Having the correct backpack or rucksack isn’t always something people consider when heading out on the trail, yet it can make all the difference while out walking. There are a lot of factors to consider in which is the best backpack to take with you as the type of terrain or activity on your walk will determine which is needed; as will duration and potential weather conditions as well. To help outdoor lovers everywhere find the right bag here at Walking.org we have brought together our Best 5 Backpacks for Walking in 2016.
In finding our favourite 5 backpacks for 2016 we have looked at tried and tested favourites along with new releases from the most recent seasons. We also took into account that depending on where you walk can change the features needed, as for example; longer trips need larger capacities; climbing will require ultra-light packs with tool attachments; and unfavourable weather conditions mean durability and resistance to the rain and wind (though raincovers are available from most brands if you need more water protection).
Our Top 5 Walking Backpacks in 2016
Osprey Ariel 65/Aether 70 Walking Backpacks
We decided to include both the Osprey Ariel and Aether walking backpacks together as ostensibly they are the same pack but the Ariel has a ladies anatomical fit and the Aether one for men with a slightly larger capacity. Both designed for longer trips where you need plenty of options in organising your gear, the Osprey Arial 65 and Aether 70 backpacks have plenty of storage space, smaller pockets, compartments for a sleeping bag, hydration pack, plus attachment slots and points for equipment. You can even make the most of the load space by using the StraightJacket compression straps to hold gear in place. The adjustable torso length, sternum strap and hipbelt enable a very comfortable fit that feels secure as you walk in either of these Osprey backpacks. Each one also features an AirScape backpanel that maintains comfort through a soft foam construction and allowing a constant cooling airflow.
North Face Borealis Walking Backpack
A classic bag that has proven popular; the North Face Borealis backpack is a moderately sized day pack with enough comfort and organisation options to keep outdoor gear nice and tidy. The key feature of this TNF bag is the FlexVent suspension system that incorporates injection moulded shoulder straps, a breathable and well ventilated mesh back panel and spine channel, plus a sternum strap that can be secured with a buckle, and a stowable hip belt for a custom-feel fit that gives lasting comfort and support. Storage options included besides the main compartment includes a fleece lined laptop sleeve, a front bungee storage, organisation compartment that includes other pockets, sunglass pocket, plus two water bottle pockets either side. All of this means you can store your gear practically, plus due to the design of this North Face Borealis backpack there is easy access to the pockets. 360 degree reflectivity ensures you can be seen in low light conditions, which is quite an advantage when walking.
Jack Wolfskin Savona Walking Backpack
This ladies specific Jack Wolfskin Savona backpack features a slimline design, light weight and a very reassuring snug fit. Intended to be used as a daypack, this JW Savona has a smaller capacity than our other Top 5 walking backpacks, yet still manages to give plenty of organisation options besides the main compartment which consists of an interior pocket, exterior pocket that includes small compartments, pouches, small equipment loops and two handy mesh bottle pockets. The Jack Wolfskin Snuggle Up Women suspension system has been used on this pack which is a suspension system that gives a secure fit and plenty of padded surface contact on the straps and back panel so it feels comfy and supportive throughout wear. Complete with the menacing-sounding Armatech Plus 600D fabric that is tough and hard-wearing, this Jack Wolfskin Savona backpack is a great day pack for any adventure.
Exped Cloudburst 25L Walking Backpack
The Exped Cloudburst 25L backpack is quite an innovative idea for a bag that quite simply put sees a harness attached to a drybag. You have all of the advantages of a roll top drybag in that this Exped bag is fully waterproof, plus you can simply stuff your gear inside and is much easier to carry. The shoulder straps and harness isn’t quite as technical as our other best 5 walking backpacks but gives enough lasting comfort while worn. One major advantage of this Exped Cloudburst 25L backpack besides being waterproof is the ability to be packed down to quite a small size so works well as an extra in case the weather changes or you leave basecamp for a day hike.
Lowe Alpine Attack 45:55 Walking Backpack
Designed for the modern alpinist, the Lowe Alpine Attack 45:55 backpack has plenty of features like the Webcatcher system that is not only easy to use but lets you attach equipment such as trekking poles, axes and skis in a moment. An AdaptiveFit harness, moulded back system, hipbelt construction plus removable frame give all the structure and support needed on a long walk or climb through an almost individualised fit and if you prefer without; the belt can be removed and packed away. All of this, plus the option of expanding the capacity from 45 litres to 55 is contained within the construction of this Lowe Alpine Attack backpack TriShield fabric that besides being ultra-lightweight is also very tough as well.
Any of our Best 5 Walking Backpacks for 2016 will certainly let you comfortably carry your gear to the next camp on a variety of trails, but if you want a smaller daypack, larger capacity expedition style or a little of both you can certainly find it here. To help address other aspects to look for in a decent walking backpack we have given awards for looks, performance and value as well.
Best Performance – Lowe Alpine Attack 45:55 Backpack
While all of these top 5 are more than up to the task of life outdoors we thought the Lowe Alpine Attack 45:55 backpack had the advantage over the others. The exterior fabric is quite tough, there are plenty of attachment options and compartments to utilise, plus you have the option of expandable storage as well.
Best Value – Exped Cloudburst 25L Backpack
This version of the Exped Cloudburst backpack is the cheapest of our top 5 walking backpacks and is great if you want a versatile daypack that you can grab and go with, plus is completely waterproof as well. The only downside is that there aren’t as many organisation options for your gear and equipment.
Best Looks – Osprey Ariel 65/Aether 70 Backpacks
We thought that the Osprey Ariel and Aether backpacks were visually the best designed out of the five. Other than the sizing difference and colourways these both have the same modern technical style with clean lines that just looks great.