7 Best Lightweight Backpacks For Hiking And Camping
Like our devices, we need recharging to function properly, and a lightweight backpack is one of the best tools to help.
Unlike our devices, recharging for hikers and campers doesn’t connect us to a wall. In fact, we disconnect from the world’s chaos by connecting instead to the wide-open world of Mother Nature. And a lightweight backpack can take us just a little farther.
Let’s dig into the seven best!
Why Should You Look For A Lightweight Backpack?
Looking for a lightweight backpack takes the load off, literally. When heading over yonder, you won’t need to carry much weight if you start with the right backpack.
Conventional backpacks can weigh more than three pounds. With lightweight and ultralight backpacks now on the market, there’s really no need to carry around extra weight.
A lightweight backpack will ideally weigh around 2.5 pounds or less. This makes it much more comfortable to hike for miles without added pressure on your upper or lower body. Save the weight for consumables or tools needed to make your hike more enjoyable, not on a backpack.
What Kind Of Lightweight Backpack Do You Need?
Before we can delve deeper into the best lightweight backpacks, you’ll want to know how to choose the best one for you.
Lightweight Backpack Size
Their usage and their weight generally define backpacks. Some of the more commonly known packs are day or overnight packs, weekend packs, and multi-day packs.
Each of these will often be measured in liters (L) to rate their capacity. A day or overnight pack is typically less than 35L, while a multi-day pack is generally greater than 50L. And then there’s everything in between, which is where a weekend pack would fall.
Next, decide how much weight you want to carry and if your chosen backpack will carry it. This requires knowing the base weight of the pack. The base weight is the combined weight of all your gear, except consumables. Consumables are, for example, food, water, fuel, and anything else that varies depending on the length of the hiking or camping trip.
Utilizing a lightweight backpack, the base weight should be under 20 pounds. Want to go lighter? An ultralight backpacker will carry a base weight under ten pounds.
When you’re deciding which pack to use, it may be better to ask yourself what gear you’ll need for your specific hike. Or better, yet. What gear are you willing to leave behind? This will make it easier to determine if a lightweight backpack is the best choice for the job at hand.
Lightweight Backpack Fit
Whatever capacity backpack you choose, having it fit properly to your body is an integral component of selecting the right pack. If your backpack fits well, you’ll surely look forward to your future hiking and camping excursions.
80% to 90% of the backpack’s weight and all of its contents should be carried on your hips. So having a hip belt that fits properly is a key to any length of a hiking trip. The pack should fit snugly against your hips and shoulder blades and shouldn’t feel like something you’re dragging behind you. Instead, it should feel like an extension of your body.
Now, look for backpacks that have all the extras you may need depending on your planned hike. Do you need a place to store a sleeping bag, pad, or tent? Are there external compartments for water bottles or straps for added layers and gear? Does it have a rain cover? Are there places to attach additional straps or carabiners to carry other amenities?
Everything you need for your hiking trip will rely on this tool. Make sure you choose the appropriate pack to get you where you need to go.
The 7 Best Lightweight Backpacks For Your Outdoor Adventures
When it comes to choosing a lightweight backpack, there are many quality brands on the market. Some lightweight packs will have upwards of a 50L capacity, while others will have less. Additional models will be specific to women, which might be the perfect fit even if you’re a man. Others will weigh around 2.5 pounds, and some will barely hit two pounds. Whatever you choose, they’ll all be some of the best lightweight backpacks on the market today.
#1 – REI Co-Op Flash 55
This women’s 55L lightweight backpack comes in an olive color to match the many greens of the wilderness. Weighing in at 42 ounces and made of ripstop nylon, its lighter weight and flexibility allow space to add all the necessities plus a few comforts. With a choice of sizes, it’ll also fit your body well.
Made with nine exterior pockets, including hip-belt pockets, there’s space for all your gear needs. And when that unexpected weather rolls in as it always does, the rain-shield lining and roll-top closure will make it a breeze to keep things dry. It also has a mesh front pocket to store your raincoat and attachment loops for anything else you need to stay your best. Let the weather come. You’re prepared!
The Price: $199
What Makes It Great: This REI lightweight backpack, like their other packs, is quality made. Unlike many others, though, this one has easily accessible water bottle pockets located outside towards the front of the hips. Grabbing your water while hiking has never been easier.
#2 – Osprey Exos & Eja 48
Choose from a small, medium, or large, and a few different colors from these lightweight backpacks. Weighing in around 40 ounces and with a load range of 20-40 pounds, this is a perfect pack for a weekend getaway. The Exos is made for men, and the Eja is made for women, so whichever fits you best, you know you’ve got the proper gear.
Two flexible side pockets, a front mesh storage area, and a removable top cover give anyone easy access to the gear you need when it’s needed. Combine those with the various straps and loops, and your gear can be placed exactly where you need it to be. You can make any hiking trip better with this lightweight backpack made from the Exoform harness system with AirSpeed ventilated suspensions.
The Price: $160 – $215
What Makes Them Great: Osprey is known for its stylish and well-made packs. And the Exos and Eja 48 further stand out with their ingenious stow-on-the-go trekking pole attachment. Hiking with poles when needed and hands-free when not is as easy as 1-2-3.
#3 – Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60L
About the Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60L: This two-pound lightweight backpack may be light on weight but is heavy on capability. Made with custom 100 to 200 denier (D) Robic nylon fabric, there’s not much of a need to leave any gear unpacked.
The seven pockets make it extra roomy, including two made for those moments when you need a quick snack or drink and one with mesh covering to stow easy-to-reach gear. Its removable internal frame and weight load of 35 pounds make this 60L pack worthy of almost any type of hiking trip.
The Price: $270
What Makes It Great: The Mariposa pack’s ergonomically created unisex harness is only one of the benefits. It also comes with outer storage capabilities for trekking poles and an internal hydration sleeve. Whatever you need from this pack, you can make it happen.
#4 – Granite Gear Crown 2 60L
About the Granite Gear Crown 2 60L: Holding up to 35 pounds, this men’s 60L pack is a powerhouse. It utilizes 100D high-tenacity lining and 210D high-tenacity ripstop lining, making its strength is undeniable. Your shoulders will certainly be comfortable while carrying this ultralight backpack with its dual-density shoulder harness and load-lifter straps.
Accessing the gear you need is quite simple when hiking with this pack. The hydration port and internal hydration sleeve is easy to use and will keep any water bladder protected. The two large side stretch pockets and front mesh woven pocket will make any hiking trip worthwhile because you can grab the gear you need and still keep on hiking.
The Price: $160 – $200
What Makes It Great: What makes the Granite Gear Crown 2 great is the removable lid. When removed, it can easily transition into an ultralight backpack for lighter backpacking days. Another benefit is the Re-fit hip belt, which is adjustable and removable. Combine this with the size that fits you, and this backpack is now almost completely customizable.
#5 – ZPacks Arc Blast 55
About the ZPacks Arc Blast 55: Coming in four sizes with five hip belt sizes and four different color options, you’ll be sure to find the size and color to match your body and hiking style. This ultralight 55 L backpack with a cushioned belt and shoulder straps will be your best mate on any trek.
The roll-top closure and all the accessories make for great hiking. As you use your consumables, the top rolls down, acting as a compressor to make the bag even more compact. Adjustable shoulder straps and an interchangeable belt, along with a daisy chain on the straps and belt, give you space and comfort.
The Price: $349
What Makes It Great: The side pockets are low and towards the front with a tight elastic top to keep water bottles in when you don’t need them out. In addition, most standard bear carriers fit neatly into the top half of the pack for those overnight excursions into bear country.
#6 – ULA Equipment Circuit
About the ULA Equipment Circuit: Ranked as one of the top backpacks on the Pacific Crest Trail, this lightweight backpack offers everything you need for a thru-hike or a simple day hike. Made from carbon fiber, a foam frame, and a single aluminum stay, this pack offers rigidity to keep your gear in place, as well as comfort to keep your muscles warm and flexible.
The ability to customize this 36-ounce pack makes it an even better deal than it already is. You can add bungee water bottle holders, internal pockets, a hydration sleeve, and more. It also has a load capacity of 35 pounds. This lightweight backpack will weigh in like a lightweight but perform like a heavyweight.
The Price: $255.00
What Makes It Great: Trail names are something to be honored. And when you receive one from the other hikers on the trail, memorialize it with an embroidered name available as a customized option. This is certainly one of the coolest packs on the market.
#7 – Osprey Levity & Lumina
About the Osprey Levity & Lumina: With the Levity made for men and the Lumina made for women, whichever pack you choose, you’ll still be getting a quality-made backpack that Osprey is known for. It has a max load of 20 pounds and 45L volume. So you may not bring all the comforts of home, but you’ll be able to carry plenty for an outdoor excursion.
The fabric-based side pockets are made for water bottles or any small gear. There are attachment points for additional gear as needed, and a front fabric pocket made for rain gear, along with an attached zippered top lid. If you like feeling as if you almost don’t have a pack on your back at all, these are the packs for you.
The Price: $250
What Makes Them Great: In addition to weighing less than two pounds, they also have a safety whistle included in the sternum strap. Lightweight and safe. That sounds like a wonderful hiking day to me.
Get Outside with Your Lightweight Backpack
Use our guide to choose the best lightweight backpack and get out there to connect with Mother Nature. One day or a week or more, with the proper pack, you’ll be recharged in less time than it takes you to drive to the trailhead. Happy Hiking!
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