Best Hiking Backpack Under $100

Best Hiking Backpack Under $100: Top 5 of 2021

One of the most important hiking items you will purchase is your backpack. It’s tasked with keeping your supplies and valuables safe throughout your time on the trail.

Here at SnowSunSee, we know that finding a quality backpack that won’t break the bank can be difficult. The amount of options available can be overwhelming, with each one having its own unique benefits.

In this article, we aim to help you find the best hiking backpack under $100. We’re on a mission to prove that stashing your gear doesn’t need to cost a fortune.

Ranking The Best Hiking Backpacks Under $100

  1. Teton Sports Explorer 4000
  2. Duraton 50L Hiking Backpack
  3. Kelty Redwing 36L
  4. High Sierra Pathway 30L
  5. N Nevo Rhino 80L Hiking Backpack

Best Hiking Backpack Under $100 Comparison

Name

Price

Overview

Practical and comfortable multiday backpack that performs well above its price tag

Versatile overnight hiking pack with superb durability and a time-tested design 

High-quality multiday pack that is packed full of features usually found in expensive products

Large and multi-functional pack that's reliable enough for backpacking

Lightweight backpack that's great for minimalist hikers trying to reduce weight

Best For

Overall

Overnight

Multiday

Extended Trip

Ultralight

Pros

Practical floating pockets, durable fabric, comfortable, rain cover included

Durable, ventilated, feels secure, lightweight, versatile, comfortable, useful pockets

Durable design, bladder compatible, great straps and pockets, comfortable

Easy-to-reach pockets, rain cover included, feels secure, practical design

Lightweight, secure, comfortable, durable, versatile, practical

Cons

Zippers lack durability, not a great fit for taller hikers

Lacking hipbelt pockets

Stitching can separate over time

Straps and buckles lack durability

Lacks padded valuables pockets

Overall Rating

Capacity

65L

36L

50L

80L

30L

Weight

5lbs. (2300g)

2lbs. 9oz (1162g)

3lbs. 2oz (1406g)

4lbs. 10oz (2088g)

2lbs. (907g)

Material

600D Polyester, 600D Nylon

420D Polyester

500D Nylon

Nylon

600D Polyester

Why Do I Need The Best Hiking Backpack Under $100

Your hiking backpack is essential. It’s tasked with storing your refuelling supplies, valuables, spare clothes and even camping equipment.

Heading into the outdoors with a poor quality pack can be uncomfortable and impractical. However, many of the best options can set you back some serious cash, which makes many hikers settle for reduced outdoor performance.

We believe that sticking to a budget doesn’t necessarily mean you need to suffer with poor quality products. With this guide to the best hiking backpacks under $100, we’re sure to find you a suitable model for a sensible price.

Hint: If you’re looking to further reduce your budget, we have also reviewed the best hiking backpacks under $50.

Best Hiking Backpack Under $100
Quality hiking backpacks can be expensive

How To Choose The Best Hiking Backpack Under $100

Capacity

Hiking backpack capacity refers to the total packing space available. It is the combined total space available in all pockets and compartments.

The size of backpack you require is a personal preference, which is dependant on how much gear you need to carry. Although it’s always important to make your own assessment, we are able to provide some general guidelines based on trip duration:

  • 30 to 50 Litres: Overnight (1-2 Nights)
  • 40 to 70 Litres: Multiday (2-3 Nights)
  • 60+ Litres: Extended Trip/Backpacking (3+ Nights)

Keep in mind that these are estimated figures, with every hiker having individual packing needs. However, you shouldn’t go too far wrong if you stay within these boundaries.

Best Hiking Backpack Under $100
Long trips require bigger backpacks

Weight

Hikers are usually trying to save weight by any means possible. Feeling light on your feet is key to a successful trip, which makes pack weight a key consideration for many.

The empty weight can vary greatly between different packs. Some lightweight 50L multiday packs can weigh just 2lbs, while others weight 5 or 6lbs.

One key point to note here is the amount of gear each backpack is capable of carrying. Lighter options tend to use thinner materials and a minimalist design, making them less capable when hauling heavy gear.

If you’ve got older hiking equipment that is relatively heavy, we advise you prioritize durability over weight. However, anyone with lightweight modern hiking gear can look towards a lighter backpack.

Frame

Most good quality hiking backpacks come with an internal frame. It adds structure to the shape of your pack and stops it from sagging under pressure.

Most frames generally have a body hugging design that keeps you feeling stable on uneven terrain. A ‘load support system’ is generally used to keep the weight around your hips, rather than crippling your back.

It’s common to see ultralight backpacks using a frameless design. Although it’s a great way to save weight, it’s not recommended for anyone carrying a heavy load.

Pockets

Main Compartment

The bulk of your storage capacity will be located in the main compartment. It is the centre of your backpack and tasked with carrying most of your gear.

Most packs use a top-loading design, with a ‘lid’ at the top secured by a cinch cord or zipper. It’s a classic design that allows you to pile in plenty of gear, but it does restrict access to items at the bottom.

Some modern hiking backpacks have side access panels. It’s a useful feature that means you can easily access any section of the main compartment without unpacking. However, it can often add to the weight and price.

Exterior Pockets

Exterior pockets are tasked with making your life easier. Every hiking backpack will have a different selection of pockets with the aim of improving practicality.

  • Elastic side pockets sit flat when not in use, but can stretch outwards when adding equipment. It’s a great place to store a water bottle or any other small and solid objects.
  • Hipbelt pockets have exceptional accessibility. They provide the perfect space for your smartphone, lip-balm or trail mix.
  • Attachment loops are designed to carry your trekking poles, ice axe or shovel. Lightweight and non-bulky, they are a handy addition.
  • Exterior floating pockets come in a range of shapes and sizes. Usually using a zipper closure, they provide space for your rain jacket, midlayers and accessories.

The pocket availability of your pack will greatly impact its practicality. Check over each option and make sure there is space to keep your essential items on hand at all times.

Ventilation

Not everyone considers ventilation when purchasing a new hiking backpack. However, it’s vital if you want to avoid ‘sweaty back syndrome’.

Most hiking backpacks use ventilation systems within the back panel to maximize airflow. The most popular method is to use ventilation channels that allow fresh air circulation.

Some modern packs have started using a ‘suspended mesh’ back panel that provides space between your back and the backpack frame. It means that your back sits against a breathable mesh panel, giving it room to breath without being pressed up against the main backpack.

It’s worth noting that higher end products generally provide the best ventilation. Suspended mesh designs often add significant cost, with ventilation channels being more common amongst budget backpacks.

Water-Resistance

Making sure heavy rain doesn’t soak your hiking gear is important. Any good quality backpack will offer some level of water-resistance, although it can vary between different products.

Most packs are made from tough nylon or polyester that has natural water-resistance. Many also include a DWR (durable water resistant) coating, which helps the water to bead-up without penetrating the fabric.

Some of the best hiking backpacks under $100 also come with a removable rain cover. It can be easily applied when you’re facing a downpour and provides complete waterproofing.

Best Hiking Backpack Under $100
Finding a backpack that can combat the elements is vital for many

Best Overall Hiking Backpack Under $100

Teton Sports Explorer 4000

Teton Sports Explorer 4000
  • Category: Multiday
  • Capacity: 50L
  • Material: 600D Polyester/Nylon
  • Weight: 5lbs. (2300g)
  • Hydration Compatible: Yes
  • Retailers: Amazon
  • Alternate Models: Scout 3400,

Comfort

Ventilation

Water-Resistance

Pockets & Straps

Adjustability

Practicality (Ease-Of-Use)

Durability

Overall

Teton Sports have created the Explorer 4000 to provide practicality and comfort to hikers without breaking the bank. In our review, we were blown away by the intelligent design and overall quality displayed for such a reasonable price.

The Explorer 4000 is designed with comfort in mind, using a strong internal frame that places the weight comfortably on your torso. The frame is also supplemented by foam padding that feels cushioned and gives the pack balance.

The variety of easy-to-reach pockets was also a standout factor and we were particularly impressed by the intuitive side-panel gear pockets. In order to keep you content in any weather, the Explorer 4000 is hydration ready and comes with a waterproof rain cover.

The build-quality and features offered by the Teton Sports Explorer 4000 make it a standout backpack for budget hikers. It’s made from durable fabric, has great storage features and feels comfortable on any terrain.

Pros

  • Great external pockets
  • Rain cover included
  • Hydration ready
  • Sturdy aluminium frame
  • Comfortable feel
  • Well balanced suspension
  • Good padding

Cons

  • Fits shorter hikers better
  • Zippers can break over time

Best Overnight Hiking Backpack Under $100

Kelty Redwing 36L

Kelty Redwing 36L

Comfort

Ventilation

Water-Resistance

Pockets & Straps

Adjustability

Practicality (Ease-Of-Use)

Durability

Overall

Kelty is a brand that specialize in quality hiking and camping gear, with decades of experience allowing them to perfect their backpacks. The Redwing 36L is arguably their best budget backpack on the market, providing comfort and quality for a bargain price.

The newest version of the Redwing features an improved perimeter frame that feels super stable. The well padded shoulder and sternum straps add to the overall security, with ample padding to ensure comfort.

The simple yet practical design features easy-to-use external pockets and a main compartment with enough space for overnight hikes. The design is topped off by a reliable ‘AMP-flow’ ventilation system that allows air circulation across your back for hot weather comfort.

If you’re looking for a time-tested overnight hiking backpack for a reasonable price, we are happy to recommend the Kelty Redwing 36L. Its quality has been proven over a number of years, with comfort and performance that’s above its price tag.

Pros

  • Stable frame
  • Solid construction
  • Ventilated back panel
  • Simple and intuitive design
  • Comfortable to carry
  • Good load compression straps
  • Time-tested reliability

Cons

  • Hipbelt pockets would be an improvement
  • Bungee cords can get caught when bushwhacking

Best Multiday Hiking Backpack under $100

Duraton 50L Hiking Backpack

Duraton 50L Hiking Backpack Under $100
  • Category: Multiday
  • Capacity: 50L
  • Material: 500D Nylon
  • Weight: 3lbs. 2oz. (1406g)
  • Hydration Compatible: Yes
  • Retailers: Amazon
  • Alternate Models: N/A

Comfort

Ventilation

Water-Resistance

Pockets & Straps

Adjustability

Practicality (Ease-Of-Use)

Durability

Overall

The US veteran owned brand of Duraton is relatively new to the market, but are proving they know how to make quality products. Adding their 50L hiking backpack onto our list was an easy decision, thanks to its durable construction and thoughtful design.

The pack’s 500D nylon outer fabric has great durability and gives it a sturdy feel that can naturally resist bad weather. The shell material also combines with a high-density foam that adds comfort.

The straps and compartments included are also plentiful, with the easy-to-reach hipbelt pockets being a standout feature. In addition, the pack is hydration compatible and includes a rain cover.

The overall design and quality offered by the Duraton 50L makes it a great budget pack for multiday trips. It’s packed full of useful features and tough enough to withstand outdoor adventures.

Pros

  • Durable all-round construction
  • Hydration ready
  • Tough fabric
  • Well-padded
  • Comfortable fit
  • Hipbelt pockets included
  • Secure and stable
  • Easy storage access

Cons

  • Strap stitching can stretch over time

Best Extended Trip Hiking Backpack Under $100

N Nevo Rhino 80L Hiking Backpack

N Nevo Rhino Hiking Backpack Under $100

Comfort

Ventilation

Water-Resistance

Pockets & Straps

Adjustability

Practicality (Ease-Of-Use)

Durability

Overall

Finding a budget backpack under $100 that can withstand the demands of a thru-hike can be challenging. However, the N Nevo Rhino 80L offers the quality and performance required for an extended trip without blowing your budget.

The substantial packing space is predominantly found within the main compartment, which is expandable from 75-80L. It also features an array of useful external pockets, including a handy waistpack and sleeping bag storage space.

The versatile pack comes with a rain cover and is compatible with hydration kits. It also feels surprisingly secure on your back for a high capacity backpack, with the internal frame giving it a solid structure and suspension.

Overall, we were incredibly impressed by the value for money offered by the N Nevo Rhino 80L. It’s practical enough for long days on the trail and has a variety of features that make it suitable for any situation.

Pros

  • Large packing space
  • Expandable main compartment
  • Hydration compatible
  • Rain cover included
  • Feels stable for a large pack
  • Great hipbelt pockets
  • Good selection of loops and pockets

Cons

  • Overall durability is not the best
  • Lacking ventilation

Best Lightweight Hiking Backpack Under $100

High Sierra Pathway 30L

High Sierra Pathway 30L Hiking Backpack Under $100
  • Category: Overnight
  • Capacity: 30L
  • Material: 600D Polyester
  • Weight: 2lbs. (907g)
  • Hydration Compatible: No
  • Retailers: Amazon
  • Alternate Models: N/A

Comfort

Ventilation

Water-Resistance

Pockets & Straps


Adjustability

Practicality (Ease-Of-Use)

Durability

Overall

If you’re looking for a lightweight hiking backpack that won’t break the bank, the High Sierra Pathway 30L is a great choice. It’s an overnight pack with the pockets and functionality to serve you well on the trail.

The pack is predominantly constructed from 600D nylon fabric that is naturally water-resistant and highly durable. The back panel is well padded and comes with an airflow system to fend off ‘sweaty back syndrome’.

The range of pockets includes a large main compartment, outer pockets, organizer compartment and outer mesh water bottle holders. It is also compatible with hydration systems for added functionality.

Weighing in at just 2lbs, the High Sierra Pathway is a great lightweight pack for overnight trips. It has a range of great features, good durability and a price point that will suit most hikers.

Pros

  • Durable nylon fabric
  • Lightweight design
  • Ventilated back panel
  • Padded back and shoulder straps
  • Strong internal frame
  • Stable and secure suspension
  • Hydration compatible

Cons

  • Padded valuables pocket would be an improvement
  • No rain cover

Summing Up

Finding the best hiking backpack under $100 can be difficult. The amount of options available can be overwhelming, with each product having its own pros and cons.

The backpacks in this guide have a track record of durability and practicality. Each one is best suited to a different type of hiker, allowing you to choose the one that suits your style.