If you are planning a hiking trip or are just thinking about picking it up as a hobby, having the perfect gear is an important part of taking that hike. The backpack you end up choosing is one of the most important parts of your hiking gear since it actually holds your gear. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to choosing one of these bags for your next hiking expedition. In fact, there are several different types of hiking packs that hikers can purchase for this type of use.
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Types of Hiking Backpacks
Types of hiker’s gear bags that you can buy include external frame packs, internal frame hiking backpacks, hiking daypacks, hiking waist packs, hiking hydration packs and hiking dog packs. You will also find several different great brands to choose from. My first hiking specific one was a Kelty Redwing 44, which are a good option for people on a budget. These days I’m also a fan of Osprey and REI brands for affordability. I still have my old Kelty, but have transitioned it to my carry-on luggage when flying instead of using as a hiking bag. It is comfortable to wear for long periods and it easily fits in an overhead bin on an airplane. This is the bag that I travel with everywhere when I fly. So much better than a suitcase, and then I can wear it hiking when I arrive at my destination. Keep reading if you want to learn about my top picks for hikers this year.
As you’ll see below, I have found a few models that I think are the best on one market right now, but there are plenty of other best selling products for hikers like you.Some of the other popular brands include Osprey and High Sierra. I want to note that if you go with one of the Kelty options, you can buy an rain cover the for the bag. You have to pay extra for the cover, but it is definitely a good investment to keep all your gear dry. Plus, the cover is actually pretty cheap, so it will not end up costing you all that much extra in the long run. Many of the other brands actually come with a free rain cover, so you may want to look for that when you are comparing the different packs.
The North Face Terra 50 Pack Review
One of my favorite outdoor gear brands is The North Face and this hiking pack is probably one of my favorites that they offer. This thing is huge and very high quality.
What I like about this one: made by a brand that I trust, high quality and durable, has plenty of space, feels comfortable to wear, and has plenty of pockets for me to stash stuff.
What I don’t like about this one: due to it’s size, it is very bulky when traveling and the price is higher than a lot of other options on the market.
TETON Sports FOX5200 Internal Frame Backpack Review
This TETON Sports Fox 5200 Internal Frame is a great choice for hikers who want a bag internal frame – in fact, I think that it is the best internal frame backpack for the money. One of the best things about the TETON Sports Fox 5200 Internal Frame is that you get all of the features of an expensive internal frame option but at a low price. It has a lot of room for all your gear and can be adjusted to fit different torso lengths. The rain cover that comes with it is a nice bonus. Plus, this one is hydration system ready.
The great thing about this TETON Sports Fox 5200 Internal Frame is that it can hold 85 litres, and it is actually pretty cheap for that amount of space. If you need that much space, then this is really your best best – unless you are flying and need to carry your TETON Sports Fox 5200 Internal Frame as a carry-on item. This one will not easily fit in the overhead bin, unfortunately. That’s why I only use this one on road trips or local hikes. I also really like that this backpack has a cheap price (in my opinion).
One of the few things that I hate about this TETON Sports Fox 5200 Internal Frame is the color choices. You only get to choose between two different colors. You can go with the blue and black option or the red and black option. Personally, I prefer to have more options than that. And if I want a big pack, then I want it in a bright orange in the event that I get injured the coloring makes it easy for people to spot me from afar. But, that is just my own personal preferences.
High Sierra Women’s Piton 30 Internal Frame Pack Review
Designed specifically for women’s bodies, High Sierra also makes this one for guys in a 35L option.
What I like about this one: the fit feels comfortable and it can really hold a lot without feeling too heavy. I also appreciate that it comes with a rain cover and has a place for hiking poles.
What I don’t like about this one: not enough smaller pockets for gadgets and other things that I want to keep easily accessible. And for longer hikes or travels, it might not have enough room for everything you need to carry.
REI Crestrail 70 Pack Review
If you need a good 70L pack, then definitely consider this one. I think it is probably one of your best options for this size.
What I like about this one: it has so much space without ever feeling too heavy – even when you’ve stuff it full! It feels really comfortable when you’ve got it on and I love that it has so many pockets. Plus, the REI brand has a lifetime warranty, which you can’t beat.
What I don’t like about this one: I don’t like the way the water pouch pocket is designed. There is no easy access to it, which means that you have to put in the pack first thing – and if you need to fill it while your pack is still loaded, then you have to empty it to gain access. It’s really not the ideal setup, but manageable if you remember it in advance.
Osprey Kestrel 48 Pack Review
Of course, Osprey is one of the top brands on the market when it comes to packs, and though they make some larger capacity models, I really like this 48L model.
What I like about this one: This is made by a brand that I trust, the quality is good and it feels comfortable as long as your water pouch isn’t too full. I also like that it comes with its own rain cover.
What I don’t like about this one: Like the REI model listed up above, reaching your water bladder is a real pain in the ass with this one as well. What’s worse, if you have more than about 1.5L of water in it, then it will poke through a bit into your back, which is not very comfortable at all.
JanSport Carson Trail Series Backpack Review
This JanSport Trail Series Carson external frame option is great for hikers in need of a good external frame for hiking trips. In fact, I think that it is probably the best external frame hiking backpack for the money due to its affordability. It can fit both guys and girls since it fits 16″-21″ length torsos. It sits comfortably on your shoulders and has breathable mesh. I like this JanSport Trail Series Carson for when I am driving to wherever it is that I will be hiking. It is a little bulky for taking as a carry on item when flying. So, I cannot really recommend it for hikers who fly to some place to go hiking. Or even just people who take a vacation and go hiking, like I do sometimes. But for local hikes, or road trip hikes, this JanSport Trail Series Carson is the perfect choice for outdoor enthusiasts.
Osprey Daylite Daypack Review
Hikers who just need a small backpack can check out the Osprey Daylite hiking dayback. Osprey is a popular brand when it comes to hiking backpacks, and for good reason. This Osprey Daylite is high quality and works perfectly with a larger hiking bag. And it holds a lot of stuff despite its small size. I think it is probably the best hiking daypack for the money right now.
Daypacks like the Osprey Daylite are great for those hikes when you do not expect to spend a ton of time outside. For instance, say you do not need to carry tons of snacks or water with you, then this is a good choice. I think that they are also great for traveling if you do not need to take a lot of gear with you. In fact, I sometimes like to stash a daypack in my larger Kelty one so that I can do some daily sightseeing with the daypack since it is not as heavy when empty as an internal frame pack.
My Favorite Place for Hiking – Waimea Canyon, Kauai
Usually when I plan a vacation, it is not to go relax and do nothing. Instead, I plan fairly active vacations. Often, these trips involve a lot of hikes and other outdoor activities. A few years ago, I planned a trip to Hawaii that took me to the Big Island, Oahu and Kauai.
While there, I did a hike up to the top of Diamond Head in Oahu. It was a little more grueling than I expected, but the view at the top was totally amazing and totally worth it. What they do not tell you is that the area you have to pass through in order to get out at the very top is rather narrow. And it is a little of a climb and takes some maneuvering. So, if you are quite overweight or have mobility issues, then you will (sadly) not be able to emerge at the very tip top. However, you can still get some great island views on the way up – so I still suggest that you give it a try.
But, my favorite hike while there – and of all time – is the one I took through Waimea Canyon while on the island of Kauai. It involved scary parts where there was a long drop-off of one side. And then there were amazing waterfalls that were virtually untouched by people. And the views. They were truly stunning.
On each hike I took while there I used a small Eagle Creek bag that I was carrying with me as a sort of hand bag. The one that I use is about the size of a iPad tablet, so there is a decent amount of space in it. Not great for longer treks though since it can make the one shoulder a bit on the sore side after a while. But still – it was nice for holding my water and my snacks.
Next time, I hope to check out the Napali Coast. I hear that it is even more amazing in scenic view.