Best Lightweight Backpacks 2017 Review & Buying Guide

Best Lightweight Backpacks: Whether you plan for a short weekend trip or a week-long journey up the mountain, a good backpack is necessary, but a lightweight backpack is a key to good journey. The lighter the backpack, the more enjoyable the journey will be. Lightweight isn’t just an option these days. The whole outdoor industry is going light. There is a good reason for going light. With more and more people going out hiking or on trips, the demand for light weighted backpacks is now more than it ever was. The backpack is primarily the heaviest of all the things that we tend to carry while traveling. Buying an ultra lightweight backpack is the first step towards traveling light. There are, of course, a ton of backpacks to choose from, which is why in this post we’ll be discussing the best lightweight backpacks of 2017 you can get your hands on.

best lightweight backpacks

Best Lightweight Backpacks 2017

Best Lightweight Backpacks 2017: Buying Guide

Best before getting into our top choices, let’s talk about the things that we took into consideration while choosing the top lightweight backpack. These are the things that we looked into while testing and making our list of the best lightweight backpacks 2017.

Weight: The weight of the backpack is the most important thing to consider since it’ll add to the weight of the things you’ll be carrying. We concentrated on a balance between weight, comfort, and durability.

Volume: How much the backpack can carry is what we looked into. From years of personal experience, we can tell that a backpacker can easily fit in their gear and other stuff in a 40 to 50-liter backpack. Of course, if you have bigger gears to fit in, you’ll have to choose a bag with more volume.

Frame: We choose to depend on the stuff one needs to carry in both short and long trip. For anyone wanting to carry a heavy load, can choose a backpack with a sturdier frame and for those who want to carry lighter loads, may go for a simple framed backpack.

Material: Backpacks are made of two kinds of materials - Dyneema (cuben fiber) and Ripstop Nylon. While the former is lighter and water resistant that makes it all the more expensive and the latter a lot less in quality and price.

Design: The best lightweight packs are the ones that come sport simple design but offer all necessary compartments, pouches, with zippers, straps, and clips.

Fit: Though often neglected, ‘fit’ is one of the most important factors that need to be taken seriously. How comfortable the pack sits on your back and shoulders are significant when it comes to a good hiking experience. It's hard to decide on this features because to choose a perfect fit you’ll actually have to put a fully loaded pack on your bag and walk around a bit, which is exactly what we did.

Durability: Of course, we looked into the durability factor. Our testers had the backpack go through a certain durability test and the one’s that managed to survive made it into our list of the best lightweight backpack.

Price: The cost of the backpacks we choose ranges from affordable to expensive. The affordable ones are easy to lay hands on while the expensive ones will have to have deep pockets.

Best Lightweight Backpacks: Buying Check List

While those were basics there are a couple of things that we looked into, and we suggest, you do too in the backpack. A combination of the following features is what makes the backpack worth using. Taking these into account while buying the best lightweight backpacks is important.

Main Compartment: This is the biggest and the main compartment of the backpack. There depending on the volume of the pack, the majority of your gears are stored. From what we have seen, extra compartment and zippers add unnecessary weight and makes things complicated.

Top lid: These days most lightweight backpacks don’t come with a top lip in order to reduce weight. Instead, they come with roll-top closures, straps, and clips that are pretty effective. So we mostly opted for the forth mentioned closure instead of top lids.

Pockets (front mesh and hip belt): It's best to have a large mesh pocket on the front as it comes in very handy. It’s made for gears that can be stored away and easily accessible for the time when we require them like rain jackets, et al.

Built-in hip belt pockets to are for stuff that you can easily access like camera, snacks, among other things. You can’t take nearly as often breaks, keeping these things easily accessible is convenient.

Straps (shoulder straps, sternum strap, load-lifter): Shoulder straps are the most important straps of your backpack and handle a significant amount of weight of your backpack. These straps should offer comfortable padding and proper spacing to avoid odd pressure points.

Most lightweight backpacks come with sternum straps because of the security they seem to offer. Basically, these straps bound on your chest for extra security. With these on, there’s no way you are ever losing your backpack.

With load lifter straps, you can pull the tops of your shoulder straps back towards your backpack. What is primarily does shift the weight of the backpack to the front of your shoulder. Undoubtedly, it’s one of the most important features of the best lightweight backpacks and should be looked into while choosing one.

Hip belt: Of course a hip belt is different to a hip belt pocket. The belt handles most of the weight of your bag that lies on your hip. Your shoulder belt most of the weight and the hip belt to take that off a bit.

Ice Axe and Trekking pole loops: In all the lightweight backpacks that we have checked, we tried finding an ice axe and trekking loop where you can safely tuck away the equipment that you use to go for a hike. We recommend looking into this option because it’ll make your journey a lot more comfortable.

Hydration ports and water bottle holster: Like me, if you prefer using a water bladder, then hydration port is a perfect option. Most packs that we are recommending have this particular port in it. But it’s alright if you don’t prefer a hydration port.

For easy access to water bottles, backpacks often come with water bottle holster. The holster should allow you to grab your bottle easily because stopping over and over during a trail is impossible, and it is during this time that the water bottle holster comes handy.

Best Lightweight Backpacks 2017: The Top 10 List

#1 Osprey Packs Exos 48 Backpack

Osprey was founded by Mike Pfotenhauer located in Vietnam. The company has been designing and building innovative, high-quality backpacks since 1974. Osprey products are built with a pioneering spirit that makes them our top select in this list of best lightweight backpacks. As per the company statement, Osprey products can be “used on the highest mountains to the remotest islands and everywhere in between."

  • The backpack is the best one that emerged in our test and easily offers a bang for the buck.
  • This particular backpack is extremely popular among the community and is widely available in both online and in stores.
  • The piece of equipment is both ultralight and lightweight and provides superior protection.
  • It comes with nearly all the necessary straps that we talked about and offers the kinds of convenient pockets that are also necessary for a backpack. 
  • The catch here is that it’s a little heavy but not the heaviest that we’ve comes across when it comes to traditional backpacks.

For a simple backpack, the bag performs really well, and we would recommend it to experienced hikers as well as new adventure junkies. The backpack comes in three sizes for you to choose from. While we used the medium one, we recommend people to get the size they normally prefer.

The Osprey Packs Exos 48 Backpack comes with all the standard features one can hope for from one of the best ultralight backpacks in the market. The equipment offers a floating lid as well as a FlapJacket top closure, which is great, to say the least. There are main and side stretchable exterior pockets. On each side of the backpack, we've got hip belt pockets along with shoulder straps that are really really handy.

~Pros~

  • One of the best parts, is that the backpack is completely affordable and carries loads quite efficiently.

~Cons~

  • Our testers said that the backpack is really comfortable, but there are a couple of others on the list that scores high on the comfort.

#2 Granite Gear Virga 2 Backpack

Founded in 1986, Jeff Knight and Dan Cruikshank came up with the idea of a company that makes better outdoor gear. With such humble beginning, the company grew into an international company that became known for making some of the best outdoor equipment available. The products have been awarded and have got somewhat of a cult-following. The company has pledged to make the best outdoor gears imaginable, and it’s no wonder, one of its products has been ranked top in our list of the best lightweight backpacks.

Talk about simplicity, the Granite Gear Virga 2 Backpack is the only frameless backpack in our list. It’s one of the lightest backpacks that we tested and comes with a rolled pad as the “frame.” There is no hip belt pocket but comes with man pack pockets along with compression straps. This bag is an excellent choice for anyone who wants closed cell foam pads which are a throwback to the time when these were pretty common.

  • Complementing its minimal frame, the backpack comes with simple roll top closure, along with padded shoulder straps as well as a waist belt. The pack offers a lot of external storages with large pockets on both sides and the front. There are great compression straps and the side compression found inside the side pockets.
  • There’s hang loop attached with a toggle that we really really like. The rolled foam pad inside help protects the gear and everything that you carry. The company does come with a reputation of making some of the most durable products in the industry and Granite Gear Virga 2 Backpack is no exception.

~Pros~

  • From what we tested, the Granite Gear Virga 2 Backpack is an excellent and affordable choice.

~Cons~

  • Virga 2 isn’t great when it comes to carrying heavy loads. It carries 15 pounds well enough and is even comfortable, but when it came to 30-pound load, the backpack falters.

#3 Gregory Mountain Baltoro Backpack

The company was founded by an adventure junkie named Wayne Gregory who designed his first backpack at the age of 14 as part of a Boy Scout project. Not long after the boy grows to become man and found a company that specializes in making backpacks. Started in 1970, the Gregory Pack was an outdoor specialty company that soon caught the attention of adventure junkies owing to the excellent products they offer.

Gregory had landed in the third position of our list of top lightweight backpacks 2017. The Gregory Baltoro 65 Backpack is made of polyester and comes in three color options for you to choose from – Navy Blue (our favorite), Shadow Black and Spark Red. The pack comes with or without hydration sleeves, depending on what you choose.

The backpack offers 2 interior zips, 6 exterior zips that include integrated rain cover and daypack. The pack provides great service for demanding users like going on to month-long journeys. The pack is great for weekend travelers too. It sports a response A3 suspension for a comfortable, balanced carry while the swappable 3-D hip belt and shoulder harness that helps in a comfortable fit. There’s a Lumbar Tune to customize lower back support which is great, to say the least. Our testers also found the integrated, color-matched rain cover pretty interesting.

  • The sideKick doubles as daypack/hydration sleeve, and the WeatherShield hip belt pocket helps to protect your valuables, which is really really helpful.
  • There are two side-mounted zippered gear pockets as well as front U-zip gives access to main body content.
  • A TPU-coated and sealed hip belt compartment, sized for smartphone or even other digital devices.
  • It sports a weather-resistant YKK AquaGuard zipper closure for its weather shield pocket. The pack is meant to be everybody’s envy.

~Pros~

  • Out testers were impressed by the sleeping bag compartment that one can externally access with removable internal divider.

~Cons~

  • Our testers found the outer main pocket prone to tears and destructions. Otherwise the rest of the backpacks pretty sturdy.

#4 Mammut Trion Element Backpack

Founded decades ago, Mammut evolved for a traditional ropeworks company to this very modern, advanced company that specializes in mountaineering and all sorts of outdoor equipment. The company today’s has decades of experience and not-to-mention decades of knowledge in fields of sleeping backs, backpacks, clothing, shoes and accessories, among other things.

Mammut Trion Element Backpack is one tight looking, unique backpack that we have come across. It comes in two color options – graphite and inferno, we tested the latter and trusted us when we say, it got several envious looks throughout the trails. But the graphite is cool too, and we totally encourage you to go ahead if you want to get your hands on it. It is considered as one of the best lightweight backpacks by many renowned trekkers worldwide.

  • The pack offers 2 layers, high-density EVA back padding along with hip and shoulder belts that come with an Air-Mesh cover. Our testers really liked the Height-adjustable lid with internal and external pocket which just adds up to the convenience of the backpack.
  • There are ski and rope attachment system that comes along with hydration system. The backpack comes with an adjustable V-frame 6 mm aluminum.
  • We appreciate the large stretch front and side pockets and not-to-mention the side compression straps that are placed in a manner that it does not interfere with side pocket storage.

From our test, we found out that the lightweight mountaineer's backpack comes fully equipped for alpine use. Thanks to its narrow shape and body-hugging fit, it provides great freedom of movement for both mountain and climbing journeys. The backpack is lightweight, durable as well as comfortable and our testers found it extremely convenient for short or long journeys.

~Pros~

  • The piece of equipment is designed for ultralight backpacking and is best suited for peak bagging, light and fast off-trail travel, and mountaineering.

~Cons~

  • Despite the narrow and comfortable profile, unfortunately, the Mammut Trion Element Backpack is quite heavy compared to the volumes it carries.

#5 Ultimate Direction Fastpack Hydration Pack

Established back in 1985, the Ultimate Direction is known for discovering the entire category of hydration packs. The company is also popular for the creation of first waist pack that carries bottles. After a couple of years later Ultimate Direction made the very first pack or strap that carries a water bottle in the hand. The product went on to define what we see as hydration pack today.

Made by market leaders who have over 30 years of experience, the Ultimate Direction Fastpack 30 Hydration Pack is one of the most unique and amazingly ultralight backpacks that we could get our hands on. There’s an ergonomic shoulder harness system that more or less looks like a vest. It offers tons of pockets mostly in the front that basically leaves the waist and the hip portion free so that it aids in running and doing such activities. The pocket is extremely handy because it allows users to store snacks, water, maps and these kinds of little things at your fingertip.

It’s probably worth noting that the frame panel of the backpack is pretty heavy and rigid and therefore is perfect for carrying light loads. In size, the pack is the smallest in our list and basically offers two main features – tons of spaces for external storage and the heavy rigid frame sheet. After having used the pack for several days, our testers have come to the conclusion that the pack is designed more for running rather than hiking adventures.

~Pros~

  • We really like the larger number of pockets that come in handy without hindering the comfort level of the backpack.

~Cons~

  • The packs light loads pretty well, with little to no bounce at all. But with heavier leads, the backpack tends to weigh down quite a lot on the shoulder.

#6 JanSport Katahdin 40

JanSport was launched back in 1967. The company today is known for making packs and outdoor gear. Founded by three people, JanSport is designed with innovation and skill that has to help them craft tons of products engineered for the most adventure filled hearts. JanSport is known for making a world-class product, and JanSport Katahdin 40 is one of their finest backpacks.

The JanSport Katahdin 40 is one of the greatest lightweight backpacks that will equip you to further adventures. It is the best selling backpack in the Katahdin Series and has been redesigned for optimal outdoor backpacking. The pack sports a top loading main compartment with compression lid, dual water bottle pockets, padded hip belt, and size entry main body access.

  • Made by polyester, there are shoulder straps with perforated EVA foam with a padded waist belt.
  • The pack sports hydration sleeve port.
  • One of the smallest backpack in our list, JanSport Katahdin 40 is both affordable and great for everyday day hiking.
  • The pack can handle loads for the week-long trip, but you should really avoid using it for month long journey.
  • Although less pricey than a couple of other backpacks in our list of the top lightweight backpack, it’s still costly.

Of all the backpacks we tested, this one is the smallest volume product, and unlike the packs with a heavy steel frame that can be removed to lower the weight, the Katahdin 40 has no removable part.

~Pros~

  • Our testers found the backpack to be relatively comfortable when carrying a 15-pound load which is cool for such a small backpack.

~Cons~

  • The pack is fine as casual carrying and but you can also go for short trips. The pack, like so many other packs on our list, can’t handle big loads. So the backpack is good for an occasional backcountry trip.

There is only one size available unlike the other backpacks in the list.


#7 The North Face Terra 65 Hiking Pack

It’s an American outdoor product company founded in the year 1968. They specialize in making outerwear, fleece, coats, footwear, shirts, and equipment that includes tents, backpacks, and sleeping bags. The company targets its products towards college students, mountaineers, climbers, skiers, snowboarders, hikers, and endurance athletes. They are known for sponsoring professional athletes from all over the world climbing, running, skiing and snowboarding.

As you’d know that trimming down the weight of a piece of equipment often cuts down on the comfort level as well as durability. But The North Face Terra 65 Hiking Pack is pretty different in this regard. The exterior of the pack is one of our favorites, and the size and design of the pack make it easy to get to distribute the load. The pack is pretty comfortable to carry as it comes with cushioned padding and a capable aluminum frame that is capable of taking a load of nearly 40 pounds.

  • The North Face Terra 65 Hiking Pack is feature rich with OPTIFIT suspension fit system ensures the comfort of the users and the vertical channel that helps provide improved ventilation.
  • There are three color options to choose from - Falcon Brown/Sequoia Red, Tnf Black/Asphalt Grey and Urban Navy/Hyper Blue.
  • One of the things that our testers really liked about the backpack is the huge zippered side entry to the main compartment.
  • The pack also comes with improved anatomically correct, the load-spreading hip belt is lined with soft air mesh.

~Pros~

  • We packed the bag to the brim, and the height of the piece of equipment on our bag was perfect despite the fact there aren't any choices of size. It's truly deserved a place of its own in this coveted list of 10 best lightweight backpacks of 2017.

~Cons~

  • The backpack is super lightweight, but we would have loved a pair of pockets on the side so that we could keep handy stuff at our fingertips.

#8 Arcteryx Altra

Founded by local climbers in 1989, Arcteryx products are created by active designers, experienced pattern makers, excellent product developers and material experts. Arcteryx central purpose is to build the finest products possible. The company is known for making the most innovative, purposeful outdoor equipment and it really isn’t too surprising that one of its products almost certainly would rank in the top 10 list of outdoor gear. (For anyone who's interested the brand is named after Archaeopteryx Lithographica who, according to experts, is the first reptile to develop the feather for flight)

Coming to the first things that we really liked about the backpack is the C2 (composite construction) suspension system. We were glad to have found out that the twin 6005 T-6 extruded aluminum M-bar stays. The pack comes in two color options – Carbon copy and Diablo. It sports a Double chamber top lid for easy gear organization and access and let us not forgets the extendable top lid and extensive collar for larger loads.

  • One of the most commendable features of the Arcteryx Altra is the Hydration sleeve external access point as well as the double-pull easy open collar cord lock systems.
  • There are a GridLock shoulder straps that adjusts for both height and width of the user of the pack. Our testers really liked the back panel that sits away from the back and at the same time provides ventilation U-shaped zipper that'd allow easy access.

~Pros~

  • We really liked the straps that were present in the right amount and the right place; and not-to-mention the large amount of pockets that really helps to keep the handy stuff under fingertips.

~Cons~

  • We are a little disappointed about the quality of the product that looks less durable than the other packs in our mega list of best lightweight backpacks.

#9 Kelty Redwing Backpack

Kelty is famous for creating high-end outdoor stuff like backpacks, sleeping bags, and tents. The brand is based in Boulder, Colorado and owned by Exxel Outdoors, LLC. The company was founded by Asher Dick Kelty, who, it turns out is one of the first gear designers to produce as well as market an external-frame backpack designed specifically for civilian use. So they the company has been in business for quiet some times and are often hailed as leaders in the industry. And might we add that is one of a few companies in the entire world that still specializes in external-frame backpacks.

It isn’t surprising that one of its products has ranked in our list of the best lightweight backpack. The backpack comes in four color options for you to choose from. Those are Black, Garnet Red, Ponderosa Pine and Twilight Blue. The pack is made of 420D Poly Small Back Stafford. The suspensions include HDPE frame sheet, Perfect Fit Suspension, Hex Mesh back panel, Sternum strap, ventilating back and Load lifter strap.

  • The pack offers Perfect Fit Suspension system that has the ability to supply customized comfort without too much hassle.
  • The piece of equipment offers accurate on body adjustments with 3 simple steps to follow.
  • As for the features that our testers really liked are the top loading, zippered side pockets, front pockets, stretch front pouch - generally the abundance of pockets.
  • The pack is hydration compatible, so that’s a bonus that we really appreciate.

~Pros~

  • The Redwing is a great to pack for a day hikes or even a quick overnight. The pack worked well for all the days that we spent outdoors hiking.

~Cons~

  • We would have really appreciated having lockable zippers.

Front or the main compartment zippers do not seem to unzip completely to the bottom of the bag.


#10 Teton Sports Talus 2700 Backpack

Teton Sports has been making outdoor products for the last fifteen years, and their products are easily some of the most revered products in available in the market. Their line of products is created by some of the most capable, professional, and smart guys out there. They are responsible for creating some of the best consumable products and outstanding camping gear that you'll find in the industry.

The backpack that we are talking about here is designed for extreme outdoor sports such as climbing and hiking in tough weather conditions. The pack offers tons of storage area for equipment like ice axes, snowshoes, climbing rope, helmets, etc. The pack offers an integrated 66D 3mm poly Ripstop tarp poncho with 2000mm water-resistant coating which according to convenience, one could use it as rope tarp, poncho, and shelter, and thus it is surely one of the best lightweight backpacks under $150

  • The pack has a lot to offer when it comes to comfort and the convenience of moving around. For customizable fit, the backpack comes with thickly-padded split dual wishbone waist pad with independent top and bottom hip adjustments.
  • Owing to the large padded lumbar region the pack stays balanced enough for users to take it on their back and climb mountains of the hike.
  • Our tested found out that the torso region is fully adjustable and that the very large internal pouch and Velcro tab carrying a hydration bladder extremely simple.

It’s the dual aluminum frame that keeps the excellent structure and strength of the pack intact. The ultra padded lumbar region, dual wishbone construction waist belt and not-to-mention the adjustable back panel takes responsibility for providing optimum comfort.

~Pros~

  • We really liked the endless options for the configuration and usage of the backpack.

~Cons~

  • The waist belt was a bit of a tight fit and need to be longer for people with broader waists. It isn’t an issue of pack size because we tried a larger size and that turned out to be impossibly large.

Wrap Up

The backpack is the first piece of equipment that you need for getting started on your journey. It’ll be your single most companion where ever you are and therefore choosing one is a big deal. You must first consider the journey you are about to plunge yourself in and based on that you have to decide the kind of backpack you need. We have put together a list of the best lightweight backpacks 2017 specifically designed for multi-day hiking. Rules don’t need to be hard and fast here; you can pick your choose according to your own convenience.

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