Hiking - Gear/Equipment

How to Select the Best Hiking Backpack

3438 Views - 6 mins read

When planning a trip, you will probably create a huge checklist of things to pack. Camera? Check. Charger? Check. Boots? Check. But oh! Where do you keep all that stuff? This is where selecting the best hiking backpack comes in handy.

Travellers often overlook a basic essential required for a trip – a hiking backpack! This leads to chaos and confusion at the last minute when you are trying to dump everything in your bag, literally to the point that it bursts.

To avoid this, all you need to do is a simple research beforehand. Select the best hiking backpack first and then fill it up with things that you want to take along. This task might seem unnecessary at first but with the right knowledge, you will soon realize that this could save a lot of your time and energy.

Choose the Best Hiking Backpack for your Adventure

Know More Here:

Depending on your travel plans, let’s find out the best hiking backpack for you.

Hiking Backpacks Based on Type of Frame

Frame-less Backpacks

These hiking backpacks are your typical bags that are commonly used by school and college students. They are just normal bags with shoulder straps and provide no rigid back support.

Frame-less hiking backpacks are often lightweight, ideal for short journeys and trips, where you just need a handful of basic items like a hygiene kit and packed food.

How to Select the Best Hiking Backpack
Hiking Backpack

External Frame Backpacks

External Frame backpacks are becoming rare these days. However, they are still preferred by travellers looking for a bag with rigid back support.

These hiking backpacks are heavy, sturdy and are best used to carry large and irregular objects. The frame helps you keep your posture straight while hiking.

Planning to hike with these? Here’s how to get in shape for a tough hike.

How to Select the Best Hiking Backpack?

Frame Backpacks Image Source

Internal Frame Backpacks

Internal frame backpacks have become extremely popular among travellers of all kinds, as they provide the right amount of weight and support. They usually come with padded shoulder straps and waist belt to help stabilize the load.

These are the one of the best hiking backpack suited for rough terrains like mountains and forests .

How to Select the Best Hiking Backpack?
Internal Frame Backpacks Image Source

Backpacks Based on Utility

Day Backpacks

As the name suggests, these bags are generally used for short or one-day trips.

They are small and lightweight but are large enough to carry necessary items like rope, torch, water bottles, first-aid kit, sunscreen, etc. They come in two varieties – front-loading and top-loading .

The capacity ranges from 25-35 litres.

How to Select the Best Hiking Backpack?
Day Backpacks Image Source

Front loading Backpacks

These bags have a U-shaped zipper that opens at the front, providing easy access to the packed items. However, they offer a poor back support and the zipper makes the bags less water resistant.

Top loading Backpacks

These are basically mini-rucksacks that open at the top with the help of a drawstring. They are easier to carry and provide a good back support while trekking.

Hydration Backpacks

These backpacks come with a built-in hydration system. A plastic or rubber reservoir called ‘bladder’ is attached to the bag which can be accessed for drinking water through a tube. These backpacks also help to keep the water warm during freezing weather.

They are commonly used by cyclists and hikers who are planning to cover longer distances .


Best Hiking Backpack
Hydration Backpacks Image Source

Mid-sized Backpacks

If you are looking for best hiking backpacks that are lightweight and yet large enough to stash your stuff.

medium sized backpack
Mid-sized Backpacks Source

Go for mid-sized backpacks which range from 35-60 litres which mean you can still carry moderately heavy items like cameras or books. This way, you do not have to worry about carrying heavy loads while going on a hike longer than a day.

Expedition Backpacks

If you are going on a trip that extends longer than a week, then expedition packs with a capacity of over 60 litres , will be the best in terms of utility.

These heavy-duty backpacks come with a waist belt and lumbar pad to help you carry the load. So, the next time you’re off on a backpacking trip abroad, pack your gear and travel without any worries.

Best Hiking Backpack
Expedition Backpacks Image Source

Components of a good Hiking Backpack

How to Select the Best Hiking Backpack
Components of Hiking BackpackImage Source

Although the components of a backpack depend on the size and type of bag, most of the bags come with the following features.


Shoulder straps – Shoulder straps provide comfort and stability. The padding used for shoulder straps depends on the size. Large bags usually have a thick padding.

Load lifters – These straps connect the top of the pack frame to the shoulder straps. You can adjust them to stabilize the load as per your convenience.

Sternum strap – Also, known as the chest strap, sternum strap is adjustable and helps keep your bag steady by connecting both the shoulder straps at your chest.

Compression straps – Located along the sides of the bag, they are useful in adjusting the volume of your bag. This helps in efficient transportation and load stabilization.

Accessory straps – Some backpacks may provide accessory straps where you can fit large items like rolled mats or tents.

Hip Belt

Did you know that 80% of your backpack’s weight should be supported by the hip belt? It is very important that the belt fits you perfectly to avoid unnecessary load on your shoulders.


Located at the top of the pack, the lid comes with a zipped pocket for easy storage. In some backpacks, it can be removed to reduce the load.

Front and Back Panels

The front panel offers easy access to the zipped compartments of the bag, whereas the back panel helps improve ventilation and comfort, with a foam cushioning and mesh material.

Stretched side pockets

These pockets can be used to store essentials like water bottles, snacks or medicines.

Important Tips to Select Best Hiking Backpack

How to Select the Best Hiking Backpack
Tips to Select Best Hiking Backpack Image Source

Now that you’ve learned about the different types and components of backpacks, let us give you a few tips and tricks that will help you channelize your search in a better way.

Size does Matter

The last thing you need to hear when packing your belongings is that your bag is too small or too large, adding unnecessary confusion. Avoid this by selecting the appropriate size considering the usage and the length of the trip.

Along with backpacks, choosing the correct shoes can also be tricky.

Take a look at the best trekking shoes for a comfortable trek

Choose your Budget

Selecting a price range helps narrow down your search, based on its usage and purpose. For example, if you are hiking in extreme terrain, it is a good idea to look for bags from well-reputed brands, which may cost you a lot more.

Suit Yourself

Besides size and price range, it is very important that you buy a backpack that suits your requirement. A number of factors which you should consider are any personal health issues, type of material used, weather and terrain of hiking destination, etc.

A backpack matters more to us than we realize. So, plan your trip, choose your hiking backpack carefully and give in to the wanderlust in you as you travel the world.