I have so many backpacks it is not funny, but that would go for all my hiking gear. The cheapest budget backpack I ever bought was while I was a student, it cost around $20 and lasted only for the one month hiking trail I was going on. It was not very comfortable – but being young I was able to deal with that happily. These days I do look for a backpack that is much more comfortable, one of the reasons why I compiled this list of the best backpacking backpacks.
Hiking is the favorite activity of millions of people around the globe for a good reason. Besides allowing you to connect with nature and appreciate its sights, scents, and sounds, it also provides peace of mind by being one of the best ways to escape life’s daily pressures and get out of the city. And to make a hiking trip more enjoyable, you’ll have to systematically organize all of your hiking equipment.
|Litres||28L||45L||70L||13L||50L||60L||20 L||55 L||55 L|
|Weight||2 lbs||2.4 lbs||4.1 lbs||1.19 lbs||2.6 lbs||2.2 lbs||1 lbs||4.5 lbs||2.8 lbs|
That is precisely why it’s so important to get yourself a good backpack. As the essential piece of hiking gear, a backpack will allow you to carry all of your food, water, tools, accessories, and gadgets into the great outdoors. It’s even more important when it comes to longer hiking adventures – without it, carrying a sleeping bag or a tent in a comfortable way is next to impossible.
However, just like all other hiking products, backpacks can get quite expensive. That doesn’t mean that getting a quality model has to be a blow to your budget, though. In fact, those who’d like to get a spacious, comfortable, and supportive hiking backpack don’t have to spend hundreds upon hundreds of dollars at all.
In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at the market’s more affordable options. While not as feature-packed as their high-end cousins, these budget oriented backpacks are practical, stylish, and provide enough space for all of your essential hiking gear. Besides our short but informative reviews of 9 popular products, you’ll also find a comprehensive buying guide that will help you choose the right model. Related: best backpack with detachable daypack.
Table of Contents
- 1 The Best Budget Hiking Backpack Under $100
- 2 Best Budget-Oriented Backpacks Reviews
- 3 Best Budget Hiking Backpacks Buying Guide
- 4 Conclusion
The Best Budget Hiking Backpack Under $100
While it’s tempting to buy the first model you bump into, it’s really important that you do some research first and find a backpack that suits your particular needs. In case you don’t have time for that, you won’t make a mistake by going with our top recommendation.
Our Top Pick: Teton Sports Scout 3400
- Designed with comfort in mind
- A very spacious hiking pack – 55 liters of storage capacity
- Dedicated sleeping bag compartment
- Integrated water resistant rainfly
- Hydration bladder ready
Best Budget-Oriented Backpacks Reviews
The North Face Borealis Backpack
- Dimensions: 19.5″ x 14.5” x 8″
- Capacity: 28L
- Weight: 2.5lbs
The North Face backpacking products are a favorite of millions of hikers around the world. While not as affordable as some of the other models in our roundup, the North Face Borealis is undoubtedly one of the best North Face hiking backpacks you can get for less than $100.
Made from polyester, nylon, and Cordura nylon ripstop, Borealis is certainly a durable backpack. While it’s not water-resistant, its zippers are protected by special flap covers. In terms of style, on the other hand, Borealis doesn’t offer the sleekest design – it looks like a simple school bag.
As you can see from the specifications, the capacity of this backpack is 28 liters. As such, the Borealis is not the best choice for those who often pack a lot of hiking gear. It does, however, come with multiple pockets and compartments, as well as with an elastic bungee system on the front.
One thing we really liked about Borealis is how comfortable it wears. Its straps are made out of foam with an integrated venting system while its well-padded back panel offers superb airflow. Finally, the integrated hip belt adds versatility and can be tucked away when it’s not in use. We also compared the Borealis vs Recon.
If you need help caring for your NF pack, read my post on How to Wash a North Face Backpack.
- A myriad of organizational pockets
- Well-padded back panel
- Front bungee system
- Not waterproof
- Dimensions: 23” x 15” x 8.6”
- Capacity: 45L
- Weight: 2.4lbs
Next up is OutdoorMaster 45L, one of the most well-designed budget-oriented bags in our roundup. No matter which of the four available colors you decide to go with, you’re guaranteed to end up with a one genuinely stylish backpack.
Besides the great looks, the outside of OutdoorMaster 45L features a number of both large and small pockets, as well as several attachment points. The purpose of these attachment points is to hold items such as water bottles, sleeping bags, trekking poles, and other outdoor equipment. As expected, a water-resistant rain cover is also included, and it has its own dedicated pocket.
Related: 12 Best Backpack Rain Covers
To keep the load in place, OutdoorMaster 45L is equipped with a couple of straps. The model’s hip belt, for example, distributes some of the weight to the wearer’s waist. The main compartment of this bag is very spacious and includes a special sleeve for your 15.6″ laptop.
All in all, this multi-purpose backpack will allow you to pack all of your essentials and carry them with comfort. It has a decent capacity and it’s one of the best available options in its price category.
- Stylish, eye-catching design
- Spacious main compartment with a laptop sleeve
- Well-positioned, adjustable straps
- Not durable enough for heavy-duty use
- Dimensions: 33.5” x 13” x 10.2”
- Capacity: 70L
- Weight: 4.1lbs
While they do want to carry as many items as possible in their backpacks, hikers also strive to make their loads light. The solution to this is called a compression strap – its job is to make the load tight and stable, but also to keep the overall weight balanced.
The model we’re analyzing here has a lot of compression straps. As such, Mountaintop 70L provides its wearer with excellent support while retaining its form. Fortunately, that’s not the only good thing about this large-capacity backpack.
As one of the biggest budget-oriented hiking backpacks in our roundup, Mountaintop 70L is also very spacious. Besides the main compartment, the model also sports a smaller secondary compartment and several storage pouches. There is also a separate sleeve for your hydration bladder and two mesh side pockets.
Other features we liked are the adjustable hip belt, padded shoulder straps, as well as the built-in rain cover. All in all, this bag is one of the best large backpacks for hikers looking to save some money. It will allow you to pack a lot of gear and carry it with ease.
- Accommodates a lot of gear
- Compression straps provide ample support
- A number of additional features
- Stitching could be better
Osprey Daylite Plus
- Dimensions: 21” x 13” x 3”
- Capacity: 20L
- Weight: 1.19lbs
Here we have something completely different – a low-volume, lightweight combination of a laptop/daily bag and a regular hiking backpack. In other words, Osprey Daylite Plus can be used for both outdoor adventures and urban pursuits.
As an Osprey backpacking product, Daylite Plus is well-designed and very durable. One thing we particularly liked is that it’s available in 14 different color combinations. In addition, wearing it is very comfortable – its shoulder straps contour well for most individuals.
However, as a lightweight backpack, Daylit Plus won’t allow you to pack a lot of stuff into it. With a capacity of 20 liters, it is suitable for day hikes, but not so much for the more-demanding outdoor escapades. It does, however, come with a lot of compartments and external carrying options, including side pockets and compression straps. Check out our review of the best lightweight backpacks.
In summary, this high quality, inexpensive model is a great choice if you’re looking for something that bridges the gap between a laptop bag and a regular outdoor backpack. While you won’t be able to pack a lot of gear into Daylite Plus, you will be able to use it for shorter trips into the great outdoors.
- Sleek design – available in 14 colors
- Durable & comfortable construction
- Lots of pockets and storage options
- Too small for serious hiking
- Dimensions: 25.6” x 13.8” x 9.8”
- Capacity: 50L
- Weight: 2.6lbs
While not exactly a household name, Loowoko is one of those brands worth considering when you’re shopping for an affordable backpack. Their 50L bag is a solid choice if you need a spacious backpack for multi day trips into the great outdoors.
Made from rip-stop polyester fabric, Loowoko 50L is water-resistant. What’s more, the package includes a rain cover, so you won’t have to worry about water getting into zippers and openings. Although a simple addition, a rain cover isn’t something you’ll find on just every cheap backpack, so it’s nice that Loowoko decided to equip this model with one.
Another great thing about this affordable pack is that it’s quite comfortable to wear. This is largely due to its adjustable hip belt, chest belt, and ergonomically-padded shoulder straps. Furthermore, the model has a breathable back panel and straps with attachment points for your trekking poles and other gear.
Just like most of the other hiking backpacks on our list, Loowoko 50L also has a plethora of pockets – you’ll be able to pack all of your essentials without any trouble.
- A waterproof pack with a rain cover
- Very comfortable to wear
- A lot of internal & external carrying options
- Weak seams
- Dimensions: 29.53” x 13.78” x 9.84”
- Capacity: 60L
- Weight: 2.2lbs
Next up is yet another large-capacity pack – the Outlife 60L Hike Backpack. The materials, storage options, and the price of this model turn it into a great choice for those on a budget.
Made out of high quality nylon fabric, Outlife 60L is both durable and waterproof. There are two layers of fabric on its bottom, allowing you to carry larger loads without any worries. As expected, a rain cover is also included, and the pack is available in three colors – black, green, and red.
One particularly great thing about this pack is the fact that it comes with a number of storage options. Besides the primary compartment, it sports two side pockets, a zippered waist pocket, an internal protective pocket, a lower pocket for shoes, a front pocket, as well as a laptop compartment.
Outlife 60L is just as impressive when it comes to comfort. Its shoulder straps feature high-density air-filled padding, allowing any hiker to carry large loads over long distances without feeling any discomfort. The pack is also quite lightweight, at only 2.2 pounds.
- Plenty of pockets, pouches, and compartments
- Comfortable, high quality shoulder straps
- Lightweight, spacious, and durable
- The pack isn’t as stretchy as we’d like it to be
Deuter Speed Lite 20
- Dimensions: 18.11” x 10.23” x 7”
- Capacity: 20L
- Weight: 1.08lbs
Available in four different colors, this eye-catching, high quality pack has all the features you’ll need for a shorter outdoor adventure and you can also check the best hiking fanny pack for short hikes. While not as large as some of the other models on our list, it’s certainly a very practical bag and of the best 20L options on the market.
Made out of nylon and polyester, Deuter Speed Lite 20 is a durable model and its zippers seal incredibly well. It’s a stylish-looking pack and one you can get in light blue, dark blue, red, and black variants. In our opinion, the standard black version looks the best – it’s both sleek and minimalistic.
Even though it’s an essentials-only pack, Speed Lite 20 is equipped with the right amount of pockets. In addition to the interior pockets, the model has a couple of outside pockets and lashing options as well. These add the much-needed versatility and allow you to carry things like trekking poles and ice axes.
Deuter Speed Lite 20 is also comfortable to wear, as it comes with a well-cushioned back panel. In our opinion, the only not-so-great thing about this pack is its hip belt, which is quite a lot thinner than we expected.
- A sleek-looking, low-profile 20L pack
- Ultralight – only 1.08 pounds
- Has the right amount of pockets
- Thin hip belt
Teton Sports Scout 3400
- Dimensions: 30″ x 17″ x 12″
- Capacity: 55L
- Weight: 4.5lbs
At the price it comes at, Teton Sports Scout 3400 is undoubtedly a worthwhile investment. This large capacity backpack is a great choice if you’re looking for a large bag for as little money as possible.
As the name suggests, the storage capacity of this model is 3400 cubic inches (55 L), which turns it into a great option for longer hiking adventures. Another feature that makes this model so useful for overnight camping is its sleeping bag compartment. With the size of 14” x 8” x 8”, this compartment easily fits most sleeping bags.
Another special compartment found on Teton Sports Scout 3400 is the one for your hydration bladder. The main compartment, on the other hand, is easy to access and very spacious, and there’s also a number of internal and side pockets all over the bag. Teton Sports Scout 3400 also has a large external mesh pocket, which you can use for quick storage of your clothes and other items.
Other features we liked are the well-made side and front compression straps, ergonomic shoulder straps, integrated water resistant rain cover, as well as the internal frame that allows quick and easy back length adjustment. In summary, Scout 3400 is yet another proof that Teton Sports knows how to make a functional but inexpensive backpack.
- Large capacity – 55 liters
- Comes with a sleeping bag compartment
- Hydration bladder ready
- Somewhat bulky buckles and straps
- Dimensions: 27.1” x 12.5” x 9.8”
- Capacity: 55L
- Weight: 2.98lbs
The last affordable pack we’re going to take a look at is Wasing 55L, a multi day hiking bag coming at a price that’s pretty hard to match.
Available in dark blue, yellow, fuchsia, and green color, Wasing 55L is undoubtedly a well-designed pack, even though it’s an entry-level model. It’s a great choice if you need an inexpensive pack for occasional outdoor use. While it’s not the most suitable choice for longer tours, it can be used for those as well.
One of the first things to notice about this hiking backpack is that it comes equipped with a plethora of pockets. There are 9 pockets in total, both on the inside and outside, and all of these will allow you to pack your essential gear and more. For example, you can use one of the model’s external mesh pockets to store your water bottle. Best anti-theft backpacks possess also many hidden pockets where your valuables will be safe.
Furthermore, this pack comes with padded shoulder straps and an adjustable sternum strap. Unfortunately, Wasing 55L won’t allow you to adjust the torso length. The back of the pack consists of breathable mesh material and the model comes accompanied by a bonus rain cover.
- A genuinely affordable 55L pack
- Numerous interior and exterior pockets
- Bonus rain cover
- Torso length is not adjustable
Best Budget Hiking Backpacks Buying Guide
Choosing the right backpack ensures a flawless, smooth hiking experience. While it won’t have as many bells and whistles as its high-end cousins, a sub-$100 pack will still possess a number of practical features that can make your life easier. When shopping for a budget-oriented pack, consider the following factors:
The very first thing you’ll want to pay attention to is the capacity. In simple terms, this is the thing that determines how much gear you’ll be able to carry in your pack. Here’s a general guide to the capacity of these types of bags in relation to the duration of your outdoor adventures, these are general guidelines, however I have never used a backpack over 55 L for any multi day hike – I pack very light:
|5+ days||55+ liters|
|3-5 days||45-55 liters|
|2-3 days||30-50 liters|
|1-2 days||20-30 liters|
In our roundup of the market’s most popular sub-$100 packs, you will find models whose carrying capacity ranges from 20 to 70 liters – there’s something for everyone. And if you are into finding the best deals, here are budget sleeping bags under $100.
The weight of your affordable pack is yet another thing that should depend on how long your hikes usually are. If you hike only occasionally and never spend more than one or two days on the trail, a light model is your best choice – check out our reviews of Osprey Daylite Plus and The North Face Borealis.
Those who often engage in multi-day outdoor adventures have to go with bigger packs, and these are obviously significantly heavier. If you’re looking to buy a 50-70L model, go for the lightest option. Don’t forget that you’ll feel every extra pound once you’re out on the trail.
Quality & Materials Used
When you’re traversing miles of rough terrain in all kinds of weather conditions, you want your pack to be able to tolerate some wear and tear.
Most of the models in our roundup are made out of synthetic materials, such as polyester and nylon. This makes them durable, but only some of them are made out of high-quality waterproof materials. If the model you’re looking to purchase isn’t waterproof, make sure that it comes with a rainfly.
The next thing you’ll have to take into considerations is the number of compartments, pockets, and pouches your pack needs to have. These will allow you to store all of your hiking essentials – from your water bottle to your first-aid kit.
The more compartments a particular pack has, the easier it is to organize things in it. If you’re often carrying items such as the sleeping bag or trekking poles, you’ll want to get a model with an elastic bungee system and lashing straps.
An uncomfortable backpack can easily ruin the entire trip – it’s as simple as that. Traversing miles of rugged, uneven terrain with a heavy, off-center bag with inadequate adjustability and poor padding can be a real torture.
Make sure your future backpack has all the necessary comfort features you can think of. These include things like a meshed, breathable back panel, well-cushioned straps, and a hip belt for added stability.
While not as important, additional features can make a particular model more practical, more comfortable, and more durable.
Some of the extra features to look for include a hydration reservoir, integrated rainfly, and attachment points or straps. While affordable, sub-$100 models often sport a couple of these features, and sometimes even all of them.
The best budget backpack for under $100 backpack you can get is the one that suits your needs – our roundup includes models of varying carrying capacities.
While it’s not the best choice for ultralight backpackers, Teton Sports Scout 3400 deserves to take the title of the best budget-oriented model on the market. Not only is this affordable backpack comfortable, durable, and spacious, but also comes with convenient features such as the dedicated sleeping bag compartment or the special pouch for the hydration bladder. In other words, its craftsmanship certainly doesn’t reflect its low price.
I love hiking. From the Camino de Santiago to the West Highland Way in Scotland or simply a great day hike on the weekend. Hiking refreshes me, my mind, and keeps my body reasonably fit. So far I have walked three Camino routes and many other long distance hikes in the UK, Canada, and around the rest of Europe. One of the best was my hike up Ben Nevis.