Whether you’ve summited Everest or aren’t keen on so much as climbing a flight of stairs, we all know hiking can be a challenge — especially when you’re expected to carry your gear. But if you choose the right backpack, you’ll learn it won’t set you back. According to Dave Furman, category manager at Mammut, a mountaineering and trekking company, the key is to look for versatility and breathability in hiking daypacks, made with lightweight materials so the pack itself isn’t too heavy.
“I find myself using it for everything from hiking to backcountry skiing to travel, so it’s important that it can slide easily into activities ranging from day hiking in different weather, which means being large enough to hold some extra layers and maybe a thermos bottle for cold days,” he said.
Bonus points if the pack works well around town, doubles as an in-flight carry-on (especially if you’re traveling abroad or out of state for your hiking trip) and/or can easily fit into a larger pack or suitcase for traveling, according to Furman. He said the Lithium Zip 24L or Speed 20L from Mammut both satisfy these needs.
No matter where your expeditions may take you, here are four other packs to withstand the test of trekking.
A bag designed for swimmers is ideal for hikers trekking through humid climates where you’re bound to produce a lot of sweat. Made of 100 percent polyester, its waterproof shield repels all rain keeping your belongings safe. Soft padded straps prevent any chafe, while a removable inner dirt bag will allow you to remove any soiled and muddy clothing items without dirtying the rest of your belongings. Its capacity is 38 liters in volume, which provides plenty of room for an emergency kit, extra sweater and plenty, plenty of snacks.
Because this lightweight, aerodynamic bag is designed for runners, you know it won’t weigh you down on the trail. Camo jungle theme aside, this backpack is perfect for half-day hikes where you have very few essentials to carry, but still want a durable bag that can withstand every twist and turn. At 16 liters, it’ll fit essentials like sunscreen, a towel and your phone. Skip the single-use plastic water bottle and take advantage of its water reservoir accessible through a drinking tube. Removable sternum straps provide a tight, sturdy fit.
Even the most advanced hikers want to feel as though they can have all their supplies on them, and then some. At under four pounds, this lightweight yet relatively monstrous pack expands from 40 liters to 55, allowing you to summit the toughest climbs without feeling weighed down. According to Gear Patrol, “most of the pack is constructed from bombproof CTF3, a high-performance wonder-fabric that’s four times stronger than Kevlar and 15 times more abrasion resistant than steel.” So, if you plan on getting into any fights with bears or zombies, you might want to be equipped with your Sorcerer. Gear Junkie recommended testing it out on Mount Rainier, painting a very vivid image as to what types of extreme conditions it can withstand.
A stroll through wildlife deserves a bag to match. For all those hikes that are glorified brisk walks (hey, nothing wrong with that!), there’s no harm in getting a little more upscale in your choice of backpack. But don’t be afraid to move with full range of motion — like all leather products, this bag develops character with age and wear. With two easy-to-reach compartments, a magnetic snap and drawstring closure for extra security, a waxed surface to repel dirt, and a supple, soft feel, this chic pack will remind you that, even though you’re somewhere in the middle of a forest, you’re never far from home.