It's fair to say that we all like to browse and buy new kit and when heading to the mountains your backpack is by far the most used item. If you've decided it's time for an upgrade whether setting out for one or several day’s hiking, you’re spoilt for choice from a bewildering range of rucksacks. To help you choose your ideal trekking backpack, we’ve short listed several models that will serve you well on your next mountain adventure.
When deciding on your rucksack of choice, it’s important you take some time to reflect on what you really need. Should it be zip, drawstring or roll down top? What size do you need? Hip pockets? Water bladder compatible? Outside storage pockets? Women's specific option? Lightweight vs Durability? And as i'm sure you've found out no pack is fully waterproof! So does have a integrated waterproof liner or rain cover?
There are many questions to ask, but generally we all need to have easy access to our food, drink, sun cream and of course cameras. Having to stop and remove your sack each time you need something can get tiresome, so the ones that offer multiple storage options accessible while on your back are well worth considering.
There’s also the obvious kit difference between going for a day hike and what you need for multiple days on the trails. With a heavier load, the structure and support design becomes especially important when making your choice. The shoulder straps and hip belt should feel comfortable and enable you to wear the pack for several hours on end, often while using walking poles.
It’s hard to do extensive testing when in a shop for a short time, but asking for extra weight to add in the pack, and taking your time and doing some online research can really help you to make an informed choice.
The Montane Featherlight range offers a series of lightweight packs between 21-35 litres in size ideal for single day to multi-day hikes. They feature roomy hip pockets either side, a well-aerated back panel, and conveniently stows in its own pocket for packing in your main travel bag. We've had these on test and love the design and feel of these noticing every small feature having been carefully considered. They are incredibly comfortable even when fully loaded.
If planning a multi-day tour that requires you to carry everything on your back, or you want a more durable material to withstand any mountain environment then we'd recommend the new Halogen or Oxygen series. The Oxygen being the womens specific version. Available in either day pack size 24/25 litres or for bigger loads 32/33 litres. Again the design, fit and comfort of these is hard to beat along with being excellent value for money.
The Montane Ultra Tour 40 is a lightweight yet comfortable larger sack with everything you need for a bigger mountain adventure.
The Berghaus Freeflow 25 litre rucksack, redesigned in 2017, includes a back panel with increased air flow to keep you cooler, a built-in water bladder and an integrated rain cover. A good choice for day hikes also available in a womens specific version. We also like their Fast Hike 20 designed with speed in mind! It weighs just 535g (compared to 1155g for the Freeflow pack). It has a detachable waist-strap and back pad, among other removable components, which means you can leave behind a further 125 grams when you need to travel ultra-light!
For longer hiking trips, the Freeflow also comes in 35 litres and the highly customisable and comfortable Fast Hike 32 litre.
The Kutai Northface range has two small day pack options the 18 & 24 litres. They are big enough to fit in all of the essentials but small enough so that you don't bring extra! Then the 34 litre Kuhtai is a super lightweight 'large pack' alternative. With 'zippered' access and all the essential features designed specifically with weight in mind it's another perfect pack for fast mountain hikes as it only weighs 794g.
The Northface Blanchee range are all designed for bigger adventures in mind. The smallest in this series is the Blanchee 35 litre and it's bigger brother or sister is the Blanchee 50. They are sleek looking backpacks featuring hip pockets, a removable/floating lid and lots of pockets on the outside to stash extra bits of kit. These sacks can also be reduced in volume to accommodate a lighter load.
At Tracks and Trails we've been testing hiking, skiing and climbing specific Osprey sacks for many years. With a broad range of rucksacks available made with fastidious attention to detail, Ospreyoffer an excellent choice for all mountain adventures. Their 18 or 26 litre zippered Hikelite sacks offer a well designed back ventilation system and essential features in a slim compact design allowing you to store and access everything you need whist on the move.
Their trademark Talon range, with male and female specific designs, are an established classic that feature the full host of essentials you need to cope with whatever length of trip you take in the mountains. Choose from 11 - 44 litres packs and there's also a 6 litre Lumbar waist/hip belt in this range.
Lowe Alpine £60-£135
Lowe Alpine have over 50 years of experience in designing packs. Their extensive rangeoffers hip belts to full on 55 litre expedition sacks. The two groups of packs we like are the Airzone and Aeon series which offer packs for any mountain adventure. Notably the AirZone Z 25 litre sack which features a solid construction with a well-ventilated back system, along with plenty of handy storage options in and outside this zippered pack.
For longer trips, the Aeon series offers either the 33 (for women) or 35litre versions which come as traditional top loading designs. Lightweight yet robust materials with plenty of space but keeping weight as a premium.
Of course this list is by no means an exhaustive but should give you a good idea of what's currently on the market and a few features to look for. If you need any more advice, don’t hesitate to get in touch ask our advice.