5 Best Camping Backpacks
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Camping is a great way to get off grid, drop crowds, and experience wilderness at its rawest. It’s also a great chance to enhance and hone your survival skills, especially if you’ve secretly been admiring the lifestyle.
When going for your camping trip, you need to have the right gear, and more importantly, a good backpack. Your backpack will essentially carry all of your gear and belongings, and will help make life easier for you later on. As such, it needs to be large enough, lightweight, comfortable, and durable. So before picking one, you should make sure that you account for this.
The problem is, there are dozens of backpack brands in the market today, and choosing the right one can be a daunting experience. Picking the right backpack entails taking into accounts important factors. For instance, if you pick a bag that’s too big, you will end up with too much unnecessary weight, and if you choose one that’s too small, it might be unable to hold all of your essential supplies.
On this guide, we are aiming at pointing you to the right direction, and we’ll provide you with our top 5 picks for the best camping backpacks, along with their quick reviews and buying advice when picking the right backpack.
1. Best All-Round: Osprey Ariel/Aether AG Series
This is a camping backpack with all the features you’d typically need in any outdoor adventures. It’s available in a wide variety of sizes, meaning the pack can cater to most people. It also delivers in terms of durability, design, and versatility, which made it our top choice.
While the Osprey Backpacks isn’t the cheapest option, spending a little more on it is worth it, considering what you’re getting in return. Keep in mind that Osprey will repair any defects or damage for free, no matter when you bought the pack.
The manufacturer has gone out of the way to ensure that the pack keeps your back comfortable. The suspended, lightweight back panel combined with the tensioned fill peripheral frame ensure that any load is transferred comfortably. The bag’s weight distribution is enhanced by its side compression straps, which make sure that the weight transfer is balanced.
The pack also features some innovative features, such as the convertible top-lid day back, which essentially converts the top lid into a smaller backpack. This lets you leave your main pack at basecamp and use the DayLid for small excursions. There’s also a flap jacket on the main backpack that lets you use the main pack easily without its lid.
Other notable features include an internal compression strap, ice axe holders, and hip-belt pockets with zips. The hip belt is heat moldable, such that it provides you with the best fit possible.
- Durable and versatile
- Customizable fit
- Great weight distribution
- Lifetime guarantee from the manufacturer
- Large – not ideal for short trips
- It’s a bit pricey
2. Best Value: Teton Sports Scout 3400
This is a great camping backpack for those on a budget, or those just starting out with camping. Despite being cheaper than the other options on this list, the pack features a customizable and ergonomic design.
Some of the best features of this offering from Teton include a rain cover, which ensures that all your belongings are kept dry even in soggy weather. There’s also a sleeping bag compartment, several quick access pockets for easy storage of items while on the go, along with compression straps and gear loops. The shell of the bag is made from sturdy 600D Oxford canvas and 600D ripstop, which help make it able to withstand heavy strain.
The internal frame of the pack is adjustable, and the contoured, adjustable, and ergonomic shoulder straps make the pack ideal for a variety of body ranges. The molded channels aim to offer you maximum airflow and comfort.
- Pocket friendly price
- Lifetime limited warranty
- Lots of quick access pockets
- Lacks some of the high-tech features from fancier packs
- Quite small
3. Best For Long-term Camping: Deuter Air Contact
While this is not the best value or super light backpack, it made it to our list because it’s super comfortable for camping and hiking – and is perhaps the most comfortable offering for those whose camping experience entails long hikes or walks.
The Deuter Air Contact comes with a waist belt and shoulder straps that are perfect for carrying heavy loads for extended periods. Its great ventilation helps to keep you cool and fresh, regardless of the weather conditions. This makes it one of the best back-packs for those long camping trips.
The pack also comes with a detachable rain cover that helps to keep your belongings dry in rainy weather, and features dual zippered cargo pockets that are super durable. This pack is recommended for long camping trips, especially for people who carry lots of gear or belongings but don’t want to splurge on an Osprey Aether.
The Deuter Air offer great value for money, and is perhaps one of the best budget packs for this size category. It is also tough as nails and can comfortably take a rough beating on any adventure.
- Extremely comfortable
- Great for hauling heavy loads
- Build for hikes and trails
- Subpar water resistance
- Mixed reviews about its repairs
4. Best for Short Trips: MountainTop 40L Hiking Backpack
For those short camping trips which don’t require you to bring a ton of stuff, this is a wonderful option. If you’re going on a camping trip between 2 to 4 nights, then this pack can carry everything you need. The pack is comes fitted with several convenient external straps to help secure your sleeping bags, water bottles, poles, tents, etc. The side-pockets are made of mesh and are stretchy enough and will give you the option of putting items on different sizes and secure them well.
The bag also features a few extra pockets on the outside for smaller items, and a laptop pocket where you can store your notebook. The bag is designed with comfort in mind, with highly adjustable hip, shoulder, and sternum straps. The back cushions feature an air-flow design that helps minimize sweat production. The pack weighs 22 pounds when empty, and will fit into the bus, plane, or car spaces quite easily.
- Budget friendly
- Ideal for short camping trips
- Lightweight and fully adjustable
- Tons of external storage
- Not the best for longer trips
- Questionable water resistance
Best Camping Backpack for Women: High Sierra Classic Summit
This is our top pick for women’s camping backpacks, since its design is quite feminine, especially if you’re small in stature. The pack is light and sturdy, and comes with many straps to help you condense or compress your load in case you aren’t carrying too much items.
It comes with a contoured aluminum frame, which can be adjusted to fit the shape of your back. There are also chest and hip straps that allow it to fit different body shapes. Its molded foam back also has airflow channels that help to keep you cool and comfortable.
The High Sierra Classic Summit pack loads from the top, with side and bottom compression straps to help stabilize your load and secure your gear. On either side is a daisy webbing chain, which is ideal for carabiners and similar gears. The bag’s soft lashing hardware helps you to easily attach equipment like ice picks and trekking poles.
Other notable features are a tuck away rain cover to keep your gear safe in wet conditions, along with dual exit ports for hydration pack tubes and a hydration back.
- A design that works well for women
- Lots of straps to attach gear/items
- A reasonable price
- The main compartment only opens from the top
- The pack could feature more pockets for storing small items
Why You Need a Good Camping Backpack
Your backpack is a much-needed companion for any camping trip. It will let you enjoy the trip, knowing that you didn’t have to compromise on the supplies you need, and that all your items will be safe all through the trip. Here are a few reasons why you need a good camping backpack.
Enough Space for all your Items
A good camping bag will ensure that you have the right amount of space to bring all of you essentials and supplies without burdening you with the load. Ideally, it lets you enjoy a perfect balance between weight and capacity, which is critical if you plan to camp out for more than a night.
Securing your Belongings
The right camping backpack should ensure that all of your items stay safe and secure throughout your trip. It shouldn’t leave out any room for your items to fall off easily or get lost. And since camping can be sometimes a treacherous activity, your pack should ensure that your items stay dry even in storms or wet conditions.
Camping Backpacks are Reusable
Great camping backpacks are reusable in that you can use it for multiple purposes. If you also indulge in other sporting activities like boating, cycling, backpacking, hiking, mountaineering, etc., you can comfortably use your camping pack to carry the supplies you need for your adventure.
What to Look for When Buying the Right Camping Backpack
Not all backpacks are created equal. Some backpacks will work great for short trips, longs trips, and others for only day trips. The performance, size, and durability will vary widely depending on the backpack. To help you choose the right fit for you, here is a rundown of the things to look for when choosing a camping backpack.
The stronger and sturdier the bag, the better. If you’re planning to bring stuff like cooking supplies, you need a bag made from materials that can withstand the elements. For instance, high-quality polyester is strong enough to withstand the elements and protect your belongings. Getting a water-resistant pack is also a great idea. If a bag doesn’t have a rain cover, water resistance will make a bug difference when it comes to keeping your gear and belongings dry throughout the trip.
One of the most important things you need to consider is how you intend to use the bag. If you intend to take longer camping trips, then you need a bag with more capabilities and ample space. For instance, for a 5 to 10-day camping trip, you need a 50L to 75L bag. 75L is as big as you’d need for a bag, especially if it features external storage conveniences. For short trips, a 30L to 50L bag will suffice. It’s large enough to store your supplies without being too small to make you compromise on some items.
You will most likely store much of your things in the main storage compartment of the bag. However, if you have extra quick access compartments to store your maps, cellphone, snacks, camera, sleeping bags, trekking poles, and tent, it will make your life much easier. Having external straps for the large and bulky (awkwardly shaped) items can be vital for having convenient storage for the supplies you need.
If you plan to take long camping trips with lots of activities, you need to pay close attention to the comfort features of the backpack. Comfort comes in many ways with camping bags, however, one of the primary things to consider here is the right size of bag for you. Getting a bag that’s too big or too small for your body frame will make it hard for the bag to sit properly on your back or shoulder.
The padding on the back and on the straps should be soft. Plus, the more the adjustments you can make, the better. Adjustability will give you more wiggle room to get the comfort level exactly as you need it to be. In case you don’t get the comfort-level right, you may end up regretting getting the bag, especially in long treks where the bag will seem to get heavier as the day goes on.