CAMPING & HIKING

Cheap Hiking Backpacks: Budget-Friendly Backpacks for Your Next Outdoor Trip

cheap hiking backpacks featured
Dennis Owens
Written by Dennis Owens

Planning your next outdoor adventure can be hard without bringing a few essentials along with you. This is where your handy backpack comes in, but they do come at a high price tag, mostly. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a hiking backpack without breaking the bank? Fortunately, there is no shortage of cheap hiking backpacks that you could choose from.

These affordable backpacks might not command a high price tag but this doesn’t mean that they would skimp in terms of functionality and quality. However, picking out a backpack is not an easy task.

There are simply too many different kinds of backpacks, making the task for the uninitiated too intimidating. How do you choose budget-friendly hiking backpacks that can hold everything you need outdoors?

In this article, we take a closer look at the features that you need to consider when purchasing a hiking backpack. On top of that, we have covered some of the best and most affordable hiking backpacks that you can buy in the market. Let’s get to it!

Product NameCapacityWeightFeaturesPrice
EcoCity Lightweight Foldable30 liters0.7 lbCompact with multi-compartments, lightweightCheck price on Amazon
Mountaintop 40 Liter40 liters2.1 lbWith rain cover, laptop compartment, hip beltCheck price on Amazon
Venture Pal Lightweight35 liters0.7 lbMulti-compartments, lightweight, compactCheck price on Amazon
ZOMAKE Ultra Lightweight20 liters0.55 lbLightweight, compact, waterproofCheck price on Amazon
CLEVER BEES Water Resistant25 liters0.54 lbWater resistant, lightweight, reflective stripsCheck price on Amazon
Outlander Lightweight35 liters0.7 lbWater resistant, lightweight, multi-compartmentCheck price on Amazon
Coreal 35L35 liters0.77 lbWater resistant, compact folded sizeCheck price on Amazon
BeGrit40 liters1.4 lbWater resistant, comfortable strap, multi-pocketsCheck price on Amazon

Things to Consider Before Buying

Most of the time, backpackers need food, water and a spare t-shirt even for a short trip. Carrying these around in a bag or sack occupies at least 1 hand. However a backpack can help free up both hands to do other things like hold a map or GPS device. These factors will help you make the right decision so that you can buy the most suitable backpack.

If you’re planning to buy a backpack for your outdoor adventures, there are some factors you need to consider. Here are some considerations that will help you make the right choice.

Capacity

Capacity refers to the number of things you can carry inside your backpack. The capacity you choose should correspond to the number of days you plan to go backpacking and how much weight you plan to carry. Before buying a backpack, ask yourself how long your trip is and how heavy a load you plan to carry.

internal frame backpack featured

Generally speaking, weekend trips call for 30-50 liters. Trips lasting up to 5 days will call for 50-80 liters while multi-day trips (more than 5 days) need upwards of 70 liters.

Pack Weight

Campers and backpackers will sometimes need to walk a certain distance to reach their campsite. In this connection, it is better to have a lightweight backpack in order to lighten the load. If you’re planning to go on a multi-day excursion, you will need a large capacity backpack to accommodate all of the things you need. The heavier your load is, the better it is to have a lightweight backpack.

Most of the time, lightweight backpacks have a smaller capacity. However this does not mean to say that all full-featured multi-day packs are heavy. There are manufacturers that make lightweight backpacks for long trips, just make sure to read the label and check the pack weight listed.

Fitting

Fit is important because carrying a fully loaded backpack can be uncomfortable. This is especially true if you’re buying a large-capacity backpack. An ill-fitting backpack will make it hard for your shoulders, hips and back to bear the load properly.

hiker with big backpack

To determine the right fit for your size measure the length of your torso. Tilt your head down so that the C7 vertebra at the base of your neck protrudes. Put your hands on your hips and use your thumbs to feel the top of the iliac crest. Hold one end of the measuring tape against the base of the crest on your back and the other end on the base.

Have another person read the measuring tape and measure along the contours of your spine between the two points. This is now your torso length. Most adults usually have between 16 and 22 inches for their torso length.

Ventilation

Most backpackers and campers usually go on adventures during the summer season because weather is usually dry and sunny. Walking around carrying a heavy pack can make you sweaty. This is why you need a backpack that provides good ventilation especially around the back area.

plan a backpacking trip featured

Check the backpack for use of mesh materials. Mesh fabric is usually breathable so it will provide a measure of comfort when you’re backpacking. Aside from mesh, look for backpacks with perforated foam and nylon when backpacking in the heat. There are also packs that have “ventilation chimneys” designed on the bags to promote better airflow.

Other Features

These features can make your pack more efficient and comfortable to use. Consider these features when shopping for a backpack:

  • Loops – some backpacks have loops where you can hook your canteen, GPS device, flashlights and other small devices. Loops are also great for holding carabiners.
  • Frame – this is usually a metal device stitched along the top of the shoulder straps and they connect to the top of the pack. Ideally the frame will form a 45°angle between your shoulder straps and the pack. The frame prevents the upper portion of the pack to pull away from your body otherwise the pack will sag on your lower back and make it uncomfortable to carry.
  • Shoulder and hip belt padding – 80-90% of the pack is carried on your hips. The heavier the pack, the more padding you need. In this connection, backpacks for long trips need to have ample shoulder and hip belt padding to make the load easier and more comfortable to carry.

osprey backpack featured hikers

Now that we have a better idea how long the backpacking trip is and what size and capacity backpack we need; it becomes easier to choose the right backpack. The next step is to take a look at backpacks that could be suitable for your next outdoor adventure.

Best Products on Today’s Market

We have reviews on some of the most affordable hiking backpacks available in the market today. These backpacks are comparable to expensive backpacks as they have all the bells and whistles needed for a successful trip but without the expensive price tag. Here are some backpack reviews for your consideration.

EcoCity Lightweight Foldable BackpackEcoCity Lightweight Foldable Backpack

Price: Approx. $20

Capacity: 30 liters

Weight: 0.7 lbs

Specific features: Compact with multi-compartments, lightweight, ultra durable

Best use: Camping, hiking, mountain climbing

Description: The EcoCity Lightweight Foldable Backpack is one of the most affordable backpacks available in today’s market. The 30 liter capacity is decent enough for a 1 to 2 day trip.

The backpack is compact so if it is folded it looks like a small bag for easy storage. The fabric is made with high-quality ripstop water resistant nylon for durability. The zippers of this pack are made with abrasion-resistant SBS metal.

This foldable backpack has a lot of pockets and compartments for better storage and organization. The main compartment is large enough to carry most of your supplies. The 2 side-pockets are ideal for bottles, snacks or an umbrella. The 2 front zippers are ideal storage spaces for small gadgets, maps and other small accessories.

The pack has 2 inner loops ideal for hanging your hydration pack. It also has adjustable buckles so that you can increase or decrease the space of the pack as needed. This product also features sponge padding in the shoulder straps for better ventilation.

Weighing in at 0.7 lb., this is a lightweight backpack with decent capacity. The bag good is best used for 1-2 day backpacking, hiking, climbing and mountaineering. It is reinforced with Bartack Process in than 12 places for added durability.

PROS:

  • Lightweight
  • Lots of pockets for storage and organization
  • Foldable for easy storage

CONS:

  • Fabric feels flimsy

Related: The EcoCamp OUTDOOR GEAR Mess Kit has 13 pieces but can easily fit inside your backpack. It is made with anodized aluminum alloy so you can enjoy this kit with your backpack for many years to come.

Check the price on Amazon

Mountaintop 40 Liter Hiking BackpackMountaintop 40 Liter Hiking Backpack

Price: Approx. $35

Capacity: 40 liters

Weight: 2.1 lbs

Specific features: With rain cover, laptop compartment, hip belt, adjustable straps and hip belt

Best use: Backpacking, camping

Description: The Mountaintop 40 Liter Hiking Backpack has a 17- inch laptop compartment which makes it a unique backpacking backpack. However, if you don’t plan to bring your laptop along, the compartment can be used to hold a hydration bladder. The backpack is 21.7 x 13.8 x 9.8 inches (55 x 35 x 25 cm), meeting size requirements for most airlines.

The backpack has attachment straps with adjustments so you can hang trekking poles and other outdoor equipment. It has 2 stretch mesh pockets where you can stow bottles or small pieces of snacks. There is also a small hidden pocket behind a Velcro to store your valuables.

The zippers are SBS for durability and longevity. Other great features include D-shaped loops for hanging small items, an adjustable sternum strap, back mesh panels for ventilation and Bartack technology stitching for stress points.

The material of the bag is water repellent to keep your clothes and essentials clean in case of bad weather. It has good capacity at 40 liters and can hold enough gear for a weekend backpacking or camping trip. It is a tall backpack that weighs 2.1lbs so it is not a lightweight bag.

PROS:

  • Good capacity
  • Secret storage compartment for valuables
  • Lots of loops for hanging camping/hiking gear

CONS:

  • Bag might feel unstable for short people
  • Heavy pack weight

Related: A good companion to the above backpack is a good water filter. The LifeStraw Personal Water Filter is a great personal filter especially if you’re conserving backpacking space. You can access up to 1000 liters water safely anytime anywhere.

Check the price on Amazon

Venture Pal Lightweight BackpackVenture Pal Lightweight Backpack

Price: Approx. $21

Capacity: 35 liters

Weight: 0.7 lbs

Specific features: Multi-compartments, lightweight, compact, breathable mesh

Best use: Hiking, backpacking, traveling

Description: The Venture Pal Lightweight Backpack is made with high quality tear and water resistant nylon material. It features heavy duty abrasion-resistant 2-way SBS zippers, Bartack-reinforced stress points, breathable mesh shoulder pads with sponge padding, adjustable buckles and chest strap with whistle.

The bottom of the bag is also double-layered for durability and to allow you to carry heavier load. To organize and carry your gear, the bag has multi-compartments. It has one main zipped compartment; two zipped front pockets and two side pockets.

The main compartment is 35 liters so it has enough space to carry clothes and other essentials for at least a weekend trip. The main compartment also features a separator so you can organize your things more easily.

The 2 front pockets are great for accessibility and can be used to store small accessories or electronics. The side pockets are ideal for a water bottle or an umbrella.

With a capacity of 35 liters and a pack weight of .7 lb., this is an affordable lightweight backpacking backpack. It is also compact and folds into zipped inner pocket so it is easy to store and unfolds into a good-sized backpack quickly. You can take it with you for hiking, backpacking, weekend trips or as a spare luggage when you’re traveling.

PROS:

  • Lightweight and waterproof
  • Good capacity for weight
  • Compact for easy storage

CONS:

  • No hip strap for better comfort

Related: Can’t hurt to prepare for emergencies. The First Aid Only All-Purpose First Aid Kit has everything you need for basic first aid when backpacking or camping. Use a carabiner to clip the kit on your backpack for easy access to medicine, bandages and antiseptics.

Check the price on Amazon

ZOMAKE Ultra Lightweight Packable BackpackZOMAKE Ultra Lightweight Packable Backpack

Price: Approx. $16

Capacity: 20 liters

Weight: 0.55 lbs

Specific features: Lightweight, compact, waterproof, foldable

Best use: Day bag, camping, backpacking

Description: The ZOMAKE Ultra Lightweight Packable Backpack is the perfect backpack for Disneyland, hiking and day trips. This bag is very compact and can fold into a sandwich-sized square for easy storage.

The bag is waterproof and ultra-lightweight at just .55 lb. It has 20 liters of storage space so you can stow enough gear for a day trip or overnight backpacking trip.

The backpack uses high quality tear resistant nylon material so you won’t be afraid of snagging your pack on rough trails. The zippers are made from abrasion-resistant SBS material. The pack is Bartack-reinforced in 31 places for added durability.

This backpack is designed for everyday use so you’re not limited to using it just for the outdoors. It works well as a carry-on, school bag or laptop bag. It features pockets for storage and convenient organization.

The main compartment is roomy and can hold big items. The zippered front pocket is great for storing smaller items or accessories that need easy access. The two open side mesh pockets are ideal for storing umbrellas and water bottles.

The nylon material of the backpack is water resistant, making it a perfect bag for most weather conditions. The breathable mesh shoulder straps make it comfortable to carry the bag on hot days while the straps are easy to adjust for easier carrying. This bag is the perfect go-to bag for most outdoor activities, traveling and even school.

PROS:

  • Lightweight
  • Multi-purpose
  • Affordable

CONS:

  • Small storage space, more ideal as a day bag for backpacking or camping

Related: The Mpow Universal Waterproof Case can protect your phone or camera from rain or splashes. Take photos, read messages or consult your map easily without removing your gadget using the see-through plastic. Hang the strap on your backpack for easier access.

Check the price on Amazon

CLEVER BEES Water Resistant Hiking BackpackCLEVER BEES Water Resistant Hiking Backpack

Price: Approx. $13

Capacity: 25 liters

Weight: 0.54 lbs

Specific features: Water resistant, lightweight, reflective strips

Best use: Hiking, backpacking

Description: The CLEVER BEES Water Resistant Hiking Backpack can be used for hiking, camping, cycling and traveling. This bag looks just like an ordinary backpack but is waterproof so your clothes and other camping gear are protected inside the bag. The inside compartment is large enough to hold clothing and important items for a 1 to 2-day trip.

The bag also features an intra-layer that you can use to store your laptop. It has a zippered compartment inside the bag to hold cash and other valuables. It also has a front zippered compartment for easy access to smaller equipment. The side mesh panels are great for bottles, soda cans, umbrellas and other small items.

The backpack weighs 0.54 lb. and has a capacity of 25 liters, making it a good lightweight backpack. This product is multi-use so it is not limited to adventures outdoors.

It can be used as a laptop bag, school bag or extra bag when traveling bag. It folds down to a 6.5×7-inch pouch for easy storage when not in use. It also features reflective stripes for improved visibility to the user on low-light conditions.

The backpack is made from highly rip and water resistant nylon fabric for long lasting performance and durability. Stress points of the bag are reinforced with Bartack technology for added longevity. Overall, it is a good and affordable backpack with decent space and styled for multi-purposes.

PROS:

  • Decent space and good pack weight
  • Modern design for multi-purpose use
  • Affordable

CONS:

  • Does not stay waterproof for long. Will need additional professional waterproofing in the future.

Related: A good addition to the above backpack is a reliable way to clean water sources. In that case, always have a pack of Potable Aqua Water Tablets inside your backpack. Use the tablets to purify water from questionable sources during backpacking, hiking or camping trips.

Check the price on Amazon

Outlander Lightweight Hiking BackpackOutlander Lightweight Hiking Backpack

Price: Approx. $20

Capacity: 35 liters

Weight: 0.7 lbs

Specific features: Water resistant, lightweight, multi-compartment, aluminum carabiner, reflector

Best use: Hiking, backpacking, traveling

Description: The Outlander Lightweight Hiking Backpack has a stylish look that you can take with you anywhere. This is a great backpack for outdoorsmen who are looking for a pack with minimalistic looks but has maximum features. The backpack sports a classic shape with several pockets for storage and organization.

This backpack has a roomy main compartment, two front zipper pockets to hold small accessories, one internal security zippered pocket for valuable items and two side pockets for water bottle or umbrella.

This backpack is also built to last using high quality rip and water resistant nylon fabric for long-lasting performance. Its stress points are reinforced with Bartack stitching technology for increased longevity.

Abrasion resistant SBS 2-way zippers are used throughout the backpack and breathable straps for added ventilation for hiking on hot days. Weighing in at 0.7 lb. with a 35 liter capacity, this lightweight backpack has enough room for you to bring 2-3 days worth of clothes and other essentials.

The new version of this backpack features aluminum carabiner, whistle buckle, and reflector. Stuff the bag into its own pocket for storage and unzip it when needed. This backpack has a classic shape so it can be used not only for backpacking and outdoors but also for daily activities and travelling too.

PROS:

  • Classic design
  • New features like carabiner, whistle buckle and reflector
  • Good price

CONS:

  • No foam padding

Related: Need a blanket that won’t take too much space? You will have no problem fitting the OutdoorMaster Pocket Blanket inside your backpack. It is a full-sized blanket that fits in your pocket and made for the outdoors.

Check the price on Amazon

Coreal 35L Hiking BackpackCoreal 35L Hiking Backpack

Price: Approx. $20

Capacity: 35 liters

Weight: 0.77 lbs

Specific features: Water resistant, compact folded size, nylon fabric

Best use: Backpacking, hiking, camping, traveling

Description: The Coreal 35L Hiking Backpack is designed with the perfect balance between lightweight, durability, compact and size in mind. Coreal uses high quality rip and nylon fabric for strength and long-lasting performance and minimal weight. It sports a classic design so you can take your backpack with you for backpacking, camping, hiking and travelling.

It has a 35 liter capacity so it can hold your essentials for a weekend camping or backpacking adventure. It is even roomy enough for your hammock, clothes, towel, journal and a couple beers.

The bag has loops and D-rings on the front so that you can easily clip hydration packs, maps, cameras and other essentials that need easy access. When not in use just fold it up into a small pouch for easy access or put it inside your bag and unfold it for extra luggage when needed.

This backpack is perfect for hiking, backpacking, traveling and every-day use. It has a decent capacity and is lightweight for its size. The straps are wide and comfortable but lack padding for extra comfort when carrying a heavy load.

PROS:

  • Good capacity and size
  • Lightweight and durable

CONS:

  • No padding on straps

Related: Backpacks can help increase your survival outdoors and so will the A2S Paracord Bracelet. It features an embedded compass, fire starter, emergency knife and whistle.

Check the price on Amazon

BeGrit Hiking BackpackBeGrit Hiking Backpack

Price: Approx. $25

Capacity: 40 liters

Weight: 1.4 lbs

Specific features: Water resistant, comfortable strap, multi-pockets

Best use: Camping, backpacking, mountaineering

Description: The BeGrit Hiking Backpack is a multi-purpose 40 liter backpack. It is spacious enough to hold your clothes, accessories and other camping gear for 3-4 days. This backpack features an ergonomic design to minimize the burden of carrying a heavy pack.

It is made from water and tear-resistant nylon fabric with added ventilation mesh panels at the back. It has a padded shoulder strap, hip belt and chest belt for stability and comfort.

The inside of the backpack has 1 main compartment for all your necessary items. It has 2 front pockets where you can store smaller items for easy access. The added pull-tab at the main zipper slider makes it easier for you to open the pack without removing your gloves.

The 2 mesh pockets on the sides are ideal for storing water bottles, umbrellas or soda cans. This backpack has climbing sticks lanyard to conveniently store your sticks when not in use.

The ergonomic design of the bag makes it comfortable to wear even if it is at full capacity. The back of the bag features a thickening sponge that fits the shape of the spine curve and the built-in center of gravity pad helps to alleviate pressure on the back without compromising stability.

PROS:

  • Good capacity
  • Ergonomic desing

CONS:

  • Heavy pack weight
  • The back padding is not very breathable

Related: The Iunio Military Folding Shovel is a multi-tool you can easily clip or carry in your backpack. It is not only a shovel; it is also a pick axe, knife, bottle opener, saw, hoe, emergency whistle and compass!

Check the price on Amazon

Wrap Up

And that wraps up our reviews. The perfect backpack should be something that can easily fit into your lifestyle. Always take into account the capacity, style and fit of the bag so that you can use it not only for outdoor activities but for everyday life too.

backpacker on trail with rocks

However, if you’re just focusing on a good backpack for all your outdoor activities, make sure that the bag is big enough to fit all the necessary things you need for the trip and is durable enough to last many seasons.

What features do you think are the most important when choosing a budget hiking backpack. Do you think you will buy any of the featured backpacks? Please tell us by leaving your comments below.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dennis Owens

Dennis Owens

Dennis Owens is a graduate of National Camping School and REI Outdoor School. He knows everything about what gear to take with you, how to plan your trip to stay safe and what to do if you get lost in the mountains. We are lucky to have Dennis with us as he is a ‘walking encyclopedia’ when it comes to the wilderness.