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Choosing the Right Hiking Backpack

Last updated on February 24, 2020

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Hiking Backpacks

If you are a hiker, one thing to get right is your backpack.

Size of Backpack

You need to consider the right size for you.  One way to figure this out is to measure the vertical distance from your neck (from the bony bump at the base of your neck to your the center of your back at the hip bones).  You may need a helper to do this.

Vertical Height:

16″ or less, get a size Small

16.5 – 19.5″ get a size Medium

20″ and more, get a Large

Belt size:

Check your hip size with a measuring tape from your belly button to your sides and to your hip bones.  You should adjust the belt size so that it straddles your hips about an inch above and below the line we just measured.  Most backpacks are pretty flexible for width but they should wrap around your pelvic bones in front for the perfect fit.

Weight of Backpack

Its important to choose a lightweight pack that is also sturdy and will last.  Choose a pack that has an internal frame hidden inside the pack.  These will give you a greater load support on your hips – better than ones with external frames which can be clunky.

Waterproof with ventilation

Definitely pick a waterproof pack to protect your equipment and supplies from getting wet, damp and musty.  Good ventilation technology is necessary also so the pack is not too hot on you – for instance including mesh panels.  You can also choose a pack with a an optional rain cover.


Packs with padded hip and shoulder strips will provide comfort and help distribute the weight of the pack easier.  You do NOT WANT to rub sore spots on your shoulders and hips.


The capacity of your backpack or how much gear it can contain is usually measured in liters. This is important because you want to have enough supplies. The rule of thumb is: 30-50 liters capacity for 3 nights, 50-80 liters for up to 5 nights, and 70+ liters for extended trips.


Get a hydration sleeve where you can slip a hydration reservoir to carry water in an internal, refillable bottle and drink it through a tube without having to open your backpack.  This can be very useful.

Here are some top suggestions for backpacks

Osprey Packs Exos 58 Men’s Backpacking Backpack

  • Pack weight – Striped is 2.33 lb.
  • Load range:  20-40 lb
  • Capacity: 58 liters
  • Accessory Cord Attachment Points
  • Sternum strap with integrated safety whistle
  • With an integrated FlapJacket which protects packed gear when top lid is removed
  • There is a front stretch mesh pocket to store rain gear and has layers for easy access
  • There are Dual access stretch mesh side pockets for storing water bottles and other gear
  • Internal hydration reservoir sleeve accommodates up to a 3L reservoir (sold separately)
  • This has a stow-on-the-go trekking pole attachment
  • Top lid web loop attachment points for external gear storage
  • It has a ice axe attachment with bungee tie-off
  • Removable sleeping pad and side compression straps
  • Comes in small, medium and large sizes
  • Comes in Black or Tunnel Green

Deuter Speed Lite 20 Athletic Daypack

  • Weighs just 1 lb. 1 oz. with 20 liter capacit
  • Streamlined design
  • Ultralight. the most minimalistic back system from Deuter.
  • Has a padded back panel of ventilated 3D-Air Mesh.
  • Flexible Delrin U-frame stabilizes and distributes load weight for maximum comfort on the trail; Stabilizing hip wings, chest strap, AirMesh shoulder straps, and waist belt are fully adjustable to each wearer’s dimensions
  • It has specialized compartments for your hydration system, valuables, and wet gear or clothing; Mesh side pockets for snacks or water bottles; 3M reflectors for visibility; SOS-Label with just-in-case lifesaving tips
  • The Speed Lite 20 includes a limited lifetime warranty
  • Athletic V-cut shape for extensive freedom of movement
  • Sunglasses loop on shoulder strap
  • Accessory loops for gear or helmet holder attachment
  • Easy glove-friendly loops on zippers
  • Stretch side water bottle pockets
  • Zippered pocket on top
  • Height and width adjustable chest strap
  • Hydration system compatible
  • Loop for safety light
  • Comes in four colors


Active Roots Lightweight Packable Water Resistant Travel Hiking Backpack Daypack Handy Foldable Camping Outdoor Backpack

  • LIGHTWEIGHT & FOLDABLE – our ultra-light daypack weighs less than 10oz and folds into the size of a small book so that you can easily bring it on any adventure no matter how long or far
  • SPACIOUS & ORGANIZED – this backpack unfolds into a beast of a backpack, boasting an internal capacity of 34L to hold everything you need while containing 7 different easy-access pockets & pouches to organize your belongings.
  • DURABLE & WATER-RESISTANT – This daypack is made from some of the strongest nylon material and has sturdy zippers and pouches that will last through the most rigorous hikes, camping and backpacking. We’ve also made sure to make it from water-resistant material…the last thing you need when you’re caught in rough weather is to have all your stuff get soaked.
  • MONEY-BACK GUARANTEE – We know you’ll love our foldable backpack. However, if you need to return it for any reason, we have a 30-day money back guarantee. If you’re not happy, we’re not happy. And everyone deserves to be happy.
  • GIVING BACK – With each purchase of our daypack, we donate to one of several environment-saving charities to help clean up our planet. We live and die with adventure, and we want to help keep as many of these adventures

Deuter Aircontact Lite 65+10 Backpacking Pac

  • ELITE PERFORMANCE – Lightweight, accommodating, and brilliantly versatile, the Aircontact Lite 65+10 is a top-loading, all-season pack excelling on advanced-level hikes and extended backcountry excursions
  • MAX VENTILATION, MAX ENDURANCE – Aircontact Lite back system is proven to reduce perspiration by 15%; Breathable padding made of open-cell, hollow-chamber foam and an ergonomic internal X-frame let cool air in and hot air out
  • REVOLUTION IN COMFORT – Auto-Compress, Ergonomic Comfort Lock hip fins of dual density foam deliver a custom fit for load stability; Vari Quick adjustable back length fits torsos 15 – 21 in.; S-shaped shoulder harness has soft edge and airy 3D mesh lining
  • LIGHTEN UP – The Aircontact Lite is fully adjustable for enhanced load weight management; Hip belt with Pull-Forward construction is easy to fasten and tighten with heavier loads; Adjustment straps at shoulders transfer weight from shoulders to hips; Pack totals 4 lbs. 6 oz.
  • TRAIL UTILITY – Extendable 10L pack collar for volume expansion; Height and width adjustable chest strap with signal whistle; Side compression straps for regulating pack volume; Abundant internal and external loops and pockets; Hydration system compatible; Limited lifetime warranty

The North Face Terra 65, Mountain Moss/Pompeian Red 1, LG/XL


  • The weight of the Terra 65 size Large/X-Large is 4 lbs 5 oz.
  • The size Small/Medium is 4 lbs 1 oz.
  • This pack has a comfortable molded hipbelt.
  • Pockets: 8 exterior
  • It has a larger front stash pocket to allow for more-efficient storage and there is a floating lid for storing a sleeping bag or tent.
  • The back panel has a cushy foam package and also has breathable mesh.

Other Backpacks

Of course there are many smaller “around the waist” type of packs to carry items for shorter hikes and walks.  You can choose from several in the Bella Vista Online Mall’s “Hiking Shop“.


I enjoy getting comments and questions from site visitors, you can leave yours below -Shirley


NOTE:  This post contains affiliate links, which, if clicked on and an item purchased, I receive a small commission.


    • Lity, thanks for visiting my site and reading the backpack article. I enjoy getting comments like yours. I will certainly check out your backpack article. Thanks again for your comment. -Shirley

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