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Best backpacks for hiking and camping that are ideal for days spent outdoors

For everything from alpine expeditions to urban explorations

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04 February 2022

ith borders opened up, there’s never been a better time to upgrade your travel gear.

With the popularity of UK camping holidays at an all-time high (bookings for UK campsites have risen by 500 per cent in the past year, according to travel agent Cool Camping), backpacks are a great place to start. Whether you’re looking for a daypack for weekend camping trips or something suitable for more demanding adventures, we’ve rounded up the best options for all scenarios - from the latest offerings from brands you’ll be familiar with, to some worthy newcomers.

How to find the best backpack for you

That’s a tricky one, simply because it depends on how you’ll be using it. That being said, even though some are specifically designed with certain situations in mind (be it hiking, camping or travelling), contemporary constructions will now cut the mustard in a range of scenarios. Great camping backpacks will often make fantastic cabin bags, for example. For this reason, versatility is key. Backpacks with so-called tuckaway straps – which can be slipped into mesh pockets on the rear of bags – will come in handy if you decide to check your backpack into the hold. If you’re keen on support straps around the waist – an essential if you’re carrying heavier items such as tents - consider ones which can be removed when they’re not needed. Love an internal pocket? Look for ones which are removable – internal pockets can be a lifesaver when you’re carrying items such as iPads or laptops, but on long hikes, the extra material can be a burden.


More brands than ever are prioritising sustainability. Look for brands which are members of the Fair Wear Foundation. There are backpacks made of recycled polyester, PET plastic bottles, or fabrics which has Bluesign certification. This means the production processes meet strict criterial relating to sustainability.

Shop the best camping backpacks below

Picture BP26 Backpack


If Picture isn’t on your radar, it should be. One of the most sustainable backpack brands out there, it was founded by three snowboarding buddies with a serious passion for the environment. The company is a member of the Fair Wear Foundation and so vets all of its suppliers and producers closely. It also takes an innovative approach to waste reduction, whether it’s with the use of so-called “roll packaging” (which essentially means securing garments with string instead of plastic bags) or making its products entirely with recycled polyester. The BP26 is a great example.

It’s designed with snowboarders in mind, but it’s a fantastic camping backpack, as well as a great stand-in for the humble cabin bag. It has huge amounts of space and a rolltop closure which can be adjusted depending on the contents. We also love this bag’s versatility. It has many added extras, which include a ski carry system, ice axe holder and sternum strap and yet, its lightweight, clever design (the waist belt, for example, is removable) means it’s one of the few technical bags that make a truly fantastic daypack, too.

Tentree Mobius 35L Backpack


We loved the look of this bag, but it’s not a case of style over substance. This is a brilliantly innovative backpack with a clamshell opening which means it can be converted from a 16L to a 35L backpack in seconds. This is a design feature which also provides extra security - the lid folds right down over the opening.

It has been built with the environment in mind, thanks to the use of recycled polyester and a lining made from what’s known as Bloom foam, which is a foam derived from algae biomass (and no, it doesn’t smell of dank ponds).

Chrome Tensile Ruckpack


We’re not going to lie – the colour of the Tensile was a concern, simply because its white exterior scheme means it’s not going to be too forgiving when it comes to dirt, dust and bonfire ash – all of which you’ll find in abundance at the average campsite. However, the sheer quality of this 25L backpack convinced us to ditch our colour concerns.

This is an incredibly tough bag which is wonderfully comfortable and has plenty of room for essential camping kit, too. The use of recycled laminated ripstop nylon minimises the risk of rips while reducing waste, and things got even better when we looked inside.

There’s plenty of room and multiple pockets for smaller items such as cameras, keys and toiletries. A sturdy closure system, which used metal (not plastic) buckles, ramps up the ruggedness.

Helly Hansen Transistor Backpack

Helly Hansen

This Tardis-like backpack, which has a 30L capacity, is a joy to wear, thanks largely to its straps, which have generous amounts of padding and are extra-wide. The bag itself is packed full of handy features we didn’t know we needed until now - who knew a key clip could prove so useful?. There’s also the more standard stuff such as attachments for trekking poles and ice axes (which can be used for other items, including tent poles).

The ventilation on the rear did a great job of keeping us cool, and we loved the roomy interior, which had two internal pockets, one of which is made with transparent mesh. 

In summary? This is a brilliant daypack with the technical features of a much larger bag. They have been incorporated into a lightweight backpack which makes it ideal for everything from short hikes to city breaks.

Red Original Eco-Friendly Waterproof Backpack

Red Original

This multipurpose miracle, which has a 30L capacity, has been designed with a wide range of situations in mind. A roll-top closure will keep the contents dry on the rainiest of days (it’s also a design feature which allows the bag to provide more room when it’s needed) and the use of reflective materials makes it especially suitable for cyclists.

A padded internal organiser (which can be slipped out when not in use) provided peace of mind when we were travelling with our laptop in tow, and we appreciated the addition of a secret internal pocket, designed for valuable items such as keys and cash.

It’s eco-friendly, too – the ultra-tough material has been made from recycled plastic bottles. The construction has got slightly more rigidity than most of the bags we tried, but for us, this was a bonus – it ensured there was room for air circulation between our back and the bag.

Patagonia Descensionist Pack 32L


This has been designed as a backcountry touring backpack – hence the abundance of technical features designed to crank up the comfort, maximise space and reduce wear and tear.

The 420-denier recycled nylon fabric on this backpack felt incredibly tough, yet still had a certain breathability which prevented us overheating when wearing it for prolonged periods.

Its versatility was a huge bonus – for example, the strap system which can be used to carry skis or a snowboard can be removed. The features designed with ice tools in mind came in handy for other items too, and the roll-top closure allowed us to expand it when we needed more room for larger items such as bulky sleeping bags.

We also loved the fact that the fabric has Bluesign certification, awarded to companies which use sustainable and resource-saving production techniques.

Forclaz Women’s Trekking Backpack 50L


We don’t really buy into the whole women-specific backpack thing – we’ve worn (and loved) countless backpacks which are supposedly designed with both men and women in mind, and all too often these terms are used as a marketing blurb. That said, we absolutely love this backpack, although we suspect our fellow male campers would be equally impressed.

The straps were incredibly easy to adjust, and the presence of five internal pockets meant plenty of room for all our gear (there’s also space for a water bladder). The presence of internal aluminium bars inevitably adds to the weight but makes a huge different when it comes to comfort, aiding air circulation and helping to relieve pressure when the bag was full. Extra reinforcement on the base provides added toughness in an area most prone to wear and tear.

DC Shoes Chalkers 28L Backpack for Men


We love the roominess of this bag, with its supersized internal pocket and easy access, courtesy of one of the longest zips we’ve seen on a backpack (nothing’s worse than having to fish around through an opening the size of a buttonhole).

It’s not the most technical of bags, but it’s got the key features we look for in a backpacks for day hikes or weekend camping escapes, including a well-padded laptop sleeve, generously-sized patches of mesh at the rear and side pockets perfect for stashing water bottles in.

Klättermusen Jökull Ski Touring Backpack 24L


Yes, this is a lot to spend on a backpack, but we guarantee you won’t be disappointed. It’s ridiculously roomy, and packed with features we wish we saw more of. Our favourites? The fleece-lined sunglasses (or goggles, if you’re hitting the slopes) pocket, the removable helmet holder and the additional pockets on the waist straps.

This is one of the most comfortable backpacks we’ve come across, and even when it’s stuffed to capacity with items like ground mats and sleeping bags, the chances of chafing are low, thanks to generous use of padding and extra-wide straps which reduce pressure on vulnerable areas.

Fjällräven Art Laptop 15”


School bags never looked this cool when we were kids. To be fair, to describe this bag as such feels slightly disingenuous – this is a brilliant option for short camping trips and day hikes, and the extra thick padding in the internal laptop pocket ensured our tech was well protected.

Roomy front and side pockets meant plenty of space in which to stash smaller items, and we loved the fact that every single bag is unique due to the use of recycled fabric. Bonus points are awarded to Fjällräven for donating a chunk of profits to environmental projects, too.

Shop at Fjallraven here

Osprey Europe Daylite Carry-On


We’ve always been a fan of Osprey bags – they’re tough, lightweight and wonderfully comfortable, no matter how much stuff we’ve crammed into them.

The Daylite Carry-On is no exception – a compact, stylish bag which maximises the capacity dictated by airlines, but which still doubles as a brilliant hiking backpack. The design of the interior is refreshingly simple, with an easily accessible padded sleeve for laptops, and we were amazed by the size of the breathable mesh panel on the back – it covers almost the entire rear of the bag. This panel also doubles as a pocket for the straps, which can be tucked away – a godsend for those times when you’re manhandling backpacks into spaces like overhead lockers, or checking backpacks into airplane holds.

Patagonia Altvia Backpack 28L


This is one of the most versatile backpacks we’ve come across. It’s got a 28L capacity, but if you’re travelling light, its drawstring closure means it’s easy to tuck any excess fabric away. This was one of our favourite features. By plumping for a drawstring opening, Patagonia has reduced the chances of dirt and damp working its way inside the bag when it’s placed on the ground.

It also feels incredibly secure, something which is often a higher priority on camping trips, especially when there might be moments backpacks are left unwatched in tents for short periods of time. Add an ultra-breathable back panel and strap cushioning where we needed it most, and this might just be the most comfortable backpacks we’ve come across.

Roxy Coastal Hiking - Medium Backpack for Women


This is Roxy’s newest backpack and it’s one which proves that the prettiest rucksacks can be incredibly tough, too. No, you won’t wear this when summitting Everest or hiking to the North Pole, but as a daypack it’s hard to beat, with surprisingly large side pockets (we were especially impressed with their depth, something which is often sadly lacking in the world of external pockets), a rugged buckle system and strapping designed to hold items such as a skateboard.

Vango Shuttle 25


Full disclosure – this only comes out in May, but we guarantee it will be worth the wait, and that’s not simply because Vango bags are famously well designed. This bag has effortless access to the main compartment, ultra-tough components (the straps are particularly rugged) and a design which means it can be slipped sideways over handles on larger wheeled suitcases and rested on top. It’s also one of the few bags with a front stash product we’d consider using, due to the pocket’s concealed design.


Picture’s BP26 Backpack is a brilliant backpack which will rise to any challenge, whether you’re slogging it up Snowdon or simply exploring the walking trails surrounding your campsite. Few bags tick every box as well as the BP26, which packs a host of technical features into a backpack which looks the business, too.

Tentree’s Mobius 35L Backpack bags (excuse the pun) a gold star for its innovative design and expandability. It uses recycled material and will serves many purposes - the expandable clamshell opening made this a true one-size-fits-all backpack with limitless possibilities.