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Five Best Camping Backpacks to Carry All Your Camping Essentials

Updated on November 9, 2010

Nobody can go camping without a backpack; it's the most essential of all of your camping gear to bring. Your tent, clothes, food and flashlight will go in your bag as will anything else that you want to bring, so it's important to get one that meets your needs. That's why camping backpacks are designed with so many compartments and pockets! So if you're going to be doing some camping, better make sure your backpack is suited for the ruggedness of the outdoors and make sure it can carry all the stuff you plan to take.

There are actually many types of backpacks. School backpacks are smaller than a traveler’s backpack; a camping backpack is the biggest and has the most number of compartments. They are sometimes called hiking backpacks and they usually have a 50-80 liter capacity. However, for an ideal week-long camping trip, or if you plan on a longer excursion in the outdoors, it's advisable to choose the 80 liter capacity (or larger).

When choosing a backpack, it's important to check the size. Always base your choice of camping pack not on your height but on the length of your torso. Measure your torso by measuring the distance from your neck to your hipbone. Use this measurement and choose a backpack of the same length. This will ensure you'll be able to move well as well as make sure the weight of the baggage is concentrated on your whole back, not on your hips alone.

Next, determine whether you want a pack with an internal or external frame. External frame backpacks sit up higher on your back so the weight of the backpack is mostly on your shoulders. Professional mountaineers prefer this type of backpack. Internal frame backpacks sit lower so the weight is more on the waist and its contour hugs the body more. You have more freedom of movement with it. It’s your choice which type you want to have.

Experience is the best teacher; here I'll share with you the five best backpacks I am familiar with. I have chosen them because of their reliability and because they get the job done. 

TETON Sports Scout3400 Internal Frame Backpack (Mecca Orange)
TETON Sports Scout3400 Internal Frame Backpack (Mecca Orange)

TETON Sports Scout3400 Internal Frame Backpack (MeccaOrange)

This backpack weighs 5 pounds and has a capacity of 55 liters so this one is for the casual backpacker and ideal for smaller people. The metal internal frame is made from dual aluminum and can nicely adjust to the contour of the back (and can fit a variety of torso sizes). Women tend to like this pack because of its good lower back support. It has an adjustable height shoulder strap, a rainfly and rainfly compartment, two zippered pockets, and side and front mesh pockets. It's a complete package of a pack because it has a top-loading compartment for your sleeping bag and many compartments for your clothes and small accessories. It also has a padded pocket for a hydration bladder (which is not included). With its durable construction and extra room for your camping gear, it's surprisingly affordable. This one is from Teton Sports so you're getting great quality, sturdiness, and durability.

NEW CUSCUS 7500ci Internal Frame Hiking Camp Backpack Travel Bag- Navy/Black
NEW CUSCUS 7500ci Internal Frame Hiking Camp Backpack Travel Bag- Navy/Black

NEW CUSCUS 7500ci Internal Frame Hiking CampBackpack Travel Bag- Navy/Black

While we're talking about internal-framed backpacks, let's take a look at this Cuscus. It's a good pack for larger backpackers because it has a capacity of 120 liters and is approximately 23 inches(L) x 13(W) x 34(H) and it can fit torsos that are 37 to 43 inches in length. It has 7 large pockets, two side pockets, a main compartment with Velcro closure loops and one front zippered pocket. The top lid is good for stowing your flashlight, map and other small items. Your sleeping bag can be secured in the dedicated compartment, and it has a loop on the front for your water bottle. So if you are going out on the woods for few days of camping or even doing some foreign travel, this is a good bag. The bottom compartment, which is the largest, is really spacious and can hold larger items. There is no question that this bag can hold up to some rough conditions. Expect it to last and be your companion during your traveling and hiking adventures.

High Sierra Sentinel 65 Frame Pack
High Sierra Sentinel 65 Frame Pack

High Sierra Sentinel 65 Frame Pack

The High Sierra Sentinel 65 has a 65 liter capacity but weighs an amazingly light 4.8 pounds. It has an ERGO-FIT shoulder harness and is adjustable for maximum comfort. Did I mention it's comfortable? The Vapel mesh Airflow system and high-density foam padding will keep your back cool and dry. The frame bars are contoured aluminum, and they're adjustable so it can fit almost anyone’s back. It may be lightweight but it can deliver good, smart storage space, with access through the top and bottom of the bag, a sleeping bag compartment and compartments where you can secure your camping axe, flashlight, camping lantern and food. It has an attached rain-fly that will keep your pack dry in rainy conditions. A good pack for a wide range of body types. 

Outdoor Products Pinnacle Internal Frame Backpack
Outdoor Products Pinnacle Internal Frame Backpack

Outdoor Products Pinnacle Internal Frame Backpack

On the large side, this bag is great for longer excursions. Weighing in at just over 3 pounds, it has a capacity of 3,160 cubic inches and measures 2.15 inches x 15 x 8.25. It has a drawstring closure, two removable aluminum stays, padded back and adjustable compressor panel in the main section to securely hold big items. On the sides are two large mesh pockets great for holding your water bottle, compass, maps, and flashlight so you can easily reach them without taking the bag off. It's made from a tough nylon, so you can depend on its durability and strength. It's compatible with most hydration systems (sold separately; I recommend the Source system) and it has a clip for holding a drinking valve. A good solid bag in my opinion.

 ALPS Mountaineering Denali Internal Backpack (Olive, 5500 Cubic Inch)
ALPS Mountaineering Denali Internal Backpack (Olive, 5500 Cubic Inch)

ALPS Mountaineering Denali Internal Backpack (Olive, 5500 Cubic Inch)

I'll admit I like this one for its looks. But once you get past them, it's all substance. This comfortable backpack is also roomy, meaning it's great for multi-day hikes. It sits securely on the hips, has very comfortable shoulder straps and auto-adjust Load Lifters. What is also unique about this backpack is it uses the Comfort Glide Suspension System which means adjustment is easy. With the side compression straps you've got the fit customization covered - this bag is going to fit a wide range of folks. It has plenty of space, a pouch on the waist belt for the things you need at hand, water pouches on both sides, a rain cover, and two front zippered pockets for additional storage room. My only complaint? It's a bit on the heavy side at over 6 pounds.


Submit a Comment
  • Bootsmade4walkin profile image


    7 years ago from Washington, DC / Leadville, CO

    Interesting selection of recommendations. I know you are outdoors guy and not outdoors girl, but what would you suggest for the ladies out there. I love my Gregory Deva 60!

  • profile image

    ron christian 

    8 years ago

    I would not by any of the backpacks you recommended. What happened to the quality backpacks you completely ignored? These are basically Chinese junk. Where are the Osprey, Gregory, and even the lowly Kelty, here?


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