There is no single answer when it comes to backpacks, everyone is looking for different things and working on different budgets.
Do you want a day pack or a are you planning a lengthy thru hike? Are you walking the coast path or camping in the Himalaya’s? Do you want extra pockets and compartments? Have you got money to burn or are you watching those pennies? Can you enjoy walking with a £20 budget pack on your back, or do you need a £200 backpack?
Well, we cannot answer all of these questions, only you can, but here at Summit or Nothing we have tried and tested a fair few backpacks in our times. This is where we will give you a run down, with links to the products via the thumbnail images and product titles.
We discuss Day Packs at the bottom of the page!
THE BEST OF OUR BACKPACKS FOR WILD CAMPING
This pack is a bit pricey, but is of a superior quality. Osprey is a manufacturer of backpacks with a great reputation among the outdoors community and a company that excels in innovation, as you can tell with this pack.
The Osprey Atmos comes with an anti-gravity back system which through its design of the elasticated harnesses creates a tension that hugs your torso in such a way that it comfortably diverts weight from your back to your hips. Its mesh back also holds the pack away from your back creating great airflow and reduces sweating. It does come in different sizes so make sure yours is as close to your frame size for maximum comfort.
It has a decent amount of additional pockets and plenty of external tension straps to attach additional gear, including sleeping pad straps, standard hiking pole attachments as well the awesome addition of the ‘Stow-on-the-Go’ hiking pole attachment to the over the shoulder straps, which allow you to store the poles out to the way when not needed but allows them to remain easily accessible without having to remove your pack.
It has two large front pockets, as well as two side elasticated mesh pockets to keep bottles etc, and an additional large elasticated mesh pocket to the front, all of which also contain a hardened front cover for extra durability. And it also contains a detachable hood with plenty of pocket space, but which can be removed if not needed and replaced by its very own lightweight flat pack hood.
The Pros – A well engineered pack that has covered all bases, its comfortable, roomy, and offers plenty of storage space.
The Cons – A little pricey, a little heavy.
The Verdict – Nathan enjoyed this pack, but found it to be quite heavy and a little on the large side. He chose to go down a lighter and smaller route, which allowed him to downsize his gear. As he often says, you have a bigger backpack then you will inevetibly fil it up.
Find the Osprey Atmos here on Amazon
The Vango Sherpa is a good quality, it feels reliable and hardwearing.
It has plenty of pockets and additional space to store and separate all of your bits and bobs and a robust self adjusting back system to fit any back.
You can access the 65L internal space from the top and bottom to limit any unnecessary emptying out to reach those items buried deep within the bag and it has an additional 10L of space under the hood that can be called upon if needed,
It has two side pockets, two additional elasticated mesh pockets to keep water bottles in, and two pockets on the hood, one inside and one outside and it comes with an elasticated daisy chain to attach things to the outside, as well as hiking pole attachments and plenty of drawstrings and additional compression straps to secure your load. It also has a small pocket to the waste strap where you can keep small items, perhaps your compass or mobile at a push.
It has an emergency whistle on the chest strap, includes an attached rain cover that tidily slips away when not needed.
The pros – This pack is a reasonable price, comfortable and durable. For the money its a great pack with plenty of storage space.
The cons- Well, its quite a heavy pack and I struggled to get to grips with the adjustable back, and found for a spell that my head was always butting the backpack limiting my ability to look around.
The Verdict – I actually gave up on this back at one point for a lighter and tidier pack, but in the last year or so I have returned to it, finding it easier to pack and it looks a lot tidier. I have now managed to set it up to fit nicely, and to be honest, that additional weight is worth the added comfort of this pack.
This lightweight backpack isn’t as all singing and dancing as the previous backpacks, but it does have a lot going for it.
Its lightweight, with a large single compartment to fill, plus additional side pockets as well as a single top pocket into the hood and three elasticated mesh pockets, two either side and one to the front.
The main compartment can be accessed through the top, as well as through the front via the double zipper which allows you to choose which area of the pack that you wish to access. It includes a single hiking pole attachment, but you an fit a pair in there.
Its also considerably durable and at a fantastic price.
The Pros – Lightweight and roomy, with plenty of straps and cheap.
The Cons – If you over fill it, then the side pockets become squashed and very limited for size. It also has no rain cover.
The Verdict – I found that this bag was ideal for the camping in the summer, its 50L storage falls nicely in between the larger packs and the day packs, but I would easily overpack it. If you are tidy and minimalist you may like this more than I do, but I always seem to over fill it and have it looking like it is untidily bursting at the seams.
THE BEST OF OUR DAY PACKS
Price – £70 – £90
I bought this pack when Nath and myself set off up to the Lake District. I wanted a day pack with a little more comfort than I had with my budget packs like the Karrimor Urban and the Trespass Circul8. And I certainly found it with this pack.
Its sturdy material feels robust to touch, and it comes with an integrated rain cover which also clips together around the back to prevent it from blowing off in strong winds (that has happened to me in the past).
It comes with an airflow back that keeps the pack away from your back, allowing ventilation and preventing a sweaty back, and its hip straps are strengthened and designed to wrap around your waste and keep that weight off of your back and on your hips.
It also has a great selection of pockets, which I always appreciate, preferring to have many places to stash items and keep them separate. It has elasticated mesh pockets on the front and sides perfect for stashing water bottles, it comes with two generously sized zippable side pockets, which are ideal to keep toiletries and what not – and then its lid also has two pockets, top and bottom.
It also has straps to the outside for hiking poles, and ice axes, and really covers all bases.
Pro’s – Robust, airflow, moderately priced,
Cons – There aren’t all that many
The Verdict – Hands Down my favourite pack! Although I have managed with cheaper packs in the past, just spending a little bit extra to ensure comfort was a decision I was glad to have made. This pack is ideal for day hikes or even ultralight camping.
Find the Lowe Alpine Airzone Trail 30L here on Amazon
Price – £20 – £35
The Karrimor Urban backpack has been my favourite day pack for the past three years. It looks quite cool (red and grey is my favourite colour combination) and is spacious enough to cram full of gear, food, clothing and camera equipment.
Its designed to be a city backpack, but I have found it more than adequate on the trail for a day hike, especially along the south west coast path. In fact this is my go to backpack for many day to day activities.
With a main compartment that also includes a laptop comprtment within that, it also has an additional middle pocket which is just as roomy and includes organised pockets and dividers within. It also has a small front pocket which I always choose to keep my phone / USB charger etc.
It has two mesh pockets to the sides, and a bungee strap to the front.
The Pros – Cheap, sexy, lots of room and enough pockets to seperate gear if needed.
The Cons – The front bungee broke fairly early on, and the mesh pockets lose their elasticity if over stretched. You can get a sweaty back if you exert yourself too much.
Verdict – I have found this backpack to be ideal, it is roomy, comfy, relatively waterproof, and I have found that it also keeps food quite cool within it too. However, I feel that if it had a loop or two to attach hiking poles it would be even better.
Find the Karrimor Urban on Amazon here!
Price – £50 – £100
This 20L pack from Lowe Apline became Nath’s daypack after his positive experiences with the Lowe Alpine Ascent pack that he used for wild camping.
Its designed for comfort with its own harness system which spreads the load evenly whilst its Airzone ventilated back system is sufficiently breathable whilst remaining non intrusive to the pack space.
Its main compartment has zips which extend the full length of the side for optimal access, whilst also including trekking pole storage, side stretch pockets, a mobile phone stash on the shoulder strap, is hydration bladder ready, houses a large stretch front stash pocket, and it also includes a pull out rain cover.
Price – £25-£30
This budget pack was an alternative option for my Karrimor Urban to my coast walks, with the intention of using it for a spot of lightweight wild camping.
The beauty of the Circul8 (apart from the price) was the fact that it also includes a curved ventilated back system plus 2 hiking pole hoops and bungee attachments which was what I was looking for, as I wanted to use either my tarp set up or Lanshan 2 to camp along the coast.
It has an outer and inner pocket in the hood, and two mesh pockets to the side as well as well as some loops to its front which you can attach your own straps / bungees for additional external loading.
The Pro’s – Very lightweight and great value for the money
The Con’s – The hiking pole attachments don’t work unless the bag is packed to the hilt, and a bit of creative strapping is advised also to help the poles stay upright. The Ventilation system is pretty useless once the backpack is loaded up, and there is a lack of pockets for storage and separation.
Find the Trespass Circul8 30L here on Amazon!