Best Backpacks

In this review, I look at the best light weight and ultralight weight backpacks that can either be taken on your next weekend and that future Thru Hike of a long trail.

The more robust packs are great for traditional gear on over nighter hikes to a 15 pound / 7kg base weight on a long trail.

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Left: MLD Burn (2014 model), Middle: Atom Pack’s Atom, Right: HMG 41L

 

Carry Capacity Weight Suspention Features
Pa’lante V2 15lbs / 7kg 16.5oz / 470g Frameless External pockets. Waterproof fabric
Atom Packs Atom 15lbs / 7kg 15.5oz / 440g Frameless Waterproof fabric. Custom construction
Mountain Laurel Designs Burn 17lbs / 8kg 15oz / 440g Frameless Lightweight hip belt
Gossamer Gear Kumo 20lbs / 9kg 18.5oz / 525g Frameless Removalble hip belt. Removable sit pad.
Mountain Laurel Designs Prophet 22lbs / 10kg 17oz / 480g Frameless Padded hip belt
ULA Equipment OHM 2.0 25lbs / 11.5kg 35oz / 990g Carbon Hoop Durable. Very comfortable.
Atom Packs Prospector 25lbs / 11.5kg 28oz / 800g Carbon Stay Waterproof fabric. Extremely lightweight frame
Gossamer Gear Gorilla 30lbs / 13.5kg 30.5oz / 870g Aluminium Stay Removalble hip belt. Removable sit pad.
Osprey Exos 30bs / 13kg 42oz / 1180g Air Suspention Ventilation with suspension. Can be tried before bought
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Windrider 35bs / 16kg 30oz / 850g 2 x Aluminium Stay Waterproof fabric
ULA Equipment Circuit 35bs / 16kg 42oz / 1180g Carbon Hoop + Aluminium Stay Extremely comfortable

Pa’lante V2

palante

  • Recommended Max Load: 15lbs / 7kg without hip belt
  • Volume: 40L total with 30L internal
  • Weight: 16.5oz / 470g
  • Stripped weight: 14.5oz / 410g
  • Price: US$225
  • Material: 150d DFC (Cuben)
  • Estimated delivery time: 8 weeks

Positives:

  • The pack has the most robust fabric on this list.
  • Waterproof fabric. The pack is not seam sealed, but the fabric goes a long way in keeping the contents dry. This fabric won’t absorb water, so won’t wet out and therefore it will stay light in extended downpours.
  • Great selection of external pockets. Two chest pockets that I find extremely convenient to put in a phone or camera and other bits and pieces needed throughout the day. The bottom pocket will hold most of the days snacks.
  • Excellent Return Policy . Pa’lante have started to build a very good reputation of replacing any faults in their packs as they very adaptable to Thru Hikers on trail.
  • Made in the US.

Negatives:

  • These packs have experienced a few durability issues to date. It appears that the V2 is a lot better than the first iteration, and as mentioned above Pa’lante is very quick to amend the situation.
  • The side pockets are small and slanted out due to the V shape of the pack. Large drink bottles are not secure.

 


Atom Packs Atom

LRM_EXPORT_20180804_144451.jpg

  • Recommended Max Load: 15lbs / 7kg without hip belt
  • Volume: 45L total with 35L internal
  • Weight: 15.5oz / 440g
  • Stripped weight: 13.5oz / 380g
  • Price: £145 (~US$190)
  • Material: X-pack
    • VX7 + VX21 in high use areas (aka 70d and 210d nylon laminate)
  • Estimated delivery time: 8 weeks

My Experiences: 

Positives:

  • Made in the UK. Great value for Europeans.
  • Totally custom construction. You can change any fabric, add chest and bottom pockets, add a frame, or a hip belt. You can even change everything and use your own design.
  • Waterproof fabric. The pack is not seam sealed, but the fabric goes a long way in keeping the contents dry. This fabric won’t absorb water, so won’t wet out and stay light in extended downpours.
  • Good customer service.

Negatives:

  • New company teething problems. They occasionally run out of material, and are still in the process of totally refining their standard pack, although it is still very good.

Mountain Laurel Designs Burn

BurnPack-510x510

  • Recommended Max Load: 17lbs / 8kg
  • Volume: 38L total with 30L internal
  • Weight: 15oz / 440g
  • Stripped weight: 14oz / 380g (including hip belt)
  • Price: US$190
  • Material: 210d Ripstop Nylon
  • Estimated delivery time: 12 weeks

My Experiances: 

  • I have hiked with this pack for around 7,000 miles and love it.

Positives:

  • One of the most popular frameless packs on the market, that is loved by many users.
  • Probably the best designed pack on the market; all its features work perfectly.
  • Unique minimal hipbelt that adds a surprising lot of support.
  • Durable 210d Ripstop fabric used.
  • Can be upgraded to DCF (cuben).

Negatives:

  • Lack of additional features that can be found on other packs.
  • Extremely slow delivery.
  • Chest strap can fall off.

Gossamer Gear Kumo

KUMO_F_8b13a63f-68c8-492d-8fc7-b9f6b957bfb1_1024x1024

  • Recommended Max Load: 20lbs / 9kg or 15lbs / 7kg without hip belt
  • Volume: 36L total with 28L internal
  • Weight: 18.5oz / 525g
  • Stripped weight: 13.5oz / 380g
  • Price: US$165
  • Material: Robic Nylon
    • 70d + 210d in high use areas
  • Estimated delivery time: 1 week

Positives:

  • Very cheap, and the best value UL bag on the market.
  • Has customisable options; external sit pad and hip belt can be removed.
  • Unique external sit pad can be easily accessed throughout the day.
  • Fast delivery
  • Includes chest pockets that I find very useful throughout the day.

Negatives:

  • Small side pockets
  • Hip belt is very heavy for a 36L pack, although most people who buy this pack will not need it.
  • Zip pocket in the lid gets squashed when the pack is full and becomes somewhat useless.

Bottom Line:

  • The best value pack on the market.

Mountain Laurel Designs ProphetProphetPackWasabiGreen

  • Recommended Max Load: 22lbs / 10kg
  • Volume: 48L total with 38L internal
  • Weight: 17oz / 480g
  • Stripped weight: 16oz / 450g
  • Price: US$165
  • Material: 210d Ripstop Nylon
  • Estimated delivery time: 12 weeks

Positives:

  • One of the most favoured frameless packs.
  • A padded hip belt that can comfortably handle that little more weight than other frameless packs. 
  • One of the best designed pack on the market, with all its features working perfectly.
  • Unique minimal hipbelt that adds a surprising lot of support.
  • Durable 210d ripstop fabric used.
  • Can be upgraded to DCF (cuben).

Negatives:

  • Extremely slow delivery.
  • Lack of additional features that can be found on other packs.
  • Chest strap can fall off.

Bottom Line:

  • This is the best pack for your first frameless option.

ULA Equipment OHM 2.0

ULA-OHM-Left-Side-View

  • Recommended Max Load: 25lbs / 11.5kg
  • Volume: 63L total with 42L internal
    • Note: ULA’s stated volume is extremely high and the actual volume is in the 50L range
  • Weight: 35oz / 990g
  • Stripped weight: 29oz / 850g
  • Price: US$190
  • Material: 210d Robic Nylon
  • Estimated delivery time: 1 week

Positives:

  • ULA makes the most universally comfortable packs on the market. I have never heard of a person complain about their pack not fitting well. This is the first pack that I put a lot of miles on and found it extremely comfortable.
  • Carbon frame makes an excellent lightweight flexible frame that moves with your body.
  • Great value for money.
  • Adjustable, removable hip belt.
  • Very durable.

Negatives:

  • Side pockets are very short, with a possibility of the drink bottles falling out occasionally.
  • Heavy for its carry capacity and size

Bottom Line:

  • Best lightweight pack for weekend trips.

Atom Packs Prospector

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  • Recommended Max Load: 25lbs / 11.5kg
  • Volume: 45L total with 35L internal
  • Weight: 28oz / 800g
  • Stripped weight: 23oz / 650g
  • Price: £175 (~US$225)
  • Material: X-pack VX21 (aka 210d nylon laminate)
  • Estimated delivery time: 8 weeks

Positives:

  • Made in the UK. Great value for Europeans.
  • Extremely lightweight for a pack with a frame.
  • Totally custom construction. You can change any fabric, add chest and bottom pockets, add a frame, or a hip belt. You can even change everything and use your own design.
  • Waterproof fabric. The pack is not seam sealed, but the fabric goes a long way in keeping the contents dry. This fabric won’t absorb water, so won’t wet out and will therefore stay light in extended downpours.
  • Good customer service.

Negatives:

  • New company teething problems. They occasionally run out of material, and are still in the process of totally refining their standard pack, although it is still very good.

Bottom Line:

  • This is the pack for you if you want a frame and have it extremely light.

Osprey Exos (men’s) And Eja (women’s)

exos

  • Recommended Max Load: 30bs / 13kg
  • Volume: 48L total with 40L internal
  • Weight: 42oz / 1180g
  • Stripped weight: 34oz / 1060g
  • Price: US$200
  • Material: Custom Nylon
    • 100d and 210d in high use areas
  • Estimated delivery time: 1 week, or pick up from an REI store

Positives:

  • The best store-bought pack on the market. You can head to REI and try it on first.
  • Awesome ventilation adds comfort in hot conditions.
  • Lifetime Warranty, which is the best return policy on the market. Osprey will repair any damage or defect for any reason free of charge.
  • There is a lighter model, Levity, that has just been released. Although adequate durability needs to be confirmed with this alternative model.
  • Brain (lid) can be removed and replaced with a flap top closure.

Negatives:

  • A few people seem to get lower back chafing.
  • Not many outside pockets, especially no hip belt pockets. Aftermarket ones can be added.
  • Side pockets are hard to reach and use while walking.
  • Heavier than average.

Bottom Line:

  • The best pack to be tried on before being bought, and peace of mind return policy if things break.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Windrider 2400 and 3400

2018_2400-windrider-white-main

  • Recommended Max Load: 35bs / 16kg
  • Volume: 50L total with 40L internal
    • Note: Actual volume is in the 45L range
    • Larger sizes are the same pack with a longer extension collar
  • Weight: 30oz / 850g
  • Stripped Weight: 28oz / 790g
  • Price: US$310
  • Material: Dyneema Composite Fabric (Cuben)
    • 50d DCF and 150d in high use areas
  • Estimated delivery time: 1 week

Positives:

  • Waterproof fabric. The pack is also partially seam sealed, and will prevent almost all rain entering. But with the bottom seams unsealed, this pack won’t stop all water penetrating. This fabric won’t absorb water, so won’t wet out and stay light during extended downpours.
  • Very durable.
  • Extremely light for the load carry capacity.
  • Optional Southwest model for added durability to outside pockets.

Negatives:

  • Very small and slightly hard to access side pockets.
  • On the more expensive side

Bottom Line:

  • A fantastic pack although a little on the expensive side.

ULA Equipment Circuit

ULA-Circuit-Left-Side-View

  • Recommended Max Load: 35bs / 16kg
  • Volume: 68L total with 47.5L internal
    • Note: ULA’s stated volume is extremely high and the actual volume is in the 60L range
  • Weight: 42oz / 1180g
  • Price: US$235
  • Material: 210d Robic Nylon
  • Estimated delivery time: 1 week

Positives:

  • ULA makes the most universally comfortable packs on the market. I have never heard of a person complain about their pack not fitting well. This is the first pack that I put a lot of miles on and found it extremely comfortable.
  • Great value for money.
  • Carbon and aluminium stay combination frame makes an excellent lightweight flexible frame that moves with your body. It can be removed.
  • Adjustable, removable hip belt.
  • Very durable.

Negatives:

  • Side pockets are slightly high and some people cannot reach back when walking.

Bottom Line:

  • The pack that I recommend to everyone getting into lightweight backpacking.