A decent backpack is a must-have if you're heading out on a hike longer than a few hours. The best hiking backpacks for Australia are carefully designed and generally include features for extra comfort and support.
However, there are numerous options on the market, and some of the so-called "hiking backpacks" out there are simply useless - they aren’t comfortable, and they will fall apart under duress. To help you filter through the rubbish, I've put together the following list of the 10 best hiking backpacks on the Australian market today.
My Review Process
I'm an avid traveller, and I love the outdoors. During my 10+ years of living almost exclusively on the road, I've had countless opportunities to hike world-class trails across Australia and internationally. I've used plenty of different backpacks, and I've come to understand exactly what a decent pack should look like.
For me, the best hiking backpacks are relatively lightweight, durable, and comfortable. They should also come with a selection of extra features to help you get the most out of your next adventure. Each of the packs I've looked at below excels in most, if not all of these areas, and I'm sure you'll find the perfect option for your needs!
The Osprey Rook 65 is my number one choice for men, and it stands out as a clear leader in the backpack world. It is a little on the pricey side, but it comes with loads of features, multiple pockets, and enough support for heavy loads.
What's more, it's a super comfortable pack with a built-in rain cover to protect you from downpours. I also really like the adjustable hip belt that includes small storage pockets for things like snacks or your phone. Overall, this unit gets top marks from me, and I'd highly recommend considering it.
The women's Osprey Renn 50 is very similar to the men's Rook 65, and it's a standout option in the backpacking world. It's specifically designed for the female physique, and it comes with everything from zippered exterior pockets to padded shoulder straps for extra comfort.
This is the perfect backpack for extended trips, and it also doubles well as a backpacking pack. Like the men's model, it is a little pricey, but worth every cent if you can squeeze it into your budget!
If you're looking for an ultralight backpackthe Naturehike 65L hiking backpack is an excellent option. It weighs just 1.37kg, making it one of the lightest options of its size on the market.
It does lack a few features, but the top-opening design enables you to carefully pack your supplies in a safe and balanced manner. The comfortable hip belt includes extra pockets, and the adjustable straps make it a pleasure to carry.
This quality backpack from G4Free is comfortable and affordable. It doesn't have loads of space for carrying larger items like hiking tents or cookers, but it's great for trips where you don't need to carry loads of gear.
Noteworthy features include the two mesh water bottle pockets, space for a hydration bladder, and external straps that may help you carry larger items like a sleeping mat or hammock.
The TETON Sports Fox 5200 is a larger 85L hiking backpack that's perfect for extended hikes in the Australian wilderness. I haven't used this model exactly, but I had a very similar one that I took trekking through Tasmania a few years back.
What I love about this pack is its size. Not only does its 85L capacity mean that you can put loads inside of it, but it has mesh side pockets and external straps for your extra gear. What's more, it's a super durable backpack, and it's comfortable enough for extended trekking.
The TETON Sports Scout 3400 is a 55-litre pack that's a great alternative to the two Osprey packs at the top of my list. It's tough and durable, making it the perfect option for overnight hikes in Australia. There's also an integrated rain cover, bungee storage, a sleeping bag compartment, and various other external storage options for your extra backpacking gear.
If you're looking for a small, versatile backpack that you can use for hiking and day-to-day tasks, this 30L Zomake model is an attractive option. There are multiple storage pockets to help you separate your gear, and it's strong enough to carry plenty of weight.
There's also a 90-day satisfaction guarantee, which means that you can return it for a full refund if you're not happy.
This G4Free medium-sized pack features waterproof nylon material, making it perfect for Australia's damper regions. It also comes with a rain cover for extra protection in nasty conditions, and there are loads of other features to make your hiking experience streamlined and enjoyable.
One thing I particularly like about this pack is the additional pockets that let you separate different types of gear. There's also a hydration bladder compartment, a mesh back panel that keeps it comfortable in the heat, and plenty of clips for attaching extra gear.
The Icarus 40 is a miniature-sized hiking pack with all the features of an adult model. It's designed specifically for kids, and it comes with loads of features. For one, it's an ultralight pack with a weight of just under 1kg.
It also includes a special back panel for extra airflow, smaller straps to accommodate children's smaller frames, and wide adjustments so it can be used by kids of all ages.
This pack isn't the absolute cheapest on my list, but it offers value for money that I haven't seen anywhere else. It's designed to be large enough for three days of hiking, and it has molle webbing covering the outside so you can easily attach extra gear.
What's more, it has space for a hydration bladder, it's super durable, and the side and front compression system enables you to tighten your pack into a tight bundle.
How To Choose The Best Hiking Backpack
I've always found it difficult to choose between the different hiking backpack options. There are so many different options out there, and it's really hard to know how well a pack's going to perform until you've used it.
Like I said earlier, I've used countless hiking backpacks and day packs. Personal preference comes into it, sure, but here are a few important decision-making factors that will help you choose the perfect option - the first time!
Decent hiking packs start at less than $50 if you're happy with something simple, but a high-end model could set you back $350 plus. Set a budget before you begin shopping and use this to focus your search.
Although hiking backpacks have something or a recognisable style of their own, there are still a few different shapes and sizes out there. For example, some packs feature a simple top-opening design, often with a drawstring and folding cover. Others have a small zipper and one large pocket, while still others have numerous pockets and multiple zippers for easy access.
The capacity that's right for you will depend largely on the type of hiking you're planning to do. For example, a small daypack or lightweight backpack will be enough for single-day treks, but you will need something in the 40-60 litre range (or even larger) for multi-day expeditions.
Ideally, you should choose a lightweight backpack for hiking. Every extra kg you have to carry will be noticeable at the end of long or multi-day expeditions, so it's worth saving weight where you can. As our reviews show, there are loads of excellent ultralight backpacks out there.
Support & Padding
Most modern packs come with semi-rigid support and some sort of foam padding to help your back. Some also come with a rigid internal frame for added comfort - although this usually adds a bit of weight.
Your backpack needs to have at least a little ventilation, or else your clothes and other camping gear will almost certainly end up smelling damp and musty by the end of the trip - especially if there's any moisture around.
Many modern packs have a simple design that includes an internal hydration sleeve for a water bladder. Having ready access to water is crucial in Australia, where temperatures can reach as much as 50 degrees in summer.
We have two clear winners in this article: The Osprey Rook 65, which is the best overall hiking backpack for men, and the Osprey Renn 50, which is the best overall hiking backpack for women. Every other model I've listed has its merits, and I'd recommend having a closer look at each one before making your decision.
Who knows, you might even decide to grab two different packs for different types of hiking!
Hiking backpacks are a specialised form of backpack. They come with features specifically for hiking and trekking, and they are usually designed with comfort and durability in mind.
Yes, you can use a normal backpack for hiking. However, most non-specialised packs lack support, and they just aren't as enjoyable to use. You will also find it difficult to use a normal backpack on overnight and extended trips because of the amount of gear you will have to carry.
This ultimately depends on the amount of gear you need to take. If you're going with a few people and can share things like the cooker and tent between your packs, you might be able to get away with something as small as 40L. In other cases, you may need a larger 60 to 70L pack.
You can expect to pay around $100 for a high-quality, versatile hiking pack. Some smaller budget models are quite a bit cheaper, though, and some of the high-end options can cost $350+.
*The information on this site is based on research and first-hand experience but should not be treated as medical advice. Before beginning any new activity, we recommend consulting with a physician, nutritionist or other relevant professional healthcare provider.