Last updated: August 8, 2021

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Whether for a day trip, a hike lasting several days or a stay abroad lasting several weeks: trekking backpacks are practical and versatile. You can adjust them to fit your body exactly, plus they have plenty of storage space and are comfortable to wear. They have many advantages over standard backpacks and are indispensable for a longer hiking tour.

With our trekking backpack test 2021 we want to help you find the best trekking backpack for you. We have compared backpack variants for day and multi-day tours, backpacking tours, climbing and ski tours to make your purchase decision as easy as possible.


  • Trekking backpacks are available in numerous versions for almost every requirement, whether for a day trip, a hiking tour lasting several days, a climbing tour, a ski tour or a pilgrimage.
  • With an individually adjustable carrying system, you can adjust the backpack to your body with shoulder, chest and hip straps to protect your back and distribute the load optimally.
  • Quality trekking backpacks have good features, such as an optimal distribution of compartments and pockets, good fastening options and an integrated hydration system.

The Best Trekking Backpack in the United Kingdom: Our Choices

Trekking backpack: buying and evaluation criteria

In the following, we will show you which aspects you can use to decide between the many variants of trekking backpacks. The criteria you can use to compare outdoor backpacks include:

So that you are well prepared for your next tour, we will explain the individual criteria in more detail below.

Intended use

Of course, your decision will depend on the purpose for which you need your trekking backpack. Are you planning a short hike in the region or a trip abroad? Are you going to be in the mountains or rather by the sea? Basically, a trekking backpack is always a good choice for longer hikes. Do you want to carry trekking poles, spare clothes or even a sleeping bag? Depending on the length of the trip and the type of undertaking, you can determine the volume, features and material for your trekking backpack.


The right fit of your trekking backpack is crucial for comfortable carrying. It also protects your back. It is important to have sufficient padding, which gives the back the necessary stability and ensures a high level of carrying comfort. The straps also play a decisive role. It's better to choose a model with fewer straps, because there is a higher risk of getting caught on the way if there are too many. The most important straps are the hip straps, shoulder straps and chest straps.

A good carrying system is crucial for a trekking backpack.

The carrying system or frame plays an important role in trekking backpacks. It is the inner frame of the backpack and comes in different shapes. You can recognise it by the slight curvature of the backpack on the back. The frame ensures that there are fewer friction points and thus prevents excessive sweating. Many manufacturers also integrate mesh backs, which allow air to circulate better.


The storage space or volume of your trekking backpack is always given in litres. In specifications such as "55 L + 10", the "+ 10" stands for additional storage space at the top opening of the backpack. Trekking backpacks are divided according to different litre specifications. This is because you need different amounts of luggage depending on the purpose or type of trip. There is also a formula that you can use to calculate the appropriate volume:

  • Women: Body weight in kilos x 1 = maximum volume
  • Men: body weight in kilos x 0.85 = maximum volume

If you're deciding between two sizes, it's better to go for the smaller version. Otherwise you will quickly pack too much into a larger trekking rucksack, which will overload you and put too much strain on your back.


There are also a few things to consider when it comes to the material. On longer hikes, the weather can change quickly. If it suddenly starts to rain, it is therefore important that your trekking backpack is waterproof. There are materials for this that allow water to bead up. There is also the option of buying a rain cover for additional protection. Many backpacks already come with one.

There are even special waterproofing agents for trekking backpacks that increase the beading effect.

The material should also be abrasion-resistant, as the rucksack is subjected to a lot of wear and tear, e.g. when being put on and taken off. Therefore, make sure that the materials used are of a certain quality. This is also important for stability, so that the backpack can carry the luggage safely.


A good trekking backpack is equipped with some important compartments. These include a large main compartment in the hip area, where a sleeping bag can also fit. The backpack should also have a medium-sized compartment on the back and a small compartment on top or a lid pocket where you can easily store smaller items that you need to access quickly.

Backpacks where the large compartment can only be loaded from the top are called toploaders. Models where the main compartment can be opened directly are called frontloaders.

It also depends on which water container you use. Some backpacks are equipped with a bladder, which allows you to take water from a hose. If you use one of these, you will need a suitable compartment, either on the inside directly on the back or a lockable compartment on the outside, to store it. If you use a water bottle, it should be easily accessible, e.g. through pockets at waist level. It is also important to have fastening options on the trekking backpack so that you can also attach items to the outside.

Trekking backpacks: Frequently asked questions and answers

In the following we would like to answer the most important questions about trekking backpacks. We have selected the questions for you and will answer them shortly. In this way, we would like to help you prepare optimally for your next hiking tour.

Who is a trekking backpack suitable for?

A trekking backpack is suitable as soon as you want to go on a longer hike with the appropriate equipment. At this point, a simple sports backpack is no longer sufficient, as it does not offer sufficient stability and size. The carrying and strap system of trekking backpacks is also sophisticated, so that the load of the luggage is distributed over the whole body. In addition, a trekking backpack is padded differently than a conventional backpack.


The main difference between a trekking backpack and a conventional backpack is its stable carrying system and outdoor features. (Image source: S & B Vonlanthen /

This type of outdoor backpack also offers many different features. Depending on your requirements and plans, e.g. for climbing or ski tours, you will find a suitable model. As soon as you are planning a longer tour or trip, you should definitely go for a trekking backpack, as it offers many advantages and, above all, relieves the strain on your back.

What types of trekking backpacks are there?

The different types and areas of use for trekking backpacks are classified according to their volume. There are the following variants:
Type Advantages Disadvantages
Trekking backpack for day trips / daypack (up to 35 litres) Also suitable as additional hand luggage, city or day backpack, light weight, alternative to a handbag, compact Very little storage space
Trekking backpack for multi-day hiking tours (35 to 50 litres) All the essentials for a multi-day hiking tour are easily stowed, space also for via ferrata equipment, multifunctional e.g. as a work backpack, relatively light and compact No room for larger items such as tent, gas cooker or sleeping mat
Classic trekking backpack (50 to 70 litres) For longer trekking tours, well suited for women, lots of storage space, can also be used as a travel backpack Only suitable for long hikes, rather large and bulky
For foreign travel (70 litres and up) Very much storage space, well suited for large people, suitable for backpackers and pilgrims, partially detachable daypack backpack integrated Very large and bulky, heavy, only suitable for long hikes with a lot of luggage

As you can see, there are many different types of trekking backpacks. Therefore, you should choose the right model for you individually depending on your purpose and needs.

What does a trekking backpack cost?

How much you want to spend on your trekking backpack depends on what you want to do, the size of the backpack, as well as the quality and brand. Here you will find an overview of the individual price ranges:
Category price range
Daypack / daypack, leisure approx. 10 - 200 €
Multi-day backpack approx. 40 - 400 €
Backpacking, pilgrimage, self-sufficient trekking approx. 50 - 400 €
Climbing backpack approx. 40 - 200 €
Ski touring backpack approx. 40 - 200 €

You have probably noticed that the price range is very high. Choose the right model according to your needs and get advice from a specialist shop on which trekking backpack is right for you.

What are the alternatives to a trekking backpack?

Since a trekking backpack is available in so many sizes, there is no clear alternative. However, there are two other variants of a trekking backpack:
Alternative Feature
Ultralight backpack (30 to 60 litres) No carrying system, very light, no ventilation system, sleeping pad is used for stabilisation, available in different back lengths, usually large external pockets, no hydration system preparation
Touring backpack (25 to 42 litres) Designed for tours with less luggage, available with different features - e.g.. E.g. for climbing, mountain hut, high altitude or ski tours, with carrying frame and hip belt, slim shape, lightweight, abrasion protection, lightweight carrying system, close fit to the body

Whether it's a classic trekking backpack, touring backpack or ultralight backpack - each of the backpacks has certain advantages that are not to be sneezed at. Always consider whether you only want to use the backpack for a specific purpose or whether it should be universally usable.


For skiing or climbing tours, there are special backpacks that have integrated compartments and fastening options for the corresponding equipment. (Image source: Asoggetti /

Some touring backpacks, for example, are only designed specifically for the sport in question. Therefore, think in advance about which type of backpack is right for you and consider exactly what size and features your outdoor backpack should have.

What is the maximum weight of my trekking backpack?

What weight and size you choose for your trekking backpack depends mainly on the type of trip you are using it for. However, there are some guidelines you can follow. When distributing the weight, you can follow these guidelines:

  • 25 percent to 35 percent on the shoulders
  • 65 percent to 75 percent on the hips

Since about 70 percent of the main load is on the hips when carrying the backpack, sufficient padding is very important, especially in this area. As a general rule, the weight of your backpack should not exceed a quarter of your body weight.

70 percent of the main load of the backpack is on the hips.

Ideally, the weight of your loaded trekking backpack should be between 10 and 16 kilograms, depending on its own weight. Note that this does not include drinking bottles. Make sure that your backpack is not too heavy. This can have a significant impact on the health of your back.

How can I tell if my trekking backpack fits properly?

For the sake of your back, the weight in your backpack should be optimally distributed. The heaviest items of luggage should be placed around the middle of the shoulder blades, close to the back. In addition, the back length must be adjusted correctly. Manufacturers offer size charts for this, which you can use as a guide. Basically, your backpack should not protrude over your head and should sit above your buttocks.


The right fit of the trekking backpack is very important to protect your back. Basically, it should not protrude above your head and should sit above your buttocks. (Image source: Lucas Favre /

The hip straps should be adjusted so that the hip pads lie exactly on the pelvic bone. Adjust the shoulder straps so that the shoulder pads rest directly on your shoulders. You can adjust the chest strap so that it is comfortable for you. Make sure that it is not too tight. If you buy your trekking backpack in a shop, you can test it on the spot with a weight of about 10 kilograms to see if it fits properly. It's best to test it for half an hour to an hour to get a feel for longer hikes. Also try out different models. In summary, here are a few pointers to help you recognise that your trekking backpack fits properly:

  • Control: Your backpack is easy to control without effort.
  • Balance: You have a good sense of balance with the rucksack on your back and therefore good balance.
  • Body centre of gravity: Your backpack sits close to your body's centre of gravity.
  • Strap fit: Check the fit of the straps often and adjust them if necessary to create variety in the stressed areas.

If your trekking backpack fits properly, your tour will be much more fun. If you have problems with your back, it is best to talk to a doctor before your hike. Make sure you take regular breaks during your trip.

How do I pack my trekking backpack correctly?

Packing a trekking backpack correctly is very important for weight distribution. There are therefore some important rules you should follow. It is best to follow these tips:

  1. Pack as little as possible (maximum backpack weight = 25% of body weight)
  2. Use a pack bag to keep your rucksack tidy and protected from moisture
  3. The heaviest items should be near the lower back area
  4. Fill the separate bottom compartment with items you will need immediately when unpacking (e.g. spare shoes, sleeping bag or down jacket)
  5. Place only light items on the edge and in the lid area (note the distribution of the compartments)
  6. Everything that is used frequently belongs in the lid compartment (e.g. sun cream, hiking map or camera)
  7. Attach only a few and rather light objects to the outside
  8. It is better to divide the water you carry into two bottles to avoid one-sided loading
  9. Bladders provide better weight distribution and can also be placed close to the back.

Basically, we recommend that you test-pack your backpack before the tour. This will give you a feel for how much will fit into the trekking backpack and how to proceed. This will save you time and unnecessary stress.


A trekking backpack is very versatile - whether for a hike in the mountains, a bicycle tour, for winter sports or even for a pilgrimage. There are considerable differences between the various types. Always make sure you have a good carrying system to protect your body. The prices are as varied as the models.

Choose the right backpack for you with the right features according to your individual needs. If you are unsure, go to a specialist shop for advice and try out the backpack. This way you will quickly find the right companion for you and nothing will stand in the way of your next trekking tour.

Source of the cover picture: 41186504/