Heading to the great outdoors sometime, you surely would need a backpack. It doesn’t matter if you are going hiking, hunting, climbing, backpacking or just a small expedition with a few friends, there’s need to come well prepared with backpacks filled with all your expedition or hiking gears from water bottles to hammocks or portable tents. A good outdoorsy person should know the importance of owning a top class backpack. They are called backpacks for a good reason, they are meant to be worn on the back while heading out to explore or sight-see the great outdoors.
One key question usually asked when deciding on a backpack to purchase is ‘what is the best outdoor backpack?’, while this seems like a rhetorical question in the sense that everyone has his/her preference in selecting what he/she would term ‘best’. However, certain features or functionalities would make a backpack qualified to be regarded as one of the ‘top outdoor backpacks’, and some of these features/functions include;
- Budget: A good outdoor backpack shouldn’t have you break your bank. You should be able to decide on what functionalities you require and if they are worth the bucks. Never over spend on backpacks. Consider your budget and buy accordingly.
- Weight: If you are not buying a lightweight backpack for your outdoor backpacking trip, then you shouldn’t be interested in cutting down the weight of your backpack. Your backpack shouldn’t be so heavy but it shouldn’t be the lightest thing around. Those lightweight backpacks come with ultrathin straps which can really inconvenience you especially if you plan on hiking long hours.
The Top 5 Best Outdoor Backpack Reviews
These are the top outdoor backpacks worth considering in the market today.
The TETON sports scout 3400 backpack is a high grade backpack which is priced reasonably well. The backpack is on the list of the bestselling backpacks on Amazon. It has a carrying capacity of 55 liter and weighs about 4.5 pounds, making it an effective, lightweight outdoor backpack.
The scout 3400 packs ample spaces with several compartments (including a large sleeping bag compartment, dehydration compartment and other smaller gears chamber) for any heavy backpacker.
It has several torso adjustment straps and open-cell foam lumbar pad for added comfort. This is a unisex outdoor backpack and if fitting for all genders.
Features and Pros
- Unisex outdoor backpack fitting for all genders with the adjustable torso straps.
- Features open-cell foam lumbar pad to take off the stress on the shoulder.
- A distinct and appealing aesthetic design.
- Perfect backpack for 3 -5 night trips with carrying limit of 55 liters
- Built with high quality materials and manufactured by a leading industry expert with years of active production
- The backpack is also lightweight and very comfortable for use with several customizations available.
- It’s also moderately priced. For its exceptional functions it’s priced very reasonably under $100
- It comes with a hydration compartment but the compartment might be tricky to access seeing that the hydration chamber is placed where it is not easily accessible.
The Osprey Women’s Ariel 65 backpack is a women specific backpack with features to accommodate all sizes of women. It has a wide array of compartments which includes dual side pockets for storing away water bottles and small sized gears, which makes you more organized while on the trail.
It isn’t all that heavy, weighing about 3.4 pounds and thus can be lifted easily. The Osprey Ariel 65 can contain up to 40 to 60 liters making it the perfect outdoor backpack for a 3 to 5 nights out hiking time.
There’s even a stow-on-the-go™ trekking pole attachment spacing. The Osprey Ariel 65 is built with sturdy, high quality materials for durability and maximum comfort.
Features and Pros
- This outdoor backpack is made of high quality and durable materials
- It features an IsoForm CM ™ hip belt that assists with balancing the backpack firmness and also provides support and ‘cushioning’ effect for easy carriage.
- The lightwire ™ with peripheral frame helps to effectively transfer the bulk load to the hip belt.
- The front J-zip acts as the pathway to the main compartment for easy access to gears.
- The presence of a hydration sleeve in the back panel allows for an easier refilling of the contents and prevents the pack from spilling.
- Pricey! If you are on a tight budget, you might want to consider other nice backpacks (unisex backpacks).
The Red rock assault backpack takes a different turn from the Osprey and Teton scout outdoor backpacks. Its aesthetics are decent and the backpack is made of a 600D Polyester.
It has a sort of Molle webbing that allows for attaching several other pouches and/or gears if needed. The backpack is mesh ventilated with a Velcro top closure.
It has comfortable shoulder straps that are adjustable. The overall weight of the Red rock assault backpack is 3.2 pounds making it not so heavy to carry around for a planned long hike.
It doesn’t have a very large storage just 35 liters which would make it a perfect 1 to 3 night outdoor hiking backpack.
Features and Pros
- Lightweight outdoor backpack for men weighing just 3.2 pounds
- Suitable for 1 to 3 nights out in the wild with a carrying capacity of 35 liters
- Reasonably priced and cost efficient for the budget backpackers.
- Have four quick release compression straps to allow expanding and/or consolidation
- Have Velcro keepers in case of excess slack (straps)
- Made with a decent 600 Denier PVC lined polyester.
- Built with molle webbing for having more gears or additional pouches attached.
- Can be carried on the hand with reinforced carry handle
- Adjustable shoulder straps (padded)
- The back panel is mesh ventilated
- Complaints of straps pulling off from the attach points after months of usage puts it under close watch.
While it is not an ideal backpack for survival hiking, it is actually very sturdily built and weighs about 4.5 pounds.
The backpack is made by a reputable outdoor company with over 30 years of producing highly functional gears for outdoorsy folks, and there’s a 90 days warranty in case you are not satisfied with your purchase.
Features and Pros
- The mountaintop outdoor backpack has a high carrying capacity up to 80L liters perfect for long trips (usually more than 7 days outdoor hiking).
- The mountaintop water resistant backpack is fairly priced
- The backpack is water resistant and suiting most types of weather
- There are 10 compression straps available for tying up or hanging gears, sleeping pads, hammock, tent and other equipments.
- Full adjustments can be carried out on the backpack to fit different torso lengths using the eight (8) stage height adjuster strategically placed at the back and held steady with a Velcro
- There’s support for hydration system with a water pack placed in the side of the backpack and a bladder sleeve placed in the main compartment.
- The backpack’s main compartment can be extended by up to 10 liters using the extension collar with drawstring on the backpack’s top
- This is not a very rugged backpack, and not fit for a survival expedition. Backpack has several plastic clips which could easily break with extensive use. However, at its price point, it’s one of the best outdoor backpack you can snag.
ALPS OutdoorZ military styled backpack is another sleek looking outdoor backpack. It’s somewhat lightweight at 4.1 pounds and able to contain up to 2700 cubic inches or roughly 45 liters.
It’s built sturdy and comes with aluminum frame and extension lashing straps which is helpful for carrying heavy backpacking loads and giving support. There’s a plethora of pockets for bringing all your gears with you while you head out into the wood or jungle.
As said earlier, this is a military grade backpack and thus comes with a dropdown weapon holder for storing your bow or gun for hunting.
There’s a hydration pocket on the side to store your favorite water bladder to keep you hydrated on the go. There’s an adjustable torso range to fit all sizes and keep you comfortable. The padded waist belt and padded shoulder harness also helps grants ease of motion and comfort as well.
Features and Pros
- Made with tough materials and sturdily built to last
- Light weight, just about 4.1 pounds
- Military style backpack with dropdown compartment for weapons (guns/bow)
- Carrying weight of 45 liters makes it ideal for a 3 day/night outdoor hiking
- Has a hydration pocket and port
- Rugged backpack for hunting or survival outdoor tasks.
- Asides the aesthetics which is an A-grade, it’s also quite budget friendly.
- It might not be the best for a long term hiking backpack due to its low carrying limit but it sure can take a beating.
Things to consider before opting for an outdoor backpack
Outdoor backpacks are meant to be used outdoors and mostly for long distance hikes and expeditions. Since you already know that you might be carrying them for a while, it’s best to decide if they would be worth having as hiking companions. These factors should effectively guide you in your decision.
- Youth and women specific backpacks: Depending on who would be using the backpack – an adolescent, teenager, or even a lady/woman. Certain backpacks are made with these sets of people in mind. The women specific backpacks are made to be more fitting and comfortable for ladies/women. They are usually designed with curved waist belts, shorter length of torso and more narrow shoulder width. The youth specific backpacks on the other hand are meant to carry lesser loads and they come with adjustable suspension that enables the backpack ‘grow’ with the child.
- Length of trip / Carrying volume of backpack: The length of the trip is a major influence of the backpack you would be hiking with as the general guideline for hiking is – the longer the duration of the hike, the larger the backpack. You might want to take into consideration how long you plan on staying outdoors. In deciding the best outdoor backpack for your trip, here’s the general rule;
- 1 to 3 nights = 35 to 50 liters
- Multi-day trips, i.e. 3 to 5 nights = 50 to 80 liters, and
- Long trips, i.e. up to 7 nights outdoor = more than 70 liters.
- Torso length or Size: Another important factor to consider when deciding on choosing an outdoor backpack is the torso length/size of the backpack. You don’t need to just grab a hold of any backpack and start hiking. You are expected to find one which exactly fitting (small, medium, large etc). Backpacks are measured in inches and you might want to measure your torso length before selecting a size. However if you have your torso length, here’s a breakdown of calculations;
|Up to 15.5 inches||Extra small|
|16 to 17.5 inches||Small|
|18 to 19.5 inches||Medium or regular|
|20 inches and above||Large|
When deciding to go for a best outdoor backpack, it is paramount that you take into consideration the duration of the length of time you plan to spend in the woods. This would adequately help you finding backpacks that can serve.
These outdoor backpack reviews have extensively covered the best backpacks for any duration of length with carrying size varying according to planned usage. There’s a product for everyone and outdoorsy women are not left out as the Osprey Women’s Ariel 65 backpack is succinct and specifically made for women.