If you want to start exploring the great outdoors by hiking or backpacking, you may be put off by the high price of gear. We get it, backpacking is not a cheap hobby!
High-end backpacking packs can go for $300 or more, putting them out of reach of many outdoor enthusiasts on a tight budget.
However, you do not have to give up on your dreams of roaming around in nature because there are affordable alternatives out there! Check out our list of the best budget backpacking packs on the market this year.
Don’t have time to read this whole post? Here’s a high-level look at our list of the best budget backpacking packs this year:
- REI Co-op Flash 55 – TWE Recommendation #1
- Mountaintop – Adventure 55 Liter
- Teton Sports Scout 3400
- REI Co-Op Trailmade 60
- Kelty Coyote 65 – TWE Recommendation #2
- Mountain Warehouse Carrion 65 Liter
- Amazon Basics 75 Liter
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Table of Contents
1. REI Co-op Flash 55
The REI Flash 55 is an excellent budget lightweight backpacking pack. Although it is super-light, it will handle a medium load pretty well.
There are a few standout features that make this budget backpacking pack at the top of our list. First, we love the integrated suspension system, allowing you to hike cool and comfortably.
Second, its Packmod system lets you customize the position of straps and pockets, of which there are plenty! Don’t need all the extra pockets for your trip? You can take them off altogether to reduce weight.
However, because it is a very lightweight pack, it is not meant to carry loads heavier than 30 to 35 pounds, which may or may not be sufficient for your backpacking needs.
The fabric is also not the most durable compared to higher-end models, so you should do your best to keep it away from abrasive rock walls or branches that could cause the fabric to snag.
REI Co-op Flash 55
Weight: 2.6 pounds
Volume: 55 liters
Price: Approximately $200
2. Mountaintop – Adventure 55 L
The Mountaintop Adventure 55L is a pretty decent entry-level, budget-friendly backpack for new backpackers.
It’s somewhat heavier than a few of the other packs on this list but offers a durable aluminum frame and tough fabric that will last you for many years, even when carrying heavy loads.
It features a sleeve for a hydration bladder and a bottom-access compartment for your sleeping bag. However, you should note that the rain shield the pack comes with is not entirely waterproof and may fail to keep your belongings dry in truly heavy downpours.
Is a 55-liter too small for your needs? It also comes in an 80L size for those requiring extra capacity.
3. Teton Sports Scout 3400
The Teton Sports Scout 3400 is an excellent option for a basic budget-friendly backpacking pack, offering plenty of room to stow your gear.
A few things we like about it? It has good durability and the ability to carry a heavy load. You can even use the external bungee storage for your jacket or other items you need to access quickly.
And if you’d like to share this one pack among your other hiking buddies? The multi-position torso adjustment fits a wide range of body sizes.
Having said that, it is also a bit bulkier and heavier than the other options on this list, weighing in at 4.5 pounds. While this is okay for most beginners, if you’re trying to keep your pack weight down, you will want to look for something else.
It is also not the most comfortable pack, with the straps being bulkier than others with the potential to cause sore shoulders during longer backpacking trips.
Ultimately, if you don’t want to spend $250 and up on a pack you’re going to use just occasionally, the Teton Sports Scout 3400 would make a good budget beginner pack — to be traded in for an upgrade as you get into the sport of backpacking more.
4. REI Co-Op Trailmade 60 Pack
The REI Trailmade 60 Pack is a top budget-friendly choice for all your outdoor adventures this year.
One standout feature of the Trailmade 60 is its adjustable torso length, accommodating various body sizes effortlessly. Whether you’re sharing the pack with a friend or planning to hand it down, this pack ensures a comfortable fit for a pretty wide range of people! And it’s available in two sizes: Regular (S–XL) and Extended (2XL–4XL).
The padded back, shoulder straps, and contoured hipbelt deliver exceptional comfort, even during long hikes. Say goodbye to discomfort and soreness – this backpack has your back, literally!
Organization is also a breeze with the Trailmade 60. Its roomy top-loading main compartment, separate sleeping bag compartment, and six additional storage compartments keep your gear neatly organized. Need quick access to your sleeping bag? No problem – the dedicated sleeping bag compartment has its own zipper for convenience. You can even collapse the internal divider to create a larger main compartment when needed.
Worried about balance and stability? The external compression straps ensure your load stays tight and well-balanced, making your hikes easier and more enjoyable.
Convenience is key, and this backpack delivers. Stash pockets on the back and hipbelt are perfect for your phone, snacks, or extra layers. Plus, it’s compatible with additional accessories like the Packmod Hipbelt Extender, Rainshield Pocket, and Mesh Pocket (not included) for added functionality.
Do note that it does not come with a rain fly, meaning you will need to buy one separately to keep your belongings dry when backpacking in wet conditions. But if you plan to mainly backpack in dry conditions, you won’t have issues at all!
REI Co-op Trailmade 60 Pack
Weight: 3 lb 6 oz. regular | 3 lb 11 oz. extended
Volume: 60 liters
Price: Approximately $170
5. Kelty Coyote 65
The Coyote is the flagship trekking pack from the bright minds over at Kelty.
The Kelty Coyote 65 is a super performer for its price and holds its own against packs that cost twice as much. Although it is a heavier pack, its capacity and durability allow you to comfortably carry loads of 45 to 50 pounds. Wow, that’s hefty.
The shoulder and hip belt have dense foam padding and a Velcro panel allows you to adjust torso height. These features add to its comfort, and you can hike all day without it wearing on you.
The upper-side wing pockets add to your ability to keep your pack organized, which we’re all about. In fact, this pack shines for its ample pocket space. Aside from the Kelty Signature wing pockets, there are also two front zippered pockets and a large J-zip top-loading access to the main compartment.
If we were to call out the backpack’s faults, we’d choose the positioning of some of the pockets. The positioning of the side zipper pockets makes the water bottle holders a bit challenging to access.
Despite that, this backpack is still a superstar of an option.
6. Mountain Warehouse Carrion 65 L
The Carrion 65 L pack is marketed as lightweight, although at 4.7 pounds, it is pretty heavy. However, it is constructed from quality materials and is very durable. You can carry around 50 to 55 pounds without straining it and adjust the pack’s fit to various body sizes and types.
It comes with a padded air mesh back for ventilation, a compartment for a hydration bladder, load balance adjusters, and a rain fly. For its price, it competes well with more expensive packs in terms of features.
On the downside, it is not the most comfortable pack, and you may get sore after miles on the trail.
Mountain Warehouse Carrion 65 L
Weight: 4.7 pounds
Volume: 65 liters
Price: Approximately $95
7. Amazon Basics 75 L
The Amazon Basics 75 L pack is an excellent option for those looking for a larger budget-friendly pack for longer trips. It can carry loads of 50 pounds or more (although you really should not take a pack weight of more than 20% of your body weight).
This no-frills backpack is made of durable polyester and offers plenty of zippered compartments and attachment points to carry gear on the outside. It features a water-repellent coating and a built-in rainfly to protect your belongings against the elements. Moreover, there is a separate sleeping bag compartment.
You can hardly get a better pack this size for a comparable price. The only downside is that the adjustable shoulder straps tend to slip open during prolonged walking, so you may need to do a quick adjustment to re-position them while hiking.
Tips For Choosing Your Budget Backpacking Pack
- Determine Your Needs: Consider the type and duration of your trips. A weekend backpacker may have different requirements than a thru-hiker. Choose a backpack size that matches your typical adventure.
- Fit Matters: Proper fit is crucial for comfort. Look for a backpack with an adjustable harness or torso length to ensure it fits your body well. Try it on and make adjustments in-store if possible. We personally like to try on backpacks at outdoor stores like REI before ordering online!
- Weight Distribution: Ensure the backpack distributes weight evenly. The majority of the weight should rest on your hips, not your shoulders. Look for a padded hip belt and shoulder straps.
- Capacity: Think about how much gear you need to carry. A smaller capacity pack is sufficient for ultralight backpacking, while longer trips may require a larger pack.
- Pack Weight: Budget backpacks may be slightly heavier than premium options, so consider the weight of the pack itself if you’re concerned about carrying extra weight. If you can afford a bit more for a lighter backpack, we’d 100% recommend you opt for the lighter option!
- Durability: Look for reinforced seams and sturdy materials. Keep in mind that budget backpacks may not be as rugged as higher-priced models, so you should handle it with care whenever possible.
- Pockets and Organization: Consider the number and placement of pockets and compartments. Additional storage can help keep your gear organized and accessible.
- Water Resistance: While most backpacks are not fully waterproof, some offer water-resistant coatings or come with rain covers. Think about the weather conditions you’ll encounter — if your pack doesn’t come with a rainfly and you plan to backpack in rainy conditions, buy yourself a separate rainfly.
- Test Packing: Before your trip, practice packing and adjusting your backpack. This helps you familiarize yourself with its features and ensures everything fits comfortably. The last thing you want to deal with is unnecessary abrasion on your shoulders/belt from a poor fit that you have to abort your backpacking mission halfway through!
- Budget Considerations: While budget backpacks offer good value for backpacking first-timers, avoid compromising on essential features like comfort and fit to save a few dollars. Premium packs are designed for increased durability with ergonomic features, adjustable harnesses, and padded straps for superior comfort during long hikes, reducing the risk of discomfort or pain.
- User Reviews: Read user reviews and seek recommendations from experienced backpackers. Real-world experiences can provide valuable insights into a backpack’s performance!
- Warranty: Check if the backpack comes with a warranty. It’s a good indicator of the manufacturer’s confidence in their product’s durability.
- Rent or Borrow: If you’re new to backpacking, consider renting or borrowing a backpack for your first trip. This allows you to test different models and take note of what backpack features you like/dislike before making a purchase of your own.
- Pack Light: Lastly, remember that less is often more when it comes to backpacking. Pack only what you truly need to keep your load manageable and enjoyable.
And there you have it! Hopefully, you were able to find yourself the perfect budget-friendly backpacking pack based on your trip needs!