The Best Thru Hiking Backpacks for Your Next Adventure 

 May 31, 2023

By  Diane Wuthrich

Are you feeling the wanderlust bug? Have you been dreaming of meandering through the rolling hills of the countryside, or a rugged trek through thickly wooded forests? Are you ready to take your outdoor adventure to the next level? Then you’re in need of an essential item - a trusty, durable, and comfortable thru-hiking backpack.

A thru hiking backpack should have features like a lightweight and durable design, a comfortable and adjustable fit, ample storage capacity, and multiple pockets and compartments for organization. Additionally, it should have load-lifting straps and a ventilation system to reduce discomfort and sweat.

Buying the right thru-hiking backpack should never be taken lightly. In this blog post, we’ll discuss some of the best thru-hiking backpacks available to help you find the perfect match for your next adventure. We’ll consider their features, price, and whether or not they are suitable for carrying all your essentials. With our guidance, you’ll be able to choose the best backpack for you — so you’re free to explore all the great outdoors has to offer. So, read on and let’s see which backpacks are the spec for you!

What is a Good Hiking Backpack?

When undertaking a multi-day hike, having the right hiking backpack is essential to ensure that you have a successful and enjoyable adventure. The crucial thing when selecting a hiking backpack is choosing one that fits your body properly and is suitable for the type of journey you’re embarking on. But what makes a good hiking backpack?

There are numerous debates within the hiking community about which type of backpack is best. Some argue that lightweight backpacks underneath 40 liters are ideal for short jaunts as they provide sufficient space to store necessary items while keeping your load light. On the other hand, some promote larger backpacks with multiple compartments like those over 50 liters for longer trips which require more supplies and equipment. Ultimately, it comes down to the individual’s size, number of days out in the trails, and amount of gear needed to be carried.

Having a comfortable fit should also not be overlooked when selecting a suitable pack. While firms padded straps and adjustable torso heights are preferred, backpacks often need to be tried on beforehand to ensure optimal fit. When trying on different backpacks in stores, advise from experienced hikers can also be valuable in finding the most comfortable fit. In addition, high quality materials such as durable fabric with waterproof coatings are beneficial to guarantee that your backpack will withstand various environmental conditions throughout your trip while providing protection to the valuable items you’re storing inside.

In summary, there isn’t necessarily one ‘right’ hiking backpack out there as every explorer will have unique challenges along their journey. Therefore, it’s important to determine comfort levels, environmental conditions, and necessary supplies to help decide which type of pack is best before embarking on your next adventure. Now that you know what makes a good hiking backpack, let's look at all the features you should look for in order to find the perfect one for you.

Features to Look For

Now that you are familiar with what makes a good thru-hiking backpack, it is important to understand the features you should look for. Backpacks vary in size and style, making it important to figure out which features will work best based on the size and type of trip that you’re planning.

Generally speaking, a good pack should have plenty of room to hold all your gear, be lightweight to allow for easy carrying, and come with adjustable straps for added stability and comfort. Furthermore, consider features such as waterproofing and breathability, depending on the type of conditions you plan on trekking through. It never hurts to add a few extra special touches like pockets for maps, cameras, or snacks.

Whether you end up choosing a more traditional style pack or something more flashy with extra compartments and reflective highlights, make sure that your potential bag meets all of these requirements above. Doing so will ensure that your adventure will go as smoothly as possible.

As you prepare for your next journey, there are some backpacks out there specifically designed for thru-hiking. Careful consideration of the features that matter most to you will help lead you to the perfect companion on your next great adventure.

The Best Hiking Backpacks for Thru-Hiking

When it comes to selecting a backpack for thru-hiking, choosing the right size and lightweight frame is essential. A good general rule of thumb is the lighter the better, but keep in mind the importance of capacity. Hikers will want to strike a balance between weight and comfort on their long journey, as this will be particularly pertinent with extended use.

For hikers embarking on a thru-hiking adventure, comfort should take priority over size when deciding on a pack. Look for an adjustable frame and hip belt, as well as various exterior pockets and straps that can accommodate any needed gear. Hydration systems are also beneficial, since they allow you to drink while hiking without taking your hands off the handles of your pack. Additionally, some packs offer special features such as ventilation systems or removable frames.

One thing to be aware of is that larger packs can often mean heavier weights over time - which means you’ll have to carry more weight for your entire trek. However, larger capacity backpacks are essential if hikers are carrying supplies or large items such as tents and sleeping bags. Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution and everyone must evaluate their own needs when deciding which backpack is best for them.

To ensure both large capacity and maximum comfort for your next thru-hiking excursion, consider how much gear you'll need to bring along, how long your hike will be, and how much weight you're comfortable carrying. The right combination of these factors will help you choose the ideal pack that provides ample capacity along with a comfortable fit and plenty of storage options.

Large Capacity and Comfort

When it comes to thru-hiking, carrying a large capacity and comfortable backpack is paramount. On most treks, the no. 1 goal should be to travel light. The most obvious way to do this is by cutting down the volume of items you bring, but for those that need a little more space, larges capacity backpacks are the go-to choice. Generally speaking, larger size packs typically feature excellent ventilation to ensure long hikes are comfortable and offer additional pockets for organizing gear. But a few considerations must be taken into account before committing to a larger pack.

For starters, increased capacity does have its downside, with bigger packs typically being heavier than smaller ones - negating one of the main reasons for opting for one in the first place. Additionally, due to their bulkiness they also tend to require an exacting fit and are difficult to adjust correctly while on the move. By taking into account these two factors before selecting a large pack it’s possible to reap all the benefits without any of the consequences.

In conclusion, when it comes to choosing a backpack for thru-hiking, deciding whether large capacity or small is certainly a significant factor. However, regardless of which route one goes down, what really matters is making sure that the pack offers comfort and security so hikers can enjoy every moment of their journey. After all, when embarking on an adventure such as thru-hiking there's nothing worse than having gear that isn't up to par. Thankfully though, there are plenty of options available that combine durability and quality with comfort and security; ensuring adventurers are ready for anything out on the trail ahead.

Durability and Quality

When it comes to thru-hiking, durability and quality are the two main factors to consider when choosing your backpack. Many backpackers value a balance between comfort and support. If you’re on a long trip, you don’t want to be weighed down by a bulky bag that’s made of inferior materials. It’s important to find one that is durable and built with high-quality components.

When purchasing a backpack, investigate the materials used in construction and make sure they are high quality. Some synthetic fabrics can be very lightweight but don’t hold up well in wet conditions or heavy use. Additionally, when assessing the seams and other stress points, look for tight stitching and reinforced stress points using bartacks or reinforced tape. The buckles and straps should be strong enough to support the weight of your pack without fraying or tearing when tension is applied.

Depending on the type of weather you anticipate during your hike, you might need a water-resistant backpack so your items stay dry during rainstorms. Look for waterproof zippers, as well as seam sealing along the bottom of the pack that prevents water from entering at crucial points along tears and stress points.

When evaluating durability and quality, build it into your assessment criteria so you can find the best way to keep your items secure while you explore nature on your next thru hike. With all these considerations in mind, let's take a closer look at weight distribution system (WDS), for which many thru hikers choose high quality backpacks for their unique needs.

Weight Distribution System (WDS)

As with any gear, it is important to consider how the backpack will feel on your body for ten plus miles a day. The Weight Distribution System (WDS) of a backpack plays a major role in this. WDS refers to the way the pack distributes weight from the shoulders to the waist and the hips, enabling you to carry more weight comfortably.

A good WDS will include an adjustable, lightweight internal frame to reduce fatigue and stress on the back, shoulders, torso and lower spine. A quality hip belt will also help distribute weight around your midsection, transferring pressure away from your shoulders and back. It should also be adjustable so that you can tailor it to your individual size and curves, making it as comfortable as possible when carrying heavier loads.

Another important element of WDS is load bearing capabilities. Different materials have different levels of strength; some are better suited if you’re carrying heavy items, while lighter fabrics may be best if you only need a few extra items. To determine what works best for your trip, read reviews or talk to experienced hikers about their experiences with varying brands and styles of packs.

Ultimately, before you commit to purchasing a specific pack, check to see how its WDS is designed and take into account how it may become an integral part of your journey. With the right gear in hand, you can make sure that comfort and durability lead the way – no matter how far or wide you go!

With all these factors in play, it’s imperative that one pays attention to the size and storage volume of their future pack to ensure their hiking experience is comfortable and well-provisioned alike.

Key Points

When purchasing a backpack for hiking, it is important to consider the Weight Distribution System (WDS) of the pack in order to carry heavier items comfortably. This includes an adjustable internal frame and hip belt to better distribute weight around your body. Furthermore, the load-bearing capabilities must be taken into account and one should take into account the size and storage volume of the pack for necessary provisions and comfort.

Size and Storage Volume

Now that we've discussed the importance of a WDS when selecting the best thru-hiking backpack for your next adventure, let's discuss another important factor – size and storage volume. Depending on the length and scope of your journey, you will either want to opt for a smaller pack with less capacity, or a larger pack that offers plenty of room for all your necessary gear.

Smaller packs are great if you plan on going out for just the day. These packs typically have around 20-25 liters worth of storage space and are lightweight due to their minimalistic design. On the other hand, larger packs offer more space to store items – they generally range between 40 and 60 liters in size. However, in order to carry all that additional weight, these packs may also need additional features such as adjustable shoulder straps, waist straps or internal frames for improved load management.

The decision ultimately comes down to personal preference and the needs that arise from your excursion. If you're taking longer trips where you'll be out for multiple days, opting for the higher capacity backpack makes sense since it provides ample room for shelters, sleeping bags, tents, and other essential supplies needed in order to comfortably complete your journey. However, if you're only looking at short excursions with minimal gear - going with a smaller backpack may be more ideal as it allows increased mobility while minimizing any excess weight.

No matter which style of bag you choose, there are various designs available on the market that enable users to effectively manage their cargo while keeping their body weight balanced throughout their hike. Knowing this information is key when selecting the right sized bag that's sure to fit all of your hiking needs. With that being said, what really stands out when it comes to these backpacks is the shape and overall design - an issue we'll take a closer look at in our next section.

  • According to a survey conducted by Lightweight Hiker in 2019, the most popular thru-hiking backpacks were the Osprey Atmos AG 65, ULA Circuit 68, and the Granite Gear Crown 60.
  • A study published in 2018 found that hikers perceived an average weight savings of 30% when switching from traditional packs to lightweight packs on extended hikes.
  • According to Backpacker Magazine's Buyers Guide 2020, the best overall thru-hiking pack for comfort and light weight is the Osprey Exos 48.

Design and Shape

When it comes to design and shape, many thru-hikers have different preferences. Some may prefer the classic backpack design that features a single main compartment with several side pockets, while others might favor a more modern Backpack design featuring multiple compartments and zippered pockets. For example, if a hiker wants to organize their gear efficiently, they might select one of the newer designs that allow them to keep specific items separate from one another.

However, skeptical hikers may argue that these complex designs are unnecessary. They could argue that such designs can be overly complicated and make accessing items during the hike more difficult. Furthermore, skeptics could point out that often times the extra compartments add excess weight and can cause an uncomfortable experience due to added bulk in certain areas of the body.

On the other hand, advocates of more modern designs point out that everything is accessible without having to rummage through a single large compartment. Furthermore, they could mention that newer designs incorporate features such as lightweight materials, ergonomically designed straps and hip belts, which help increase comfort during long hikes.

Ultimately, the choice between classic and modern Backpack designs comes down to personal preference and intended use. What works best for someone taking short weekend hikes may not be suitable for a multi-day hiking trip lasting several weeks or even months. Those who choose to go with a classic design will want to ensure it has plenty of pockets and enough storage space for their needs so they don't end up needing to bring extra gear on their adventure. Ultimately, taking the time up front to find the perfect packed for your specific situation is likely to save you time, money and effort down the line once your trek begins.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I look for when selecting a thru hiking backpack?

When selecting a thru hiking backpack, you should look for something that offers maximum comfort and stability. Look for straps that are adjustable and offer ample cushioning to help keep the pack snug against your body. Additionally, consider pack capacity, size and weight when choosing a model and make sure to match the pack capacity with the amount of gear you expect to bring on your hike. You should also look for features like water bladder or reservoir pockets, built-in rainfly support and straps or loops for easy carrying of ice tools or trekking poles. Finally, pick a pack with enough padding in all the right places so that you can stay comfortable even under heavy loads.

What additional features or accessories are available for thru hiking backpacks?

When selecting a thru hiking backpack, there are many additional features and accessories that should be taken into consideration. Extra pockets, rain covers, integrated hydration systems, and sleeping bag compartments can all greatly enhance the comfort and convenience of a thru hiker. Pockets can provide extra storage space for small items such as a cell phone or snacks. Rain covers protect your gear from wet weather, while integrated hydration systems make water accessible right at your fingertips. Finally, sleeping bag compartments ensure your sleeping bag stays readily accessible and dry during the journey. All of these features and accessories contribute to a successful thru hike and make the experience much more enjoyable.

How do I choose a backpack size that best fits my body?

When it comes to choosing a backpack size for your next adventure, it's important to consider both the capacity and fit of the pack. The right size backpack should fit snugly against the back, with the shoulder straps sitting at or slightly above shoulder-width. To get the best fit, try on multiple sizes and adjust the waist belt and shoulder straps until they feel comfortable. Ensure the weight of your pack is evenly distributed across your back and shoulders as this will stop you from getting tired quickly. Additionally, think about capacity, depending on how long your trip length is, as well as what type of terrain you’ll be covering. A larger pack might be necessary if you’re going to be carrying bulky items like a sleeping bag and tent, while a smaller pack may be able to accommodate shorter trips with only essential gear. Ultimately, the most important thing is that you have a snug, secure fit when wearing your pack - no matter what size you choose!

What is the average cost of a quality thru hiking backpack?

The average cost of a quality thru hiking backpack really depends on the features and durability that you need. Generally, you can expect to spend at least $150-$200 for a good-quality backpack with basic features. However, backpacks with more features such as adjustable straps, additional compartments, and accessory pockets will typically cost more - up to $400 or more. All-in-all, choosing the right thru hiking backpack is an important investment. It's best to consider your needs before making a purchase so that you can find the best fit for your budget and your adventure.

How much weight should I expect to carry with a thru hiking backpack?

When choosing a backpack for your next thru hiking adventure, it's important to consider how much weight you're willing to carry. Generally, the standard recommendation for carrying capacity on an expedition-style backpack is between 30 and 50 pounds, depending on your size and strength. You may be able to go beyond this depending on the construction of the pack—for example, some bags boast special support systems or innovative suspension designs that allow them to carry more weight without compromising comfort.

To determine how much weight you should carry with your thru hiking backpack, it boils down to personal preference and experience. Consider your own strength and ability level—do you prefer a lightweight setup, or are you comfortable carrying a heavier load? Are there any resources (such as Sherpas or horses) that can help transport your gear? Ultimately, packing light is always better—but if you plan ahead according to your needs, then you'll have a better time on the trail and find the best thru hiking backpack for your next adventure!

About the author

Diane is our head writer and researcher for our backpack informational content. Her everyday carry is a Herschel.

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