This summer’s wilderness trail explorations are bound to open up the world ahead of you. Enjoy star-filled nights or live that refreshing skinny-dip lifestyle at an alpine tarn. Let your mind recover and benefit from the break you’ve earned while you stare up at a massive rock wall or take in spectacular views while trekking up a mountain.
Finding the right way to haul your gear can make a big difference by reducing backaches and making you feel more lively when you arrive at your destination, allowing you to make the best of your outdoor time. Here are our recommendations for the best backpack for every type of outing this summer.
1. Easy walks
The feel-good factor is high with the tentree Renu 24L Day Pack, made from 30 recycled plastic bottles. The design is simple: the mesh water-bottle pocket and easy-access zipped enclosure for essential items make this pack a no-brainer for short walks from the car to well-maintained, low-impact park trails. Now there’s no excuse to stick to scenic drives this summer.
2. Day hikes
On a day hike, all it takes is a couple hours of effort for a magical payoff. Osprey’s Hikelite 18 will take care of storing what you need for a one-day trip. There are no frills here, just features that matter, like a well-ventilated back panel, fitted shoulder harness, and quick-access side pockets. It fits a thirst-quenching hydration reservoir, with the added nice touch of a hiking-pole attachment strap system.
If you’re embarking on a two-night journey, the Mystery Ranch Ravine Pack blends key needs that hikers will happy-dances over, thanks to its painstakingly good design, fit, and low weight. It’s a given considering the company’s pedigree that this pack entails high-quality materials and is built to withstand years on rocky trails.
4. Multi-night wilderness journeys
When you’re heading out on a long trail, the Gregory Deva 70 delivers elements that count — not only the needed form fit but also a hip-belt and shoulder harness that are meant to handle heavy loads. This pack is a big bonus when you’re halfway down that wet, rut-filled mud track since the material dries quickly and reduces hot spots.
5. Hot steps
Lightweight yet able to take a sand-storm pelting, Patagonia’s Nine Trails Pack comes complete with a must-have sleeve to fit your hydration bladder and easy-access pockets for key items on ultra-hot treks, like sunscreen and energy bars. You’ll appreciate that mesh on your back, too. Amen for air flow.
6. River and ocean trips
The Outdoor Research Dry Payload Pack has deluge-proof bomber construction, which is perfect for taking a beating on day hikes during multi-day river journeys, or walks into the gully-washer rainforest of British Columbia’s coastline. Don’t worry about your valuables getting soaked: this pack will keep your devices dry, so it’ll function just fine for capturing the moment a rainbow peaks through the storm clouds.
7. Trail runs
Go ahead and hit your dirt-track stride this summer with the ARC’TERYX Norvan 14 Hydration Vest, designed to carry what you need but not interfere with your step. With room for all the essentials, this pack has a form fit that prevents pack sway and provides ease of access to snacks when you’re about to collapse.