Are Expensive Hiking Backpacks Worth It???

As a starter, you may have thought hiking is all about hitting the trail in sweat pants and a pair of sneakers.

You were partly right – such a simplistic low-cost approach can actually work for you.

To some hikers, however, you need a premium backpack and more gear to have a truly exciting experience on the trail.

So, Are Expensive Hiking Backpacks Worth It?

It depends. If you are a no-nonsense hiker with lots of stuff to carry and wouldn’t go for anything average, buying a premium backpack make sense. To be frank, highly-priced hiking backpacks are long-lasting and purpose-built (hence comfortable) compared to cheap knockoffs or lowly regular packs. However, hiking isn’t an expensive hobby, so a premium pack is unnecessary as you have more options.

Later in this post, we’ll expound on it, explaining the ridiculousness of spending $100 on a pack you can get for less and still have an unforgettable hiking adventure.

Just How Expensive Are Some Hiking Backpacks?

Expect to pay anything between $30 – $350 for a hiking backpack. High-end packs cost an excess of $200.

Some retail stores have their own lines of hiking gear, including packs, with their brand names on them.

Such bags are cheaper compared to anything you’d get from dedicated hiking gear brands like

  • Osprey
  • Deuter
  • Gregory Packs
  • and Arcteryx.

North Face’s and Osprey’s bags are probably the most overpriced of all, with price tags ranging between $400 and $600, like this model:

With so many used gear sites on the internet – and if you are willing to settle for an average pack – you shouldn’t be spending over $40 on a hiking backpack.

You can find a decent workout or school backpack at $40, so why spend $80 on hiking back yet both serve literally the same purpose.

Are Expensive Backpacks Top Of The Line?

It all boils down to your taste.

If your preference leads you to a $300 Deuter backpack and you have money to burn, then why not buy it?

However, for me it’s a big “NO” – it isn’t worth it.

But think about: would you rather go for a cheap knockoff and have it replaced after one or two hiking trips or buy a pricey but quality pack that will last longer?

Trekking with a cheap poorly-fitting backpack can be a nightmare.

Snapping straps, broken seams, dislodged padding, and handles…all these are more likely to happen to a cheap average hiking pack while you are on the trail.

It could ruin your mood. If you are hiking on a tough trail or you are out in bad weather, your outing will certainly induce misery.

You want to be comfortable and carry your stuff in a reliable bag that you can count on while on the trail regardless of the dynamics.

The pack should carry whichever load you choose to bring along and still fit while ensuring superb organization.

Specialized hiking backpacks have been designed to organize your stuff, hold more cargo, and ensure comfort, all of which come with an exorbitant price tag.

What If I’m Just Getting Started?

Starters in hiking don’t need to go for the priciest backpack available.

They don’t even need a new bag. As a beginner, it makes much more sense to borrow your friend’s pack or purchase a used product.

This will help you identify what makes you comfortable and the features you’d appreciate on a backpack before you get your own.

Should Features Be Determining Your Choice?

Yes, but not all the time. Of course, more features mean more comfort and easy transportation of more cargo.

However, you probably won’t utilize most of the features on a certain overpriced pack you are planning to buy.

While it’s pretty standard to carry lots of stuff with you on hiking adventures, you must not carry them in a $300 backpack with a glamorous brand name on it and numerous features. A regular backpack is very much capable of meeting your trekking needs.

Let’s look at some of the features found on hiking packs and if you really need to break a bank for them:

1. Hiking Belt

Every hiking backpack worth its salt is equipped with a hip belt. It helps redistribute your gear’s weight around your torso.

That’s why it is placed on the hip region rather than the shoulders.

You don’t need this belt if you are carrying less weight. However, trying to carry heavy stuff without this belt will certainly fatigue your back.

The good news is that hip belts are not a reserve of hiking backpacks. Some regular backs come with thin hip belts for the same purpose.

2. Sternum Strap

This strap connects the shoulder straps slightly above the chest region. They help prevent the bag from swinging left-right while walking on uneven terrain with heavy cargo. You could fall off balance without it. This strap too can be found on regular backpacks.

3. Water Bottle Pockets

This is probably the only feature limited to hiking backpacks. It holds bottles of drinking water.

4. Gear Straps

These too are only found on hiking backpacks. They ensure your pack carries extra items outside the pack when you exhaust the interior compartments.

Tricks and Tips On How to Dodge Ridiculously Priced Hiking Backpacks

Besides buying regular packs with basic comfort features, you can get a purpose-built backpack at low prices if you employ a few tricks.

Here they are:

1. Take Full Advantage Of Clearance Sales

Retailers like to clear the remaining stock towards the end of the summer or during the spring to create space for incoming merchandise.

Clearance prices are normally low – don’t be surprised to buy the priciest backpack at half its original price.

2. Check Out Discount Sites

Did you know and REI operate discounted gear sites where you can get quality hiking backpacks at reasonable prices?

Check out Cheap, Steep, and REI Outlet. Most of the items on offer on these sites are over 80% off their original price tags. Note that they are limited-period deals.

3. Know What You Really Need

First off, come up with a list of items you can’t compromise on. You don’t want to saddle yourself with unnecessary stuff on the trail.

Knowing what you really need helps you choose a backpack that addresses your specific needs.

This is better than going for a general pack with features you don’t need, all of which may increase the cost.

4. Buy Used

As mentioned earlier, there’s no point in going for a brand new hiking backpack if you are just getting started in hiking.

Even for an avid hiker looking for a quality unit at a reasonable price, you can count on used gear sites if you want to save money.

You can start with Craiglist.

Facebook has plenty of backpacking groups where used gear is sold.

Patagonia’s Worn Wear and eBay can be helpful as well.

5. Research Widely

Another is to through several buyer guides and know specific things to look for.


So, are expensive hiking backpacks worth it? It depends on your taste.

If you are an avid hiker or on a camping trip with lots of stuff to carry and wouldn’t go for anything average, buying a premium backpack make sense.

Highly-priced hiking backpacks are long-lasting and purpose-built (hence comfortable) compared to cheap knockoffs or lowly regular packs.

However, hiking isn’t an expensive hobby, so a premium pack is unnecessary as you have more options.