Best Hiking Backpacks of 2019 – Lightweight


Osprey Talon 44 - one of the best hiking backpacks

Osprey Talon 44 – one of the best hiking backpacks

A backpack is an essential piece of hiking gear because it allows you to easily carry and organize water, food, additional clothing and other gear.  Here we selected and reviewed the best hiking backpacks. We only listed hiking backpacks with volume of 40 to 55 liters because such backpacks are the most versatile. They are perfect for up to 3-day long hikes (depending on the conditions on the trail and the amount and quality of your gear) but also work well for day hikes. However, for longer hikes you will most likely need a bigger backpack. If you need a bigger backpack, check out our review of the best backpacking packs instead. Nevertheless, keep in mind that buying an overly spacious backpack is not the best thing to do, as you’ll have problems stabilizing items in it – they will move around and thus decrease your balance on steep trails. Furthermore, bigger backpacks are also heavier.

In this review we listed top-notch hiking backpacks which are lightweight, comfortable and have many attachment points and pockets for easy organization. All backpacks in this review are also hydration system compatible – they have a pocket/sleeve for hydration bladder.

If you are planning to only do day hikes (without spending nights outdoors), you might want to check out our selection of the best daypacks instead. Daypacks are even lighter but also smaller – in most cases they are only suitable for day hikes.

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 and Hip Belt:

All backpacks in this review have internal frames and are thus suitable for carrying heavy loads. Backpacks with frames efficiently transfer the weight from shoulders to the hips (via the hip belt). Carrying a heavy load in a backpack with a frame is therefore easier since the hips are supported by larger muscle groups than the shoulders. In 2014 the Murdoch university in Australia executed an experiment in which they investigated the effect of hip belt use. Participants reported higher levels of stability and lower levels of exertion with hip belt use.

Backpanel:

The backpanel should provide good ventilation so that the sweat from your back can evaporate, rather than seeping through your clothes and backpack. Therefore, high-quality hiking backpacks have ventilated backpanels which are usually made of foam and covered with a suspended mesh fabric to create some distance between your back and the backpack.

Pockets and attachment points:

Pockets allow you to easily organize your equipment while attachment points are very useful for attaching bulky gear such as trekking poles, ice axes etc. Our selection of the best hiking backpacks includes only backpacks which allow you to organize your gear quickly and easily.

Weight:

High-quality hiking backpacks are lightweight. The lighter the gear, the faster and easier you can hike (read more about this here). In this selection of the best hiking backpacks we only included lightweight products – the heaviest backpack in this review weighs 3 lbs. 6 oz. (1530 grams).

Hydration system compatibility:

Hydration system compatible backpacks have a pocket or a sleeve where you can insert a hydration bladder as well as an opening for the tube at the top. Usually the sleeve/pocket can fit a hydration bladder with a volume of up to three liters. Hydration systems provide easy access to water and are therefore very useful – there is no need to stop and mess around with water bottles. To learn more about hydration bladders read our article Hydration Systems VS. Water Bottles. However, keep in mind that hydration bladders are sold separately.

Size:

Some backpacks are available in different sizes. It’s important that the backpack matches/fits your torso length as the backpack will otherwise ride too low or too high on your back and thus be uncomfortable. To learn how to measure your torso length, check out the fit section in our Hiking Backpacks Guide. In the table below, you can see what torso lengths the backpacks in this selection fit. 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.

Expert Selections
We only list top-tier products. Read how our selections of best hiking products differ from others here.
Links
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2. The Best Hiking Backpacks Review

Best Hiking Backpacks

Best Hiking Backpacks

The Best Hiking Backpacks – List

  1. Osprey Talon 44
  2. Osprey Exos 48
  3. Gregory Zulu 40
  4. Kelty Redwing 44
  5. Deuter Futura Pro 40

Comparison

Feature/Product Osprey Talon 44Osprey Exos 48Gregory Zulu 40Kelty Redwing 44 Deuter Futura Pro 40
Weight2 lbs. 6 oz.2 lbs. 5 oz.2 lbs. 13 oz.2 lbs. 10 oz3 lbs. 9 oz.
Weight (Metric)1100 g1050 g1300 g1200 g1650 g
FrameYes (internal - aluminum)Yes (internal - aluminum)Yes (internal - aluminum)Yes (internal - aluminum)Yes (internal – spring steel)
MaterialNylon100D Nylon210D Nylon 420D Polyester600D Polyester: 35%, 210D Nylon: 65%
SizesS/M, M/LS, M, LS, M, LOne SIzeRegular (40 L) and Extra Length (44L)
Fits Torso 16-20 in. (S/M), 19-23 in. (M/L)16-19 in. (S), 18-21 in. (M), 20-23 in. (L)16-18 in. (S), 18-20 in. (M), 20-22 in. (L)14.5-18.5 in. 16-20 in. (EL 20-24 in.)
Fits Torso (Metric)40-51 cm (S/M), 48-58 cm (M/L)40-48 cm (S), 45-53 cm (M), 51-58 cm (L)40-45 cm (S), 46-51 cm (M), 51-56 cm (L)38-46 cm40-51 cm (EL 51-61 cm)
Volume44 liters (M/L)48 liters (M)40 liters (M)44 liters40 liters (EL 44 liters)
BackpanelVentilated - AirScapeVentilated - AirSpeedVentilated Ventilated Ventilated
Sternum StrapYesYesYesYesYes
Hip BeltYesYesYesYesYes
Hydration System CompatibleYes (external sleeve)Yes (internal sleeve)Yes (internal sleeve)Yes (internal sleeve)Yes (internal sleeve)

Osprey Talon 44

1. Osprey Talon 44

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Travelling
  • Alpine climbing

 

The Osprey Talon 44 hiking backpack is perfect for those who prefer lightweight hiking. The backpack weighs merely 2 pounds. Nevertheless, the functionality of the backpack is not compromised by its low weight. It is equipped with the AirScape back system which is very comfortable and provides good ventilation. The Talon 44 backpack also has an internal frame for better weight distribution and is equipped with an external water reservoir sleeve which fits water reservoirs with volume of 3 liters. Additionally, this hiking backpack has two stretch mesh pockets on the sides, a front stash pocket, an internal and external lid pocket and two zippered hip belt pockets. The front stash pocket is perfect for wet gear (such as sweaty clothes, rain jacket etc.) which you don’t want to put in the main compartment. The hip belt pockets are big enough for a cell phone, camera and other accessories which you need within easy reach. The backpack is equipped with the Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole attachment system and two ice axe loops. The Osprey Talon 44 backpack is due to its great functionality and low weight one of the best hiking backpacks currently available.

Women's Version: Available - Osprey Tempest 40

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

 

Pros:

  • Weight
  • Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole attachment
  • Ventilated backpanel
  • Comfortable
  • Perfectly placed pockets

Cons:

  • Fabric durability

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Video

Osprey Exos 48

Osprey Exos 48

2. Osprey Exos 48

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Travelling
  • Alpine climbing

 

The Osprey Exos 48 hiking backpack is an ounce lighter than the Osprey Talon 44 mentioned above. The backpack has a very light AirSpeed back system with a backpanel that is covered with a suspended mesh fabric for good breathability. The AirSpeed back system also includes a lightweight internal frame to efficiently transfer the weight from the shoulders to the hips. Despite the low weight, the Exos 48 backpack has well-padded shoulder straps and hip belt, and is thus comfortable to carry. It is equipped with an external lid pocket, internal lid pocket, large front stash pocket, two stretchy side pockets, two hip belt pockets and two pockets on the shoulder straps. It also has attachment system for trekking poles and a single ice axe loop. The lid can be also removed which is convenient for lightweight hiking. In comparison to the Osprey Talon 44, the Osprey Exos 48 is lighter and has a removable lid. However, it doesn’t have an external hydration bladder sleeve (but an internal) and also no bottom access (zipper) to the main compartment (it only has top lid access).

Women's Version: Available - Osprey Eja 48

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

 

Pros:

  • Weight
  • Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole attachment
  • Removable lid pocket
  • Back system
  • Pockets

Cons:

  • Fabric durability
  • Access to the main compartment

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Video

Gregory Zulu 40

Gregory Zulu 40

3. Gregory Zulu 40

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Travelling
  • Alpine climbing

 

The Gregory Zulu 40 hiking backpack is very robust because it is made of a sturdy 210-denier nylon fabric. However, due to the robust fabric, it is also a little heavier than the Osprey backpacks listed above. Nevertheless, it is a great backpack for hikers, trekkers and mountaineers. The Gregory Zulu 40 backpack has a suspended mesh backpanel and an internal frame. Therefore, it is very comfortable (ventilation) and can easily be used for carrying heavy loads. It has two stretchy side pockets, two hip belt pockets, internal lid pocket, external lid pocket, large front stash pocket and comes with a rain cover. The main compartment can be also accessed through a U-shaped zipper on the front side (beneath the stash pocket) which is indeed very useful. The backpack is also equipped with loops for an ice axe and trekking poles. The Gregory Zulu 40 hiking backpack is a great option for those who want a very durable backpack for hiking, trekking and similar activities.

Women's Version: Available - Gregory Jade 38

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

 

Pros:

  • Durability
  • Access to the main compartment
  • Comfortable

Cons:

  • /

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Video

Kelty Redwing 44

Kelty Redwing 44

4. Kelty Redwing 44

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Travelling

 

The Kelty Redwing 44 hiking backpack is a hybrid between a top-loader and a panel-loader. It has a large U-shaped access to the main compartment and therefore it allows you to easily get items out. On the front side, it has a large organizational pocket with several sleeves and small pockets. The Kelty Redwing 44 also has two large zippered side pockets and two stretchy mesh side pockets which are ideal for storing water bottles. The hip belt, shoulder straps and backpanel are well-padded for maximum comfort. Additionally, this hiking backpack is equipped with a front stash pocket, ice axe/trekking pole loops and a convenient carrying handle on the front side. The hip belt is removable which is useful in case you are planning to use the backpack for everyday life.  The Kelty Redwing 44 is thus best for those who don’t want only a hiking backpack but also a backpack for everyday use (it has more pockets than other backpacks in this review).

Women's Version: Available - Kelty Women's Redwing 40

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

 

Pros:

  • Unique Design
  • Pockets
  • Removable hip belt

Cons:

  • /

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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:

REI | Kelty

Video

Deuter Futura Pro 40

Deuter Futura Pro 40

5. Deuter Futura Pro 40

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Travelling
  • Alpine climbing

 

The Deuter Futura Pro 44 is an extremely durable and comfortable hiking backpack due to its Aircomfort Sensic Pro system for optimal ventilation of your back and the well-padded shoulder straps and hip belt. However, it is also the heaviest backpack in this review – mainly due to the fact that it uses spring steel for its frame rather than aluminum. Steel is stronger and less elastic than aluminum, but also heavier. The strong frame, nevertheless, also means that it is perfect for carrying heavy loads. Besides the main compartment (top loading), the Deuter Futura Pro 40 features a small zippered lower compartment, zippered lid pocket, front stash pocket, two mesh stretch side pockets for water bottles and two zippered hip belt pockets. There is also a special pocket for a removable rain cover (included). There are attachment loops on the top of the lid and two compression straps on the sides which can also be used to attack trekking poles or ice axes. All in all, a lot of great functional details. For very tall hikers (1.85 – 2 meters), Deuter has made the Deuter Futura Pro 44 EL (Extra Length) which fits torsos between 20 and 24 inches. It weighs 3 ounces more.

Women's Version: Available - Deuter Futura Pro 38 SL

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

 

Pros:

  • Durability
  • Comfortable
  • Pockets
  • Support (frame)

Cons:

  • Weight

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

 

 

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4. Questions and Answers

How big a backpack do I need for hiking?

The required size of a backpack depends on the duration and required gear for your average hiking trip. For example, if you are doing a hike in winter conditions, you will need a bigger backpack than if you are doing a simple summer hike, because you will have to bring bulky insulated clothing, winter gear etc. Backpacks with a capacity around 40 liters are usually suitable for up to 3-day long hikes. For day hikes you can use a daypack. Daypacks usually have a volume of less than 30 liters.

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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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