Backpacks review: What are the best backpacks
Gregory Baltoro 70 Backpack Review
Gregory Baltoro 70 BackpackThe Gregory Baltoro 70 is intended for intensive backpacking and long term heavy outdoor use.
It is one of the best backpacks available on the market today in terms of comfort, however, this comfort does not detract from the tough and durable nature of the material when you want to use this on trips and the Baltoro 70 can certainly compete against other hiking backpacks with no problems.
With over 70 liters in maximum storage capacity, the Gregory Baltoro 70 is well suited for long hikes or backpacking trips, with comfort being an essential feature on any long haul trip.
This backpack boasts extremely high storage efficiency, with a considerable amount of space available for its weight. This backpack has an excellent suspension weight distribution system which spreads the weight across your body in order to minimize load at any one specific point.
The result is one of the most useful, but also one of the most comfortable backpacks ever invented.
The Gregory Baltoro 70 Backpack has the following features:
76-liter maximum capacity
2.66 kg / 5 lbs 14 oz weight
Water bottle holder
It’s obvious from looking at and using this pack, that it’s one of the more high-end backpacks around. It’s extremely comfortable but also tough. Maybe not as tough as the Maxpedition Condor II, but what is! It’s certainly more comfortable, which matters a lot more for the average hiker.
Of course, you don’t want your pack to fall apart after only a few trips, but even more so you don’t want to feel like your back, shoulders, and chest on fire when carrying your load.
The Baltoro 70 gives you the best of both worlds: it will last you years AND you can feel great on the trail. The downside is that you will have to pay slightly more for the privilege. Definitely recommended for the more serious hiker or backpacker, particularly for longer trips.
Here’s what Julian, a current owner of the Gregory Baltoro 70, had to say about it:
I bought the Gregory Baltoro 70 Pack quite a while ago now, I’d say about 20-24 months; it’s lasted me all this time without any problems at all and still looks good as new. It has a massive storage area, a spacious main compartment as well as additional compartments for extra stuff too.
One thing I like about this backpack is you can unhook the walls between compartments so that you end up with one massive storage space. It’s perfectly customizable and really comfortable to backpack with.
I would like to mention some negatives to balance it out a bit but there aren’t any really, apart from the cost which is slightly above what you could get a backpack for, e.g. High Sierra range or Maxpedition. I prefer Gregory Baltoro, however, because they are generally a LOT more comfortable, which is VERY important when you’re out there hiking miles at a time, trust me.
Maxpedition Condor 2 Review
Maxpedition Condor IIThe Maxpedition Condor II Backpack is indeed a worthy addition to the famous Maxpedition backpack catalog, but what makes the Condor II different from the rest of the best backpacks available today?
Whichever Maxpedition backpack you end up choosing, it’s certain that you will get a high-quality pack either way, but the Condor II takes the term ‘heavy use’ and gives it an entirely new meaning.
Its YKK #10 zips are, as per our experiments, ‘stuff proof’, and the combination of tough stitching and abrasion/water-resistant ballistic nylon fabric makes the Condor one of the best travel backpacks.
With a respectable 32 liter total capacity and a 3-liter hydration pouch, the Condor II has not been made by Maxpedition simply to boast of its new ballistic nylon technology: this pack functions fully for any heavy use purpose, whether it be camping, hiking or miscellaneous applications. When all your friends’ backpacks have withered into dust, the Condor II will still be going strong.
Here are the key features of the Maxpedition Condor 2:
Maximum Total Capacity – 32 liters
Main Compartment 32 x 14 x 6 1/2 inches
Lower Front Compartment 8 x 9 x 2 1/2 inches
Upper Front Compartment 5 1/2 x 9 x 2 inches
Hydration sleeve can fit up to 3 liters (reservoir not included)
The Condor II has its downsides, however. While it is probably the toughest packs I have ever encountered in my entire life, that very toughness is what leads to a considerable reduction in comfort.
When heavy loads are being carried, depending on your body size and shape, the straps may be somewhat uncomfortable and that might detract from the whole hiking experience. On the other hand, many people seem to find the Condor II perfectly comfortable so this experience of mine might not apply to you.
Nevertheless, you should consider whether you are a military-style person who wishes to use this with heavy loads, used perhaps with intense running workings plus weights, or whether you are a casual camper in which case some of the more comfortable packs with frames e.g. the High Sierra Sentinel 65, might be more appropriate.
Here’s what another current user had to say about this backpack:
The Condor II is the best backpack I’ve ever got. It’s been flawless on day trips as well as weekend and even longer hikes. The zips are very sturdy and can tolerate a very full pack with no problems at all.
The material is a special ballistic nylon that resists water/moisture, keeping the contents dry, and it also resists the general wear and tear of heavy use, which is a must if you want the backpack to last a reasonable time. Personally I use this for day or weekend excursions; the Condor II can take longer but you are going to have to go very basic if you want it to last longer than a weekend. Any longer than 3 days and I would recommend a larger bag.
Overall, this backpack is strong, lasts a long time and is very comfortable on the move. I would choose this above all the hiking or travel backpacks that I’ve tried in the past.
High Sierra Sentinel 65 Review
High Sierra Sentinel 65The High Sierra Sentinel 65 provides all the necessary storage space required by any hiker or backpacker. Its weight to storage ratio is extremely low, boasting a massive 65-liter main compartment capacity with just 4.8 lbs total product weight.
The Sentinel 65 is thus perfect for travelers, hikers, and backpackers who wish to have the benefits of a premium grade internal frame suspension backpack, without the astronomical cost. The High Sierra brand has been known across the entire world for consistently producing some of the best backpacks ever made to date.
The Sentinel 65 features a shoulder harness that enables the backpacker to adjust pack length as per his/her personal requirements, and likewise, the aluminum frame bars can be adjusted according to the individual’s preferences and needs.
All standard functions of a typical backpack are included, for example, straps, load lifters, padding and waist belt, in addition to hiker/camper specific conveniences such as the stored rain cover. As is expected of a brand as reputed as High Sierra, the Sentinel 65 is protected by a lifetime warranty.
A few core features of the Sentinel 65 include:
Main compartment capacity up to 65 liters
Sleeping bag compartment
Mesh side pockets
Interior hydration sleeve with 2 exit ports
The professional internal frame suspension system
Weight – 4.8 lbs
Dim- 32″ x 14 1/4″ x 8 3/4″ inch
When I got this frame pack I immediately took it for a weekend in the Canadian Rockies – it stood up to the task and was just as good as my friends’ travel backpacks most of which were very pricey professional-grade hiking backpacks.
One thing my experience that weekend taught me was that the Sentinel 65 is actually intended for people of larger stature – I’d say at least 5’8 with about 160 lbs weight if you’re fairly lean, 170 lbs if you’re less so.
Everything was kept dry which was a massive relief for me as it got quite cold up there at times, and the worst thing you can have is damp gear (you have to start a fire to get everything dry and that means clothes that reek of smoke!) Overall though I think this was a pretty smart choice on my part, I definitely would NOT pay more than 200 bucks for a pack unless I were a professional looking for something fancy and/or extreme.
Have at look at what a present owner of the Sentinel 65 had to say:
I got the Sentinel 65 Pack after a fair bit of research – I found that other packs of this sort (the heavy-duty frame type) were considerably more expensive and thus out of my price range.
However, I still hoped to get a top-quality pack for the money that I could spend. When I first got the pack from amazon I tested it out a bit with my various bags and gear to see if they could fit, and most of the equipment fit in the sleeping bag compartment without compromising the main compartment, which was quite impressive.
The interior hydration sleeve is an essential touch, and the extra pockets are useful for smaller items e.g. GPS, phones and so on. However, these just mesh pockets on the outside – this pack doesn’t have extra zip pockets on the side.
I see this as a good thing because side pockets often make a frame pack far too big.
For most hikers, the Sentinel frame pack is by far the better alternative to spending 300 bucks or more on a similar high-end pack, but if you’re going for months on end on an African safari hike or something, then you should consider something bigger. For my purposes, it’s definitely the best backpack I could find. (Zach)
Maxpedition Vulture II Review
Maxpedition Vulture IIThe Maxpedition Vulture II Backpack is an essential piece of kit to any serious hiking or camping enthusiast.
Its durable, ballistic nylon material is specifically designed to resist the typical damage that hiking backpacks might face on any serious trip or day to day usage, namely water, and abrasion.
The Vulture II consists of an extremely spacious main compartment, with a maximum capacity of 46 liters, a front pouch and a slip pocket for extra storage. Support consists of a 1″ sternum strap, and a 2″ integrated belt for maximum control and stability.
Weighing at approximately 5 lbs, the Maxpedition Vulture II is recommended only for serious campers, hikers and travelers. College students who carry an excessive amount of heavy books may also benefit from this backpack, however, it is recommended to consider the estimated total weight of your average load prior to purchase – the Vulture II can be quite heavy when fully loaded.
Below are a few core features of the Maxpedition Vulture II Backpack:
Main Compartment: 20.5″(H) x 16″(W) x 7.5″(D)
Front Pouch: 15.5″(H) x 12″(W) x 2.75″(D)
Slip Pocket: 15.5″(H) x 12″(W)
Capacity: 2810 cu. in. / 46 liters
Weight: 3 lbs, 8 oz
The Maxpedition Vulture II is one of those backpacks for the more hardcore camper/hiker, though it can also be used for other purposes that require sustained heavy-duty use.
I say this because the pack alone weighs 4.8 pounds, which is a considerable weight for just an empty backpack. Maxpedition is an extremely well-known brand – its backpacks always deliver a high standard product that lasts.
Vulture II is available in a variety of colors, for example, Black, Khaki, and Foliage Green. First-time buyers of heavy-duty travel backpacks should note that the price changes slightly according to color, this is because of the slight changes in material and manufacturing that are involved depending on the color.
Have a look at what another user of the Maxpedition Vulture II had to say about this backpack:
I bought the Vulture-II backpack some years ago and it’s still performing perfectly even after all this time. One of the best backpacks I’ve ever taken with me and I am definitely a person that has used a fair few of them!
It goes without saying, therefore, that this pack is very strong, but its strength doesn’t detract from its storage space – there is simply loads of room.
I’ve had no problems with any of the zips even when stuffing this backpack full of gear, and the nylon material is resistant to the wear and tear of heavy regular use.
I generally use the Vulture II for hikes of around two to three days, and I can get plenty of stuff in the massive main compartment to easily last me that long.
There’s a load of extra compartments and addons for extra stuff, a notable mention goes to the molle attachments.
One thing I would advise people considering this backpack is its weight – it weighs nearly 2 kilograms so you’ve got to be of reasonable size to carry it around, at least 18 years of age and/or 160 lbs I would say.
All in all, after many years of abuse I still see the backpack looking brand new, I envisage it will last me very long indeed
Kelty Redwing 2650 Backpack Review
Kelty Redwing 2650The Kelty Redwing 2650 is one of the most popular backpacks worldwide among hikers and students alike, known for its extensive durability, storage efficiency, and protective abilities.
This classic design has recently been reissued with new improvements to ensure that it retains the crown as one of the best in the business.
Weighing just 5 lbs, the Redwing 2650 is able to carry surprisingly heavy loads with no damage to its structure, and can even prevent damage to your more valuable items with its unique suspension system.
The main compartment is spacious and can comfortably accommodate some of the most demanding loads, and the many roomy side pockets can store extra items as required.
Below are just a few features of the Redwing 2650:
14.5 x 25 x 18 Backpack from the world-renowned Kelty brand
Front divided into four sections for maximum storage
2 zip pockets, 2 side pockets, 2 hand straps, belt strap, tightening straps
Available in a wide selection of colors: Red, Black, Silver, Khaki, Russet, and Spice
For its size, the Kelty Redwing 2650 has to be one of the best backpacks out there – sturdy and efficient on any type of hike or extended trip. For those who don’t want a horrible, gigantic framed hiking backpack, the Redwing is probably your best bet.
If you’re going on an extended holiday and you don’t want to look profoundly odd carrying a massive metal frame on your back, then you can look completely normal with this backpack while having all the necessary storage and material strength to last your trip comfortably. Nonetheless,
I would still not recommend this for children or people with especially small frames, as it might overwhelm your back. Whatever hiking backpack you buy, you’ve got to remember whether your physique can take it if you are planning to fill it fully, as they can be quite heavy.
And here’s what Jones, an owner of the Redwing 2650, had to say about his backpack:
Being a graduate student, I always find myself with heaps of research documents to carry from home to university, and I needed a travel backpack that could put up with rigorous use. Of course, I had heard of the Kelty brand and used a few accessories from their line before when I used to go hiking, so I knew they should be dependable.
However, you can always get a cheaper backpack as this Kelty backpack is around 100 to 150 bucks depending on where you shop, but you run the risk of it falling apart if you go for the cheaper brands.
I needed mine for very, very heavy books as well as my laptop. One of the great things about the Redwing backpack is that its frame holds the back slightly above the ground, which means that if you accidentally drop the bag itself, the contents inside won’t be damaged.
That is a pretty ingenious invention, I’m surprised I’ve never come across it before. As for space, there is plenty of it and you could fit about a 16″ laptop on the inside of the bag, and the side pockets are deceptively large and numerous. This back is definitely in there for the long haul – it’s intended for hiking but you can use it for just about any heavy use you wish. Very impressive so far.
Use A Waterproof Hiking Backpack To keep Everything Dry
If you are in the market for a backpack to use outdoors, you must be sure it can meet all of your needs for hiking and other outdoor ventures. If you are considering a hiking trip where water is likely, you should look for a waterproof hiking backpack.
Some backpacks may look stylish and fashionable but they do not have useful features that can make your life less complicated when you go hiking in the mountains. Actually, there are types of backpacks that restrict your movement because they are too bulky.
It is often quite a challenge to keep your things dry when you hike through a damp tropical forest. Since it usually rains heavily in these areas and without a whole lot of warning, there is a chance that you will get soaked while out hiking.
Fortunately, there are ways to stay dry and comfortable while hiking in these areas. With the use of a waterproof hiking backpack, you will be able to protect the bulk of your gear from the rain.
Using a waterproof hiking backpack is beneficial if you are hiking where you may have to cross over rivers or creeks.
You will be able to just let the backpack float by you in the water or drag it along when you are crossing waterways and you can know your gear will not get wet.
You must get a backpack that can suit all of your hiking needs if you wish to really enjoy your experience either in a tropical rainforest or on a rocky mountain trail.
Different Colors, Styles and Designs
A waterproof hiking backpack comes in different shapes, designs, and sizes and is designed to meet different needs of hikers. Some of these waterproof hiking backpacks are designed for carrying heavy loads and some of them are designed to fit into your body contours to help you move easily along difficult paths.
To get the right waterproof hiking backpack, you should first take a closer look at the trail that you plan to take during your hiking expedition.
You may want to invest in a waterproof hiking backpack with a sturdy internal frame that fits your body nicely if you think you may have to navigate many tight areas on your trip.
This particular style of hiking backpack will not cost you too much money and you can also find discounted ones that have a pliable internal flame.
On the other hand, if you are planning to stay in the forest for a few days and you want to bring along a fair bit of gear, you should invest in one of the backpacks that are designed for carrying heavy loads.
There are plenty of heavy-duty waterproof hiking backpacks that you can choose from. If you stay out hiking for a few days and are doing small hikes, you may also require a hydration pack backpack.
Just make sure that you get a backpack that is friendly to your back. Even the most seasoned hikers can suffer from backaches and body aches after carrying a lot of gear on their backs for a period of time.
Make sure that your waterproof hiking backpack is designed to fit snugly into your body and not put undue pressures on your back. Also make sure that you do not carry any unnecessary equipment on your trip, as you should travel as light as possible.
Backpacks We Don’t Recommend
Whether you are a hiker, traveler or simply a graduate student looking for a reliable way to carry heavy books over large campuses, there are certain common basics of a backpack that you need regardless of use.
Common sense would be sufficient to tell you that to get the best backpack for your needs, you need enough space, strong material, reliable closing methods (zips, belts) and a few additional pouches for storage of additional smaller items.
The title of this post is somewhat dramatic, but it is meant as a (very poor, I admit) play on our actual website name.
But really, I cannot think of many other items which need to be higher quality than a backpack. There is nothing worse than your entire gear falling to the ground as a result of a rushed purchase of a poor backpack.
Hopefully, this small series of posts covering the worst travel backpacks and hiking backpacks will help you to avoid such disasters.
Fi Hi Voltron Stereo Backpack
Some people have actually purchased this backpack to go hiking! I truly feel for these people.
This backpack is nifty in the sense of its internal amplifier which makes for good listening on a trail, but hiking is when you need to be listening to nature, not the latest pop tunes. In addition, the fabrication of the Voltron is insufficient for even the simplest of day hikes let alone longer. The stereo interface tends to break quite quickly, too.
Kompressor Plus Backpack by Marmot
Marmot has a good reputation but this particular Kompressor plus is not as well made as the Eiger, for example. Unfortunately for some reason the manufacturer has deviated from its usual high standards and produced a pretty low-quality pack.
The main issue here is the low capacity for dealing with heavy loads. It’s good that the nylon fabrication is very light, but this backpack is not likely to last a hiking trip. I’d recommend getting Marmot’s Eiger series instead if you are looking for a Marmot pack.
All Terrain Clear Creek 20 Recycled Day Pack in Sangria Red
Now, it’s a bit unfair to lump this pack into the post of ‘Worst Backpacks’ when it’s not all that bad, in truth. However, for hiking and walking purposes, it really is inappropriate, despite the lovely Sangria Red color.
This backpack is just not big enough and the zips, while they do seem durable, are very difficult to move and would likely hinder any hike if you were daring enough to use it. This pack isn’t a bad choice for a higher-priced school backpack, though.
That’s it for the first part of this series. Stay tuned for part 2 where we will be investigating more travel backpacks and hiking backpacks which you should avoid if you’re looking to get any sort of heavy use out of it.
If you haven’t read part 1 of this series, click the link in the posts menu to read that first. Our selections will make a lot more sense that way. On the other hand, if you’ve come to this page searching for a specific item, it’s quite possible that we might have saved you some money and at worst, a hiking disaster.
Below are the packs that day-trippers, hikers and even students will want to avoid for their heavy usage requirements.
Woodland Camouflage Backpack / Stool Combo
Firstly this hiking backpack looks pretty good and makes excellent camouflage, but the material is of a cheap plastic-type and would not be able to put up with the stress of heavy-duty usage.
I guess this comes back to the old saying, ‘You get what you pay for’. That’s to say, I’m not saying this hiking backpack is bad for the 30-40 dollar price tag, in fact, it’s an okay buy for that money, but if you spend double or perhaps triple that amount, you can get one of the best backpacks from a top brand that will last you years of heavy-duty use.
Level III Lv3 Molle Assault Pack Backpack
Level III Molle Assault BackpackThis is actually not a bad hiking backpack for general purposes, except for the fact that you can get hurt if you carry things that are too heavy.
Therefore, despite its quality compared to the rest of the backpacks featured in this ‘Worst of’ series, in practical terms this Molle Assault Backpack is just as bad.
The reason? The shoulder pads are exceptionally small which can lead to very uncomfortable ‘digging in’ of the straps when you’re carrying anything of substantial weight. It’s disappointing because otherwise, this backpack is strong, light and easy to use for shorter day trips.
Lucky Bums Switchback Backpack
Lucky Bums Switchback BackpackWhy would you get this pack when you can buy a High Sierra Fat Boy for a similar price? Also, note that this is bizarrely kids travel backpack and camping back, with 18 L volume and plenty of extra pockets.
I’m not saying that this backpack really is particularly bad, but for the price you can get one of the best backpacks from High Sierra or even Maxpedition if you spend a bit more and are set on hiking rather than school, so a purchase of this pack, while not disastrous, doesn’t really make sense given the other options.
Lucky Bums is quite a famous manufacturer of good quality school backpacks, ski equipment and so on, but this particular pack just doesn’t cut it.