Gear, Backpacks

The Best Hiking Backpack Under $100 (2021 UPDATED)

best-hiking-backpack-under-100

What’s the best budget hiking backpack?

Millions of people across America have adopted a love of hiking & camping, and with the current corona situation, the urge to head into the great outdoors is only going to get greater.

The physical challenge, the scenic views, the raw experience of natural beauty…these are just some of the highlights of a good ol’ hike.

But a camping adventure is all the more satisfying when you go prepared. One thing you cannot afford to miss during such an expedition is a hiking backpack; it carries all the supplies you’ll need to ensure you’re covered for the time you’ll be in the great outdoors for example a good camping knife.

Luckily, the market offers an assortment of hiking backpacks from top brands such as Osprey and Northface. While some are simple and relatively budget-friendly, other backpacks incorporate various innovative features that drive their cost through the roof.

If you’re a casual hiker who rarely spends more than a day in the wilderness, then you don’t need to spend a fortune on a backpack. You can find a practical model that will not only get the job done but also save you some change. In this post, we take a look at the best backpacks you can grab for under 100 bucks!

How do I choose a hiking backpack? – Buyers Guide

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How do I choose a hiking backpack?

Selecting a hiking backpack is actually harder than it sounds. There is a sea of options to choose from and various features to contemplate. Choosing the wrong pack may end up in chafing, pain, and just overall ruin your hike, so consider the following things:

How heavy should a backpack be for hiking?


The size and weight of a hiking backpack have a major influence on the kind of adventure you will have. Normally, the correct size and weight will depend on the type of hike you have planned.

The general rule of thumb is that the lighter the bag the better; with the general consensus being that a fully loaded backpacking backpack / rucksack not being more than 20% of your overall weight. Aka: if you weight 200lbs, the pack should not exceed 40lbs in total.

When it comes to cheap backpacks, getting a lightweight option means compromising the durability of the materials. Unfortunately, this is another factor that you cannot overlook, especially if you plan to hike in rigorous environments. The outdoors has a way of testing your hiking gear. If you’re going for a long-distance hike, you need your bag to very durable and resistant to the elements.

Ultimately, the appropriate backpack should be sizeable enough to carry all the necessary gear and lightweight enough not to drag you down when hiking on the trail.

What is the best backpack for backpacking?

We will go into individual reviews further below, but for now, the key thing to consider is comfort.

An uncomfortable backpack can easily mess up your hiking adventure. Covering long distances on foot when you’re carrying a heavy and off-center backpack with low-quality padding is a sure recipe for disaster.

While this is a complete “no-no” for prolonged hikes, you could at least try to put up with it on shorter and relatively friendlier hikes that don’t demand too much from you. Ultimately, you want to look at comfort features when searching for a backpack.

Make sure the backpack you want to buy has adequate padding, especially on contact points such as the shoulder straps and back. This will reduce the impact of the load you’re carrying and ensure that you don’t suffer from soreness and an aching back after the trip. Ventilation is another important feature to consider if you’ll be hiking in hot environments.

Finally, make sure there are enough straps to secure the bag in a central position when you’re hiking.

How should a hiking backpack fit?

All backpacks more or less serve the same purpose; to carry and secure your gear from the start of the journey to your destination! But not all bags are created equal!

See a video tutorial below by Rei to illustrate how a Hiking Backpack should fit:

Some models incorporate a set of features that enhance the overall functionality of a backpack and assist in making the fit more comfortable.

For example, extra straps in a bag not only ensure that the bag sits centrally on your back but also make it possible to hook your trekking poles without hassle.

Also, a front panel opening makes it easy to access items inside the bag, so that you don’t have to open the top and start unpacking your belongings. Other useful features include things like a water pouch, stretch pockets, adjustable shoulder straps, etc. that you won’t find on an ordinary backpack.

In short, some packs are more practical than others and fulfill more of your requirements. Therefore, you want to consider all that you expect from the backpack and try to match this with the features offered by the bag. This way, you can look forward to hiking with the most functional backpack you could find.

How much does a hiking backpack cost?

If you’re searching for a cheap backpack, it goes without saying that price will be the first thing you’ll look at before going to the other features. Generally, backpacks come at different prices, from the cheapest no-name brands to expensive big-name brands you can find.

As usual, the higher you pay for a backpack, the more quality you get, although this is not always true. The important thing to note is that if you’re buying an affordable hiking backpack, you should be willing to sacrifice some level of quality, and this also means fewer features.

Nonetheless, it is possible to get the best value from a bag that is within your budget. Make sure you find a backpack that maximises all the functional features we’ve discussed above that is within your budget. All in all, just make sure that the backpack you choose will serve you for years without breaking apart.

Best Hiking Backpack Under $100 – Reviews

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Osprey Hikelite 26 Hiking Backpack

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With a capacity of 26L, the Osprey Hikelite 26 Hiking Backpack is a great choice for day hikes that don’t require you to carry too many items. This also means that you can use it as a daily/laptop bag when running your day-to-day errands. In short, the bag boasts a multifunctional design that allows it to suit both urban pursuits and outdoor exploits.

It features a 3L Internal hydration sleeve which is super handy for when you’re out and about on the trail as well as having an integrated rain cover and space for Trekking poles to be attached.

The Osprey Hikelite comes with a well-designed and durable construction. You get to choose from 14 different adventurous colours, meaning you can find a shade that best matches your personality. It is also a comfortable backpack to carry. Aside from being lightweight, it features padded shoulder straps while its mesh-covered back panel allows for breathability when carrying the bag.

The main fabric on this bag is made out of 210D nylon double diamond ripstop, so it can hold up well in tough outdoor conditions. You also get a variety of storage options with multiple compartments and pockets on the Hikelite. The dual stretch side pockets are particularly great for storing items that you’ll want fast access to during the trip.

Pros
  • Several pockets and compartments for organisation
  • Charming design with colour variety
  • Durable 210D fabric
  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Multifunctional design
Cons
  • Limited capacity

The North Face Borealis Backpack

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North Face is a brand that requires no introduction when it comes to backpacking gear. It boasts a string of impressive products in its portfolio and the Borealis is probably the best hiking backpack under $100 you can buy today!

The North Face Borealis Backpack is the perfect combination of weight, function & design, making you one of the coolest people on the trail.

The backpack offers durable performance thanks to a mixture of nylon, polyester, and Cordura nylon ripstop in its construction. This means it will serve on multiple hiking trips without giving in to the rigours of frequent use. Although it is not waterproof, the bag’s zippers come with special flap covers for protection. As far as appearance is concerned, the Borealis comes in multiple colour options to choose from, but overall it looks more like a generic backpack than a backpacking backpack.

This hiking backpack features a capacity of 28L, which should be enough to carry most of your supplies when going for a short hike. The benefit of such capacity is that it helps to ground you when it comes to packing. This way, you won’t overpack to the point that the bag is weighing you down during the hike. It is also designed with multiple pockets and compartments to ensure you have enough storage space for your gear while also helping to keep them organized.

You also get an elastic bungee system at the front while well-padded straps go a long way to keep you comfortable throughout your hiking expedition.

The straps also feature a venting system that facilitates uninterrupted airflow to keep you cool in hot hiking conditions. Finally, there is an integrated hip belt, which makes for a comfortable fit when you’re carrying the backpack. On the downside, the North Face Borealis easily allows water inside, so you don’t want to use it in rainy weather.

Pros
  • Well-padded back panel
  • Durable material
  • Multiple organisational pockets
  • Cushioned shoulder straps
  • Comfortable to carry
Cons
  • Not waterproof

Mountaintop 70L Hiking Backpack

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The ideal scenario for most hikers is to carry as much luggage as possible without adding too much weight pack, and the Mountaintop 70L Hiking Backpack does exactly this, allowing you to carry greater loads with maximum comfort.

Fortunately, the Mountaintop comes with this practical feature. Its 70L capacity enables you to carry as many items as possible without necessarily burdening you with weight.

Multiple compression straps allow for excellent support and stop the weight of the backpack from shifting when you’re trudging the trails.

Aside from the huge capacity, the Mountaintop comes with multiple compartments to allows for the organisation of your load. A 3L hydration bladder on the main compartment ensures that you won’t run of water on those long-distance hikes. Additionally, you can access the main compartment both from the top and the bottom, making it easy to remove items in the middle of the hike without messing with your packing.

An adjustable hip-belt is included to make sure that get the right fit when the bag is on your back and your comfort is guaranteed by well-padded shoulder straps.

Meanwhile, a built-in rain cover comes in handy in case of any unexpected showers to protect your gear from getting damaged. So, if you are looking to spend modestly on a hiking backpack without compromising its quality, the Mountaintop 70L fits the profile almost perfectly!

Pros
  • Good value for money
  • Large 70L capacity
  • Compression straps
  • Comfortable
  • Multiple extra features
  • Hip-belt and torso-length adjustment
Cons
  • Underwhelming stitch work

Deuter Speed Lite 20 Backpack

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The Deuter Speed Lite 20 is a unisex hiking backpack that comes with an eye-catching design. It is available in four different adventurous colours and its modes capacity makes it a suitable option for shorter and less demanding hiking escapades. It’s just the right size to carry most of what you’ll need without adding too much weight to your load.

A mixture of polyester and nylon is used for the fabric of the pack, making for durable performance down the line.

Its zippers seal greatly while multiple pockets offer safe storage for your valuables. You can stow away your wallet, smartphone, and other small items accessory for hands-free hiking.

There is also a wet pocket where you can keep soggy clothes while front and side mesh pockets will be ideal for storing water bottles. Another great feature is the reflective LED loop for enhanced visibility when hiking in low-light conditions. You will appreciate the padded back panel, which is lined with 3D Air mesh for breathability during hot weather hikes.

The Deuter Speed Lite is very comfortable to wear. Apart from being lightweight, the bag features well-padded straps to reduce the strain on your shoulders. Furthermore, there is a hip-belt to help you secure the bag for a comfortable fit.

The only thing is that it is thinner than you might prefer. Overall, this is the kind of hiking backpack to go for if you don’t want to deal with a weight burden during your adventure.

Pros
  • Sleek appearance
  • Multiple pockets
  • Ultra-lightweight
  • Comfortable to carry
  • Breathable
Cons
  • Thin hip-belt

Teton Sports Rock 1800 30L Backpack

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The Teton Sports Rock 1800 30L Backpack is a high-quality product that you can buy at an astonishingly cheap price. It offers plenty of capacity at 30L, which is the sweet spot when you want to get a balance between weight and capacity.

It is large enough to accommodate all your necessities yet remains lightweight enough to ensure your hiking adventure remains a comfortable experience.

With this bag, you can go on longer, multi-day hiking adventures without running out of supplies. It comes with a sleeping bag compartment where you can carry this useful gear for those overnight escapades. The capacity is large enough to carry all the important stuff when the hike gets longer and longer.

A special compartment on the Teton Sports you will find very useful is the hydration bladder. This should ensure that you never complain of thirst when the trail gets hot. The main compartment features a large opening that offers easy access to the contents of your backpack. Additional internal and side pockets spread across the body of the bag allows for safe storage and nice organization of all your hiking gear.

Meanwhile, a large external pocket with mesh can be used to store dirty clothes and other stuff that you don’t want in the main compartment. But that’s not all you get; the front and side compression straps help to make the bag feel lighter than it actually is. You’ll like the ergonomic shoulder straps that allow for comfort during hiking and the integrated water-repellent rain cover, which keeps your belongings from getting.

Pros
  • Large capacity
  • Hydration bladder
  • Front and side compression straps
  • Plenty of extra compartments
  • Great value for the price
  • Rain cover
  • Nice option for overnight hikes
Cons
  • Straps are a little too bulky

Loowoko 50L Hiking Backpack

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Last but not least, you will also appreciate what the Loowoko 50L hiking backpack has to offer. Despite not being a household name like Osprey or North Face, this exciting bag from Loowoko will surely interest you, especially considering the price you can get it for. The bag’s 50-liter capacity is a nice fit for those multi-day adventures where you’ll need to spend a night or two in the wild.

With a rip-stop polyester fabric taking the lion’s share of its construction, the Loowoko is a very durable bag that holds up well even after multiple cycles of use.

The fabric is also water-resistant to ensure that your belongings remain safe in case of any unexpected showers in the middle of the trail. This is reinforced with the inclusion of rain cover which prevents water molecules from getting in through the zippers.

This is not something you’ll find on many backpacks in this price range. You won’t have to worry about being weighed down by the bulk and weight of the supplies you’re carrying. This backpack is conveniently equipped with an adjustable hip-belt, as well as a chest belt, to make for a secure and comfortable fit. The shoulder straps are also ergonomically padded to reduce the impact of the load you are bearing.

As if that’s not enough, the breathable back panel will prove invaluable when the temperatures get too hot for comfort while the straps come with attachment points where you can hang your trekking poles, ice axes, and other useful equipment. Lastly, you get a series of pockets to maximize your storage needs and offer easy access to your supplies whenever you require them in the middle of the journey.

Pros
  • Water-resistant material
  • Comfortable to carry
  • Maximum storage capacity
  • Adjustable chest and hip-belt
  • Plenty of pockets
  • Very cheap
Cons
  • Weak seams

Conclusion

Don’t allow a low-quality hiking backpack to be the reason why your hiking adventure fell short of your expectations. You can find practical and high-performance models on the market, even if your budget is limited. The brands mentioned above are a great example of the best hiking backpack under $100 the market has to offer.

FAQ

Are Hiking Backpacks Necessary?

A hiking backpack is a piece of essential equipment when you find yourself in the middle of the wilderness. It is what will carry everything you’re going to need for sustenance during the adventure. This includes everything from food, tools such as camping knives, water, and sleeping gear to emergency equipment.

As such, you need to get a backpack with enough capacity to accommodate all your necessities you could possibly require. This is why you never overstate the importance of a backpack when venturing into the great outdoors for an extended period.

What Makes the Best Hiking Backpacks?

There are numerous brands on the market that provide all manner of backpacks. However, these bags are not all created equal, and you will find stark differences from one manufacturer to the other. This is where you get the variation of quality that you should pay attention to when shopping for a practical option. Generally, the best producers of hiking rucksacks include brands such as Osprey, North Face, REI, Teton, Deuter, etc.

What Should I Look for in a Hiking Backpack?

There are a couple of features that should interest you when shopping for a functional hiking backpack. That being said, your priority needs to be on factors that affect the weight of the bag, your comfort, as well as the capacity to accommodate all your hiking gear. As such, be sure to consider the size, suspension systems, ventilation, padding, storage pockets, etc.

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Backpacking_(hiking)
https://www.osprey.com/

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