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The 5 best backpacking backpacks

Whether you’re trekking into the wilderness or exploring a country on the cheap, the best backpacking backpacks will be comfortable to wear (with shoulder, sternum, and hip straps for even weight distribution) and spacious enough to accommodate your gear. Top-rated options come in different sizes, so you can choose the right one based on your height, and they also have several adjustment points to achieve the best possible fit.

The length of your trip and the items you need to carry will determine the ideal capacity for your backpack. As a rule of thumb, if you'll be gone for up to five days and won't be carrying winter gear, you may want a pack that's 50 to 80 liters in size. A shorter trip may only warrant one that's 30 to 50 liters, while you'll likely want a pack that's holds at least 70 liters if you'll be gone for more than five days or need to carry bulky cold-weather items.

Backpacks come in both framed and frameless formats. Frameless backpacks usually weigh less, but they don't hold their shape as well. Meanwhile, framed packs are more structured and able to handle more weight comfortably. There's also variation when it comes to where the frame is located. Packs with internal frames sit closely against your back and don't shift around too much, making them a good choice for steep or uneven terrain, while packs with external frames might feel cooler and more roomy.

If you'll primarily be hiking with your pack, make sure it can accommodate your specific gear, with loops for carabiners or clips for trekking poles and a design that's easy to load from the top. For a travel-ready backpack, consider one that will fit in an overhead bin and has a suitcase-style zipper for easy access.

With that in mind, these are the five best backpacking backpacks on Amazon. They’re all high quality, comfortable to wear, and loaded with useful features.

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1. The mid-size pack

With a capacity between 55 and 61 liters depending on your chosen size, this backpack from Osprey is the ideal mid-size option. The backpack has shoulder, sternum, and hip straps to evenly distribute the weight of your load (it can hold up to 40 pounds), allowing you to comfortably carry it for hours on end. This pack also features Osprey’s special suspension technology that keeps the weight off of your back for ventilation, another major plus in terms of comfort.

When it comes to features, this backpack has a multitude of pockets — including a large main compartment, stretchy mesh side pockets for storing water bottles, and even a front mesh pocket that'll give you quick access to essentials like rain gear — and a built-in sleeve to accommodate a 3-liter hydration reservoir. A trekking pole attachment allows you to easily stow your poles, while adjustable straps can hold your sleeping bag (or the straps can be removed, if you prefer). This option is available in three sizes — ranging from 55 to 61 liters — and two color options.

One reviewer wrote: "Hiked over 1,000 miles of the Pct with this pack and it held up great. It’s a popular pack on trail because it’s lightweight and people like the breath ability on your back. I tried at least 5 packs along the journey and this was the one for me. Don’t worry about no hip pockets, you can just toss stuff in the side pockets with your water bottles or whatever, they are deep and hold your snacks and small well."

  • Capacity: 55 liters (Small), 58 liters (Medium), or 61 liters (Large)
  • Weight: 2.63 pounds (Small), 2.65 pounds (Medium), or 2.68 pounds (Large)

2. The lightweight pack

Weighing in at just over a pound, this backpack from Granite Gear is by far the lightest option on the list, and that’s mainly due to the fact that it’s totally frameless. While frameless models sometimes get a bad rap for their lack of support, many reviewers on Amazon commented that this one is quite comfortable to wear. Shoulder, sternum, and hip straps allow for even weight distribution, and all of these straps are adjustable to help you achieve a good fit. This backpack comes in short and long sizes, too, so you can choose the one that works with your torso length.

The backpack is made from durable nylon with a roll-top closure for easy access to your gear. A mesh pocket in front is useful for storing items that you’ll need quick access to, and an internal hanger for a hydration reservoir should also come in handy.

One reviewer wrote: "I’ve been hiking local trails with this pack for 3 years now and wow what an upgrade it’s been from the ultra light ruck sacks I’ve used in the past. At right at a pound it’s among the lightest in its class but where it shines are the durable material and basic suspension."

  • Capacity: 50 liters (Short), 54 liters (Regular), or 58 liters (Long)
  • Weight: 1.13 pounds (Short), 1.19 pounds (Regular), or 1.25 pounds (Long)

3. The budget pack

Backpacking backpacks can be pretty costly, but that’s not the case with this one from Aveler. For less than $60, you can get this 50-liter pack that's still rich with features and high in quality. The pack features multiple pockets to store your essentials: The main compartment has elastic drawstrings on top to expand it if needed, while the padded internal pouch has adjustable straps to safely secure your laptop or tablet (up to 15 inches in size). The side pockets are made with expansible mesh that’ll hold a water bottle or an umbrella, and the hip belt pocket allows for easy access to smaller items. This model also has a built-in spot for a hydration reservoir.

When bad weather strikes, this is definitely a good pack to have on your back. For one, it’s made of nylon that’s water-resistant as the first line of defense. It also has an integrated rain cover (in the bottom pocket) for when conditions get extra-harsh.

The backpack features an internal frame that’ll keep you feeling secure and stable even on the roughest of terrains. And shoulder, sternum, and hip straps will evenly distribute the pack's weight for comfort. Choose from five colors.

One reviewer wrote: "This backpack exceeded my expectations!!! It's got a lot of pouches, straps, rain cover, expansion hook, water outlet and support for all the hiking needs. It also comes with a waist and chest support strap, cushioned backing, and excellent zippers [...] I am very happy with this purchase, absolutely incredible for the price!!!"

  • Capacity: 50 liters
  • Weight: 2.8 pounds

4. The carry-on

If you’re going on a shorter trip or taking a plane ride, this backpack from Osprey is a good bet. Available in both 38- and 40-liter sizes, it's more compact than the other options on this list — and it actually meets the carry-on size restrictions for most airlines. The main zippered compartment opens up almost all the way (similar to a suitcase) for easy access to your items, and the padded sleeve can fit most laptops or tablets that are 15 inches or smaller. Two front mesh pockets are sized to hold water bottles, and the scratch-free pocket is ideal for sunglasses or other small devices.

This option is a popular choice on Amazon, with more than 1,400 five-star reviews. One thing fans love is that it has adjustable shoulder, sternum, and hip straps to distribute weight evenly. Plus, there's a mesh back panel for ventilation. The internal frame means that the backpack is stable and supportive to wear. And this model also comes with a padded shoulder strap that allows for multiple carrying options.

While this backpack is already slight in size, the hip belt and harness system can actually be stowed and zipped away for an even slimmer profile if needed.

Choose from two size options — 38 or 40 liters— and black, jasper red, and volcanic gray colors.

One reviewer wrote: "I spent 7 months backpacking with this backpack - through the Himalayas, strapped to motorcycles, across beaches, and more. It looks almost new. The zippers are great quality, the straps are comfortable, and the storage layout is perfect. The zippers lock, there are water bottle pouches, you can hang drying or dirty clothes off the straps, and zip up the backpack straps for carry on. I've brought it as carry on for a dozen different airlines with no issue."

  • Capacity: 38 liters (Small/Medium) or 40 liters (Medium/Large)
  • Weight: 3.11 pounds (Small/Medium) or 3.17 pounds (Medium/Large)

5. The large-capacity pack

With an impressive 4.8-star overall rating on Amazon, this backpack from Kelty is a favorite with reviewers for an extra-large capacity option. It's available in 60-, 65-, 85- , or 105-liter options, which is ideal for extended trips or ones that involve a lot of bulky items. The majority of your items will be stored in the backpack's main compartment, which is accessible via the top zipper. You'll also find two front zippered pockets, water bottle pockets, a sleeve for a hydration reservoir, and a sleeping bag compartment, and the pocket on the hip strap allows for easy access to smaller essentials.

This backpack has adjustable shoulder, sternum, and hip straps as well as suspension for the best fit. Lumbar support adds to the comfort level of the backpack, while a ventilated back panel will help you stay cool and dry, even while on lengthy hikes. And an external frame means that this option can easily handle heavier loads.

Choose from four color options — asphalt, burnt olive, hydro, and lyons blue.

One reviewer wrote: "Very comfortable, I have hiked with over 70 lbs. in it and didn't have any issues. Large enough storage space for 8-10 days of gear and food. The lumbar support and [cushions] are amazing!"

  • Capacity: 60 liters, 65 liters, 85 liters, or 105 liters
  • Weight: 4.38 pounds (60 Liter), 4.63 pounds (65 Liter), 4.88 pounds (85 Liter), or 5.5 pounds (105 Liter)