Best Thru Hike Backpack

Thru-hiking can be an extremely difficult task to complete, even for an experienced hiker. You must be physically and mentally capable of surviving for very long distances, thousands of miles and months of hiking. It’s no simple task. That is why you need to have the best and most comfortable backpack you can find, one that is made specifically for this type of hiking.

Some of the best light-weight backpacks (available on Amazon) are the Granite Gear Crown 2, Osprey Exos 48 and Osprey Levity 60. The Granite Gear is the most highly rated backpack across almost all outdoor gear websites and has the most positive reviews compared to the other two packs.

granite gear crown 2 backpackosprey exos 48 backpackosprey levity 60 backpack

Product Weight Load Capacity (lbs.)
Granite Gear Crown2 (men’s or women’s) Short – 2.26 lbs.
Regular – 2.36 lbs.
35 lbs. maximum
Osprey Exos 48 Small – 2.55 lbs.
Med – 2.57 lbs.
Large – 2.6 lbs.
20-40 lbs.
Osprey Levity 60 Small – 1.87 lbs.
Med – 1.95 lbs.
Large – 2.03 lbs.
10-25 lbs.

Keep It Light

The best backpacks for long-distance hiking all weigh under 3 pounds when you buy them. Starting with the least amount of weight on your back will help you hike faster and will allow you to add little items to your bag as you progress on the trail without it making too big of a difference. Long hiking trails usually have little shops or cafés alongside them occasionally, so it’s likely that you’ll pick up either a souvenir or snacks for the trip.

Aim for having 15 pounds on your back maximum at one time. Remember that it’s a lot easier to keep it under 15 if you start out with a backpack that only weighs a pound or two before packing.

Adjustable Suspension

Harnesses and hip belts are two very important features to look at in a hiking backpack. Make sure that it’s going to be not only comfortable but functional. The suspension straps help support the weight you’re carrying and keeps it secure on your back. It needs to be of good quality; you wouldn’t want a suspension strap to break while scaling the Appalachian Mountains, just like you wouldn’t want your back to be thrown out the first 100 miles of the trip.

Granite Gear Crown 2 Specifications

granite gear crown 2

The Granite Gear Crown 2 has lots of valuable qualities. This backpack is the highest rated for thru-hiking. It comes in two colors, Fatigue/dried sage or Flint/midnight blue and also has the option for different sizes, small and regular for varying torso lengths. The inside of the pack has the dimensions 23.5” x 13” x 8”.

It also features:

  • Ventilation channels and durable laminated mesh to assist in the ventilation of heat and moisture.
  • Dual-density shoulder harness with load-lifter straps and removable sternum strap.
  • Dual large hip belt pockets with DWR treated zippers.

Osprey Exos 48 Specifications

This high-quality backpack is made out of 100D high tenacity nylon and comes in two colors, Blaze Black or Tunnel Green.

osprey exos 48 key features

Dimensions:

  • Small (45L) – 29.13” x15.75” x 12.6”
  • Medium (48L) – 31.1” x 15.75” x 12.6”
  • Large (51 L) – 33.07” x 15.75” x 12.6”

Osprey Levity 60 Specs

The Osprey Levity has multiple compression cords around the fabric side pockets and the internal main compartment to help keep everything secure. It has a fixed top lid with a zippered pocket, and a bellowed front pocket to primarily store rain gear in. The top lid also has cord loop attachment points for external gear attachment. One of the features that are included in this backpack, that is not on the Granite Gear or Osprey Exos, is an integrated safety whistle on the sternum strap in case of emergency situations.

osprey levity 60 back viewosprey levity 60 front view

Dimensions:

  • Small (57L) – 26.38” x 15.75” x 12.99”
  • Medium (60L) – 28.35” x 15.75” x 12.99”
  • Large (63L) – 30.31” x 15.75” x 12.99”

Made out of 30D Cordura Silnylon Ripstop fabric in the color, Parallax Silver.

Customer Reviews

Out of the three backpacks, the product with the best reviews was, by far, the Granite Gear Crown 2. It has a 5 out of 5 stars rating on Amazon, and frankly, it was hard to find a single bad review or comment about the backpack at all, on Amazon or on GraniteGear’s main website.

One of the hikers took the Granite Gear for a 2,000-mile test run and gave a very positive review about it. Customers praised the adaptability of the backpack above all else.

Second best would be the Osprey Levity 60. Customers who used this product had virtually no problems using it and said that it is very reliable for hiking. Many of them praised the bag’s adjustable suspension system and the large size of the main compartment. The hip belt is adjustable, like the suspension, and is very comfortable, but unfortunately, it does not have pockets on it.

Another complaint was about the lack of expandability and stretchiness of the outer, side pockets because not all sized bottles and containers fit correctly. The Osprey Levity has just a few minor features that were a problem to customers, but even those were a matter of opinion. The overall function and quality of the backpack are exceptional.

Lastly, the Osprey Exos 48. It is extremely versatile and can be used for light loads or heavy loads. According to the reviews, it is one of the best hiking backpacks and is easy to load and easy to use. But, like the Levity, the Osprey Exos 48 doesn’t have pockets on the hip belt. Some complained that the backpack didn’t have enough pockets overall, not just concerning hip belt.

Whether you’d rather have a comfortable hip belt or more pockets is up to you, but generally, it’s not good when you have to choose between comfortability and convenience. One positive aspect of this backpack is that the side pockets are big in size, bigger than average for a hiking backpack.

In Summary

The backpack you’ll want to buy for a long hiking trip would be the Granite Gear Crown 2 because of the many easy-access pockets and the completely adjustable suspension strap system. It’s reasonably priced on Amazon and will last you a lifetime.

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