When one plans any outdoor adventure, the battle is half won by simply strategizing about the gear. Of them all, backpacking is an excellent adventure activity for all ages. When it comes to the self-sustained backpacking, it involves carrying all the resources that you’ll need during the trail on your back. This includes everything right from the sleep and shelter essentials to cooking and food items. However, the pre-trip run-through ends with an important item that will hold all your gear – the perfect backpack. The best hiking backpacks give you the liberty to explore the backcountry for months at a time.
However, the plethora of options on the market makes choosing the most suitable hiking backpack easier said than done. Moreover, men and women are built differently, and so are their luggage needs. Just like carry-on luggage needs of women differ from those of men, their backpack needs and build are different as well. Men, in particular, are likelier to handle the weight and size of a larger capacity backpack better. Men’s hiking backpacks also have longer torso lengths as well as broader and longer shoulder straps.
To help men find the best backpack for their next hiking trip, here’s some invaluable insight. Gear up and check out these 11 best hiking backpacks for male hikers of all levels.
How to Choose The right hiking backpack
Hiking backpacks can be broadly divided into three kinds; external frame backpacks, internal frame backpacks, and frameless backpacks. External frame backpacks possess a rigid construction, are heavy, and are ideal for carrying very heavy loads. Internal frame ones feature a semi-rigid to rigid construction and mostly have a capacity of more than 40 liters. Frameless backpacks are extremely light and flexible and are perfect for carrying light loads. They’re more ideal for day hikes or quick ascents.
Backpacks are broadly divided into four different groups according to their capacity. Those with volumes of less than 35 liters are small backpacks and are known as daypacks. Medium-sized backpacks possess volumes of 35-55 liters, while large backpacks have volumes of 55-70 liters. The largest in the category, the XL ones, have volumes of more than 70 liters. For very short hikes, we’d recommend you use lumbar waist packs/hydration packs which are nifty for carrying snacks and water. And since hikers have their own preferences when it comes to backpacks, the best way to decide your capacity requirements is to pack all your gear into a trolley/suitcase with a known volume. You can then transfer the items to a similar capacity backpack.
Size and fit
The best hiking backpacks need to match torso length, with the hip belt fitting the hips/waist circumference. Torso length, which comes in both fixed and adjustable versions, is important or the backpack might ride too high/low on your back. Also, most modern backpacks are accompanied by adjustable harnesses as well.
Determine your torso size by locating the C7 vertebra, which is the bone sticking out on your upper spine on the neck. Figure out the iliac crest next, which is the top of the hip shelf on the sides. The torso length is the distance between the C7 to the point of the back at the same level as the iliac crest. This length needs to be accommodated in the distance between the hip belt and the top of the shoulder strap for the backpack to fit correctly.
The best backpacks come with a slew of features. Backpacks are either panel-loaded with a zipper or top-loaded with a drawstring and an extendable top lid. Back panels are a great addition since they feature ergonomically-shaped foams for ventilation and can also make backpacks carry heavier stuff. Also, good backpacks also have external, internal, side, hip-belt and stash pockets for organizing items quickly while hiking. Apart from hip belts, great backpacks even have compression straps to lessen the pack’s impact on your center of gravity and load adjuster straps for lessening pressure on your lumbar area.
Osprey Aether AG 60
Some of the best backpacks in the market have come from the able stable of Osprey. Its ‘Aether’ line of products continues to remain one of the best hiking backpacks for men out there. The Osprey Aether AG 60’s core ingredients are the well-thought organization, excellent comfort, and a strong suspension. In fact, its sheer durability, succinct features, and generous storage capacity make it the ideal overall hiking backpack, whether you’re gone for days or even months.
Aether can handle up to 50-pound loads with ease. This is all thanks to the hip belt’s high-quality foam and the shoulder straps making for the right blend of support and comfort. What’s more, the hip belt also features a high-volume zippered pocket on each side ideal for storing small items like snacks, wallet, and phone. The biggest plus-point of the backpack is the strong metal frame and suspended mesh back panel. The frame provides excellent support ensuring that it doesn’t sag under load. The mesh panel – or ‘Anti-Gravity’ system, as Osprey calls it – molds excellently to the back and is great for ventilation. Moreover, the many compression straps keep the gear in place.
The organizational features of the Osprey Aether are top-notch. The top-loaded backpack also has side-pocket access into the main compartment and boasts of removable compartment dividers. There are multiple pockets all over, including two expandable water bottle holsters on either side. If that wasn’t enough, there’s even an integrated daypack stored in the top lid when not being used.
The only downside of the Aether AG is that it weighs more than five pounds. However, compared to its numerous worthy features, it’s a small price to pay for what is a great choice for a heavy hauler backpack.
- Chock-full of excellent features.
- Amazing pockets.
- Ergonomic design.
- Slightly heavy for a backpack.
Deuter Speed Lite 20
Men heading out into the hills for a simple day hike will do well to choose the Deuter Speed Lite 20. Designed keeping in with endurance athletes, this is a fabulous ultralight backpack weighs around one pound. The Deuter Speed Lite effusively balances comfort and simplicity, packs a punch with its features, and is one of the best value-for-money small hiking backpacks out there.
One of the biggest selling points of this backpack is that it’s very easy to leave on your back at all times. Particularly, if you’re popping a squat, you’ll neither tip forward or backward, and you won’t have to take it off either. The Speed Lite has an excellent set of shoulder straps and a well-cushioned back panel for such a small pack. They work marvelously to obtain a flexible, comfy, and stable fit for multiple torso sizes even at full capacity. The back panel has a strong, ventilated 3D AirMesh which keeps the sweat off your back. Plus, the hip belt is adjustable which is excellent for people with short frames.
The anti-snag, well-made zipper also has a loop which makes it easy to open and close the bag even with gloves on. For a small bag, the Deuter Speed Lite sure has an excellent number of pockets. The large, front one is perfect for storing wet raincoats, while the top pocket is a great catch-all for small items. What’s more, the bag also has gear loops for hanging a helmet, ice axes, trekking poles, or even a camera tripod. The lightweight pack is designed from burley 210D fabric, which is tight-knit, durable, and holds up well against abuse and all kinds of weather. The backpack itself is V-shaped, balancing the load and providing freedom of movement at the same time.
- The waist belt is a bit thin.
Gregory Baltoro 75
Gregory’s flagship hiking backpacking range for men, Baltoro, has been a long-time favorite with those who carry some serious weight. The beast that is Gregory Baltoro 75 boasts of refined comfort and has capacities ranging from 72-78 liters. That makes it one of the best hiking backpacks for extended backcountry trips.
Armed with such a huge capacity, one of the first things that the Baltoro impresses you with is how well it distributes and supports the load. The compression straps and full-length metal frame make for a sturdy structure. The sculpted back-panel also features a removable lumbar pad. However, it is the backpack’s innovative pivoting hip-bel and shoulder harness that balances softness and excellent support. The suspension system allows them both to rotate independently, adjusting to your movement on the trail. The Baltoro doesn’t disappoint in the organization department either and houses 10 exterior pockets, including hip-belt, mesh, and zippered ones. The water bottle holsters are angled perfectly for easy and quick access while wearing the back.
One of Baltoro’s best features is the U-shaped zipper with complete access to the main compartment and which saves a lot of time unloading or rummaging around the pack. What’s more, there’s an ultralight daypack included which serves as both a hydration sleeve and for day hikes.
- Excellent suspension system.
- Easy access.
- Exceptional quality.
- Expensive at $310.
Osprey Exos 58
Many males swear by the Osprey Exos 58, the brand’s original take on an ultralight backpack. The Exos is unbeaten for its combination of being a lightweight, ventilated, and comfortable backpack. The Osprey Exos is essentially a minimalist backpack, weighing just 2.7 pounds, but is on the larger side of the spectrum for its category.
In spite of its low weight, what sets the Osprey Exos 58 apart is its surprisingly supportive frame and excellent feature set. The backpack boasts of a light wire alloy frame that offers excellent support for carrying loads of as high as 40 pounds. The AirSpeed 3-D tensioned mesh back panel not only offers exceptional ventilation for the back. Plus, there is solid five-inch airspace between the backpack frame and the back, ensuring that one’s back isn’t left sweaty from a hike.
The Exos 58 also has a plethora of features which work in its favor. One of its most nifty features is the stretchy mesh and yet secure beavertail back pocket. It is perfect for random items that need to be easily accessible, or for unusually-shaped items like flip-flops, or for stowing away garbage or smelly clothing. The backpack has a ‘Stow-on-the-Go’ feature for attaching trekking poles is particularly handy. The pack’s base also has a sleeping bag strap that is perfect for storing bulkier sleeping mats and bags. What’s more, the Exos 58 is also fitted with a ‘floating’ lid allowing users to stuff in more food and gear if one really needs it. And. of course, the fact that the backpack has an Osprey lifetime guarantee helps seal the deal.
- Excellent for loads under 35 pounds.
- Not very adjustable.
Granite Gear Crown2 60
Granite Gear is undoubtedly the market leader when it comes to ultralight packs. Their best design is unarguably the Granite Gear Crown2 60, which balances well-designed features, awesome cushioning, and a weight of just more than two pounds. Clearly, the Crown2 is designed for the minimalist hiker and is one of the best hiking backpacks for men in the ultra-lightweight category.
For such a lightweight pack, the Crown2 60 boasts of an impressive amount of overall carrying comfort and cushioning. To save weight, it does away with the standard metal frame and a molded back panel for suspension with a plastic frame sheet instead. As long as the weight is less than 30-35 pounds, the plastic frame feels as supportive as a higher-end backpack. Moreover, the generous padding on the shoulder straps and the hip belt work well in its favor. Additionally, the brand’s Re-Fit system allows for lots of tweaking for optimizing the fit. Plus, the pack is available in three torso lengths – short, regular, and long, each with four-five inches of flexibility. What’s more, it’s even possible to remove features like the hip-belt and lid to trim weight down to 1.4 pounds.
For a price of $200, the Granite Gear Crown2 60 makes for a great value backpack. While its lightweight, thinner fabric does necessitate a little more care as compared to traditional backpacks, it makes for an excellent carrying companion.
- Extremely lightweight.
- Not so great with extremely heavy loads.
Deuter Aircontact Lite
Versatility is the catchphrase when it comes to the durable and reliable Deuter Aircontact Lite 65+10. The backpack is ideal for a diverse range of activities, right from mountaineering in the summer to traditional backpacking.
The comfort factor of the Deuter Aircontact Lite 65+10 wins major brownie points. The backpack is ostensibly softer and cushier than average. Furthermore, it conforms to the shape of its wearer, evenly distributing the load across their shoulders and hips. Bonier users will appreciate the softer foam and plush padding on this backpack, which works well enough for loads less than 45 pounds. The backpack boasts of a fairly robust suspension against a Y-shaped aluminum frame. Plus, there’s an additional plastic frame sheet which lends stiffness and protects the wearers’ backs from hard objects. It also features Deuter’s ‘Vario’ adjustment system offering one of the most vertical adjustments out there – that of up to 10 inches.
When it comes to the organization factor, the main compartment can only be opened from one side. However, there’s a large zippered pocket on top, which is accessible from a flat, smaller zippered pocket from beneath the lid. While it doesn’t have the bells and whistles of other major backpacks, the Aircontact Lite 65 + 10 does have a sleeping bag compartment, unlike many other Deuter packs. While it’s small, it’s greatly useful for separating items by use.
Moreover, the Deuter Aircontact Lite is full of stash pockets ideal for storing a range of objects required. Stretchy mesh bottle pockets on either side and a zippered mesh hip-belt pocket do the trick of storing water and few small essentials while on the trail. The stretchy beavertail pocket is particularly its USP and is ideal for storing everything from oddly-shaped objects to smelly gear.
- Well padded.
- Extremely durable.
- Greater torso height adjustment than most other backpacks.
- Soft padding makes managing super-heavy loads a little more difficult to deal with.
Kelty Coyote 65
At $135, the Kelty Coyote 65 is one of the most affordable hiking backpacks out there. It is the perfect backpack for those on a tight budget and adolescents starting their outdoor adventures.
Organization is everything in the Kelty Coyote 65. The top-loading back also features a frontal large, U-shaped zipper that allows it to be opened like a suitcase. Plus, the lid is also removable, and so Coyote 65 can be used as a sling bag. Also, the backpack is equipped with a distinct bottom compartment, wherefrom the divider can be done away with for obtaining a huge, single space. The pack’s suspension and harnesses are equally impressive. The hip belt, shoulder harness, and HDPE back-panel all feature plush padding, and the latter, as well as a single aluminum stay, support the suspension. Kelty’s one-of-a-kind PerfectFit suspension allows adjusting the harness to use the pack comfortably at full capacity.
Ease of use is where the Kelty Coyote 20 really shines. The pack has handles on both sides as well as one carry handle on the top. Dual compression straps on the bottom and the sides and two attachment loops for ice-axes at the bottom complete the excellence of the bag.
- Dual access.
- Integrated daypack.
- Great harness and suspension.
- A bit heavy.
Osprey Xenith 75
Whether it be organization, comfort, and the sheer capacity alone, the Osprey Xenith 75 is a killer product and one of the best hiking backpacks for men out there. With an incredible 75-liter capacity, its easy to expect the bag to be on the heavier end of the spectrum – in this case, a whopping 5.4 pounds. However, the Xenith 75 more than makes up for it with its top-of-the-line suspension system which works excellently to take the load off one’s back.
Apart from padding and suspension, the Osprey Xenith 75 boasts of high-density foam for extra support. Even then, it remains soft enough for taking the shape of the wearer’s torso. The system distributes the weight across the hips, upper back, and shoulders, rather than just the back. Additionally, there are adjustable buckles and straps for extra comfort. What’s more, the ergonomic shoulder straps and customizable hip belt allows the wearer to easily haul the pack all day.
The hiking backpack also features a nifty removable top lid which becomes a comfortable daypack. There’s even a sleeping bag compartment, stretchy side pockets for water bottles, ice-ax loops with tie-offs, and even trekking pole loops. Plus, the frontal dual zippered pockets are extremely easy to access, even when the backpack is loaded to the hilt.
- Particularly comfortable.
- Carries heavier loads superbly.
- External pockets are excellent.
Mystery Ranch Glacier
Don’t let the high price tag (read $350) of the Mystery Ranch Glacier put you off. Once you’ve lugged this 60-pound monster of a backpack across varied landscapes for hours on end, you’ll see why this pack costs this much.
The top-loading backpack doesn’t need to be unpacked for accessing the main compartment, as it features bottom and side-access zippers too. This can be a lifesaver during mid-hike where you don’t have to unpack everything. What’s more, everything else you want to easily access can be strapped outside. The feature-full Mystery Ranch Glacier has ice-ax loops, water bottle pockets on the side, shoulder and back straps, compression straps, and daisy chain as well.
The Glacier carries extremely well too. The well-designed lumbar pad provides excellent lumbar support, in addition to the versatile cinches and straps. What’s more, the velcro-adjustable yoke makes it easier to get the perfect fit. Clearly, the Glacier is astonishingly versatile, no matter what is thrown at it.
- Good fit and fairly easily adjustable.
- Water bottle holders could be larger.
Berghaus Freeflow 35
The Berghaus Freeflow was first introduced to the brand’s rucksack range in the 1990s. The Freeflow 35 is designed to make hiking in hot, sweltering conditions not just more bearable, but more comfortable too.
To that end, the Berghaus Freeflow 35 boasts of a large clearance area between the wearer’s back and the rucksack itself, allowing for airflow for the purpose of cooling. The back panel itself is impressive and comfortable due to the hip and shoulder padding. Berghaus’ ‘EVAbreathe Matrix Foam’ technology in the back panel and very less actual contact with the wearer’s back further helps with cooling and ventilation. The backpack features an incredibly sturdy plastic frame which is as rigid as it is super strong for supporting heavy loads. Also, it’s also easily alterable for fitting a variety of back lengths, right from extra large to extra small.
The Berghaus Freeflow is feature-rich with a large front pocket, a handy rain cover, two mesh side pockets, and two ax-attachment loops. That, along with two entry points into the main compartment, makes organizing the bag a dream.
- Excellent price ($110) for features.
- Better airflow than most other backpacks.
- No quick-release options for compression straps.
Granite Gear Blaze 60
There’s more than one reason that the Granite Gear Blaze 60 sits at the top of our list. Almost everything about it is perfectly designed, right from its excellent feature set to its ultra light-weight being capable of carrying heavy loads.
Weighing less than three pounds, the Granite Gear Blaze is one of the lightest backpacks on this list and a true workhorse. The backpack is durable to boot, with the Robic fabric being both tear-resistant and lightweight. It boasts of tremendous suspension, thanks to the Air Current Frame support. The feature comes in three sizes, each of which has four distinct shoulder-strap attachment points for getting the ideal fit. Combine that with the adjustable hip belt, and you get a very comfortable backpack. The Blaze has one of the most breathable back panels on this list as well.
To top it all, the Blaze 60 is loaded with a slew of features. The hip belt pockets are one of the most spacious seen in backpacks and are extremely versatile for holding a variety of things. Add to that the hidden front-access zipper, removable top lid, huge side pockets, and stretchy mesh stuff-it pocket and you’ve got a keeper.
- Very comfortable with heavy loads
- The perfect combination of pockets.
- Buckles could be a little tiny to those with large hands.