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Best Overall: Osprey Exos 58 at Amazon "The 58 liter pack is extremely light (2.4 pounds) even with a full suspension system and tons of external storage."
Best for Men: Osprey Men’s Atmos AG 65 at Amazon "The Atmos is stacked with top features and comfort, thanks to the Anti-Gravity System."
Best for Women: Osprey Women’s Aura 65 AG at Amazon "Made specifically for females, the Osprey Aura 65 liter AG is highly recommended for long treks or thru-hikes."
Best for Beginners: TETON Sports Scout 3400 at Amazon "Ideal for those who aren’t sure if backpacking is really their thing (yet)."
Best Ultralight: Granite Gear Virga 2 52L at Amazon "It weighs only 1.2 pounds."
Best For Heavy Loads: Gregory Baltoro 65 at Amazon "The support and construction of the pack makes it ideal (read: completely comfortable) for heavier hauls."
Best for Alpine Pursuits: The North Face Cobra 60 at Backcountry "If you are heading into extreme environments, this is your pack."
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Osprey Exos 58
Also offered in 38 and 48 liters, the Osprey Exos 58 comes highly recommended by long distance hikers. The 58 liter pack is extremely light (2.4 pounds) even with a full suspension system and tons of external storage. Plus, when every ounce counts, the pack can become even lighter with removable external straps and a removable floating top lid.The Exox 58 is breathable, extremely comfortable and supportive for around 35 pounds of gear. The main complaint is the durability of the pack — the thin fabric isn’t the strongest (100D High Tenacity nylon), so be careful when throwing it down at your campsite. Colors include black and green, as well as royal blue and white. Dimensions of the medium-sized, 58-liter pack are 30 x 14 x 14 inches and it does not come with a rain cover.
Best for Men: Osprey Men’s Atmos AG 65
The Atmos is stacked with top features and comfort, thanks to the Anti-Gravity System. The top lid is removable and the hip belt and harness are both adjustable. The medium-sized pack weighs 4.58 pounds and measures 33 x 15 x 15 inches. The pack is made from 100-denier by 630-denier nylon for durability. Colors include green, a red-orange and dark gray. The pack does not come with a rain cover.
Best for Women: Osprey Women’s Aura 65 AG
Made specifically for females, the Osprey Aura 65 liter AG is highly recommended for long treks or thru-hikes. The top lid is removable to save weight and the pack comes with dual compression straps on the outside, as well as internally. The hip belt and harness are all adjustable, which comes in handy as your body and width change throughout the trek. Plus, the entire pack weighs just 4.36 pounds and can carry 30 to 50 pounds comfortably. The Aura is also built with Osprey’s Anti-Gravity suspension to provide top ventilation and comfort and uses a 100-denier by 630-denier nylon construction for durability. Colors include a bright teal and a soft gray. Dimensions of the small-sized, 65-liter pack are 29 x 15 x15 inches. The pack does not come with a rain cover.
Best for Beginners: TETON Sports Scout 3400 (55L)
If you are heading on a backpacking trip for the first time, the TETON Sports Scout 3400 is an ideal pack with an internal frame. It is relatively lightweight (4.5 pounds), has an adjustable torso, as well as plenty of compartments for your sleeping bag and other important gear. The bag doesn’t skimp on comfort either, thanks to its padded hip belt, shoulder straps and mesh support for ideal ventilation on your back. Plus, the price for the pack is low, which is ideal for those who aren’t sure if backpacking is really their thing (yet). Colors include black and tan, black and green or black and orange. Dimensions of the 55-liter pack are 30 x 17 x 12 inches. It's made of 600-denier Ripstop nylon and the pack does include an integrated rain fly.
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Best Ultralight: Granite Gear Virga 2 52L
Another top pack for thru-hikers is the Granite Gear Virga 2. This pack has no frills or clips, just the bare minimum of what you need to complete a long trek — the pack doesn’t even have a frame suspension system, which is why it weighs only 1.2 pounds. Not all hikers are comfortable with a frameless suspension pack, but with the Virga 2, a foam sleeping pad inserted in the main compartment can act as support, though don’t load up more then 25 pounds. The 52-liter pack has a roll-top closure, an internal hydration hanger for your bladder and compression straps to keep your gear stable and weight even. The nylon backpack comes in a gray and orange pattern and does not come with a rain cover.
Best For Heavy Loads: Gregory Baltoro 65
Although the Gregory Baltoro 65 is on the heavier side of trekking backpacks (5.5 pounds), the support and construction of the pack makes it ideal (read: completely comfortable) for heavier hauls. The pack comes with numerous exterior pockets for stashing quick snacks or a first aid kit and has a front zipper for easy access to the pack’s main compartment. Overall, this pack’s poundage is balanced out by the supreme way it carries weight — with little added pain in the back, neck or feet. The pack also has a hydration sleeve that converts to a day pack. Colors include navy blue, black and red. Dimensions of the medium-sized, 65-liter pack are 25.2 x 15 x 9.5 inches. The pack does include a rain cover.
Best for Alpine Pursuits: The North Face Cobra 60 Hiking Backpack
If you are heading into extreme environments, this is your pack. The lightweight bag (3 pounds, 9 ounces) comes with ice tool and crampon storage, stowable helmet carry storage, rope carry and ski carry. The North Face is a trusted brand in the outdoor market and the Cobra 60 pack is no exception to the brand’s exceptional Summit Series product line. Plus, the Cobra sells at a moderate price point for the extreme mountaineer and has a removable top lid, hip belt padding and frame sheet to save weight. Colors include black and orange or plain black. The pack is made from a durable 20-denier Cordura nylon and a blend of 500-denier nylon for extreme durability. Dimensions of the 60-liter pack are 23 x 13 x 9.5 inches. The pack does not come with a rain cover.