The Best Expedition Backpacks - Top 10 for Your Hiking Needs

The Best Expedition Backpacks, Top 10 For Your Different Needs

Day hikes just aren’t enough for you to be stimulated anymore. You are a challenge-driven masochist, obsessed with the vistas and can't get enough of the fresh air Mother Earth has to offer. Then, you hear the words “long-distance hiking” and your mind runs amok. And your body goes into the garage looking for the top 10 expedition backpacks (because you have them all) so you can pick your favourite. Or you can read this to find out which one is the best. For you.

The following table shows a shortlist of our 10 best expedition backpack pick. If you are looking for more information about each, you will find them under the table. ​




Best For


Gregory Mountain Baltoro 75 backpack

Gregory Mountain Men's Baltoro 75

One of the best backpacks money can buy. Lifetime Guarantee.

Not really suitable for those who are chubby.

Best. Period.

Osprey Women's Ariel 75 Backpack

Women's Osprey Ariel 75

Extremely durable, has proven to be able to sustain the harshest of weathers.

Not for those who think "just a small hike today".

All you lady hikers and expeditionistas.

Granite Gear Blaze AC60 Backpack

Granite Gear Blaze AC60

One word: Amazing. Read the bigger review below.

Sorry, can't say wrong about this one.

Long, durable trails, expeditions, hike. You name it.

ALPS OutdoorZ Commander

Great for basecamp expeditions. External frame.

Top loader, make sure important stuff is not at the bottom.

Best for those who like to detach their frame from time to time.

Osprey Exos 58

Small and light.

Won't serve you for 2 months long expeditions.

Shorter expeditions and mid-sized hikes.

Gregory Denali 100

Big, fits anything inside. Once called best backpack of 2015

The only downside of this pack is: It. Is. Big 🙂

Those who want top-notch gear for their expeditions.

Mountaintop 70l+10l

Mountaintop 70L+10L

Excellent "no name" pack, has everything.

Only 90 days guarantee.

Those looking for a generic brand with highest price/value ratio.

Fjallraven Kaipack 58

Recycled material, still pretty good.

No user opinions on Amazon.

Those who care about the environment.

tactical rush 72 backpack

5.11 Tactical Rush 72

Rough, durable, really what you'd expect to see in military style.

Could scare off some people with robust looks.

Best for Survivalists.

teton sports scout backpack 3400

TETON Sports Scout 3400

Cheap, has features of better packs.

Cheap, not the premium material. Avoid if you are a serious hiker.

Beginner hikers and those on tight budget.

It’s been said that long-distance hiking is one of the last great adventures that humans can experience in this day in globalized age. Mapping out routes and sections along with logistics of your big adventure will get your imagination wandering, but it’s when you choose your backpack that you will know it’s a reality racing towards you.

There are many large backpacks, or expedition backpacks, out there to fit a variety of needs and preferences, so this article will discuss 10 of the best big packs out there with specific preferences in mind. Some of these packs will be combinations of a few categories, but that doesn’t make them any less notable.

Make sure to measure yourself accordingly before blindly choosing a pack that might not fit your body type.

Without further ado, let's check what you really need:

Top 10 Expedition Backpacks - The Best for Your Needs

Men’s: Gregory Mountain Men’s Baltoro 75

Gregory Mountain Baltoro 75 backpack

When a pack wins a Backpacker Magazine Award and Outdoor Magazine’s Gear of the Year award, you’d better pay attention. Gregory’s pack, the Men’s Baltoro 75 has got everyone talking.

The Response A3 suspension system maximizes comfort by balancing heavy loads over you and the terrain properly. Customizable options include an easy-change hipbelt and shoulder harness, as well as user-friendly lower back adjustments. A raincover is included for soggy days, along with a daypack for summit attempts from camp. Other than the main U-zip on the front of the pack for easy access, the hipbelt and two side-mounted zippered pockets provide even more storage for items you want close.

With a lifetime warranty, anyone would be crazy to not consider this pack.

Find out more about this great pack

For people who prefer a little bit smaller packs, there is the Baltoro 65 that might fit your needs better. But then again, when you're out to go expedition hiking, a little bit more room is always welcome.

Check Price on Amazon

Women’s: Women’s Osprey Ariel 75

Osprey Women's Ariel 75 Backpack

The Women’s Osprey Ariel 75 is “known for its ability to be taken all over the world, from the summit of Everest to a backpack trip through your local wilderness.”

This is the fourth generation of Aerial, combining its predecessors success with up-to-date improvements. Some new features on this legendary pack are found in the hipbelt and peripheral frame.

The IsoForm CM hipbelt gives you the best possible carry through cushioned firmness, while the LightWire peripheral frame transfers the load to this comfortable hipbelt. The main compartment of the pack is J-zip sealed for convenience.

Also, the trekking pole attachment and external hydration sleeve are smart features that make life on the trail just a bit easier. Even though this pack has been built upon, no additional weight has come to the pack.

Overall, a great, big pack for women with great, big, ambitious adventures in mind.

Check Price on Amazon

Internal frame: Granite Gear Blaze AC60 Internal Frame Pack

Granite Gear Blaze AC60 Backpack

The Granite Gear Blaze AC60 Internal Frame Pack, my personal favorite, stood strong over my 2,000+ mile thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail in 2012 and is still in top-shape today!

Also a Backpacker Editior’s Choice Award winner, it’s design is simple and lightweight but built to take a beating. The AirCurrent suspension and frame is probably the most complex part of the pack. The molded alloyed frame and air channels provide the hiker with essential support under loads while keeping them cool through durable stretch mesh that allows for efficient evaporation. Easy torso adjustments, padded shoulder straps, and a customizable hipbelt encourage the hiker to be comfortable.

This pack is a top loader that can expand with more equipment in the bag or can be cinched down by the Line-Loc compression system in almost every direction. The Line-Loc cord can also be replaced with ease if it wears down or breaks (though mine never has).

The long front mesh pocket with two on each side gives you more options for additional gear or water bottles. What you see is what you get; the Blaze AC60 is a straight-up bad@$$!

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External frame: ALPS OutdoorZ Commander Freighter Frame Plus Pack Bag

ALPS-OutdoorZ-Commander-FreighterThe ALPS OutdoorZ Commander Backpack is a great package for expeditions to and from base camp. Two huge products are included; the 5250 cubic inch pack and the Commander Freighter Frame, which are detachable from one another.

Along with the main body storage, the pack has a front body pocket, a pocket for scopes, a rifle slot, and two small pockets attached on one side. It is a top loader, but also has lower access to the inside of the pack.

Once inside, you’ll find an internal horizontal divider to manage all types of gear. A padded waist belt and shoulder straps keep massive loads comfortable on your back as well. Once detached, the Freighter Frame can be used to haul whatever you can cinch down with the lashing system.

With a combined weight of nearly 7 and a half pounds, this beastly duo is a workhorse at your command.

Check Price on Amazon

Smaller/Lighter: Osprey Exos 58 Backpack

Osprey-Packs-Exos-58-BackpackThe lightest of its brethren at 2.6 pounds, the Osprey Exos 58 Backpack is small in stature, but no less ready to take on multi-day treks.

The ExoForm harness and hipbelt brings padding and ventilation together with the AirSpeed suspension to make a high-performance support system. Also, the peripheral frame is aluminum alloy that supports the backpacker with “an internal suspended cross strut.”

Unique designs include the back panel compartment found inside the pack that can hold up to 3 liters of hydration, a removable top pocket with clip, and a mesh pocket found under the lid for easy-access organization.

If you want to undertake a speedy expedition, the Osprey Exos 58 will give you the wings you need to fly.

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Bigger/Heavy loads: Gregory Denali 100


The Gregory Denali 100 scored a high 93 on Gear Institute as one of the best backpacks of 2015. According to Gear Institute, the Denali 100 is “built like a tank and can really take punishment.”

gregory-denaly-100-2The harness is easily adjusted for every kind of shoulder there is. The sewn-in framesheet is made with careful attention to back protection against the hiker’s own gear and has no weak spots; all while keeping the weight off. The anti-barreling cross made of lightweight aluminum keeps heavy loads balanced and stable.

A few features can be removed from the bag to save weight and make this bag perfect for your personal expeditions, including “frame stays, top pocket, bivy pad and waist belt padding.”

The Denali 100 is, without a doubt, a must-have on any extreme multi-day adventure.

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Generic Brand: Mountaintop 70L+10L Backpack

Mountaintop 70l+10lThe Mountaintop 70L+10L is not a name many have heard, but should start looking out for. It isn’t too unique of a pack, except for the price.

Whether you get it on sale or not, you get an expedition bargain of a lifetime. All the compartments you would expect are inside, as well as pockets on the top, sides, and at the hips. There is a raincover included, but the nylon fabric of the main body is also water-resistant.

Miscellaneous equipment can hang from hooks, loops, rings, and straps found all over with compression straps to tidy loads up. Finally, the internal frame system spreads the load across the body comfortably by putting most of it into the hips and legs.

Only a 90 day warranty included, but it’s pretty tempting for this price range.

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Ecopack: Fjallraven Kaipack 58

Listen up all you tree-huggers, this one’s for you!

Fjallraven-Kaipack-58-backpackMade from recycled polyester and organic cotton, the Fjallraven Kaipack 58 is taking big strides to do its part for the environment. The eco-friendly fabric is tough, but can be coated with Greenland Wax for more protection.

This top loading eco-pack still does everything expected of a multi-day bag. The suspension system is supported through the hipbelt, which has two pockets. There is a top lid with two pockets as well as a one pocket zip-up on the front.

So many packs in the industry are manufactured from synthetic materials, making this pack highly unusual and progressive.

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Military style: 5.11 Tactical Rush 72 Backpack


You can expect the 5.11 Tactical Rush 72 Backpack to withstand anything that military personnel encounter because it was designed by one of its own. Special Operations combat veteran Kyle Lamb made this pack in mind for three-day outings and guarantees that with a multitude of storage space.

The pack has two major compartments and many pockets within to ensure organization. Mesh compartments, large zippered pockets, side pockets for large water bottles, a fleece lined pocket for fragile items, among so many others can be found all over the Tactical Rush pack.

Padded shoulder straps have MOLLE-compatible webbing, padded waist straps are removable, and the breatheable padded pack is long-hike friendly.

Other features include a hydration pocket for a water bladder, tough carry handle, YKK zippers, durable clips all found on this water-resistant nylon pack.

Go tough with this pack or go home.

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Budget pack: TETON Sports Scout 3400 Internal Frame Backpack

If you’re new to backpacking and looking to get into it or are on a serious money crunch, the Teton Scout 3400 Backpack could be meant for you. Reviewed by many with overall good ratings, the Scout 3400 is a strong pack for how little you’ll pay, with similar features to more expensive packs on the market.

Top 10 Expedition Backpacks

Teton claims strong zippers, lowerback support via mesh, padded straps, and flexible aluminum stays. Storage for a hydration bladder (not included) is inside the 55 Liter main compartment that can be closed securely by two barrel-lock drawstrings.

Compression straps on the front and side can secure larger items like tents - if you don't want to carry too much, check out our article about lightweight tents - and sleeping mats/pads, while bungee storage options on the top and front can hold even more. Gear loops are also attached for additional equipment. Finally, a yellow rainfly is included for your safety.

Other than a limited lifetime warranty, nothing is left out of this budget pack.

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What is an Expedition Backpack? Is it different from Hiking Backpacks?

In my mind, when we are talking "expedition" it is not just the hike. It's the long journey of several weeks or even months where you need to carry everything with you. Either you are hiking the trails for 3-4 weeks or you are on Arctic expedition, all your needs have to fit in this backpack.

This is the reason you won't see a mini-, one day backpack in our list. Those are a different kind of breed.

If you are going only for a shorter period of time, or you are somewhere near a normal shelter you might consider different equipment. Maybe the most essential hiking equipment article will help you.

But for expeditions, long lasting hikes or just one of those tours where you absolutely must bring a ton of stuff with you, this best list of backpacks is made for you.​

Still, the best advice I could give you is this: Do your research and keep safety in mind before you get out there on those wild and crazy adventures. That doesn’t mean you have to get any less excited about the gear!

Happy trails!

About the author

    Brent Johnson

    Brent is busy bouncing around the globe, scribbling pen onto paper along his way. He finds inspiration in nature, extraordinary people, and the experience of adventure from challenging hikes and boardsports. He also likes to play guitar and is traveling with his fiancee, Kirsty.

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