9 Hand-picked Best Expedition Backpacks for 2021

An expedition backpack is a backpack that has been designed to carry your gear camping, hiking, and other trips that would last over multiple days. They have a higher carrying capacity than regular backpacks and include many additional features like a detachable top lid or a sleeping bag compartment.

Factors to Look for while Buying an Expedition Backpack

Backpack Frame Type

Internal-frame backpacks

Most of the expedition backpacks consist of internal frame backpacks designed to keep you stable while moving on uneven and unfavorable terrain. These expedition backpacks make use of load-supporting technologies that help in properly distributing the weight across your hips for better comfort.

External-frame backpacks 

External-frame expedition backpacks will be ideal for you if you will be carrying a lot of heavy and irregular loads, for example, carrying an inflatable kayak for the lake. These backpacks have a lot of ventilation and provide many organizational features.

Frameless backpacks

These backpacks come with no frames or have removable frames. If you prefer traveling light, you can go for these backpacks to save on a few extra weight.

Ventilation

Some expedition backpacks include a suspended mesh back panel for proper ventilation. They help in combating the extra sweat produced due to the backpacks riding on your back for long periods of time. Also known as tension-mesh suspension, these mesh panels feature a trampoline-line setup,, which keeps the backpack a few inches away from your back. Your back instead rests against the heavily ventilated mesh material.

Pack Access

Most standard backpacks have top-loading openings. The rarely used items are kept at the bottom while the frequently used ones are kept at the top. Many backpacks include a side panel that lets you access different sections of the backpack as required. You will be able to access the items on the bottom or middle without opening the top part.

Pockets

Your backpack will include different kinds of pockets for different purposes. Elasticized side pockets will lie flat against the pack when not in use. They can be stretched out to carry water bottles, tent poles, and other spare items.

Your hip belt might include a few small pockets. You can use them to store snacks, your smartphone, cables, headphones, and so on. Shovel pockets are flaps attached to the front of the backpack using a buckle closure on the top. They can be used to hold a snow shovel. You can also use it to carry maps, jackets, and other loose items. A few pockets are often added to the front of the backpack for storing small and lightweight items for easy access.

Removable Top Lid

Some backpacks come with a removable daypack that is ideal for making side trips, summit hikes, or supply runs. These backpacks include a top lid that can be detached from the main pack and used as a hip belt pack for a short trip.

Sleeping Bag Compartment

Many backpacks provide a zippered stash compartment near the bottom of the pack. You can use this compartment to store your sleeping bag instead of using a stuff sack separately. This compartment can also be used for other gears that you need to access quickly.

Padding

Most backpacks provide padding on the shoulder straps and back panels to make carrying the pack much more comfortable for you. Paddings are also provided on the hip belt and lumbar pad. They help you to avoid sore spots on your lower back and hips and lets you carry the backpack easily for long hours.

Attachment Points

If you use accessories like trekking poles or ice axes, you should go for a backpack that has tool loops. You can use these loops to attach the gears to the exterior of your backpack. Expedition backpacks also offer other attachment features, such as a daisy chain. This is a length of webbing attached to the outside of the pack,, which can carry several tools and accessories. Gear loops are provided on the hip belt or at a lower part of the backpack. They can be used as clip-on points for your tools or for holding your skins.

Raincover

A rain cover can come in handy if you are expecting rough weather on your trip. Many backpacks have interiors that are lined with waterproof coating—these help to keep your belongings dry and safe. Otherwise, water may seep through the seams and zippers during heavy rain. You can then use a rainfly to prevent water from going in.

Hydration Reservoir

Almost every expedition backpack will include an internal or external sleeve for carrying a hydration reservoir. They will also have hose ports through which you can run a sipping tube. Hydration reservoirs allow you to carry water or other liquids that you can drink without putting down your backpack.

Best Expedition Backpacks for 2021

1. Teton Sports Fox 5200 Expedition Backpack

Those who have been in the backpacking game for a while now are bound to come across Teton. The Teton Sports Store is known for making expedition backpacks with an impressive internal frame unmatchable by most manufacturers. Teton’s products offer an exceptional storage area with a variety of other features that are desirable for any trekker. That’s why it’s one of the best expedition backpacks on the market today.

Design

This expedition backpack is designed to sit comfortably on the carrier’s shoulders. It has a fully adjustable structure to suit different body types. The thick padded shoulder straps of this bag make it relatively comfortable and easier to carry around for long periods of time. The adjustment system allows you to easily adjust the straps around the torso, shoulders, chest, and back to provide the perfect fit.

Furthermore, the base of this pack is created with a durable open-cell foam lumbar pad to make sure that your back gets the support it needs while carrying heavy loads.

Storage

When it comes to storage space, this expedition backpack by the Teton Sports Store is a deal-breaker. With an internal frame of 5200 cubic inches, it’s hard not to pick this one for your next backpacking adventure. Whether you want to backpack across Europe or go on a week-long trekking trip to the mountains, the Fox 5200 by Teton won’t let you down.

The Fox 5200 features an internal hydration reservoir sleeve. This inner hydration sleeve has a storage capacity of 3 liters. Remember that this product does not come with a hydration pack, but it can accommodate one for added convenience. While this is a great addition to an expedition pack, it’s important to note that the hydration sleeve can only be accessed from the top. This may be a drawback for some people.

The Fox 5200 is perfect for people who are just starting as backpacking enthusiasts. This is because of its impressive storage space in the main compartment. As we mentioned earlier in the article, the main compartment’s internal frame covers up to 5200 cubic inches. This allows you to pack all your essentials for as long as you need them.

While the main compartment of this expedition pack is exceptional, it does not have dedicated storage space for things like a trekking pole, ice ax loops, etc. However, we must note that it has enough attachment points to support these essentials, so you definitely won’t be losing money with this backpack.

The Fox 5200 by Teton has a separate sleeping bag compartment and zippered side pockets for easy accessibility. But, it does not have any hip belt pockets.

Additional Features

The Fox 5200 comes with an integrated rain cover. This sewn-in rain cover is easily accessible in case it starts pouring heavily. Not only does this pack have a large storage capacity on the inside, but it also features external storage systems that allow you to access your gear with comfort. This expedition backpack comes with bungee storage and gear ties for extra storage.

This pack has a removable hood, which can be used as a fanny pack on the go. You can use it as a pillow or a waist pack as well. Furthermore, it has side compression straps, so all of your gear can be taped down, making it easy to carry. This pack has a waistband that makes sure that your gear stays in place and can carry it with efficiency.

One of the most notable features of this pack is that it’s made of 600D Ripstop and 1000D Oxford Canvas, which makes it highly durable and long-lasting.

Pros

  • Made with durable material.
  • Has a large storage capacity of 5200 cubic inches, i.e., 75 + 10 L.
  • Integrated with a hydration reservoir sleeve.
  • Detachable lid.
  • Fully adjustable torso length and back system.

Cons

  • No separate storage compartment for trekking poles and ice ax loops.

 

 

2. Roamm Nomad Expedition Backpack

Roamm is another well-known manufacturer of expedition backpacks. Their expedition packs have a variety of features to offer. From organization to compartment access, their versatility is exceptional. Roamm’s backpack construction is specifically curated to accommodate everything one may need for backpacking trips. Needless to say, the Nomad Expedition backpack is one of the highly-rated packs on our list.

Design

The Nomad Expedition Backpack has a fully adjustable shoulder harness, which allows for a comfortable fit for any body shape. The back panel of this backpack is made of mesh to promote breathability. This will help keep sweating on the bay.

The inside of the mesh back is employed with reflective strips so you can easily spot your backpack at night. With the thoughtful construction of this backpack, you can carry heavy loads for long durations of time comfortably.

Storage

Much like the Fox 5200, the Nomad Expedition backpack by Roamm has an impressive storage capacity. With a 65 liters internal frame, this expedition pack has plenty of room for organizing your gear effortlessly. While 65 liters of storage might not seem like it’s enough, this pack makes up for it with a fully detachable day pack. The day pack has a capacity of 15 liters.

This combined storage area of 80 liters is perfect for various purposes like camping, hiking, trekking, etc. This pack is reinforced with a lightweight alloy frame, which makes it ideal for carrying heavy loads. Furthermore, it has a large main compartment with easy access points at the top, bottom, and side.

The Nomad Expedition backpack has two mesh side pockets. These are lined with extra support at the bottom so that you can safely store sensitive gears like tripods, tent poles, and snow pickets. This pack has a removable hip belt with two zippered pockets for storing essentials like your phone, camera, snacks, etc.

This pack has a reservoir sleeve for storing your hydration bladder. The best part about this feature is that the hydration sleeve is accessible from both the left and right sides. This would be perfect for people who are ambidextrous or primarily use their left arm. The Nomad Expedition backpack by Roamm has a designated sleeping bag compartment.

One of the most important features of this pack is that it has dual ice ax loops and a trekking pole attachment system. Furthermore, the top lid comes with several utility loops for easy access to your gear on the go whenever you need it.

Additional Features

The unique features of the Nomad Expedition backpack by Roamm do not end at comfort. This pack comes with a rain cover to protect your gear from getting wet during the rainy season. The mesh side pockets are stretchable, and you can fit even large water bottles with ease.

As we mentioned above, this pack comes with a removable hip belt with two fully functioning zippered pockets. Furthermore, it’s integrated with a detachable top lid pocket that’s also adjustable. This top lid has a zippered mesh pocket inside that can be used to store essentials like a newsletter or things you need easy access to.

This pack is made with highly durable nylon material and lightweight alloy with mesh reinforcements for ventilation to ensure that your next camping trip is free of sweat. The sternum strap of this pack has a special retainer for your sunglasses.

On top of the above-mentioned features, Roamm offers a lifetime warranty on this expedition backpack purchase.

Pros

  • Large main compartment with multiple access points.
  • Fully adjustable shoulder straps.
  • Comes with a rain cover.
  • Perfect for multi-day expeditions.
  • Has a trekking pole attachment system and ice ax loops.
  • Highly durable.
  • Comes with mesh water bottle pockets that can be used for carrying tripods as well.

Cons

  • The exterior of this pack does not have water resistance.
  • Both the trekking and ice ax loops are the same.

 

 

3. Mountaintop Expedition Backpack

Mountaintop has been manufacturing backpacks since 1986. They have made a name for themselves in the industry for making the ideal expedition backpacks for long trips. Going camping in the woods? Taking a trip to the mountains? This Mountaintop expedition pack is a great investment, no matter what. It’s loaded with exceptional features that are not easy to find in an average pack. You can take it along for trekking, camping, hunting, and so on.

Design

The pack has been designed using water-resistant nylon material. The lining inside the backpack has been made of nylon too. It has a buckle closure. The backpack has a weight of 2.25 kg. The dimensions of the pack are 33.5 by 13.8 by 11.8 inches. It has a storage capacity of 80L.

The buckle and the zippers of the backpack are made by YKK, which are well-known for their quality and durability. The pack includes a waterproof cover that can be stored in a zippered compartment present at the backpack’s bottom.

Storage

The backpack has adequate storage space for carrying all the essentials for your trip. You can carry two weeks’ worth of clothes. You can bring your toiletries, such as shampoo, conditioner, sunscreen, toothpaste, brush, and so on. It can also carry your phones, headphones, and chargers. You can carry some snacks and other dry foods as well. A camping light, picnic mat, trekking poles, portable stove, and emergency kit can also be included in the pack.

The backpack has a separate sleeve in the main compartment for holding a hydration bladder. You can carry a bladder up to a capacity of 3 liters. The backpack has a hydration access port on the top through which you can access the liquid inside the bladder. You can keep the bladder tube in place using the D-shaped loop present on the shoulder strap.

Additional Features

The backpack can be accessed from the bottom. A divider has been included between the bottom compartment and the main compartment. You can easily unzip the bottom compartment separately to access the contents inside. The pack has a zippered opening on the side, which can be used to access the middle of the backpack. You will not be required to empty all the items on the top to get to the middle part.

The backpack has a hip-belt, which can be adjusted between 31.5 to 57.1 inches. The hip-belt keeps your backpack well-balanced and comfortable on your body. You can easily adjust the belt even while carrying the pack. You can easily carry a sleeping bag along with this backpack. Use the top straps or the front straps to secure the sleeping bag to the outside of this pack.

The pack comes with an eight-stage height adjuster on the back. It is held in place using a hardened and thick patch and magic tape. You can use the harness strap and velcro to get an appropriate level according to your torso and height length. You can get a maximum torso height of 18 inches.

Pros

  • Has a high storage capacity of 80L along with a 3L hydration bladder.
  • Designed using nylon material and durable YKK zippers.
  • The bottom, middle, and top compartments can be separately accessed.

Cons

  • No padding on the shoulder strap.
  • Poor strap quality.

 

 

4. Gregory Baltoro Expedition Backpack

The backpack is perfect for camping, hiking, trekking, international trips, and so on. The pack weighs around 5.5 lbs. Its dimensions are 25.2 by 15 by 9.5 inches.

Design

The Gregory Baltoro Expedition Backpack has been manufactured using 630D High-Density Nylon and 200D polyester for the lining. It has a drawstring and buckles closure with a 16-inch shoulder drop.

The back panel is vented and is made using lifespan foam. It includes a silicone lumbar grip zone. The LumbarTune removable insert on the back provides contouring that is user-customizable for more precise fitting.

Storage

The double-barrel lip set up of the backpack offers you adequate storage space to carry all your essentials. It has dual zippered pockets on the top and a hidden pocket underneath them. An ergonomic bottle pouch has been attached to the side for carrying your water bottle or other drinks.

Additional Features

The pack makes use of 3D interchangeable pre-curved EVA foam for the harness. It has an adjustable hip-belt that provides additional support to your body. The backpack includes a lightweight, removable daypack that can also be used as a hanging reservoir sleeve.

A rain cover has been provided with the pack, which can be used to protect your backpack from rain and water splashes. The rain cover comes with its own zippered pocket for storing. The pack has a top-loading design with a U-zip panel on the front for accessing your items.

Pros

  • Makes use of curved EVA foam technology for the best fit and comfort.
  • Includes high-quality nylon material for the base and polyester for the lining.
  • Has dual zippered pockets and a hidden pocket inside the pack.

Cons

  • Maybe a bit heavy for some people.
  • The pockets on the lumbar strap are too small for a phone.

 

 

5. Osprey Aether AG Men’s Expedition Backpack

The Aether series of backpacks from Osprey is the perfect companion for your hikes, backpacking trips, and expeditions. The custom hit harness, and hip belt provides amazing stability and security for your gear. The pack offers a design that is a combination of innovative features and a customizable fit so that you have the best time on your trips. The Aether backpack lets you easily carry your essentials for a multi-day excursion.

Design

The pack comes with an internal sleeve for storing a hydration chamber up to a capacity of 3L. You can carry a load of about 35-60 lbs in this backpack. The dimensions of the backpack are 33.45 by 17.75 by 13.39 inches. The backpack has a storage capacity of 70 liters and weighs around 2.5 pounds. It has a convertible strap design.

Storage

The pack has suspended mesh wraps for the shoulders, the back, and hips. It also offers a fully integrated back panel fit. The backpack includes a stretchable mesh pocket on the front and zippered pockets on the hip belt for storing small items for quick access. You can retrieve your items from the main compartment using the large J-zip on the front. The backpack includes a built-in sleeping bag compartment that is zippered and separated using a removable divider.

You can use the two zippered pockets on the hip belt to store snacks and other essential items for easy access. The backpack also includes ice ax holders. It helps you to stay prepared for all kinds of terrain. The bungee tie off makes sure that the ice ax remains firmly in place.

Additional Features

The pack utilizes an isoform harness and CM hip belts to provide the best comfort and fit for your body. You will be able to carry heavy loads for long distances without stressing your body. The components are adjustable so that you can customize them as per your preferences.

The internal compression strap in the backpack keeps your clothes and other belongings tightly packed so that you can squeeze out some extra storage space. The backpack also has compression straps on the outside that keep the frame of the pack tightly bound to ensure proper weight distribution.

The pack has an integrated flap jacket cover that allows you to use the backpack without a lid. You can easily remove the top-lid and replace it with a day lid made of air mesh harness. It has multiple sternum strap positions and a small zippered pocket on the front panel.

Pros

  • Includes a harness and a hip belt with quick access pockets.
  • Has an integrated flap jacket that lets you use the pack without a lid.
  • Comes with internal and external compression straps.

Cons

  • Hip-belt is uncomfortable, according to some reviews.

 

 

6. Gregory Denali 100 Liter Expedition Backpack

The Denali 100 comes with many features that make it the perfect backpack for your mountain expeditions. It gives you the ability to carry heavy loads through unfavorable environments and rough terrains. The paddings and the hip belt ensure that you are comfortable throughout your journey.

The backpack is ideal for ice climbing, ski mountaineering, alpine climbing, trekking, hiking, camping, and so on. It weighs around 6.7 lbs. Its dimensions are 36.5 by 13.25 by 11.75 inches.

Design

This backpack has a top-loading design along with full-length zip access on the side. It has a stoppable aluminum frame with a top lid, bivy pad, and padded hip belt. The lid pocket is removable with an occipital cutout. The underside of the lid has a security pocket for safely storing your valuables.

Storage

The pack has ample storage space to carry your essential gears for your expedition. The side pockets are durable and expandable. The dual access pockets on the front panel have a zip-away internal divider. A quick-access zipped pocket has been provided on the side of storing a map or a headlamp.

The pack comes with many functionalities for your gear. It includes a hip belt with tubular gear loops, sled pull loops, and ice clipper slots. The hip belt has a single zipped pocket for your accessories. The front panel has dual daisy chains. The pack also provides adjustable ice ax attachments. It has metal toggles for leashless and mixed climbing gears.

Additional Features

The backpack has a durable construction design. Its dual-layer system makes it puncture-resistant. The front panel has internal lamination for keeping your belongings safe.

The pack includes a separate sleeve for carrying a hydration chamber. You can access the liquid inside the hydration chamber through a tube port.  The pack includes an avalanche safety pocket. You can use this pocket to store probes, shovels, and other important accessories that you require easy access to.

Pros

  • Includes a zipped internal divider and dual pockets on the front panel.
  • Has a dual-layer system that makes the pack puncture resistant.
  • Provides a separate sleeve for the hydration chamber.

Cons

  • Buckle quality can improve.

 

 

7. Osprey Xena 85 Women’s Backpack

The Osprey Xena 85 backpack is large enough to accommodate all your essentials for your expedition. It has an ergonomic design that allows you to carry heavy loads for long distances without putting a lot of stress on your body. It has an adjustable harness and hip belts that help you to get the best custom fit for your body. Miscellaneous features such as a hydration compartment and trekking pole attachments keep you well-prepared for your long hikes and trails.

Design

This backpack has a storage capacity of 85 liters. You can carry a load of 40 to 70 lbs in this backpack. The backpack can be converted into a DayLid pack. The top lid is removable and has top and under-lid zippered pockets. It is appropriate for side trips and hiking peaks. It has an external sleeve for carrying a hydration reservoir. The hydration chamber can be accessed even when the backpack is completely loaded. You can carry a hydration reservoir up to a capacity of 3L.

Storage

The backpack includes a stow-on-the-go trekking pole attachment that lets you store your poles and keep your hands free for other work. It has two zippered pockets on the front for storing additional items. The backpack includes a zippered compartment with a wide opening for storing your sleeping bag. It also has a removable divider. Removable sleeping pad straps are also added as external attachments. A hybrid nylon and stretch mesh pocket has been provided for storing rain gear. You can store the wet rain gear in this pocket after using them.

Additional Features

The backpack has dual side zippers that allow you to access your belongings stored inside the main compartment easily. You will not be required to remove the top lid for this purpose. Zippered pockets are present on the hip belt,, which can store small items and snacks for quick access.

Pros

  • Dual side zippers allow you to access your belongings without opening the top lid.
  • External hydration chamber sleeve lets you carry a hydration reservoir of 3L.
  • Includes a hybrid nylon and mesh gear pocket for storing wet rain-gear.

Cons

  • The quality of shoulder straps can improve.

 

 

8. TETON Sports Explorer 4000 Internal Frame Backpack

The Teton Sports backpack offers a comfortable design and ample storage space at an affordable price. The padded back panel keeps your body cool and properly distributes the weight. The shoulder straps are padded and can be customized for your body shape. The backpack also has adjustable mechanisms on the waist, chest, and torso, which provides superior stability.

Design

The Teton Sports Explorer backpack is perfect for weeklong trips, hikes, camping, and expeditions. It has a storage capacity of 65L and weighs around 5 pounds.

The dimensions of the backpack are 32 by 18 by 12 inches. The torso length of the backpack can be adjusted between 19 and 23 inches. The dimensions of the sleeping bag compartment are 13.5 by 10 by 7 inches.

Storage

The backpack has many premium features that are usually available only in high range products. It includes pass-through-side pockets for storing your tent poles, trekking poles, and other long gears.

It has a hydration pocket for carrying a bladder up to 3 liters. The backpack also provides a sleeping bag compartment for carrying your sleeping gear. The multi-directional compression straps keep your backpack tightly bound to minimize its frame and keep the items secure inside. The backpack comes with multiple compartments and pockets that allow you to pack and organize your belongings strategically.

Additional Features

The backpack comes with an integrated rainfly. The rainfly is sewn-in to keep your gear dry from rain and other water splashes. You can easily tuck away the rainfly when it is not being used.

It includes a multi-position torso adjustment that makes it appropriate for a wide variety of body sizes. It includes durable open-cell foam lumbar pads and molded channels that help to improve airflow. They help you remain comfortable while carrying a large amount of load all day long.

Pros

  • Has a large storage capacity of 65L along with a hydration chamber of up to 3L.
  • Includes side pockets for carrying long gear such as tent poles, trekking poles, and so on.
  • The back panel and shoulder straps are padded for better comfort and fit.

Cons

  • Torso adjustments are a bit difficult to make.
  • Lack of proper instructions for operating.

 

 

9. Bear KompleX Military-Grade Backpack

The Bear KompleX Military backpack features a durable design that will serve as the best companion for your expeditions. It comes with adequate storage space and 11 compartments to carry all your gear and essential items. The backpack keeps you well-equipped for all the adventures your expedition brings.

Design

The backpack has been designed using high-quality 1000D nylon. The material is durable and long-lasting. The dimensions of the backpack are 24 by 13 by 10 inches.

Storage

The backpack includes a huge main storage compartment. It has zippered pockets on the side for carrying small items for quick access. A separate compartment has been provided for storing your shoes. A side pouch has been included for storing water bottles.

There are multiple pockets on the inside and outside of the backpack. It comes with MOLLE webbings that let you attach multiple pouches and accessories to the backpack. The vented pockets can be used for storing your wet clothes without ruining the other items inside the backpack.

Additional Features

The pack includes two external compression straps that would keep your backpack and its contents tightly packed and secured. The contoured yoke-style shoulder strap system provides the ultimate comfort while carrying the backpack on your shoulders.

The backpack comes with a hook-and-loop that lets you customize the design of the pack. You can attach a morale patch or a flag patch to the hook-and-loop to add a personal touch. You can also attach your name and other details so that your bag can be easily retrieved if it gets lost.

You can easily use the backpack under unfavorable weather conditions thanks to the water-repellent coating on it. The coating keeps your belongings safe from rain, snow, or sleet, and other accidental water-splashes.

Pros

  • Includes a hook-and-loop for attaching a flag, personal patch, or name tag.
  • The water-repellent coating allows you to carry the backpack even while it is raining.
  • MOLLE webbings help you to expand the capacity of the backpack through attachments and pouches.

Cons

  • Poor customer service.

 

 

Conclusion

The best expedition backpacks will allow you to carry all your essential tools and items required for your trip. It should be durable enough to last the trip and let you carry all the heavy load from one place to another. The backpack should be comfortable enough for your body and keep your belongings safe and dry inside.

Frequently Asked Questions

How should an expedition backpack fit?

The backpack should be matching your torso length. The shoulder straps should be snug and comfortable. The hip belt should be resting over your hipbones.

How big should your backpack be?

You should go for a backpack that will be able to properly accommodate all the items you will be needing. You should not go for an oversized backpack as that would add a lot of extra weight and make you more uncomfortable than necessary.

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