Best Expedition Backpacks

10 Best Expedition Backpacks in 2020 – Buyer’s Guide

(Last Updated On: September 21, 2020)

If you’re about to go on a multi-day trek or some other related trip, you’ll want to outfit yourself with one of the best travel backpacks and best expedition backpacks specially built to hold anything you need for several days. Although there are various choices available for the best expedition backpacks, you’ll need an outdoor backpack that’s up for the job if you’re trying to go on a long expedition.

Nothing is more important to the experience of a long expedition than a hiker’s pack. This relationship is important, and nothing can make it worse than a poorly performing backpack that will constantly stop you on every step. When your back hurts after the first 30 miles on the trail, it’s pretty hard to get enthusiastic about walking 30 more miles. If you’re looking for smaller sized backpacks, we have guides on best backpacking backpacks, best backpacking backpacks for women, best thru-hiking backpacks, and best backpacks for day hikes.

In a Hurry? The test winners after 11 hrs of research

Osprey Packs Aether AG 70 Men's Backpacking Backpack

Osprey Packs Aether AG 70 Men’s Backpacking Backpack – Best for Men

Why is it better?

  • The top is a “day-back-pack” in which you can store small easy to reach gear
  • Long zipper on the outside of pack allowed to easy entry into the pack
  • There is a separate zip sleeping bag/pad compartment at the bottom of the pack
  • The 2 waist zipper pouches on the belt are perfect for lunch and snack food and folding knife

Gregory Mountain Products Women's Deva

Gregory Mountain Products Women’s Deva – Best for Women

Why is it better?

  • The lumbar pad adjustment is pure genius
  • The articulating straps that pivot at each hip and shoulder joint are amazing
  • The pad that rests over your lower back has a very nice sticky surface
  • This backpack comes with a removable day backpack that doubles as the water bladder sleeve

Best Expedition Backpacks – Overview

We picked the best expedition backpacks with a size of 70 liters or more and reviewed them here. These backpacks provide ample packing space for more than five-day expeditions. Be mindful, though, that a backpack’s required capability depends heavily on the tools and supplies you need/choose to bring with you. Winter journeys, for example, require extra supplies such as crampons, gaiters, waterproof coats, etc. and hence often a larger backpack. Nonetheless, an expedition backpack should be packed enough to remain comfortable on your back and so the backpacks mentioned here could be too heavy for shorter trips.

Expedition Backpacks Reviews

1. Osprey Packs Aether AG 70 Men’s Backpacking Backpack – Best for Men

Osprey Packs Aether AG 70 Men's Backpacking Backpack

Osprey Packs Aether AG 70 Men’s Backpacking Backpack comes with a custom fit harness and hipbelt, great for a week on the trail or gear-intensive weekend. For backpacking, thru-hikes, and alpine expeditions, the Aether AG Series has a pedigree. They set the bar for technical backpacking packs by combining Anti-Gravity technology with customizable fit and innovative features like the new convertible top lid to create a more capable and comfortable pack for long-haul load carrying on any multi-day excursion.

When you need a pack that can carry heavy loads for up to a week or more, there is no better option than the Aether AG 70. Ready for any adventure, the Aether series has the ability to travel all sorts of terrain and carry the proper tools to do so. The bungee tie off helps ensure your axe ice stays in place. You may also be interested in some of the best Osprey backpacks from our list, so check them out.

Key Features:

  • Removable top-lid converts to DayLid daypack
  • Top to bottom suspended mesh wraps shoulders, back, and hips for a fully integrated backpanel fit
  • Front stretch mesh pocket and zippered hipbelt pockets for quick storage
  • Large front J-zip provides quick access to the main compartment

Specifications:

  • Brand: Osprey
  • Capacity: 70L
  • Dimensions: 33″ H x 16″ W x 13″ D
  • Weight: 2.5 lbs
Pros
  • The top is a “day-back-pack” in which you can store small easy to reach gear
  • Long zipper on the outside of pack allowed to easy entry into the pack
  • There is a separate zip sleeping bag/pad compartment at the bottom of the pack
  • The 2 waist zipper pouches on the belt are perfect for lunch and snack food and folding knife
Cons
  • Need more cushion in the shoulder straps and hip straps

2. TETON Sports Explorer 4000 Internal Frame Backpack

TETON Sports Explorer 4000 Internal Frame Backpack

Built for whatever you throw at it, the TETON Sports Explorer 4000 Internal Frame Backpack, by TETON Sports is affordable and thoughtfully designed with your comfort in mind. The padded back panel is channeled for airflow and padded shoulder straps are adjustable for your size and load. In fact, the Explorer is fully adjustable in the torso, waist, chest, and shoulders. Get the perfect fit for your next adventure into the backcountry with the Explorer 4000.

This well built internal frame backpack has features you’re used to seeing on most higher-priced packs. You’ll be surprised by the quality and added features including pass-through side pockets for storing tent poles, etc. Hydration ready (bladder not included) up to 3-Liters. The high-quality Explorer4000 is loaded with features like a sleeping bag compartment, multi-directional compression straps, and multiple compartments and pockets for strategic packing. Be sure to also check out our list of internal frame backpacks for more great items like this.

Key Features:

  • Pass-through side pockets
  • Fully adjustable
  • Sleeping bag compartment
  • Integrated rainfly

Specifications:

  • Brand: TETON Sports
  • Capacity: 65L
  • Dimensions: 32″ H x 18″ W x 12″ D
  • Weight: 5 lbs
Pros
  • Adjustable suspension
  • Relatively comfortable with large loads
  • Good pack if you want to modify it yourself
  • Three exterior zippered side pockets are useful for small stuff
Cons
  • The bottom pouch is difficult to access, due to the design of the bag

3. Gregory Mountain Products Women’s Deva – Best for Women

Gregory Mountain Products Women's Deva

Appalachian, Pacific Crest, Continental Divide, Great Himalayan, Machu Picchu, Bibbulmun … you can hike them all. The Gregory Mountain Products Women’s Deva offers massive capacity and the constantly-adapting comfort of Response A3 suspension, allowing you to tackle the longest self-supported trips on your list. With enough room for any expedition plus the kitchen sink, this 85-liter monster is the largest all-season backpack in our line.

Pre‑curved, ergonomically tapered shoulder harness straps are available in multiple sizes, featuring LifeSpan foam and a new easy-change design that allows fine-tuning within each harness size. It also has a side-mounted, ergonomic, stow‑away bottle/accessory pocket with a mesh drawstring closure for securing loose items. A beloved Gregory feature.

Key Features:

  • Response A3 suspension for a comfortable, balanced carry.
  • Swappable 3-D hipbelt and shoulder harness for a custom fit.
  • LumbarTune to customize lower back support.
  • Integrated, color-matched rain cover.
  • SideKick doubles as daypack/hydration sleeve

Specifications:

  • Brand: Gregory
  • Capacity: 85L
  • Dimensions: 34″ H x 19.5″ W x 15.75″ D
  • Weight: 5.9 lbs
Pros
  • The lumbar pad adjustment is pure genius
  • The articulating straps that pivot at each hip and shoulder joint are amazing
  • The pad that rests over your lower back has a very nice sticky surface
  • This backpack comes with a removable day backpack that doubles as the water bladder sleeve
Cons
  • The water bottle holder can’t hold large water bottles

4. Kelty Coyote 80 Backpack

Kelty Coyote 80 Backpack

The Kelty Coyote 80 Backpack is a load hauler ideal for extended trips into the backcountry with support for heavy loads while adjusting easily for a custom fit. The perfect fit suspension offers one-size-fits-all versatility and comfort with an on-body adjustment system.

The Coyote offers a sleeping bag compartment to keep your gear organized and make packing a breeze. Plus, the top lid converts into a sling pack. This large liter pack holds everything you need, and the advanced CloudLock II suspension and dual LightBeam aluminum stay to give you outstanding support for your heaviest loads on extended trips in the backcountry.

Key Features:

  • Top loading
  • Top Lid converts to sling pack
  • Zippered side pockets
  • Front pocket w/ organization
  • Stretch front pouch
  • Hydration Compatible

Specifications:

  • Brand: Kelty
  • Capacity: 80L
  • Dimensions: 34″ H x 17″ W x 14″ D
  • Weight: 5.31 lbs
Pros
  • Well made, well stitched and tight
  • With a floating, removable, top pack, you can even strap a bear vault to this pack and extend the capacity by 7 plus more liters
  • The front panel excess is fantastic
  • The adjust as-you go suspension system works really well
Cons
  • A few of the zippers can be a bit grabby

5. Roamm Nomad 65 +15 Backpack

Roamm Nomad 65 +15 Backpack

Meet the big brother in the Nomad series. The Roamm Nomad 65 +15 Backpack comes with the same robust features as the Nomad 45 but with extra hauling capacity and an included detachable +15 liter daypack for peak bagging and unexpected side trips. Built to meet the demands of your inner explorer, the Roamm Nomad 65 +15 will quickly become your best friend and go-to pack for all of your wandering.

Whether you’re hitting the high mountain trails, crossing glacier fields, navigating jungles, or traveling the world, this fully featured pack offers all of the functions and comfort that you would expect from a company built on an adventure. Organize and access your gear with top, bottom, and side access to the main compartment, plus an adjustable sleeping bag diaphragm. Attach a solar panel, helmet, crampons, or anything else to the utility loops on top of the lid, and stash important gear or documents in the zippered mesh pocket inside

Key Features:

  • Adjustable shoulder harness
  • +15 full-featured detachable daypack
  • Dual ice axe/trekking pole loops
  • Oversized dual zippered pockets

Specifications:

  • Brand: Roamm
  • Capacity: 80L
  • Dimensions: 26″ H x 11″ W x 6″ D
  • Weight: 5.29 lbs
Pros
  • The pack is lightweight
  • There is one side zipper on the side of the pack to access your main compartment
  • There is a sleeping bag divider in side and a spot to hang a water bladder
  • The second pack is nice it has a mesh back where the shoulder straps are to hold extra gear when attached to the main pack
Cons
  • The buckles seem to hold up well but are a bit small

6. Gregory Denali 100 Hiking Backpack

Gregory Denali 100 Hiking Backpack

The Gregory Denali 100 Hiking Backpack remains the pinnacle of big- mountain expedition performance. With the ability to comfortably carry heavy loads into harsh environments over demanding terrain, this pack provides confidence and reliability every step of the way. The removable frame stays, top pocket, bivy pad, and hipbelt padding allow this pack to conform to the needs of the day. The extensive research and real-world expedition testing behind the development of the Denali 100 makes it not only the best technical big-mountain pack we have ever made but quite possibly the best anyone has ever seen.

By combining guide-tested essential features with the latest technology and materials, the Denali becomes lighter, stronger, and more versatile, while remaining balanced and comfortable under heavy gear loads over long distances and in technical terrain. Fusion Flex Pro suspension, strippable features, puncture- and abrasion-resistant winter construction, and alpine-ready components are just some of the elements behind the outstanding performance of this uncompromised alpine pack.

Key Features:

  • 210D Nylon, 420D high-density Nylon
  • Top-loading design with full-length side slash zip access
  • Strippable aluminum frame stays, top lid, bivy pad, and hipbelt padding
  • Removable lid pocket with occipital cutout and security pocket on the underside
  • Ultra-durable expanding side pockets
  • Dual-access front panel pocket with zip-away internal divider

Specifications:

  • Brand: Gregory
  • Capacity: 100L
  • Dimensions: 36.5″ H x 15″ W x 13.2″ D
  • Weight: 6.23 lbs
Pros
  • It’s huge but compresses down to be a reasonable size
  • The cut is narrow for tight spaces, but not too tall either
  • The drawstrings are made for big bulky gloves
  • The buckles are color coded so you can quickly find where to attach instead of fumbling around for the right pair
Cons
  • The buckles don’t seem as stout as they used to be

7. Osprey Aura AG 65 Women’s Backpacking Backpack

Osprey Aura AG 65 Women's Backpacking Backpack

The Osprey Aura AG 65 Women’s Backpacking Backpack is the best-fitting and most comfortable women’s-specific pack ever made for traditional backpacking trips. The innovative Anti-Gravity suspension makes it feel like you’re carrying less weight and seamlessly wraps around your body. With easy to use stretch side pockets, Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole attachment, and FlapJacket for lidless use.

Dual upper and lower side compression straps stabilize loads and maintain a streamlined profile and dual access stretch mesh side pockets for storing water bottles and other gear. Also, the removable floating top lid with dual zippered pockets and web attachment points. Once the lid is removed, you have an integrated FlapJacket flap to protect your gear.

Key Features:

  • Dual ice tool loops with bungee tie-offs
  • Large front stretch mesh pocket
  • Removable sleeping pad straps
  • Sternum strap with safety whistle
  • Two zippered front pockets for additional storage

Specifications:

  • Brand: Osprey
  • Capacity: 65L
  • Dimensions: 33″ H x 15″ W x 16″ D
  • Weight: 4.42 lbs
Pros
  • Super comfortable, carries the weight well
  • Completely adjustable to properly fit your torso size and hips
  • Ventilated mesh by your back for airflow
  • Lifetime guarantee
Cons
  • Might need to add some padding such as sheepskin to the hip belt

8. Gregory Deva 70L Pack – Women’s

Gregory Deva 70L Pack - Women's

The extraordinarily capable Gregory Deva 70L Pack – Women’s is a high‑performance hiker’s dream, thanks to its generous 70-liter capacity and ever-adapting, dynamic Response A3 Women’s suspension. From week-long winter outings to transcontinental treks, this women’s‑specific high-volume pack will never leave you wanting more.

An accurate torso measurement ensures the majority of the pack’s load is correctly transferred onto the main structure of the body – the hips. Pre-curved, ergonomically tapered hipbelts in multiple sizes, featuring LifeSpan foam and a new easy-change design for quickly finding the perfect custom fit. A removable EVA shim offers the user two stages of contouring in the lumbar region for the perfect fit.

Key Features:

  • Women’s-specific Response A3 suspension
  • Swappable 3-D hipbelt and shoulder harness for a custom fit
  • LumbarTune to customize lower back support
  • Integrated, color-matched rain cover
  • SideKick doubles as daypack/hydration sleeve

Specifications:

  • Brand: Gregory
  • Capacity: 70L
  • Dimensions: 28.5″ H x 17″ W x 13.5″ D
  • Weight: 5 lbs
Pros
  • The multi-compartment layout is amazing
  • The top part expands super wide, so you can dig around
  • The section that holds the sleeping bag can also have the divider removed if you need
  • It has padding to keep your back comfortable
Cons
  • The frame is larger than anticipated

9. MOUNTAINTOP 80L Hiking Backpack

MOUNTAINTOP 80L Hiking Backpack

The MOUNTAINTOP 80L Hiking Backpack has the zippered opening on the side to get to the inside middle of the bag. So, you can access the middle of the bag from outside without having to lift the top and empty everything to get to the middle. The torso height adjustment maxes out at 18″. You could use the front straps, or the top straps and secure the sleeping bag to the outside.

There is an 8 stage height adjuster at the back, held in place with a thick hardened area with magic tape. There is also a separate bladder sleeve in the main compartment. Big enough or a 3 liters hydration bladder. The hydration Access en the top for the tube. You can hold the bladder tube through the D shape loop which is on the shoulder strap.

Key Features:

  • Divider between the sleeping bag compartment
  • Separate bladder sleeve
  • 8 stage height adjuster at the back
  • Front straps, or the top straps and secure the sleeping bag

Specifications:

  • Brand: MOUNTAINTOP
  • Capacity: 80L
  • Dimensions: 33.5″ H x 13.8″ W x 11.8″ D
  • Weight: 4.96 lbs
Pros
  • Shoulder straps are decently padded an comfortable
  • Sternum strap is easily height adjustable, has an elastic portion
  • Waist belt has zippered pockets on each side
  • The pockets are close to the kidney area, even on a smaller waist, but still accessible
Cons
  • Waist belt is decently padded, but is a single adjustment type

10. TETON Sports Ultralight Plus Backpacks

TETON Sports Ultralight Plus Backpacks

The TETON Sports Ultralight Plus Backpacks are a set of internal frame backpacks that have been developed by other rugged backpackers that can meet the demands of your most extreme adventures. They can adequately carry all the backpacking gear you need for any type of trip. While the size differences are great, the features and options of these packs are what set them apart from the rest:

The durable pack shell is made from treated 420D Oxford, which can stand up to even the roughest terrain in the most extreme parts of the world; oversized zipper pulls on the exterior pockets and main compartment zipper are easy to use, even with gloved fingers. Each of these backpacks provide superior comfort and a precise fit with the help of tension adjustments at the shoulders, chest, and torso. Aluminum stays provide strength and support right where you need it. Our handy guide to the best ultralight backpacks features more great products like this.

Key Features:

  • Fully adjustable
  • Poncho included
  • Detachable storage
  • Multiple gear loops

Specifications:

  • Brand: TETON Sports
  • Capacity: 90L
  • Dimensions: 34″ H x 15″ W x 17″ D
  • Weight: 6 lbs
Pros
  • It is, for the most part, comfortable
  • Shoulder straps & wishbone waistbelt are solid
  • With the compression straps, you can make the bag smaller at times you don’t need all the space
  • The back panels and the torso width are adjustable so they can be highly customized
Cons
  • Many straps and adjustments going on around waist and shoulders

Buying Guide

Adjustability

It’s not enough for the pack to be solid, and to support loads of weight. It’s important to be able to hold it comfortably for many hours a day. Several components with potential adjustability are available, including hip belt, shoulder harness, load lifter, sternum strap.

Size

A good expedition backpack will have plenty of space for your whole equipment. But that’s different from person to person, and there isn’t one perfect backpack for everyone. You will look for a backpack with a size well over 70 liters if you normally go on expeditions which are at least five days long. That should be enough for all your equipment with an excess of external attachment points. These large backpacks, however, are not very flexible and are not a perfect match for shorter journeys. That is, you’ll get a massive, pricey backpack that can only be used for very limited adventures.

Backpanel

The backpanel is a very useful part of the backpack because it allows ventilation so that you can evaporate the sweat off your back, rather than flow into your clothes and bag. The expedition backpacks in this guide have ventilated backpanels which are ergonomically formed. Most often have a suspended mesh fabric that provides a gap between the back and bag so that the air flows in between. This kind of design offers especially good ventilation.

Internal Frame

In this review, all backpacks have an internal frame and they move the weight from the shoulders to the hips through the hip belt. It’s much safer to carry a heavy bag if the weight is shifted easily to the hips because the hips are protected by wider muscle groups than the arms. Research undertaken by Murdoch University in Australia found that hip belt raises stability levels and reduces exertion rates.

Comfort

The best expedition backpacks for you should be very comfortable. And how is it that you make sure you have a very comfortable backpack? A few different things you need to look for – a ventilated backpanel with a thick padding, a thick hip belt, and a flexible and adjustable harness. The best backpacks come fitted with a height-adjustable harness so you can really get the personalized fit. The shoulder straps, waist belt, and sternum harness must all be fully adjustable.

Conclusion

We hope this guide was helpful for finding the best expedition backpacks as well as our guide on features to look for in an expedition backpack. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this guide, feel free to let us know in the comments section.