Best Thru-Hiking Backpacks

Let’s find you the BEST backpack
for YOUR thru-hike!

Choosing any backpacks for thru-hiking is one of the hardest things to do. When assembling your big three, you need to know the size tent and sleep system to size your backpack to hold them properly and all your other gear.

Your backpack is rated in liters for internal storage space and will have a maximum weight limit, which you can carry with comfort. You need to find the sweet spot where the space and weight match your gear when finding suitable backpacks for thru-hikers needs.

Simply select your criteria for backpacks for long-distance hiking below to access the guide.

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Understanding My Criteria For the Best Thru-Hiking Backpacks

Any experienced backpacker will tell you that an ill-fitting or uncomfortable backpack can ruin a trip.

That’s why, if you’re planning on thru-hiking (a long-distance hike that usually takes several months to complete), it’s important to choose a backpack that’s up for the challenge.

Size and Weight

One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a thru-hiking backpack is size and weight.

You want a backpack that is large enough to fit all of your gear but not so large or bulky that it becomes a nuisance to carry.

As a general rule of thumb, your thru-hiking backpack should be no more than 30% of your body weight. So, if you weigh 150 pounds, your backpack should weigh no more than 45 pounds.

Another factor to consider is the capacity of the backpack. Thru-hikers typically need a pack with a capacity of 40-80 liters, much of this space will depend on the budget available for lightweight gear.

This will give you enough room to carry all of your essentials without overpacking.


Comfort is key when choosing a thru-hiking backpack. You’re going to be carrying this pack for hours on end, day after day, so it’s important that it fits well and doesn’t cause any chafing or discomfort.

Look for features like adjustable shoulder straps, hip belts, and sternum straps that will help distribute the weight evenly and make carrying your pack easier on your body.

Also, when possible you would like to try on the backpack before you buy it to ensure that it’s a good fit, or ensure they have a decent return policy.


When you’re out on the trail, you need gear that you can rely on. That’s why durability is an important factor to consider when choosing a thru-hiking backpack.

Look for packs made from high-quality materials like ripstop nylon or Cordura fabric—these materials are built to last and can withstand years of use and abuse.

Also, make sure to choose a pack with sturdy zippers and reinforced stitching at all the key stress points.

Josh Koop

I turned 40 and realized I needed to change my life from being a desk-bound IT worker slowly dying in a cubicle. I have been working on ways to build my knowledge and skills, along with gear. I have plans to do a thru-hike on the Lone Star Hiking Trail, Ouachita Trail, and Pinhoti Trail in the next year.