The answer to the question in the title can contain various aspects, so instead of suggesting one specific pack, here I give some suggestions that are important to consider.
If you are completely new to hiking, here are a few essential tips that could help in choosing a backpack:
- Go for something affordable but reliable.
- Buy a multi-purpose pack.
- Buy a unisex backpack.
- Make sure you know what kind activity you are buying the backpack for.
- The best backpack is always the one that fits best.
Below I discuss these tips in detail.
Find an affordable but reliable pack
The focus on the price is simply because after a few tours you may realize that hiking is not for you. The same holds if this is about backpacking or mountaineering. So it is not wise to invest a lot in something that is so new to you.
If you want to try hiking and backpacking, perhaps no need to buy a backpack. Try to borrow from someone or even to rent if this is possible.
The issue of reliability is extremely important. You do not want a broken buckle somewhere on the trail, or a backpack with a shoulder strap that pulls apart and fails in the middle of nowhere.
I think that you will be fine regarding both of these issues if you go for a backpack of Kelty. This is a brand that has been around for many decades, and their packs are always reliable and far more affordable than any other top brand.
If you are a beginner in this, then you will want to know that the best known brands for outdoor packs are Osprey, Deuter, Gregory, Mountainsmith, and the mentioned Kelty of course.
Buy a multi-purpose backpack
The reason for this is practically the same as those discussed above. If you are beginner, you might give up from hiking, but you will still have a good backpack that can be used for travel as well.
So you do not have to buy a pack with special features that are introduced for some specific outdoor activities. In time you will develop your needs but this is not necessary in the beginning.
Buy a unisex pack
If you are in search for a pack, you will learn that some top brands like Deuter, Osprey, Kelty, Gregory, etc., make gender-specific packs. This is certainly useful for experts and those who are very involved in outdoor activities. But this is not so essential for a beginner.
On the other hand, as mentioned above, if you are new, and you use the pack only occasionally, having a unisex pack allows for different family members to use the same pack.
Make sure you have some idea about your new hiking activities
I think that the size (volume) of the pack is the most important parameter to bear in mind. So if you know that you will use the pack mostly for day hiking tours, do not go over 40 liters or so. A 30 liters pack can be perfectly fine for day tours.
It may be useful to consider a backpack with an extendable collar. With this you can have 5-15 liters of extra volume when needed, dependable on the pack design. Deuter packs are best known for such a feature.
Note that hiking packs normally always have compression straps. With this you can reduce the effective size of the pack if it is too big and you do not have enough stuff to fill it properly. This is important to stabilize the load.
Also, do not mix the weight capacity and volume capacity, I have discussed these parameters in my separate text about weight vs volume capacity differences.
Find a backpack that fits you best
The most important feature to bear in mind is the torso length. You will always have the range given in specifications. So make sure you know your torso length and choose appropriately.
If you are not sure how to measure your torso size, here is a very useful video:
Remember what I mentioned above about multi-purpose and unisex packs? For the same reasons you will want to have such an adjustable torso length so that several family members can use the same pack.
But for oversized people this may not be enough. In such cases check also packs from Gregory for plus size users.
All in all, before buying anything, go to your nearest outdoor store and check some packs so see what kind of suspension fits you best. If it does not fit instantly, then you can be sure it will not fit later on the trail either, when the pack is fully loaded.
In conclusion, for those new to hiking, the quest for the best backpack involves careful consideration of several factors.
Opting for an affordable yet reliable pack is crucial, with Kelty standing out as a dependable and budget-friendly choice among established brands.
Choosing a multi-purpose and unisex backpack ensures versatility and allows for family use, accommodating various needs without committing to specialized features.
Understanding your intended hiking activities helps determine the appropriate pack size, with considerations like an extendable collar for added volume.
The most critical factor remains finding a backpack that fits well, emphasizing torso length and adjustability for maximum comfort. Before making a purchase, visiting an outdoor store to test the fit and features is advisable, ensuring a successful start to your hiking adventures.
This site is all about outdoors questions and answers and I add texts here on a regular basis, so bookmark it and keep as a reference. Check also my text about canvas packs and why you should not use that type. Thank you for reading and have a nice day.