There’s nothing like the freedom that comes with backpacking, and thankfully, the best outdoor season is upon us. With just a pack on your back, you can hike for days, weeks, or even months in the wilderness. But lugging 30 or 40 pounds for miles through the woods doesn’t always sound like a great escape. With these quality backpacks from some of the best outdoor brands, you’ll forget about back pain and actually enjoy the mountains and waterfalls you came to see. Check out the best outdoor backpacks of 2021.
REI Co-Op Flash 55
We’ve said it before: We love REI Co-Op. The in-house brand of America’s favorite outdoor retailer is durable, smartly designed, and affordable. The Flash 55 Pack is a near-perfect intermediate pack. The 55-liter capacity slots neatly between a compact daypack and a larger, expedition-worthy bag, making it ideal for most multiday hikes. The compression straps and seamlessly integrated suspension help maintain a tight, balanced load for comfortable, all-day wear. Plus it’s a steal at under $200, making it one of the best value backpacks on this list.
Gregory Optic 58L
For a slightly beefier alternative, Gregory’s Optic 58L Backpack delivers. The interior boasts nearly 60L of cargo space, with a design that ensures your load stays well balanced. A padded hip belt and lumbar support ensure proper load transfer, so it’s comfortable on your back and shoulders. We also appreciate the extra pockets and gear loops for keeping your ice axes, trekking poles, and energy bars organized on the trail.
Osprey Atmos AG 65
It’s one of the largest backpacks on this list, but you wouldn’t know it, thanks to Osprey’s proprietary Anti-Gravity suspension technology. The clever design helps distribute heavier loads to ensure it wears like a dream, even on long trail days. The Atmos is packed with plenty of user-friendly features — excellent ventilation, tons of pockets, and a tried-and-true design — making it an ideal daily driver for any avid backpacker.
Deuter Aircontact Lite 65 + 10 Pack
As one of Europe’s longest-standing outdoor brands, with a history that dates back to the 19th century, Deuter knows a thing or two about premium backpacks. The Deuter Aircontact Lite 65 + 10 is one of the most versatile in its quiver. The latest model is stronger and more durable, with upgraded comfort and suspension tech. It’s also larger than most on this list, with an expandable and versatile design that allows for stowing up to 75 liters of gear.
Fjallraven Bergtagen 38
Fjallraven has long been a mountaineering-first brand. That fact is evident in its Bergtagen 38 outdoor backpack with a wooden frame, hip belt, and lid, all designed for long, hard approaches. But the bag’s strength is in its versatility. All these components are easily removable, transforming the bag into a flexible, ultralightweight pack that’s perfect for summit pushes.
The North Face Griffin 65L
It’s one of the heaviest backpacks on this list, but its long feature set justifies the Griffin’s added weight. Innovative design features include an oversized zippered main compartment, hip belt pockets for quick access to your most common gear, and a removable “flying-squirrel” summit pack. This is a hefty pack for hard-charging hikers who typically carry 50 pounds or more and need to do so in all-day comfort.
Arc’teryx Bora AR 63
From the technology to the materials to the craftsmanship, Arc’teryx has a long and bulletproof track record of crafting some of the world’s best gear. Its Bora 63 outdoor backpack is no exception. The design uses a rotating RotoGlide suspension for the hip belt that’s connected to the back via a rotating disc. Your hips rotate side to side when you walk and step over rocks and logs. The RotoGlide hip belt rotates with you, without limiting movement, while supporting the pack weight. It’s the closest thing on the market to feeling like the pack is floating behind you. For a more compact alternative, check out the.
Venture Pal Lightweight Packable Backpack
If a $200 brand-name outdoor backpack isn’t in your budget, there are plenty of affordable alternatives. A great option for a budget-friendly and lightweight backpack is the Venture Pal’s Lightweight Packable Backpack, which is among the cheapest we’ve ever seen at around $20. Don’t let the price fool you, though. It’s made from extra-strong material and features a double-layered bottom piece so it won’t rip while carrying heavy items on your travels. It’s also water-resistant, so you can wear it confidently during rainy days or while wading through bodies of water.
Under Armour Waterproof Rolltop Backpack
If your outdoor adventures typically find you in wet, rainy conditions, Under Armour’s UA Waterproof Rolltop Backpack can help. The design falls somewhere between a traditional outdoor backpack and a waterproof dry bag, so your gear will remain dry and damage free during your hike. The interior is spacious and has mesh pockets for water bottles. With a 40-liter capacity, it’s well sized for carrying a lot of stuff at once.
Kelty Redwing 36
One of Kelty’s most popular packs just got better. The latest Redwing 36 backpack boasts an upgraded perimeter frame and a ventilated back panel for increased strength and all-day comfort. This is a pack for the hardcore organizers who appreciate ample pockets throughout. Water bottle pockets, daisy chains, and side compression straps add even more functionality, allowing you to easily wrangle everything from trekking poles to sleep mats to action camera gear.
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