With warming weather and wildflowers blooming, spring is one of our favorite times of year for hiking. So we've already started shopping for the best hiking gear to use on the tried-and-true trails we love, as well as new routes we've never seen before.

Whether you're lining up your weekend day hikes for the season or planning a multi-day backpacking adventure through the Appalachian Trail, a sturdy, comfortable backpack is key. The best hiking backpacks are lightweight yet strong enough to store everything you need for your hike, including plenty of easy-access pockets and external loops so you can grab your water bottle, protein bars and other essentials without having to dig through the main compartment.

Keep reading to find our favorite hiking backpacks for every kind of outdoor adventure.

Best hiking backpack overall: REI Co-op Trail 40 Pack


With an internal, spring-loaded frame and padding along the back and shoulder straps, the REI Co-op Trail 40 pack is built to keep you comfortable, even when it's loaded to capacity. The frame and foam padding contour to your back while adding load support so the weight isn't all hanging from your shoulders.

While framed backpacks tend to be bulkier, this hiking backpack manages to keep its total weight under three pounds. So you can get that extra support and that 40-liter storage capacity without the extra weight. That's why it tops our list of hiking backpacks. It's small and light enough to use on a day hike, yet supportive and comfortable enough to take on a 2-3 day trip.

Get the versatile, supportive hiking backpack from REI for $149.

Top features of the REI Co-op Trail 40 pack

  • The 40-liter capacity is small enough for day hikes yet roomy enough for an overnight trip.
  • The durable ripstop nylon fabric is abrasion-resistant and repels water to keep your things protected.
  • With zipper pockets on each hip strap, accessory straps and side water bottle pockets, you can keep things organized and accessible during your hike.
  • An internal frame provides load support.
$149 at REI

Best backpack for day hikes: Fjallraven S/F expandable hip pack


For all the weekend warriors out there, this Fjallraven S/F expandable hip pack is the perfect storage option. On short hikes, strap it around your hips for easy access to water, snacks and all your other essentials.

On longer day hikes, unroll the top to expand this hip pack into an 11.5-liter backpack, complete with shoulder straps. That's enough room to pack a lunch or any extra gear you need on your adventure. When expanded, you'll also find an internal sleeve for a water bladder (not included) so you can hydrate without stopping.

The expandable design is great for all kinds of day hikes, allowing you to be as unencumbered as possible while still being able to carry everything you need. Get the lightweight, expandable daypack at REI for $120.

Top features of the Fjallraven S/F expandable hip pack:

  • The hip pack design gives you easy access to all your things during your hike.
  • This pack expands into an 11.5-liter backpack with straps for day hikes that require extra gear.
  • With internal sleeves, external pockets and a bungee cord strap, it's easy to keep your essentials organized.
$120 at REI

Best hiking backpack for overnight trips: Earth Pak 55L waterproof backpack


Completely waterproof and boasting a convenient roll-top design, the Earth Pak 55L backpack is your new best friend for those 1-3 day hikes. There's room for everything you need and plenty of external loops and pockets for stashing things you need easy access to.

Hikers will appreciate the roll-top closure that makes accessing the main compartment a breeze and gives you the option to roll this down to a smaller size if you haven't filled it.

It's an especially great pick if your outdoor adventures tend to combine fishing, kayaking or other water sports into your hikes.

Get the durable, waterproof 55-liter hiking backpack on Amazon for $66 (reduced from $84).

Top features of the Earth Pak 55L waterproof backpack:

  • There's no rain cover needed thanks to the 100% waterproof construction.
  • Designed to float, the backpack can be tied to a kayak or fishing boat to give your back a rest.
  • External loops and pockets provide easy access to the essentials you'll need on the go.
  • This backpack comes with a waterproof phone carrying case.
$66 at Amazon

Best backpack for thru-hikers: Deuter Aircontact Core 65 + 10 Pack


If you're heading far off the beaten path on a 5-day or longer hike, you need a backpack with plenty of storage capacity and plenty of support so you can log miles without wearing out your back. That's where the Deuter Aircontact Core 65 + 10 Pack comes in.

The internal frame and load adjustment straps help take the weight off of your shoulders and allow you to fine-tune the fit for the most comfortable possible weight distribution. The chest straps can also be adjusted to sit higher or lower as well as wider or shorter to get the right fit for you.

In terms of storage, the main compartment normally holds 65 liters but you can expand the collar to add an extra 10 liters of storage room when needed. Or keep it tucked away when you don't for a smaller pack.

There are straps, pockets and sleeves galore on this spacious backpack built for thru-hikers, so you'll be able to squeeze in all the odds and ends you need. That includes compression straps to hold a sleeping bag, mat or tent and a separate bottom compartment roomy enough for a sleeping bag (but also great for stashing extra shoes or dirty gear separately from the rest of your things.

The expandable design is great for accommodating both short weekend hikes and longer thru-hikes, so if your schedule is packed with multi-day hikes of different lengths, this is the one pack to carry you through them all.

Get the rugged and spacious backpacking backpack at REI for $250.

Top features of the Deuter Aircontact Core 65 + 10 Pack:

  • Get up to 75 liters of storage capacity in one backpack.
  • The expandable design is ideal for both short and long multi-day hikes.
  • Plenty of pockets, sleeves and straps to organize all of your hiking gear and keep it accessible.
  • The fully adjustable shoulder, hip and chest straps allow you to fine-tune the fit and load distribution for a custom and comfortable fit.
$250 at REI

Best hiking backpack under $50: Reebow Gear 3-Day Assault Pack


The Reebow Gear 3-Day Assault Pack is a military-style tactical backpack that happens to be a great design for hikers. The durable, water-resistant fabric features 40 liters of storage divided between two spacious main compartments and two smaller outer zipper pockets.

You'll find row after row of Molle-style loops for attaching all the accessories you could possibly need. Adjustable snap-buckle compression straps allow you to minimize shifting as you hike so you can navigate rough terrain without worrying about your pack throwing you off balance.

Overall, it's a great pack for day hikes that can also serve as an overnight hiking backpack when you need it. Even at its regular price of $50, this rugged and roomy backpack is a steal. But right now, you have a chance to get it for even less: Amazon has dropped the price to just $36.

Top features of the Reebow Gear 3-Day Assault Pack:

  • Its 40-liter storage capacity is plenty for 1-3 day hikes.
  • Keep your things organized across two main compartments and two zippered pockets.
  • Rows of loops on the outside give you plenty of space to attach more accessories without using up space in the main compartments.
  • Use the adjustable compression straps to compress the backpack or to carry a sleeping bag.
$36 at Amazon

More top-rated hiking backpacks: