The best hiking backpacks in the UK 2023

The backpack is one of the essential equipments for hiking, an outdoor activity practiced by 1 out of 3 English people. But how to choose the right one? Should you choose a large model? What is the ideal capacity to carry your stuff? To find the answers to your questions, read our guide and comparison of the best hiking backpacks of 2020.

Sac à dos de randonnée 40L Mountain 1

Best value for money

Sac à dos de randonnée 40L Mountain

The best hiking backpack in 2021

Spacious but light, this 40-liter backpack has several compartments to easily store your belongings. It is comfortable to carry, and its breathable system helps limit back perspiration.

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Comfort is one of the strong points of the Mountaintop brand's Mountain hiking backpack. In addition to the presence of mesh for good back ventilation and an Air Comfort system that keeps the frame taut, it is equipped with soft shoulder straps and a padded hip fin. So you don't feel any discomfort while walking, especially since its weight of only 820g makes this one of the lightest hiking backpacks available.

On the functional side, there are two front zippered pockets, two side mesh pockets, a central zippered compartment and several internal pockets. Thanks to its good capacity of 40 liters, this backpack is suitable for hikes of one to two days. Made of 600D polyester and nylon, it comes with a fully waterproof protective cover. All these qualities combined with an attractive price make this hiking backpack our best choice.

Sac à dos de randonnée pliable Neekfox 35L 2

Best value for money

Sac à dos de randonnée pliable Neekfox 35L

The best entry-level hiking backpack

Combining compactness, versatility and functionality, the Neekfox folding hiking backpack is suitable for day trips. Beyond its generous 35-liter capacity, it's also comfortable.

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For its price, the Neekfox 35L hiking backpack offers more than respectable performance! In addition to being ultralight, it offers a very good comfort thanks to the padded and breathable mesh straps, reinforced by the S-shaped straps that distribute the pressure evenly. Even if it is not recommended to fill it completely, its structure seems to be solid. Indeed, this hiking bag has stoppers at the pressure points, and its bottom part is double-layered. In addition, the nylon and polyester materials are highly tear-resistant, giving it added strength. These materials make it waterproof by the time you're ready to take cover in case of rain.

The Neekfox hiking backpack has a main zippered compartment, as well as two side mesh pockets and two interior zippered pockets. The zippers used are smooth to ensure a comfortable use.

Osprey Atmos AG 65 hiking backpack 3

Best value for money

Osprey Atmos AG 65 hiking backpack

The best high-end hiking backpack

Designed for long trips of three days or more, the Osprey Atmos AG 65 hiking backpack provides unparalleled carrying comfort and support while being highly functional.

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With a capacity of 65 liters, the Osprey Atmos AG 65 hiking backpack is suitable for hikers who need autonomy. Its numerous storage compartments allow you to carry a maximum of objects. It has two side pockets, two zippered pockets accessible from the front, two belt pockets and a base compartment. This one also has a divider to place a sleeping bag.

With this backpack, you won't feel fatigue due to the weight of the load, even if you fill it to the maximum, no matter how long your adventure lasts. That's because it's equipped with an ExoForm harness, Fit-on-The-Fly belt and load-lifting frame that reduce fatigue. Its AG AntiGravity suspended mesh back system with ventilated belt ensures excellent ventilation. Note that you can use it without its hood by deploying the FlapJacket flap located on top.

Osprey Hikelite 26 Unisex 4

A great choice

Osprey Hikelite 26 Unisex

A great mid-range hiking bag

Although compact, the Osprey Hikelite 26 mixed hiking backpack is packed with features. It carries the essentials for day trips.

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The Osprey Hikelite 26 hiking bag has plenty of storage to carry everything you need for a day of hiking. In addition to the large front tote pocket, it also features two Powermesh side pockets for carrying water bottles, as well as a top front pocket for storing your glasses and smartphone, for example. The whole is completed by an internal hydration sleeve. Note that you can attach poles to the upper compression straps.

For your comfort, the Osprey Hikelite 26 hiking backpack is equipped with a suspended AirSpeed mesh back panel, which ensures maximum ventilation. This prevents your back from sweating. The bag is stabilized with a removable hip belt and an adjustable chest strap. Finally, you should know that a removable waterproof protective cover is integrated into this hiking bag.

Buying guide • November 2023

Best hiking backpack

Any specific needs?

The best hiking backpack in 2021

The best entry-level hiking backpack

The best high-end hiking backpack

A great mid-range hiking bag

Your guide : Samuel

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Comparison table of the best hiking backpacks

Sac à dos de randonnée 40L Mountain 5
Sac à dos de randonnée pliable Neekfox 35L 6
Osprey Atmos AG 65 hiking backpack 7
Osprey Hikelite 26 Unisex 8
Sac à dos de randonnée 40L Mountain
Sac à dos de randonnée pliable Neekfox 35L
Osprey Atmos AG 65 hiking backpack
Osprey Hikelite 26 Unisex
Spacious but light, this 40-liter backpack has several compartments to easily store your belongings. It is comfortable to carry, and its breathable system helps limit back perspiration.
Combining compactness, versatility and functionality, the Neekfox folding hiking backpack is suitable for day trips. Beyond its generous 35-liter capacity, it's also comfortable.
Designed for long trips of three days or more, the Osprey Atmos AG 65 hiking backpack provides unparalleled carrying comfort and support while being highly functional.
Although compact, the Osprey Hikelite 26 mixed hiking backpack is packed with features. It carries the essentials for day trips.
40 L
35 L
65 L
26 L
Polyester 600D
Nylon, polyester
Nylon 100D x 630D Dobby
Nylon 100D Mini Diamond Shadow
Frame type
Padded foam
Padded foam
Suspended stretch net
Hanging vest
820 g
318 g
2200 g
700 g

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Buying guide - hiking backpack

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How to choose your hiking backpack

#1 - The capacity

This is surely the first criterion to take into account. Hiking means walking. Depending on the duration of your outing, you will need a backpack with more or less capacity. If you're only going for a day, you should stick to a backpack with a maximum capacity of 40 L. There is nothing more pleasant than traveling light: a bag of this size weighs 12 kg at most. It will be most practical if the adventure includes a helicopter or plane ride. Indeed, you will not have to put it in the hold. The bag fits neatly on the top shelf or under the seat. However, for those who leave for a few days or even weeks, models from 50 to 80 L are available, depending on the equipment to be carried. Other models are expandable, very practical and less bulky.

#2 - The material of manufacture

The material of manufacture is a determining criterion of choice in terms of hiking backpack. To be in the look, choose a military-style nylon model for intensive use. You'll also be assured of better scratch resistance. A hiking backpack made of a solid material also guarantees increased sturdiness, for worry-free use over time. High-strength nylon also guarantees optimal waterproofing. Moreover, this type of bag often comes with a waterproof cover that is very convenient during bad weather. There are also models that are waterproof, to avoid the tedious task of still putting on a raincoat or putting on the bag's cover.

#3 - Wearing comfort

Also choose your hiking backpack according to the comfort of wearing it. Opt for a model with padding on the part in contact with the back. Wide enough padded shoulder straps and cinch straps also make the bag lighter, even if it's full and you're doing a brisk walk. Also, make sure you have D-shaped shoulder straps to increase comfort tenfold. This way, you can easily use your camcorder to capture your adventures in the heart of the world's most wonderful landscapes.

All-season hiking bag

Some hiking bags are light and airy and designed for summer use, while others are all-season compatible. Special fall and winter hiking bags, on the other hand, generally have a larger capacity. This is due to the fact that the hiker needs to carry more equipment, especially to protect himself from the cold.

#4 - Other useful features

To meet ever-increasing demands, hiking bags feature ultra-practical options that will be of great help in all your outings. For example, some bags are equipped with external hooks to easily carry accessories, multiple compartments, both internal and external for personal belongings such as phone and water bottle.

What volume and size should you choose for your hiking backpack?

You won't need the same size backpack for a one-day hike as you will for a two-day or longer outing. Also, it is important to choose the right size of backpack for your anatomy or weight.

Choosing the right size backpack

The length of your outing and your level of autonomy will determine the size of the hiking bag you need. For a one-day or half-day hike, you'll only need to carry the essentials, such as snacks, your phone, a bottle of water and a few small personal items. On the other hand, for a two-day to one-week adventure, you'll need plenty of cargo capacity to carry your bivouac gear, sleeping bag and food.

If you are going to the mountains with one or a few nights in a lodge with food, you won't need to bring a camping tent or sleeping bag. You won't have to bring any food either. In this case you will need a medium to small hiking bag.

If, on the other hand, you choose total autonomy and if your route is over rough terrain, you will need to carry a larger amount of equipment and accessories. In this case, your backpack must have a large load volume.

Here is an indicative table to know the capacity of a backpack according to the type of hike.

Type of trip


Half day to 1 day hike

10 to 35 L

2 to 4 day hike with meals and nights in a gîte

30 to 35 L

5 to 7 day hike with food and lodging

35 to 40 L

Hike of more than a week with nights in a lodge without food

40 to 50 L

2 to 3 days hiking in complete autonomy

40 to 50 L

3 to 7 days hiking in total autonomy

50 to 70 L

Hike of more than a week in total autonomy

More than 70 L

And the size ?

Not all hiking bags have the same back length, and the choice of size depends mainly on the hiker's morphology. For example, if you are 1.80 m tall, a long hiking bag is recommended.

Expandable volume

The volume of a hiking backpack indicates the volume of all pockets plus the volume of the central compartment. However, some models have two numbers, for example 65 L + 10 L. The second number corresponds to the volume of the extension that equips them. If you don't want to end up with a hiking bag that is too big, choose an expandable model.

The different types of hiking backpacks

Hiking backpacks differ mainly in their frame, which is a determining factor for carrying comfort. Indeed, the frame is in direct contact with the back, it allows a better distribution of the load, while contributing to stabilize the bag during the walk.

Hiking backpack with suspended mesh frame

This type of hiking backpack is equipped with a suspended net whose two ends are attached to the top and bottom of the frame. The net leaves a space between the bag and the back. Backpacks with a suspended net frame are especially designed for short day hikes in terrain with little difference in altitude. They are mainly characterized by their small capacity.

With this type of hiking bag, you don't feel like you're wearing a backpack, and your back is very well ventilated

. Nevertheless, to preserve the comfort of carrying, the weight of the load must be limited to about 8 kg. Beyond that, you risk being unbalanced while walking.

Hiking backpack with padded foam frame


hiking bag with padded foam frame is ergonomic. The frame adjusts to the hiker's back, providing great stability to the bag regardless of the weight of the load. Thus, this type of hiking backpack is the most comfortable to carry

. This is why it is available in large capacities of up to 110 L depending on the size. Ideal for long hikes, this type of backpack allows you to carry heavy loads for longer periods without getting tired.

Nevertheless, it has some disadvantages. In addition to its higher empty weight, it can cause discomfort in the hips because of the foam. In addition, the back is less ventilated than on a mesh-framed bag.

Hiking backpack with suspended net


this type of hiking bag, the mesh frame is attached all the way down the back, as opposed to the hanging mesh that is attached at the top and bottom. This provides greater flexibility to the net, preventing load shifts back and sideways while walking. Ergonomics and stability of the bag are improved by the shoulder straps and hip belt. Thus, the Hiking Bag with Stretch Net offers the carrying comfort of a padded frame bag, while being well ventilated. You can use it to carry heavy loads without sweating during your summer hikes.

Mesh or foam frame?

Net frame

Hiking bags with a mesh frame have the advantage of excellent back ventilation. However, they are not suitable for carrying heavy loads because the weight is not properly distributed. The support is limited and the bag may swing if overloaded. This reduces the comfort of carrying, and the hiker risks getting tired prematurely.

Hiking backpack with foam frame

Hiking backpacks with a foam frame offer much better ergonomics and excellent weight distribution. They limit the movement of the bag during the effort, and the hiker has the feeling of carrying a very light bag even with a heavy load. On the other hand, ventilation is less than with a mesh frame.


The Hiking Bag with Stretch Net or Hanging Stretch Net is ideal for short day hikes that do not require a large load. Lightweight and well ventilated, it is suitable for everyday use, especially in summer.

The one equipped with a padded foam frame is suitable for hikes of two days or more, in semi-autonomous or total autonomy mode. It combines comfort of carrying and large loading capacity. It is particularly suitable for autumn or mountain hikes.

Why buy a hiking backpack?

A reliable storage bag

Many hiking backpacks focus on the reliability of the closures. There's nothing more annoying than losing your stuff in the middle of an adventure. For peace of mind, opt for models with two-line zippers. Velcro closures would be welcome in the front pockets. This will allow you to access your water bottle or smartphone easily.

A large capacity bag

When you go hiking, you have to bring everything you need. This requires more or less storage space in your bag. There is nothing more annoying than bringing several small accessories and bags, at the risk of becoming totally cluttered and not finding it fun anymore. To avoid this, choose a bag that will hold the necessities.

A wide choice

When it comes to hiking backpacks, you have a lot to choose from. For a young woman who travels alone and doesn't like to be noticed, a discreet hiking backpack is a must. She'll choose a solid-colored and especially neutral model. Men, on the other hand, will opt for a more "manly" colour and pattern, such as a military backpack.

An ergonomic bag

Many hiking backpacks are ergonomically designed. You'll definitely want to look for a model where you can access the central area of the bag in two ways: from the top and from the bottom. Also check for a tent attachment system in the lower part of the bag.

The best brands of hiking backpacks

In our opinion, the best brands of hiking backpacks in 2022 are :

The North Face

Founded in 1974 in California by Mike Pfotenhauer, Osprey is an outdoor equipment brand that offers guaranteed high-quality products. It is known for its innovations, such as the introduction in 1976 of the breathable mesh that ensures maximum ventilation.

Founded in 1898, Deuter is a German brand specializing in mountain sports equipment. Deuter's products are designed and manufactured by enthusiasts, and therefore reflect the brand's desire to offer the best in outdoor equipment.

Millet is a French brand of mountain equipment that was founded in 1921 near Lyon. In 1964, the brand launched its first lightweight, waterproof nylon backpack with a patented nylon shoulder strap. Millet products are renowned for their quality, as evidenced by the decision of the major alpine guide companies to choose them.

The North Face was founded in 1966 in San Francisco by hiking enthusiasts. The brand focuses on the excellence of its products, which are worn by adventure, mountaineering and climbing enthusiasts.

Moutaintop is a Chinese manufacturer of products for water sports, extreme sports, hiking and camping. The brand is known for the quality of its products and for its affordable prices.

What is the price for a hiking backpack

The diagram below will help you to get an idea of the typical prices for each price range (entry-level, mid-range and high-end).

However, more expensive does not necessarily mean better.

We therefore advise you to always consult our ranking before deciding, rather than blindly relying on price ranges.

15 £ to 25 £
25 £ to 100 £
more than 100 £
Price range diagram


Share the load.

If you are going on a group hike, split up who brings the stove, who brings the tents, etc. Take the time to organize and then divide the weight of your gear evenly among your group members.

Dry your equipment.

Make sure to

dry tents, tarps, clothing, and any other equipment before putting it away. You can always hang them on your backpack to dry while you hike or lay them out in a sunny spot while you pack and eat breakfast. Wet gear will weigh more.

Choose the garbage bag over the backpack cover.

Covers are bulky, heavy, and sometimes ineffective. Instead of covering the outside of your bag, cover the inside of your bag with a garbage bag and keep all your gear inside. Garbage bags are super waterproof, replaceable, affordable, and weigh a fraction of the weight of a bag cover.

No cotton.


packing your clothes, choose lightweight synthetics or merino over heavier fabrics like cotton and denim. Not only do synthetic fabrics weigh less, they are also more water resistant than their traditional counterparts and take up far less space.

Carry your backpack smartly.


center of balance and the center of your body's strength is in the middle of your back, so make sure most of the weight of a pack is there. If you carry the pack too high or too low, you will either feel crushed by the weight pushing you forward or feel like you are being pulled backward.


What is the ideal capacity for a hiking backpack?

It all depends on the type of hiking you plan to do and the type of practice you prefer (traditional hiking, ultralight, etc.). If in doubt, the ideal is to take a bag of about 35 litres. This is best suited for full day hikes or longer. You can put in this hiking bag: water, food, clothes and some basic equipment.

Is it possible to use an ordinary backpack for hiking?

Yes, you don't need a special backpack for hiking. Any ordinary backpack is suitable for day hikes. However, if you hike a lot or need to carry heavier gear, specialized hiking backpacks have many advantages over regular backpacks (starting with a belt that helps you carry the weight of the pack with your hips).

What size backpack do I need for a 3-day hike?

Choose a 35 to 50 litre backpack. This is more than enough to carry a sleeping bag for hiking, a small tent and mattress, as well as extra clothes and layers. You'll also need a small stove, food and basic cooking utensils, and most importantly a water purifier, first aid kit and navigation tools. For the 50-litre models, you can even pack camping gear like a coffee maker, a small camping lantern and a small folding chair.

How do I carry my hiking backpack without hurting my shoulders?

If the front of your shoulders are very sore when you carry a hiking backpack, make sure that most of the weight is on your back and hips, not on your shoulders. If the pain is due to your pack being too heavy, get a new, larger or better padded pack, or find another way to lighten your load.


Note: Below are some of the sources we have consulted in writing this article. Links to other sites are not continuously updated. It is therefore possible that a link may not be found. Please use a search engine to find the desired information.
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March 2022 : Translation of this buying guide from our partner

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Our selection
Sac à dos de randonnée 40L Mountain 9
Sac à dos de randonnée 40L Mountain
Sac à dos de randonnée pliable Neekfox 35L 10
Sac à dos de randonnée pliable Neekfox 35L
Osprey Atmos AG 65 hiking backpack 11
Osprey Atmos AG 65 hiking backpack
Osprey Hikelite 26 Unisex 12
Osprey Hikelite 26 Unisex


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