7 Best hiking backpacks under £100 (for 2021)

by Jun 21, 2021 | First published in 2020Advice

If you are searching for the best hiking backpacks under £100 then the budget is obviously a consideration. While some backpacks go considerably higher than this in price (fancy an Osprey Aether Pro costing £300), I think £100 is a good budget to work with.

For this amount, you can expect a decent quality bag that will have a good amount of features and that will last you for some time. Any less and you are going to end up with a bag that isn’t comfortable or doesn’t last. My first hiking rucksack – a Hi-Gear bag costing £45 – ripped open mid-hike. Not fun!

Without a doubt, the 2 most important gear considerations when hiking are your footwear and your rucksack. These bits of kit will either make or break your experience.

A poorly made or fitted backpack can cause all sorts of issues from rubbing spots to full-on injuries. So know what to look out for when you start your search!

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What to look out for in a backpacking bag?

There are 3 area’s you need to consider when looking at a hiking backpack….

Comfort: So important! Everyone’s bodies are different so you need to try the backpack on to make sure it fits your frame. Backpacks nowadays have pretty good adjustability features and padding which will help get it fitting just right. Good ventilation (gaps between the rucksack and your back) will help keep you cool.

Support: A hip belt is essential as when you wear the backpack you will want to do the hip belt up firmly to help take the weight off your shoulders.

Storage: You’ll want to make sure that the capacity fits your hiking needs. More on that below!

Other features that I like to have in my rucksack:

  • Hip belt pockets: I really like having these to keep my snacks and lip balm in for easy access in the day.
  • Large open side pockets that I can easily reach: For storing my map and extra water.
  • Space for a hydration system: This means having a pocket on the inside of the bag and a hole that you can feed a tube through so a bladder hydration pack will fit.
  • Not too many zips or clips: I find them annoying and they break too easily.
  • Sturdy material: So the bag will last a while and can cope with being manhandled

What size and litre backpack should I get?

This will depend if you are planning to use your backpack for day hikes or muli-day hikes. It will also depend greatly on how compact and lightweight your gear is. The more lightweight your gear, the smaller the bag you can go for.

But as a general rule….

For day hikes, 10-35L should be enough space for all the gear, food and supplies you should need. The lower end of this scale for easy local hikes, the upper end for longer more remote hikes.

For day hikes or ultralite over, 10-35L should be enough space for all the gear, food and supplies you should need. The lower end of this scale for easy local hikes, the upper end for longer more remote hikes.

For multi-day hikes, 50L-70L should have enough space for the extra sleeping gear, food and clothing needed. If you are doing a simple overnight trip where you don’t need many supplies, if your gear is lightweight or you can split some gear (like tent and stove) with others, then I’d aim for 60L max.

For hiking the length of Israel which took 2 months, I used a 50L rucksack (a Thule Capstone – £155) although I had a hiking partner with me so we split our gear.

Another useful thing to note is its recommend you carry no more than 25% of your body weight on any hike. If you go for a bigger bag you may be more tempted to fill it with extra items you don’t need.

Best hiking backpacks under £100 for multi-day hikes

With all the above in mind, what are my recommendations for the best hiking backpacks under £100? All these backpacks are sized between 50-70L which would make them suitable for a longer expedition and for those who are camping and need to be self-contained with supplies.

#1 Vango Contour

**Most recommend for multi-day expeditions**
Gender: Unisex
Max litre capacity: this bag comes in 2 sizes 50L (but can expand to 60L) or 60L (but can expand to 70L)
Price: £75

This is a gem of a rucksack! Duke of Edinburgh and Scouts both recommend this as their go-to bag for expeditions and for good reason. It’s simple, comfortable, quick to adjust but most of all, it’s durable. The custom-fit design means it is suitable for a wide range of back lengths.

The bag is 50 or 60L in capacity (depending on which version you go for) but has the ability to expand an additional 10L if needed. The only thing I don’t like about this bag is it is missing a few handy outside pockets – but that’s where the Vango Sherpa steps in (see below). Because of it’s simplicity, comfort and great price tag, the Vango Contour gets my vote!

#2 Vango Sherpa

Gender: Unisex
Max litre capacity: this bag comes in 2 sizes 60L (but can expand to 70L) or 70L (but can expand to 80L)
Price: £90

This is an upgrade on the Contour Vango rucksack. Apart from the additional space, there are a few additional features which make this a slightly more functional pack. The Sherpa comes with a front pocket with a water-resistant zip – perfect for storing a map or small accessories. It also has a handy hip belt pocket, again with water-resistant zip. Plus a daisy cahain accessory attachment and elastic sleep mat attachment.

I find the extra pockets really helpful for organising my kit and for easy access throughout the day on hikes. If budget is a consideration, stick with the Vango Contour but if not, I’d personally go for the Vango Sherpa!

#3 Berghaus Trailhead 65L Rucksack

Gender: The bag has a women’s version and a men’s version
Max litre capacity: 65L
Price: £110

Although just slightly out of budget, the extra money goes a long way with this bag. Berghaus Trailhead is more lightweight and technical than either of the Vango’s.

The design has been built around simplicity and comfort. There’s a fully adjustable back system to get the backpack fitting your shape perfectly. The bag is narrow and compact meaning you won’t catch it easily on rocks and tress when you are walking. The bag has a bivy base compartment, walking pole attachment points, side pockets (which are stretchy – really easy for getting a water bottle in and out), top lid and hip belt pockets.

#4 Loowoko Backpack

Gender: Unisex
Max Litre Capacity: 50L
Price: £35

This is a bargain price for a rucksack and perfect for anyone who doesn’t want to spend loads on a bit of kit they aren’t sure they are going to use much. It’s a simple 50L bag, made from waterproof material and coming in a range of different colours.

While eventually something will give way with this bag – most likely a zip – you should get a fair few expeditions out of it without issues. Plus if you are a nifty fixer you can repair any small problems.

Best hiking backpacks under £100 for day hikes

If you are planning to use the bag just for day hikes or for very simple overnight hikes, not needing much supplies, then these are some great options. Unlike a mult-day hike, you are looking at a bag with around 30L+ capacity.

#5 Berghaus Arrow 30 Rucksack

Gender: The bag has a women’s version and a men’s version
Max litre capacity: 30L
Price: £55

A really nice mid-sized bag for day hikes or overnight trips. Berghaus has put a focus on comfort with a flow back system and vents. The backpack also has a rain cover, hydration pack space, walking pole attachments and various pockets to help organise your gear.

#6 Skimmer 32 (women’s) Skarab 34 (Men’s)

Gender: The bag has a women’s version and a men’s version
Max litre capacity: 32L (women’s) or 34 (Men’s)
Price: £100

Osprey are leading in the world of outdoor rucksacks and have many loyal customers – including myself. I’ve put many of their bags through their paces and can confirm that they last, are well designed and functional.

This is a versatile rucksack that has bump-foam back panels for comfort and ventilation. I like that the bag is compact and sits nicely on your back, the weight easily distributed to your hips via the padded hip belt. The only negative I can think of for this bag is the hideous colour scheme they’ve picked for us ladies!

Best hiking backpacks under £100 for super light day hiking

If you’re a speedy day hiker with ultralight kit then you are going to want a small backpack to join you on your adventures.

#7 Osprey Talon 22

Gender: The bag has a women’s version and a men’s version
Max litre capacity: 22L
Price: £100

This is quite a pricey bag for its size but, again, being Osprey you can expect a rucksack that is functional and will last a really long time. This technical day pack is breathable and designed to sit close to your back to keep your kit stable while you move with freedom.

The hipbelt provides some support, as well as those useful easy to grab pockets, although if you are used to a wider padded hipbelt, it may take you some time to get used to the smaller shape. There’s also space to secure walking poles and a helmet alongside a front stretch pocket which is a really great feature – you can use it to store an easy-to-grab fleece or flask.

Hopefully this guide to the best hiking backpacks under £100 has given you some good pointers to the best backpacks and brands out there. If you have any other suggestions that I’ve missed out, let me know in the comments box below!

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