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Hiking Backpacks

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Ready For The Trail: How To Buy A Hiking Backpack

Set out on the trail with a high-performance hiking backpack. A heavy load is no match for the latest frame packs, internal frame packs and hiking bags—all designed for rugged utility during your outdoor excursion.

Some models are designed to haul large loads—ideal for experienced hikers and those prepping for a multi-day excursion. Other backpacks are more minimal, built to carry lighter loads for overnight trips or ultra-light packers. Daypacks are great for short trips in the great outdoors.

Select from a variety of features, sizes and materials for the hiking backpack that’s right for you. And shop trusted outdoor brands, including The North Face®, High Sierra® and Marmot®.

Buying Tips

The right hiking backpack features utility-minded features to suit your outdoor adventure. These backpacks can be categorized as traditional frame packs, internal frame packs and daypacks. Find the one that’s right for you:

  • Frame Packs: This type of bag is sometimes referred to as an “external frame pack.” The bag is held by an external aluminum frame, which rests behind your shoulders. This design evenly distributes weight between your hips and back. Frame packs have a high center of gravity and are cooler to carry in hot temperatures.
  • Internal Frame Packs: These backpacks have a frame built into the pack, behind the shoulder harness. Internal frame packs offer more flexibility and freedom of movement than traditional frame packs. Compression straps hug the body and prevent loads from shifting.
  • Daypacks: These bags resemble traditional backpacks and are great for hikers and campers on short trails and trips. They’re generally soft-backed and frameless. Look for a bag built with highly durable materials.

Expert Advice

Consider these factors when selecting your hiking backpack:

  • Always consider your torso length when selecting a frame pack or internal frame pack. Measure your torso with a tape measure and compare this figure to product information to find a bag that fits you.
  • Whether you’re setting out with an external frame pack or a lightweight daypack, look for a bag with an adjustable hip strap, which helps you better secure your load.
  • Think about the duration of your trip as well as the environment, weather conditions and your needs as a hiker. Many bags come outfitted with specialized compartments for your gear, including a sleeping bag compartment, hydration compartment and compact pockets for carrying small essentials.

Looking for something else? Check out the entire collection of camping and hiking gear at DICK’S Sporting Goods.