Your backpacking pack is without doubt one of the most essential parts of your backpacking setup. Your type of pack goes hand in hand together with your type of climbing. They should complement one another, no matter whether or not you’re a luxurious camper or an ultralight quick packer. The very best backpacks for thru-hiking are those that match your particular desires and desires.

We based mostly our 2024 listing of the most effective thru-hiking backpacks on suggestions from Trek writers, our gear testing crew, our annual Appalachian Path thru-hiker survey, and an intensive comparability of worth, weight, options, sturdiness, and supposed use.

That stated, there’s no one-size-fits-all. There are lots of kinds of backpackers, and lots of kinds of packs. Keep in mind that gear traits come and go, and in the end it’s as much as you to determine what works greatest in your packing type and supposed use. Did we omit your favourite? Be at liberty to yell at us within the feedback. We’re at all times open to testing new gear.

A be aware on pack quantity: the place accessible, we broke the pack capability down into the quantity of the primary compartment + quantity of exterior pockets. This wasn’t potential in all circumstances as some producers (taking a look at you, Osprey and Granite Gear) solely report the general quantity.

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Greatest Backpacks for Via-Mountain climbing of 2024

Gossamer Gear Mariposa (AT Via-Hikers’ Favourite Pack)

Greatest thru-hiking backpacks: Gossamer Gear Mariposa.

MSRP: $285
Weight: 31.2 ounces
Capability: 36 + 24 liters
Most load capability: As much as 35 kilos

Why We Love This Pack

Since we began gathering the info, 2023 was the primary time that the Osprey Exos/Eja was not the most well-liked pack amongst AT Via-hikers. As an alternative, that title goes to the ever-popular Gossamer Gear Mariposa. There are lighter 60-liter packs in the marketplace, however none that carry a full load, simply swallowing even the bulkiest of bear canisters, as comfortably as Gossamer Gear’s Mariposa.

For thru-hikers who need the supportive, well-ventilated consolation of a fully-featured pack, solely with out all of the pointless bells and whistles (and weight), look no additional than this fan favourite. The Mariposa appears to do the whole lot properly, managing to strike a fragile steadiness between streamlined simplicity and splendid consolation. A feature-rich, high quality pack at a good worth.


  • Hip belt: Belt with added stiffener and keep integration for superior load switch and luxury.
  • Facet pockets: Two massive facet mesh bottle pockets are accessible whereas carrying the pack.

  • Customization: Three hip belt dimension choices for a extra customized match.

  • Breathability: Airmesh cloth on shoulder straps and hip belt for much less friction, extra cushion, and extra consolation.

  • Attachments and extras: Trekking pole {hardware} for storing them exterior the pack, plus a lash loop for an ice axe, a sit pad that doubles as additional again cushioning, and a detachable keep.

No one’s Good

Gossamer Gear now sends all their packs with a medium hip belt put in, as this dimension suits most clients. If you wish to dimension up or down, you’ll must buy a separate hip belt after which return the medium model to the corporate for a refund. Not an enormous deal, simply know that the method can be slightly clunky when you want a small or a big.

Extra packs like this: ULA Circuit, Hyperlite Mountain Gear Windrider, Gossamer Gear Gorilla

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ULA Circuit (PCT Via-Hikers’ Favourite Pack)

Greatest thru-hiking backpacks: ULA Circuit.

MSRP: $280
Weight: 37 ounces
Capability: 39 + 29 liters
Most load capability: As much as 35 kilos

Why We Love This Pack

The ULA Circuit has been the highest-rated pack in response to Midway Wherever’s annual PCT thru-hiker survey for 4 years working, and for good purpose. Whereas it won’t be the lightest pack on the listing, it makes up for this in consolation, carrying capability, and sturdiness. The pack has a superb carrying capability, coming in at 68 liters (inside + exterior) and a max load of 35 kilos, making it one of many roomiest packs you may get — excellent for longer carries or dry stretches frequent on the PCT or CDT.

An aluminum keep, carbon fiber loop, and dense foam panel kind a inflexible body that molds to your again over time. This makes the pack extremely snug, preserving weight steady and as near your again as potential. The circuit is constituted of 400D Robic Material, ULA’s cloth of selection as a consequence of its toughness per ounce. ULA’s well-known buyer help additionally implies that when you’ve given your pack an intensive beating via a thru-hike, you possibly can ship the pack again for a free tune-up to get it again to full well being.

There may be additionally an Extremely model of the Circuit accessible, which cuts a number of ounces and offers added weatherproofing advantages of this superior cloth.


  • Roll-top closure and compression straps: The roll-top closure, paired with the highest and facet compression straps, provides this bag flexibility based mostly on the quantity of your bag. This enables for giant carries out of city, however a extra comfortable pack when returning to civilization.
  • Twin hip belt pockets: The big hip belt pockets are large enough for the most important of telephones and the hungriest of snackers.
  • Massive facet pockets: The facet pockets are large enough to hold two SmartWater bottles every, may be cinched down with the built-in drawstrings, and are positioned properly for simple attain when climbing.
  • Massive mesh entrance pocket: The elastic entrance pocket and drawcords permit for simple entry to rain gear or storage of cumbersome gadgets.
  • Padded contoured shoulder straps and again: The padded again panel and shoulder straps are very snug, if not slightly sweaty.
  • Hydration bladder, hand loops, stash pocket: The pack comes with a number of additional options that may be eliminated to avoid wasting about three ounces (85 grams) of weight.

No one’s Good

This pack isn’t the most effective in moist situations as the material soaks by and will get heavy, along with the necessity to carry a bag liner/trash compactor bag (do not forget that Extremely model?). The again panel and shoulder straps can get very sweaty and are grime magnets so be certain that to place the pack down on its entrance/backside.

Extra packs like this: ULA CDT, ULA OHM 2.0, Mountainsmith Zerk 40

READ NEXT — ULA Circuit Backpack Evaluate

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Osprey Exos (Males’s) | Osprey Eja (Girls’s) (Greatest Midweight Pack)

Greatest thru-hiking backpacks: Osprey Exos/Eja.

MSRP: $240
44 – 46 ounces
Capability: 48 liters (38L, and 58L variations accessible)
Most load capability: As much as 35 kilos

Why We Love This Pack

Osprey has redesigned this widespread pack a number of occasions through the years with extra sturdy face cloth, updating the mesh entrance pocket, and eventually reintroducing hip belt pockets after their inexplicable elimination. All through all of it, this pack has remained a perennial favourite amongst thru-hikers (the Exos and Eja mixed had been ranked as the most well-liked pack on the AT from 2015-2022, since we began monitoring this stuff with our AT hiker survey). It’s an excellent middle-of-the-road mannequin, placing a pleasant steadiness between luxe and light-weight, constructed with lighter supplies and a few pared-down options.

Sturdiness has elevated through the years with the aforementioned materials updates, and the Exos’s trampoline-stye suspension is famously snug. The ventilated mesh system retains your again cool whereas holding the pack tight in opposition to your physique. The Exos additionally is available in a 38 and 58L selection, and the ladies’s model may be discovered right here. Although the Eja was launched a number of seasons in the past, the Exos has labored properly as a unisex pack since its preliminary launch.


  • Detachable prime lid: The “mind” is a luxurious we don’t usually get with the lighter weight packs. This model has two zippered pockets. It may be eliminated to avoid wasting weight, and hikers can as an alternative make the most of the flap beneath for defense excessive of the pack.
  • AirSpeed suspension: Osprey’s proprietary suspension system is comprised of tensioned mesh with beneficiant area for airflow in each path.
  • Adjustable hip belt: Osprey’s replace to this pack got here with an adjustable hip belt, good for hikers dropping severe kilos on a thru-hike.

No one’s Good

We’re stoked that the hip belt pockets are again, however a few of us are nonetheless questioning the place the shoulder pockets went. Moreover, the up to date materials on the facet pockets may be tight and difficult to get water bottles out and in of whereas transferring.

Extra packs like this: REI Flash 55, Osprey Eja, Gregory Maven

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Osprey Aura AG 65 (Girls’s) | Atmos AG 65 (Males’s) (Greatest Absolutely-Featured)

Greatest thru-hiking backpacks: Osprey Aura/Atmos.

MSRP: $340
71-74 ounces
65 liters
Most load capability: As much as 40 kilos

Why We Love This Pack

The development is lighter weight, less complicated packs, and annually, extra new thru-hikers lean in that path. Nevertheless, for backpackers on the lookout for extra consolation with heavier hundreds, padding, and group choices, it is a nice choice and continues to be the most effective and hottest fully-featured backpacking packs on long-distance trails.

Osprey’s basic suspension system comes into play for greater hundreds, and the ultra-padded hip belt and shoulder straps mould to your physique for added consolation. The Aura is available in 65 and 50-liter choices. The Atmos is the boys’s model of this pack, which additionally is available in 65 and 50-liter choices.


  • Entrance opening: The entrance opens vertically for simple entry to the primary compartment.
  • Pockets on pockets on pockets: A pack that weighs 4.5 kilos comes flush with pockets and organizational choices.
  • Prime lid: Two zippered pockets are perfect for stashing quick-access snacks and small gadgets.
  • Anti-Gravity suspension: The mom of all consolation for heavier packs.

No one’s Good

This pack weighs 4.5 kilos empty, which is double that of the most well-liked ultralight packs. That’s the primary factor working in opposition to it, however it is sensible contemplating the sturdy supplies and feature-rich design. If you need a light-weight provider, then this isn’t the pack for you.

Extra packs like this: Gregory Deva, Gregory Baltoro, Osprey Aether, Osprey Ariel

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Mountain Laurel Designs Prophet 48 (Greatest Frameless)

Greatest thru-hiking backpacks: Mountain Laurel Designs Prophet.

MSRP: $245 – $325
Weight: 17 ounces
Capability: 32 + 16 liters
Most load capability: As much as 25 kilos

Why We Love This Pack

Mountain Laurel Designs has gained regular recognition on long-distance trails over the previous few years. Simply make certain you’re able to decide to a UL, frameless pack earlier than taking the dive.

The hip belt supplies ample cushion for a pack of this weight, and the beneficiant pockets permit for exterior group. The pack can maintain a normal bear canister and has a roll-top closure with a Y-strap to safe gear on prime of the pack. It sits near your again for stability.

The pack is unisex, however the curved shoulder straps match comfortably on most women and men. There are sufficient sizing choices that discovering the appropriate match isn’t a difficulty. You may as well dimension as much as the Exodus or all the way down to the Burn when you actually wish to dial the match. The Prophet is on the market in each Extremely X and bolstered 200D coated nylon ripstop, with added reinforcement on high-abrasion areas.


  • Facet pockets: Pockets are deep and may maintain water bottles in addition to bladders.
  • Padded shoulder straps: For a UL pack, the Prophet has some critically snug shoulder straps. Straps are three inches huge, made from SuperWick mesh lined with foam padding. “Love them, better of all my packs,” stated gear reviewer Alexander “GPS” Brown of the shoulder straps.
  • Roll-top closure: A Y-strap cinches down excessive of the closure, compressing the load because it decreases between resupplies
  • Hybrid design on exterior pockets: The basic massive entrance and facet pockets are sturdy ripstop with mesh corners for draining.

No one’s Good

We’ve famous this, however this pack is for ultralight hikers. Heavier pack hundreds received’t really feel as supported. There’s a studying curve in relation to frameless packs, so you have to be an skilled backpacker (and/or prepared to place in effort and time to discover ways to use the Prophet) when you select this pack.

Extra packs like this: Pa’lante Packs V2, Mountain Laurel Designs Burn, ULA CDT

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Durston Gear Kakwa 40 (Most Succesful Ultralight Pack / Greatest Worth)

Greatest thru-hiking backpacks: Durston Gear Kaka 40.

MSRP: $250
Weight: 27.3 ounces
Capability: 40 + 15 liters
Most load capability: 45 kilos

Why We Love This Pack

The Kakwa may simply be probably the most feature-rich ultralight pack accessible. Each sew, pocket, and buckle has been fastidiously thought-about by designer, Dan Durston, to contribute to his imaginative and prescient of a backpack that makes few sacrifices. The consequence? An extremely sturdy pack that may comfortably haul heavier-than-average hundreds and comes geared up with useful options corresponding to shoulder pockets. Oh yeah, and it additionally weighs lower than two kilos and is without doubt one of the cheaper picks on this listing, therefore the extra “Greatest Worth” award

Critically, when you’re on the lookout for an ultralight pack however aren’t prepared to surrender your load capability by going frameless, then the Kakwa ought to be a severe consideration. Its versatility makes it a reliable selection for going quick and light-weight on the AT, or for hauling large water hundreds on the CDT.

And don’t be postpone by the minimal 40-liter capability. In the event you want extra space, the Kakwa can also be accessible in a 55-liter model. This is similar reasonably priced, premium pack, simply with extra space.


  • EPL 200 Extremely cloth: Colloquially often known as Extremely 200, this 200-denier woven laminate is the following great point in ultralight materials since Dyneema Composite Material (DCF/DCH). Extremely makes use of the identical Dyneema unicorn hairs that make DCF tremendous sturdy for the burden, weaving them with polyester for extra puncture and abrasion resistance.
  • U body:  Constructed from a single aluminum tube bent right into a form that sort of resembles an inverted U, the Kakwa body is the invisible hero of this pack. The horizontal crossbar supplies one other dimension of stiffness that’s usually missing in ultralight backpacks, and permits the Kakwa to hold heavy hundreds extra comfortably and resist barreling.
  • QuickPocket: A vertical zippered pocket built-in into the left facet pocket presents safe storage for gadgets that could be too massive for the hip belt pockets. Suppose paper maps, gloves, beanie, snacks, or a big mobile phone.
  • Shoulder strap pockets: Every shoulder strap rocks a stretchy, cinch-top pocket. But an alternative choice for preserving necessities and snacks inside attain.
  • Load lifters: Adjustable straps join the highest of every shoulder strap with the pack’s body. Usually absent in ultralight packs, these little wonders assist switch weight off of the shoulders when the load will get heavy and can assist dial in how snuggly the pack contacts one’s again.

No one’s Good

There’s not loads to nitpick in regards to the Kakwa, however hikers who love a cavernously stretchy outer mesh pocket may discover the no-stretch Kakwa mesh (chosen for sturdiness) slightly proscribing. And name us grasping, however extra colour choices wouldn’t be a nasty factor in our opinion, simply sayin’.

READ NEXT — Durston Kakwa 40 Backpack Evaluate

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Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest 40 (Most Rugged Ultralight / Easiest Pack)

Greatest thru-hiking backpacks: Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest.

MSRP: $349-$369
Weight: 30 or 32.4 ounces
Capability: 40 + 10 liters
Most load capability: 40 kilos

Why We Love This Pack

Hyperlite Mountain Gear has perfected the artwork of the no-frills, ultralight, rugged backpack. Primarily based on the miracle cloth often known as Dyneema Composite Hybrid (DCH), HMG harnesses the minimalist ethos with a pack that’s basically a big tube accompanied by a number of additional pockets. The result’s a light-weight pack that, by simplicity and clever materials selections, can deal with nearly the whole lot.

The DCH is just not solely prepared for bushwacks and rocky scrambles, however it is usually absolutely waterproof when new. Mixed with the roll-top closure, this tandem leads to a pack that’s at residence in soggy situations and desert grit.

However don’t let the simplicity and low weight idiot you. HMG’s packs are additionally succesful load haulers. They’re additionally accessible in a number of completely different variations and capacities to go well with completely different environments. The Southwest, with its stable cloth outer pockets, is on the market in  40-, 55-, and 70-liter variations. So are the HMG Windrider and Junction, that are based mostly on the identical normal design, however use completely different outer pocket materials.


  • DCH materials: Tremendous sturdy and tremendous light-weight, DCH can also be waterproof and sturdy, making it a fantastic pack materials. Woven polyester face cloth improves puncture and abrasion resistance over DCF, so this pack is able to be tossed round. HMG presents the Southwest in two DCH choices, white DCH50 and black DCH150, which is heavier responsibility.
  • Strong exterior pockets: Probably the most sturdy of HMG’s pocket supplies, hardline is made with Dyneema fibers to resist abrasion from grit and rocks. It is usually a stable cloth, so it’s much less prone to get caught on branches throughout bushwacks.
  • 2 aluminum stays: This easy design is light-weight but efficient. Two vertical stays assist switch weight to the hip belt, topping out at 40 kilos. They’re additionally simply detachable for lighter journeys.
  • Roll-top closure: This easy closure system is nice for lots of causes, together with simplicity and weather-proofness. Like a drybag, it’s good at preserving stuff out and likewise retains the pack tidy as pack quantity fluctuates trip-to-trip, section-to-section.

No one’s Good

Dyneema has at all times demanded a premium worth, and HMG’s packs have at all times been a few of the costliest UL choices accessible, particularly contemplating that different packs embody different coveted options like shoulder pockets. Funds-conscious hikers may wish to search for a distinct cloth, which implies no HMG. And talking of options, HMG packs are noticeably devoid of bells and whistles (okay, they do embody a whistle). For backpackers who like lots of pockets and storage choices, these should not the packs for you.

Extra packs like this: HMG Unbound, HMG Windrider, Durston Kakwa

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ZPacks Arc Haul Extremely (Greatest Ultralight Suspension System)

Greatest thru-hiking backpacks: Zpacks Arc Haul Extremely.

MSRP: $399
Weight: 21.4 ounces
Capability: 47 + 13 liters
Most load capability: 40 kilos

Why We Love This Pack

Zpacks changed the outdated gridstop Arc Haul with the extra sturdy, barely lighter Arc Haul Extremely in 2022. Ultralight stays present steady weight switch from shoulders to hips, whereas the Lycra again panel retains the pack suspended off your again for airflow — a lot wanted throughout scorching or humid hikes.

The pack doesn’t have hip belt pockets (boo!) however may be personalized with optionally available add-ons like a hip belt pouch or fanny pack. The detachable hip belt is dual-adjustable, and the torso size may be dialed in too. Like all good UL packs, the Arc Haul Extremely contains a stretchy mesh again pocket for stashing moist or quick-access gear.

Zpacks’ suspension system continues to impress. The Arc Haul Extremely carries weight extraordinarily properly for one thing so gentle: 40 kilos of carrying capability in a scant 22-ounce package deal is tough to argue with. One in all our contributors identified {that a} pack with 60 liters’ and 40 kilos’ capability isn’t essentially within the “ultralight” spirit, however we couldn’t match “Greatest Pack for Non-Minimalists Who Like a Few Luxuries and/or Want a Bear Can however Nonetheless Need a Sub-Two-Pound Pack” on one line.


  • Absorbent, padded straps: The multilayer mesh on the shoulder straps and hip belt are soft and take up sweat whereas serving to preserve you cool.
  • Roll-top closure and seam-sealing: This bag is very water resistant, with taped seams and a water-proof coating on the within of the fabric. The roll-top closure helps you to shrink your pack as your load lightens between resupplies.
  • Suits all normal bear canisters: The Arc Haul Extremely will match all normal bear canisters, so long as you stand it on its finish within the higher half of the pack. This consists of the BV500, which didn’t slot in earlier variations of the Arc Haul.
  • Angled facet pockets: Sturdy facet pockets match a number of liters of water and are angled that can assist you seize bottles on the go.

No one’s Good

We like hip belt pockets, and also you’ll have to purchase these individually with the Arc Haul Extremely (which is already fairly dang costly to start with). Greater than different manufacturers, Zpacks will get knocked for an absence of sturdiness, with repairs on the suspension being an often-reported concern.

Extra packs like this: Zpacks Arc Blast

READ NEXT — Zpacks Arc Haul Extremely Evaluate

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Granite Gear Blaze 60 (Girls’s | Males’s) (Lightest Absolutely-Featured Pack)

Greatest thru-hiking backpacks: Granite Gear Blaze 60.

MSRP: $300
Weight: 3 kilos
Capability: 60 liters
Most load capability: 50 kilos

Why We Love This Pack

Not everybody must be ultralight, however an overbuilt four- or five-pound pack continues to be a troublesome tablet to swallow for a lot of thru-hikers. That’s the place the Granite Gear Blaze is available in. It’s acquired all of the bells and whistles of a fully-featured pack — corresponding to a detachable mind, facet zipper entry to the primary compartment, a hydration pocket, and (importantly) beneficiant padding.

The pack can comfortably deal with hundreds as much as 50 kilos whereas solely weighing a scant three kilos. The one characteristic lots of its opponents boast that the Blaze lacks is a backside sleeping bag compartment.

The hip belt can be worn individually with the detachable mind clipped to it like a fanny pack for stylin’ snack-and-wallet storage on day hikes and nil days. I’m tickled by the idea, although I haven’t had the chance to attempt it myself.

I really like the flexibility and easy design of this pack. There are many spacious exterior pockets and straps that enable you maximize group and storage capability. The hip belt and torso size are each eminently adjustable so you possibly can fine-tune the match, whereas the mind may be eliminated altogether or reconfigured to be carried in quite a lot of alternative ways.

In the event you just like the appears of the Blaze however blanch on the three-pound weight penalty, try its pared-down cousin, the Granite Gear Crown3, a two-ish pound pack that’s widespread amongst thru-hikers.

READ NEXT — Granite Gear Blaze 60 Evaluate


  • Re-Match hip belt: Along with the standard webbing straps that may be tightened and loosened as wanted, Granite Gear hip belts have a velcro element within the heart that may solely be accessed by eradicating the belt from the pack, which permits even finer changes.
  • Detachable mind: Weighs about three ounces and may be faraway from the pack altogether. You may as well clip the mind to the pack’s sternum strap and put on it as an easy-access chest pocket, or you possibly can take away the hip belt from the pack, clip the mind to that, and voila! You’ve acquired your self a capacious makeshift fanny pack for day hikes and journeys round city on zero days.
  • Zipper entry to principal compartment: Provides weight to the general design however supplies quick access to gear with out a full-scale pack explosion.

No one’s Good

The froth suspension system doesn’t present a ton of air flow and may result in severe again sweat. Additionally, the straps on the skin of the pack (which I typically love) are extraordinarily lengthy and typically whip me within the face in excessive winds, which isn’t nice. I lastly trimmed those on the shoulder and sternum straps to forestall this from taking place once more.

Lastly, it weighs three kilos. That’s not loads contemplating what you’re getting, however many long-distance hikers received’t want the options or load-hauling capability of this pack and should wish to take a look at a lighter mannequin.

Extra packs like this: Granite Gear Crown3, Osprey Aura, Gregory Paragon

—Kelly Floro

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Gossamer Gear G4-20 (Greatest Funds Ultralight Pack)

Greatest thru-hiking backpacks: Gossamer Gear G4-20.

MSRP: $195
Weight: 24.7 ounces
Capability: 30 + 12 liters
Most load capability: 30 kilos

Why We Love This Pack

Gossamer Gear’s G4-20 cuts out the burden of a body whereas remaining snug with a great deal of as much as 30 kilos. The froth again panel doubles as a detachable sit pad and does a surprisingly good job of transferring hundreds to the hips by way of a soft hip belt. In the meantime, Gossamer Gear’s basic, huge, thickly cushioned shoulder straps additionally do a fantastic job of distributing what burden is left for the shoulders.

It’s the straightforward, minimalist design that makes it an superior pack — no lids or sleeping bag pockets on this factor. The roll-top closure and facet compression wire preserve it smooth as meals shops dwindle, and the mixture of a rear mesh stuff pocket and two exterior facet pockets present ample storage for quick-access gadgets. One exception to the minimalist ethos is the zippered pocket above the rear mesh that’s excellent for securing essential gadgets like a headlamp, pockets, or keys. There are lighter packs on the market, however the G4-20 strikes the appropriate steadiness of consolation, options, and low weight.


  • Frameless: The froth again panel / sit pad does an honest job of transferring hundreds to the hips, however extra weight ought to be prevented. Gossamer Gear charges the G4-20 match to hold 30 kilos most, or 25 kilos for consolation.
  • Roll-top: That is nice for compressing cumbersome gear or shrinking the pack as meals is consumed.
  • Zipper pocket: This exterior pocket supplies safe storage for essential, on-hand gadgets. In the event you’re nervous about ditching a pack lid, it is a nice compromise.
  • Asymmetrical facet pockets: One facet is taller, one is shorter. Each maintain two Smartwater bottles securely whereas sustaining pack-on entry.
  • Detachable sit pad: The froth again panel can also be a sit pad that retains your butt cozy throughout breaks. Gossamer Gear presents different variations, or you may make your individual.
  • Sizing: The G4-20 is available in three, non-adjustable torso lengths with a hard and fast hip belt.

No one’s Good

The one probably main concern entails the hip belt, which is mounted and can’t be exchanged for a distinct dimension. A hiker’s torso size is a poor predictor of their waist measurement, and the G4-20 hip belt sizing excludes skinny hikers with a medium or lengthy torso. On a thru-hike, a 30-inch minimal waist for a medium pack (32-inch minimal in dimension massive) won’t be tight sufficient to account for weight reduction. There are creative methods so as to add padding to get round this, however beginning with a smaller hip belt is the greatest choice.

It is usually essential to notice that the consolation of the G4-20, and frameless packs generally, is very depending on not simply how a lot is being carried, but in addition how it’s packed. A bit apply is required to seek out probably the most snug configuration.

— Owen Eigenbrot

Extra packs like this: Six Moon Designs Swift X, Gossamer Gear Kumo

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LiteAF 40L Curve Full Suspension (Greatest Customized Pack)

Greatest thru-hiking backpacks: LiteAF 40L Curve.

MSRP: $345+
Weight: 25 – 34 ounces
40 + 15 liters
Most load capability: As much as 35 kilos

*These specs are for the inventory 40L Curve. One in all LiteAF’s major promoting factors is that each one packs may be personalized (together with your selection of 21 distinctive Extremely colours/patterns) and all are made to order.

Why We Love This Pack

LiteAF has gone all-in on Extremely cloth, DCF’s extra abrasion-resistant ultralight successor. The Curve 40L is now solely constituted of Extremely 200 or Extremely X 200. It was up to date for 2023 with taller facet pockets, easy-to-adjust webbing, new adjustable shoulder strap pockets, and Extremely Stretch higher facet pockets. Extremely Stretch now comes normal with all Curve packs.

The pack retains its basic five-point facet compression, S-curve shoulder straps, beneficiant padding, and a broad collection of funky colours. The 40L principal pocket has loads of capability, however must you want extra storage, the packs’ ample pockets, shock wire, and trekking pole loops accommodate as much as 15L of additional stuff.

Jeff Garmire used the Curve (again when it was nonetheless a Dyneema pack) to hike the John Muir Path and the Lengthy Path. “Regardless of experiencing inclement climate on each thru-hikes, I by no means had a difficulty with the contents of the pack getting moist. After over 2,000 miles, the pack continues to be watertight,” he reported on the time.


  • Detachable body: The pack may be transformed from an inside body to a frameless type by eradicating two curved aluminum help stays (5 oz.)
  • Again foam panel: Quarter-inch closed-cell foam is integrated into the again of the pack to supply extra consolation, particularly when packing a bear canister. The again panel help is just not detachable.
  • Adjustable hip belt: 4-inch-wide hip belt with the identical quarter-inch closed-cell foam because the pack permits considerably extra weight to be carried than the customizable choice with out the hip belt.
  • Huge shoulder straps: The broader shoulder straps preserve the pack in place when much less weight is carried and extra snug when it’s absolutely loaded. The S form mimics the pure curve of the physique and is designed to remain put.

No one’s Good

You’ll have to plan forward if you’d like certainly one of these unhealthy boys as LiteAF is at present working with a six-week lead time for customized Extremely packs (fairly normal for them). “Additionally, all through months of use, I’ve by no means used the shock wire on the again and have since eliminated it,” stated Jeff Garmire of the Curve.

Extra packs like this: Gossamer Gear Gorilla, Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Southwest, Zpacks Arc Blast

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Six Moon Designs Swift V (Greatest Pack for Again Accidents)

Greatest thru-hiking backpacks: Six Moon Designs Swift V.

MSRP: $250-$275
Weight: 36 ounces
Capability: 41 + 15 liters
Most load capability: As much as 35 kilos (25 kilos in frameless mode)

Why We Love This Pack

The Swift V relies on 2020’s Six Moon Designs Swift X pack, however it’s cheaper and considerably lighter. It’s a reasonably normal roll-top, midweight pack, with the standout characteristic being its optionally available vest yoke. The pack makes use of a dynamic six-point connection system to connect the vest to the pack. The highest of every facet is linked to the highest of the pack in a normal configuration, however the bottoms are free to maneuver on an adjustable piece of webbing. Because of this the pack is ready to shift to evolve to your physique as your pack weight leans backwards and forwards as you hike, making for extra constant dispersion of the burden.

Along with its dynamic nature, the vest is simply that, a large expanse of shoulder strap to evenly disperse weight throughout the torso. This ample materials area means a number of room for pockets. SMD managed to suit three absolutely purposeful pockets on both sides of the vest, making for six pockets proper there in your peripherals.

The pack acquired up to date in 2022 with deeper inside pockets, two further facet straps, and Extremely Stretch pockets.

READ NEXT — Six Moon Designs Swift V Evaluate


  • The vest: That is the defining characteristic of the pack, fingers down. The corporate’s founder designed the pack to have the ability to hike extra comfortably after a bout with most cancers, and that consolation is top-notch. This pack has a singular carry that basically is one thing particular. Whereas a number of different packs characteristic working vest harnesses, most are geared towards the fastpacking crowd. The Swift V, in distinction,
  • The pockets: Technically a part of the vest, these pockets make the group of snacks, headphones, cameras, and path trash an actual breeze.
  • A REAL optionally available hip belt: The detachable hip belt on the pack is pretty much as good because the hip belt on just about another pack of the same dimension. There’s a regular pocket on both sides, the adjustment straps are straightforward to make use of and purposeful, and the inner body configuration legitimately works and transfers weight.
  • Detachable body: The pack contains a Delrin hoop keep, which may be eliminated to shave three ounces from the pack’s weight. Simply be aware that the general carrying capability is decreased by about 10 kilos with out it. It’s uncommon to see a frameless pack with an adjustable torso size, one other characteristic that makes the Swift V stand out from the gang.

No one’s Good

The Flight vest harness (by far the standout characteristic of the pack) is just not normal concern. To make use of this pack optimally, it’ll price you an additional $25.

Extra packs like this: Six Moon Designs Swift X, Gossamer Gear G4-20, ULA Ohm 2.0

Carl Stanfield

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Nashville Cutaway (Greatest Quick and Mild Pack)

Greatest thru-hiking backpacks: Nashville Cutaway.

MSRP: $321*
15 oz
33 + 9 liters
Most load capability:
25 kilos (per producer)

*Value and weight are based mostly on VX07 pack + shoulder straps. Doesn’t embody equipment corresponding to sternum strap, one-inch hipbelt, or facet compression straps (which may be bought a la carte.

Why We Love This Pack

The Cutaway is by far probably the most really useful running-vest-style pack for hikers trying to journey quick and light-weight. At 15 ounces (admittedly that’s not counting any equipment it’s possible you’ll select so as to add, corresponding to a sternum strap or facet compression straps), it’s the lightest backpack on this listing.

The compact, frameless design is such that you need to be capable to absolutely entry any exterior pocket on the pack whereas carrying it, whereas the shoulder harness disperses weight throughout the chest and retains the pack comfortable when transferring at pace. Shoulder strap water bottle pockets make hydration straightforward.

READ NEXT — Nashville Cutaway Evaluate


  • US-made: Nashville packs are handmade in Tennessee.
  • Nonetheless retains the classics: Conventional options just like the roll-top closure with opposing buckles and basic mesh stow pocket on the entrance preserve this pack feeling acquainted.
  • Pockets for days: Six pockets on the shoulder strap present quick access to drinks, snacks, and smaller necessities.
  • Backside pocket: Stretchy pocket sewn alongside the underside of the pack is simple to succeed in.

No one’s Good

As with most cottage producers, future Cutaway homeowners must cope with lengthy wait occasions for customized packs. This isn’t a last-minute buy. At 33L in the primary pack with an additional 9 liters of exterior storage capability, this pack is greatest for true minimalists. You probably have older or bulkier gear (or you possibly can’t depart the luxurious gadgets at residence), this isn’t the pack for you.

Extra Packs Like This: Mountainsmith Zerk 40, Six Moon Designs Flight 30, Final Route Fastpack 30

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The Greatest Backpacks for Via-Mountain climbing: FAQs

What Capability Do You Want?

This relies on what you’re doing. In the event you simply have one pack for all of your outings, a 50L pack (or thereabouts) is the most secure choice. 50-55 liters will carry the whole lot you want for almost all of treks and between most resupplies whereas stopping you from overpacking. A smaller pack (35- 45-liter vary) is just sensible for knowledgeable long-distance backpackers with ultralight setups. In the event you pack heavier gadgets, or your path requires longer water carries, time between resupplies, or additional gear, search for one thing within the 60- 65-liter vary.

One in all our spec classes is “most load capability,” however remember that we’ve discovered producers are usually a bit beneficiant when itemizing most weight capability for his or her packs. Err on the facet of warning when loading the bag. If our reviewers advocate a weight, it means they’ve personally examined it and may attest to the load restrict. However once more… these should not scientific load suggestions.

Per typical knowledge, your backpack ought to be the final piece of substances you purchase. That approach you possibly can dimension the quantity of your gear and also you’ll know for positive what dimension of pack you want.


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What are a very powerful options to search for in the most effective backpacks for thru-hiking?

maggie slepian backpacking hyperlite mountain gear

I understand I have no idea the way to have my image taken. Now that we’re clear on that, the HMG 3400 Southwest has some nice options (massive hip belt pockets, deep entrance pocket), however I miss having a prime lid, and I needed to get my shoulder pocket individually. If you select a lighter pack, you lose some options.

It relies on how a lot on-the-go comfort you need. Listed below are a number of options (largely pockets, let’s be actual) to search for whenever you select a pack.

Mind: Brains (or “prime lids”) have extra space than hip belt pockets and extra safety than entrance mesh pockets. They’re a fantastic addition for mid-size gadgets you don’t wish to get misplaced in your pack. Once I went to a extra light-weight pack, I positively missed the highest lid. Many brains are detachable with zippered pockets on the highest and backside.

Hip belt: A hip belt is a should for a lot of hikers. It presents help and weight distribution, particularly vital if you’re carrying a heavier load. Search for a padded hip belt with simply adjustable buckles. You’ll most likely go down a dimension or two on a thru-hike, and if the belt doesn’t cinch all the way in which down, it received’t provide sufficient weight distribution to make it worthwhile. Pockets on the hip belt are clutch, excellent for a headlamp, small water filter, and snacks. Some ultralight hikers opt-out and use fanny packs, which they will round city to maintain valuables shut.

READ NEXT — The Greatest Fanny Packs for Via-Mountain climbing

Sternum strap: One other solution to preserve your pack load near your physique and relieve stress off your shoulders. That is simply adjustable and will sit flat underneath your collarbone. The Six Moon Designs Swift X has two sternum straps, which give double the floor space for weight distribution. Our tester additionally stated they decreased chafing.

Load lifters: These are essential for heavier hundreds and are sometimes discovered on mid-range and fully-featured packs. They connect to the pack physique (or body, just like the Zpacks Arc Haul) and shoulder straps, and may tighten to safe the pack load nearer to your physique, which reduces direct loading on the tops of your shoulders. Launch the load lifters to counterbalance a steep descent. Tighten them in opposition to your physique for steep climbs to maintain the burden shut.

Facet pockets: These are the place your water bottles go. In the event you like to have the ability to attain your water bottles whereas strolling, search for facet pockets with an angled reduce so you possibly can seize them and put them again with out asking for assist. The fabric ought to be stretchy however sturdy, and comfortably match no less than a one-liter bottle of water. Additionally, they need to be tall sufficient {that a} water bottle received’t fall out.

Shoulder pockets: Shoulder-strap pockets are nice. It’s sort of a bummer that they aren’t on extra packs today. Do I sound outdated? I cherished the stretchy mesh pockets on my 2015 Exos. I saved my cellphone in there for fast entry for footage, and likewise gummy worms. You should buy shoulder pockets individually from a number of completely different corporations (I’ve this one from Hyperlite) however they are often clunky.

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Absolutely Featured, Ultralight, or Someplace in Between?

maggie slepian jeff garmire backpacking

Generally even ultralight hikers carry a full load. This Elemental Horizons Kalais XT is full of fishing gear, a six-pack, and a jar of salsa.

This relies on your packing type. Individuals with a sub-10-pound base weight can confidently carry a frameless pack. However when you’re hitting a path with lengthy water carries, do not forget that water weighs two kilos per liter, and can carry up your whole weight.

Lay out your gear. Now weigh it. Do you carry over 20 kilos as a base weight? You’ll want a burlier pack just like the Osprey Atmos or Gregory Deva. Ten- to 15-pound base weight? A mid-weight pack just like the Gossamer Gear Mariposa or Granite Gear Crown3 will work swell. Lower than a ten-pound base weight? You’re a candidate for a smaller capability, frameless pack like a Pa’lante Pack or ULA CDT.

We’ve written at size in regards to the temptation of going ultralight. But when your climbing type and pack load aren’t conducive to a 35-liter frameless pack with no hip belt, you’ll be ditching it on the subsequent street crossing and hitching a journey to the closest gear store. That stated, the burden of a 70-liter, absolutely padded pack may be six kilos or extra empty. Whereas these are the most effective thru-hiking backpacks for carrying heavy hundreds, many thru-hikers ditch sufficient gear inside the first few hundred miles to not warrant the additional suspension and padding.

Midweight fashions just like the Mariposa, Exos, or Swift X have sufficient options and suspension to hold round 30-35 kilos comfortably, however with out the beefy buckles, reminiscence foam hip belts, and large capability to carry your base weight too excessive for happiness.

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PSA: Packs Are available Completely different Torso Sizes

I mistakenly ordered a dimension small Gossamer Gear G4-20 (left). The torso was a number of inches too brief, making the hip belt float round my waist like a technical tutu. I exchanged it for a medium (proper), which inserts properly. You may see the shoulder straps extending straight again, and the hip belt sitting, properly, on my hips.

A pack is one thing you put on, due to this fact they arrive in numerous sizes. This will sound apparent, however it got here as a shock to me once I purchased my first backpacking pack (and apparently I nonetheless can’t determine it out). Your shoulder straps ought to lengthen straight out out of your shoulders, not drop down (torso too brief) or lengthen up (torso too lengthy). Having the improper dimension pack means the pack received’t distribute the burden because it was designed to. You’ll really feel fatigue in your shoulders because it pulls again, whereas not sitting accurately in your hips.

Additionally! Don’t assume that since you’re a sure dimension in a single model, you’re that dimension throughout. I’m a Small in Hyperlite Mountain Gear and ULA, however a Medium in Gossamer Gear, and I blew it by ordering my G4-20 in a small. In the event you can, it’s at all times higher to attempt the pack on. In the event you can’t attempt it on, most corporations have reference pages the place you possibly can measure your torso and know what dimension to order, together with directions for measuring your torso to their specs.

READ NEXT — How To Regulate Your Backpack Match

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Why Ought to You Belief Us?

As a result of we’re so extremely clever, in fact! Enticing, too. (To not point out extraordinarily humble).

But when that isn’t sufficient to impress you, there’s additionally the truth that everybody who contributed to this text is an skilled thru-hiker with 1000’s of on-trail miles underneath their belt. We’re gear nerds who love placing our tools to the take a look at on trails lengthy and brief, and we’ve tried dozens of packs in pursuit of a greater backcountry expertise.

Furthermore, we survey tons of of Appalachian Path thru-hikers yearly to study their behaviors, demographics, and—you guessed it—gear preferences. Which means our picks for the most effective thru-hiking backpacks aren’t simply our opinions: they’re based mostly on years of suggestions from the thru-hiking group.

Take a look at AT hikers’ favourite thru-hiking backpacks from the 2018, 2019, 2021, and 2022 thru-hiker surveys. (2023 survey forthcoming…keep tuned!)

Competence and backpacking proficiency personified.

Extra of the Greatest Backpacking Gear of the Yr

Authentic article by Maggie Slepian. Alex “GPS” Brown and Rachel Shoemaker contributed to the 2022 replace of this listing. Owen Eigenbrot refreshed it for 2023.

Featured picture: Graphic design by Chris Helm.



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