When it comes to finding the perfect hiking backpack, there’s a lot to consider. It’s easy to get carried away and end up spending too much money on a hiking pack. This list of the best hiking backpacks for under $100 brings you packs with the best value.
As an avid hiker and freelance writer for the outdoor industry, I know a thing or two about hiking gear. In fact, I’ve been a professional gear tester for the past three years. As an insider, I’ve got exclusive knowledge about the wonderful world of hiking backpacks that I’m dying to share with you.
About This Guide to the Best Hiking Backpacks for Under $100
If your budget is tight, remember, you’re not alone. Outdoor gear is pricey when it really doesn’t need to be. In this guide to finding the best hiking backpack for under $100 we’ll cover:
- How to choose the right hiking backpack for you
- A comprehensive list of the best hiking backpacks for under $100
- Pros, cons, and best applications for each pack
- Tips and tricks for finding a great deal on hiking backpacks
- Additional hiking gear resources.
Choosing the Right Hiking Backpack
Before your boots hit the trail, it’s important to choose the correct hiking backpack for the job. First, think about what you have on hand. Does your current backpack work?
If you’re new to hiking, then you might want to consider using what you have on hand until you’re ready to spend money on a new hiking bag. You don’t need the latest and greatest gear to enjoy a hike.
However, if you’ve found yourself continually getting out and going for a hike, here’s what to look for when selecting a hiking backpack.
- Set your budget. What is the max you’re willing to spend?
- Hydration features. Do you have a water bladder or use a water bottle? You’ll want a sleeve with appropriate holes for tubing if you use a bladder.
- Capacity. Think about what kind of hiking you do. If you hike long distances in varying conditions or you hike in the winter, you’ll want a pack with more space to carry everything.
- Straps and adjustments. Most cheaper hiking packs are a little stripped-down, but that’s okay. Make sure to try on the pack and see that it fits properly. Remember, a waist belt is really helpful to ease the burden on your shoulders with heavier loads.
- Access. Think about how you will use the hiking bag. Do you stop in order to access things or are you a grab-on-the-go kind of hiker? Select something that suits your style.
- Compartments. Having a minimalist bag with one compartment is handy if you plan on stuffing your hiking back in another bag – such as for day hikes while backpacking or while traveling. But it can be a bit annoying to not have separate storage areas for normal day hikes.
The Best Hiking Backpacks for Under $100
Hiking doesn’t need to break the bank with these amazing hiking backpacks for under $100. This list comes from an endless amount of testing over several years.
A few of these packs are the workhorse packs that I use constantly and others are better suited for needs different than my own. However, each of them offers a budget hiking backpack that functions well.
The REI Flash 22
The REI Flash 22 has a lid with a zippered pocket, a side zip, two mesh side pockets, and is water bladder compatible. It’s even got an ax carry (that works believe it or not).
It’s lightweight, compact, and the ideal choice for hikers, travelers, and even multi-pitch climbers. Oh and bonus points for the wide array of colors to choose from so you can show off your personal style.
- Price: $54.95
- Pros: great price, lots of features, lightweight, comfortable, compact, suitable for travel.
- Cons: The material could be slightly more durable, but I really have no cons.
- Best for: Day hikes in all conditions except winter. Those looking for a backpack that can be compressed and stored easily for travel.
The Osprey Daylight Plus Pack
Osprey makes some incredible bags, and most of the time you have to poney up the cash. However, the Daylight Plus Pack is one of my favorite hiking backpacks for under $100.
It will link up with the larger Osprey travel packs, which is awesome if you love to hike on your vacays. There are also multiple storage options for this pack, making it transition easily from town to trail.
It’s got hydration compatibility, a hip belt, side mesh pockets, and several different storage pockets. The newer versions have updated side mesh pockets that are more functional the previous models.
For $50 you can get the Daylight pack, which is smaller and has fewer features.
- Price: $65.00
- Pros: Great storage options, ventilated back, town-to-trail transition, durable.
- Cons: Doesn’t pack down. Many people love or hate the way Osprey fits, so try on before buying.
- Best for: Hikers who want a bag that also functions in the city.
TETON Sports Cirque 1600 Backpack
The TETON Sports Cirque 1600 Backpack is one of the best backpacks for under $100 thanks to its large capacity. At 26L of storage, it’s tough to beat for the price (the Outlander and Kelty packs on this list are the only other two that come close).
There’s plenty of features including padded shoulder straps and a ventilated back. The pack has compression straps, multiple storage options, a waist belt, and is hydration bladder compatible. This pack is great for those who want a little bit more bang for their buck.
- Price: $55.99
- Pros: Loaded with features, large capacity, durable, storage compartments.
- Cons: Bulky, only comes in one color
- Best for: A day hiker that is looking for a 3-season pack.
Outlander 22L and 33L Lightweight Hiking Backpack
The Outlander 33L Lightweight Hiking Backpack is one of the most unique bags in our lineup. It is the only pack designed to fold into itself for easy pack-and-go storage. This makes it a great choice for travelers.
However, since it folds up, it lacks a lot of the features found in other packs. First, it’s flimsy, so the 33L version is a bit uncomfortable when fully weighted over long distances.
It isn’t hydration bladder compatible, but it does have multiple storage options. A lot of people complain about durability issues over time. However, for less than $40, the price really can’t be beaten.
- Price: $17.82 for 22L and $32.99 for the 33L
- Pros: Lightweight, compact, comes in many different colors
- Cons: No waist belt, not supportive, flimsy, not hydration bladder compatible.
- Best for: Those on a very tight budget or those looking for an extremely compact, no-frills compressable hiking backpack for travel.
The Gregory Sula 24 and Salvo 24 Pack
Notable features include a ventilated back, padded shoulder straps, and a thick, padded waistbelt that even has a pocket. This pack is an awesome choice for day hikers who want a few more creature comforts than the more streamlined packs on this list.
- Price: $86.73
- Pros: Comfortable, plenty of features, suitable for longer distances
- Cons: This pack may be discontinued soon.
- Best for: Day hikers who want a more comfortable pack.
The Kelty Redwing 32 Pack
The Kelty Redwing 32 Pack is the most expensive pack at the list, squeaking in at $99.95, so just under $100. However, it’s got the most bells and whistles and capacity.
The pack includes a 32L volume, making it suitable for winter outings too. There’s double ax carry, multiple pockets, mesh back, padded waist and shoulder straps, and plenty of interior storage options. All of this comes at the cost of being quite heavy (2 pounds).
- Price: $99.95
- Pros: Comfortable, large capacity, plenty of storage.
- Cons: Heavy, expensive.
- Best for: Day hikers looking to do serious objectives in all 4 seasons who want more room.
The Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack
The Ultralight Stuff pack is for the day hiker who wants the most minimalist bag possible. This pack weighs virtually nothing but doesn’t have many added features either.
There’s a top pocket that you can use to stuff the bag into itself, or for added storage. The pack is thin, but durable, although it is semi-transparent. The side mesh pocket could be taller in order to be a bit more useful. My GRAYL water purifier never stayed in the mesh pocket.
It holds a surprising amount of stuff for how compact it is, and it’s an ideal choice for a no-frills pack to use for hiking while traveling. At $35 it’s hard to beat.
- Price: $35.00
- Pros: lightweight, easy to travel with, very budget-friendly.
- Cons: Minimal features, semi-transparent, mediocre side pocket.
- Best for: Ultra-lightweight travelers that love to hike and want a multi-functional pack.
The Northface Chimera 24
The Northface Chimera 24 is a unique minimalist pack that has a few fun features. Aside from being hydration compatible and having a mesh side pocket and front mesh pocket, there’s also a phone pocket on the straps. You can also store a snack on the other strap.
This pack is great for trail running or those who like to have access to a few handy items on the go. The pack is currently on sale for $87.93 but regularly is on sale for $109.
- Price: $87.93
- Pros: Unique phone storage feature, mesh back paneling, compact.
- Cons: Expensive for what you get.
- Best for: those looking for a streamlined pack with grab-and-go storage. Trail runners who want a pack that doubles for hiking.
The Deuter Speed Lite 20 Pack
Another great hybrid lightweight, yet cozy pack the Deuter Speed Like 20 is an awesome budget-friendly hiking backpack. With padded shoulder straps, multiple compartments, and compression straps, and hydration compatible, it’s a highly functional hiking pack.
However, it has less capacity than many of the other packs on this list. Also, the pack design is a little childish. But if you don’t mind the design, it’s an excellent hiking companion.
- Price: $75
- Pros: multi-functional, cozy, plenty of useful features.
- Cons: lower capacity, the style of the pack could use some “adulting”
- Best for: a multi-functional day hiker who wants a small bag for shorter hikes in good weather.
How to Score a Good Deal on a Hiking Backpack
So what happens if you spot the perfect hiking backpack, but it’s jussssst out of your budget? There are a lot of ways to get a good deal on outdoor gear. Here are a few quick tips:
- Buy used. There’s nothing wrong with a used hiking backpack.
- Sign up for emails. Some companies give % to 15% off your order if you sign up for their mailing list.
- Take advantage of end-of-season sales. This is a great way to get deep discounts on hiking backpacks if you’re willing to wait.
- Shop at a sample store. Some outdoor stores sell sales samples. These are leftover packs used by testers and marketing professionals. There might be a different colored zipper or a “sample” stamp on the bag, but otherwise, it’s the same thing.
Now you’re armed with the best hiking backpacks for under $100. Don’t break the bank for your next hike. Instead, nab one of these amazing, budget-friendly hiking backpacks. Happy trails!
More Hiking Gear Resources
Looking for more info on hiking gear? I’ve got you covered with these expert resources.