How to Choose a Backpack for Hiking in 2022? Detailed Guide

How to Choose a Backpack for Hiking

“A walk in nature walks the soul back home.”

“Walking is man’s best medicine.”


Do you know the most common mistake that a new adventurer can make when deciding to go on a hike?

It’s deciding to take a basic backpack for hiking. Knowing how to choose a backpack for hiking is a valuable skill to master when deciding o make a long term investment. It’s important to understand your needs and preferences while finding the right backpack.

Selecting the right backpack can elevate your overall hiking experience.

Furtherly we are going to share some easy and practical options to consider while choosing a hiking backpack/rucksack.

The main aspects of finding a hiking backpack are:

  • How to find Comfortability?
  • What are your Technical Needs?
  • Backpack Style Options.

How to find Comfortability in a backpack for Hiking?

The number one criteria you should consider in a hiking backpack is comfortability. You might be thinking that it should be the price on top of everything.

No matter how many cool features your hiking backpack has & no matter how cheap and expensive it is, if it does not make you feel comfortable throughout your journey, then it is simply not meant to be sitting on your back.

Furthermore, it doesn’t even matter if it comes from a well-known brand. Some vitals define how comfortable a backpack can be.

The most common are:

  1. Size
  2. Right Fit
  3. Suspension System
  4. Ventilation System

Let’s hop into these!

1. The Right Size

The size of a hiking backpack depends upon two factors, your height and the time duration of your adventure. Like basic backpacks of day to day commute, there is a huge variety of hiking backpacks too. Some backpacks are long and thin, while some are wide and short in their craft.

If you are a short person, a long and thin backpack might be too big for you. Your torso size is a crucial part when it comes to choosing the right backpack. The typical torso size chart is given below:

Extra SmallSmallMediumLarge/Tall
Up to 15 inches16-17 inches18-19 inches20+ inches

It’s not a hard and fast rule having an exact size, as many backpacks are adjustable.

Another aspect of choosing a hiking backpack is the longevity of your adventure. The longer you are going to be out, the more supply you’ll end up carrying. Just for convenience here are some general capacity estimates based on your trip length.

Overnight: 30-40 liters

Weekend: 35-55 liters

Multi-Day Adventure: 45-70 liters

These numbers can vary according to your activity and season as well. In winter you’ll need a tent in case of camping and a sleeping bag as well, while in summer might want to go for the lower end of capacity.

2. The Right Fit

A bad fit can result in an uncomfortable carry. Getting the right fitting backpack is another important factor. Backpacks are designed in such a way that their weight is lifted off the shoulders and carried onto the hips so that while walking or during the hike, shoulders remain relaxed to the best possible.

Some brands provide unisex backpacks that fit according to the torso of the male or a female equally. The correct way to fit a backpack is a time taking process initially, gradually it becomes easier:

  • Firstly, Lose every strap.
  • Lift the bag onto your knee.
  • Correct your stance by making your back straight.
  • Haul the bag from your knees to shoulders steadily.
  • Place the hip belt rightly and then tighten it.
  • Adjust the Shoulder and Sternum straps to equally distribute the weight.
  • Your Shoulders should not take more than 15% of the pack’s weight.
  • Ensure that you are comfortable as you walk around.

It’s important to distribute the weight evenly so that it does not affect your balance while hiking. Keeping your rucksack close to your body can make your trekking easier.

3. Suspension System

The suspension is vital for your comfort in hiking. Without the right suspension system, you can end up having an ache in your back or soreness around your waist. Choosing the right suspension makes your journey more enjoyable by vanishing future discomfort.

Shoulders straps, hip belts with the right paddings on the back as well are the definition of a right suspension system. Your shoulder straps should be curved smoothly, matching the shape of your body. A sternum strap can enhance the effectiveness of shoulder straps.

The hip belt is absolute when carrying heavy loads being on a long course. 80% of the weight that you carry should be distributed to the hip belt. The hip belt should be fitting perfectly around the hip bone in support of weight.

4. Ventilation System

Your backpack must be breathable. What does that mean? The best hiking backpack will be designed with a back panel ventilation system. If your backpack is an internally framed one, there is no way to avoid a sweaty back while wearing it.

Although it can be lessened as some hiking backpacks will have a breathable mesh, which exists next to your back allowing the backpack to rest a few inches away from your back. This breathable mesh lets the airflow between the backpack surface and your back to enhance ventilation.

Internal Frame backpacks are the best choice for almost all packing types unless you are in search of very specific functionality.

External Frame backpacks are used to be the only option for carrying heavy loads. The backpacks having an external frame have a better ventilation system and capacity than those of having an internal frame.

What are your Technical Requirements?

Usually, people don’t consider the technical aspect of buying a basic backpack unconsciously. Well in the case of choosing a hiking backpack it does not go that way.

When you are searching for a hiking bag specifically you have to keep in mind the technicalities of having a hiking backpack. Which can be tackled by asking yourself a simple question, “Why I need a backpack or a hiking backpack?”

Don’t know the answer? No problem! Here are some points to look for:

MoreOver you can get best Hiking backpacks here:

10 Best Hiking Backpacks Under 100$

Best Day Hiking Backpack under 50$

1. Storage Requirements

Depending on what type of hike you are planning to go on, the storage capacity of your backpack is an essential point to keep in mind for making sure that you have precisely enough supplies to fit in with your hike.

The typical backpack sizes are discussed above. These backpacks could have several compartments or dedicated gear storage spaces. Some additional features are:

  • Sleeping Bag Compartment

Hiking is not as easy as it temps to be. Don’t get fantasized about the amazing stories and experiences of others. Hold on we are not discouraging at all. Our concern is about the consequences of forgetting the essentials behind during a long-long trek hiking. At the end of a tiring hard hiking day, it could be very convenient to pull up the zipper and getting your sleeping bag out.

Now imagine forgetting this lighter but essential piece of items or not having a dedicated compartment for it within your backpack can be an ache to the gut. Hiking backpacks have these compartments at the bottom which is a bonus point for ease of access.

  • ·Rain Cover Compartment

If an uncomfortable backpack is capable of ruining your whole trip, your most viable supplies that are getting soaked must be the devastating condition to handle. Backpacks are usually not waterproof.

This can ruin whatever you are packing inside of your backpack, electronics, clothes, or metallic objects, etc. Make sure you do not forget to have a right-sized rain cover for your backpack including the compartment within.

  • Hydration Capability

The best hiking backpack will have a dedicated water compartment or pouch of enough capacity as well as containing a tube for drinking. Basic packs have dedicated pockets for water bottles. But taking your water bottle out, again and again, can be messy.

According to medical consent, it is vital to have around half of a gallon of water per day to function properly for a human body. A backpack with a water pouch helps you to hydrate that much easier, leaving your hands entirely free to operate.

2. Material Considerations

Fabric is the most important aspect in terms of the durability of hiking backpacks. Basic backpacks can have less durable materials as per requirements but for hiking, durability is not negotiable. Some high-end fabrics are mentioned here:

  • Ripstop Fabric

Considerably the best material for Tactical Backpacks. This is a woven fabric made up of nylon using special techniques that make them resistant to ripping and tearing in harsh situations. This material can be water-resistant, waterproof, and even fire-resistant as it is used primarily in hot air balloons, and comes in light, medium, and heavyweights.

One of the most reputable names in fabrics in terms of durability. This material is of superior strength and excellent resistance to abrasion and tearing but not as much durable as ripstop nylon is. It is also waterproof and military-grade fabric.

Does Backpack Style Matter?

Does style mean the look of the backpack? Let’s find out!

Seasonal Backpacks

It is important to consider the kind of backpack you want to buy depending upon when you plan to go for a hike.

For summer, most likely you want a backpack that is lightweight and breathable, does not heat up whatever you put inside and your back as well.

For a winter hike, usually, the dense backpack is recommended that should be able to hold more gear for safety purposes.

Color Options

Does that matter at all? I know most of us don’t consider it but it is crucial because a backpack that you are getting after considering all these factors will last at least half a decade roughly. So you don’t want to miss on that as each time you are putting it on should make you feel satisfied.

So choosing a color is important according to your likeliness and situation.

For example, in a hunting environment, you must have a matching color of your backpack that blends with your surroundings.


The more the variations, qualities, and features the more are the budget variations to keep in mind before buying a backpack. Now the budget is depending on the size of your pocket. If you can afford it buying an expensive high-quality backpack is not an issue, if not then a less expensive and durable backpack is a good option to go for.

In the end budget, preference and the purpose of buying is all that makes a difference.


So choosing the right backpack for hiking while considering the options like comfortability, technical needs and the style or type of it can help you out in your entire hiking adventure in terms of comfort and convenience. We hope that our little effort may help you to find THE ONE that meets your needs.

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