ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Hiking Backpacks: How to Choose the Right Backpack for Hiking

Updated on March 10, 2011

If you have done hiking in the past, you know that one of the worst things that could happen during a trip is to wear an uncomfortable backpack. Because it could turn your walking into almost a torture. So, it is important for everyone doing hiking to have the right backpack for their travels. If you search the internet, you will see several backpack models for sale, with prices that vary wildly. Some of them are ridiculously cheap costing just about 50 bucks, some are seriously overpriced selling for U$S 600 or more (they call them “high-end” backpacks) and in the middle all the models and price combinations that you can imagine. So, to put a bit of order into this backpack maze, I am going to state the more important points to consider for choosing the right backpack for hiking.

Hiking in Baltoro Glacier

Seeing this guy so happy carrying this backpack to make a living, it is no wonder that some of us do the same for fun. On a second thought, he must be smiling because he could sit at last.
Seeing this guy so happy carrying this backpack to make a living, it is no wonder that some of us do the same for fun. On a second thought, he must be smiling because he could sit at last.

Internal or External Frame?

The backpacks designed for hiking, especially for hikes longer that a couple of days, are called frame backpacks, meaning that a frame supports the pack-bag and helps to put the weight on your hips. Because your hips are the place of your body that is better suited for carry weight. There are two designs: external frame and internal frame backpacks.

External Frame: originally, the backpacks were designed with a rigid frame, typically of aluminum tubing. The pack-bag is attached to this rigid frame. These models distribute the weight too high causing a loss of balance, less freedom of movement, and a bigger burden on your shoulders. On the other hand, they are cheaper and provide better ventilation than internal frame backpacks.

Internal Frame: nowadays, most backpacks for hiking come with an internal frame to support the pack-bag. The frame usually consists of a couple of flat bars (stays) integrated inside the pack. Internal frame backpacks are more popular because they have several advantages over external frame ones. The internal frame backpacks put the weight on your hips and hold your gear closer to your center of gravity giving you a better balance and freedom of movement. They fit better to your body and adjust completely increasing the comfort when walking. On the downside, internal frames tend to be more expensive. It is more difficult to find a specific item in them, because they have a single compartment that you can only access at the top. And lastly, internal frame backpacks will make you sweat more because they have to be carried closer to your body.

A confortable but a little heavy backpack: Gregory Baltoro 70
A confortable but a little heavy backpack: Gregory Baltoro 70


Fit is one of the most important aspects when choosing a backpack. A backpack that fits badly is a real pain during a hiking trip. Fortunately, many modern backpacks are designed in only one size and have an adjustable harness that fits well to the average person. The crucial measure is the torso length. Those with the torso too long or very short should have to be careful when choosing a backpack. To know if the backpack fits, measure your torso and check against the specifications of the manufacturer. When in doubt, wear the backpack with weight during several minutes to be sure that fits correctly to your body before choosing it.

Osprey Aether 70: A good backpack for extended hikes.
Osprey Aether 70: A good backpack for extended hikes.

What about the Capacity?

The rule here is to choose a backpack large enough to carry all your gear but not so large that you are tempted to carry more weight than you should. It is possible to do a general connection between the hiking days and the capacity of the backpack. Of course, it is only an estimation. Your hiking style, the different measures that manufacturers use, and whether you are traveling alone or not, will affect these numbers.

  • For travels of a couple of days in warm weather a 45 - 55lts backpack is enough.
  • For trips up to a week a backpack with a capacity of 60 - 70lts will be ok
  • For long hauls lasting more than a week consider one of around 80 - 90lts.

One good multipurpose backpack is the 60 +10lts. It is almost guaranteed that you always will hike with the backpack half filled or with several gear hanging. At last keep in mind that winter travel or technical equipment can increase these numbers.

Body Measuring Video


A good backpack that fits well to your body can enhance your hiking experience allowing you to focus on enjoying your trip. On the other hand, a backpack that it is not well designed or that fit badly could transform the easiest trek into a real pain. So, choose your backpack with care and spend your time enjoying your trips and no complaining about the pack.


Perhaps you may be interested in my Hub about the Best Pocket Knives

Photo of Baltoro Glacier Hiking is courtesy of: mariachily

Backpack Bargains

TETON Sports Fox 5200 Internal Frame Backpack - Not Your Basic Backpack; High-Performance Backpack for Backpacking, Hiking, Camping; Sewn-in Rain Cover
TETON Sports Fox 5200 Internal Frame Backpack - Not Your Basic Backpack; High-Performance Backpack for Backpacking, Hiking, Camping; Sewn-in Rain Cover

A better option for longer trips and still relatively cheap. Not the best, but good enough for a variety of trips. Idem at the above.



Submit a Comment
  • chucksbaby profile image


    8 years ago

    Good tips. However on capacity, I would say it depends on how much you plan to carry opposed to how long you'll be gone. I was on a 3 month backpacking trip and carried a 41 L pack (wish I had gone up a little bigger though) and my fiancé carried a 63 L pack.

  • profile image


    9 years ago


    A good summary and tips on backpack choice. I’m glad you suggested trying out a backpack loaded with some weight for a while before purchasing. Most backpacks will feel ok without weight in them. Loading the backpack will give you a greater idea of its suitability for you.




This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)