The 8 Best Cheap Hiking Backpacks Of 2021 [#3 Is A Total Hit]

Do you know what’s better than a good quality hiking pack?

It’s a good quality hiking pack that’s cheap! I think we can shake hands and cheerfully agree on that. Today, cheap is a dirty word when it comes to product quality. But let’s not forget that cheap is a synonym for affordable.


I know how hard it could be to find a decent backpack when you’re on a budget. The good news is no matter what you hear, it’s possible. Such packs do exist. It just takes more time and effort to unravel those hidden gems.

It took us a tremendous amount of time and effort to research and find the best cheap hiking backpacks that fit our criteria for both quality and price. Click HERE to see them now.

But I’m glad we did it. I am because we managed to create a comprehensive list that will help many outdoor enthusiasts who want to buy an affordable yet quality pack. We hope that it will help YOU too.

During the process, we looked for many features and characteristics, the main four of them being:

  • Durability
  • Comfort
  • Functionality
  • QPR (Quality-Price-Ratio)

We also did our best to expose not only the pros but also the cons of each backpack in our list. And I’m not only talking about the advantages and the flaws WE noticed, but the feedback reported by others who have used the backpacks.

We looked at customer ratings and reviews so you don’t have to. We asked our friends and also hikers that we don’t know on social media about their experience about a given backpack. They all contributed to this list.

Sure enough, we bought a few samples and battle-tested the backpacks ourselves. We really wanted to create an objective and complete review guide.

We also added an informational and (I hope) useful buying guide. It will help you narrow down your choice and you’ll learn what to look for when buying a low-priced hiking pack.

When it comes to the price, probably you’ll agree that it’s a relative notion. In general, we tried to include reliable packs that don't break the bank. Also, don’t forget the price may vary depending on the volume, the fabrics, the features, and the brand.

Without a further ado, let’s begin, shall we?

Our Top 3 Recommendations (Best Bang For The Buck)

Best overall value
With a stunning functionality and unmatched price, it’s not a surprise that the Scout is one of the most popular backpacks on the market today.
  • Adjustable torso length
  • Sleeping bag compartment
  • Included rain cover
  • Plenty of externa storage options
Runner up
We hiked with this dirt cheap backpack loaded with 27 lbs. of gear. It completely blew our mind. Safe to say, it outperforms some of the most expensive backpacks out there.
  • Amazing suspension provides great carrying comfort
  • Fantastic back panel breathability
  • Generous storage and expandable volume
  • Huge hip belt and water bottle pockets
For light hikes
Thousands of hikers are raving about this backpack. We know why – it’s impossibly cheap, surprisingly durable, and conveniently lightweight.
  • Easily foldable into its own sack
  • Ultralightweight
  • Water-resistant and abrasion-resistant
  • Well-organized and durable

We picked the three backpacks that stand out from the rest.

Our winner of the “Best Cheap Hiking Backpack” competition is undoubtedly #3 on our list - Teton Sports Scout 3400 (55 L). This versatile pack is proven to perform outstandingly. That’s based on thousands of positive reviews leading to its excellent rating.

Our own experience with it proves the same.

The backpack is roomy, with a good number of compartments. It has a sleeping bag pocket and a sewn-in rain cover, stowed in a bottom zippered pouch.

Besides it’s super sturdy (600D polyester) and has a multi-position back length adjustment. That allows you to achieve a perfect fit based entirely on your own body type.

Last but not least, Teton Sports Scout 3400 is the best bang for the buck with a QPR (quality-price-ratio) that’s hard to beat.

The second contender is #2 – Nevo Rhino Advance 45 +5 L. Besides being ridiculously low-priced, this pack has an incredibly well-thought out suspension. I hiked with it and I can vouch for its impressive quality.

It has a solid internal frame and a suspended mesh on the back panel similar to top brands such as Osprey. That allows for a flawless ventilation. However, it doesn’t have an adjustable torso length like Teton Sports Scout 3400.

The third best pack that you definitely should check out is #1 on our list – Neekfox Field Operation 35 L.

If you want an ultralight, yet roomy, and sturdy pack – this is your choice. It’s a foldable rucksack suitable for light day hikes and even overnight adventures when you don’t need a lot of gear.

Consult the table below to have a quick overview of all the backpacks that we shortlisted.

The Best Cheap Hiking Backpacks Of 2021 At A Glance

guh-table__imageTeton Sports Scout 3400
  • Volume: 55 L
  • Weight: 4.6 lbs. / 2kg.
  • Rain Cover Included: Yes
View On Amazon →
  • Volume: 35 L
  • Weight: 0.91 lbs. / 0.41 kg.
  • Rain Cover Included: No
View On Amazon →
guh-table__imageNevo Rhino Advance
  • Volume: 45 + 5 L
  • Weight: 2.6 lbs. / 1.20 kg.
  • Rain Cover Included: Yes
View On Amazon →
  • Volume: 50 L
  • Weight: 2.6 lbs. / 1.17 kg.
  • Rain Cover Included: Yes
View On Amazon →
guh-table__imageGonex Outdoor
  • Volume: 35 L
  • Weight: 2.9 lbs. / 1.3 kg.
  • Rain Cover Included: Yes
View On Amazon →
guh-table__imageMountaintop Traveling
  • Volume: 40 L
  • Weight: 2.05 lbs. / 0.90 kg
  • Rain Cover Included: Yes
View On Amazon →
  • Volume: 45 L
  • Weight: 2.4 lbs. / 1.08 kg.
  • Rain Cover Included: Yes
View On Amazon →
guh-table__imageDavidNile Adventure
  • Volume: 40 L
  • Weight: 1.87 lbs. / 0.85 kg.
  • Rain Cover Included: Yes
View On Amazon →

#1 Neekfox Field Operation 35 L

neekfox 35 l backpack

Click image to see it on Amazon.

Honestly, it would be difficult to find a cheaper backpack with the quality and size of Neekfox. Compact and lightweight, yet spacious and well-organized, this surprisingly well-made pack will easily accommodate a weekend hiking trip. You just won’t believe how many pockets it has. You can even store your laptop in the main compartment and there will be enough space for some snacks or clothes. In addition, Neekfox can protect your essentials from the rain for a while because it’s water repellent! Read our full Neekfox review.

A good thing about this buddy is that it’s foldable. The lack of internal frame definitely has its advantages – you can neatly fold the pack in its front pocket so it becomes a tiny bag that you can bring with you when you don’t need its full capacity.

What We Like

  • Super lightweight – weighting the ridiculous 0.91 lbs or 0.41 kg when unfilled, you can imagine how easier it would be to hike with a reduced load on your back. 
  • Multiple pockets and great internal organization – besides the roomy compartment and the double side mesh pockets for water bottles, there are also two zippered pockets on the front and a handful of internal containers. There you can conveniently store books, clothes, food, and you can also put your smartphone or notebook in a separate zippered compartment on the inside.
  • Impressive capacity - we were surprised to see that Neekfox can hold up to 45 lbs (20 kg) of load. That’s impressive given its weight and size. That allows for a heavy packing whenever you need it, be it for picnic or camping.
  • Ergonomic shoulder straps – S-shaped, ventilated, and softly padded, the straps will allow you to carry the heavy load without discomfort.
  • Durable fabrics with double-layer on the stress points – the pack is made out of solid rip stop nylon that repels water and it is solidified by a double layer on major stress points. That enhances stability and increases the life of the backpack.

What We Don't Like

  • Zippers easily get caught / Need to be careful with them.
  • Only chest strap / no hip belt. Not a deal breaker if you don't overload it.

#2 Nevo Rhino Advance 45 L + 5 L

nevo rhino affordable hiking backpack

Highly versatile and packed with tons of useful features, it’s safe to say that Nevo Rhino can rival the big brands. It has everything you’d want for a 2-5-day outdoor trip at a remarkable quality. It’s great for everyday use too. The pack is hydration ready, has a sleeping bag compartment, a sewn in rain cover, great number of pockets, including on the hip belt, and the ventilation system on the back really surprised us.

What We Like

  • Fantastic Compartment Organization – Nevo Rhino is packed with a CRAZY number of pockets and storage areas which allows you to have more room when it comes to the items you might take. The size of the sleeping bag compartment on the bottom is big enough to take two pair of shoes if you don’t need the sleeping bag. 
  • Great ventilation and suspension system that is comparable to those of the big shiny brands such as Osprey. The pack allows you to easily customize the fit by adjusting the length of the waist, shoulder, and the chest strap with a simple pull. There’s a thick padding on all straps to protect your body from the force of the load. Speaking of load, it distributes evenly across your shoulders, back, and hips for maximum comfort and increased endurance. The heat and the sweat vanish quickly thanks to the breathability of the materials on stress points because the air can circulate freely. Ain’t that awesome?
  • Good external storage capacity – you can effortlessly attach a tent, trekking poles, a sleeping mat, cooking kit, and pretty much everything you like on the exterior of the pack thanks to the presence of buckles, elastic cords, and straps. No matter if it’s for camping or extended hiking trips, you’ll be good to go. You can easily attach an ice axe or a snow shovel for those winter treks.
  • Elastic side pockets that are not only good for water bottles but for bigger objects too thanks to their large size.
  • Waterproof lightweight material that is rigid enough to withstand prolonged use in harsh conditions.

What We Don't Like

  • External side pockets are difficult to reach on the go
  • Hip belt pockets are long but shallow, and don’t fit bigger smartphones

To create a helpful and honest review, I tested this backpack on several hikes with different length and difficulty.

On a 4-day mountain hike, I loaded the Nevo Rhino with 27 lbs. of gear. Want to know my opinion?

nevo rhino backpack

First, I really like the color of this backpack. I ordered the dark green with a blend of yellowish-green. Safe to say, besides being the cheapest, that’s the most stylish pack that I own.

So when I loaded the pack with tons of gear and put it on my back, one thing struck me. I didn’t expect to be so easy to adjust the fit on the go. Normally you have that option on expensive packs. I have such an option on my Osprey Stratos pack.

After you buckle up the hip belt and the sternum strap, you can easily, with a simple pull of the straps, tighten up all belts. In that way, the pack lays closely to your body.

I didn’t experience any load shift or rubbing against my shoulders. The entire load was stable and evenly distributed across my torso and hips.

That’s thanks to the independent hip top and bottom adjustment on the split dual wishbone waist pad.

the back panel of the nevo rhino 50 l pack

What really impressed me about the Nevo Rhino was the stunning quality of the suspension and the high level of breathability of the back panel.

Many cheap brands fail at that stage. On the surface everything looks fine and shiny, but once you put the pack on your back, you start noticing that it’s not quite comfortable to walk with it.

On one hand, that’s simply because it’s hard or even impossible to properly adjust the backpack to fit your frame. On another hand, this lack of comfort happens because of poor suspension and load distribution.

Well, I can safely say that’s not the case with Nevo Rhino. I was really surprised how comfortably the pack “connected” with my body once I adjusted it.

The aluminum internal frame is super durable, and it held my heavy load in a stable way throughout the entire hike.

The other positive thing that I was impressed with was the padding and the ventilation. No other backpack on our list provides such quality of ventilation.

Nevo Rhino uses a porous suspended mesh on the back panel similar to Osprey’s AirScape system. So the back panel doesn’t touch your back.

The heat easily evaporates through that mesh, and you don’t end up with sweaty back. I hiked for long hours under the sun and I didn’t feel clammy. What a pleasant surprise!

Hiking with nevo rhino backpack

The foam padding on the entire harness, including on the back panel, is quite thick. Like already mentioned, I loaded the Nevo Rhino with 27 lbs. worth of gear on my shoulders.

I didn’t experience any discomfort whatsoever even after long hours of hiking. The shoulder straps are wide, S-curved and thickly padded.

As for the organization, this pack delivers and then some. There are plenty of pockets everywhere.

Again, unlike other packs on our list and other inexpensive backpacks in general, the hip belt pockets and the side water bottle pockets are huge.

I used a water bladder, so I stored additional clothes in the side mesh pockets. I didn’t have an issue with that. Yep, those are super roomy.

This is a 45 L pack, but there’s an extension collar at the top. With it, you can expand the volume with 5 L and obtain an overall 50 L pack. Awesome.

I really struggle to point out something negative about my Nevo Rhino. I just love it. Still, I suspect that probably the pack will fail at some point in terms of durability.

I haven’t used it for a long time to vouch for that yet. Other buyers say that the durability is just fine, based on years of usage. The fabrics are strong too – the shell is made out of 600 D Ripstop nylon and 600D Oxford Canvas

However, the plastic buckles feel a bit flimsy. I will update this review after a while to share more info about the durability of the pack.

Overall Nevo Rhino Advance rivals the shiny brands and in some aspects, it outperforms them. Crazy, huh!

We found the backpack lightweight for its volume of 50 L – only 2.6 lbs. or 1.20 kg.

#3 Teton Sports Scout 3400 (55 L)

teton sports scout 3400 pack

Click image to see more details.

It’s not a surprise that this 55 L backpack suitable for 2-4 - day hikes continues to be a top seller and aggregates thousands of 5-star reviews. Besides being super comfortable to adjust and wear, it also has a sleeping bag compartment, and an integrated rain cover to protect your gear from rain. Read our full review of Teton Sports Scout 55 L and you’ll see why we love it so much.

This pack is perfect not only for hiking but for camping and travelling too. It fits the carry-on requirements of most of the airlines and the materials (600D Ripstop) are solid enough to last years of rugged use. Its weight is 4.5 lbs or 2 kg, which we find a bit much.

The storage is awesome and there is plenty of space for you to organize your gear such as your trousers with reinforced knees, for instance.

As compared to our other top pick - Nevo Rhino, the back panel of the Scout is not as efficient and the pack is heavier. However, you can adjust the torso length for an ultimate fit. That's not the case with Nevo Rhino.

What We Like

  • Adjustable torso length to fit the most common sizes that’s easy to customize for a better fit and maximum comfort when walking. 
  • Side and front compression straps to stabilize the load and compress the pack when needed.
  • Excellent amount of internal and external storage compartments and good pocketing system. It has everything needed for strategic packing including side and lower gear loops for attaching gear externally (such as walking poles or a sleeping pad, for instance). We have a useful article on how to use backpack loops.
  • Hydration ready – for your convenience, there’s a pouch in which you can fit a water bladder with a volume of up to 3 L.
  • Good quality of the padding on the shoulder straps as well as on the back panel and on the chest and hip belt. That definitely adds to the overall comfort during prolonged trips because it prevents rubbing and reduces fatigue.

What We Don't Like

  • A bit heavy for its size

#4 ESUP 50 L

ESUP 50 L cheap hiking pack

Click image to view more details.

If you want a roomy backpack for 2-5-day trips that gets the job done without breaking the bank, you’ll love the ESUP. This pack has all trail-friendly features you need to carry your gear comfortably and safely. It comes with an efficient suspension and Air Stripes system on the back panel for maximum ventilation. On top of that, this top-rated rucksack surprises with a rain cover and multiple pockets. Don’t miss checking it out!

Highly rated, ESUP is a unisex hiking pack. Based on the feedback of a verified buyer who hiked the El Camino De Santiago route for 103 km with it, the pack is quite sturdy. Especially given its low price.

ESUP is made of tear and water-resistant polyester that’s reinforced at the bottom. The zippers are with big pulls and not as lackluster as many would expect for a pack of this price. In fact, the pack has SBS zippers. You don’t see those often on a pack priced as low as the ESUP.

This is a frameless backpack. That’s important to know because if you overpack it, it could get uncomfortable if you’re headed out on a prolonged trek. There is no stay to support the load on your back.

Wirth that being said, the ESUP is heavily padded and rugged enough to withstand rough hiking comfortably if you don’t overload it. The maximum load you can carry with it is 88 lbs. or 40 kg.

The weight of the pack is 2.6 lbs. or 1.17 kg, which is more than good for a pack of this size. So it won’t slow you down.

Check out the major pros and cons.

What We Like

  • Efficient suspension and bearing systemeven though the pack is frameless, once you adjust the harness, you won’t experience any strain. The shoulder straps are ergonomic and padded. The same goes for the beefy waist belt that distributes the load to your hips.
  • Well-ventilated back panel thanks to the premium AirStripes technology. More expensive brands such as Deuter use that system. It features three layers of porous foam that provide heat evaporation and soft cushioning. There is a vertical channel that allows air flow and reduces the contact with your back. This enhances comfort on prolonged hikes.
  • Capacious sleeping bag pouch that also provides a second point of access to the main compartment. That space is zippered, and you can use it to access gear located at the bottom without having to empty all the contents of the pack.
  • Multiple gear loops and straps to secure gear externally. With this pack, you will be even able to attach your shades on a D-ring hanger on the left shoulder strap. Super convenient! There are straps for a sleeping mat or a tent. You know how to hike with a tent, do you? With the compression straps on both sides, you can tighten up the load to make it sit more comfortably.
  • Multiple convenient pockets including a bottom one where you’ll find a rain cover. The hip belt pockets are large and you can safely store your smartphone or a compact flashlight. There’s a huge zippered pocket on the top lid where you can store various stuff. On the front, you’ll find a vertical zippered pouch, suitable for a light jacket, snacks, or a map.

What We Don't Like

  • No internal frame. Not very stable when overloaded on prolonged treks.
  • Straps could be small for tall people over 6”2’. For that, check out our list for the best packs for big guys.

#5 Gonex 35 L

gonex 35 backpack

Click image to check price

Gonex is yet another affordable brand that produces practical and highly performing backpacks. This superb model impresses with a combination of functional features, tons of well-organized space, and comfortable design. Besides, the pack is durable, made out of hard-wearing nylon and it’s also breathable and thick padded on stress points to alleviate tension. With Gonex you get more than you pay for. Check it out.

The updated Gonex model is similar in features to many other packs but what makes it stand out is the unbeatable price. Plus, verified buyers report that its quality is surprisingly good for a cheap brand.

It’s a unisex knapsack that’s perfectly suitable for 2-3-day hikes when you don’t need to bring a lot of stuff.

The pack weighs only 2.6 lbs. or 1.3 kg. You might be interested in reading our full review of the attractive and priceworthy Gonex 35 L.

What makes Gonex super comfy is the ergonomic load bearing system. You can adjust the aluminum frame bar to match your torso size and shape.

Another cool feature that stands out is the padded sleeve on the front. It’s very helpful when you need to store and protect an electronic device. Even a laptop fits in there. This makes the Gonex a great laptop daypack.

Let’s see what else.

What We Like

  • Adjustable shoulder straps allowing you to center the load of the pack and adjust it closely to your body for a better fit. You can do this with the pack on your back. 
  • Adjustable hip belt with padded lumbar support – you can tighten up the backpack by pulling the straps on the belt to snugly embrace your body and relieve the load from your shoulders. On the belt, there are two good-sized pockets on both sides where you can store energy bars, a small torch or smartphone. 
  • Eva breathable mesh on the back panel that goes one step further in providing maximum comfort through soft, breathable foam that keeps the heat away and reduces strain. Read more about foam padding here.
  • Plenty of options for strategic packing – this pack has an impressive number of different-sized pockets and compartments which is helpful when you want to pack for camping or 2-4 day trips. That includes pockets on the waist belt, a hydration sleeve, Molle braided belt on the front to hang carabiners, and dual rings with elastic cords on both sides for walking poles attachment.
  • Rain cover included – easy to pull out and deploy, it ‘hides’ in a bottom pocket to make sure your essentials are well protected when weather goes bad.

What We Don't Like

  • Only one (top) access to the main compartment.
  • Waist belt pockets difficult to reach on the go.

#6 Mountaintop Traveling 40 L

mountaintop affordable hiking pack

Click image to view more details.

One of the top rated hiking packs on our list, Mountaintop offers stylish design, great functionality, and a price that’s unbelievable. It has plenty of space that comprises multiple pockets (the smallest of them hidden), and straps for external gear attachment. Oh, and the rain fly is included in a bottom zippered pocket. Be sure to check out this pack.

With a volume of 40 L and excellent storage space, Mountaintop is best used for 1-3 day outdoor trips. The size of the backpack makes it fit as a carry-on and the weight is reasonable too – only 2.05 lbs or 0.90 kg.

Mountaintop boasts with an efficient Airstripes system on the back panel. It contains beefy padding with an air channel for maximum ventilation. As per users reports, this works fantastic, keeping your back cool when you hike.

Another feature that you normally see on more expensive backpacks is the YKK zippers and buckles. Even though the buckles are somewhat thin, they are sturdy and with a good quality.

And yes – the pack comes with a rain cover. It’s very easy to deploy and keeps your valuables protected in sudden rainfall.

What We Like

  • Rigid and tear resistant – Mountaintop has reinforced stitching on stress points that make the pack reliable when carrying heavy loads for prolonged outdoor trips. The strong and well-sewn coat fabric can hold up to a slight rainfall. 
  • Two main access points – you can access your stuff not only from the large top compartment but also from a zippered compartment on the bottom. Imagine you have to get your sweater which is stowed on the bottom of the pack. No need to unpack all your other gear to get to it. Cool! 
  • Basic yet efficient padding – there’s a breathable foam on the back panel as well as on the shoulder straps that provides decent cushioning and sweat-free trekking.
  • Adjustable sternum strap – you can easily regulate the length and the width of the chest belt to achieve perfect fit for enhanced stability of the load and shift the weight to the hips.
  • Well thought out internal and external organization – you can use the volume of 40 L by neatly arranging your items in multiple pockets on the inside and the outside of the pack. There’s a big internal pocket in the main compartment where you can put a hydration bladder or a laptop. The hidden small pouch on the front allows you to store small valuable items. As for storing gear externally, there are D-rings on the shoulder straps to hang stuff and 6 adjustable straps thanks to which you can attach bulky items such as a tent, trekking poles or a sleeping bag.

What We Don't Like

  • Lack of padding on the waist belt.
  • Side meshed pockets too shallow.

#7 OutdoorMaster 50 L

outdoormaster 50 l backpack

Click image to see it on Amazon.

An absolute bestseller, OutdoorMaster is a spacious beast with whom you’re sure to have a great time in the big outdoors. At first look, the pack seems modest in capacity but don’t let it fool you. It enlarges to a point that Peter Dinklage from “Game Of Thrones” could fit in. Seriously, this backpack is multipurpose, tough, and packed with a good amount of insanely useful features. See for yourself.

OutdoorMaster comes in 10 different colors to choose from and with a rain fly thanks to which you can sing “Let It Rain” and don’t care about harsh weather conditions. The weight of the pack is 2.4 lbs or 1.08 if you like kilograms.

What We Like

  • Well-designed ventilation system – normally you shouldn’t expect miracles from a rather unknown brand. That’s why the quality of breathability and cushioning here comes as a surprise. The ergonomically shaped shoulder straps are well-padded and there’s wadding on the hip belt too. Less sweating and more comfort. Yay! 
  • Padded laptop compartment – no matter where you go, sometimes you just need your electronic device. OutdoorMaster has an internal protected sleeve that could easily fit a 15.6” laptop. 
  • Good-sized hip belt pockets – those are big enough to fit a smartphone or a small snack.
  • A front pouch with a small zippered pocket – allows you to put wet clothes, a jacket or anything that you think it’s better to be outside of the main compartment.
  • High-quality zippers – those are with big plastic handles, which makes them easy to pull. Besides, they slide smoothly and never get stuck. The double zippers on the front pocket allows you to lock your backpack.

What We Don't Like

  • Front pouch is not stretchable.
  • Back support not so strong and there’s a risk of bending. Pro tip: put accessories close to the back to prevent bending and enhance stability.

#8 DavidNile Adventure 40 L

davidnile adventure hiking backpack

Click image to see it on Amazon.

Beautifully designed and offering fantastic functionality and storage capacity, you’ll love this backpack even more than its price. With Adventure, you don’t have to worry that you won’t be able to take stuff you might need. There are multiple options for stashing items of various size and weight. As for the level of comfort – it’s higher than you expect! Check it out!

Made out of anti-abrasive and water repellent nylon, DavidNile Adventure 40 is perfect for weekend trips or 1-3 day nature escapades. This cutie can hold up to 20-23 lbs of gear and it’s super lightweight – 1.87 lbs or 0.85 kg. Sure enough, it has a bottom rain cover pocket.

What We Like

  • Detachable structure – you have the option to remove the back frame along with the ventilated mesh and the waist belt in case you need less bulk. That makes the pack even lighter and more functional when you bring it for half day trips or hanging in crowded city places. 
  • Large main compartment with an internal elastic pocket – great for storing a laptop or water reservoir.
  • Bottom shoe compartment – you can fit sneakers or running shoes in there. It might be small for hiking boots, though. You can also use it for placing a sleeping bag there.
  • Front organization pocket – this one has several smaller partitions, some of them zippered, including pen slots. You can use this cool pocket for placing your e-book, wallet, wired headphones, etc.
  • Spacious side pockets that are stretchable and perfect for water bottles and not only.

What We Don't Like

  • When you remove the back frame, you also remove the breathable mesh and the hip belt with its dual pockets.

Buying Advice And General Guidelines

Choosing a low-budgeted hiking backpack doesn’t differ much from choosing a regular pack. With that being said, there are some differences to consider.

We will quickly go through some important rules that you need to follow to make sure you’re making the right choice for you.

Firstly, you have to determine the size and the volume of your future pack. Of course, this depends on the type and duration of the trips that you usually go to. For the size, ask yourself whether you’ll take it as carry-on and for the volume – what quantity and kind of gear you need.

Watch the useful video below to have a better understanding of different backpack sizes. There's a nice comparison too.

Click to play

An ideal solution would be to have a pack with adjustable torso length and belts (chest and waist). In that way, you will be sure to achieve a fit based on your own body measurements. A pack with an adjustable torso length on our list is #3 Teton Sports Scout 3400.

If you’re mostly a day hiker, a good size would be anything between 15 – 35 L. For weekend trips a good volume is 30 – 40 L and for extended trips in the outdoors (3-6 days) you’ll need at least 50 – 60 L and sometimes even more.

In case you’re wondering too much about the volume, don’t overthink it and pick a pack with a bigger volume. It’s easier to shrink it (hint: compression straps) than to expand it. Plus, you’ll be relaxed that you’ll be able to take items you haven’t thought of in the last moment.

It’s even better if the backpack has a detachable structure so that you can reduce its size and weight in case you don’t need its full capacity. Such a pack on our list is #8 DavidNile Adventure 40 L.

Secondly, carefully choose based on features that provide comfort. Avoid packs with no padding on stress points (shoulder straps, back panel, and ideally on the waist strap).

This is important to ease physical tension, reduce tiredness, and prevent rubbing and strain, especially when you hike extensively with heavier loads.

The same matters when it comes to the ventilation system. When you hike in hot days with a backpack that doesn’t allow the air to circulate freely, you’ll be soon torturing yourself. Always aim to pick a pack that’s well ventilated on the back panel in order not to retain the heat and the nasty sweat.

For more tips and information, feel free to check our detailed guide on what to look for when deciding on a hiking backpack that best fits your needs.

Now let’s concentrate on what’s different when going for a dirt-cheap hiking rucksack.

Buying A Cheap Hiking Pack – Things To Consider

Let’s get one thing straight right ahead – when you’re purchasing a low-priced backpack from a lesser-known brand you’re making a trade-off.

hiking on a hill

You give less money, but in most of the cases you have to be prepared to make a compromise with the quality you receive. You just can’t expect that the ventilation system of a Chinese backpack for $40 will cool your back as efficiently as an Osprey backpack for $160.

Don’t worry, though. There are exceptions. There are backpacks that offer a surprising level of quality for their price, and they will serve you well for years if you take a proper care of them. All the packs on our list above fall into this category.

In the following sentences, I will first show you what to look for when buying a low-cost pack for hiking. Then I’ll quickly go through some best practices when it comes to maintenance and care.

What To Pay Attention To When Picking A Cheap Pack?

Like every car model has its Achilles heel (Volvo S60 has a small cargo space, for example), even the most expensive backpacks have their weak points. That’s why we include some cons worth considering in every product review that we write.

Finding a worthy yet inexpensive pack from a cheap brand comes down to two major criteria:

  • It should meet your needs in terms of size, volume, number of pockets, and all that practical stuff already mentioned earlier.
  • It should have as less weak points as possible.

How many weak points you’re OK with, that’s only you to decide. Probably the kind of trip or adventure you’re typically going to doesn’t always require many pockets, so that’s not a disadvantage for you. Or maybe you just don’t care if the backpack has compression straps or a hip belt.

jumping hiker

However, keep in mind that cheap packs generally have the following weak points. When choosing, pay attention to those and examine them thoroughly:


Zippers quality – this is regarded as a major problem of cheap brands. No one wants to deal with zippers that either get stuck or break easily. Inform yourself well about the quality of the zippers by skimming customer reviews, reading the product description of the backpack or asking questions online. It’s best if the zippers have big handlers and are manufactured by the two major companies YKK or SBS.


Poor fabrics – a material that’s too thin isn’t good, no matter how lightweight it is. That means it might tear easily only after several uses of the pack. A good specification for fabric resilience is the denier. It measures the thickness of the individual threads used to create the material. Most of the backpacks are made out of nylon and polyester. Most of the product specifications mention the value of the denier. The higher the denier, the higher the durability. A decent hiking backpack has to have fabrics with a denier anywhere between 100D – 600D.


Low-quality stitching – the craftsmanship of cheap backpacks sometimes tends to be poor. Look for that as well. Some packs like, for instance, #6 Mountaintop Traveler 40 L have reinforced stitching on major stress points to enhance load supportability.


Limited or no warranty at all – a good brand no matter if it’s cheap or expensive would stand behind its products and clients by providing clearly stated warranty and reliable customer service.

Now let’s mention some quick tips in regards to backpack maintenance.

Taking A Good Care Of Your Pack

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In general, cheap packs are more fragile and easy to break. Therefore, they require more care and attention. The following easy tips will increase the life of your hiking pack:


Avoid throwing it harshly, especially on dirty, rough surfaces – that could break the buckles and tear the material.


Clean it regularly and wash it carefully – concentrated dirt wears out the material with time. Make sure to remove dust and dirt from the interior and the exterior after every harsh use. Wash it manually and never in a washing machine. Use detergent-free soap and a wet cloth, ideally a microfiber towel. Avoid brushes with hard bristles as they can damage the fabrics. Check out this guide on how to clean your backpack the right way.


Don’t overstuff it – every pack has its limits in terms of load bearing. Exceeding its capacity would make it not only uncomfortable to wear but the backpack will come to the end of its life much faster. Plus, if you use it as a carry-on luggage, you might have issues at the airport.


Be careful with the zippers – it’s true that zippers are easy to break sometimes. But it’s also true that often, we don’t treat them with respect and that increases the chance of damage. Don’t use strength when zipping and unzipping the pockets and avoid doing it too fast. Every time, make sure that nothing stands on the way of the metal teeth when moving the sliders. To do the extra mile, lubricate the zippers. Check this detailed guide on how to properly take care of backpack zippers.


There you have it, folks. Time to end this long article.

Finding an affordable and at the same time reliable hiking backpack is not easy and definitely not impossible.

You just have to know how to look and what to pay attention to when choosing among the many sleazy brands on the market.

Cheap packs are often unjustly regarded as ‘disposable’ backpacks, but I strongly believe that you can discover some treasures out there. I hope the 8 treasures on our list will narrow down your choice significantly. And I also suggest to read the following article on how to further save money on hiking gear

See you on the trail. Have fun with your new backpack!

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Asen Stoyanchev

Founder of this website, Asen is a passionate hiker and writer who is also a gear nerd. He’s been featured on many established hiking websites where he gives hiking advice & tips. When he is not trekking with his family or friends, he is writing articles and product reviews. Asen spends most of his time in Bulgaria but he constantly travels the world in seek of more unforgettable experiences. Read more about Asen here.

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  • October 10, 2019
Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 12 comments
Cathy - October 10, 2019

Amazing information. I don’t hike, but I have plenty of relatives who do. I never notice their backpacks, but now I’m going to ask them questions and sound intelligent. I’ll mention fabrics and zipper care. They’ll think I’ve lost my mind. lol

    Asen - October 10, 2019

    Hey Cathy,

    Haha, you can surely do that! Thanks for stopping by.

Tyler Buchanan - October 11, 2019

Hi Asen, I really appreciate how thorough and detailed you were. I’ve started looking for a hiking backpack, and reading the post helped me see what I need to be aware of in my search. Thank you for your hard work. I really appreciate it!

    Asen - October 11, 2019

    Hi Tyler,

    I always try to do the extra mile when reviewing hiking backpacks. Good luck on your quest to finding the perfect pack for you.

Mike Adkins - October 23, 2019

Hi – Great information. So thorough and so detailed. I am looking for a small backpack that I can use when travelling overseas and also when doing city walks.
I think I may have found it in your page – the Roam.
Small neat and easy to stow on a flight.
I love it.
Thank you for the great information.

    Asen - October 23, 2019

    Hi Mike,

    The Roam is an excellent choice. I love the fact that it’s cheap but at the same time has some premium features.

Strahinja - October 23, 2019

Wow. I am impressed. This is one of the most complete list I have ever found online. I really appreciate your effort. You helped me a lot. I am visting my mountain cottage next week and I am going to be hiking a lot. I realized I needed new hiking backpack and I got just what I needed here.

I think my favorite choice is Nevo Rinho backpack. The price is more than fine for the amazing look and specifications of this backpack.

Thank you man.

    Asen - October 23, 2019


    Nevo Rinho is a great pack indeed. I love the water repellent materials and the well-fitted frame. Oh, and the price is unbelievable too! 🙂

Varun Sharma - May 7, 2020

Roam is an excellent choice

    Asen - May 7, 2020

    Hi Varun,

    Indeed it is. Thanks!

Nia Kapitanova - May 27, 2020

Thank you very much for your article! It helped me choose a nice backpack even though I’m in a financially difficult situation right now. Thanks to you I will make my first 2-day hike!

    Asen - May 27, 2020

    Hi Nia,

    I’m always happy to help. You can still have a decent backpack even when you’re on a budget.


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