What is the Best Hiking Backpack under $100?

There is nothing more satisfying than going for a long hike in an area of pristine natural beauty.  Enjoying the fresh air and beautiful scenery is one of the greatest pleasures in life.    It is also on of the most rewarding ways to spend time with your friends and family!

If you want to make the most of hiking trips, you should invest in some high-quality gear.  One of the best purchases you can make is a hiking backpack.  It will allow you to go on longer hikes and be more comfortable while on the trail.

This guide will share some tips on finding the perfect backpack.  We’ll also showcase five incredible hiking backpacks under $100.  They are incredible products that won’t break the bank.  Let’s get started!

Tips for choosing a hiking backpack

Consider the following aspects when you purchase a hiking backpack.

Weight is one of the most important factors to consider.  That’s because the less weight you carry, the easier your hike will be.

Many backpacks use lightweight synthetic materials that can cut down on weight significantly.  The most lightweight backpacks use Ripstop Nylon or Dyneema (ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene).  These materials are very light,  strong, and weatherproof.

Of course, it’s not all about weight.  You might find that the lighter backpacks are smaller and have less features.  They may have less pockets, less zippers, and less functionality.

The Hiking Backpack’s Materials

The material that the backpack is made from will influence how much it weighs, how durable it is, how much weight it can carry, and how good it looks.  The most common materials used to make hiking backpacks include:

  • Leather
    Leather is extremely tough, hard-wearing, and water resistant.  However, it is also expensive and heavy.  You won’t find many large backpacks made from leather these days, because of the weight factor.  However, leather is still a great material for smaller rucksacks.  Many backpacks use leather for small sections like the straps or pockets because of leather’s incredible durability.  A well-made leather backpack can last for decades and they can easily be repaired.
  • Canvas
    Canvas is very tough, looks great, and is cheap.  The downside is that it is very heavy compared to synthetic materials.  A well-made canvas backpack will last for many years, which is why it was used by the military for so long.  Canvas can be made water-repellant by adding a wax coating.    Some backpacks combine canvas with synthetic materials to improve its weather resistance.
  • Rip-Stop Nylon
    Nylon is a tough and lightweight synthetic polymer.  It is used for everything from bed sheets through to backpacks.  Hiking backpacks made from nylon are usually very cheap, very durable, and lightweight.  Rip-Stop Nylon is a very heavy duty form of nylon, with heavy threads sewn into the material.  These threads stop a tear in the fabric from spreading any further.  It is often used to make backpacks because it can tolerate a lot more weight.
  • Polyester
    Polyester is another common synthetic material often used to make backpacks.  It is extremely cheap, light and affordable.
  • Dyneema
    This is made from a thermoplastic material called ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE for short).  It is non-toxic, odorless, very lightweight, and incredibly strong.  Many high-quality backpacks have begun using this material.  It is lighter and stronger than other synthetic materials.  Dyneema is also slightly more water-resistant than rip-stop nylon or polyester.  The downside is that Dyneema is usually more expensive than those other materials.

Backpack design

Modern hiking backpacks usually have very clever designs and are packed with features.  When looking at a backpack’s design, keep the following in mind:

  • Does it have external easy-access pockets? 
    These kinds of pockets can be useful for storing items you frequently need to access like snacks and your phone.
  • Is the interior organized?
    If you will be carry lots of smaller items, you may require some internal pockets to keep it all organized.
  • Are your possessions protected?
    You may require padded internal sections if you take your laptop or tablet with you when you are hiking.  Are there fully waterproof sections in the backpack?
  • Do you have water bottle holsters or a bladder compartment?
    External water bottle holsters can come in very handy on long hikes.  Most backpacks will have them, but you should check they will hold the water bottle you like to use.  Some hiking backpacks will come with a compartment for your water bladder, which really helps you remain hydrated while hiking.
  • Does it have hooks for trekking pole or ice axes?
    Many hiking backpacks will have external hooks to hold other accessories.

Length
Humans come in many different sizes!  Short, tall, wide, thin and everywhere in-between.  When looking at backpacks, think about how well it will fit someone with your physical attributes.  If you have a short torso, don’t get a backpack with a very long frame as you may find it bounces off your buttocks.  Conversely, if you are tall, avoid short backpacks as they may put pressure on the middle of your back.

Fortunately, its simple to find a hiking backpack that is the right length.  Start by measuring between the base of your neck and the top of your hip bones with a tape measure.  You may find it easier to have a friend perform the measurement for you.  Your ideal backpack will be the same length as your back measurement.  Some backpacks have adjustable frames, which you can shorten or lengthen to match your physical attributes.

Durability 

Most modern hiking backpacks are made from a synthetic material like rip-stop nylon, polyester, or Dyneema.  These materials are generally quite tough and should last for many years.  The same goes for leather and canvas backpacks.  They are hardy materials that usually have excellent durability.

The most common reason why hiking backpacks are discarded is because the stitching falls apart or the zippers no longer function correctly.  Look for backpacks with high quality zippers and reinforced stitching on areas like the shoulder straps.

Capacity
The capacity of the hiking backpack should be another key consideration.  You should think about the kinds of hikes that you often take and the items that you would like to take with you.  If you only take day trips or pack light, you might only need a 20 or 30 liter backpack.  If you like to go on multi-day hikes or you like to pack a lot of provisions, you might require a 50 or 60 liter backpack.  Some people purchase two backpacks and simply switch to the one they need for each trip.

Frame design

Larger backpacks and backpacks designed to haul heavier items will often come with a frame.  It is designed to help distribute the weight of the backpack over your back — making it easier to carry the load and reducing the risk of injuries.  Most backpack frames are made from a lightweight metal like aluminum or alloy.  The design, materials and build quality of the frame will vary between manufacturers, so keep this factor in mind when choosing a product.

Ideally, the frame length and width will match your proportions.  You can measure the length of your back (see above) to check the length. In general terms, a small backpacks will fit people with an 18” torso, medium/regular backpacks will fit people with 18” to 20” torsos, and large backpacks will fit people with torsos above 20” in length.

The majority of the backpack’s weight should be resting on your hips.  If you have very narrow or wide hips, you may require an adjustable backpack hip belt.

Environmental  concerns
Many keen hikers are also environmentalists.  If you are interested in preserving the planet’s natural environment so future generations can enjoy it, look for a backpack that is produced in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way.

The five best hiking backpacks under $100

Here are five of the best hiking backpacks under $100.  They all offer excellent value-for-money and are guaranteed too make hiking trips more fun.

  • TETON Sports Scout 3400 Internal Frame Backpack
  • Rating: 4.5/5
  • Weight: 4.5 pounds
  • Fabric: Rip Stop Nylon
  • Capacity: 55 liters
  • Features: Lumbar support, sturdy zippers, drawstring closure, padded shoulder straps, integrated rainfly
  • Price: $$
  • Mountaintop 65L Internal Frame Backpack
  • Rating: 4.3/5
  • Weight: 4.3 pounds
  • Fabric: Nylon
  • Capacity: 65 liters
  • Features: Rain jacket, hiking pole holder, water bottle holders, back length adjuster
  • Price: $$
  • Suretex Hiking Camping Outdoor Backpack 50Liter/60Liter
  • Rating: 4.8/5
  • Weight: 3.3 pounds
  • Fabric: Water resistant Nylon polyester
  • Capacity: 50/55 liters
  • Features: Multiple internal pockets, detachable back carrying system, water resistant
  • Price: $$
  • TERRA PEAK Adjustable Hiking Backpack
  • Rating: 4.6/5
  • Weight: 3.95 pounds
  • Fabric: Rip Stop Nylon
  • Capacity: 65 liters
  • Features: Adjustable back length, thick padding, multiple compartments, reinforced stress points
  • Price: $$$
  • Loowoko Hiking Backpack
  • Rating: 4.5/5
  • Weight: 2.5 pounds
  • Fabric: High quality tear Polyester and nylon fabric
  • Capacity: 50 liters
  • Features: Rain cover, water-resistant, exterior elastic pockets, attachment straps for hiking poles, two water bottle pockets
  • Price: $

TETON Sports Scout 3400 Internal Frame Backpack

teton-sports-scout-3400-internal-frame-backpackIf you are looking for an affordable hiking backpack with excellent features, look no further than the TETON Sports Scout.  Made from run stop fabric, this is a highly durable backpack that is perfect for keen hikers.  Some of its features include foam lumbar support, multi-position torso adjustment to fit many body types, and padded shoulder straps.

It is a 55 liter backpack, which makes it ideal for 1 to 4 day adventures.  It is reasonably lightweight for a pack of this size, coming in at 4.5 pounds (2 kg).  Other features include a large sleeping bag compartment, compression straps, and multiple pockets (internal and external).  A great choice for hikers looking for a backpack that offers excellent value-for-money.

Mountaintop 65L Internal Frame Backpack

mountaintop-65l-internal-frame-backpackMountaintop makes a wide range of hiking backpacks and camping equipment.  This 65 liter backpack is one of their best products.  It is made from a very tough and water-resistant nylon fabric.  The zippers and buckles are YKK brand and built to last.

Some of the many features included with this backpack are a hiking pole holder, easy-access external pockets, tool holder, rain cover, and a sleeping mat holder.  It has many easy-access pockets for small devices, like your mobile phone, GPS or camera.  It is a feature-packed backpack big enough for longer 4 or 5-day trips.

Suretex Hiking Camping Outdoor Backpack 50Liter/60Liter

suretex-hiking-camping-outdoor-backpack-50liter-60literThis Suretex hiking backpack is made from a very durable, water resistant nylon.  It has a clever design, with many pockets, loops, and dividers.  These features make it easier to organize your provisions and equipment.

One of its best features is the two separators in the main compartment.  These separators make it simple to find the piece of clothing or camping equipment you are looking for.  The exterior of this backpack also has zippered pockets to hold items you frequently use, like your phone or map.

It is a very comfortable backpack, thanks to the thick padded shoulder straps and its advanced suspension system.  This suspension system incorporates a metal frame and ventilation to keep you cool.  It is really effective at reducing back strain and makes it easy to carry a fully loaded backpack.  This Suretex backpack also comes with a 3 month limited warranty for free repairs.

TERRA PEAK Adjustable Hiking Backpack

terra-peak-adjustable-hiking-backpackTERRA PEAK has a developed a reputation for making very durable outdoor gear that lasts for years.  This adjustable hiking backpack is one of their most popular products.  It is made from a water and tear-resistant nylon material that provides long-lasting performance.  The stress points of the backpack are reinforced, which helps to ensure the shoulder straps and other high-use areas don’t rip.  It is a 65 liter backpack with plenty of room for clothing, provisions, and electronic gadgets.  Despite being a large pack, it is quite lightweight.

TERRA PEAK is an experienced company and understand the design elements that should be incorporated into a hiking backpack.  This backpack has many excellent features including several pockets for storage and organization, including front zipper pockets, expandable side pockets, a zip pocket on the waist belt, and two elastic pockets for water bottles.  It comes with a generous 2-year warranty.

Loowoko Hiking Backpack

loowoko-hiking-backpackThis 50 liter Loowoko backpack is perfect for the budget conscious hiker.  Despite being the most affordable of the backpacks reviewed here, it is still well made and packed full of features.

It has a large central compartment, sleeping bag compartment, side mesh pockets, and two zippered pockets for storing your gear.  It is made from a tear-resistant polyester and nylon fabric that is anti-scratch and water-resistant.  It also comes with a waterproof rain cover.

The breathable mesh should straps have plenty of padding, which helps to make it comfortable to wear.  It also as elastic back support.  This is a great choice for hikers who want a budget backpack that is still well made.

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