Whether you’re a beginner hiker or a novice, a backpack is one of the most important hiking essentials because it will hold all your gear and hydration!
Many backpacks can get quite pricy but with this list, you can find an option for every type of trek at an affordable price. Here is a list of the best hiking backpacks under $100!
This list is generally organized by the type of hike or outdoor adventure that you’re planning. Some of them are meant for packing one water bottle and a snack.
Others are perfect for overnight camping and help keep you prepared for rain.
Which Backpack is Best for Hiking?
Hiking can be a strenuous activity; in some places, the terrain and weather can be additional challenges. On the other hand, some trails are easy for beginners and like a walk in the park.
It’s also helpful to have easy access to your phone, wallet, car keys, or some first aid items in case you need them. The more you hike, the more you realize there are certain items you need, so it’s nice to have a backpack to help you be prepared.
It took me a few hikes to realize that I prefer to bring a washcloth (to wipe away sweat) and tissues (for the runny noses I always seem to get, especially in the spring!).
What to Look for in Hiking Backpacks
There are some essential elements to look for when purchasing a backpack.
- Internal frame backpacks because they have structure hidden inside the backpack, which makes them more compact and fit the arch of your back
- Adjustable shoulder straps that have cushioning for extra comfort
- Water-resistant material like nylon which is one of the most durable materials out there
- A rain cover in case you don’t make it back to your car before an unexpected rainfall
Now let’s go over the list of hiking backpacks so you can find the perfect backpack for your needs!
For Short Day Hikes
These backpacks are more ideals for beginners and those who regularly go on short hikes. The options listed below have storage capacity for small items.
Although some are on the smaller side, they are still high quality!
If you want something lightweight and comfortable, this TETON Sports TrailRunner is perfect for those short hikes. It includes 2-liter hydration bladder with very comfortable and durable shoulder straps. A mesh pocket is also big enough to store a wallet and cellphone.
- Very affordable and great option for beginners
- Has sternum and waste strap
- Bite valve to drink water
- Available in different colors
- Not necessarily one size fits all
- Hydration bladder may make water taste funny
This sling backpack is on the smaller side but you are still able to pack a decent amount of essential items. Includes a hidden earphone hole so you can listen to music or podcasts while you get your exercise.
- External pockets allow easy access to phone and water bottle
- Lots of storage areas and compartments for easy organization
- On the smaller side, so be sure to check the dimensions before purchase
- Barely big enough for large water bottles
- Middle pocket has no zipper so items may fall out of it
Durable and comfortable, this TETON Sports Backpack is an excellent deal for the price! The hip straps and chest straps make it easy to secure on your back and carry a decent amount of weight. The emergency whistle is built-in and also a huge plus for safety reasons. The front pocket is another nice bonus because it can be used to separate food or your dog's drinking bowl.
- Great butterfly pouch for a jacket or gloves
- Plenty of compartments for storage
- Outside pockets for easy access
- Straps have minimal padding so it's uncomfortable to wear with tank tops
One of the best hydration backpacks out there, you can store two liters of water that will stay cool for hours. This one is amazing choice for jogging and cycling too!
- Roomy pockets so you can bring your phone, car keys, and sunscreen
- Padded back and shoulder straps for ultimate comfort
- The nozzle takes some getting used to
Made with nylon material, ZOMAKE is one of the most affordable options here, so it's a great option for beginners. It's also a great backpack if you're planning on traveling across the country (or the world) because you can fold it up and store it in your luggage.
- One of the most affordable options
- Strong and durable zippers
- Side pockets are too small for water bottles
- Very little padding on shoulder straps
This waterproof backpack is designed to be durable and lightweight, so you can enjoy your outdoor activities without worrying about comfort or carrying a heavy load. It features one main zipped compartment, two zipped front pockets, one unzipped middle pocket, two side pockets and one bottom pocket with a rain cover. That means ample room to store all your travel essentials, such as clothes and a hammock.
This backpack is perfect for weekend vacations or three-day excursions, as it provides plenty of storage space to fit all the essentials without getting too bulky. With multiple pockets and compartments, you will have no trouble organizing your items inside. The large main compartment can easily hold a 15.6'' laptop or other heavy items. Additionally, this backpack features side and hip pockets which are great for storing smaller items such as snacks or emergency supplies.
For Long Treks
For more experienced hikers, these backpacks are ideal for camping and overnight hiking. They’re surprisingly comfortable with sternum straps and hip straps adding support.
These come with everything you need like an internal frame, water-resistant materials, extra pockets and compartments, and more.
This is ideal for a casual day hike (3-5 hours long) where you know weather conditions won't change drastically. It fits a 2L hydration sleeve easily, two rain jackets, 2 sandwiches, and snacks.
- Adjustable chest belt and waist belt
- Ergonomic padding
- Limited amount of internal pockets
Here is a simple option, yet this backpack can hold a lot of items. It's very roomy and durable so you can pack several essentials, as long as they are lightweight.
- Thick, comfortable shoulder pads
- Large storage options with multiple compartments
- Not nearly as waterproof as other backpacks
For more experienced hikers, these backpacks are ideal for camping and overnight hiking. These come with everything you need like an internal frame, water-resistant materials, extra pockets and compartments, and more.
Here is the top pick for many hikers. It has everything you need for multi-day trips from amazing compression straps to being fully adjustable.
- Very roomy
- Water resistant
- Tightening straps and understraps make it easy to balance loads
- Water bottle pockets are not very stretchy and flexible
- No belt pockets
This Loowoko backpack technically has a sleeping bag compartment, but it's on the smaller side. So this backpack is more preferable for day-long hikes instead of overnight trekking.
- Multiple adjustable compression straps
- Waterproof cover
- Hip pouches
- No internal support
- Small sleeping bag compartment
For years, TETON Sports Explorer Internal Frame Backpack has been a favorite of outdoor enthusiasts everywhere. Built with TETON-TOUGH innovation, it's the perfect companion for backpacking, hiking and camping trips. Featuring multipoint adjustments and handy compression straps for an adjustable fit, it's great for a variety of body shapes and sizes. With features like angled water bottle containers, a convenient sleeping bag compartment, exterior pockets and a rain cover you will be prepared for whatever comes your way. The innovative water-bladder compartment ensures you stay hydrated no matter where your journey takes you.
Now that you know the top best hiking backpacks under $100, you’re ready to hit the trails. No matter which one of these amazing options you select, you can’t go wrong.
There is a bag here for every type of hiker and every budget. From daypacks to overnight packs, padded shoulders to adjustable hip belts, you won’t regret any of these selections.
Be sure to also invest in a quality sleeping pad or two, an ultralight tent if necessary for overnight trips, and plenty of water!
With your gear in tow and your new backpack properly fitted, you’ll be prepared for whatever nature throws your way. Have fun and stay safe out there!