What Is a Hiking Backpack?

Obviously, a hiking backpack is a pack that is deigned for hiking, but the definition of hiking is far from simple because it may imply a variety of different activities that require different hiking packs.

Hiking as activity is discussed in my separate text about trekking and hiking differences. If you follow the link, you will realize that even very reputable sources give definitions for these two activities that are completely confusing.

Definition of a hiking pack

Hiking is an outdoor activity that can be short and easy walk in the nature, it can also be an overnight or weekend adventure, or it can include mountaineering as well.

It is consequently far from easy to give a simple definition of a hiking backpack, but here is what I have to say about this.

A hiking backpack is the most important piece of your outdoor equipment. It is designed to help you carrying your other hiking equipment in a comfortable and safe way.

Dependent on the type of hiking, your hiking backpack will also include certain features related to its overall volume and functionality.

It is unlikely that you can have a single pack for just any type of hiking, but you must start from something. So think about pack’s comfort, size, versatility, and functionality as the most basic requirements.

What Is a Hiking Backpack top picture with a hiker.

Hiking pack’s comfort

If you are lucky, you can get a high quality pack that suit you perfect. But from a more skeptical perspective, it is best to get into a well-equipped outdoor shop and try various packs. Only then you might have a chance to feel the differences between packs and to find something that will work well for you.

But how to know the differences between an ordinary pack and a hiking pack? Well, I have a separate text about this where hiking pack and ordinary pack differences are discussed in detail. This is very much related to comfort, you will need it far more in a hiking pack than in an ordinary pack.

A comfortable hiking pack must fit you well, and in this video you can see a bit more about a proper fit of a hiking pack:

Hiking pack’ size and versatility

Note that I have a separate text here about specifications for good hiking backpacks. So I would warmly suggest that you follow the link and read more.

But here, I would only add a few tips related to a hiking pack’s versatility. It is good to have a pack that can be used by several family members. For this it is best that the pack has an adjustable torso length. This is good also even if only you use it, because with this you can have a perfect fit, and this is related to comfort mentioned above.

If you can have a pack that also has adjustable hip belt fins, this will add to its versatility and comfort.

On the other hand, if you know for sure that you will be mainly using your pack for day hikes, then do not go for very large packs. But to be able to use it for some other types of hiking (overnight or weekend tours), go for something slightly bigger than an ordinary day pack.

So this can be anything in the range 15-50 liters. Such a wide range is because of possibly different types of hiking tours. You should know that with the larger packs within this range you can easily do some overnight or weekend tours, hut to hut tours, etc.

Functionality of a hiking pack

This may imply many possible aspects. I would start with organizational features, and this primarily implies pockets and compartments. From my experience, the more pockets and compartments the better.

But this also may imply attachment options and compression straps. There are many other features worth mentioning, but they are summarized in my text on what to consider before buying a backpack.

In this video you can see a bit more on how to choose a hiking backpacks, so please have a look:



In summary, hiking may imply a variety of outdoor activities, and a hiking pack is there to allow you to carry all things that you need for such adventures.

This must be a reliable piece of your outdoor equipment, so even if a pack is expensive, trust me, it is usually worth the investment. A good hiking pack from Deuter for example will last for many years. My oldest is 19 years now and it is still in a perfect state. It was indeed expensive when I bought it in 2003.

Thank you for reading. Let me know if you have questions or comments, there is a comment box below. Have a nice day.

Me on Jalovec.Hi, I am Jovo, the founder of this OutdoorsFAQs site and several other outdoor sites. I have been mountaineering for almost 40 years already, and I have created this site to use as a reference for various questions that I receive in my sites. Being a theoretical physicist by profession, I tend to base my answers on facts and on my own personal experience.

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