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The Best Hiking Backpacks

For serious outdoor enthusiasts, buying a hiking backpack can be almost as important as buying a new car. Sure it is not as expensive as a car, but it is a mini investment and one that should not be taken lightly. Taking the time to research, try on, and test out hiking backpacks is really important if you want to choose the right bag.

One of the first things you need to consider when purchasing a new hiking backpack is what size pack you need.  Do you need a pack for overnight hikes or will you just be doing daytrips?  If you would like a pack for overnight trips, how many days will you typically be backpacking for?  It is also important to think about how much weight you plant to carry.

Most backpacks these days have a number incorporated into their name such as the Jade 50 or Flash 18.  What these numbers mean is the carrying capacity of the bag in liters.  Hiking backpacks are basically categorized into three types: daypacks, multi-day packs, and extended trip packs.

Daypacks are generally from 15-35 liters.  These small hiking backpacks are great for day trips and short jaunts.

Here are some of our favorite hiking daypacks:

Multi-day backpacks range from 40 to 75 liters and are good for 2 to 4 days of backpacking.  Multi-day hiking backpacks are also a good size for round the world trips.  Multi-day packs often come in women-specific versions as well as unisex.

Here are some of our favorite multi-day backpacks:

Extended trip packs
are huge with 80 liters of space or more.  Extended trip packs are used for outings of 5 days or more.  These hiking backpacks are also used for winter treks or if your trip necessitates a lot of gear like bear canisters or climbing gear.

Here are some of our favorite extended trip packs:

We highly advise that you never buy a hiking backpack without ever having tried it on, let alone tested it.  There are so many reasons that this is a bad idea that I can’t even begin to list them. Just trust me that it’s a bad idea.  At the very minimum, you should at least go to an outdoor retailer like REI and try some packs on. Once you try on a few hiking backpacks that you like, see if they can put some weight in it for you so that you can get a better idea of how it will feel with gear in it.

Do yourself a favor and do the research before you buy a hiking backpack. Spend some time reading reviews, talking to other hikers, and trying on a variety of packs. This will make a world of difference when it comes down to choosing the best hiking backpack for you. A well researched hiking backpack should last you for years to come. If you have any comments or suggestions on buying a hiking backpack, leave them in the comments section below.