To see even more of the best hiking backpacks on the market, check out the lightweight backpacks list.
Best Hiking BackpacksHiking backpacks are always an important piece of gear because they are the main piece of gear that you are interacting with while hiking. A poorly designed backpack, or a backpack that isn't packed correctly can cause a lot of pain over the long run, and can turn an otherwise enthusiastic hiker off of hiking.
The top hiking backpacks, then, are the ones that you forget you are wearing, while still carrying everything that you need for your hiking trip.
High Quality Hiking Backpack FeaturesThere are a few features that are common to most of the better hiking backpacks on the market.
- Lightweight - One of the most important features of any of the most popular hiking backpacks is the weight of the backpack itself. Why carry a 5 pound backpack, after all, when you could be carrying a 1 pound backpack instead. That's 4 less pounds that you have to carry for the entire day.
- Frameless - Although this will depend on how much gear you are carrying, the best possible hiking backpacks are frameless backpacks or else have only a minimalist frame. With the right packing techniques you can eliminate the need for a frame on all the but the heaviest loads.
Best Frameless Hiking BackpacksHere are a few of the better hiking backpacks without internal frames on the market. To see even more, check out the lightweight backpacks list.
- GoLite Jam - The Jam is the most well known hiking backpack from lightweight manufacturer GoLite. It's been around a long time and has been well field tested, with plenty of improvements over the years, so if you like an experienced, fine tuned backpack, then this is the top hiking backpack for you.
- Mountain Laurel Designs Prophet - Mountain Laurel Designs is not a very well known brand name outside of the lightweight backpacking community, but they make some of the best biking backpacks in the frameless backpack category. In fact, the Prophet won the Reader's Choice for Best Ultralight Backpack award in 2011 from Backpacker Magazine, making it one of the best hiking backpacks around.
- ULA Equipment CDT - ULA is another lightweight backpack manufacturer popular with the lightweight backpacking community, but not well known to the mainstream. But again, they make excellent lightweight backpacks that hand constructed in the United States. The CDT is one of their most popular products.
Best Framed Hiking BackpacksHere are a few of the highest quality hiking backpacks with frames on the market right now. You can find even more over at the lightweight backpacks list.
- Granite Gear Blaze A.C. 60 - This is another award winner. The A.C. 60 also won a Backpacker Magazine award in 2011, this time the Editor's Choice Award. It's heavier than the frameless backpacks above, but its popular with reviewers and the awards make it any obvious choice for one of the better hiking backpacks currently on the market.
- ULA Equipment Circuit - ULA also has a few lightweight backpacks with frames, though the frames are fairly minimalist as far as frames go. At 2.2 pounds, or 1020 grams, it weighs less than a lot of frameless backpacks, and is an excellent hiking backpack for you if you want something with just enough frame support to give you some peace of mind.
- Arc'teryx Bora 95 - The Bora 95 is not a lightweight backpack, but if you need 95 liters of carrying capacity your first concern probably isn't weight. This is a full feature, expedition backpack. If you're looking for something that is rich in technical features and can carry enough gear for two, this is the best possible hiking backpack for you.