7 of The Best Long Distance Hiking Backpacks

by:

Sam McCraw

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Second only to the boots on your feet, your backpack is the single most important part of your hiking kit, especially so when tackling a multi-dayer.

With so much essential equipment to carry, your back’s best friend must be voluminous, accessible, strong and above all – comfortable. Going ultralight may be all the rage but unless you’ve spent a bomb on minimising the rest of your gear, your pack must be able to comfortably handle 15 to 20 Kg, depending on the length of your walk.

By comparison, the maximum load that the superlight, frameless, cuben fiber type packs can carry is about 12 Kg, after which they become unusable. So here is our selection of the best load carrying systems for those of us mortals who enjoy one or two long distance trips per year, rather than trying to break speed records on the Appalachian Trail.

#
Name
Weight
Price Range
Price
More Info
#1
Arcteryx Bora AR
2.3 kg
$$$
#2
Mystery Ranch Stein 62
2.22kg
$$
#3
Gregory Baltoro 75
2.5kg
$$
#4
Osprey Aether AG 70
2.3kg
$$
#5
TNF Banchee 65
1.67kg
$$
#6
Lowe Alpine Cerro Torre 65:85
2.62kg
$$
#7
Deuter AirContact Lite 65+10
1.99kg
$$

Not sure how to choose the right hiking backpack? Check out this video from REI that explains all essentials for choosing your ideal backpack:

#1 Arcteryx Bora AR

Bora-AR-63-Backpack-Titanium
Bora-AR-63-Backpack-Titanium-Suspension-2

Generally agreed to be one of the best all-round outdoor gear companies, Canada’s Arc’teryx offer beauty in their clean designs as well as epic durability and innovation. Within their tight pack range the Bora is their multi-day hiking model, the AR standing for All-Round use.

The harness is uniquely constructed with its RotoGlide hip belt, which gives gentle suspension to the load as the body moves over different terrain, and the GridLock shoulder straps which offer easy adjustment in both height and width.

The pack itself is made from robust and weatherproof fabrics and has all the features you’d expect, including side access and a ‘kangaroo pocket’ at the front for dirty/wet gear. The closed cell foam of the shoulder straps and hip belt will mould to the users contours and not be damaged by passing bushes.

Key Details

Weight: 2.3 kg
Volume: 63 - 64 litres
420D/630D Nylon
2 Harness sizes

Strengths

RotoGlide hip belt
Harness adjustability
Durable
Weatherproof fabric

Weaknesses

Expensive
Few attachment points

#2 Mystery Ranch Stein 62

WS19-Stein-65_black-10
WS19-Stein-65_black-Body-Panel-1010

Relatively new to the outdoor fold, Montana’s Mystery Ranch have been traditionally active in the military and fire rescue categories but have recently become very sought after in hiking circles for their impressive load carrying ability.

This confidence is brought by their dedication to harness design above all else, and the telescoping adjustment of the Stein’s Mountain Frame combined with its flexible sheet ensure the load sticks to your back through any movement.

The features of the main pack body are less innovative but still cover all the bases in terms of pockets, attachments, compression etc. One notable feature is the removable lid that uses the packs original shoulder straps and yoke as its own harness – a great idea for the most comfortable summit pack ever.

Key Details

Weight: 2.22 kg
Volume: 65 litres
210D/330D Robic
4 Harness sizes

Strengths

Adjustability and fit
Comfortable
Removable day pack
Load capacity

Weaknesses

Cluttered exterior

#3 Gregory Baltoro 75

gregory-baltoro-75-walking-backpack
gregory-baltoro-75-walking-backpack-detail-4

Routinely appearing at or near the top of ‘Best Backpacks’ lists, Gregory’s flagship model has much to commend it. The stiff EVA hip belt will carry loads like a mule, and the contouring of the shoulder straps is the best on test.

Interchangeable foam panels and a removable lumbar insert give excellent customizability. A silicone patch on the lumbar pad is designed to grip the wearer’s shirt.

The Baltoro, named after a majestic glacier in Pakistan, boasts some cool innovations and features, such as the stowable water bottle pocket and waterproofed hip belt pocket. The hydration sleeve moonlights as the SideKick day pack, the hip belt of which does double duty as compression straps on the main pack. People seem to love the twin lid pockets as well.

Key Details

Weight: 2.5 kg
Volume: 75 litres
630D/420D Nylon
3 Harness sizes

Strengths

RotoGlide hip belt
Harness adjustability
Durable
Weatherproof fabric

Weaknesses

Bit heavy

#4 Osprey Aether AG 70

aetheragdpk70_side_neptuneblue
aetheragdpk70_sideback_neptuneblue

Innovating for 20 years and showing no signs of slowing down. Osprey’s Anti-Gravity harness, introduced in 2015, hugs the hips is remarkably comfortable, and by increasing ventilation around the back it keeps your back cool and relatively dry.

This moves the load further away from the user’s centre of gravity however, creating less of a balanced feeling than in some competitors.

The pack is designed down to a tee, with every conceivable convenience including side access, trekking pole stowage, hydration, and the new DayLid – an awesome day pack that pops out of the main pack’s lid. With the lid gone, the pack contents are still protected by the lightweight FlapJacket, although we found this feature really got in the way when not in use.

Key Details

Weight: 2.3 kg
Volume: 67 - 76 litres
210D/500D Nylon
4 Harness sizes

Strengths

Super ventilation
Removable DayLid Pack
Customisable harness
Compartment access

Weaknesses

Centre of gravity
Flap Jacket
DayLid (US only)

#5 The North Face Banchee 65

TNF-Pack
download2

A curious-looking beast, the Banchee certainly isn’t a bad stab at a multi-day hiking rucksack.

The Optifit harness is light, well ventilated and comfortable but adjustment is not as easy as it could be. The hip fin length adjustment is a lot simpler and also effective.

The unique look of the pack comes from its Beaver Tail construction, which integrates two large external pockets with compression straps, and also features a ventilated section for drying gear.

Another unusual feature is the internal divider designed to separate the sleeping bag compartment from the main load, and finally someone has finally got the zips on the hip belt pockets the right way around! Plus you can’t argue with that weight.

Key Details

Weight: 1.67 kg
Volume: 65 litres
210D Nylon Ripstop
2 Harness sizes

Strengths

Lightweight
Lots of compartments
Comfortable fit

Weaknesses

Hard to adjust
Lower load capactity

#6 Lowe Alpine Cerro Torre 65:85

cerro_torre_65-85-black-pumpkin_3
cerro_torre_65.85_back

Founders the Lowe brothers may have been American but the Lowe Alpine brand is now most definitely British. Greg reportedly invented the internal frame backpack, the father of all modern designs, and the company’s line of innovations continues to this day.

The current harness on the Cerro Torre is the Axiom 7, with its single pull, on-back length adjustment and rotating hip belt. While a neat idea, I didn’t find the adjustment worked as easily as it was advertised.

Whatever feature you can think of that a multi-day pack should include is probably found somewhere on the Cerro Torre. Hydration sleeve that doubles as a summit pack, trekking pole Tip Grippers, U-shaped front entry, bottom compartment, adjustable lid, rain cover, etc. all of which adds up to the heaviest pack on test.

Key Details

Weight: 2.62 kg
Volume: 65 - 85 litres
420D Nylon Ripstop
2 Harness sizes

Strengths

Feature heavy
Strong harness
Voluminous

Weaknesses

On the heavy side
Tricky length adjustment

#7 Deuter AirContact Lite 65+10

image2
image2-1

These German specialists have been making packs for over 120 years and are well respected all around the globe, and especially in Europe. The AirContact Lite is built around their AirContact harness, which offers good lumbar support combined with a wide channel for venting the back of hot air.

It has a wide range of back length adjustability, although those with a shorter torso might find the pack’s tall and narrow silhouette means it towers above their heads.

The pack’s volume is adjusted by raising the lid, and side compression straps help to minimize the pack when not fully loaded. A plethora of pockets and attachment points increase the usability of this model.

Key Details

Weight: 1.99 kg
Volume: 65 - 75 litres
100D/600D Nylon
1 Harness size

Strengths

Under 2kg
Loads of features
Worldwide warranty

Weaknesses

Single back length
Average ventilation
Not sure how to choose the right hiking backpack? Check out this video from REI that explains all essentials for choosing your ideal backpack:
#
Name
Weight
Price Range
Price
More Info
#1
Arcteryx Bora AR
2.3 kg
$$$
#2
Mystery Ranch Stein 62
2.22kg
$$
#3
Gregory Baltoro 75
2.5kg
$$
#4
Osprey Aether AG 70
2.3kg
$$
#5
TNF Banchee 65
1.67kg
$$
#6
Lowe Alpine Cerro Torre 65:85
2.62kg
$$
#7
Deuter AirContact Lite 65+10
1.99kg
$$

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Sam McCraw

Sam McCraw

I was raised in Edinburgh, Scotland with plenty of green spaces around me, and for as long as I can remember I've always had a passion for the outdoors.

Whether it's going for a long hike, playing football, rafting or simply discovering a cool new place you'll likely find me outside somewhere.

Discover Outside is a space for me to create guides and hopefully help others enjoy the outdoors too!

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