Everyone is always talking about the best backpacks for hiking, but what about the most comfortable backpacks for hiking? Chances are that a high end backpack will be comfortable, but not always. Or you could get the wrong kind of backpack. For the purposes of this article we’ll stick to day packs and steer clear of internal frame and long-distance backpacking packs.
If you are trying to hike on a budget then comfort may not be a top priority for all backpack manufacturers in your price range, some take comfort seriously though. When it comes to high end backpack manufacturers, like Osprey and Deuter for instance, you can be pretty certain that they have covered all the bases, comfort level included.
In this article we’ll take a closer look at some of the name brands and a more budget friendly backpack to see how they compare to each other when it comes to comfort and hiking with a full pack.
If you are hiking for more than a couple of miles an uncomfortable backpack full of gear can give you a backache for days, and possibly cause a visit to the chiropractor. So pay attention to these 5 backpacks that are known for comfort, and do yourself a favor and get a good backpack that will last you for years to come.
My Top 3 Picks
What to look for in a comfortable backpack
- Padded straps – Most of the weight from the contents of your pack is pulling down at the shoulders. If you have some cheap, non-padded straps, you can almost guarantee that your shoulders are going to be sore the next day. There are several ways you can avoid this discomfort and one of the main ways is by having some quality padded backpack straps.
- Padded, ventilated mesh back panel – This is important not only for comfort but for keeping your back cool as well. While the large majority of the weight is coming down on the shoulders just from gravity, you will have the contents of the pack pressing up your back and you need a padded barrier there to make all the walking and bouncing up against your back as comfortable as possible. The ventilation will help keep your back cooler and prevent it from sweating too much. On a hot day you’ll still sweat and likely have a wet shirt in the back, but it does help a great deal.
- Adjustable hip belt and sternum strap – These are not required for every hike and a lot of times I’ll not even use them. However if you do use them they will make your pack really hug close to your body and prevent it from jostling around too much making for a much more comfortable hike. I recommend using them if you are going on a longer day hike, more than a couple of miles.
Top 5 most comfortable hiking backpacks
Osprey Packs Talon 22 Men’s Hiking Backpack
This highly versatile backpack from Osprey is perfect for day hikes. It has padded straps all around and a ventilated, mesh backing to keep your back cool on hot days. The Osprey Talon 22 is comfortable, lightweight, and deceptively spacious. An all around great hiking backpack from my personal favorite backpack brand, although feel free to use it as a general purpose backpack as well.
Deuter ACT Trail 30 Hiking Backpack
Another very versatile hiking backpack, this one from Deuter who is one of the largest backpack manufacturers in the world. Jam-packed full of features, this backpack was built with comfort in mind from the brand that invented the breathable mesh backs that helped revolutionize comfortability in backpacks today.
There’s a common trend among customer review for this backpack; it’s extremely comfortable, durable, and lightweight. Here is a quote from Deuter about their packs:
Deuter back systems are designed to lighten heavy loads through innovative ventilation and stabilization features that keep the load close to the body and reduce perspiration by 15-25%. Special attention to ergonomics warrants a body hugging and precise fit with optimized load transfer to the hips to relieve the back and shoulders.
MOUNTAINTOP 40L Hiking Backpack for Outdoor Camping
This pack from Mountaintop is on the bigger making it good for day hiking or even an overnight hike or camping trip. It’s much less expensive than the other backpacks on this list as it’s not from a top name-brand but it still has some of the main features you’d expect such as a mesh back panel and padded straps that make it a comfortable backpack for hiking. You won’t quite get the quality you would from a Deuter or an Osprey, but a solid backpack nonetheless.
Osprey Packs Stratos 36 Men’s Hiking Backpack
With the Stratos from Osprey you’ll get all the features you’ll need to provide you with a comfortable hiking experience. As you can see from the image, the entire back is padded mesh as well as the shoulder and hip straps making it just an all around comfortable backpack that you really can’t go wrong with. I suggest pairing it with an internal hydration pack (really any of the backpacks on this list). You can get water reservoirs such as this on Amazon that would work great with this backpack.
Kelty Redwing 44 Backpack
The Kelty Redwing is a very comfortable and versatile backpack with great weight distribution and comfortable shoulder straps. As you can tell from the picture it has extra padding on the mesh backing making it very comfortable when carrying a fully loaded pack. It has tons of pockets for you to keep all your gear in and is highly durable and lightweight. It is priced comparably to the Osprey and Deuter packs on this list. This one didn’t make my top picks because I don’t have personal experience with this brand. Don’t discount the Kelty though, it’s obviously very high quality and is a contender for being one of the most comfortable hiking backpacks available.
In my opinion there are just some things that you shouldn’t be stingy and skimp out on. An example of this when I go to the grocery store is toilet paper. You really want to get a name brand here, after all it’s going to be used on one of the most sensitive parts of your body. So I pay the extra few dollars and get Charmin. It’s the same with backpacks and hiking shoes for me, I cough up the extra money and get a name brand with proven quality and longevity.
So we’ve seen 5 of the top backpacks known for comfort and I’ve given you choices whether you’re on a budget or ready to buy the best. It’s now up to you to view the products pages and read through the the pack specs and customer reviews to determine if it’s going to work for you and your hiking needs. Good luck with your purchase and I hope one of these hiking backpacks is just what you were looking for!
Any Amazon prices shown were last updated 2020-01-17