Best Backpacking Backpacks of 2019


Osprey Atmos 50

Osprey Atmos 50

A backpack is one of the most basic, yet important pieces of backpacking gear. The longer the trip, the more important it is to have a good backpack on your shoulders because you are likely to carry a heavy load when hitting the road for more than a few days. Because good backpacking backpacks are relatively expensive, some caution is required when buying one.

In this selection we only listed backpacking backpacks with a volume around 55 liters because we already covered smaller packs in our reviews of the Best Hiking Backpacks and Best Daypacks. Backpacks with a volume around 55 liters usually work best for three-day to five-day hikes, depending on your packing style and conditions on the trail.

Be aware, however, that the products listed in this review might be too big/spacious for shorter hiking trips as any backpack needs to be sufficiently packed – otherwise items inside can move around and decrease your balance on steep terrain. Read more about how to properly pack a backpack here. Backpacks in this review are, however, perfect for multi-day hiking, expeditions, backpacking and travelling where you need enough space to carry not only basic things but also sleeping equipment, cooking equipment and other gear for spending days in the wilderness.

We regularly update our reviews and selections to always recommend you the best products on the market.

1. Buying a hiking backpack – What is important?

Frame:

Backpacking backpacks typically have internal frames to efficiently transfer the weight from the shoulders to the hips. This is important since the hips are supported by larger muscles than the shoulders and carrying a heavy load in a backpack with a frame is thus less strenuous. All products in this review are equipped with internal frames. To learn more about internal frames, read this article from outdoors.org.

Fit:

The backpack has to match your torso length so that it sits comfortably on your back. Check out the fit section in our Hiking Backpacks Guide to learn how to measure your torso length. For all backpacks listed in this review you can find the torso lengths they fit in the table below. Note that some are available in different sizes. It is also important to adjust the backpack correctly (hipbelt, shoulder straps etc.). Learn how to adjust the backpack in our article How to fit a backpack.

Backpanel:

Modern backpacking backpacks feature ergonomically shaped backpanels. Some come with suspended mesh backpanels, which create a distance between your back and the backpack, thus allowing air to flow in between. Such backpanels provide superb ventilation and allow sweat to evaporate from your back.

Weight:

Backpacking is a strenuous activity and therefore you should have a lightweight backpack. The lighter your gear, the faster you can hike. We only listed lightweight products in this selection. Learn more about why it is important to use lightweight gear for backpacking in our article Why hike lightweight.

Pockets and attachment points:

In addition to the main compartment, a backpack should have easily accessible pockets. Pockets allow you to organize your gear better. It should also have attachment points for hiking poles, ice axes and other bulky gear.

Hydration System Compatibility:

Most high-quality backpacks are equipped with a sleeve/pocket for a water reservoir. Typically, such a sleeve fits a water reservoir with a volume of up to 3 liters. Hydrations systems are very useful because they allow you to hydrate on the go. For more information about hydration systems read our article Hydration Systems VS. Water Bottles. As  backpacks usually don’t come with a hydration bladder, also check out our review of the Best Hydration Bladders.

Expert Selections
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2. The Best Backpacking Backpacks Review

Best Backpacking Backpacks

Best Backpacking Backpacks

The Best Backpacking Backpacks of 2019 – List

  1. Osprey Exos 58
  2. Osprey Atmos 50
  3. Arcteryx Bora AR 50
  4. Kelty Revol 65
  5. Gregory Baltoro 65

Comparison:

Feature/Product Osprey Exos 58Osprey Atmos 50Arcteryx Bora AR 50Kelty Revol 65Gregory Baltoro 65
Weight2 lbs. 6 oz.4 lbs. 5 oz. 4 lbs. 7 oz.4 lbs. 3 oz.5 lbs. 1 oz.
Weight (Metric)1090 g 1960 g 2018 g1900 g 2300 g
Frame Yes (internal - aluminum)Yes (internal - aluminum)Yes (backpanel)Yes (internal - aluminum)Yes (internal - aluminum)
Sizes S, M, L S, M, LRegular, TallOne sizeS, M, L
Fits Torso 15.7 – 18.1 in. (S), 18.1 – 20.9 in. (M), 20.9 – 22.8 in. (L) 16 in. – 19 in. (S), 18 in. – 21 in. (M), 20 in. – 23 in. (L)18 in. – 21 in. (Reg), 20 in. – 22 in. (Tall)15.4 – 20.9 in.16 – 18 in. (S), 18 – 20 in. (M), 20 – 22 in. (L)
Fits Torso (Metric) 40 cm – 46 cm (S), 46 cm – 53 cm (M), 53 cm – 58 cm (L) 40 cm – 48 cm (S), 46 cm – 53 cm (M), 51 cm – 58 cm (L)46 cm – 52 cm (Reg), 51 cm – 56 cm (Tall)39 cm – 53 cm41 cm – 46 cm (S), 46 cm – 51 cm (M), 53 cm – 56 cm (L)
MaterialNylon NylonNylonNylon Nylon
Volume58 liters50 liters (M)50 liters (Regular)65 liters 65 liters (M)
BackpanelVentilated, AirSpeedVentilated, AG AntiGravityVentilatedVentilated Ventilated
Hip BeltYesYesYesYesYes
Sternum Strap YesYesYesYesYes
Hydration System CompatibleYes (external sleeve)Yes (internal sleeve)Yes (internal sleeve)Yes (external sleeve)Yes (internal sleeve)
Osprey Exos 58

Osprey Exos 58

1. Osprey Exos 58

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Expeditions
  • Backpacking
  • Travelling

 

The Osprey Exos 58 is super lightweight and thus perfect for tough multi-day hiking trips and expeditions. The body of the backpack is made of lightweight nylon while the shoulder straps and hip belt are made of foam and a robust mesh fabric. The Exos 58 features a sophisticated AirSpeed back system which has a suspended mesh backpanel for good breathability. Besides the spacious main compartment, the Osprey Exos 58 is equipped with an external lid pocket, internal lid pocket, two side pockets, two hip belt pockets and a front stash pocket. The top lid can be removed and replaced with the FlapJacket – an included top cover without pockets which comes in handy for super lightweight backpacking.

The hydration sleeve is in the main compartment and can accommodate hydration bladders with a volume up to 3 liters. In addition to all that, the Exos 58 is equipped with sleeping pad straps at the bottom and a single ice axe loop. It is available in three different sizes (S, M and L) which differ in capacity (55, 58 and 61 liters) as well as the torso lengths they fit (see table above). The only downside is that the main compartment can be accessed only from the top – many other backpacks of this size also have bottom access to the main compartment (via a zipper).

Women's Version: Available - Osprey Eja 58

Note: Women's version might slightly differ from the men's version.

 

Pros:

  • Weight
  • Backpanel
  • Removable lid

Cons:

  • Main compartment access

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Osprey Atmos 50

Osprey Atmos 50

2. Osprey Atmos 50

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Expeditions
  • Backpacking
  • Travelling

 

The Osprey Atmos 50 is a very comfortable pack. It is better for carrying heavy loads than the Osprey Exos 58 due to its AG suspension system and is designed slightly more functionally (for example it has bottom access to the main compartment). On the downside, the Atmos 50 is also almost two pounds heavier than the Exos 58. The Atmos 50 is equipped with a suspended mesh backpanel which offers superb breathability. The hip belt and shoulder straps are also covered with mesh fabric and thus very breathable. The lid is removable/adjustable and has two zippered pockets. Like the Osprey Exos 58, the Osprey Atmos 50 also comes with the FlapJacket in case that you decide to remove the top lid.

It also has a spacious main compartment, large front stash pocket, two stretchy side pockets, two hip belt pockets and an internal hydration sleeve. For attaching bulky gear, it has Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole attachment system and two ice axe loops. The Osprey Atmos is also available in a 65-liter version. It might not be the best option for lightweight hiking, but due to its great functionality, it ranks high in this selection.

Women's Version: Available - Osprey Aura 50

Note: Women's version might slightly differ from the men's version.

 

Pros:

  • Backpanel
  • Removable lid
  • Comfortable to carry
  • Access to the main compartment

Cons:

  • /

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Arcteryx Bora AR 50

Arcteryx Bora AR 50

3. Arcteryx Bora AR 50

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Expeditions
  • Backpacking
  • Travelling

 

The Arcteryx Bora AR 50 is an extremely sophisticated backpack which offers several very innovative features. It is equipped with RotoGlide hip belt which rotates side-to-side and glides up and down for good fit and weight distribution on uneven terrain. It also uses GridLock shoulder straps that can be adjusted, both in width and height, for the perfect fit. The backpanel is made of the super lightweight Tigris material which has been developed especially for this product. Because the Tigris material is very strong and rigid, the backpanel also works as a frame. The body of this Arcteryx Bora AR 50 is made of 420-denier and 630-denier nylon for superb durability. The backpack also has a zippered lid pocket, large zippered front pocket, mesh hip belt pockets and a hydration bladder sleeve. The Arcteryx Bora AR 50 could easily be the best product in this selection, but due to its high price it ranks third.

Women's Version: Available - Arcteryx Bora AR 49

Note: Women's version might slightly differ from the men's version.

 

Pros:

  • Fit
  • Durability
  • Materials

Cons:

  • Price

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Kelty Revol 65

Kelty Revol 65

4. Kelty Revol 65

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Expeditions
  • Backpacking
  • Travelling

 

The Kelty Revol 65 is with the volume of 65 liters one of the biggest packs in this review. Therefore, it is best for travelling and those who often do very long hiking trips. It is made of sturdy 210-denier nylon and is additionally reinforced in abrasion-prone areas with 420-denier nylon. The backpanel is well-padded (foam) and has a suspended mesh fabric in the middle for better ventilation. The Kelty Revol 65 uses an innovative Kinesis hip belt which moves and adjusts with your body (rotating hip belt) thus ensuring an efficient transfer of weight from the shoulders to the hips.

In addition to a spacious main compartment, it has two zippered hip belt pockets, two stretchy side pockets, zippered top lid pocket, stash pocket and a large zippered front pocket with a sleeve for map. The sleeve for a hydration bladder is placed between the backpanel and the main compartment (external sleeve) and thus allows you to easily get a hydration bladder in and out even when the backpack is fully packed. The main compartment can be accessed from the top and from the bottom (zipper). Additionally, the Kelty Revol 65 features two side handles and attachment points for ice axes and trekking poles. The only downside is the design of the compression straps – they don’t allow you to stabilize the load as good as the compression straps on the other backpacks in this review.

Women's Version: Available - Kelty Reva 60

Note: Women's version might slightly differ from the men's version.

 

Pros:

  • Access to the main compartment
  • Comfort (hip belt)
  • Durability
  • External Hydration Sleeve

Cons:

  • Compression straps

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Do you have this product? Tell us what you think about it and help others decide what to buy!

Where to buy?

Also available at:

Campsaver

Video

Gregory Baltoro 65

Gregory Baltoro 65

5. Gregory Baltoro 65

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Expeditions
  • Backpacking
  • Travelling

 

The Gregory Baltoro 65 offers the same capacity (65 liters) as the Kelty Revol 65, but is with the weight of 2300 grams slightly heavier. Nevertheless, it is a great option for backpackers, travelers and hikers. It is made of very durable nylon with a denier value of up to 630 (hence the added weight). The backpanel is sufficiently padded and has a suspended mesh fabric in the middle so that the air can flow between your back and the backpack (ventilation). The Gregory Baltoro 65 features very innovatively designed shoulder straps and hip belt as each shoulder strap and fin of the hip belt rotates individually which enhances the weight transfer from the shoulders to the hips. The aluminum frame is placed behind the backpanel and offers great support when you are carrying heavy loads.

The Gregory backpack features a single main compartment which can be accessed from the top as well as through the zipper at the bottom and the third zipper that goes all around the front side of the backpack. In addition to the main compartment, it has an external zippered vertical pocket (stash pocket), external zippered lid pocket, internal zippered lid pocket, one side pocket, one side water bottle holder and two hip belt pockets. The sleeve for a hydration bladder is placed inside the main compartment. The Gregory Baltoro 65 is also equipped with two ice axe attachment points, bottom straps for a sleeping pad and comes with an integrated rain cover. It is available in three different sizes (S, M and L) which differ in capacity (61, 65 and 69 liters) and torso lengths they fit (check table above).

Women's Version: Available - Gregory Deva 60

Note: Women's version might slightly differ from the men's version.

 

Pros:

  • Durability
  • Access to the main compartment
  • Comfort (hip belt and shoulder straps)

Cons:

  • Weight

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4. Questions and Answers

How big of a backpack do I need for backpacking?

It really depends for how long you are going backpacking and what gear you are planning to bring with you. For example, if you are planning to sleep and eat in mountain huts, you will be able to use a much smaller backpack than if you were going backpacking far away from civilization. If you are planning to carry sleeping equipment (sleeping bag, sleeping pad and a tent), cooking equipment and food for more than three days we recommend purchasing a pack with a volume of at least 55 liters.

How do you measure the capacity of a backpack?

The capacity of a backpack is measured in liters. Most manufacturers disclose the capacity of their respective backpacks. You will usually see a number in the name of a product (for example Osprey Talon 44, Kelty Revol 65 etc.) which defines the capacity of the backpack in liters. In case that this doesn’t apply to the product you are interested in, check the manufacturer’s website and find technical specifications of that particular backpack.

How do you pack a tent in a backpack?

We recommend packing the tent at the bottom, close to the backpanel. A tent is one of the heaviest pieces of backpacking gear and therefore it should be packed as close to the backpanel (and thus your back) as possible so that the backpack is not pulling you backwards by containing a heavy item far away from your back.

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Post Author

Post Author

Blaz

Outdoor enthusiast with experience in all types of hiking and mountaineering. Hiked in the Alps, Iceland and other countries. In love with via ferrata trails and snow-covered slopes. Check out my hikes.

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