The best pack choices are as diverse as the adventures you’ll take them on—from highly technical mountaineering carryalls to minimalist trail running packs. And there isn’t any shortage of options, no matter what the excursion may be.
Daypacks are arguably the most versatile. Some brands focus on commuter-friendly features, whereas other ones leverage the technologies of bigger mountaineering styles by presenting storage and multiple hydration options. In the backpacking world, of course, support and weight distribution reign supreme while creating next-generation packs which meet the demands of adventurers. Clever features are great; however, you have to have something that can take the strain off of your back and shoulders when you are toting a large amount of cargo.
Of course, there are also mountain biking and trail running packs, which oftentimes place an onus on hydration. Storage is optimized and minimal for the task at hand: For joggers, it is located on the front to mitigate discomfort and bounce. For mountain bikers, it is positioned on the lumbar to maintain a low center of gravity.
With adventures as one-of-a-kind as the users and places they traverse, we made a list of 10 of the best backpacks for your next multi-day adventure.
Best Backpack for Day Hikes: Mammut Ducan Spine
Select between several sizes to have either a full-size backpacking or robust day-hiking option. The largest (3.3lbs.) features a suspension system that moves with the body to support the natural gait. Standout features involve front zipper accessibility to the main compartment, adjustable volume, elasticated chest strap, multiple pole attachment systems, rain cover, and an abundance of panels and pockets for organization.
Best for Backpacking: Gregory Paragon 48
With a fully new FreeFloat Hybrid suspension system, the multi-day backpack will mimic your movements for better comfort. A 3D foam back panel and flex panels integrated into the hip belt helps improve airflow and minimize contact while centering the pack’s weight. A sunglass compartment on the shoulder harness, side, and front mesh, stretch packets, internal hydration sleeve, and full-length side zipper round this pack out to be a knockout pick. The Gregory Paragon 48 is available in three sizes and starts at 3.3 pounds.
Best for Trail Running: CamelBak Zephyr Vest
The Zephyr Vest, with 1L capacity, may more than keep up with fast packers and ultrarunners. It goes one step beyond basic trail running backpacks by touting plenty of organization and ventilation to secure trekking poles and a smartphone. CamelBak’s Quick Stow feature moves the hydration flasks (provided) to the vest’s front, which opens up the back for extra storage, be it gear or fuel. We also love the antimicrobial treatment and built-in safety whistle.
Best for Day Hikes: REI Co-op Ruckpack 28 Pack
The ones on the lookout for an affordable but durable pack should grab REI’s Ruckpack 28. It is designed of ripstop nylon and features mesh, ventilated back panels, and a stowaway waist belt. Its main pocket accessibility comes from the top and side and can carry a hydration reservoir. There are many easy-to-access compartments, buckles, and straps, which makes it perfect for a long day hiking on trails.
Best for Mountain Biking: Dakine Seeker 10L Bike Hydration Backpack
Screaming descents need a pack that remains close to the body without having to encumber range of motion. Seeker’s 10L does this by keeping the 3-liter hydration reservoir low. In addition, the pack has a fast disconnect option for its reservoir, breathable back panel, helmet carry straps, zippered hip belt pockets, padded sunglasses storage, as well as external carry straps. Its waterproofing materials make it the perfect option for year-round rides.
Best for Mountaineering: Fjällräven Bergtagen
If you’re looking for a minimalistic pack that has the technical knowledge to deal with mountaineering, the Fjällräven Bergtagen 30 (additionally available in 38L) is an amazing option. Its waterproof fabric is partly designed of recycled nylon, and the pack offers an adjustable top lid along with zippered pockets. Its narrow design was engineered specifically for freedom of movement.
Best for Backpacking: Osprey Exos 58
Osprey streamlined the Exos line (38L, 48L, 58L) to be super lightweight yet able to load about 40lbs of gear. Its tensioned back panel and aluminum frame help to keep the weight off the back, while layered, seamless mesh increases ventilation and comfort. Even though it is lightweight, there still is an abundance of features for accessorizing, pocketing, attaching, and strapping.
Best for Mountain Climbing, Hydration, and Day Hikes: Arc’teryx Aerios 10
You might be familiar with Arc’teryx Bora’s AR 50 and 63 packing options; however, the Aerios 10 model takes the cake as a day hike/rock climbing/trail running hybrid. The light hydration pack provides a low-cost entry point into the brand’s gear with a trim design, including a hydration bladder and sufficient space to haul compact outerwear and food. The Arc’teryx AeroForm back panel promotes the flow of air, all while a modular bungee system enables you to compress or expand the pack depending upon the cargo. An extra bonus: The waist belt’s height also can be adjusted.
Best for Day Hikes: North Face Chimera 24
North Face’s Chimera 24 makes on-the-go adjustments possible without having to take off the pack—all because of the compressive nature of North Face’s Dyno Cinch System. It is also possible to gain access to the secondary and main compartments without having to remove the pack, as well as easily reach the side stretch and front stash pockets. More thoughtful perks include a back panel that is quick to dry, as well as a hydration sleeve.
Best Weekend Backpack: GoLite Jam 50L
GoLite takes great pride in using eco-friendly processes and materials to make some of the best backcountry gear on earth. Their commitment is evident in their redesigned Jam 50L. Utilizing a blend of Dyneema for weight savings in critical areas, as well as ripstop nylon for compression and elasticity, the Jam series isn’t the compromise in comfort and weight that many light packs are. Its ComPACKtor system makes sure all gear remains packed down whether you are simply out for a fast summit day or carrying enough equipment for a long weekend through the Tetons. The GoLite Jam, at 50 liters, offers more than enough space to pack a couple of creature comforts on that next weekend getaway. Because after all, backpacking is meant to be fun, and not a forced march.
Now you’re armed with all the best travel pack options. We hope you find the pack you envision and one that offers all the bells and whistles you’re looking for. May you have many awesome, exciting adventures with your new travelling companion!