Looking for an affordable hiking backpack? Then you’ve come to the right place – we found the ten best budget hiking backpacks, and we can’t wait to tell you all about them!
Some are small-capacity backpacks that are perfect for short hikes, and others are massive bags that even serious backpackers can enjoy. We wanted to include options for everyone, so we decided to feature a lot of different hiking packs!
At A Glance: Best Budget Hiking Backpacks
So, whether you’re looking for a small hydration pack or a large capacity climbing bag, you will find something for yourself in this detailed review!
Best Packable Backpack
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Best Hydration Backpack For Hikes
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Best Backpack With Expandable Capacity
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Best Large Capacity Backpack
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The Neekfox backpack is a very simple backpack that is great for people who are just getting into hiking. If you’re not sure that hiking is your thing and that you’ll be doing it often, it doesn’t make sense to spend a lot of money on a backpack. That’s where this $20 bag comes in – even if you use it just once, it’s still pretty good value.
And it’s actually a good backpack, so you’ll probably be inclined to use it more. The bag has a roomy main compartment with a few pockets inside, as well as two zippered pockets on the front panel. This pack also features stretchy side pockets with compression straps above them, so you can even use them for bulkier items.
The exterior of the bag is made from reinforced nylon, for excellent durability and water resistance. The latter is particularly important since you don’t get a rain cover with this budget hiking backpack.
On top of that, this entire backpack actually packs into its front compartment, for ultimate portability. This is the bag to get if you want something lightweight and packable, but like having a variety of external pockets. But, keep in mind that those pockets are the exact reason why this bag is not as packable as some others.
The Neekfox backpack features a pretty good back system. Obviously, you’re not getting luxe padding in the backpanel, but that’s the case with all packable bags. You are getting breathable mesh on the shoulder straps, as well as a convenient sternum strap that doubles as an emergency whistle.
If you’re primarily looking for a hydration backpack, the Teton Sports Oasis is easily a top contender. It is small, lightweight, and very well made. And, it obviously comes with a hydration bladder, so it’s really good value for money.
This is a small capacity Teton Sports pack, but you can still fit quite a lot of items in the 18-liter capacity of the bag. That is plenty for short and easy hikes, especially since water is taken care of with the hydration bladder. And you even have a few external attachment points, for the bulkier items that certainly won’t fit inside the actual backpack.
The bungee cord on the front panel is great for storing a spare layer of clothes or a blanket, while all the compression straps mean you could even attach a tripod or a sleeping pad to the exterior of the bag. And you even get a couple of attachment points that can hold virtually anything, as long as you have a carabiner.
Even though it’s a small backpack, the Oasis has some excellent organizational features. The main compartment is actually pretty roomy, and it is separate from the hydration compartment. The pack also features a front stash-it pocket, a smaller zippered pocket, and a sewn-in rain cover.
Last but not least, let’s talk about the Teton Sports Oasis’ back system. It is padded throughout and covered with breathable spacer mesh, for excellent ventilation.
On top of that, this tiny pack comes with a sternum strap and a hip belt, which is honestly impressive. You could definitely survive without the hip belt since this is a really small bag, but it’s nice to have the option. Especially if you fill it up with some really heavy things.
Tactical and military backpacks are also really popular for hiking. They are incredibly durable since they are made from mil-spec materials. And the main reason why people love them for hikes is that you get a variety of external attachment points, which let you attach pretty much anything you want to the exterior of the backpack.
However, these bags can get really pricey, which is why you don’t see too many people wearing them. But that’s only true for the absolute best military backpacks – you can get a decent one for a bargain. And the Pans tactical backpack is more than decent – it’s very durable, water-resistant and it has expandable capacity. Which makes it a very versatile backpack as well.
That’s another thing to love about tactical packs – they are always suitable for many different things. These bags always have at least one MOLLE panel, which means that you can attach whatever you want to the exterior of the bag. You can use them as camera bags, travel bags, or just classic everyday backpacks.
The Pans backpack is a great option for hikes because it has a pretty comfortable back system, in addition to all the different external attachment points. There’s thick padding in the back panel and adjustable shoulder straps, but unfortunately no breathable mesh. You do get a really comfortable hip belt though, as well as a convenient sternum strap.
In addition to all that, this hiking backpack has multiple compartments for easy organization of all your stuff, as well as several easily accessible pockets. And by easily accessible I mean pockets you can reach without taking off the backpack.
The Bseash hiking backpack is a great option if you want a more versatile bag. It has a pretty big capacity of 60 liters, which is actually suitable even for multi-day expeditions. And that makes this backpack a great option for long and demanding hikes, as well as camping trips and even backpacking adventures.
It has a versatile capacity that you can adjust and use in different situations. The longer adventures will allow you to make use of all that internal space as well as the external attachment points, while the straps let you also use the bag for some shorter outings. Just cinch in the pack if it’s not full, to ensure the best load stabilization.
And you get a total of 10 compression straps on the front of the bag, which is great not just for load stabilization, but also for securing those bulky items to the backpack. You also get a couple of other attachment points on the exterior, which is perfect for storing trekking poles. Plus, there are D-rings on the adjustable shoulder straps, which allow you have certain items within your hand’s reach.
The exterior of the bag is made from a mixture of polyester and nylon, with really good water resistance. It is not fully waterproof, but you do get a rain cover that will protect the contents of the bag in heavy downpours.
Additionally, this is a pretty comfortable backpack to wear. There’s thick padding in the backpanel and harness, as well as breathable mesh for great ventilation. The bag is also equipped with a hip belt and a sternum strap, which go a long way towards ensuring the weight of the backpack is not on your shoulders.
However, the harness is not height-adjustable, so it’s not going to be possible to get the absolute perfect fit.
The Nevo Rhino pack is a large-capacity hiking pack. It retails for a little over $50 for the smallest bag, so it’s not exactly dirt cheap. The 80-liter version goes up to nearly $100, but that’s still a really good deal for such a big bag. Keep in mind that those packs often cost hundreds of dollars, so a two-digit price tag is still budget-friendly.
The thing that I’m not so sure about with this backpack is the design – it’s clearly a knock-off of Osprey backpacks, specifically the Rook/Renn series. Sure, a lot of hiking backpacks look really similar, but not that many of them are the almost exact shame of turquoise, with branding in the same spots on the front panel.
But, that also means that you’re getting some of those fancy Osprey features for a bargain. I’m particularly a fan of all the compression straps since they can really make your life a whole lot easier, whether you’re just carrying a bunch of bulky items or have a half-empty bag.
The back system is also really comfortable. This is an internal frame backpack, so you are limited in terms of capacity and what you can attach to the exterior of the bag. But it’s also incredibly comfortable, with thick padding and breathable mesh on the hip belt, backpanel, and shoulder straps.
Another thing I really like about this backpack is the abundance of pockets. It has the classic stretchy side pockets, as well as zippered hip belt pockets, a front shove-it pocket, and a dedicated sleeping bag compartment. There are also sleeping pad straps at the bottom of the bag, as well as hiking pole loops at the sides.
Finally, it’s also worth mentioning that you’ll get a rain cover with this backpack, which immediately improved the overall value for money.
If you want a large-capacity backpack, the WoneNice bag is one of the best options out there. It’s under $50 so it’s super affordable, especially for such a large backpack with a variety of convenient features. And it is made from high-quality polyester and nylon, meaning you’re getting really good durability at a decent price point.
You’re also getting a backpack that is comfortable to wear and won’t make you sweaty during summer adventures. The WoneNice bag features ergonomic shoulder straps, as well as a backpanel with padded and ventilated foam inserts. Everything about the back system is adjustable, allowing you to get that perfect fit that feels the best.
And the thick hip belt and the sternum strap will make you even more comfortable since they ensure you don’t feel the actual weight of this pack on your shoulders.
This pack features a top-loading main compartment, a sleeping bag compartment at the bottom, zippered hip belt pockets, and dual side pockets. You can access the main compartment through the top or through the front of the bag, which is very convenient with large-capacity bags.
In addition to that, this pack is also equipped with sleeping pad straps at the bottom, as well as a top cover with internal and external pockets. It’s also worth noting that the top cover buckles onto the backpack, for extra security of your items.
And that also means that you get compression straps on the front panel, which is are very useful. Not only do they let you dictate the shape and size of the bag, but you can also use them to attach bulky stuff to the exterior of the bag.
If you’re looking to get a medium-sized backpack, the Mountaintop is one of your best options. It has an internal capacity of 40 liters, but also a variety of external attachment points for all the bulky gear. Because of that, this pack might just work even on some longer adventures, especially if you aren’t used to carrying a lot of gear with you.
The Mountaintop pack has one spacious main compartment that will hold the majority of your gear. There’s a roomy sleeve inside, which can easily hold an average 15.6” laptop. You could also use it for a hydration bladder, but there isn’t a hole for the hose, so it’s not really designed to allow you to set it up as a hydration sleeve.
It is possible to access the main compartment from both the top and through the sleeping bag compartment at the bottom. In addition to that, this backpack features several other external pockets, including stretchy ones on the sides, a hidden pocket on the front panel, and a couple of larger zippered pockets.
And let’s not forget about all the straps and attachment points on the exterior of the pack. You can attach items to the top, bottom, and sides of the bag, thanks to all the different compression straps. There are even a few D-rings on the comfy shoulder straps, for the stuff you want to have handy at all times.
The main downside of this backpack is that you can’t adjust the height of the harness. Because of that, the pack might not be a great fit for everyone, and there’s not much you can do about it. But, it is also not a very big backpack, so it is going to be a good fit for a lot of people, especially those who are of average size.
The ArmyCamo backpack is a really good option if you want something sturdy and versatile. It has an expandable capacity, which means you will be able to use this backpack in several different ways.
The basic capacity of this bag is some 40 liters, which is more than enough for day outings and short hikes. But if you want to take the backpack on longer adventures, all you have to do is expand it by undoing the back zipper and you will get an extra 25 liters of capacity. And that’s pretty insane!
Additionally, you can also attach some of the bulkier items to the exterior of the bag, thanks to the MOLLE panels and external compression straps. That’s what makes this backpack a great option for longer adventures, even if it’s not a large-capacity bag by design.
This tactical backpack features two zippered compartments on the front panel, which are great for the smaller stuff you want to have organized. Especially since the larger of the two compartments features an internal organizer.
It’s a great backpack in terms of capacity and versatility, but you could do better when it comes to carrying comfort. This bag does not have any breathable mesh on the backpanel, which means it’s seriously lacking in the ventilation aspect.
You don’t even get a hip belt, and that’s the bigger downside. It won’t be a comfortable backpack to wear at full capacity, especially if you’ve expanded the main compartment.
The Diamond Candy backpack is a great option for people who want a small/medium bag. It has a total capacity of 40 liters, which is great for day hikes and short camping trips. And it is a really great bag with a waterproof exterior, comfortable back system, and excellent organizational features.
This bag is made from waterproof nylon, which has great tear and abrasion resistance. It features SBS zippers that are high quality and the second-best type of zippers you can have on your bag. And it comes with a free rain cover, but that just leads me to believe that the exterior is not in fact waterproof.
It will probably do okay in light rain and snow but needs the rain cover to remain 100% waterproof in heavy downpours.
The thing I like the most about this backpack is the back system. It is padded, covered with breathable mesh and it features spaced-out foam inserts. This means you will always be comfortable when wearing the Diamond Candy pack, regardless of how hot or cold it is outside.
Especially since you also get a hip belt and a sternum strap, which guarantee that you won’t feel the actual load of the backpack on your shoulders. Instead, your hips are the ones carrying the majority of the load, ensuring your hikes and trips are all free from back pain.
There are three zippered compartments on this hiking backpack. The main compartment is the roomiest one, and it features a padded laptop sleeve inside. There’s also a compartment behind the backpanel, as well as a smaller zippered compartment on the front of the backpack.
But that’s just the beginning – the thing I really like about this hiking pack is the variety of smaller external pockets. You get hipbelt pockets as well as stretchy side pockets, which is amazing for items you need to have easily accessible.
The OutdoorMaster backpack is one of the most affordable options, with a retail price of some $30. It is a medium-sized backpack with a capacity of 45 liters and with an abundance of thoughtful features that will make your adventures a lot more enjoyable.
Let’s start with those – this is one of a few budget backpacks that features a headphone port, a key clip, and a hole for a hydration hose. All of those features are very convenient to have, but they’re not so important that you should buy a backpack just because of them.
The more important features of this backpack are the padded and ventilated backpanel, multiple roomy compartments for easy organization, and external attachment points. This backpack has sleeping pad straps at the bottom and hiking pole loops at the sides, as well as compression straps that let you attach even more items to the bag’s exterior.
And that’s in addition to the large main compartment, roomy front compartment, stretchy side pockets, and the front shove-it pocket. There’s even a tiny zippered pocket on the front panel, which is perfect for all the small stuff you want to have easily accessible.
On top of all that, this bag also comes with a rain cover that has its own compartment at the bottom of the bag. This is one of the backpacks that have the most features, and which is great for intermediate hikers who need a really functional bag but have a really tight budget.
It’s very important that you get a hiking backpack you can use almost all the time. Which means that, if you’re used to going on short hikes, you should look for a small capacity bag. And if you prefer to go on hiking expeditions that are at least a couple of days long, you need a massive backpack that will fit all the gear you have to have handy.
The great news is that I found lots of different shapes and sizes of hiking backpacks, so at least one of them is going to be a good option for you. But before you know which one, you should have a rough idea of what backpack size and capacity would work best for you.
And if you want a versatile bag that you can use for short and longer hikes, then go for a medium-sized bag with expandable capacity. These are the best when it comes to versatility since you are the one that dictates the actual size and shape of the bag.
You should also look for compression straps. They let you cinch in a backpack that’s not filled to capacity, in order to stabilize its load. And that is good for multiple reasons; one, it stops the items inside from getting jumbled around if the backpack is only half full. Two, the more stable the load of the pack is, the more comfortable you’re going to be when you’re moving around while carrying the bag.
And three, compression straps allow you to attach stuff to the exterior of a bag. The more of them you have, the bulkier items you’ll be able to secure to the backpack.
A hiking backpack should be really comfortable. It’s a bag you’re going to wear on your body while you’re attempting to walk around on uneven terrain, all the while balancing yourself and trying not to trip on something. A great hiking backpack will help you stay balanced and it won’t work against you.
But the exact features to look for really depend on the size of the bag. With small capacity bags, you’ll be comfortable no matter what, as long as there’s some padding in the backpanel. The only issue with small bags is that sometimes the things you put inside can poke you in the back, so look for backpacks that have the most comfortable backpanel.
With medium-capacity bags, you should also look for a hip belt. That’s one feature that ensures you’re not going to be in pain if your backpack gets really heavy since the whole point of a hip belt is to transfer the lad of the bag onto your hips. They are even more important with large-capacity backpacks, especially those that have lots of external attachment points.
Another thing to look for in backpacks is breathable mesh on the backpanel. This feature helps regulate airflow and keeps you from sweating bullets while you’re hiking with a heavy backpack on your torso.
Of course, this feature is more important in bags you want to wear on warmer days, as well as large-capacity packs that are really hugging your body. It’s something you can live without on a smaller capacity backpack since those usually end up slung over one shoulder anyway.
The best affordable hiking backpacks are the ones that are made from durable materials and that won’t fall apart after just a few uses. But that doesn’t mean you should expect to find an amazing bag for very little money – top-of-the-line hiking backpacks that the most avid hikers wear are not cheap at all and aren’t featured in this review.
Which is fine – you’re looking for a budget hiking backpack, not the best one money can buy. And all the budget hiking backpacks featured here are really good; most of them are made from water-resistant materials at the very least, with reinforced seams for extra durability.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you’re unlikely to find a backpack that is truly waterproof here. Sure, some bags are supposed to be waterproof, but then they also come with a rain cover. And that seriously makes me doubt just how waterproof they are.
The upside is that you do get a free rain cover with the majority of backpacks featured here, which isn’t the case with the more expensive bags. Plus, even the priciest hiking backpacks out there is usually just water repellant – very few are indeed waterproof.
Not sure which hiking backpack is the best option for you? It’s okay – just pick up one of our favorites and you’ll thoroughly enjoy it!
If you want a versatile backpack, the best option is the Pans military backpack. It has an expandable capacity, which lets you transform this from a medium-sized 40-liter bag into a 64-liter beast.
And with front and side MOLLE panels and compression straps, you’ll be able to attach even more stuff to the exterior of the bag. Whether you’re looking for just a hiking backpack or a bag you could travel with as well, the Pans backpack is a top contender.
In case you just want something that will help you stay hydrated while hiking, go with the Teton Sports Oasis backpack. It’s an excellent hydration backpack with a seriously affordable price tag.
The total capacity of the bag is 18 liters, it has a padded and ventilated back system, and it comes with both a hip belt and a sternum strap. And a hydration bladder is obviously included in the retail price of the bag!
If you’d like a large capacity bag, I have to recommend the Bseash backpack. It is lightweight, breathable, comfortable, and has an internal capacity of 60 liters. The actual capacity of the backpack is much higher than that, thanks to all the different straps and external attachment points.
This is easily the best budget backpack for multi-day expeditions, whether you’re into hiking, trekking, camping, or backpacking.
Head over to Amazon to learn more about any of the ten budget hiking packs featured here. And to see their low prices!
Check out our related posts for ideas on even more budget backpacks and hiking gear you might love.