What are the Best Expedition Backpacks?

582512_v2Every year it seems gear gets better designed to be lighter and to break down into smaller components.

While a few years ago an expedition backpack was at least 100l capacity now you can get away with as little as half of that.

There are literally limitless choices of backpacks these days and many of them are tailored to specific activities or sports. It can be hard to narrow down what is the best expedition backpack.

Your pack needs to fit along your back to the C7 vertebrae and rest the weight on your hips and waist for comfort and support.

Some have a selection of straps too, and these can get in the way if you’re flying so you’ll need to have ones that tuck in. Hopefully, these few will fit your needs.

Click here for the Best Expedition Backpack available in 2016!

The Top 3 Best Expedition Backpack Reviews

These are the hottest expedition backpacks in our list.

Mountainsmith Lookout 50 – $XXX.xx

Mountainsmith Lookout 50

Rated 4.3 out of 5 stars from 13 customers. Click the image for prices and reviews!

A surprisingly cheap option that is great for shorter trips like an extended weekend. It’s made of 210 denier Nylon with a parallel Y frame aluminum suspension.

There’s 64l of space with the weight distributed through a specially designed hip belt and a wing compression system to pull the load into the lumbar pad for better stability.

There’s also a breathable back panel for ventilation and two mesh side pockets.

The hydration pocket can easily hold a 3l bladder. It’s water resistant and you can also get a cover for the pack to make it waterproof.

It’s not designed as being ultralight but it has great organization and wonderful suspension.

  • 5lb
  • Duramax Nylon
  • Carrying loop
  • Top lid turns into hip pouch


A great compromise bag that can carry large loads or pack down smaller. The padding is firm and comfortable without being bulky and the side pockets are big enough to hold 32oz water bottles.

It’s a one size pack which helps to add to its sturdiness but means it’s not going to fit everyone, especially if you have a short torso.

The hip belt is angled up for comfort and the sternum strap has webbing so it’s much more secure. The real gem however, is that the top lid can be removed and used as a hip pouch.


There’s so many straps! It’s almost like Ozonic design where there’s straps everywhere and it’s hard to tell what goes where.

There’s also only one carrying loop which means a compromise for gear if you’re taking poles and picks. While the pockets are also great for hydration there’s no specific hydration reservoir pocket.

Meade Wilderness Spotting Scope 20-60x80 mm

Gregory Baltoro – XXX.xx

Gregory Mountain Products Men's Baltoro 75 Backpack

Rated 4.4 out of 5 stars from 25 customers. Click the image for prices and reviews!

Gregory offers packs fro 60-85L so these are ideal for someone who wants a larger pack.

They’re made of ballistic weave polyester which means they’re a little more durable than just your average polyester and more like sturdy nylon.

This pack has won numerous design awards for performance and comfort and it’s designed with a suspension system specifically for heavy loads.

The hip pockets are waterproof and the hydration sleeve can also be converted into a daypack of it’s own. Also based on the 75l size design ideal for a week’s travel.

  • 1lb 3oz weight
  • 14-22” size options
  • Rain cover
  • Polyester/Aluminum
  • Hydration Sleeve coverts to daypack


With 5 exterior pockets alone there’s plenty of available storage here. There’s a swappable hip-belt and harness system so you can find what’s comfortable to you and no be forced to rely on factory measurements as well as a Lumbar lower back support.

The rain cover is integrated and it’s and got a front zip to access the main body as well as external water bottle holders. It comes in both adult and youth sizes. The straps are all adjustable which means it can be shrunk down to the size of a weekend pack if necessary. It’s a little hot but certainly could be worse


Polyester is simply not as durable as nylon and the waist sizes are incredibly small. You’ll likely need to buy an additional extender for the hip belt if you’re not slender since the company shrunk the maximum size from 46” down to 40”.

Meade Wilderness Spotting Scope 20-60x80 mm

Mountain Hardwear South col 70 – $XXX.xx

Mountain Hardwear South Col 70 OutDry Pack

Rated 5.0 out of 5 stars from 2 customers. Click the image for prices and reviews!

For slightly heavier loads and a harder terrain the south col is designed for mountaineering and is durable and sturdy. There’s plenty of room here and it weighs no more than the Lookout 50.

The padding isn’t excessive and in fact they’re positively thin compared to some but just as comfortable.

The main compartment is waterproof and while the outer pockets aren’t this will keep the majority of your stuff dry.

It offers an impressive 70l of space and is made of tough nylon fabric. The frame distributes the weight well and only has one strap so it’s very easy to adjust.

  • 19-22” fit
  • Waterproof
  • 3lb 11oz-3lb 13oz
  • 400HD Nylon
  • Crampon pocket
  • Carrying System with sleeves


There’s a lot of customization options here with a removable waist belt, removable top pocket, lash points and several gear loops.

There’s a webbing belt included for lighter loads and a large zippered pocket on the front for additional loads. In fact, there’s just pockets everywhere, it’s great for organizing.

It’s wipe clean thanks to the waterproofing and is lighter than the Lookout despite offering nearly 10l more space.


The pack doesn’t slide on the frame and the single size means it’s only got limited appeal since it won’t fit most body types.

The axe attachment is a little tricky to figure out at first too and there’s several extra “features’ that just don’t seem that useful unless you’re specifically using the bag for mountaineering like the rope strap. There’s also no hydration or water bottle pocket.

Meade Wilderness Spotting Scope 20-60x80 mm


The Baltoro is almost half the weight of most packs in this category and it’s sill got a pretty impressive storage capacity.

This is perfect for longer expeditions and unless you’re determined you need the extra few liters of space that the South Col 70 can provide this is the best expedition backpack overall.

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