.5 in (38.1 – 49.5 cm) 
  • Waist Belt: 24 – 56 in (61 – 142.2 cm)
  • Weight: 3.9 lbs (1.77 kg)
  • Main Fabric: 600D polyester diamond ripstop
  • Colors: Evergreen, Bluejay, Black
  • Price: $84.99
  • Made In: China 

The table on my full Scout review details Technical Specifications for the 55L and 65L models.  

Product Updates 

  • Teton Sports’ 2020 model, the Scout 3400, was strictly available in a 55L capacity. The updated series features three capacities: the Scout 45, 55, and 65. 
  • The current Scout series has several new color options. 
  • The new Scout 55 has packed dimensions of 30 x 16 x 10 in (76.2 x 40.6 x 25.4 cm). The Scout 3400, which is equal in volume, has packed dimensions of 30 x 17 x 12 in (76.2 x 43.2 x 30.5 cm). 
  • The updated Scout’s sleeping bag compartment is easier to load, as the former version had a bungee around its opening.       

6. Gregory Maven 55 / Paragon 58

Overall Rating: 4.9 / 5 Stars

This high-functioning pack has tons of organizational features and makes accessing your gear easy. Though lightweight, it can comfortably carry heavy loads for long miles. 

View of a woman with a Gregory Maven backpack and her dog during a hike
Skycie hiking into a slot canyon with the Gregory Maven 55

Pros of Gregory Maven 55 / Paragon 58

  • Available in gender-specific models, multiple sizes, and three capacities (45L, 55L, 65L) 
  • Lightweight, as low as 3.31 lbs / 1.5 kg (extra small/small Maven 55) 
  • Able to carry up to a 50-lb (22.7-kg) load
  • Tons of internal and external organizational features
  • Top, bottom, and side access 
  • Includes an integrated rain cover 
  • Backed by the Gregory Lifetime Guarantee 

Cons of Gregory Maven 55 / Paragon 58

  • The waist adjuster is difficult to maneuver
  • Some post-consumer materials, but fabrics could be more eco-conscious 

Gregory Maven / Paragon Review

Skycie using the Gregory Maven backpack for a hike during winter season
Skycie is a big fan of this backpacking backpack

The Gregory Maven 55 is the best backpacking pack for those who love to stay organized. Its main compartment features a versatile hydration bladder sleeve. There’s also an optional sleeping bag compartment and a pocket for the included rain cover. 

External organizational features include a detachable lid and a wide, front mesh pocket. Its mesh side pockets are deep, and one is angled for easy water bottle access. Base compression straps accommodate large, heavy gear. Gear loops can secure an ice ax and trekking poles. Spacious hip belt pockets and a unique “Quickstow” sunglass system add convenience.

Plus, it’s easy to reach all of your gear with top, bottom, and side access. The pack is lightweight despite all these features, with its extra small/small Maven 55 weighing in at 3.31 lbs (1.5 kg). Multiple sizes and a men’s version, the Gregory Paragon, grant a highly comfortable, custom-like fit. 

This backpack also has a height adjustment feature, as well as the ability to adjust its waist. Though, the Velcro-secured waist adjuster is quite difficult to maneuver. But overall, the Maven / Paragon is user-friendly and an exceptional value. Its lifetime warranty sweetens the deal.     

👉 Discover More: Read my comprehensive Gregory Maven backpack review for an overview of every pack detail. 

Key Features 

View of the perforated foam of the Gregory Maven backpack
The Maven is one of the best backpacking packs for organization
Close up view of the side access of the Gregory Maven backpack
Its side-access zipper and optional sleeping bag compartment 
  • 👫 Gender-specific models and various sizes grant a custom-like fit  
  • ⚖️ The Maven 55 and Paragon 58 can carry up to 50 lbs (22.7 kg)
  • 🗂️ Lightweight (as little as 3.23 lbs / 1.47 kg) despite many internal and external organizational features 
  • 🌧️ Integrated rain cover included 
  • 🔝 Torso and waist adjustment systems 
  • ♻️ Materials include high-tenacity nylon and a 40% post-consumer recycled lining 
  • 🛡️ Covered by Gregory’s lifetime guarantee 

Key Factors & Ratings

  • 📏 Size (5/5 Stars) – The extra small/small Maven 55 has 52L of volume, which is well balanced between its multiple internal and exterior pockets.  
  • 🪶 Weight (5/5 stars) – Even the series’ heaviest model, the medium/large Paragon 58, weighs just 3.71 lbs (1.68 kg). Skycie and I tested the lightest pack, which weighs 3.23 lbs (1.47 kg). 
  • 🔝 Height Adjustable (5/5) – The pack’s torso length adjuster is secured by Velcro and easy to use. Its height range depends on the model size. For example, the extra small/small Maven 55 caters to 14 – 17-in (35.6 – 43.2-cm) torsos, while the small/medium suits a 15 – 19-in (38.1 – 48.3-cm) range.  
  • 😌 Comfort (5/5 stars) – This comfortable backpack has breathable, perforated foam on its hip belt, back panel, and shoulder straps. 
  • 🗂️ Organization (5/5 stars) – Organization is the Maven and Paragon’s stand-out feature. Various storage opportunities are seen inside and out, and several of these are customizable. 
  • ♻️ Materials (4.5/5 stars) – This backpacking backpack is primarily made with high-tenacity nylon. It’s lightweight, durable, and water-resistant. Plus, its lining is an eco-friendly, post-consumer recycled polyester.  
  • 🔩 Hardware (5/5 stars) – All the pack’s buckles, sliders, and zippers latch securely and glide smoothly. Its durable sternum strap whistle is also high functioning.  
  • 📸 Aesthetic (5/5 stars) – I love that the Maven and Paragon come in a range of colors, from muted tones to vibrant shades. 
  • 🛡️ Warranty (5/5 stars) – The Gregory Lifetime Guarantee grants that its products “will be free from defects in workmanship and materials for as long as you own it.” Fair restrictions apply to its comped repairs and replacements. 
  • 💰 Value (5/5 stars) – The Maven / Paragon is a great value given its quality and features, included rain cover, and lifetime warranty. 

Gregory Maven 55 Info

  • Max Carry Capacity: 50 lbs (22.7 kg)
  • XS/S Volume: 3173 in3 / 52 L
  • S/M Volume: 3356 in3 / 55 L
  • XS/S Dimensions: 26.8 x 14.6 x 10.2 in (68 x 37 x 26 cm)
  • S/M Dimensions: 29.1 x 14.6 x 10.2 (74 x 37 x 26 cm) 
  • XS/S Weight: 3.31 lbs (1.5 kg)
  • S/M Weight: 3.41 lbs (1.55 kg)
  • Main Fabric: 100D high-density nylon / 210D high-density nylon
  • Bottom Fabric: 420D high-density nylon
  • Pack Lining: 40% post-consumer recycled 135D polyester
  • Colors: Rosewood Red, Spectrum Blue
  • Price: $259.95
  • Made In: Unknown (designed in the USA

I share all models’ Technical Specifications in my full review. 

Product Updates

  • The former version of the Maven / Paragon features an Aerolon adjustable suspension. The new version’s FreeFloat hybrid suspension grants an even higher level of comfort. 
  • Both product versions have a wishbone alloy frame. But the previous pack’s alloy cross-stay differs from the updated model’s fiberglass structure.
  • The former Maven / Paragon has a removable hydration sleeve, which doubles as a daypack. This feature on the current version is simply built in. 
  • The new model has a full-length side zipper, making it easier to access gear. The previous version lacked this feature. 
  • The two models differ aesthetically. Their color options vary and the updated version appears more streamlined.  

7. REI Co-Op Flash 55 

Overall Rating: 4.8 / 5 Stars

This ultralight backpacking backpack has tons of customization options. Its adaptability, comfort, and low price point make it an exceptional value. 

The author, Abigail, hiking in Utah using the REI Co-Op Flash 55 Backpack
Me hiking with the REI Co-Op Flash 55

Pros of REI Co-Op Flash 55 

  • Available in gender-specific models and various sizes 
  • Many easy-to-use, customizable features 
  • Spacious with the ability to carry up to 30 lbs (13.6 kg)
  • Made with lightweight, durable, and eco-friendly materials 
  • Comes in vibrant colors, including a high-visibility option 
  • An affordable backpacking backpack
  • Covered by REI’s “100% satisfaction guarantee”

Cons of REI Co-Op Flash 55 

  • Rain cover not included 
  • Storing heavy, bulky gear may require additional accessories 

REI Co-Op Flash 55 Review

The author, Abigail, hiking while carrying the REI Co-Op Flash 55 Backpack and using a trekking pole
Me exploring one of the best places to visit in Utah

I absolutely love the REI Co-Op Flash 55 for its customization. This versatile backpacking backpack allows you to tailor its features and weight to various types of trips. You can mix and match multiple accessories with its unique Packmod system. You can also remove its floating lid, hip belt pockets, and numerous compression straps. 

But the Flash 55 is incredibly lightweight, even with all its features attached. The women’s extra small version that I tested weighs just 2.625 lbs (1.191 kg). The men’s large, its heaviest model, weighs an impressive 2.875 lbs (1.304 kg). 

Despite this, the backpack is very durable. It’s primarily constructed with recycled nylon Robic ripstop. This fabric has stellar abrasion and tear resistance and is quite water-resistant. However, it’s not waterproof and therefore, I wish that a rain cover were included.

Still, this highly comfortable pack comes at an exceptional value. Its $199 price makes it the second-most affordable of this year’s best backpacking backpacks. The REI Co-Op warranty is somewhat unclear, but if issues were to occur, refer to the brand’s most generous guarantee. This states that defects allow you to “return it at any time, regardless of purchase date.” 

👉 For More Insight: You won’t find a more honest and comprehensive REI Co-Op Flash 55 backpack review than this. 

Key Features 

A mesh drawstring attached outside the backpack
A close-up of the Flash 55’s Packmod accessory pouch
  • 👫 Gender-specific models and multiple sizes suit various body types 
  • 🔝 The torso length adjuster accommodates a 3-in (7.6-cm) range 
  • ✨ Customization features are easy to use and can limit pack weight 
  • ⚖️ 53 – 57L of volume can hold up to 30 lbs (13.6 kg)
  • 🎒 An ultralight backpack, weighing as little as 2.625 lbs (1.191 kg)
  • ♻️ Constructed with recycled nylon Robic ripstop
  • 💰 A stellar value at $199 

Key Factors & Ratings

  • 📏 Size (5/5 Stars) – The REI Co-Op Flash 55 is spacious enough for multi-day treks, but can also be pared down for shorter trips. 
  • 🪶 Weight (5/5 stars) – This pack falls in the ultralight category, with model weights ranging from 2.625 lbs (1.191 kg) to 2.875 lbs (1.304 kg). 
  • 🔝 Height Adjustable (5/5) – Each size of the Flash 55 accommodates a 3-in (7.6-cm) range in torso lengths. Its women’s extra small suits torsos as short as 15 in (43.2 cm), while its men’s large fits torsos as tall as 21 in (53.3 cm).
  • 😌 Comfort (5/5 stars) – The Flash 55 is very comfortable with multiple sizes and breathable mesh cushioning. This padding is seen on its seamless back panel, hip belt, and shoulder straps. 
  • 🗂️ Organization (4.75/5 stars) – This backpacking pack has several internal and external pockets and organizational features. I wish base compression straps were included for storing large, heavy gear. Though, Packmod compression straps (sold separately) can be attached. 
  • ♻️ Materials (5/5 stars) – Recycled nylon Robic ripstop grants long-lasting durability and water resistance. Moisture protection is further improved by the pack’s unique roll-top closure. 
  • 🔩 Hardware (5/5 stars) – The buckles, cord lock, zippers, and sternum strap whistle are all high quality. Its daisy chains are also strong, an improvement compared to the pack’s original model. 
  • 📸 Aesthetic (5/5 stars) – I love this backpack’s Desert Moss (yellow) color option for its high visibility. It’s also available in a beautiful Jasper Green shade. 
  • 🛡️ Warranty (4/5 stars) – The warranty on REI-branded products is a bit confusing, with terms varying across web pages. But its most generous claim states that it will cover defects “at any time, regardless of purchase date.” 
  • 💰 Value (4.5/5 stars) – Priced at $199, the Flash 55 is the second-most affordable of this year’s best backpacking packs. It’s a fantastic value for its quality and customizable features.  

REI Co-Op Flash 55 Info

  • Max Carry Capacity: 30 lbs (13.6 kg)
  • Volume: 3,234 in3 / 53 L
  • Dimensions: 14 x 27 x 12 in (35.6 x 68.6 x 30.5 cm)
  • Torso Size: 15-17 in (38.1-43.2 cm)
  • Waist Belt: 30-38 in (76.2-96.5 cm)
  • Weight: 2.625 lbs (1.191 kg)
  • Main Fabric: 100-denier recycled nylon Robic ripstop
  • Accent Fabric: 210-denier recycled nylon Robic (high tenacity yarns)
  • Colors: Desert Moss, Jasper Green
  • Price: $199.00 
  • Made In: Unknown (Imported) 

The above refers to the women’s extra small pack. Check out the Technical Specifications chart on my full review for other versions’ details. 

Product Updates

  • The former Flash 55 did not have a torso length adjustment feature. The updated model allows users to modify this by a 3-in (7.6-cm) range. 
  • The new version is more eco-conscious, being made with recycled nylon Robic ripstop. The previous version’s fabrics were not recycled. 
  • The updated Flash 55 has stronger daisy chains than the former pack. 
  • The new model allows users to create a waist pack out of the top lid. The previous version’s Packmod system did not allow for this customization. 
  • Rather than mesh, the front pocket now features a more durable fabric and a side-release buckle at its mouth. 
  • The previous Flash 55 had a water-resistant shoulder strap pocket. Now, this shoulder strap pocket is made with mesh. 
  • The updated model is slightly heavier than the previous version. The current women’s small is 2.688 lbs (1.219 kg), whereas the same-size former model was 2.625 lbs (1.191 kg).  

8. The Backpacker by Salkan 

Overall Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars

This versatile travel backpack blends well into both urban and outdoor environments. Digital nomads and world travelers won’t find a more spacious, comfortable, and value-driven pack. 

Abigail using The Backpacker by Salkan during a hike
The Backpacker by Salkan is one of the absolute best travel backpacks

Pros of The Backpacker by Salkan

  • Can be bought individually or as the Backpacker bundle (day pack included) 
  • Highly spacious with a 55L main pack and an optional 20L day pack 
  • Features cater to both urban and outdoor environments 
  • Made with durable, water-resistant materials
  • Rain cover included   
  • Comfortable with padding and a load-transferring hip belt 
  • Comes with a 100-day trial and a lifetime guarantee 

Cons of The Backpacker by Salkan

  • Significantly heavier than most backpacking packs (the main pack weighs 5.62 lbs / 2.55 kg)
  • Singular size only caters to certain body types 

The Backpacker by Salkan Review

Abigail using The Backpacker by Salkan on a trail hike
Me testing the Backpacker (main pack only) in southern Utah

The Backpacker by Salkan stands out for its versatility. It’s high-functioning in both urban and outdoor environments. This makes it an ideal backpacking pack for digital nomads, trips abroad, and the like. 

Its adaptable features include a laptop compartment, which can double as a hydration sleeve. Use its accessory pouch as a laundry bag or a dry sack. And consider opting for the Backpacker bundle, which includes a 20L day pack for even more flexibility. 

Though, minimalists may find the 55L main pack to be plenty spacious. It has several features for internal and external organization, as well as gear attachment points. However, experienced backpackers may desire a wider range of technical features. Personally, I would have preferred more gear loops and compression straps for external storage.

Weight may also be a deterrent for more serious trekkers. The main pack alone weighs 5.62 lbs (2.55 kg), which is much heavier than most backpacking packs. But it’s a stellar choice for one-night or quick weekend trips. Both the singular main pack and bundle are also of great value, especially given their lifetime warranty. 

👉 Get Nate’s Take: Learn more about this versatile pick by reading Nate’s honest review of the Backpacker by Salkan

Key Features 

  • 🎒 55L main pack can also be bundled with the complementary 20L day pack 
  • ✨ Versatile features suit both outdoor and urban destinations 
  • 🗂️ Several internal and external pockets, plus gear attachment points 
  • ♻️ Its primary 900D COTNA polyester fabric is durable and water-resistant
  • 💰 The $370 Backpacker bundle is a great value, but minimalists can opt for the $250 main pack only
  • 🛡️ Covered by Salkan’s lifetime warranty 

Key Factors & Ratings

  • 📏 Size (5/5 Stars) – The 55L main pack is highly spacious and can carry heavy loads. The complementary 20L day pack grants even more space. 
  • 🪶 Weight (3.5/5 stars) – At 5.62 lbs (2.55 kg), the main pack is far heavier than most backpacking packs. For this reason, I wouldn’t recommend it to serious trekkers — it’s better suited for hybrid trips that involve urban destinations. 
  • 🔝 Height Adjustable (5/5) – The Backpacker main pack caters to a range of heights. This feature allows 20% of your load to rest on your shoulder straps, while 80% is distributed to the hip belt. 
  • 😌 Comfort (5/5 stars) – This backpack is very comfortable with generous, breathable padding. Nate has thoroughly tested many travel backpacks in his years of being a digital nomad. Of all these, he believes the Backpacker main pack to be the “most comfortable to carry for longer periods.” 
  • 🗂️ Organization (4.5/5 stars) – The Backpacker has several organizational features that suit both urban and outdoor environments. I wish its exterior had more gear attachment points, but love its top and front access. 
  • ♻️ Materials (4/5 stars) – This pack’s primary fabric is 900D COTNA Polyester with a wax finish. It’s very durable and water-resistant, but I would have preferred lighter, more eco-friendly materials. 
  • 🔩 Hardware (5/5 stars) – All hardware pieces on the Backpacker are high quality. This applies to both its plastic buckles and sliders, aluminum G-hooks, and YKK zippers.   
  • 📸 Aesthetic (5/5 stars) – This backpack’s versatile aesthetic blends well on both city streets and the trail. Its high-visibility orange lining adds a pop of fun color. 
  • 🛡️ Warranty (5/5 stars) – Salkan provides customers with a 100-day trial and a generous lifetime guarantee. 
  • 💰 Value (4.5/5 stars) – All things considered, the Backpacker bundle is a great value at $370. Those on a budget can also purchase the main pack separately for $250. 

The Backpacker by Salkan Info

  • Max Carry Capacity: Unknown 
  • Mainpack Volume: 3356 in3 / 55 L
  • Daypack Volume: 1220 in3 / 20 L
  • Mainpack Dimensions: 25.98H x 12.6W x 8.66D in (66H x 32W x 22D cm) 
  • Daypack Dimensions: 18.9H x 11.42W x 7.09D in (48L x 29W x 18D cm)
  • Mainpack Weight: 5.62 lbs (2.55 kg)
  • Daypack Weight: 1.87 lbs (0.85 kg)
  • Main Fabric: 900D COTNA Polyester with wax finish
  • Pack Lining: 100% Nylon
  • Colors: Charcoal 
  • Price: $351.00
  • Made In: Vietnam 

Volume Comparison of the Best Backpacking Packs

Using red plastic balls to test the volume of Osprey Aura AG LT 65
Plastic golf balls were used to determine volume distribution

Need spacious hip belt pockets to hold your bulky phone? Want to know how removing a pack’s lid will influence its size? How do internal and external capacities differ?

I took inspiration from ASTM International’s standard test for backpack capacity to answer these types of questions. It involved me filling dozens of backpack compartments with plastic golf balls — hundreds of them, in some instances. I estimated that there are 12 golf balls per liter to determine the below measurements. 

This table allows you to understand how volume is distributed among each pack compartment. It also allows you to compare all backpacks’ features and make the best purchase for your organizational preferences. 

Osprey Eja 48Osprey Aura AG LT 65Mountainsmith Apex 60Hyperlite 3400 SouthwestTeton Sports Scout 45Gregory Maven 55REI Co-Op Flash 55The Backpacker by Salkan
Lid10L17.1L14.2LN/A6.3L 8.3L 6.9L 5.08L
Front Pocket6.5L9.3L 22.8L 14.17L2.25L4.3L 10.8LN/A
Primary Side Pockets (2x)3.67L per7.9L per4.8L per2.67L per2.5L per2.5L per3.2L per3.42L per
Secondary Side Pockets (2x)N/AN/AN/AN/A1.8L perN/A1.7L per1.92L (singular pocket)
Hip Belt Pockets (2x) 0.67L per1.25L per2.1L per1.25L perN/A0.75L per0.9L per0.67L per
Base PocketN/A3.8LN/AN/A3.2LN/AN/AN/A
Sleeping Bag CompartmentN/AN/AN/AN/A17.3L13.6LN/AN/A
Shoulder Strap PocketN/AN/AN/A0.92LN/AN/A0.5L N/A
Accessory BagN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A3.3L25.83L

How to Choose the Best Backpacking Backpack 

View of Travel Lemming's best backpacking backpacks picks
An overview of Travel Lemming’s best backpacking pack picks

There are many factors to consider when purchasing a backpacking backpack. Size, weight, and durability are straightforward.

But don’t skip the below section, as your trekking partner(s), current gear, and other less obvious things may also influence your decision. 

Things to Consider Before Buying a Hiking Backpack 

  • 📏 SizeExperts share that generally, a 30-50L pack is ideal for 1 to 3-night trips. 50-80L packs are preferred for 3 to 5-night trips, and 70+L packs are practical for trips involving 5+ nights. 
  • ✨ Group – However, the above principles don’t take group size into account. For example, I always backpack with at least one other person. Shared gear may influence the amount of volume you really need. 
  • 🧍 Body Type – This is another factor that may influence your ideal pack size. Experts advise that your pack shouldn’t weigh more than ~20% of your body weight. Those who are petite are unlikely to fill and comfortably carry an 80L pack. Larger individuals may require a spacious pack even for shorter trips given bulkier clothing. 
  • ❇️ Use – When you go backpacking may also influence your purchasing decision. For example, extra layers for winter camping will require more space. Trip frequency and where you go are things to consider, too. Invest in a more durable pack if you backpack often and/or visit areas with rough terrain. 
  • ⚖️ Weight – Obviously, lighter packs are preferred over heavier packs. A pound or two may not seem like much, but 20 miles in, you’ll be thankful for any small reduction in weight. 
  • 🎒 Fit – Like weight, fit makes a major impact on comfort. Fortunately, several packs are available in gender-specific models and multiple sizes. These range from extra small to tall in some instances. Also, opt for a pack with height adjustability, especially if you’re still growing or plan to share the backpack.
  • ⛺ Gear – Consider your other backpacking gear when choosing a pack. Base straps are handy for large, heavy items, like certain backpacking tents and bear canisters. If you’re hiking solo, a spacious main compartment may be essential for a full kit. Those who use trekking poles will want an external attachment, and so forth.  
  • ♻️ Materials – Consider water resistance and durability. Personally, I also like to support brands that use eco-conscious materials.  
  • ℹ️ Warranty – In my opinion, a lifetime warranty is ideal for a backpacking pack purchase. Breaks just happen on the trail, and companies that are willing to fix issues maximize your investment. Plus, it keeps your pack out of the landfill for much longer. 
  • 💵 Value / Price – Your budget is what it is. But take value into account when determining your ideal backpacking backpack. Look for an included rain cover, built-in emergency whistle, and customizable features that allow your bag to work for many types of adventures. 

For more, see my full guide to how to choose a backpacking pack.

How We Chose Backpacks

The author posing for a photo with the best backpacking backpacks
Me posed with this year’s best backpacking packs

Extensive research was the first step in identifying 2023’s best backpacking backpacks. I overviewed this year’s 10 most popular backpacking pack reviews, looking for trends and repeat winners. Among those, I selected 8 products that varied in volume, features, and price. 

Travel Lemming then purchased these packs with its own money. These reviews are not sponsored, nor influenced by the brands in any way. 

I went on an exciting 5-day backpacking trip in southern Utah after all packs were shipped and received. This allowed me and my friend, Skycie, to test them head-to-head in real-world conditions. We powdered through heavy snow, 50-mile-per-hour winds, and rough winter terrain to put these packs through the ultimate test. 

My husband, Philip, and I even took some packs on a second test when I returned home to Colorado. Then, I ordered hundreds of golf balls to determine the packs’ dispersed volume. I spent more than 100 hours researching and writing 8 backpack reviews, which totaled just under 40,000 words. You won’t find more honest and comprehensive resources anywhere else! 

👉 Need a Travel Backpack? Check out Nate’s ranking of the best travel backpacks for 2023.

Summary of 2023’s Best Backpacking Backpacks

That’s how we chose the best backpacking backpacks. Here’s a quick recap of my picks for the best backpacking packs:  

FAQs about Hiking Packs

#1 Overall
Osprey Eja / Exos 48

Abigail’s Take: This ultralight backpack is high-functioning in every aspect. Its construction and custom-like fit provide unparalleled comfort. 48L of volume and a 30-lb (13.6-kg) carry capacity accommodate the essentials and more. The pack is also durable, eco-friendly, and backed by a lifetime warranty.  

Click for Best Price Full Review

What is a backpacking backpack?

A backpacking backpack is a technical pack used for overnight hiking trips. There are many styles of backpacking backpacks to cater to various preferences and trip lengths. These include ultralight packs, thru-hiking backpacks with impressive load capacities, and budget options. 

What is the best backpacking pack?

The best backpacking pack in 2023 is the Osprey Eja / Exos, in my opinion. It’s lightweight, yet reasonably priced and highly durable. Several of its organizational features are customizable. It’s also available in gender-specific models and various sizes. Its ideal fit, load-transferring hip belt, and suspension system grant unparalleled comfort. Plus, it’s 100% made with recycled materials and is backed by a lifetime warranty.  

What is the best backpacking pack for thru-hiking? 

The best backpacking pack for thru-hiking is the Mountainsmith Apex 60. It can carry up to 60 lbs (27.2 kg) in its massive 70L of volume. Its breathable, padded construction and suspension system also make it very comfortable. 

However, the Apex is best suited for larger individuals with torsos measuring 18 – 21 in (45.72 – 53.34 cm). For thru-hiking, I would recommend the Osprey Aura / Atmos AG LT 65 or Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Southwest if you have a differing frame. Both of these spacious packs come in multiple sizes, including women’s fits and a tall option. 

What size pack for a 3-day hike?

The ideal pack size for a 3-day hike is 55L, in my opinion. In general, this size of a backpacking backpack will well-accommodate all the essentials and more. The REI Co-Op Flash 55 is an ideal pick for a 3-day trip, as well as other excursions given its customizable features.  

What is an unhealthy backpack weight?

An unhealthy backpack weight is anything above ~20% of your body weight, according to experts. For example, your backpacking backpack should weigh no more than 30 lbs (13.6 kg) if you weigh 150 lbs (68 kg). 


Thanks for reading my guide to 2023’s best backpacking backpacks! I hope these insights were helpful and that one of these 8 winners will suit your needs. Have a safe and wonderful season! 

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