The Best Backpacks for Walking in the UK
Are you planning a hike or a long walk? One essential item you need to consider is a reliable backpack to carry all your necessities. A good backpack should be comfortable, durable, and equipped with features that enhance your hiking experience. In this article, we will explore the top-rated backpacks that are perfect for walking in the UK. Whether you’re heading out for a day hike or embarking on a multi-day adventure, these backpacks have been tried and tested to ensure they meet your hiking needs.
How to Choose the Right Backpack for Walking
Before we dive into the top-rated backpacks, it’s important to understand what factors you should consider when choosing a backpack for walking. Here are some key considerations:
Size and Capacity
The size and capacity of the backpack depend on the duration and nature of your walk. For day hikes, a backpack with a capacity between 15 to 35 litres is sufficient to carry essentials such as a rain jacket, water bottle, and lunch. If you’re planning multi-day hikes or carrying additional gear, opt for a larger backpack with a capacity of 35 litres or more.
Comfort and Fit
Comfort is crucial when it comes to backpacks. Look for features such as padded shoulder straps and a waist belt to distribute the weight evenly and reduce strain on your shoulders. Adjustable back panels and harness systems allow you to customise the fit according to your body shape, ensuring optimum comfort during your walk.
Storage and Organisation
Consider the number and arrangement of compartments, pockets, and attachment points in the backpack. External pockets are useful for storing items like wet-weather gear or water bottles. Look for backpacks with additional openings in the main compartment for easy access to items stored at the bottom. Features like walking pole attachments, whistle, and hydration bladder compatibility can also enhance your hiking experience.
The weight of the backpack itself is an important factor, especially if you aim to keep your overall load light. While a lightweight backpack is desirable, prioritise comfort and durability over minimising weight. A well-designed backpack with a comfortable harness system may feel lighter even if it weighs slightly more.
Design and Sustainability
The design of the backpack should suit your personal style and preferences. Choose a backpack that you find visually appealing and matches your outdoor aesthetic. Additionally, consider sustainability factors such as whether the backpack is made from recycled materials or is free from harmful chemicals like PFCs.
Our Top-Rated Backpacks for Walking in the UK
Now that we have an understanding of what to look for in a backpack, let’s explore some of the best options available for walking within the UK. These backpacks have been meticulously tested and reviewed to ensure they meet the demands of UK hikes and walks.
Lowe Alpine AirZone Trek 28L
The Lowe Alpine AirZone Trek 28L is a highly comfortable and feature-packed backpack that has earned a five-star rating. Its adjustable back harness and hip belt help distribute the weight evenly, making it a pleasure to carry even during challenging hikes. The trampoline-style back panel provides excellent ventilation, preventing excessive sweating.
With a rain cover, hydration bladder compatibility, and hiking pole attachments, this backpack offers everything you need for a day hike. The Lowe Alpine AirZone Trek 28L is slightly heavier than some other options at 1.3kg, but its exceptional comfort and versatile features make it a top choice.
Deuter Trail 30
The Deuter Trail 30 is a reliable backpack with a front zip access feature that sets it apart from other daypacks. Made from 100% recycled PET, this backpack is an eco-friendly choice. It offers good storage space and features like a rain cover, hydration bladder compatibility, and hiking pole attachments.
While the foam back panel may not be as comfortable as a trampoline-style system, it provides reasonable ventilation. The Deuter Trail 30 is a great option for summer and winter day hikes, providing durability and functionality at an affordable price.
Deuter Speed Lite 17
If you’re looking for a lightweight and budget-friendly backpack for casual walks, the Deuter Speed Lite 17 is an excellent choice. With a weight of only 420g, this pack is the lightest, smallest, and cheapest option in our selection.
It offers enough space to fit a 2L hydration reservoir, zip-up compartments, and elasticated water bottle pockets. However, the thin back panel may not provide adequate support for heavy loads. The Deuter Speed Lite 17 is made with recycled pre-consumer waste, making it a sustainable option for environmentally conscious hikers.
Patagonia Altvia 22L
The Patagonia Altvia 22L is a lightweight and comfortable backpack that offers ample storage for day hikes and low-level walks. It features a more structured back panel compared to some other options, providing better support and ventilation.
The main compartment, zip pocket, and bungee cord offer sufficient storage space, although the side pockets may not securely hold water bottles when crouching down. With its lightweight design and durability, the Patagonia Altvia 22L is a reliable companion for your UK walking adventures.
Mountain Warehouse Pace 30L
For those on a budget, the Mountain Warehouse Pace 30L offers great value for money. With enough space to store extra layers, food, and emergency supplies, this backpack features a long zip for easy access to items stored halfway down the pack. It is equipped with a breathable trampoline-style back system for added comfort.
However, the finishing and basic hip and shoulder straps may not provide the same level of durability and support as more expensive options. The Mountain Warehouse Pace 30L is a budget-friendly choice for day hikes and walks in the UK.
Osprey Manta 34L
The Osprey Manta 34L is a feature-packed backpack with a spacious capacity and a wide range of clever features. Although it is the heaviest backpack on our list, weighing 1,440g, its comfort, organisation, and durability make it worth considering for longer hikes and multi-day adventures. The backpack offers plenty of storage compartments, including side pockets large enough to fit big water bottles.
It comes with a rain cover and has two walking pole attachment points. The Osprey Manta 34L’s solid frame structure and trampoline system provide a comfortable walking experience, while the use of recycled materials demonstrates Osprey’s commitment to sustainability.
The Osprey Hikelite 28 is a lightweight backpack that offers a fantastic set of features and comfort. With a weight of 990g, this pack feels lightweight even when fully loaded. It provides ample space for a full winter kit list and features a long zip for easy access to items stored in the main compartment. The elasticated side pockets are large enough to fit two water bottles each, ensuring you stay hydrated during your walk.
The breathable trampoline-style harness, rain cover, walking pole attachments, and built-in whistle make the Osprey Hikelite 28 a practical and reliable backpack for UK walks.
Jack Wolfskin Aerorise 40
If you’re looking for innovative features and don’t mind the higher price tag, the Jack Wolfskin Aerorise 40 is worth considering. This backpack utilises 3D-printed back panels to improve ventilation and reduce back temperatures. It features a waterproof liner, making it suitable for wet conditions.
The slimline design of the backpack is ideal for scrambling, but keep in mind that it may be challenging to find items inside due to its unique structure. The Jack Wolfskin Aerorise 40 offers some exciting features for hikers seeking cutting-edge technology in their backpack.
How to Find the Perfect Backpack – Our Buyer’s Guide
Now that we’ve explored the top-rated backpacks for walking in the United Kingdom, let’s delve into a comprehensive buyer’s guide to help you find the perfect backpack for your needs.
How Big a Pack Do I Need?
The size of your backpack depends on the duration and nature of your walk. For day hikes, a backpack with a volume between 18L and 35L should suffice. If you’re carrying additional gear or embarking on multi-day hikes, opt for a larger backpack with a volume of 35L or more. Consider the items you’ll need to carry and choose a pack that can accommodate them comfortably.
Best Backpacks for Day Walks
For day walks, aim for a backpack with a volume between 18L and 35L. This range provides flexibility depending on the amount of gear you typically carry. If you prefer to have extra space for picnic supplies, beach essentials, or winter hiking gear, a backpack in the mid-20s litre-rating is ideal. Those who require more storage for their activities, such as Munro-baggers or winter hikers, might prefer a backpack with a volume around 30L or even 40L.
Best Backpacks for Multi-Day Hikes
Multi-day hikers can choose between backpacks with volumes ranging from 35L to 45L or larger, depending on their needs. If you’re traveling from inn to B&B, a backpack in the 35L to 45L range should provide sufficient space for your day walking gear, a change of clothes, toiletries, and other essentials. However, if you plan to camp and carry additional camping gear, opt for a backpack with a volume of 60L or more to accommodate your sleeping bag, mat, tent, stove, and food.
The Advantages of Choosing a Larger Pack
Opting for a larger backpack allows you to have more space for essentials and additional items you may not have initially considered. However, be mindful of not overpacking and carrying unnecessary weight. Compression straps on most packs can help keep your pack compact and stable, even when it is not fully loaded. Discipline yourself to pack only what you truly need to avoid the temptation of filling up the extra space unnecessarily.
The Importance of Comfort
Comfort is paramount when selecting a backpack. Look for backpacks with adjustable features that allow you to customise the fit to your body shape. Padded shoulder straps and a waist belt help distribute the weight evenly, reducing strain on your shoulders. Ensure that the backpack fits well, with the belt sitting at the top of your hip bones. A wide belt can provide better weight distribution but may become sweaty in hot weather.
Considering the Backpack’s Frame
Backpack frames, usually made of metal, provide rigidity and help transfer the load to your waist via the harness and belt. They can also improve ventilation. However, frames add weight to the backpack, so consider the balance between comfort and weight when making your decision.
Ventilation is essential, especially during warm weather or strenuous hikes. Look for backpacks with features like mesh fabric that absorbs moisture and allows air to circulate over your back. Foam padding and mesh membranes held taut in a frame create a cavity between your back and the load, ensuring better airflow and reducing sweating.
External Pockets and Storage
When examining the design of the backpack, consider the placement and number of external pockets. A stretchy or easy-access central pocket is ideal for storing wet-weather gear. Side pockets are useful for water bottles, but ensure they can securely hold the bottles to prevent them from falling out when crouching down. Look for backpacks with belt pockets for quick access to small items like sunglasses or snacks.
Rain Cover and Hydration System Compatibility
Check if the backpack includes a rain cover to protect your gear from wet weather. While hardly any daypacks claim to be fully waterproof, a removable rain cover can provide additional protection. Additionally, check if the backpack is compatible with a hydration system, allowing you to have easy access to drinking water while on the trail. Look for a sleeve inside the pack for the hydration bladder and attachments on the harness for the drinking tube.
Safety is crucial, especially when walking in remote areas or challenging terrains. Look for backpacks with built-in whistles on the harness, which can be used to alert nearby rescue services in the event of an accident. If you plan to hike in winter or snowy peaks, consider backpacks with ice axe loops for carrying essential safety equipment.
Style and Sustainability
Choose a backpack that matches your personal style and preferences. A backpack that you find visually appealing is more likely to be used over the long term. Additionally, consider sustainability factors such as whether the backpack is made from recycled materials or is free from harmful chemicals like PFCs. Look for certifications such as the Bluesign logo, which indicates a more sustainable production process.
Selecting the right backpack for your walking adventures in the United Kingdom is essential to ensure comfort, convenience, and durability. The top-rated backpacks discussed in this article offer a range of options to suit different needs and budgets. Consider factors such as size, comfort, storage, weight, and sustainability when making your decision. With the perfect backpack in tow, you’ll be ready to explore the stunning landscapes and trails that the United Kingdom has to offer. Happy walking!