Heading to the trail on the weekend with all your gear in tow and a smile on your face with anticipation and excitement is one of the many reasons that hiking is so special. It’s a rewarding activity that you can spend hours enjoying without spending a ton of cash. There are a million reasons why we hike and hiking means something different for each and every one of us.
One of the best parts about hiking is that it’s a budget activity that’s within reach of all of us. There are no memberships to join if you don’t want to and very few costs incurred, gear aside. That being said, there are a few essentials that cost money, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend all your money.
Hiking backpacks are arguably the single most important piece of hiking gear. It’s essentially your home away from home when you’re in the mountains, however, that doesn’t mean that it should be anywhere near the same investment as a house. You can find great hiking backpacks for less than 100 dollars if you know where to look. We found some awesome budget hiking backpacks that make great companions on those magical walks in the wild.
The 5 Best Hiking Backpacks Under $100
These hiking backpacks all have great reviews, a proven track record, and they won’t break the bank. Here are our picks for the 5 best hiking backpacks under $100.
TETON Sports Scout 3400
TETON Sports Scout 3400 is an internal frame backpack that’s affordable and designed with comfort in mind. It’s continuously one of the top-selling hiking backpacks and is just right for both the casual hiker and hardcore hikers. It comes with a 55-liter capacity that is ideal for a multi-day hiking trip.
There are thick shoulder straps making this backpack comfortable and easy to carry. There is a convenient sleeping bag compartment on the underside of the pack and the rainfly is sewn into the fabric. Having the rainfly attached means that you won’t have to purchase an additional item and losing it is no longer a concern.
TETON offers a lifetime warranty that covers manufacturers defects and is extended to normal wear and tear, something that their competitors don’t always offer.
- Durable build
- Convenient storage options
- Attached rainfly
- Mesh pocket is extremely tight
- Small sleeping bag compartment
- Weighs 4.5 pounds
- Sport Type: Camping & Hiking
Totalpak Hiking Backpack
The Totalpal Hiking Backpack is on the smaller end of the scale with a size of 35 liters. This pack is ultralight, to say the least, it weighs in at 11 ounces. In total it has 11 different pockets all over the backpack, giving you plenty of places to keep your gear for a short overnight hike or longer if you go bare bones.
The main storage compartment has a sleeve for a laptop or kindle. There are two front pockets that each have zippers on the inside, pockets on the side for water bottles, a key clip, and a hidden pocket for small valuables. One of the unique features of this backpack is a pocket that the entire pack folds down into, making it ultraportable.
- Foldable design
- 100% risk-free warranty
- Only weighs 11 ounces
- Feels smaller than 35 liters
- Thin material
- No padding in the back
- ULTRA LIGHTWEIGHT BACKPACK AND COMPACT (11oz) - Weighing less than a pound, the portability of this day pack is unrivaled. When not in use, the foldable backpack takes up almost no space. With its packable stowaway design, it quickly zips into its own inner pocket for easy compact storage. Store it in any small space and expand into a full-sized daypack as needed. No more taking up space or paying airlines extra carry on fees. One of the best men’s and women's daypacks on the market
- FUNCTIONAL & ORGANIZED (35 liters, 11 pockets, USB Cable) - With 35L of storage and 11 pockets to hold your accessories, there's no problem fitting everything inside this roomy pack. Main storage compartment with internal organization, school laptop sleeve, 2 front pockets with an additional zipper pocket inside, keychain clip, adjustable dual side water bottle pockets, hidden anti-theft pocket for valuables. USB charging port makes this "the" trekking hike bag. Charging bank is not included
- DURABLE - light backpacks but equally strong, this little bag will be your companion for years. Made with premium-grade Diamond Ripstop Nylon, this pack is both water-resistant & tear-resistant. Robust metal SBS “no catch” zippers provide easy access to pockets. High quality reinforced stitching and bar tacks add structural integrity. Deluxe polyester 200-pound bearing straps and strong ABS plastic buckles make this the perfect outdoor backpack for ski travel hiking camping & backpacking
- COMFORTABLE - Designed with comfort in mind, you’ll be able to pack this bag around for hours and still feel great at the end of the day. 2.5-inch carrying straps with breathable padded foam, and a sleek, slim design reduces unnecessary bulk and weight. Adjustable chest strap transfers weight from shoulders to chest for a well-balanced load. Packs come in black blue grey orange and are the perfect fit for men women girls boys and kids of all sizes. Ideal comfort for ski running biking & cycling
MOUNTAINTOP 40 Liter Hiking Backpack
The Mountaintop hiking backpack is a 40-liter backpack with 2,440 cubic inches of space to hold your gear. It comes in a bunch of unique colors that you don’t usually find in other hiking backpacks. The 40-liter size is on the smaller end of hiking backpacks, however, if you’re down to go the minimalist route, this pack is just the right size.
It has a total of 6 adjustable straps on the outside of the pack that you can use for things like a sleeping bag, jacket, or sleeping pad. The shoulder straps and hipbelt can easily be adjusted to fit different torso sizes. The overall dimensions of this pack are: 21.7 x 13.8 x 9.8 inches, which make it carry on compliant if you decide to travel to your destination.
- Includes a rainfly
- Lightweight, only 2.1 pounds
- Wide top zipper for easy access
- Limited pockets
- The main compartment is tapered
- No back support
- Material:Polyester. YKK Zipper and YKK Buckle
- The main compartment is the size of the whole backpack. Mine is 20"h x 12"w x 4.5" deep.Your Laptop(big enough for a 17"laptop).There is a compartment that can be used for a bladder and a holding place for the tube but no specific bladder space.
- The size is perfect and meets the personal carry on for airlines such as frontier so you can load these down and not pay for a checked bag.
- Includes an adjustable hip belt on this bag that fits waist sizes 25–55 inches,but the belly strap is not removable.An adjustable sternum strap, breathable molded foam back panel, and S-shaped shoulder straps ensure you can properly carry the weight of your gear.
OutdoorMaster Hiking Backpack 50L
The OutdoorMaster 50 liter hiking backpack is made up of two compartments. The main storage compartment for the lions share of your gear and a zippered front pocket that is equally as spacious. The bottom of the pack has straps for a sleeping bag or small tent and there’s a small hole at the top for headphones so you can listen to music or podcasts as you hike.
By itself, this backpack weighs in at 2.6 pounds and the back has a heat dissipating layer to keep you cool on hot days. It’s made of lightweight ripstop nylon that has a water-resistant coating that keeps some of the water out. It’s not completely water resistant, however, there is a rainfly included for days that there’s heavy rain.
- Good back ventilation
- Comes with a rainfly
- Lightweight, only 2.6 pounds
- No zipper on outside pocket
- Hipbelt doesn’t distribute weight well
- Zipper issues
- MULTIPURPOSE 45L HIKING BACKPACK - Spacious backpack packed with many pockets & features. Great for hiking, travel, camping & as carry on luggage, for both men & women. THE ONLY BACKPACK YOU NEED!
- WATERPROOF RAIN COVER INCLUDED - Dedicated pocket for the included waterproof rain cover, padded laptop compartment (15.6") & PLENTY OF ROOM for all your equipment & accessories.
- DURABLE & COMFORTABLE TO CARRY - Made of lightweight materials with durability & comfort in mind. Featuring padded adjustable shoulder straps & mesh ventilation for a SNUG & COMFORTABLE FIT.
- PACKED WITH FEATURES & POCKETS - Plenty of both small & large pockets, as well as external attachment points, to hold your hydration reservoir, tent, trekking poles, sleeping bag & more. This pack HOLDS ALL YOUR hiking & travel ESSENTIALS!
Mardingtop Hiking Backpack
The Mardingtop 60 liter hiking backpack is the largest on the list and is made for a long distance hiking trip. The 60 liter capacity gives you plenty of room to store all of your gear and there’s room for your sleeping bag, tent, and a place for you to store trekking poles. It’s made of water-resistant 600D polyester and comes with a rain cover.
The overall weight of this pack is on the heavy end, weighing in at 4.49 pounds this is not for the ultralight hiker. When compared to more expensive models that are similar in size, the Mardingtop is a deal for the price. There’s an easily accessible main compartment, a zippered area underneath for a sleeping bag, and is comfortable under a full load.
- Comfortable under a full load
- Excellent quality and size
- Includes a rainfly
- No side pockets
- Weighs 4.49 pounds
- All pockets open to main compartment
- MATERIAL- 60L. Water-resistant 600D polyester. YKK Zipper and YKK Buckle. Rain cover included.
- DESIGN- One front pocket(24*33cm/9.45*13in) and Two side pockets(14*27cm/5.5*10.6in) on the pack, it can hold snacks,flashlight,notebook,gloves,ropes,water bottle and other items. Other tactical pouches or camping gears also can be attached to the molle webbing with hooks.
- SLEEPING BAG COMPARTMENT- There's zipper divider inside the pack that can seperate the main compartment from sleeping compartment. It's roomy enough for you to put in sleeping bag,mat,hammock or shoes.
- HYDRATION COMPARTMENT- This backpack includes hydration compartment which can hold a 3 Liter hydration bladder or a 15.6" laptop
Why you need a hiking backpack
A common question we get is, why do I need a “hiking backpack” when the one I have in my closet works just fine? There is reasonable logic in that question and the truth is that any backpack will work. That being said, a hiking backpack is designed for the trail with features that simply are overlooked in a standard daypack.
Hiking backpacks are designed for a particular purpose: to keep your gear safe on the trail. They tend to be designed with more durable material so they can handle the wear and tear that the outdoors throws at them. They should never break down after a few uses and should be able to handle being set on different terrains with regularity.
Any hiking backpack that is worth it’s weight is going to be made of water resistant material or come with a rainfly to keep everything inside dry. After all, we can’t control the weather and mother nature often has a mind of her own, regardless of what the weather report says.
Hydration on the trail is something that we all know is important and hiking backpacks take this into consideration. There should be mesh pockets on the sides, a space for a hydration bladder, or better yet, both.
Advantages of hiking backpacks
- They are more durable than a standard day pack
- Hiking backpacks offer more storage options to keep your gear organized
- There are specific hydration pockets
- They’re made of water resistant material or include a rainfly
- Hiking backpacks are made for the trail
Budget hiking backpack buying guide
Choosing a backpack is an important first step (no pun intended) to enjoying a successful hike. Choose a cheap model and it most likely won’t last for more than a few trips. This guide is intended to help guide you through the important features of a hiking backpack, budget or not.
Volume or capacity
What’s the point of buying a hiking backpack if you can’t fit your gear inside? There is none. A hiking backpack should be large enough to comfortably hold all the gear you plan on taking for a specific amount of time.
Here are some general guidelines on size compared to trip length:
- 20-30 liters: 1-2 nights
- 30-50 liters: 2-3 nights
- 40-55 liters: 3-5 nights
- 55 and above: Any amount of time
These are just general guidelines and not hard and fast rules. There are minimalist hikers who get away with a 35-liter pack for a month-long hike and there are other people who bring everything plus the kitchen sink. One of the most important sayings in the hiking community is to “hike your own hike.” In other words, do whatever you are most comfortable with.
The weight of a backpack is a metric that many people obsess over, most of the time way too much. While you don’t want a hiking backpack that’s 10 pounds for obvious reasons, you also don’t want to worry about a few extra ounces when it comes to quality. You want to be able to carry your backpack without pain for long periods of time.
These days hiking backpacks come in all shapes and sizes, literally. With enough designs to make your head spin, it’s easy to get caught in paralysis by analysis. At the end of the day, your hiking backpack is just a sack to store all your gear, so don’t get overwhelmed with the minor details.
Most backpacks are either made of ripstop nylon, canvas, or a synthetic blend. The material that your bag is made of is directly related to durability, that being said, the most important factors are that it fits comfortably on your back and will last a few years.
Length or fit
Torso length or fit is an important feature of any backpack, hiking or otherwise. The problem with this is that each person is different and the only true way to know how a backpack fits is to throw it on your back and take a hike. Take a look at your torso length and waist size before you make any purchases and you should be good to go. It’s always a good idea to check the seller’s return policy when making any purchases online, just to be safe.
The term budget hiking backpacks is somewhat of an oxymoron these days, companies are making them more and more expensive as each year passes. The truth is, they don’t have to be and there are great options available for a reasonable price if you know where to look.
We hope that this guide to the best hiking backpacks under $100 dollars gives you all the information that you need to make an informed and educated decision. Each of the mentioned hiking backpacks in this review won’t break the bank or the $100 dollar mark.
If you have any more questions or comments, please let us know in the comment section or drop us a line here, we love to hear from you!