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Best Backpacking Backpacks Review 2020

We participate in affiliate programs to help us fund Gear Hacker. Some of the links in this website are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase a product using our link, we will earn a small commission. Don’t worry! This comes at no additional cost to you, and we will never base our reviews on whether or not we earn a commission off of a product. With that said, if you find our review helpful and decide to purchase an item we review, we would be very appreciative if you use our links to do so. It will help us bring you more awesome content in the future!

Today’s outdoor industry is booming with new brands, new pursuits, and new technology. It makes it hard to believe what people set out on the trail with just 30 years ago. However, with these new brands and technology, the task of choosing a backpack has become quite a challenge! Have no fear, let’s try to make your decision as easy as possible!

Best Backpacking Backpacks Review - Gear Hacker

In this article, we will review and compare the best backpacking backpacks currently available. By “backpacking,” we mean multi-day travel, ranging from a weekend to several days. If you are looking for a daypack backpack, built to handle a single day of adventure, then check out our Best Hiking Daypacks of 2020 article. 

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A BACKPACKING BACKPACK?

Backpacking backpacks are all built to accommodate around 50 pounds of gear. If you are going to be hauling around 50 pounds of stuff, you want it to be a comfortable 50 pounds. So without question, comfort is king (or queen) on the trail.

There are certain outdoor enthusiasts who demand lightweight packs, but in my mind, a comfortable pack wins over weight-saving minimalist harness systems and materials. You will probably be on your feet hiking for entire days at a time, and you want your pack to feel like part of your bodynot an obnoxious hitchhiker who doesn’t pitch in for gas money. 

Best Backpacking Backpacks Review - Gear Hacker

Meanwhile, backpacks now offer a host of features, which vary and will appeal to some more than others. Keep an eye out for features and accessories you know you will use, do you use hiking poles a lot? Then you will want gear loops or the Stow-on-the-Go system provided by Osprey backpacks, the Atmos and Aura series, and the Aether and Ariel series. Do you want a rain cover to keep your cargo dry? Both of the Gregory packs that we reviewed offer rain covers included with their backpacksthe Baltoro and Deva series as well as the Stout and Amber series. As you read our research and opinions about these packs, pay attention to what features you think you’d prefer or want on your new backpack. 

Finally, keep in mind that just because a pack fits perfectly on one person does not mean that it will fit wonderfully on you. It is important to find a backpack that fits you. It is always highly recommended to go to your local gear store and try some packs on to see what harness systems you prefer. Some companies have created removable hipbelts that can then be heat molded to your body, for example, the Osprey Aether AG 60. Moreover, you’ll also want to keep in mind that sometimes the best fit might even be a pack labelled for the opposite sex. Just find the one that works for you.

Best Backpacking Backpacks of 2020: the Round-up

Top Picks

Osprey Atmos and Aura: Best All-Around Backpack

Gregory Baltoro and Deva: Most Supportive Backpack under Heavy Loads

Kelty Coyote 65: Best Budget Backpack

 

Best Backpacking Backpack: Osprey Atmos and Aura - Gear Hacker

Buy now at Backcountry.com

  • Comfort 100% 100%
  • Storage 90% 90%
  • Accessories 100% 100%
  • Weight 70% 70%

Pros

Anti-Gravity Systems Throughout Harness

Back Panel

Cons

The Color Options

Best Backpacking Backpack: Gregory Baltoro - Gear Hacker

Buy now at Backcountry.com

  • Comfort 100% 100%
  • Storage 90% 90%
  • Accessories 100% 100%
  • Weight 70% 70%

Pros

Included Rain Cover

Side Pocket

Cons

Weight

Best Backpacking Backpack: Kelty Coyote 65 - Gear Hacker

Buy now at Moosejaw.com

  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Storage 100% 100%
  • Accessories 80% 80%
  • Weight 70% 70%

Pros

External Storage

Price

Cons

Thin Shoulder Straps

Best Backpacking Backpack: REI Trailbreak 60 - Gear Hacker

Buy now at REI.com

  • Comfort 70% 70%
  • Storage 80% 80%
  • Accessories 70% 70%
  • Weight 80% 80%

Pros

Price

Cons

Limited Accessories

Best Backpacking Backpack: Granite Gear Blaze 60 - Gear Hacker

Buy now at Moosejaw.com

  • Comfort 70% 70%
  • Storage 80% 80%
  • Accessories 100% 100%
  • Weight 100% 100%

Pros

Lightweight

Adaptable to Lid

Cons

Back Panel Ventilation

Best Backpacking Backpack: Mystery Ranch Sphinx 60 - Gear Hacker

Buy now at  Backcountry.com

  • Comfort 70% 70%
  • Storage 80% 80%
  • Accessories 70% 70%
  • Weight 70% 70%

Pros

Main Compartment Access

Cons

Limited External Storage Options

Best Backpacking Backpack: Osprey Aether and Ariel - Gear Hacker

Buy now at  Backcountry.com

  • Comfort 90% 90%
  • Storage 100% 100%
  • Accessories 90% 90%
  • Weight 70% 70%

Pros

Technical Design

Heat-molded Hipbelt

Cons

Price

Best Backpacking Backpack: Gregory Stout and Amber - Gear Hacker

Buy now at Backcountry.com

  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Storage 90% 90%
  • Accessories 90% 90%
  • Weight 90% 90%

Pros

Price

Great Accessories

Cons

Harness System

Best Backpacking Backpack: Arcteryx Bora AR 63 - Gear Hacker

Buy now at Backcountry.com

  • Comfort 90% 90%
  • Storage 70% 70%
  • Accessories 70% 70%
  • Weight 80% 80%

Pros

Integrated Weatherproof Material

Rotoglide Hipbelt

Cons

Price

Osprey Atmos and Aura

Best Backpacking Backpack: Osprey Atmos and Aura - Gear Hacker

Best All-Around Backpack

  • Comfort 100% 100%
  • Storage 90% 90%
  • Accessories 100% 100%
  • Weight 70% 70%

Price: $270

What We Like: Anti-Gravity systems throughout harness and back panel.

What We Don’t: The color options… I guess. 

Atmos 65

Small 62 L

32.28 x 15.35 x 16.14 in

82 x 39 x 41 cm

4.48 lbs
Medium 65 L

34.25 x 15.35 x 16.14 in

87 x 39 x 41 cm

4.56 lbs
Large 68 L

36.22 x 15.35 x 16.14 in

92 x 39 x 41 cm

4.64 lbs

 Aura 65

WXS 60 L

26.53 x 14.96 x 15.75 in

67.39 x 38 x 40 cm

4.26 lbs
WS 62 L

31.5×14.96×15.75 in

80 x 38 x 40 cm

4.34 lbs
WM 65 L

33.46×14.96.15.75 in

85 x 38 x 40 cm

4.42 lbs

 

The Atmos and Aura lines created by Osprey have been the go-to backpack for campers for years. This season should be no change. The Anti-Gravity back panel and harness system is the most comfortable and breathable option on the market. The backpack itself is well organized with a variety of pockets and storage options. Other than the weight, which is countered by the excellent harness system, this backpack family is almost perfect. It was an easy decision to name it our Best All-Around Backpack of the season. 

Gregory Baltoro and Deva

Best Backpacking Backpack: Gregory Baltoro - Gear Hacker

Most Supportive Backpack under Heavy Loads

  • Comfort 100% 100%
  • Storage 90% 90%
  • Accessories 100% 100%
  • Weight 70% 70%

Price: $300

What We Like: Included rain cover and side pocket.

What We Don’t: Weight  

Baltoro 65

Small

62 L

28 x 13 x 13 in

71.1 x 33 x 33 cm

4.65 lbs

2.11 kg

Medium

65 L

30 x 13 x 13 in

76.2 x 33 x 33 cm

4.84 lbs

2.20 kg

Large

68 L

32 x 13 x 13 in

81.3 x 33 x 33 cm

5.14 lbs

2.33 kg

Deva 60

Extra Small

56 L

26 x 12 x 12.5 in

66 x 30.5 x 31.8 cm

4.48 lbs

2.03 kg

Small

60 L 

28 x 12 x 12.5 in

71 x 30.5 x 31.8 cm

4.61 lbs

2.09 kg

Medium

64 L 

30 x 12 x 12.5 in

76.2 x 30.5 x 31.8 cm

4.83 lbs

2.19 kg

 

The Baltoro and Deva backpacks come with their own customized rain covers… need I say more? Fine, I will. Gregory has done an incredible job designing the harness system for their backpacking packs. There is less ventilation than with the Osprey Anti-gravity packs, but the A3 Response harness, explained further in the main article, and the wishbone frame direct weight perfectly onto the hips and allow the pack to move fluidly with the body. This system made the Baltoro and Deva backpacks by Gregory the Most Supportive Under a Heavy Load in 2020. In addition to the custom rain cover, there is a multitude of cool features that help these backpacks stand outincluding a sunglasses bungee on the shoulder strap and a water bottle “holster.” 

Kelty Coyote 65

Best Backpacking Backpack: Kelty Coyote 65 - Gear Hacker

Best Budget Backpack 

  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Storage 100% 100%
  • Accessories 80% 80%
  • Weight 70% 70%

Price: $160

What We Like: External storage and price. 

What We Don’t: Thin shoulder straps.

Men 

One Size 

65 L

30 x 18 x 12 in

76 x 45 x 30 cm

4.63 lbs

2.1 kg

Women

One Size

60 L

30 x 17 x 12 in

76 x 43 x 30 cm

4.38 lbs

1.98 kg

The Kelty Coyote was another easy decision for Best Budget Backpack of the season. Though it is ten dollars more expensive than the REI Trailbreak, it is a much greater bang-for-your-buck type of backpack. As we have come to expect with Kelty, it seems as though there are a million pockets on this backpack. Personally, I can’t get enough of the storage options, but for a minimalist, it may seem like a nightmare. 

The harness system on the Coyote is just fine for the loads that you may be carrying on a weekend backpacking trip and comes with the ability to be adjusted to the wearer’s body. The multitude of pockets will keep you hyper-organized, and the material will help the pack last for a long while. 

REI Trailbreak 60

Best Backpacking Backpack: REI Trailbreak 60 - Gear Hacker
  • Comfort 70% 70%
  • Storage 80% 80%
  • Accessories 70% 70%
  • Weight 80% 80%

Price: $150

What We Like: Price.

What We Don’t: Limited accessories. 

Men’s

One Size

60 L 

30 x 13 x 13 in

76.2 x 33 x 33 cm

3.81 lbs

1.73 kg

Women’s

One Size

60 L 

28 x 13 x 13 in

71.1 x 33 x 33 cm

3.69 lbs

1.67 kg

In the world of expensive and innovative camping gear and accessories, the REI Trailbreak is a nice step back. It is simply designed and made with nothing more than the absolute essentials. For anyone just starting to get into camping who wants to get a backpack that will carry things, as they are made to do, for a price that will keep your pockets fairly heavy, this pack is a great starting point. It has everything you may need, including side stretch pockets, a top lid with lots of storage, and sleeping pad straps. 

The material sags quite a bit if the pack is not fully stuffed which can be annoying as the compression straps aren’t the best. For a starter backpack, though, it is a great place to start.

Granite Gear Blaze 60

Best Backpacking Backpack: Granite Gear Blaze 60 - Gear Hacker
  • Comfort 70% 70%
  • Storage 80% 80%
  • Accessories 100% 100%
  • Weight 100% 100%

Price: $270 

What We Like: Lightweight and adaptable top lid.

What We Don’t: Backpanel ventilation.

Men’s

Short Torso

60 L

15-18 inches

38-46 cm

2.9 lbs

1.31 kg

Regular Torso

60 L

18-21 inches

46- 53.5 cm

3 lbs

1.36 kg

Long Torso

60 L

21 – 24 inches

53.5 – 61 cm

3.1 lbs

1.41 kg

Women’s

Short Torso

60 L

15-18 inches

38-46 cm

2.9 lbs

1.31 kg

Regular Torso

60 L

18-21 inches

46-53.5 cm

3 lbs

1.36 kg

 

Through-hikers and minimalists rejoice! The Granite Gear Blaze is a perfect mix of weight and support. Made with lightweight but tough-as-nails nylon and excellent surrounding compression straps, this backpack is made to be carried all day. Along with wild features like the top lid, which can serve double duty as either a front pack or a fanny pack, or like the vertical zipper, which allows full access to the main compartment. The Blaze is a backpack that everyone can enjoynot just experienced through-hikers who cut their toothbrushes in half to save weight. 

Mystery Ranch Sphinx 60

Best Backpacking Backpack: Mystery Ranch Sphinx 60 - Gear Hacker
  • Comfort 70% 70%
  • Storage 80% 80%
  • Accessories 70% 70%
  • Weight 70% 70%

Price: $270

What We Like: Main compartment access. 

What We Don’t: Limited external storage options.

 

One Size (adjustable)

60 L

32.5 x 12.25 x 13.5 in

82.55 x 31.1 x 34.29 cm

4.8 lbs

2.18 kg

The Sphinx 60 is a classic Mystery Ranch pack. With robust fabric and YKK zippers along with the main vertical access, these backpacks seem essentially indestructible. The two torpedo pockets along the front of the pack are slightly odd in terms of storage options but offer some variety compared to other backpacks. The other simple features included with the Sphinx help carrying medium loads into the backcountry a breeze. Even though Mystery Ranch now makes backpacks for the military and first responders, they have not forgotten their journeys in the backcountry camping world. 

Osprey Aether and Ariel 

Best Backpacking Backpack: Osprey Aether and Ariel - Gear Hacker
  • Comfort 90% 90%
  • Storage 100% 100%
  • Accessories 90% 90%
  • Weight 70% 70%

Price: $360

What We Like: Technical design and heat-molded hipbelt.

What We Don’t: Price.

Aether AG 60

Small

57 L

30.71 x 15.35 x 12.2 in

78 x 39 x 31 cm

5.096 lbs

2.312 kg

Medium

60 L

32.68 x 15.35 x 12.2 in

83 x 39 x 31 cm

5.148 lbs

2.34 kg

Large

63 L

34.65 x 15.35 x  12.2 in

88 x 39 x 31 cm

5.199 lbs

2.36 kg

Ariel AG 55

Womens XS

49 L

29.13 x 14.96 x 12.2 in

74 x 38 x 31 cm

4.834 lbs
2.19 kg

Womens S

52 L

31.1 x 14.96 x 12.2 in

79 x 38 x 31 cm

4.883 lbs

2.215 kg

Womens M

55 L

33.07 x 14.96 x 12.2 in

84 x 38 x 31 cm

4.932 lbs

2.24

Now, there is some controversy surrounding the Aether and Ariel packs. Osprey added their Anti-Gravity back panel to the packs, and it caused quite a stir in the outdoor community. The problem is that now these backpacks are very similar to the Atmos and Aura, and the Anti-Gravity back panel made the Aether and Ariel less mountaineering friendly. The Anti-Gravity system causes the weight to be shifted away from the wearer’s center of gravity which can be dangerous in highly vertical situations.  

Other than that issue, the Aether and Ariel come with heat moldable hip belts, three access points to the main compartment, as well as Osprey’s Stow-on-the-Go hiking pole system. They are great backpacks, though they come with a slightly higher price tag compared with the Atmos and Aura. 

Gregory Stout and Amber

Best Backpacking Backpack: Gregory Stout and Amber - Gear Hacker
  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Storage 90% 90%
  • Accessories 90% 90%
  • Weight 90% 90%

Price: $190

What We Like: Price and great accessories 

What We Don’t: Harness System.

Stout

One Size Adjustable

60 L

31.5 x 13 x 11.5 in

80 x 33 x 29.2 cm

3.56 lbs 

1.61 kg

Amber 

One Size 

55 L

29.5 x 13 x 11 in

74.9 x 33 x 27.9 cm

3.4 lbs

1.54 kg

 

The Gregory Stout is a down-to-earth backpack. It comes with classic features and is comfortable enough for a medium load over long distances. Compared to the Gregory Baltoro, the harness system is a major downgrade, and it lacks some of the features that help the Baltoro stand out. Although for its price point and design, it is a great pack for short missions in the outdoors. It has simple features that are easy to use and is adjustable to customize the fit for each user. 

Arc’teryx Bora AR 63

Best Backpacking Backpack: Arcteryx Bora AR 63 - Gear Hacker
  • Comfort 90% 90%
  • Storage 70% 70%
  • Accessories 70% 70%
  • Weight 80% 80%

Price: $550 

What We Like: Integrated weatherproof material and rotoglide hipbelt.

What We Don’t: Price.

Men’s

Regular

63 L

18.3″-20.3″ torsos

5 lbs

2.27kg

Tall

64 L

19.9″-21.8″ torsos

5.19 lbs

2.34kg

Women’s

Regular

61 L

16.7″-18.7″ torsos

4.813 lbs

2.18 kg

Tall

63 L

18.3″-20.3″ torsos

4.94 lbs

2.24 kg

** Arc’teryx doesn’t provide dimensions for their Bora packs. 

If you didn’t notice the price before reading this, don’t go and look now. That said, Arc’teryx has designed a weatherproof, mountaineering, forward backpack, and it won’t disappoint. The Roto-Glide hipbelt paired with the lightweight but flexible internal frame system creates an innovative harness system that flows with the body. The material on the “exposed” sections of the pack are weatherproof, eliminating the need for backpack covers. The streamlined design does limit the overall storage options, however, as everything is protected inside the main compartment, top lid, or a single exterior thin pocket. 

In terms of innovation, this backpack is an all-star. In the world of affordability for the average camper mixed with the mountaineering specialization of the backpack, it is a bit of a miss. Do I want to use this backpack daily… of course. Will I in the near future… unlikely. 

We participate in affiliate programs to help us fund Gear Hacker. Some of the links in this website are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase a product using our link, we will earn a small commission. Don’t worry! This comes at no additional cost to you, and we will never base our reviews on whether or not we earn a commission off of a product. With that said, if you find our review helpful and decide to purchase an item we review, we would be very appreciative if you use our links to do so. It will help us bring you more awesome content in the future!