Best Lightweight Hiking Backpacks

10 Best Lightweight Hiking Backpacks in 2021 – Buyer’s Guide

(Last Updated On: January 7, 2021)

Whether you are planning an epic thru-hike or a quick weekend jaunt, it’s important to keep the pack weight down. The whole outdoor industry is going light, and there’s a good reason why lightweight backpacking is much more convenient and fun. Your backpack is going to be one of the four heaviest things on your back aside from your tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad, so it’s a great place to start reducing the weight.

Many lightweight backpacks have internal frames, others have frame stays and others are frameless. Generally speaking, with heavier loads, you want external frames although this can be a matter of personal preference. Although there are a few gender-specific lightweight hiking backpacks, most lightweight backpacks are unisex.

In a Hurry? The test winners after 14 hrs of research

Granite Gear Crown 2 60 Lightweight Backpack for Men

Granite Gear Crown 2 60 Lightweight Backpack for Men – Best for Men

Why is it better?

  • Sturdy frame transfers weight well
  • This pack, considering the very light weight, is extremely durable. and the water resistance is actually pretty effective
  • The main compartment has plenty of room to carry everything
  • Nice gear loops at each corner so you can clip stuff to them

Osprey Lumina 45 Backpack for Women

Osprey Lumina 45 Backpack for Women – Best for Women

Why is it better?

  • Frame carries weight very well
  • Best for trips as long as 2 days
  • Very comfortable even with a full load
  • Seamless and padded mesh shoulder straps

Best Lightweight Hiking Backpacks – Overview

A lightweight hiking backpack is the most important single piece of equipment owned by any backpacker. There is no excuse, therefore, to settle for large old-school packs. That’s why this buyer’s guide highlights the very best lightweight hiking backpacks available. Below are excellent and lightweight backpack choices for men and women as well as for all kinds of backcountry adventures. And if this article interests you, then you might like our guide for the best ultralight backpacks as well.

Lightweight Hiking Backpacks Reviews

1. Gregory Optic 48 Lightweight Hiking Backpack

Gregory Optic 48 Lightweight Hiking Backpack

Achieving fluid motion takes more than counting ounces. The Gregory Optic 48 Lightweight Hiking Backpack combines weight-saving design with exceptional fit and load management to give you a low base pack weight along with mileage-crushing efficiency. Comfortable carry and thoughtful trail features keep your head in the game so you stay ahead of your thru-hiking itinerary.

It features an oversized, durable front stretch mesh pocket for quick access organization. Dual zippered hip belt pockets provide secure, easy to access storage. Additional features include gear attachment points on the top pocket and main body and quick access on-the-go water bottle stow access on both the right and left side. You may also be interested in some of the best hiking fanny packs from our list, so check them out.

Key Features:

  • AeroSpan suspension with EVAP moisture wicking
  • Ventilated, dual-density FocusForm shoulder harness
  • Ultra-light 7001 aluminum perimeter frame with anti-barreling support
  • Custom fitted rain cover stows in the top pocket
  • Internal hydration sleeve and port

Specifications:

  • Brand: Gregory
  • Capacity: 48L
  • Dimensions: 28″ H x 12.5″ W x 11.5″ D
  • Weight: 2.47 lbs
Pros
  • Sturdy frame transfers weight well
  • Good back ventilation
  • It has a removable top zippered pockets
  • Dual adjustable attachment loops and upper shock locks for trekking poles is handy
Cons
  • Water bottles are slightly difficult to access

2. Granite Gear Crown 2 60 Lightweight Backpack for Men – Best for Men

Granite Gear Crown 2 60 Lightweight Backpack for Men

Introducing the all-new Granite Gear Crown 2 60 Lightweight Backpack for Men, an ultralight yet ultra-comfortable multi-day pack. This new and improved successor to the classic Crown V.C. 60, boasts Granite Gear’s patent-pending fully adjustable Re-Fit hip belt. This packs’ suspension system offers a molded foam back panel with mesh ventilation channels. Both materials work together to allow breathability and reduces moisture for more comfort.

What distinguishes this pack is its adjustable length hip belt so you can get a custom fit, the ability to hold a bear canister under the top lid, or remove it completely and go lid-less. Simply unclip the back and cinch the straps with the dual compression system to assure a firm fitting. The average recommended load for this pack is 30-35 lbs.

Key Features:

  • Dual-density shoulder harness with load-lifter straps and removable sternum strap
  • Re-Fit fully adjustable (from 28 – 40in), dual-density hip belt
  • Roll-top main compartment opening with centered dual strap
  • Removable lid has a compartment with DWR treated zipper

Specifications:

  • Brand: Granite Gear
  • Capacity: 60L
  • Dimensions: 23.5″ H x 13″ W x 8″ D
  • Weight: 2.12 lbs
Pros
  • Sturdy frame transfers weight well
  • This pack, considering the very light weight, is extremely durable. and the water resistance is actually pretty effective
  • The main compartment has plenty of room to carry everything
  • Nice gear loops at each corner so you can clip stuff to them
Cons
  • Foam back panel takes a little getting used to

3. Osprey Packs Exos 48 Lightweight Backpacking Backpack for Men

Osprey Packs Exos 48 Lightweight Backpacking Backpack for Men

The Osprey Packs Exos 48 Lightweight Backpacking Backpack for Men provides backpackers with an unbeatable combination of comfort, ventilation, function in a lightweight package. It works great for weekend trips and depending on your packing style can go way further. The incredibly comfortable Exoform harness and AirSpeed ventilated suspension combine with trail-friendly features like Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole carry.

Adding to the versatility of this pack is the ability to travel all sorts of terrain and carry the proper tools to do so with its ice axe attachment with bungee tie-off. Adjustable and removable sleeping pad straps provide secure extra carry. Ultralight doesn’t have to mean uncomfortable, and the Exos proves this. Our guide to the best backpacking backpacks offers more great products like this.

Key Features:

  • Integrated FlapJacket protects packed gear when top lid is removed
  • Front stretch mesh pocket stores rain gear and layers for easy access
  • Dual access stretch mesh side pockets for storing water bottles and other gear
  • Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole attachment

Specifications:

  • Brand: Osprey
  • Capacity: 48L
  • Dimensions: 31″ H x 16″ W x 13″ D
  • Weight: 2.12 lbs
Pros
  • It has a front mesh pocket for rain gear
  • Adjustable and removable sleeping pad straps provide secure extra carry
  • Internal hydration reservoir sleeve accommodates up to a 3L reservoir
  • Tensioned backpanel keeps the weight in the pack off your back
Cons
  • No hip belts

4. Osprey Lumina 45 Backpack for Women – Best for Women

Osprey Lumina 45 Backpack for Women

The Osprey Lumina 45 Backpack for Women is an ultralight, multi-day pack with optimized comfort designed for minimalist-minded, gram-counting trekkers. By carefully packing only the essentials, hopefully, all your backpacking products have the word “Ultralight” in the title, the Lumina has a capacity suitable for trips as long as two days. Weighing less 2 lbs, it’s remarkable how comfortable the Lumina feels with a full load. 

The ExoForm harness includes seamless, padded mesh at the shoulder straps and waist belt, and the rest of the backpack is suspended off your back with spacer mesh providing complete ventilation. One joy of packing this light is being able to move faster on the trail, and the Lumina is ready for fast-moving pursuits with a Lightwire suspension made of ultralight aluminum to perform with stable support. Don’t forget to also check our guide to the best backpacking backpacks for women.

Key Features:

  • Fixed top lid with zippered pocket for organizing smaller items
  • Bellowed front fabric pocket stores rain gear for easy access
  • Internal main compartment compression strap
  • Sternum strap with integrated safety whistle

Specifications:

  • Brand: Osprey
  • Capacity: 45L
  • Dimensions: 27″ H x 16″ W x 12″ D
  • Weight: 1.74 lbs
Pros
  • Frame carries weight very well
  • Best for trips as long as 2 days
  • Very comfortable even with a full load
  • Seamless and padded mesh shoulder straps
Cons
  • Tight side pockets make removing water bottles very difficult
  • No hip belt pockets

5. Granite Gear Virga 2 Backpack

Granite Gear Virga 2 Backpack

The Granite Gear Virga 2 Backpack is an excellent frameless backpack for lightweight backpackers who need to load 20 lbs of equipment and supplies or less. The Virga 2 has a surprisingly high capacity weighing just over 1 lbs and still comes with many features that you would find only on heavy backpacks such as a fully functional compression system, large extended collar and load lifters.

This packs’ configuration and design is identical to the other overnight backpacks in the Granite Gear product line with a large main compartment on the sides and front of the backpack and three external mesh pockets. This pack lets you loop the lower side compression strap in the side pocket under a water bottle, making compression possible around the base of the pack even if you have something like a water bottle in the pocket.

Key Features:

  • Rolltop closure
  • Frameless suspension
  • Internal hydration hanger
  • External stretch mesh pockets

Specifications:

  • Brand: Granite Gear
  • Capacity: 54L
  • Dimensions: 26.2″ H x 14″ W x 12.8″ D
  • Weight: 1.19 lbs
Pros
  • Excellent side compression lightweight
  • 3 external mesh pockets
  • Very cushy shoulder strap
  • Extremely lightweight
Cons
  • The roll top closure can make it hard to get to things at the bottom of your pack

6. Osprey Packs Talon 44 Lightweight Hiking Backpack for Men

Osprey Packs Talon 44 Lightweight Hiking Backpack for Men

Simpler is often better, and if you prefer going light and moving fast in the woods, mountains and beyond, the Osprey Packs Talon 44 Lightweight Hiking Backpack for Men is the pack for you. 44L of capacity is perfect for committing day hikes and lightweight multi-day trips. Ventilated and comfortable, the BioStretch harness and continuous wrap hipbelt combine with a fiberglass frame to create an incredibly stable carry system that hugs your body so you can stay balanced on the trail, ridge or peak. 

This pack also has an updated AirScape backpanel that uses less material and glue while making it more breathable to keep you cool on hot days. When uphills turn technical, the Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole carry system keeps your hands free for upward movement. Zippered hipbelts, side stretch mesh pockets with dual access, a harness pocket, and top-lid storage provide all the organization you need. Make sure you also check our selection of the best Osprey backpacks.

Key Features:

  • Top-loader access to main compartment
  • Lower InsideOut compression/carry straps
  • Stow-On-The-Go trekking pole attachment
  • Two zippered hipbelt pockets

Specifications:

  • Brand: Osprey
  • Capacity: 44L
  • Dimensions: 27″ H x 13″ W x 12″ D
  • Weight: 2.4 lbs
Pros
  • Suitable for everything from a quick day hike to a 2-3 day
  • Excellent hip and shoulder straps
  • External hydration sleeve in the backpanel simplifies refilling
  • Two zippered hipbelt pockets keep snacks and essentials secure and quickly accessible
Cons
  • Capacity is on the lower side compared to other packs in the price range

7. Granite Gear Crown VC 60 Lightweight Backpack

Granite Gear Crown VC 60 Lightweight Backpack

Introducing the Granite Gear Crown VC 60 Lightweight Backpack, with Vapor Current Suspension technology. The Crown 60 is a top loader with a secure roll-top closure that provides easy access. The simple lidless design can be upgraded with our optional LineLoc lid. At first glance, you’ll notice the ventilation channels molded into the cushy back pad. These channels allow air to circulate from bottom to top, taking advantage of convection to aid in evaporative cooling.

The frame itself is removable so the pack can be used for ultralight loads without the frame. The belt and shoulder straps feature dual-density padding and updated narrow webbing straps. The shoulder strap has a built-in stretch mesh pocket, and the belt has the capacity to accept our optional hip belt pockets.

Key Features:

  • Vapor current suspension system
  • Hydration ports & internal hydration sleeve
  • Extended overflow crossover straps, padded rolling stay
  • Interchangeable belts

Specifications:

  • Brand: Granite Gear
  • Capacity: 60L
  • Dimensions: 28″ H x 16″ W x 5″ D
  • Weight: 2.1 lbs
Pros
  • It is surprisingly sturdy and packs very well
  • Straps and outside pockets are well designed
  • The top unfolds to provide a lot of extra space
  • MOLLE style hipbelts
Cons
  • There is no sleeping bag compartment or u-shaped zippers that open from the bottom, just one large compartment accompanied by some mesh pockets

8. Osprey Packs Eja 48 Lightweight Backpacking Backpack for Women

Osprey Packs Eja 48 Lightweight Backpacking Backpack for Women

The Osprey Packs Eja 48 Lightweight Backpacking Backpack for Women provides backpackers with an unbeatable combination of comfort, ventilation, and function in a lightweight package. It works great for weekend trips and depending on your packing style can go way further. The incredibly comfortable Exoform harness and AirSpeed ventilated suspension combine with trail-friendly features like Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole carry.

Tensioned backpanel keeps the weight in the pack off your back, enabling highly ventilated carrying comfort. Front stretch mesh pocket stores rain gear for easy access when skies darken, or wet gear after the downpour stops. Adjustable and removable sleeping pad straps that provide secure extra carry. Make sure you also check our selection of the best hiking backpacks for women.

Key Features:

  • Integrated FlapJacket protects packed gear when top lid is removed
  • Dual access stretch mesh side pockets for storing water bottles and other gear
  • Internal hydration reservoir sleeve accommodates up to a 3L reservoir
  • Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole attachment

Specifications:

  • Brand: Osprey
  • Capacity: 48L
  • Dimensions: 27″ H x 16″ W x 5″ D
  • Weight: 2.58 lbs
Pros
  • Ventilated suspension system distribute load weight
  • Internal main compartment has a compression strap that helps you maximize the pack’s volume
  • Bellowed front fabric offers roomy pocket storage
  • Removable sleeping pad straps are very handy
Cons
  • It doesn’t have a lot of loops to attach things to the outside of it

9. Sea to Summit Flow 35L Drypack

Sea to Summit Flow 35L Drypack

The Sea to Summit Flow 35L Drypack is a tough, durable and waterproof option for wet, snowy and rainy adventures. It’s made of TPU laminated, 420D Nylon with fully seam-sealed construction and features a white interior lining so you can find your contents with ease. It’ll survive rough and tumble just fine, but avoid sharp rocks and blades.

The contoured back panel, removable waist belt, and deep stretchy mesh exterior side pockets mean this is also an ideal choice for commuting, mountain biking, hiking, and lightweight travel. it has a large top handle for comfortable lifting. Find more great products like this by checking out our guide to the best waterproof backpacks for travel.

Key Features:

  • Stretch mesh side pockets and a large exterior zippered pocket
  • Waterproof, abrasion-resistant, TPU laminated 420D nylon fabric
  • Top loading roll-top main chamber
  • Ventilating, perforated shoulder straps

Specifications:

  • Brand: Sea to Summit
  • Capacity: 35L
  • Dimensions: 21.6″ H x 13.8″ W x 5.9″ D
  • Weight: 2.4 lbs
Pros
  • It has a side pocket on the front for quick access items
  • A pair of compression straps on each side that can be adjusted
  • There is also an internal pocket just behind the chest straps that will accept your standard water pouch
  • The top rolls down and then snaps into two clips on either side
Cons
  • The material isn’t as thick as it should be, partly because of its waterproof feature

10. Teton Sports Lightweight Backpack

Teton Sports Lightweight Backpack

Incredible views and remote trails are just some of the rewards you’ll enjoy when you’re backpacking in the wilderness. And because backpacking can push you to your limits, you need a backpack that can keep up with you and your latest adventure. The Teton Sports Lightweight Backpack is a high-quality backpack that is loaded with features like a sleeping bag compartment, multi-directional compression straps, and multiple compartments and pockets for strategic packing.

Comfort features include a padded back panel that is channeled for optimal airflow, padded lumbar and waist and shoulder straps that help carry the load. Adjust the torso, waist, chest, and shoulders to fit men, women, and youth.

Key Features:

  • Multi-position torso adjustment custom fit
  • Thickly-padded, comfortable split waist belt 
  • Independent top and bottom hip adjustments
  • Durable open-cell foam lumbar pad and molded channels

Specifications:

  • Brand: TETON Sports
  • Capacity: 60L
  • Dimensions: 32.7″ H x 15.4″ W x 12.2″ D
  • Weight: 2.2 lbs
Pros
  • Multiple sections and pouches
  • Custom ergonomic support
  • Built-in rain fly and chest-snap whistle
  • Thickly padded straps and back
Cons
  • The top flap has several cinch points that can be difficult to open and/or may become tangled

Buying Guide

Frame

The lighter the weight of your pack, the less frame you need. Most of the packs that we suggest have simple frames that are comfortable to carry loads up to about 35lbs. If you choose to carry heavier loads, pick one of the packs with a more durable frame that we suggest.

Volume

Your bag’s volume will limit the amount of stuff you can bring in it. Generally, experienced lightweight backpackers can fit their gear easily in a 40-50L pack. However, if you’re new to lightweight backpacking, you may want to choose a pack with a larger volume and work your way down from there. Also, consider bumping up a size to accommodate heavy, bulky gear when you plan to use your pack for winter trekking.

Materials

Most lightweight backpacks are made of one of two materials: Nylon Ripstop or Dyneema Composite Fiber (formerly cuben fiber). Most lightweight backpacks are made of one of two fabrics: Nylon Ripstop or Composite Fabric Dyneema (formerly Cuben Fiber). DCF is generally lighter and more resistant to water but more costly as well. However, both materials are durable for backpacks and are highly functional.

Main Compartment

Most lightweight backpacks have one top-loading compartment to hold most of your gear. That’s all you need for the most part. Any extra compartments or zipper usually adds unnecessary weight. Load things that you don’t need until you camp in the bottom of your pack (tent, sleeping bag/pad, stove) and you’ll be set.

Hip Belt Pockets

You won’t have to take breaks often with a lightweight backpack so you’ll want certain things to be easily accessible, such as snacks, sunscreen, lip balm, phone, etc. Most of the products that we recommend have built-in hip belt pockets, but if they do not come, as usual, we recommend buying the hip belt pockets that suit the bag.

Load Lifter Straps

You can use load lifter belts to attach the tops of your shoulder straps towards the backpack. This will reduce some pressure off your shoulder and transfer it to the front of your shoulders and chest instead. Many lightweight backpacks these days do not have load lifter straps and if you carry a light load, they are not really necessary.

Hydration Ports

A pack without a hydration port could be a dealbreaker if you want to drink from a water bladder while hiking. We’re not huge fans with water bladders, so it’s not a big deal for us, but most of the packs that we use have hydration sleeves and ports.

Conclusion

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