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10 Best Backpacking Packs of 2018

10 Best Backpacking Packs of 2018

What are the 10 best multi-day backpacks recommended by badass backpackers? Our top picks include the ULA Circuit Backpack, Osprey Exos 58 Backpack, Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60 Backpack, Osprey Atmos AG 65 Backpack, Granite Gear Crown 2 60L Backpack, and the Gregory Baltoro 65.

1. ULA Circuit Backpack

The ULA Circuit Backpack is the most popular multi-day backpack chosen by thru-hikers and weekend backpackers. Weighing 41 ounces, this 68 liter backpack has a load carrying capacity of 35 pounds and is available with men’s or women’s specific shoulder pads and hip belts. The Circuit has a roll-top favored by long distance hikers, with a large rear mesh pocket, two large side water bottle pockets, and two large hip belt pockets. Lightweight, but bomber tough, this pack can last through a long distance thru-hike and come back for more! Price $235. Click for manufacturer specifications

2. Osprey Exos 58 Backpack

Osprey Exos 58 Backpack
The Osprey Packs Exos 58 is lightweight minimalist pack favored by weekend backpackers and thru-hikers alike. Weighing 40 ounces fully configured, it has a rigid frame that makes it good for hauling heavier loads up to 35 pounds. The top lid can also be removed if not needed, dropping the pack weight close to 33 ounces. Ultralight details and back ventilation make the Exos a good backpack for hiking in hot or humid conditions. Sizing is Unisex. Price $220. Click for more information.

3. Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60 Backpack

Gossamer Gear Mariposa
The Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60 is a great pack for backpackers who are lightening their loads because it has plenty of storage. It’s intuitively organized for a multi-day trips, with plenty of external pockets for wet gear, and lots of covered storage for items you need less frequent access too. The Mariposa has a lightweight aluminum frame stay capable of carrying 30 pounds comfortably, and interchangeable hip belts sizes are available, ensuring a good fit. While not as durable as other packs, it is very lightweight, weighing just 32.7 ounces. Sizing is Unisex. Price $255. Click for manufacturer specifications.

4. Osprey Atmos AG 65 Backpack

Osprey Atmos 65 Backpack
The Osprey Atmos AG 65 is one of the most comfortable backpacks ever made with a ventilated “anti-gravity” suspension system that wraps around your hips and back. Featuring a lightweight, yet rigid frame, this 9-pocket top loader has an adjustable length hip belt, ensuring an optimal fit. While the Atmos AG 65 weighs 4 pounds and 6 ounces (70 ounces), that weight can be trimmed down by removing optional components such as the top lid. Osprey also offers a women’s version of this packs: the Osprey Aura AG 65. The maximum recommended load for the Atmos AG 65 is 45 pounds. Price $270. Click for more information.

5. ULA Ohm 2.0 Backpack

ULA Ohm 2-0
The ULA Ohm 2.0 Backpack is a lighter weight 32.5 ounce, 63 liter version of the #1 ranked ULA Circuit Backpack that uses the same frame and hip belt system as its bigger brother. It’s a roll-top backpack, with a large rear mesh pocket, two large side water bottle pockets, and two large hip belt pockets. Available with men’s or women’s specific shoulder pads and hip belts, it has a maximum load of 25-30 pounds. Price $210. Click for more information.

6. Osprey Exos 48 Backpack

exos 48
The Osprey 48 is also a lighter weight, smaller capacity version of the #2 ranked Osprey Exos 58 pack, good for weekend backpacking trips and ultralight backpacking. Weighing 40 ounces, it  also has a removable top lid that provides additional weight savings when not needed, with a maximum load rating of 25 pounds. Sizing is unisex. Price $190. Click for more information..

7. Granite Gear Crown 2 – 60L Backpack

Crown2 60L -Mens- Click for Specs

The Granite Gear Crown 2 60 is roll-top backpack that’s excellent for thru-hiking and multi-day backpacking trips. A roll top pack weighing 34 ounces, it has all of the features you’d expect in an ultralight style backpack including a large mesh back pocket and side water bottle pockets. What makes this pack distinct is its adjustable length hip belt so you get a custom fit and an optional, removable top lid. The Crown 2 60 has a maximum recommended load of 30-34 pounds. A women’s specific version for the Crown 2 – 60, is also available. Price $199. Click for more information

8. Gossamer Gear Gorilla 40 Backpack

Gossamer Gear Gorilla
The Gossamer Gear Gorilla 40 is a 34 ounce ultralight backpack designed for minimalist, fast and light backpacking or weekend trips. It has an optional top lid pocket, rear mesh pocket, and generous side water bottles pockets, including a foam back panel which can serve double duty as a sit pad. The Gorilla has a lightweight aluminum frame stay capable of carrying 25 pounds comfortably, and interchangeable hip belts sizes are available ensuring a good fit. Sizing is unisex. Price $245. Click for more information.

9. Gregory Baltoro 65 Backpack

Gregory Baltoro 65
The Gregory Baltoro 65 is a favorite for extended style adventures that require carrying very heavy 50-60 pound loads. While the Baltoro is a top loading pack with a top lid, the main compartment can be accessed from the back side like a panel loader, providing excellent gear access. Another distinguishing feature is an interchangeable hip belt available in multiple sizes (sold separately) and the ability to adjust the amount of lumbar support provided. A holster style water bottle pocket, waterproof hip belt pocket, and a separate sleeping bag compartment are a few more notable features on this fully loaded pack. Weighing 5 pounds 6 ounces (86 ounces), the Baltoro 65 is the most fully featured pack in the top 10 list. A women’s version is also available called the Deva 60. Sizing is unisex. Price $299. Click for more information.

10. Deuter ACT Lite 65+10 Backpack

Deuter ACT Lite 65+10
The Deuter ACT Lite 65+10 is a traditional style top loading backpack designed for multi-day trips. Weighing 4 pounds 6 ounces (70 ounces), it has an adjustable length torso to help you dial in a good fit, with side water bottle pockets, a rear mesh pocket, top lid pocket, and separate sleeping bag compartment. Maximum recommended load is 40-50 pounds. Sizing is Unisex. Price $209. Click for more information. Deuter is the most popular backpacking manufacturer in Europe and offers many other female-specific backpack models, designated with an “SL”.

Backpack Rankings by the Numbers

The following table lists the top 10 backpacks recommended by backpackers from a survey of 900 backpackers.

1ULA Circuit5.99%
2Osprey Exos 585.43%
3Gossamer Gear Mariposa3.99%
4Osprey Atmos AG 653.55%
5ULA Ohm 2.02.99%
6Osprey Exos 482.66%
7Granite Gear VC Crown 602.33%
8Gossamer Gear Gorilla2.00%
9Gregory Baltoro 651.77%
10Deuter ACT Lite 65+101.77%

Check out SectionHiker.com’s other 10 Best Gear Guides!

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  1. Friar Rodney Burnap

    You’re showing your bias again there’s not one external frame backpack being listed in this listing. External frame backpacks if packed right are a wonderful way to carry your gear. But no one will know that if you don’t show them or advertise them or talk about them. If everybody’s exposure about external frame backpacks is how bad they are no one’s really going to know how good they really are.

    • They’re are plenty of external frame backpack reviews on this website (in fact I’m a leading proponent of their use), but they’re really a niche item intended for monster, high volume loads.

  2. Friar Rodney Burnap

    I think if Colin Fletcher knew where ultralight backpacking has gone he would turn over in his grave.

  3. Do you have any experience with the Exped Packs? I have used the Thunder 70 and an Osprey Exped 48. Both are great, but the Exped is much more flexible and adjustable.

  4. Just curious how the Elemental Horizons Kalais XT stacks up against these? You spoke highly of it in your review.

    • The Kalais is a very nice high volume ultralight style (lightweight) backpack that lacks a lid, something that many people still prefer on an expedition class pack. I view it as a niche product designed for more advanced backpackers who want more nuanced capabilities and fit provided by the packs listed above (especially the larger volumes ones 65L and up). It’s also not really suitable for 4 season use.
      You also have to be willing to purchase the Kalais sight unseen because it’s custom made without the option to return it if you don’t like it. This list was compiled by asking a large number of backpackers what packs they use. These really are the top backpacks, not just some list I made up.

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