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Backpacking Backpack Buyers Guide

Before you head out to explore new places, it is essential to get the right backpacking backpack. Buying the wrong backpack will hurt your back, and the straps will dig in your shoulders, making it hard for you even to walk.

So, you need a backpack that’s lightweight and offers ample storage so that you can pack all your stuff in it to continue the journey. But how to buy the best backpacking backpack?

Well, this is certainly something most folks don't know, and they fall for good-looking packs without checking the cushioning and other important factors.

Here is a detailed buyer’s guide that will help you make a rewarding decision easily. With this guide, you can learn about the factors that should be in your mind whenever you are searching for a backpacking backpack.

Read on the guide, and go through the factors listed below so that you can choose the best backpack.

Why is this buyer's guide critical?

Some of you might be wondering why it is essential to check a buyer's guide before buying a backpack. Well, there are many things to keep in mind when purchasing a backpack, so those small mistakes can cost you so much while traveling.

When you buy a backpacking backpack with this guide, you can purchase a pack that has excellent storage, is lightweight, and is durable as well.

So, let’s now waste time and get straight to the factors that you need to check.

Considerations to make when buying a backpacking backpack

All the factors listed in this article are critical to check if you need a backpacking backpack. We have broken down the factors so that you can quickly navigate from the guide and can buy a pack for your backpacking expedition.

Types of backpacking backpacks

Start with checking the type of backpack you need. These packs are available in a few types, and each of them has some pros and cons. By choosing the right type, you can streamline the buying process, so it is critical to choose the right type.

Here are the following types of backpacking backpacks available in the market:

  • External frame packs
  • Internal frame packs
  • Daypacks

External frame packs

If you want to go on a multi-day trip, then look for backpacks with an external frame. The bags have ultimate storage space and can store anything from your clothing to other items like a sleeping pack. Further, packs with external frames are good for walking, and you should not use them for climbing, skiing, and bushwhacking.

The external frame helps the pack retain its shape even if it is fully loaded with stuff. There are many benefits of external frame packs such as they are durable, and the straps are padded to supply you comfort.

Moreover, the packs have a good center of gravity, so the weight is distributed evenly on your back, and you get an ideal walking position to travel to more distance. You will find tens of pockets to keep your stuff organized so that a multi-day backpacking expedition will be great with an external frame pack.


  • Have more weight carrying capacity
  • Excellent comfort with padded straps
  • Made using durable materials
  • High center of gravity


  • Expensive
  • Not so great for shorter trips

Internal frame packs

Backpacks with an internal frame are smaller than external frame packs. The frame is either made using plastic frame sheets and aluminum to bear the load without getting damaged. Further, the packs have moderate weight carrying capacity, and you should choose them if you have two pairs of clothing and other items to pack.

The backs aren’t as bulky as external frame packs and give you a comfortable fit. The frame isn’t visible at all as it is inside the fabric of the packs. If you are going for internal frame packs, make sure to load the stuff properly so that the center of gravity remains great.


  • You can carry your sleeping bag in it
  • The backpack comes with multiple pockets to store your stuff
  • Durable and waterproof
  • Cheaper than external frame backpacks


  • The center of gravity depends on how you pack the items


Daypacks are good for shorter trips, where you don’t need a bigger backpack. You can carry a water bottle, some food, and other such smaller items in the backpack. Further, they are lightweight and can carry a weight of around 10-15 pounds.

When buying a daypack, check if it has a waist belt so that you can tie it around your waist.


  • Lightweight and durable
  • Cheapest among the other types
  • No frame at all
  • Good for walking, climbing, and bush thwacking


  • Storage capacity is low

The capacity of the backpack

After selecting the type of backpacking backpack you need, consider checking its capacity. The capacity depends on the type and size of the backpack. Some packs have a carrying capacity of 15-20 liters, whereas some have around 60-70 liters.

Here are the capacities available in backpacking backpacks and what you should choose.

Expedition backpacking backpacks

These backpacks are good for traveling with your gear and clothes. The capacity can be around 95 liters so that you can put almost anything inside it.

What can the backpack hold?

The backpack can hold a lot of items, including camera gear, bottles, food, and a sleeping bag. You can even pack your tent inside the backpack, so carrying it will be easy.

Weeklong backpacking backpacks

As it is easy to understand why we call them as weeklong backpacks. The storage capacity of these packs is around 65 to 95 liters, and you will find multiple external frame packs available in this range.

What can the backpack hold?

The backpack can hold almost anything, just like an expedition backpack. You can carry a tent, sleeping bag, extra fuel, kitchen gear, and food. Also, the backpack can fit a pillow, camp chair, and other similar items.

Weekend packs

Weekend packs are smaller and have a carrying capacity of around 40-65 liters. The backpacks are highly popular, and people love to use them for their versatility and lightweight.

What can the backpack hold?

With this backpack, you can carry a small tent, sleeping pad, a cooking kit, water bottles, and some pairs of clothes. You cannot accommodate a big tent or a camping chair in these packs.


The daypacks are the smallest among all and have a carrying capacity of 40 liters or less. The backpacks are good if you want to return home at the end of the day.

What can the backpack hold?

You can carry a water bottle, snacks, lunch, camera gear, a shell to keep you warm, and some small items like first aid kit and GPS.


The backpacking backpack you are going to buy should be durable so that it can withstand anything to protect the stored items. To determine the durability, check the material of the backpack and its construction.

Zippers also play an important role in deciding the durability as they should be sturdy enough to last longer without any issues. Check the seams and stitches of the backpack to ensure that everything is fine, and the backpack is ready for the outdoors.

Check everything related to the durability, and consider checking the customer reviews to find out if the claims made by the manufacturer are real or not.

Design of the backpack

A backpacking backpack should have a great design so that it is comfortable to strap it on your back even if loaded fully. The shoulder straps should have a cushion, and the bag should have a plate at the bottom that distributes the weight evenly.

If you are buying a backpack with a frame, check if the frame has a good design, and it fits on your back without causing any issues. The bottom of the backpack should be around the hips so that it doesn't intervene with your feet, and you can walk without any difficulties.

When scrutinizing the design, inspect the placement of the pockets to find out if you can access the bottle or other stuff while walking. Also, check the thickness of the straps and the padding as well.

Before making a choice, consider reading some customer reviews to determine if the design works well for you or not.

Weight of the backpack

Backpacking backpacks are available in a myriad of options with varying weight. The weight of the pack depends on the material and its size. If you go for a daypack that has a carrying capacity of 40 liters, then expect it to be lighter as there is no frame used in the backpack.

As you go for high-end models like packs with internal and external frames, then the weight will increase as you go for bigger models.

Another thing that impacts the weight of the backpack is the carrying capacity and accessories mounted on it. If you go for bigger backpacks with more storage, get ready to lift some more weight.


Ventilation is something most backpackers overlook when buying a backpack. If you buy a backpack with not so great ventilation, then it will result in sweat, and your back and shoulders will get wet. Also, the main compartment of the backpack should have ventilation so that the air can pass through it without any issues.

You will find ventilation chimneys that promote good airflow.

Built-in removable daypack

Some bigger backpacks have built-in removable daypacks that you can use for shorter trips. It is not easy to carry a bigger backpack on your back, so a removable daypack will help you explore the nearby places, and you can keep the bigger backpack in your tent.

Not every backpack comes with a removable backpack, so it is important to check beforehand.

Attachment points

You will find multiple attachment points in a backpacking backpack. The points let you attach trekking poles and other such items with the back using a carabiner. The choice of the attachment point depends on you and where you want to travel.

Keep in mind that if you attach anything with these points, then you are adding more weight to the backpack, and it should be able to handle it.

Furthermore, you should also check for gear loops and reinforced crampon patches.

Sleeping bag compartment

If you stash the sleeping bag into the main compartment of the backpack, then you won't get enough space to keep other items. Go for backpacks that have a dedicated sleeping bag compartment so that you can fold and store the sleeping pad while there is enough space available for other items.


Backpacking backpacks come with multiple pockets so that you can store your essentials, and they are accessible to you all the time. When choosing a backpack, just checking the number of pockets isn’t enough, and you should check the placement of the pockets as well.

Hip belt pockets

The hip belt pockets are available at the back of the pocket where you can store your smartphone, energy bar, and other such things that you need access to all the time. Further, these pockets have zippers and are easily accessible.

Shovel pockets

The shovel pocket or pockets are the biggest among other pockets, and you can even carry a snow shovel in it. There is a hook at the top of the bag that holds the handle of the shovel and keeps it in place.

Front pockets

The front pockets are available on the top of the shovel pocket. These pockets are useful for carrying small items that you need on the go. You can carry items such as lighter and other such things.

Elasticized side pockets

Elasticized side pockets lay flat when not in use and stretch when you put a water bottle in them. The pockets are exactly what you see in the regular backpacks. However, backpacking packs have more durable pockets.


Look whether the backpack is waterproof or not so that you can roam with it even if it rains. Usually, backpacks are water-resistant and the durable zippers keep the water out of the pack. You should check the material used to manufacture the pack to ensure that your stuff remains dry and safe.

The backpack should be made using water resistant materials such as polyester and nylon. If the backpack is not waterproof, then go for backpacks that come with a rain cover.

With a rain cover, you can protect the backpack from rains so that you can travel with ease.

Padded hip belt

If you get a backpack that has a padded hip belt, then you will get added comfort with it. The weight will distribute evenly so that you can walk on the trail with ease. Another benefit of a padded hip belt is that the pack will remain stable on your back, and it won’t fall off even if you run.

Loading style

Backpacking backpacks come with two loading styles, i.e., front-loading and side loading. The front-loading backpack and side loading backpack both have some pros and cons and are suitable for different requirements.

Below we have discussed what these loading styles are and which one you should choose.


Backpacks with front-loading are easy to pack, and you get access to the complete storage compartment. You can pack the bigger items at the bottom and the smaller items at the top so that you get access to everything you need.


Backpack with sideloading is good to store bigger items such as tents and sleeping bags. You can arrange the item in a fashion that they remain stable when walking. Further, these packs come with an internal and external frame and are highly durable.

Lockable zippers

Lockable zippers are important to keep the items secure. You can lock the zippers using a small lock to safeguard the items from thefts. There are two types of locks, i.e., regular locks, the locks that you see in the suitcase.

Suspension system

Backpacks with internal and external frames come with a suspension system that rewards you with comfort, and there will be less stress on your shoulders. You will find three types of the suspension system when looking for a backpacking backpack.

Fixed Suspension

Backpacks with a fixed suspension have fewer moving parts, and you will get good stability when carrying it on your back. The suspension is not adjustable, so you cannot adjust its length. Furthermore, they are cheaper as compared to the other suspension systems.

Interchangeable suspension

Backpacks with interchangeable suspension are excellent, and you can customize them as per your needs. If you are taller than the ordinary people and weigh more, then go for backpacks with interchangeable suspensions.

Adjustable suspension

Packs with adjustable suspension frames allow you to adjust the suspension as per your requirements. You can adjust the suspension on the go to increase or decrease the height of the pack or according to the amount of stuff you want to stash in it.

Women’s backpacks

Backpacks designed for women are small and lightweight and are available in pretty colors. Also, they have some different features like thin straps and less height. So, look for women-specific packs if you need it for a lady.


It is important to buy a backpack that gives you a superb fit so that you can walk with ease. The pack's fit depends on multiple factors, such as the height of the pack, thickness of the straps, and its waist belt.

An ideal backpack should put 80% of the total weight on your hips so that the straps don’t dig into your shoulders. Inspect everything before clicking the buy now button, and consider going through the customer reviews.

Also, there are some other things to check, such as the back panel. It should not stick to your back, and there should be some air in-between so that your back can breathe.


Branded backpacking backpacks come with warranties. Only buy the packs that offer one or two-year warranty so that you get service if something is wrong with it. Furthermore, read the warranty terms to understand what the manufacturer will cover and whatnot.


The cost of the backpack depends on its type, material, and other factors. To buy a backpack under your budget, you should decide how much money you want to spend. You can get a good backpack under $100, whereas some high capacity packs are expensive.

FAQs: Best Backpacking Backpacks

Q: How durable are these backpacks?

A: Backpacking backpacks are made using durable materials so you can rest assured that it will last longer without any issues. However, you should check the material and the seams of the backpack to ensure that the backpack you are buying is durable.

Q: Are backpacking backpacks costly?

A: The cost of the backpack depends on multiple factors, such as the type and brand that you are going for. Some backpacks are expensive, but you will also find some affordable models as well.

Q: How to clean a backpack?

A: Cleaning a backpack is important to make sure that it lasts longer and looks good. Most of the backpacks are machine washable, and you can toss them into the machine for a quick wash. Before washing the backpack, check if all the pockets are empty, and there is nothing that can get damaged when you wash it.

Wash the backpack with lukewarm water and avoid using water that’s too hot. After washing it, dry it in the shade as UV rays can harm its quality. Once dry, the pack is ready to use, and you can use it during the backpacking expedition.


Buying a fantastic backpack is important so that you face no issues while backpacking. Check all the factors listed in this article, and compare different backpacks so that you can buy the best one. When searching for a backpacking backpack, look for good brands only so that you get after-sales service whenever required.

Don’t forget to check customer reviews as you can find some more information about the backpack, which isn't provided by the manufacturer. / - © Copyright 2020