Which Hiking Backpack Should I Buy? — A Hiker Buying Guide

Photo of author
By: Sonia Zannoni

Choosing the perfect backpack is a must to ensure a pleasing hiking experience. People often end up buying the wrong hiking backpack, which can spoil their whole trip that otherwise could have been really enjoyable and full of adventure.

As much as we want to buy a backpack solely on the fact it is cheaply priced, we should avoid it because features and functionality are the most important.

Ultimately, the perfect hiking backpack is the one that fulfills all your requirements and does not have to be thought about the second time.

There is an extensive variety of packing options that are fit for both beginners and experienced hikers as well. The first thing you need to do is to determine the size that you will need.

This will majorly be dependent on the type of activity you are planning to do and exactly how many days you expect to travel along with the season/weather at that point in time.

The backpack options are divided into mainly three main categories: overnight packs, weekend backpacks, and backpacks for a trip that will last a week or longer.

(1) Overnight Packs:

These bags have a capacity range from 33 to 49 liters. These backpacks are designed to fit in enough food and other essentials that easily cover a night or two.

The main things that would be included in this bag are mainly the sleeping set up with tents and maybe an extra outer layer. Backpacks of this size are also sometimes used as an extended day pack.

(2) Weekend Packs:

These packs have a capacity ranging from 40 liters to 74 liters. They are big enough to carry a sleeping bag, tent, extra layers, and even some clothing. Other things that can be added are food items, one cooking utensil, navigation tools, and a first aid kit.

And in some cases, if you have great packing skills, then you can also fit in some extra items like the coffee press or a lightweight chair.

(3) Weeklong Packs

These bags have a capacity of holding a weight of 75 liters and more. They have ample room to fit belongings planned for a five-night trip or even more.

You can carry lots of food, more than two pairs of clothes, extra layers, and all that you couldn’t fit in the weekend or overnight packs.

The one downside to this is that the bag then becomes comparatively heavier than the above two which is why a short height or weak person would find it difficult to carry.

Watch this video below to learn more about choosing the right sized backpack for your hiking excursion:

Once you have decided on the size, you now move on to which features you want in your backpack.

Internal vs. External Frames

Backpacks that have an external frame are the original style that was once used by our grandparents.

Nowadays, however, these bags are not that famous, and only a few brands e.g. Kelty are making them.

Despite their unpopularity, they still have some obvious advantages like they are able to carry a great load and are more durable.

Internal frames, on the other hand, are lightweight, and the user’s mobility and balance are better kept.

Shoulder Padding and Hip Belt Padding

About 80 percent of the weight is carried on the hip. The heavier the load is, the greater there will be a need for padding.

For all the weekend and week-long backpacks, a lot of padding will be needed.

The use of lightweight foams and mesh can make the backpack really comfortable.


If you are traveling in hot/warm weather, then the need for ventilation will be great. Keeping the back panel away from the skin will regulate airflow and prevent sweating.

Ventilation in anyways does not affect the functionality of the backpack and only makes it more feasible.

External Attachments

This involves loops, bungees, and daisy chains that can be attached to your bag and increase its versatility.

Removable Lids

This is usually the topmost part of the bag that can be removed to form another small bag. In this bag, the user can carry the most important thing that would be used for further traveling.

Deciding on the size and such features, you can easily decide as to which hiking backpack to buy. Once you have found your perfect kind of backpack, you can then choose that type from a range of different brands that are available in the market.

Leave a Comment