Best Thru-Hiking Backpacks

10 Best Thru-Hiking Backpacks in 2021 – Buyer’s Guide

(Last Updated On: June 28, 2021)

Are you after the best thru-hike for your next thru-hike? Your pack selection will be in direct correlation with the choices you make with the rest of your gear. Lighter packs are preferred for longer journeys in the backcountry while heavier packs with more padding and suspension are better for those in the backcountry who enjoy extra the comforts and don’t forget adding some backpack accessories as well. And make sure to add that backpack rain cover because you never know how mother nature will be all throughout your trip.

A thru-hike is simply an end-to-end backpacking journey on a long-distance trail, some examples of thru-hikes are the A.T. And the PCT. Around 2100 miles in length, the A.T. runs from Georgia to Maine, while the PCT runs from Mexico to Canada at more than 2600 miles. The bulk of thru-hikers are solo travelers. Even if long-distance hikers meet and camp along the way with loads of other travelers, you need to be at ease with your own group.

In a Hurry? The test winners after 9 hrs of research

Osprey Packs Exos 58 Men's Backpacking Backpack

Osprey Packs Exos 58 Men’s Backpacking Backpack – Best for Men

Why is it better?

  • Designed for the seasonable hiker or traveler as it is very light while expandable
  • The side pockets are deep enough for your water bottles or snacks
  • Comfortable to wear because of the padding
  • Useful removable sleeping pads

Osprey Packs Ariel AG 65 Women's Backpacking Backpack

Osprey Packs Ariel AG 65 Women’s Backpacking Backpack – Best for Women

Why is it better?

  • It has all of the padding and straps you need to make it a perfect accessory to your hike
  • This is military-grade quality with a touch of easy on the eyes
  • Very comfortable on the back when carrying a full load
  • Detachable day bag is useful

Best Thru-Hiking Backpacks – Overview

Thru-hiking is becoming increasingly popular and we are getting better gear in the market for them. We’re getting more instances of packs built especially for thru-hikers with weight, comfort, and longevity. Thru-hikers run rampant in this outdoor subcategory, and there are a number of choices inside this niche. This is why we compiled the best thru-hike backpacks for you regardless of the length of your journey.

Thru-Hiking Backpacks Reviews

1. TETON Sports Scout 3400 Internal Frame Backpack

TETON Sports Scout 3400 Internal Frame 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 Scout 3400 Internal Frame Backpack is a high-quality backpack that is loaded with features like a sleeping bag compartment, 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. The Scout 3400 Internal Frame Backpack was designed with you in mind. But don’t take our word for it—read the reviews! The Scout 3400 is helping thousands of backpackers enjoy The Great Outdoors. Our handy guide to the best lightweight hiking backpacks features more great products like this.

Key Features:

  • Multi-position torso adjustment
  • Durable open-cell foam lumbar pad
  • Molded channels
  • Sleeping bag compartment

Specifications:

  • Brand: TETON Sports
  • Capacity: 55L
  • Dimensions: 30″ H x 17″ W x 12″ D
  • Weight: 4.5 lbs
Pros
  • The sleeping bag compartment allow easy access to your sleeping bag
  • The belt pad is very thick and comfortable
  • It’s a bag built to last because of the fabric and material used
  • Side pockets on each side are great to store little thing
Cons
  • The water bottle pockets are not elastic/stretchy

2. AmazonBasics Internal Frame Hiking Backpack

AmazonBasics Internal Frame Hiking Backpack

Gear up for your next great outdoor adventure with the AmazonBasics Internal Frame Hiking Backpack. Ideal for hiking and camping, the backpack provides a durable design for reliable performance, and it offers loads of space for all those must-have essentials. Made of durable polyester, the hiking backpack comes in a choice of color (green or black) and a choice of size (70L, 60L, or 50L)—each with an extension collar for an additional 5L of optional storage space.

Designed for a variety of body sizes, the backpack provides a secure, fully adjustable fit around the torso, an adjustable waist belt, and adjustable straps at the shoulders for upper-load balance and support. An open-cell foam lumbar pad and molded channels offer important lower-back support and promote increased airflow, while thick padded shoulder straps make even heavier loads comfortable to carry. Extensive pockets and roomy compartments help keep stored items organized and easy to find.

Key Features:

  • Adjustable straps and padded shoulder straps
  • Water-repellent exterior coating
  • Integrated water-resistant rainfly
  • Lumbar support for added comfort

Specifications:

  • Brand: AmazonBasics
  • Capacity: 55L
  • Dimensions: 26.2″ H x 15″ W x 7″ D
  • Weight: 4.32 lbs
Pros
  • Good material and build quality
  • Adjustable shoulder height allows custom fitting to the person’s body size
  • Nice padding on the shoulder and waist straps
  • Many buckles and straps for securing additional items external to the backpack, such as a tent, sleeping pad, and camping stove
Cons
  • No small pockets on the padded waist strap for small items such as keys, pocket knives or energy bar

3. Osprey Packs Exos 58 Men’s Backpacking Backpack – Best for Men

Osprey Packs Exos 58 Men's Backpacking Backpack

The Osprey Packs Exos 58 Men’s Backpacking Backpack 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.

Tensioned backpanel keeps the weight in the pack off your back, enabling highly ventilated carrying comfort. Dual access stretch mesh side pockets for storing water bottles and other gear with InsideOut side compression straps. The adjustable and removable sleeping pad straps provide secure extra carry. Ultralight doesn’t have to mean uncomfortable, and the Exos proves this. Love Osprey? Check out our review of the best Osprey backpacks for our top picks.

Key Features:

  • Removable floating lid with top-and under-lid zippered pockets for storing smaller items
  • Integrated FlapJacket protects packed gear when top lid is removed
  • Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole attachment
  • Dual access stretch mesh side pockets
  • Front stretch mesh pocket stores rain gear

Specifications:

  • Brand: Osprey
  • Capacity: 58L
  • Dimensions: 31.5″ H x 16.14″ W x 14.57″ D
  • Weight: 2.65 lbs
Pros
  • Designed for the seasonable hiker or traveler as it is very light while expandable
  • The side pockets are deep enough for your water bottles or snacks
  • Comfortable to wear because of the padding
  • Useful removable sleeping pad
Cons
  • No hip belt pockets

4. Granite Gear Crown 2 60 Backpack – Men’s

Introducing the all-new Granite Gear Crown 2 60 Backpack – Men’s, 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, It features a roll-top main compartment opening with centered dual strap and singular buckle for quick access and easy compression. Granite Gear’s new and innovative Air-Current Mark 2 compression molded PP frame sheet with molded foam back panel, and bonus lid (removable), all while weighing in at 2.2lbs.

For ultralight loads, the frame sheet can be removed lowering the weight to 1.7lbs. The Crown 2 60L has a fixed, non-adjustable torso length that is offered in 3 torso sizes. One of the features that separate the Crown 2 from its predecessor is the newly designed top lid compartment with DWR treated zipper. The new lid is perfect for quick access for smaller items.

Key Features:

  • Removable lid has a compartment with DWR treated zipper
  • Hydration port & internal hydration sleeve
  • Large side stretch woven pockets
  • Stretch mesh front pocket
  • Side and front compression straps

Specifications:

  • Brand: Granite Gear
  • Capacity: 60L
  • Dimensions: 23.5″ H x 13″ W x 8″ D
  • Weight: 2.2 lbs
Pros
  • Considering the very light weight, is extremely durable
  • The main compartment has plenty of room to carry everything you need
  • The zipped pocket inside where the frame is offers some extra organization as well for flatter/less bulky items
  • Gear loops at each corner so you can clip stuff to them
Cons
  • No bottom straps to tie on a sleeping pad and the horizontal straps across the back are a bit short

5. Osprey Packs Atmos AG 65 Men’s Backpacking Backpack

Osprey Packs Atmos AG 65 Men's Backpacking Backpack

The Osprey Packs Atmos AG 65 Men’s Backpacking Backpack is the best-fitting and comfortable pack for traditional backpacking trips up to a week or more. The innovative AntiGravity 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.

Adjustable harness and Fit-on-the-Fly hipbelt to dial in the perfect fit. Dual upper and lower side compression straps stabilize loads and maintain a streamlined profile. The dual access stretch mesh side pockets are there for storing water bottles and other gear as well. Other features include a removable floating top lid with dual zippered pockets and web attachment points and a lower zippered sleeping bag compartment with a removable divider. Make sure you also check our selection of the best backpacking backpacks.

Key Features:

  • Stow-on-the-Go Trekking pole attachment
  • Dual zippered top lid pockets
  • 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: 34″ H x 16″ W x 15″ D
  • Weight: 4.56 lbs
Pros
  • Many adjustments to fine tune fitting
  • Great storage and organization
  • The way the pack sits away from your back but still hugs is amazing
  • The lumbar strap has pockets which can fit a good amount of things
Cons
  • The hip pockets zippers are hard to open and close with one hand

6. Osprey Levity 45 Men’s Ultralight Backpacking Backpack

Osprey Levity 45 Men's Ultralight Backpacking Backpack

The Osprey Levity 45 Men’s Ultralight Backpacking Backpack is the most comfortable and ventilated pack ever made for the lightest loads imaginable. It’s perfect for streamlined weekends or committing thru-hikes. In fact, it’s probably not the right pack for you. It’s for people who pack lighter, go further, and think smarter. This pack isn’t on Instagram, because phones are too heavy, and views look better in your mind anyway. But if you are one of those maniacal gram-counters, look no further.

Fixed top lid features a zippered compartment with key clip for storing and organizing smaller items. Bellowed front fabric pocket stores rain gear for easy access when skies darken, or wet gear after the downpour stops. It also features an internal hydration reservoir sleeve that accommodates up to a 3L reservoir.

Key Features:

  • Dual access fabric side pockets for water bottles or smaller items with removable InsideOut compression cord
  • Internal main compartment compression strap
  • Top lid cord loop attachment points for external gear attachment
  • Sternum strap with integrated safety whistle

Specifications:

  • Brand: Osprey
  • Capacity: 45L
  • Dimensions: 26.8″ H x 15.8″ W x 11.8″ D
  • Weight: 1.86 lbs
Pros
  • It does an amazing job of distributing weight on your body
  • It is a pack mule and is made to hold loads of weight
  • It is fantastic for overnight or weekends, but even then for the camper who travels light
  • Can hold a lot of things and has multiple pockets
Cons
  • No hip belt pocket

7. Osprey Packs Aura AG 65 Women’s Backpacking Backpack

Osprey Packs Aura AG 65 Women's Backpacking Backpack

The Osprey Packs Aura AG 65 Women’s Backpacking Backpack is the best-fitting, most ventilated and comfortable women’s-specific pack ever made for traditional backpacking trips up to a week or more in duration. The innovative AntiGravity suspension makes it feel like you’re carrying less weight and seamlessly wraps around your body, which means you’ll enjoy every mile more than ever.

Zippered hipbelt pockets keep snacks and smaller items close at hand. From easy to use stretch mesh side pockets, Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole attachment, and FlapJacket™ for lidless use, the Aura AG 65 is still the top contender. Backed by our All Mighty Guarantee, forever. Find more great products like this by checking out our guide to the best backpacking backpacks for women.

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 16″ W x 15″ D
  • Weight: 4.34 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
  • Storage room is great
Cons
  • Shoulder straps may cause some redness but may need to adjust it or get used to it

7. Osprey Packs Aura AG 65 Women’s Backpacking Backpack

Osprey Packs Aura AG 65 Women's Backpacking Backpack

The Osprey Packs Aura AG 65 Women’s Backpacking Backpack is the best-fitting, most ventilated and comfortable women’s-specific pack ever made for traditional backpacking trips up to a week or more in duration. The innovative AntiGravity suspension makes it feel like you’re carrying less weight and seamlessly wraps around your body, which means you’ll enjoy every mile more than ever.

Zippered hipbelt pockets keep snacks and smaller items close at hand. From easy to use stretch mesh side pockets, Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole attachment, and FlapJacket™ for lidless use, the Aura AG 65 is still the top contender. Backed by our All Mighty Guarantee, forever.

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 16″ W x 15″ D
  • Weight: 4.34 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
  • Storage room is great
Cons
  • Shoulder straps may cause some redness but may need to adjust it or get used to it

8. Granite Gear Crown 2 60 Backpack – Women’s

Granite Gear Crown 2 60 Backpack - Women's

Introducing the all-new Granite Gear Crown 2 60 Backpack – Women’s (Women’s Fit), 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, Granite Gear’s new and innovative Air-Current Mark 2 compression molded PP frame sheet with molded foam back panel, and bonus lid (removable), all while weighing in at 2.2lbs.

For ultralight loads, the frame sheet can be removed lowering the weight to 1.7lbs. The Crown 2 60L has a fixed, non-adjustable torso length that is offered in 2 torso sizes. The new lid is perfect for quick access for smaller items. For a lighter load, the lid is fully removable. Simply unclip the back and cinch the straps with the dual compression system to assure a firm fitting.

Key Features:

  • Removable lid has a compartment with DWR treated zipper
  • Hydration port & internal hydration sleeve
  • Large side stretch woven pockets
  • Stretch mesh front pocket
  • Side and front compression straps

Specifications:

  • Brand: Granite Gear
  • Capacity: 60L
  • Dimensions: 23.5″ H x 13″ W x 8″ D
  • Weight: 2.45 lbs
Pros
  • Built in hip belt pockets
  • All around locking clips (front, sides, and lid)
  • Deep side pockets
  • Removable lid is useful
Cons
  • Not the highest quality due to being lightweight

9. High Sierra Women’s Summit 40L Top Load Backpack

High Sierra Women's Summit 40L Top Load Backpack

The High Sierra Women’s Summit 40L Top Load Backpack is a feature-rich, versatile adventure lifestyle gear for adventurers everywhere. A versatile overnight pack, it features an internal frame with a single, contoured adjustable aluminum frame bar. Great for that hiking, camping, or backpacking adventure. Made from durable 1680D ballistic nylon material and Duralite mini-hexagon ripstop with a water-resistant coating, the High Sierra Classic 2 Series Summit 40 internal frame pack is designed to last for many adventures.

The backpack’s shoulder straps, constructed with HEX-VENT mesh padding and adjustable load-lifters, are designed for comfort and ease of carrying. You can adjust the backpack straps to fit your height. The non-slip shoulder pads distribute weight more evenly on your shoulders and the single contoured aluminum bar can be adjusted to fit the shape of your back.

Key Features:

  • Front-load sleeping bag compartment with divider
  • Padded backpack straps, with adjustable load-lifters, is constructed with Hex-Vent mesh
  • Adjustable sternum strap stabilizes the pack
  • Single, contoured aluminum frame bar can be adjusted to fit the shape of your back
  • Molded foam back panel with airflow channels to keep your back cool and dry

Specifications:

  • Brand: High Sierra
  • Capacity: 40L
  • Dimensions: 26″ H x 14″ W x 7.5″ D
  • Weight: 4.5 lbs
Pros
  • The holes and compartments for a camelbak bladder was very convenient
  • There are A ton of straps and condenses pretty small if you’re not carrying many things
  • It has a detachable rain cover that you can leave attached to use then stores in a hidden pocket on bottom
  • The main compartment is seperated by a large zipper so you can expand your storage space if you want
Cons
  • No zip close option at the top if you wanted to take off the top compartment

10. Osprey Packs Ariel AG 65 Women’s Backpacking Backpack – Best for Women

Osprey Packs Ariel AG 65 Women's Backpacking Backpack

For backpacking, thru-hikes and alpine expeditions, the women’s specific fit Osprey Packs Ariel AG 65 Women’s Backpacking Backpack has a pedigree. We have set the bar for technical backpacking packs by combining Anti-Gravity technology with customizable fit and innovative features like our 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, there is no better option than the Ariel AG pack.

The IsoForm5 harness and CM hipbelt provide outstanding fit and comfort for especially heavy loads and long miles. Ready for any adventure, the Ariel 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.

Key Features:

  • Removable top-lid converts to DayLid daypack
  • Zippered sleeping bag compartment with removable divider
  • Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole attachment
  • Internal hydration reservoir sleeve (Fits up to 3L reservoir, sold separately)
  • Zippered hipbelt pockets
  • Large J-zip access to main compartment

Specifications:

  • Brand: Osprey
  • Capacity: 65L
  • Dimensions: 31″ H x 15″ W x 12″ D
  • Weight: 2.5 lbs
Pros
  • It has all of the padding and straps you need to make it a perfect accessory to your hike
  • This is military-grade quality with a touch of easy on the eyes
  • Very comfortable on the back when carrying a full load
  • Detachable day bag is useful
Cons
  • No zip close option at the top if you wanted to take off the top compartment

Buying Guide

Gender-Specific Features

Most thru-hike backpacks are now available in different versions tailored for men and women, but there are a few exceptions. They tend to have fixed torso lengths and hip belt lengths, although most companies have pointed out that adjustable torsos and hip belts or ventilated backpacks are a much better option. Most women choose an S-shaped strap for the shoulder and gender-specific hip belts as they fit best to a “curvier” form.

Roll Tops or Top Lids

Some of the above-mentioned backpacks are roll tops and others have top lids. That one you want is a personal matter of choice. Roll tops may be cool since they are more compact and need fewer clips for webbing. However if you need to constantly swap caps or gloves, or navigate a chart and navigation equipment, top lids are more preferred.

Framed vs Frameless

The typical thru-hiker has some sort of frame integrated into their packs. Ultralight hikers bear such a small load that they frequently get by with a frameless backpack, although most hikers use an internal frame backpack. If you think you will hold 30 pounds or more then we suggest using an internal frame backpack.

Ventilation

Ventilation is really necessary when you are backpacking in warm weather. Products such as lightweight fabric, perforated foam, and unique framing system hold the skin away from most of the back panel. Although it’s widely known that this doesn’t impact a pack’s overall efficiency, it will improve your comfort considerably.

Specialized Compartments

Sleeping bag compartments and other organization pockets, these are things to consider as a lot of packs consist of one central compartment where everything goes. For longer journeys, several or wider access points to the main compartment (top, front, back, or side entry) are critical because you would expect to get in and out of your pack more often and want to reach specific things without unloading something.

Conclusion

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