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Matt Jancer

Hiking 101: Everything You Need to Head for the Hills

Backpack hatchet hat lantern and boots set on abstract pastel yellow background

Whoever called indoors the Great Indoors? Nobody. Look, it might be a fine place to spend on a rainy day or an evening after a tough day of work, but that wide, gorgeous world on the other side of your window glass is too breathtaking to keep as background scenery all the time. We're in the thick of summer right now, and that means much of the countryside is wide open for exploring.

No matter where you live, there are most likely trails near you . Yet getting started can be daunting. Fear not. It's easier than you might think to stay dry, warm, hydrated, and safe. In this guide, we have recommendations for everything you need to take to the outdoors, whether it's just a peaceful afternoon hike or a roving weekend-long backpacking trip.

Be sure to check out our other buying guides , like How to Layer Outdoor Clothing , Best Baselayers , and Best Camping Gear .

Updated August 2023: We've added picks for gear maintenance and self-care, such as picaridin insect repellent, permethrin insecticide, face sunscreen, and more. We've also updated pricing and availability.

If you buy something using links in our stories, we may earn a commission. This helps support our journalism. Learn more .
  • Shoes and Socks
  • Clothing Accessories
  • Water Bottles and Purification
  • Safety Equipment
  • Fitness Trackers
  • A Few More Things

For apparel, think in terms of layers so you can easily add or remove clothes before you start to sweat. Check out our Best Base Layers and How to Layer guides for more advice.

Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily TShirt

Patagonia Capilene

Men's Sizing , Women's Sizing

For all but the coldest hikes, you can wear a short-sleeve base layer next to your skin and build your clothing system out from there. Synthetics, like this 100-percent recycled polyester shirt, are affordable and dry sweat quickly. For warm-weather activities, merino wool is suitable, and I recommend SmartWool's Merino Tee ($75), which is available in women's and men's sizing .

Your mid-layer goes between your base layer and shell, even though it's usually too warm to wear while hiking. More often, you'll throw it on during breaks and while doing camp chores. I'm a fan of fleece for mid-layers because it's durable and doesn't lose loft after being compressed in your pack.

Made up of 87-percent buttery soft merino wool (with 13-percent nylon mixed in), the Merino 150 is warm but not too warm. It's important not to go for the thickest, warmest base layer, even in very cold weather, because you'll work up a sweat that'll chill you as soon as you stop moving. The seams lie flat and off the shoulders, which keeps pack straps from rubbing them raw.

Base layers are thin layers that go next to your skin. They can be made from a variety of materials, but they need to wick sweat away and keep you warm. For bottoms, even in the coldest weather, you'll be fine with short underwear, like these briefs from ExOfficio.

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REI 650 Down jacket

REI Co-Op 650

Puffy jackets can be worn as mid-layers instead of fleece. More often, though, they comprise the outermost layer of your clothing system. Size up so your down jacket can fit over a base layer, mid-layer, and rain jacket. Puffies are very warm but fragile.

REI's sub-$100 Rainier jacket uses high-quality laminate waterproofing to keep you from getting soaked. It's well made and has a weatherproof center zip, along with pit zips for improved ventilation. It's a great and well-priced option for casual day hikes. Read our Best Rain Jackets guide for more recommendations.

You won't have any fun on a hike—of any length—if you have bloody blisters on your feet. You may need to experiment to find out which shoes and socks you like best. Be sure to check out our Best Trail-Running Shoes , Best Barefoot Shoes , and Best High-Tech Socks guides for more.

hiking shoes

Salomon X Ultra 3

For moderate temperatures we prefer low-top, non-Gore-Tex mesh trail shoes, like these from Salomon. They'll dry out much more quickly when wet than Gore-Tex-lined shoes, and speaking from experience they're warm enough when moving, even in 45-degree temperatures. We also like the comparable Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator ( women's sizing , men's sizing ) for $67.

Where I will recommend Gore-Tex-lined boots is on snowy and icy trails. Constant contact with snow will soak through shoes that lack water resistance. Renegades have been around forever, and they're durable and comfortable, although a bit heavy at roughly 3 pounds per pair. The mid-height helps keep snow from spilling in over the top of the boot too.

For those looking to speed over the hills and bound down trails, these were our favorite trail running shoes . Thanks to their wide toe box, low 5-mm heel drop, and sturdy rubber toe protection, they beat out lighter competitors. For running 3-5 miles a day, they're our top pick.

We don't recommend everyone choose thick leather hiking boots for most adventures, but if it's really cold, you want your feet to stay warm, and you don't mind trekking with a bit of extra weight, these are a great option. They work best as lifestyle shoes that you can take directly from the trail to the bar with just a quick rinse. They're also great for wandering around town between trips to the trail, since they're so classic and stylish.

If your feet run hot, you'll want synthetic socks, which dry out faster than wool. These by Wrightsock are synthetic and have two layers to avoid blisters. Anyone can wear them, but Wrightsock also makes a version in women's sizing ($14) that's more tapered and slim-fitting.

Darn Tough Lifestyle Sock

From experience climbing on glaciers and hiking in deep snow, I strongly believe a thin sock like the Wrightsocks above is the best bet to keep your feet from overheating. However, for slow-paced day hikes and low-intensity camping, you may be better off with a thicker sock to retain warmth, since you won't be burning as many calories. Darn Toughs have a lifetime warranty(!) and are ultra-comfortable. No itchy wool here.

You probably don't need gaiters, but if you're walking through dusty environments, you'll welcome them. They prevent crud from entering the tops of your shoes.

For icy terrain, these traction devices slip over your hiking shoes so the stainless-steel spikes on the bottom can dig in. The elastomer material is flexible enough to fit a variety of shoes. Just squeeze them on when needed and toss them in your pack when you're past the icy part of the trail. They shouldn't be a substitute for common sense; if the terrain is too icy to cross, come back when it's warmer.

Don't forget about your head and hands. Once you've swaddled yourself in warm top layers, bottom layers, and shoes, make sure to keep your vulnerable noggin and paws warm with these gloves and hats.

BUFF Adult CoolNet UX neck covering

Forget tying a bandana around your neck. The Buff is easier to use. It's a tubular piece of thin polyester that you slip over your head, and you can wear it in several ways. Leave it loose to keep the sun from scorching your neck, yank it up over your nose and mouth on chilly days for warmth, or pull it up over your head completely, like a balaclava. It's versatile enough that I bring one everywhere I go, from off-road motorcycle rides to winter mountain climbs to sweltering summer hikes.

Merino wool is the good stuff, silky smooth and not at all itchy. These 100-percent merino gloves are good for chilly-but-not-sub-freezing days, and they're also touchscreen-compatible so you don't have to wrestle off a glove to use your phone.

Depending on the weather, you may need a sun hat or beanie to protect your head. I like a wool beanie to guard my neck against sunburn in cool weather, and this Smartwool is quite comfy. Check out our other guides, like the Best Sun Protection Clothing and Best Sunglasses for more suggestions.

Warmth doesn't come cheap. These are serious winter gloves that'll keep your hands warm and dry, even when there's snow spread all over the ground at higher altitudes. Synthetic puffy PrimaLoft insulation traps heat, and Gore-Tex keeps it in, so feel free to spend a whole afternoon tossing snowballs without water leaking through.

Now that you have all your gear, you need something to carry it in. The most important aspect of a backpack is that it fits you properly. Outdoor retailers like REI offer in-person fittings. Features like water bottle pockets, loops for hitching gear, and chest or waist straps will probably vary depending on the level of activity you're facing.

backpack

REI Co-Op Flash 22

The sweet spot for a daypack is between 15 and 25 liters—enough to hold rain layers, a fleece, maps, water, sunscreen, lunch, and snacks, plus room for a book or camera gear. If this one's out of stock, I also like the Mountain Hardwear UL 20 ($80) .

If you get caught in the rain, a pack cover is a quick and convenient solution. However, it's worth noting that water will still soak your pack's uncovered back pad. If you're hiking overgrown and under-maintained trails, a pack cover could also act as a sacrificial protective barrier that keeps your expensive pack from getting cut up.

Use a small trash compactor bag as a water-resistant pack liner inside your pack to keep everything dry in case it rains. They're more durable than trash bags and almost as cheap. For a second layer of defense against moisture, pack your clothing and shelter in water-resistant stuff sacks or dry sacks .

One of the biggest beginner mistakes is to not bring enough water, even on short hikes. Depending on the heat and your level of exertion, you could get thirstier than you think. For a short day hike, a liter bottle should be enough. If you're heading out all day or it's particularly hot or dry, read travelogues and park ranger recommendations and pack accordingly. Check out our Best Water Bottles guide for more suggestions.

water bottle

Miir Insulated Narrow Mouth Water Bottle

Metal water bottles are unnecessarily heavy for longer trips, but they're fine for day hikes when it's not freezing (watch A Christmas Story if you want to know why). Of course, if you have plastic bottles lying around at home, you can use those. Just remember not to leave them on the trail.

I gave this one an honorary mention in my guide to the Best Reusable Water Bottles because it's dead simple and cheap. Nalgenes tend to get brittle in ultra-cold environments, but unlike a metal bottle, you're not liable to get your lips frozen to it. Plus, this bottle is BPA-free.

If you favor hydration bladders instead of water bottles, this is a good one. Before I switched back to bottles, I preferred my Platypus to my CamelBak because it was easier to clean between hikes.

Water filters remove not only viruses and bacteria, but sediment too. Collapsible filter systems like the Sawyer Squeeze are extremely effective, lightweight, and quick. You could use water purification tablets or droplets instead, like Micropur for $16 , but know that they can take up to half an hour to work on most viruses and bacteria, and four hours (!) on Cryptosporidium . If the water is below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, it takes even longer to work. Better to use a filter.

You're probably not in active danger on a popular, well-traveled beginner trail. But it's still a good idea to pack a few of these items just in case .

headlamp

Petzl Actik Headlamp

Your hike might take longer than you think, or you just might want to start extra early. If you need to get around in the dark, a headlamp that shines at least 300 lumens will keep you on the path and leave your hands free. Get one that accepts AAA batteries so you can bring spares on long trips.

Always let a reliable friend or family member back home know your plans before you head out. Cairn is a novel smartphone app that reports your location in real time to an authorized “safety circle” of people you select to follow your progress. Cairn uses crowdsourced information to tell you where you can expect to find cell coverage on trails, and it'll alert your safety circle if you're overdue to return.

A mirror, which you aim at overhead aircraft to draw their attention, and an Acme Tornado Whistle for $7 can signal for help if you need rescue.

If you aren't bringing a tent, bring an emergency bivvy. It weighs less than 4 ounces and will keep you dry and warm (ish) if you spend an unplanned night outdoors.

Save your knees on downhill hikes and gain stability on sketchy trails with a pair of trekking poles. These have strong adjustment levers that never come loose or slip, no matter how hard you lean on them. Rubber tip covers for $10 keep them from scraping up trails, and snow baskets for $11 prevent them from punching through snow.

Prepackaged first aid kits are heavy, expensive, and usually incomplete. Pack your own in a little bag. Add some Band-Aid Hydro Seal for $6 . They're the most amazing blister bandages I've ever used. And pick up a Tick Key for $10 or a Coghlans Tick Remover for $6 to get those pesky bugs off your skin. Peruse our Home Emergency Kit Gear guide for other ideas.

Trip preparation begins long before you pull your pack out of your closet and begin cramming it full of stuff. You can't learn everything before you actually take your first outdoor trip, but you can set yourself up for success by learning a few key skills so that when you do run into a problem, you'll know just how to handle it.

backpackers field manual book

The Backpacker's Field Manual

Outdoor manuals can be fun and useful for preparation, and a source of helpful tips. Rick Curtis' The Backpacker's Field Manual is the best comprehensive guidebook on hiking I've read. You can also practice reading topographic maps with your compass if you pick up Wilderness Navigation ($15) by Bob and Mike Burns.

Satellite messengers can be useful, but they're expensive, and you might not have to use them that often. You probably have a great hiking companion already in your pocket. Alltrails is my favorite free trip planner and trail discovery tool, but we have more in our Best Hiking Apps guide.

Even if you download Alltrails (and you should), it's a good idea to download a second navigation app. Often, one will have details for a specific trail but not the other. While Alltrails is geared more toward pre-trip planning (although it's still great for on-trail navigation), Gaia GPS gives you a variety of up-to-date topographic maps that you can download for offline use. Before your trip, download maps on both apps to lessen your chances of losing your way once you're out on the trail.

If you're alone in the woods, it's helpful to know what to do in emergency situations. A first aid course focused on outdoor situations is a good place to start. If you want more comprehensive (and expensive) training, the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) has an excellent Wilderness First Responder course .

Heading into the wild can be a bit intimidating at first. Some folks find comfort in having a navigational aid strapped to their wrists. Others simply want to track their hikes to analyze their fitness goals. Check out our guides to the Best Fitness Trackers and Best Smartwatches for more of our favorite picks.

Fitbit Charge 5

Fitbit Charge 5

We call the Charge 5 ( 8/10, WIRED Recommends ) the best all-around fitness tracker for its relatively low price and bevy of biometric sensors. There's a smart alarm that determines the best point during your sleep cycle to set an alarm for, ECGs for monitoring your heart rate, sleep analysis tools that measure your blood oxygen levels at night, and more. You do have to pay $10 per month, or $80 per year, for a Fitbit Premium subscription to get the most from the Charge 5, though.

The 7S Sapphire Solar ( 8/10, WIRED Recommends ) impressed us with its quick and accurate GPS connection that worked even under surprisingly thick tree cover. Preset outdoor activities—from gravel biking to swimming to running to bouldering—track biometric data so you can analyze your runs and routes later on. The built-in altimeter, barometer, and compass round out the reasons we call this admittedly pricey unit the top outdoor watch in our Best Fitness Trackers guide.

This affordable watch is mentioned in both our Best Fitness Tracker guide and our Best Smartwatches guide. Sync it to Garmin's Connect app, and you can track and analyze heart rate, blood oxygen, respiration, and sleep data. There's no onboard GPS, since its focus is on tracking health data, but the battery lasts an impressive three to five days.

There are always a few odds and ends that make your trips a little more enjoyable, whether by taking pressure off your battered knees or keeping your phone juiced up so you have plenty of evidence when your friends back home say, “Pics or it didn't happen.”

Anker Powercore 1300

Anker PowerCore Portable Charger

I always bring a small battery bank to keep my phone topped up. There are no power outlets in the wilderness (I've checked). Check out our Best Portable Chargers guide for more recommendations.

Some people like to bring camp chairs on their hikes, but I never want to carry anything that heavy and bulky. I'd rather stuff a hammock in my pack. The Eno impressed me with its build quality, especially for such a low price. It comes with the straps needed to string it up between trees and, for once, some decent instructions for folks unaccustomed to hanging a hammock. There's a two-person DoubleNest for $75 that holds a combined 400 pounds, if you'd like to bunk down with somebody in the breeze.

Suunto makes my favorite compasses. The park ranger's office will usually have topographic trail maps if you stop off before the trailhead, but America's parks are more popular and crowded than ever. Buy some ahead of time if you can, so you're not without a map if the ranger's office runs out.

I'll let you in on a little secret. The expensive detergents marketed for your precious hiking clothes are no better than a typical liquid laundry detergent. I've been using Tide to wash most of my gear for years, and it's still as good as new. The exception is goose down clothing and sleeping bags. I use this down-specific detergent to keep from weighing down the loft and reducing their overall loft. And remember to only wash your puffy clothes and sleeping bags in top-loading washing machines. Front-loaders will shred them to pieces. Speaking from experience here …

ThermaRest Z Seat Pad

The ground can suck a lot of warmth from your body. Even if it seems warm outside, a lengthy break seated on the bare earth can leave you chilled. If you're hiking when it's cold out, or if the nights are chilly (it takes a while for the ground to heat up during the day), bring along an insulated foam pad to sit on during breaks. Your rear end will thank you for it.

We're all familiar with DEET insect repellent. Chances are your folks sprayed you with it liberally as a kid to keep all the ticks and skeeters away from you. But although effective, DEET has a nasty tendency to melt synthetic tech fabrics, the kind outdoors gear is often made of. I switched over to using this Picaridin years ago. It works nearly as well, and it doesn't harm my expensive gear.

Permethrin is a kill-on-contact insecticide. It doesn't repel insects, it just kills them when they trespass. Spray some on your shoes and pant cuffs if you're heading into tick-infested areas. Ticks like to crawl up the leg and latch onto warmer areas, such as the groin. This spray keeps them from getting that far. Three notes of warning. First, permethrin is highly toxic to cats and birds, so if you have either pet, avoid the stuff. Two, don't spray it directly on your skin. It's not a substitute for DEET or Picaridin. And three, use it smartly. Don't spray it on tree straps for a hammock, for example. That causes unnecessary insect casualties, and you're in their home, so be nice.

You need to protect your face when you're outside. The problem is that most regular sunscreens clog up your pores and make you break out. I've been using this Sun Bum lotion for all my outdoor pursuits for years without complaint. Whether I'm chugging through the Chihuahuan Desert or climbing peaks at 10,000 feet, it has kept my face from roasting and breaking out for the past five years. For the rest of the body's exposed skin, I prefer Banana Boat Sport Ultra SPF 30 Spray Sunscreen for $9 . The spray is quicker to apply and less messy, and it works just as well as the more expensive options from Sun Bum.

Don't forget about your lips. It's all too common for folks to slather on the sunscreen and insect repellent but forget about their lips, which can burn, dry out, and crack. I tried a few brands of high-SPF lip balm, including Sun Bum's offerings, but didn't like how thick and pasty they felt. Carmex is the most comfort and—this is a subjective feeling—most moisturized-feeling among those I've tried. Even in full sun at high altitudes, the 15 SPF Carmex worked well enough to prevent chapping and burning.

I've tried pretty much all the hiking specialty snacks out there and don't really recommend any of them. Options like the GU Stroopwaffel and the Sweetwood Fatty Meat Stick are very expensive and usually too packed with sugar or salt to be healthy. And—this is a judgment call—most of them taste pretty rank. I recommend packing your own snacks at home. Include lots of salty ones, since that helps your body retain water and ward off dehydration. If you want something more environmentally friendly than Zip-Locs, check out Bee's Wrap ($18) . Bring a typical trash bag from home to pack out your trash.

Alpinestart Instant Coffee

If you're like me and have to have your coffee every morning, Alpinestart's brew isn't half bad. And you won't have to carry around damp coffee grounds in your trash bag from making pour-over or French press coffee. Even I, a coffee snob, look forward to a cup on mornings when I like to perch myself on a rock and take in the sunrise. This package will make eight cups of medium-roast coffee.

Many people love listening to tunes out on the trails, but please keep it in your ears and don't disturb the great outdoors for those who want to enjoy the quiet. The Pixel Buds A-Series ( 8/10, WIRED Recommends ) were named the best overall in our guide to the Best Wirefree Earbuds for their IPX4 water resistance, easy pairing with Android devices, and Google Assistant integration.

Picture this: You're outdoors on the trail, nature calls, and there's no bathroom in sight. At that point, you'll be glad you packed a cheap trowel to dig a cathole for solid waste. This one weighs only 3.1 ounces and can be kept in an exterior pocket of your pack.

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Hiking Gear Reviews

Hiking gear

Switchback Travel

Of all the outdoor activities we cover here at Switchback Travel, hiking is dearest to our hearts. It is one the easiest ways to get outdoors for people of all experience levels, and simply put, any time spent on the trail has a way of soothing the soul. Below are our detailed hiking gear reviews for 2024, including round-ups, in-depth reviews, and informational articles covering everything from hiking footwear and clothing to daypacks and trekking poles. For overnight adventures, see our detailed backpacking gear reviews .

Hiking Footwear and Clothing

Hiking Shoes (Merrell Moab 3 on rock)

Best Hiking Shoes of 2024

Women's hiking shoes (Merrell Moab Speed 2 on rock)

Best Women's Hiking Shoes of 2024

Hiking Boots (Lowa Renegade GTX on rock)

Best Hiking Boots of 2024

Women's hiking boots (hiking across stream in Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX)

Best Women's Hiking Boots of 2024

Trail-running shoe (in alpine terrain)

Best Trail Running Shoes of 2024

Sports sandals (hiking over log on beach in Chaco sandals)

Best Hiking Sandals of 2024

Hiking footwear (crossing creek in Salomon Quest 4)

Best Hiking Footwear Brands of 2024

Salomon hiking footwear (Quest 4 GTX splashing through puddle)

Salomon Hiking Footwear: How to Choose

Hiking socks (Darn Tough socks with Oboz Bridger boots)

Best Hiking Socks of 2024

Rain Jacket (Marmot Minimalist along coastline)

Best Rain Jackets of 2024

Norrøna Falketind Paclite rain jacket (crossing creek)

Best Women’s Rain Jackets of 2024

Hiking in Fjallraven Keb Eco-Shell hardshell jacket

Best Hardshell Jackets of 2024

Windbreaker jackets (sitting in truck at trailhead)

Best Windbreaker Jackets of 2024

Norrona Falketind Down750 down jacket (prayer flags in Nepal)

Best Down Jackets of 2024

Feathered Friends Eos (women's down jackets header)

Best Women’s Down Jackets of 2024

Arc'teryx Atom AR (synthetic insulated jackets)

Best Synthetic Insulated Jackets of 2024

Hiking pants (Arc'teryx Gamma LT in mountains)

Best Hiking Pants of 2024

Arc'teryx Gamma LT women's hiking pants (Andes mountains)

Best Women’s Hiking Pants of 2024

Women's travel pants (standing in cafe wearing Vuori Miles Jogger)

Best Women’s Travel Pants of 2024

Hiking shorts (prAna Stretch Zion closeup in Utah)

Best Hiking Shorts of 2024

Women's hiking shorts (Topo Designs Dirt Short)

Best Women’s Hiking Shorts of 2023

Lying in field of huckleberries (sun shirts)

Best Sun Protection Shirts of 2024

Hiking in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness (women's hiking shirts)

Best Women's Hiking Shirts of 2024

Outdoor clothing brands (group hiking in Cascade Mountains)

Best Outdoor Clothing Brands of 2024

Best Plus-Size Outdoor Apparel (camping out with friends)

Best Plus-Size Outdoor Apparel of 2023

  • Hiking Gear

Hiking daypacks (group hiking toward mountains)

Best Daypacks for Hiking of 2024

Women's daypacks (hiking in group)

Best Women's Hiking Daypacks of 2024

Drinking from hydration reservoir (Osprey Mira 22 hydration pack)

Best Hydration Packs of 2024

Trekking poles (hiking with Black Diamond poles in Washington State)

Best Trekking Poles of 2024

Child Carrier Pack (hiking near Mount Rainier)

Best Baby Carriers for Hiking of 2024

Fanny pack (zipping up Free Range Equipment Canvas Phanny)

Best Fanny Packs of 2024

Running vest (Nathan VaporHowe front pocket)

Best Running Hydration Vests and Packs of 2024

GPS watch (closeup of Coros Apex screen)

Best Sports Watches of 2024

Casio Pro Trek PRT-B50 altimeter (ABC) watch in Patagonia

Best Altimeter (ABC) Watches of 2023

Satellite messenger devices (Bivy Stick, Somewear, Garmin inReach Mini, SPOT X)

Best Satellite Messengers of 2024

Handheld GPS (hiking in Patagonia)

Best Handheld GPS of 2023

Water bottle (Drinking from Hydro Flask Lightweight in Utah)

Best Water Bottles for Hiking of 2024

Hydration bladder lineup (CamelBak, Platypus, Gregory, MSR, HydraPak)

Best Hydration Bladders of 2024

Percussion massager (using the Theragun Pro 4)

Best Massage Guns of 2024

Hiking in-depth reviews.

Hiking shoes

Hiking Shoe Reviews

Hiking boots

Hiking Boot Reviews

Rain Jacket (hiking above glacier)

Rain Jacket Reviews

Down Jacket

Down Jacket Reviews

Synthetic jacket

Synthetic Jacket Reviews

Backpacks

Backpack Reviews

Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX hiking shoe (holding Quicklace cinch)

Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX Hiking Shoe Review

Merrell Moab 3 hiking shoes (standing on edge of rock)

Merrell Moab 3 Hiking Shoe Review

The North Face Vectiv Fastpack Futurelight hiking shoes (close up)

The North Face Vectiv Fastpack Futurelight Review

Hoka Anacapa 2 Low GTX hiking shoes (overlooking glacier)

Hoka Anacapa 2 Low GTX Hiking Shoe Review

Merrell Moab Speed 2 GTX hiking shoe (closeup on rock)

Merrell Moab Speed 2 GTX Hiking Shoe Review

Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid hiking boot (closeup)

Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX Hiking Boot Review

Merrell Moab 3 Mid Waterproof (detail)

Merrell Moab 3 Mid Hiking Boot Review

La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX hiking boot (standing on rock)

La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX Review

Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX boot (walking across stream)

Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX Hiking Boot Review

Adidas Terrex Free Hiker 2 GTX (closeup on rock)

Adidas Terrex Free Hiker 2 GTX Review

Patagonia Torrentshell 3L (hiking by alpine lake)

Patagonia Torrentshell 3L Rain Jacket Review

Marmot PreCip Eco jacket (hiking through forest)

Marmot PreCip Eco Rain Jacket Review

Norrøna Falketind Gore-Tex Paclite Jacket (up close hiking)

Norrøna Falketind Gore-Tex Paclite Jacket Review

Marmot Minimalist rain jacket (in the forest)

Marmot Minimalist Rain Jacket Review

​​Patagonia Storm10 Alpine Jacket (standing on rocky outcrop)

Patagonia Storm10 Jacket Review

REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket 2.0 (at trailhead)

Best Cheap Down Jacket: REI Co-op 650 2.0

Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody (standing in mountains)

Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody Review

Arc'teryx Cerium Hoody (standing above lake in Patagonia)

Arc'teryx Cerium Hoody Review

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer 2 jacket (fall colors)

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer/2 Hoody Review

Outdoor Research Transcendent Hoody (collecting wood on beach)

Outdoor Research Transcendent Down Hoody Review

The North Face ThermoBall Eco Hoodie (fall colors)

The North Face ThermoBall Eco Hoodie Review

Arc'teryx Atom LT Hoody (smiling in snowy forest)

Arc'teryx Atom Hoody Review

Patagonia Nano-Air Hoody (walking to get water 2)

Patagonia Nano-Air Hoody Review

Outdoor Research SuperStrand LT Hoodie (putting on hood in Patagonia)

Outdoor Research SuperStrand LT Hoodie Review

Patagonia Nano Puff Hoody (wearing jacket while fly fishing)

Patagonia Nano Puff Hoody Review

Other hiking reviews.

Watch home screen (Suunto Vertical Titanium Solar)

Suunto Vertical Titanium Solar Watch Review

Osprey Stratos 24 daypack (hiking in Utah)

Osprey Stratos 24 Daypack Review

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Daybreak daypack (standing in Peru mountains)

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Daybreak Daypack Review

Osprey Talon 22 daypack (hiking in Utah)

Osprey Talon 22 Daypack Review

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The Best Backpacking Packs for Any Adventure

We spent five months testing the year’s top multiday packs. these 10 rose above the rest..

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Shopping for a multiday pack can be intimidating. Big haulers are often pricey, and the variety of materials and features can be mind-numbing. To help you streamline your shopping, we spent five months putting more than a dozen and a half of this season’s best packs under the microscope—and under a whole lot of weight. These are the packs worth taking home.

At a Glance

  • Editor’s Choice: Mystery Ranch Radix 57 ($299)
  • Best for Short Overnights: Deuter Aircontact Ultra 35+5 ($240)
  • Most Versatile: Sierra Designs Nexus Lite 35-50 ($250)
  • Lightest: Black Diamond Betalight 45 ($400)
  • Best for Long Trails:  Outdoor Vitals CS40 Ultra ($368)
  • Best for First-Timers: Rab Muon 50 ($260)
  • Best Organization: Lowe Alpine Yacuri 55 ($320)
  • Best for Technical Terrain: Mountain Hardwear Direttissima 55L ($420)
  • Most Eco-friendly: Fjällräven Kajka 65 ($375)
  • Best for Bigger Bodies: Osprey Rook/Renn 65 EF ($190)

Choosing the Right Backpacking Pack

How we test, meet our testers.

All gear in this guide was tested by multiple reviewers. When you buy through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission. This supports our mission to get more people active and outside. Learn more .

2024 Mystery Ranch Radix 57

Editors’ Choice

Mystery ranch radix 57.

$299 at Backcountry (Women’s) $299 at Backcountry (Men’s)

Weight: 3.8 lbs Size: M’s S-XL and W’s XS-L

Pros and Cons ⊕ Superior load carry ⊕ Carrying comfort ⊗ Tiny hydration sleeve

The Radix 57 doesn’t just look sexy with its sleek monochrome fabric and tantalizing, full-length side zipper. It also delivers best-in-class comfort, load carry, and gear access all in a sub-4-pound package—about a pound less than many other packs capable of carrying similar loads. The secret: shaving weight by using space-age materials—not skimping on suspension. On the outside, a strong-but-gossamer 100-denier Robic nylon is reinforced with a grid of ultra-high molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE), a uniquely strong and waterproof thread. While the pack itself isn’t seam-taped—and therefore isn’t waterproof—the use of the UHMWPE makes it highly water-resistant as well as abrasion-resistant. “I’ve squeezed under large blow-downs and past grabby bushes and trees,” reports Washington-based tester Matt Wise. “The pack hasn’t been phased.”

On the inside, a 7000-series aerospace-grade aluminum frame keeps loads close to the back. The frame, which is lightbulb-shaped and contoured to match the spine, provides both vertical stability and adequate torsional flex to support a natural gait. Load lifters and a cushy hipbelt further boost comfort. As a result, testers were able to heft up to 50 pounds without soreness. While there are other UHMWPE packs that can carry up to 60 or 70 pounds, most cost twice as much. “It’s the best pack I’ve tested yet,” says Wise. “It’s become my go-to for three- to four-day trips.”

Organization is outstanding for a lightweight pack: an off-center, full-length zipper flays the bag open nearly flat, making gear access and camp setup a breeze. The waist pockets each fit a phone, and large lateral pockets are angled for easy access while hiking. Even better news for weight-conscious hikers: the roomy toplid, compression straps, and frame are all removable, allowing it to function as a breezy overnight pack; the Radix 57 weighs just 3 pounds stripped.

Read our full review to learn more

Deuter Aircontact Ultra 35+5

Best for Short Overnights

Deuter aircontact ultra 35+5.

$240 at Amazon

Weight: 2.5 lbs Size: M’s and W’s, two sizes each

Pros and Cons ⊕ Lightweight ⊕ Breathable ⊕ Good load-carrying capacity ⊗ Small pockets

The Aircontact Ultra has been an outstanding bag for years—we gave the 50+5 an Editor’s Choice Award in 2022 —thanks to its low weight, well-rounded features, and impressive durability. But the new 35+5 is a whole different beast. This pack sports a redesigned suspension that’s lighter and more breathable—and yet still more robust than some others in this weight range. The pack’s W-shaped, 2-millimeter spring-steel frame is molded to follow the S-curve of the back. This 3D contouring enhances its strength, letting us carry up to 25 pounds with ease. While the bag is relatively narrow, the 40-liter rating feels spot-on; we were able to fit a lightweight overnight kit and still had room to spare.

Generous sacral padding prevents lower back soreness, and molded foam in the backpanel permits some airflow—a feature tester Robin Mino was happy to have on a weekend trip to Colorado’s James Lake Wilderness in 70-degree heat. She also appreciated the generous stretch-mesh dorsal pocket, which allowed her to stuff layers quickly as the mercury rose.

Two small hipbelt pockets were adequate for snacks—but not a phone—and the removable toplid easily held a hat, gloves, and sunscreen. This toploader offers no bottom- or side-zipper access to the main packbag, but the minimalists among us didn’t mind. “The organizational layout is simple, which made it easy to pack overnight gear for quick trips around the Colorado Front Range,” reports packs category manager Corey Buhay. So far, she says, the material—a 175-denier polyamide with a UHMWPE ripstop grid—shows no signs of wear, even while scraping past boulders and talus in Colorado’s Eldorado Springs Canyon. (Note: Deuter’s use of “Ultra” in the pack name is unrelated to the popular ultralight material of the same name.)

Sierra Designs Nexus Lite 35-50

Most Versatile

Sierra designs nexus lite 35-50.

$250 at Sierra Designs

Weight: 3 lbs (multiday configuration), 2.4 lbs (daypack configuration) Size: Unisex, S/M and M/L

Pros and Cons ⊕ Modular components ⊕ Good durability ⊗ Minimalist hipbelt ⊗ No hydration hose port ⊗ Zipperless entry can be fiddly

Plenty of packs expand or contract by a few liters. Few are capable of full metamorphosis. Enter the Sierra Designs Nexus. Simply snap on a removable, stuff-sack-like garment bag (which acts as a roomy external pocket) and toplid, and this 35-liter daypack transforms into a fully fledged 50-liter overnight bag. Stretch-mesh side pockets, a hydration pouch, and hipbelt pockets made it easy to grab water and gear in either configuration. Better yet, the Nexus felt comfortable at both day-trip and overnight weights up to 25 pounds. Thanks to the roll-top, which expands for bigger loads, Backpacker Assistant Editor Emma Veidt was able to carry her sleeping bag, pad, stove, tent, and layers without issue. Credit goes to a Y-shaped aluminum frame. The system transfers weight to the lightly padded hipbelt while allowing shoulders to rotate naturally with each arm swing. “It was so comfortable—no pack sway,” said Veidt after an Appalachian Trail section hike. And when she found herself in need of an afternoon nap, she was able to use the removable, water-resistant garment bag—which has a soft inner liner—as a backcountry pillow.

Durability was impressive, not only because the pack utilizes a DWR-coated, 200-denier recycled nylon, but also because zippers, a notorious weak spot, are absent from this buckle-only pack. The only place we missed the zips? On the hipbelt pockets, where stretch-mesh flaps fit snacks and a headlamp, but provide limited security.

Black Diamond Betalight UL 45

Black Diamond Betalight UL 45

$400 at Black Diamond

Weight: 1.9 lbs (1.1 lbs stripped) Size: Unisex; XS-L

Pros and Cons ⊕ Lightweight ⊕ Plentiful organization ⊕ Durable materials ⊗ Subpar breathability ⊗ Price

The Beta Light UL was already one of the lightest bags we tested this season. But, thanks to a removable hipbelt, frame, and backpanel, it can get even lighter. At just 1 lb. 2 oz. fully stripped, this sleek fastpacking pack quickly became our go-to for speedy, big-mileage missions.

The Beta Light UL owes its gravity-defying weight to a minimalist layout and ultralight materials. The frame is comprised of dual aluminum stays, which transfer loads of up to 35 pounds to a lightly padded hipbelt. A closed-cell foam panel helps protect the back from pointy cargo (though it isn’t very breathable). Even with the stays removed, the pack was able to support about 25 pounds with ease, thanks to a broad, vest-style harness that spreads weight across the chest and shoulders. A toploading entry—which closes via a cinch and buckle—provides the only way in or out of the main pack bag. However, generous chest pockets kept essential sundries close so we never had to go digging.

While most ultralight packs call it quits at three pockets, the Beta Light UL sports a 3-liter internal hydration sleeve, three chest pockets, and two hipbelt pockets, each big enough to fit a phone or camera.

Ultra 200—a superlight, waterproof laminate fabric—covers the majority of the bag. Taped seams make it fully waterproof. Over four months of testing, the Ultra 200 defied torrential rain on foraging trips in Alaska as well as scratches from pine branches and sharp scree. Even the finely woven nylon stretch mesh on the lateral bottle pockets and dorsal shove-it pocket escaped all but one small hole over the course of the season.

Outdoor Vitals CS40 Ultra

Best for Long Trails

Outdoor vitals cs40 ultra.

$368 at Outdoor Vitals

Weight: 1.7 lbs Size: Unisex, S-L torso and S-L belt

Pros and Cons ⊕ Lightweight ⊕ Comfortable carry ⊕ Carbon frame ⊗ Subpar organization ⊗ Minimal padding

Thru-hikers, add this one to your vision board. At well under two pounds, the CS40 is lighter than many top ultralight packs. But unlike many of its contemporaries, this baby comes equipped with load-lifters, a real hipbelt, and a full frame. The dual carbon stays add just an ounce each—but boost the CS40’s load-carrying capacity to 35 pounds. Even more impressive: pack category manager Corey Buhay found the CS40 remained comfortable even fully loaded, thanks to the hipbelt’s dual adjustment points and broad hip wings. While the belt’s minimalist padding left our more bony-hipped testers sore, most found it perfectly contoured to prevent hot spots, even after sweaty, 20-mile days in the Appalachians.

A U-shaped foam back panel provides targeted padding. While the close-to-body fit did inhibit breathability, it also prevented pack sway. “I could cinch down the main compartment and not feel any wobble during summit trips,” says Colorado tester Robin Mino after a season of bagging Fourteeners.

Organization was decent. The main bag is sufficiently cavernous to fit a bear canister while maintaining room for the rest of your kit, and the roll-top adds about 10 extra liters fully extended. Two small zippered hip pockets fit snacks and sunscreen, and each side pocket (angled for accessibility while hiking) fits a Nalgene. The dorsal stretch pocket was perfect for stuffing wet layers. While the pack isn’t seam-taped and won’t keep your gear safe during extended downpours, the waterproof Ultra 200 fabric and rolltop design kept gear dry through both light rain and wet bushwhacks. Both the abrasion-resistant Ultra 200 and accessory stretch mesh ended the season without a scratch.

Rab Muon 50

Best for First-Timers

Rab muon 50.

$260 at Backcountry (Women’s) $260 at Backcountry (Men’s)

Weight: 2.3 lbs Size: M’s and W’s, one size each

Pros and Cons ⊕ Comfortable carry ⊕ Huge pockets ⊕ Relatively lightweight ⊗ Fiddly sternum straps ⊗ No hipbelt pockets

After five months of testing across three different states, the Rab Muon 50 became our go-to recommendation for first-time backpackers thanks to a near-perfect balance of comfort, weight, features, and price.

For starters, the aluminum perimeter frame is sturdy enough to transfer loads up to 35 pounds to the hip-hugging waist belt. Both the wide hip wings and contoured lumbar pad are cushioned with a plush EVA foam. Editor Zoe Gates reported no chafing or hot spots, even after a 35-mile thru-hike of North Carolina’s Art Loeb Trail. Deep channels in the foam back panel helped maintain airflow and breathability on sweaty uphills.

Organization is unfussy. A surprisingly large main packbag accommodates three days of food, overnight gear, and a bear canister. The two enormous side pockets are accessible while hiking, and a large dorsal shove-it sleeve fits a day’s food and layers. We could stuff a hat, gloves, and snacks in the roomy toplid and a three-liter reservoir in the hydration sleeve. (Ding: Though the vest-style harness sports two zippered chest pouches big enough to squeeze a smartphone, there were no hip pockets.) The simple layout also keeps the weight low—a major bonus for first-timers.

The main pack body material, a 100-denier high-tenacity ripstop nylon, should be durable enough to survive the beginner years. Despite getting thrown on rocks in Colorado and shoved through rhododendron thickets in North Carolina, our test pack remained scratch-free. And at just $260, the Muon is more affordable than most of the packs on this list—giving the backpacking-curious one less reason to stay on the fence.

Lowe Alpine Yacuri 55

Best Organization

Lowe alpine yacuri 55.

$320 at Rab

Weight: 4.2 lbs Size: M’s & W’s, one size each

Pros and Cons ⊕ Plentiful pockets ⊕ Easy gear access ⊕ Included raincover ⊗ Limited load-carrying capacity for a pack of this weight

Most of the frustration of backpacking usually arises during points of transition: starting, stopping, digging for gear, packing, and unpacking. The Yacuri 55 is designed to eliminate much of that irritation.

The key is a streamlined organization system. Equipped with both hipbelt and chest pockets, this pack is built to keep you moving. Each hip pocket fits a full baggie of trail mix, and the roomy toplid boasts three zippered compartments. Stretch-mesh side pockets and a shove-it sleeve facilitate gear-stuffing on-the-go. And, thanks to the bottom-access zipper and a U-shaped dorsal zipper, camp setup and breakdown are a breeze.

The pack is so comfortable that testers rarely had to take it off. An adjustable backpanel makes it easy to dial in fit, and the 6-mm aluminum wire frame braces loads up to 30 pounds, according to tester Jim Pierce, who took the Yacuri on a 45-mile backpack of Idaho’s Centennial Trail. The hipbelt was thickly padded, though some testers reported that the contouring was a little off, causing chafing.

The pack comes with an included rain cover, but we rarely needed it; the DWR coating repelled water during both light showers and wet bushwhacks. And the 330-denier polyester (and 550-denier nylon boot) proved plenty durable. On the Centennial Trail, Pierce reported: “The buck brush was so thick that I was walking on branches and couldn’t even see the ground—the pack was unscathed.”

Mountain Hardwear Direttissima

Best For Technical Terrain

Mountain hardwear direttissima 55l.

$420 at Mountain Hardwear

Weight: 4.7 lbs (S/M) Size: Unisex, S/M and M/L

Pros and Cons ⊕ Comfortable carry ⊕ Decent organization ⊕ Durable materials ⊗ Poor breathability

If you’ve got a big climb standing between you and camp, you’ll want the Direttissima on your side. “Even after 3,000 feet of vertical gain with a 40-pound load, my hips felt fine,” gushed Katie Griffith, a Washington-based climbing guide who’s typically prone to hip sores. “This is probably the most comfortable climbing pack I’ve used.”

Credit goes to the aerospace-grade, V-shaped aluminum frame, which transfers loads to the center of a lightly-padded hipbelt. There, the tip of the V creates a pivot point, which allows the pack to rock and twist with your body. We found the pack moved with us, even while scrambling, traversing glaciers, and ‘shwacking up primitive approach trails. The one tradeoff to that close-to-back fit: breathability. We often arrived at the base of our objectives soaked in sweat.

Despite all the rough handling, the pack showed no signs of wear. The Direttissima owes its durability to its cutting-edge fabrics. The sides and toplid sport a PU-coated, 210-denier nylon ripstop, while the dorsal panel is Challenge Sailcloth’s Ultra 400TX, which has a higher tear strength and double the abrasion resistance as the Ultra 200 fabric found in some of the year’s other packs. The boot is further reinforced with an 840-denier carbonate-coated nylon—the highest-denier fabric in the test.

The Direttissima is also better organized than most alpine packs. It sports a 8-liter toplid as well as ice-axe and gear loops. Plentiful external straps made it easy to lash on a helmet, and a small removable pouch fits low-profile aluminum crampons. (The hipbelt and toplid are also removable for lighter-weight missions.) A single zipper provides side access, and a sole hipbelt pocket holds snacks, lip balm, and sunscreen. Another bonus: the Direttissima fits seamlessly over a harness. “I didn’t even notice I had it on,” reports Oregon mountain guide Kelly Rice.

good travel hiking gear

Most Eco-Friendly

Fjällräven kajka 65.

$375 at Fjällräven

Weight: 6.4 lbs Size: Unisex; S/M and M/L

Pros and Cons ⊕ Top-notch durability ⊕ Excellent load carry ⊕ Included raincover ⊗ Weight

Many eco-friendly packs with alternative materials have one major downside: they’re heavy. Fjällräven, especially, is known for its weighty packs owing to the brand’s use of wood and canvas. But now, major material and design updates have shaved more than a pound off previous editions of the Kajka, making this low-carbon-footprint favorite more accessible—and comfortable—than ever.

Several features contribute to the Kajka’s eco cred. For one, the combination of proprietary synthetic polyvinyl and burly 500-denier nylon ensures that your Kajka will likely outlive you (and therefore stay out of the landfill). Second, polyvinyl is naturally dirt- and water-resistant, eliminating the need for additional chemical treatments. Proof: the Kajka successfully deflected wet vegetation, rain, and sandstone scrapes on North Carolina bushwhacks and Arizona canyoneering trips alike. The nylon is fully recycled, and the dual vertical stays are made of flexible-but-strong renewable birch.

Thanks to the unique frame and plush hipbelt, photographer Evan Green was able to carry 50 pounds of camera equipment on a 35-mile backpack through Western North Carolina. He reported stable carry, even while running up hills to get the shot.

Green was also impressed with the Kajka’s organization. A full U-shaped zipper afforded him quick access to both memory cards and overnight gear, and massive lateral zipper pockets kept snacks and layers handy. Each hipbelt pocket fits a phone, and bungeed side pockets accommodate Nalgenes. Fun bonus: The removable toplid converts into both a chest pack and a shoulder bag.

Osprey Rook/Renn 65 EF

Best for Bigger Bodies

Osprey rook/renn 65 ef.

$190 at REI (Renn/Women’s) $190 at REI (Rook/Men’s)

Weight: 3.8 lbs (Renn) Size: M’s and W’s; one size each

Pros and Cons ⊕ Adjustable backpanel ⊕ Included raincover ⊕ Good load carry ⊕ Affordable price ⊗ Subpar breathability

Most plus-size backpacks feel like an afterthought, but the Rook/Renn 65 EF was specifically designed for the needs and nuances of bigger bodies. The hip pockets are positioned to remain accessible even with the waist belt extended to its full 70-inches. Likewise, the harness padding is extended and contoured to comfortably wrap broader shoulders and waists.

Though the Rook/Renn 65 EF only comes in a single size for each gender, it sports four inches of torso-length adjustability. Testers found the adjustment system—two parallel ladders with plastic toggles—easy to manipulate. And testers of all sizes felt that the 4-mm aluminum perimeter frame let them carry extra heavy loads.“I packed about 45 pounds to an alpine hut,” says Diandra Oliver, a tester based in British Columbia. “I had plenty of room left in the bag and could have carried more.”

She also lauded the plentiful organization, which made it easy to quickly stuff gear for an early start. Deep bottle pockets, a massive toplid, and a stretchy dorsal sleeve swelled to fit extra layers. A three-liter hydration sleeve and included raincover round out the features.

The only downside was breathability: the backpanel’s mesh trampoline is hourglass-shaped, which means that larger bodies tend to block airflow on either side of the mesh. As a result, we ended humid hikes in the Adirondacks soaked with sweat.

So far, the pack’s burly 600-denier recycled polyester has defied scrapes, even after a season of bashing. “I threw it on rocks and packed my axe inside with a cereal box for a blade cover,” Oliver reports. “No holes or wear.”

Your choice of pack can make the difference between a life-changing trip and a miserable one. Here’s how to choose.

1. Capacity: The first step is to determine what kind of capacity you need. For one- to three-night trips, target 40 to 55 liters. For gear-intensive trips or those nearing a week in length, you’ll likely need 60 to 70 liters. When you go shopping, bring your full kit—clothes, water, sleeping bag, tent, the works. Make sure it all fits in the pack before you buy.

2. Fit: No discount is worth sacrificing your comfort for. Before you buy, have a gear shop employee measure your torso length (the distance from the vertebra at the base of your neck to the point midway between your iliac crests). Most people are between 16 and 21 inches. Make sure this number falls within the range of your prospective pack’s specs. Then, try it on. Swing your arms, rock your head back, and leap around. The pack should feel snug but not too tight, and it should move with your body without impairing motion.

3. Load-carrying capacity: How much can your pack comfortably carry? Lightweight and ultralight packs may look sleek, but many cap out around 25 pounds—a tough weight to achieve if you prefer a few creature comforts. Beefier packs can often tote up to 50 or 60 pounds, but they also weigh more when empty.

4. Features: Now consider your backpacking style. If you like to snack on the go, prioritize hipbelt and chest pockets. If you’re a reservoir person rather than a bottle person, make sure there’s a built-in hydration sleeve and hose port. If you plan to carry an ice axe or trekking poles, look for stowage loops. Your preferences may change over time, but make sure your pack meets your basic needs.

  • Total miles: 425
  • Total vertical feet: 119,500
  • Coldest temp: 28°F (Denali National Park, AK, Diane Van Dommelen)
  • Hottest temp: 98°F (New River Gorge, WV, Ashley Manning)
  • Highest elevation: 14,007 (Mt. of the Holy Cross, CO, Robin Mino)
  • Highest winds: 35 mph (Continental Divide Trail, CO, Robin Mino)
  • Heaviest Load: 50 lbs (Evan Green, Kajka 65)
  • Biggest oops: One tester strapped his bag of camp meals to the outside of his pack, went bushwhacking, and promptly lost all his food. He had to hike out via an emergency Forest Service road exit

Backpacking packs are among the toughest items to fully test within the course of a season. They’re more complex than apparel, they take longer than boots to show their pain points, and all the bells and whistles can take dozens of miles to evaluate. That means each pack needs at least two testers and 50 to 100 miles on the trail at a minimum—all in just a five-month span. Every testing season is a madcap race to drive as many packs into the ground as fast as we possibly can. Samples usually start trickling into the office in July. From then on, it’s a game of hot potato: we rush to ship them to our hardest-charging testers. When one trip ends, the pack flies back to the post office and into the hands of the next tester.

This year, we evaluated 19 total packs. The ones without technical features, load-bearing hip belts, or suspensions appropriate for their carrying capacity, we eliminated from the test. From there we distributed our candidates to 20 testers across nine states and three countries—as far as Canada, Alaska, and Argentina. Those that broke, tore, or left our testers aching were either re-tested or cut from the running. Those that lightened loads, kept us moving, or made us forget we were wearing packs at all made the list.

Corey Buhay is a former Backpacker editor and co-author of the hiking guidebook Colorado Rockies. She is currently based in Boulder, Colorado. She’s been managing the packs category for Backpacker since 2019, and has developed very strong opinions about hipbelt pockets.

Erica Givans is a longtime backpacker, ice climber, and artist from Bend, Oregon. She currently lives in Denver, Colorado, where she alternates between seeking out hot springs and packrafting on alpine lakes throughout the Rockies.

Nate Pipenberg is a freelance writer and trailworker and the author of Backpacke r’s ultralight hiking column. He recently finished hiking the Idaho Centennial Trail, and he’s currently working on a guidebook of gravel bike routes near his home in Boise, Idaho.

When you buy something using the retail links in our stories, we may earn a small commission. We do not accept money for editorial gear reviews. Read more about our policy.

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The Best Gear for Travel

Various travel gear items laid out on a yellow background.

By Wirecutter Staff

Traveling well can be one of life’s great pleasures, whether you’re alone or with family and friends.

But what does it mean to travel well? We’d say that along with traveling safely (of course), traveling well involves avoiding hassle, carrying a single bag (if possible), and bringing only the necessities.

“Traveling well is a fine balance between finding inspiration in the unknown while being grounded in something,” said Wirecutter founder Brian Lam. “Sometimes that is a memory of home, a family, a significant other, friends, etc. Sometimes it’s just the familiar, reliable stuff in your bag.”

Over the past 10 years, we’ve spent hundreds of hours researching and testing dozens of products to find the most dependable items that will help you travel well. On top of that, we sought the advice and wisdom of Doug Dyment, author and creator of OneBag—a traveling businessman and public speaker, he has logged millions of miles over the past few decades—as well as travel-gear reviewer Eytan Levy, the Snarky Nomad.

And we relied heavily on the experiences of Wirecutter staff, an especially mobile group of individuals. Our staffers have worked remotely from every continent except Antarctica—the five most frequent flyers among us travel about half a million miles in any given (normal) year.

The research

Flying/riding, just in case, travel tips.

A person walking through an airport with the Travelpro Platinum Elite carry-on bag.

A well-packed bag is one that contains less than you think you need but everything you actually need. If possible, fitting everything into one carry-on and personal item will give you more freedom compared to checking a bag or two. You’ll be glad you did if (and when) things don’t go according to plan. While carry-on-only isn’t feasible (or advisable) for every trip—especially extended business trips or weddings where you need multiple outfits to maintain appearances—if in doubt, it’s better to cut.

Carry-on backpack (non-roller)

good travel hiking gear

Cotopaxi Allpa 35L

A versatile small pack for a week or a weekend.

The Allpa’s clamshell design makes organizing your things simple. The strap design lets you easily wear this durable bag on your back or carry it in your hand while you’re on the move.

Buying Options

good travel hiking gear

Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L

An easily customizable large bag for long trips and expensive gear.

This bag was built with photographers in mind, but most travelers will appreciate its easy accessibility and clever tuck-away straps, and the elegant way the bag expands and contracts depending on how much you’ve packed. The accessory cubes cost extra, though.

We spent six months testing 22 bags, and in the end we chose two as our top picks for travelers determined to never check luggage again: the Cotopaxi Allpa 35L (for most trips) and the larger Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L . Both bags are exemplary carry-on travel backpacks that are designed for comfort, durability, and organization.

A person standing outside in a light blue short sleeve shirt wears the Cotopaxi Allpa 35L backpack, in black with a gray llama-head logo and aqua accents.

The Cotopaxi Allpa 35L features an easy-to-pack clamshell design and highly adjustable straps that make it a great all-around bag for any traveler who’s dedicated to packing light, or for a smaller person who wants less to carry. Handles on all four sides of this bag make it easy to grab no matter where you’ve stowed it, and the Allpa’s straps are contoured to comfortably fit people who have large or small chests. It’s not a specifically gendered design, but our female tester noticed the improvement right away.

The bag is protected by a full lifetime warranty and has the build quality to back that up. Its front panel is made of a waterproof, TPU-coated 1,000-denier polyester (a strong fabric covered in a flexible plastic coating), which means you can lay it on its back in a wet field or in gravel without worrying about moisture soaking through or jagged edges ripping the fabric. The rest of the paneling is made with 1,680-denier ballistic nylon, which feels similar to a strong canvas but with a more prominent weave. After four years of testing, this single backpack (plus a personal item to store under the seat) has replaced nearly every travel bag or piece of luggage that Kit Dillon, Wirecutter’s senior staff writer who covers luggage, uses.

One caveat: The Allpa has a minimal amount of administrative organization—places to keep pens and papers, spaces to hold tickets, and so forth—which is where the personal item comes in handy. As the name suggests, “personal items” are very, well, personal, and no one bag will work for all travelers; we offer a range of recommendations in our full guide to them .

A tester from behind, wearing the uniformly black, sporty Peak Design bag

The larger Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L is the Swiss Army knife of backpacks: adjustable, customizable, and (if you spring for the extra cubes and organizers) an almost perfect system for a photographer or gearhead on the move. Most bags’ expanding mechanisms aren’t worth the extra zipper they’re built on, and they look about as attractive as a boiled ham splitting out of its plastic packaging. Not so with the Peak Design: It looks just as good fully packed at 45 liters as it does compressed to a 30-liter daypack. You can access the bag through a back panel, which doubles as a computer and tablet pouch, as well as through a front one, if you unzip the pass-through divider. You can also get into the main compartment via two wing-like trapezoidal flaps that run along each side of the pack. In its natural shape, the Travel Backpack holds 35 liters, but an expansion zipper lets the bag swell to 45 liters.

If you want to use the bag as a daypack, you fold in the top corners and snap them down, reducing the bag’s volume to a slim 30 liters. It still feels larger than a normal daypack, but we think that’s a small compromise for the ability to use one backpack as both your travel bag and your daily explorer. The bag itself consists of 400D nylon and polyester fabrics—it feels tough, but not as tough as the Cotopaxi Allpa. As for flaws, it is expensive, especially if you commit to the entire system of packing cubes and camera cubes . The adjustable design and multiple zippers do add complexity, and complexity adds potential weaknesses, though Peak Design covers all of its bags with a lifetime warranty.

Finding the right bag is a personal choice, and no single bag will appeal to everyone. That’s why we have picks in our full review of carry-on travel bags that can double as traveling offices , bags that are easy to carry while you’re walking long distances , and budget options for travelers who want to give the one-bag strategy a try.

Carry-on bag (rolling)

good travel hiking gear

Travelpro Platinum Elite 21″ Carry-On Spinner

Great features, great value.

This spinner carry-on offers the best balance of size, value, reliability, and durability, with high-end details. It’s backed by a lifetime warranty.

Since 2015, we’ve researched several dozen suitcases and gone hands-on with the 67 most promising candidates in a variety of tests—including having active flight attendants test bags for us in a fake plane fuselage in their training facility. We determined that for most people the  Travelpro Platinum Elite 21″ Expandable Spinner  offers the best balance of features, durability, and price for most flyers who log less than 25,000 miles annually.

A person sitting in an airport chair with our pick for best carry-on luggage in front of them.

It features smooth-rolling, user-replaceable wheels; solid and comfortable, telescoping handles; and a hard-wearing nylon exterior propped up by a solid internal chassis. The Elite only improves on past iterations in the Platinum line by reducing the size of the stowed handle (which used to jut out about an inch) and adding a second zippered, exterior pocket for easy access on the go and a USB pass-through extension that lets you insert your own battery pack for charging your phone. And at 7.8 pounds when empty, this carry-on bag is about half a pound lighter than its predecessor. Compared with other bags in this price range, you also get surprisingly high-end components and a warranty that covers anything, even airline damage, for the life of the bag (as long as you register the suitcase within 120 days of purchase, which is easy to do on any smartphone).

Upgrade pick

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Briggs & Riley Baseline Essential 22″ Carry-On Expandable Spinner

For frequent flyers.

If you fly more than 25,000 miles a year, invest in a bag with unique features, superior details, and plenty of expandable room. This manufacturer guarantees your satisfaction.

If you fly more than 25,000 miles annually and you’re willing to invest in a higher-quality product, we recommend the Briggs & Riley Baseline Essential 22-Inch Carry-On Expandable Spinner. It can fit more clothing than any bag we tested, thanks to a cavernous interior and clever expansion and compression system that can adjust to variable levels beyond open and shut. Over a five-year period before the pandemic, Wirecutter’s founder, Brian Lam, put more than 150,000 miles on his. His only complaint was that longer pants will need an extra fold, or to be rolled. In taller bags, pants will only need to be folded over once.

Checked luggage

If you need to pack more stuff than a carry-on and a personal item can hold, our first piece of advice would be to reconsider whether you need that extra outfit “just in case.” But you’ll have times when you need to travel with several pairs of shoes, formalwear, a winter coat, special equipment (like diving or camping gear), or all of the above. In these cases, there’s no way to avoid checking a bag.

good travel hiking gear

Osprey Farpoint 55 Men’s Travel Pack

The best travel backpack for those with taller torsos.

Comfortable, adjustable, and carry-on capable, the Farpoint has everything we needed for a week, or even months, of travel.

good travel hiking gear

Osprey Fairview 55 Women’s Travel Pack

The best travel backpack for those with shorter torsos.

Comfortable, adjustable, and carry-on capable, the Fairview has everything we needed for a week, or even months, of travel.

If you’re going somewhere where you’ll need to walk a lot (particularly if there’s dirt or cobblestone roads), we recommend a travel backpack. We like the Farpoint 55 and the sized-for-smaller-torsos Fairview 55 because they’re comfortable and have plenty of room to store, and separate, our essentials. The front of the main pack unzips like a suitcase, so you can easily fit and access a week’s worth of clothes and toiletries. The daypack, which attaches to the front of the larger pack, has room for camera gear, daily essentials, and a small laptop (via a built-in sleeve). It’s also easy to stow. The main pack’s straps can tuck behind a zippered flap, so they won’t catch on anything if you check your luggage.

These bags are made of a heavy-duty recycled polyester that stands up even to long trips–one of our testers has traveled with a Farpoint 55 for years, across dozens of countries for months at a time, without damaging it. If something does happen, though, Osprey has a lifetime warranty.

good travel hiking gear

Travelpro Platinum Elite 25″ Expandable Spinner

The best checked bag for most travelers.

The bag provides a luxury feel at a reasonable price, with a capacity, warranty, and reliability that should suit most travelers. The 25-inch model should offer plenty of room for most people without going over airline weight limits.

If you don’t plan on walking around while carrying all your stuff, the  25-inch Travelpro Platinum Elite Expandable Spinner Suiter is our favorite piece of checked luggage for all of the same reasons we loved the carry-on size: It has excellent organizational features, it’s especially durable, and it has a better warranty than anything in its price range.

Luggage tags

The Ovener Silicone Luggage Tag, our pick for the best luggage tag, shown on a wooden background

Ovener Silicone Luggage Tag

Strong and easy to see.

Rugged silicone and a metal cable mean this tag (which comes two to a pack) may well outlive your luggage. The brightly colored case displays its owner’s name but keeps other personal information out of sight.

A good luggage tag should be durable, simple to use, and discreet. Ultimately, a tag should allow someone to get your luggage back to you quickly and easily, and it should withstand the wear and tear of being thrown onto conveyor belts time and again. After researching the top-rated and best-selling models, reading existing luggage-tag reviews, and comparing fourteen tags , we recommend the Ovener Silicone Luggage Tag for most travelers because it’s the only one we’d trust to survive being smashed by other bags, jammed into walls, and generally abused by baggage handlers. It’s the most durable tag we tested, and it comes in a wide selection of colors to help any bag stand out from the rest.

The Ovener tag’s silicone body seems nearly indestructible and is available in a rotating selection of colors (you get two tags per pack). Whereas other tags also feature metal cables, this tag has a metal grommet to keep the cable from eventually wearing through the silicone case.

Should you lose your bag, the Ovener makes it easy for a Good Samaritan to find your contact information. To fully access the info card, you have to unscrew and remove the metal strap; this lets the card slide out of the case. Most luggage tags we tested secure their info card in this way. It isn’t a difficult or time-consuming process, but it is an extra step compared with using a tag that displays all of your information openly. Still, for anyone who wants to keep their contact information out of view, the extra step is worth it.

Another approach to increasing privacy is to hide information in a QR code, as the Dynotag Smart Deluxe Steel Luggage Tag  does, or to provide a user ID number, as the Okoban UID Luggage Tags do. But these seem like overly complex solutions to a problem that doesn’t really exist.

Compression sacks

Originally designed for reducing the bulk of lofty sleeping bags, compression sacks are stuff sacks modified with additional nylon end caps that can be pulled together by strings or straps to remove air and create a smaller, denser package that’s easier to pack. Most travelers use compression sacks to condense socks, underwear, and other stuff you don’t mind getting wrinkled into a package with half as much overall volume. For example, an 8- to 12-liter sack can compress a fleece jacket and a long-weekend’s worth of socks and underwear into something that fits in one hand. They also make a decent pillow in a pinch.

good travel hiking gear

Osprey StraightJacket (8L)

Easier access, less compression.

It has a full-length zipper on its side that allows access to the bag’s entire contents. However, it doesn’t compress as tightly as traditional designs.

Most compression sacks require you to empty out the stuff at the top to get to the stuff below it, but the side-zipper design on the Osprey StraightJacket allows access to the entire contents of the bag at once. The compression straps attach sideways, and are less likely to get tangled and twisted like on most compression sacks with lengthwise straps. It can also sit up on its own, and the handle design lets you break it out as a last minute carry-on to avoid an overweight-baggage fee. However, it doesn’t compress down as compactly as the traditional designs we tested so it’s not the best option if compression is your top priority.

GobiGear’s SegSac takes a different approach to solving the same access issue: It has four inner dividers that run the length of the sack in order to keep your socks separate from your underwear, winter accessories, towel, what have you. This means you don’t have to take out your T-shirts to get to your socks. Unlike the Osprey, it compresses just as much as a normal compression sack, but it loses points for versatility because the segmentation prevents it from handling large items like a down jacket or sleeping bag.

Packing cubes

Packing cubes could change your life. (Okay, maybe just your traveling life.) Packing cubes are basically bags to hold your clothes that you organize within your luggage. Though seemingly superfluous, they’re brilliant in action. If you imagine your suitcase as a dresser, you can think of these cubes as individual drawers: Put all your underwear and socks in one container, all your shirts in another, and your workout clothes in yet another. Then pull out only the cube you want. They make packing and repacking wonderfully simple.

good travel hiking gear

Eagle Creek Pack-It Reveal Cube Set

Well built with easy access.

Simple and solidly constructed, these packing cubes keep your bag organized while you’re traveling.

The three-piece Eagle Creek Pack-It Reveal Cube Set keeps a week’s worth of clothes organized and moves easily from suitcase to hotel dresser. We’ve been recommending the previous version of these cubes for years, and after testing this updated set, we now recommend this version.

The full-size cube is great for shirts, shorts, and insulating layers. The half-cube and quarter-cube are perfect for underwear, socks, and other thin fabrics such as stockings or sleepwear. These cubes are made of 300-denier polyester (a strong fabric) and stay upright when empty, so they’re easy to pack. The Pack-It cubes’ windows are made of the tightest mesh link we tested—better for resisting snags—and the smooth zippers close easily around all corners, even when a cube is overstuffed.

The Eagle Creek cubes have the ability to unzip fully to allow full access to their contents while sitting in a dresser drawer. That means your clean clothes stay protected against some potentially dicey motel dressers. In 2022, Eagle Creek updated the design of these cubes, and now the company no longer uses YKK zippers, which are widely accepted as the best around . That said, we couldn’t tell any difference between Eagle Creek’s zippers and other brands’ YKK zippers, even with a magnifying glass, and their performance was indistinguishable. (For what it’s worth, an Eagle Creek product manager assured us that the proportion of zipper-related warranty claims hasn’t changed since the company made the switch from YKK.)

Most travelers are likely to be well served by the Reveal set. But if you value lightness above all, the more expensive Eagle Creek Pack-It Isolate Cube Set is about 50% lighter than similar-size competitors (just over 1 ounce for a medium cube, whereas the Eagle Creek classic style weighs about 4 ounces). Unlike the Reveal set, this set is water resistant. However, the Isolate design’s thin sides—which don’t allow the cubes to stand up on their own—make those cubes a bit more challenging to pack than the Reveal cubes.

Buying the right gear can help organize your existing travel kit, but it’s a red herring if your goal is better portability. “It’s mostly the clothing that allows you to reduce what you need to carry,” explains veteran traveller Eytan Levy, better known as the Snarky Nomad . That’s because clothing, which is very voluminous, makes up the bulk of what’s in your bag. He recommends traveling with basic-looking clothes because you can always buy or rent something nice in a pinch, whereas lugging around formalwear just in case will always be a pain. It also helps if you can avoid cotton and stick to merino and synthetic fabrics, which dry faster. This allows you to do laundry by hand in the sink as needed to reduce the amount of clothes you need to carry.

Travel underwear

Men and women's underwear laid out on top of each other.

Good travel underwear keeps you feeling fresh and clean, even when your destination is gritty.  To find the best , we researched an array of underwear designed for men and women to find 37 pairs meeting our criteria: moisture-wicking and breathable, quick-drying, odor-resistant, stretchy, stylish, and cut to fit a variety of body types.

We then conducted rigorous pretesting (wearing the underwear for two days at a time, machine-washing them repeatedly, and tracking their drying speed when hung on a clothesline) before taking them out into the real world. Our testers went backpacking 215 miles throughout Portland, Oregon; hiking in the Canadian Rockies, including walking from the lowest point in the Continental US to the highest; and road-tripping to the national parks of the West. Testers who flew to their destinations wore the underwear on the plane, too.

Afterward, we checked for signs of wear, such as seam breakage and pilling on the fabric. As we continued to test the finalists, we repeatedly checked for durability problems. In addition to comfort and fit, we noted whether each pair seemed lightweight and packable.

good travel hiking gear

ExOfficio Men’s Give-N-Go 2.0 Sport Mesh 6″ Boxer Brief

Best for most men.

Durable, quick-drying, and relatively inexpensive, this soft-fabric version of ExOfficio’s time-tested Give-N-Go undies will get the job done for years.

The ExOfficio Give-N-Go 2.0 Sport Mesh 6″ Boxer Brief is the best men’s underwear for travel because it balances fit, comfort, odor-proofing, and value better than anything else we’ve tested. The Sport Mesh fabric excels at breathing and wicking and has better odor-resistance than other fabrics. It feels soft on the inside and smooth on the outside so it slides against your pants instead of creating friction, reducing potential for chafing. It also features a sculpted crotch area that gives wearers some much-appreciated support, without feeling stifling. These boxer briefs dry quickly, pack compactly, and weigh less than almost all the other boxer briefs we tried—basically they’re everything you’d want from a pair of excellent travel underwear.

good travel hiking gear

Patagonia Women's Active Hipster

Best for most women.

These light, stylish, quick-drying hipsters stay in place whether you’re walking, flying, or hanging upside down.

The Patagonia Active Hipster doesn’t appear special upon first glance. Only after trying everything else and living through their failures to stay put did we remember what “special” really means in a pair of underwear: Feeling as if you’re wearing nothing at all. The Patagonias have the best fit, comfort, and style out of all the panties we tested. The nylon material is fast-wicking and better than most synthetics for odor-proofing, making it well suited for athletic activities. The Active Hipster is lightweight and packable, and is the fastest-drying underwear we tested—making them perfect for minimalist travelers who go weeks at a time with just one or two pairs. But these same characteristics make them great for any traveler looking for comfortable, packable panties, regardless of where you’re going or what you’re doing.

Budget pick

good travel hiking gear

Uniqlo Men Airism Boxer Brief

Comfortable, compact, and fast-drying, these are a great value but don’t fit quite as nicely and aren’t as supportive in the crotch.

good travel hiking gear

Uniqlo Women Airism Ultra Seamless HipHugger

Similar fabric to the Men’s Airism, with a no-ride cut for women, these underwear are the least expensive of any we tested and among the best performing.

May be out of stock

If you want to spend as little as possible without sacrificing performance, the Uniqlo Airism line has long been a great choice for men and women who can wear sizes small and medium. In recent years, both lines have expanded their size range somewhat (men to 3XL, and women to XL). If these fit, you can replace an entire underwear drawer on a tight budget, as long as you can deal with the slightly odd cut and less-effective odor-control treatment.

If you’ve never traveled with merino wool socks, you’re missing out. These aren’t the scratchy wool socks your grandpa wore in the army; they are soft and stretchy ones that have natural sweat-wicking and odor-resisting properties that keep your toes comfortable under all conditions—even when wet. This combination of odor, moisture, and temperature regulations makes them ideal for traveling. "Because of its natural anti-bacterial properties, washing merino wool on a daily basis isn’t absolutely necessary,” explains Snarky Nomad , "after letting it air dry overnight while you sleep, it’ll seem brand new.” The only major downside is that merino tends to be a bit pricier than synthetic counterparts. But it’s a worthy trade-off, since you can go for longer with fewer pairs.

good travel hiking gear

Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew Lightweight Hiking Sock (Women’s)

The best quality for women.

The best mix of comfort, durability, and cushioning in a versatile height.

Use code WELCOME10 and add 3 to cart

good travel hiking gear

Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew Lightweight Hiking Sock (Men’s)

For the best quality.

The same great versatile sock as the women’s model, but in different color options and more sizes.

Darn Tough’s Light Hiker Micro Crew socks (both the men’s and women’s versions) have been our favorite hiking socks for years. Darn Tough made its name through its quality guarantee : “Our socks are guaranteed to be the most comfortable, durable, and best fitting socks you can buy. In a nutshell, if you wear a hole in them, we will replace them free of charge, for life.” Pacific Crest Trail thru-hikers (hardcore backpackers who walk from Mexico to Canada in one continuous trip) praise them for their durability, comfort, and blister resistance. When you hold a pair of Darn Toughs next to a pair of Smartwools (which only have a two-year guarantee ), the difference is clear. The Darn Toughs are more tightly knit, the yarns are finer and feel sturdier, and the stitching is tighter.

good travel hiking gear

Darn Tough Women's Coolmax Hiker Micro Crew Midweight Hiking Sock

The best non-wool women’s hiking sock.

This midlevel cushioned sock for women is the best synthetic option for most climates and terrains.

good travel hiking gear

Darn Tough Men's Coolmax Hiker Micro Crew Midweight Hiking Sock

The best non-wool men’s hiking sock.

This synthetic men’s sock is perfect for day hiking in most weather.

If you are sensitive to wool, prefer a vegan product, or want a cooler option for the summer, we also like the Darn Tough Coolmax Hiker Micro Crew Midweight Hiking Sock, which comes in women's and men’s sizes.

We appreciated how breathable this sock felt. While wearing the Coolmax Micro Crew in hot summer weather, our testers’ feet stayed dry and sweat-free. The shorter micro-crew height makes the Coolmax Micro Crew suitable for both boots and shoes, too. And like all Darn Tough socks, this model comes with a lifetime warranty.

good travel hiking gear

Indosole Flip Flops (women’s)

A quality flip flop in women’s sizes.

These stylish beach sandals come in a wide range of colors. Be careful, though: Indosole sizes tend to run a little small.

good travel hiking gear

Indosole Flip Flops (men’s)

A quality flip flop in men’s sizes.

These beach sandals are the same as the women’s version but cut a bit wider; we still think they run a little smaller than regular shoe sizes.

A good pair of travel flip-flops should be lightweight, comfortable, and waterproof. The men’s and women’s Indosole Flip Flops offer the best combination of quality, comfort, and easy packability. Unlike many flip flops, which slap against the ground with every step, the subtle arch support of this flip flop kept it secure against our feet. Plus they’re made from waterproof, recycled materials. Keep in mind, though, that our testers found these shoes to run a bit small, so we suggest sizing up for the best fit.

Clothesline

While doing laundry at home can be a large weekly event, OneBag author Doug Dyment recommends approaching travel laundry as a part of your daily routine, especially if you’re trying to pack as little as possible: “The laundry should be more like cleaning your teeth—something you do everyday. It only takes about five minutes to do it. Every night, do your socks and underwear and you’ll have clean socks and underwear everyday.”

good travel hiking gear

A secure, hassle-free option

The Flexo-Line attaches easily to a door handle or faucet and grips garments securely between its loops.

Check out OneBag’s laundry packing list if you want specific tips on how to do it and what you’ll need, but it’s a pretty simple setup: All you need is a toiletry bottle of powdered detergent, a towel to help expedite drying, and a travel clothesline to finish the drying process while you sleep at night.

travel gear, flexo-line, clothesline

Specifically, you want a braided—not twisted—surgical latex clothesline with looped ends, which means you want a Flexo-Line . The Flexo-Line can stretch up to 7 feet long, which is enough to span most hotel bathtubs, and it has loops that you can attach easily to a door handle, bath spigot, or faucet. The braided construction is superior to twisted designs made from other materials because the latex does a better job of gripping garments securely between the loops, which means you don’t need any additional clothespins.

Dyment has tried them all, but the Flexo-Line is the one he comes back to. As he explained to me in an interview, “There are others that are fine, but there are far more that are not fine.” More specifically, Dyment says to avoid anything that’s not made of latex , because clothes will inevitably slip out of them. He also says to never, ever trust a suction cup: “They don’t work, period.” If the Flexo-Line is unavailable, Dyment says that the Rick Steves collection from Kiva Designs also makes a nice braided line that is a bit more expensive. If you have a latex allergy, Dyment recommends going with a length of cord ( paracord is nice because it’s durable and you can use it for other things as well) and stainless steel safety pins meant for cloth diapers , because they take up far less space than a clothespin and won’t rust. In fact, it’s worthwhile to get these items even if you can use a latex line because they’re great for making luggage repairs and performing other MacGyver-ish tasks in a pinch. To hang up the clothesline, we recommend using a bowline knot on one end and a taut line hitch on the other. These knots work well together because the bowline creates a simple, slip-proof loop to anchor one end while the taut line hitch allows you to adjust for tension and locks tightly in place. If you could commit any two knots to memory forever, these are the ones to learn.

Laundry detergent

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Minisoak Travel Packs

A travel size version of the best delicates detergent.

Perfect for traveling because you don’t even need to rinse it out.

When you’re washing your underwear in a hotel sink, you want a fast and easy experience. For this, we recommend the no-rinse detergent Soak . That’s right, we said no rinse . You just add a drop to the sink, fill with water, and leave your garments to soak. Then press out the water and hang. Done.

In our tests of delicates detergents , Soak cleaned almost as well as our top laundry detergent, Tide; plus, it comes in individual packets of powder  that are great for traveling, as well as in  travel-size bottles of the liquid version . In addition to unscented, it's available in a variety of scents, although Lacey and Celebration are not the most descriptive of scent names. They all smell nice, not overpowering. Soak also comes in an assorted travel pack with two single-use packets of each scent, if you want to test-drive one or two before you buy. In that mini size, you get eight packets for $11 currently, but you really need only a squeeze, not the the whole packet, to wash a couple of pairs of socks and underwear.

One downside to Soak is that you won’t find it in a grocery store or big-box store. But it is available online at Soak’s site . And if you really want to walk into a store and put your mitts on a bottle, you can find it at most local yarn stores.

Don’t feel like buying Soak or bringing along a bit of your own detergent? Shampoo also works pretty well for cleaning garments in a pinch, so make use of that free bottle from the hotel. But a caveat: Neither Soak nor shampoo contains enzymes , which are biological molecules in laundry detergent that break down certain stains. If you have especially stinky or stained clothes, you might need to break out the Tide .

When we first published this guide, this section addressed only toiletry kits and bottles, razors, and packable towels. The times, and traveling, became more complicated. One thing we've learned in the past few years is that face masks can be useful whenever you’re sick and don’t want to share your misery. Fortunately, compared with early 2020, medical-style N95s and KN95s (which many experts recommend as the best protection) are widely available. They’re easy to tuck into a bag, which we do now whenever we travel. 

Toiletry kit

We’ve researched dozens of travel toiletry bags and dopp kits over the past several years, and we tested 23 of the top-rated contenders in our most recent round of tests. After packing and unpacking a week’s worth of travel-size toiletries, conducting spill tests, and living out of the top performers on the road, we have a few different picks that stand out thanks to their style, packability, and quality of construction.

The Sea to Summit bag hanging open from a shower shelf.

Sea to Summit Hanging Toiletry Bag (small)

A space-saving hanging bag.

This lightweight, well-organized bag fits a week’s worth of travel-size toiletries into a compact package. It’s meant to be hung, which makes it good for tight spaces, but it doesn’t have much in the way of internal structure.

The Sea to Summit Hanging Toiletry Bag (small) is compact and durable. It’s small enough to stash in a backpack or laptop bag, but it holds enough travel-size toiletries to keep us supplied for a week. You can open it and hang it from a shower curtain or towel rod to easily see and grab your items. It comes with a shatterproof mirror, two micro-mesh zip pockets and an open pocket for toothbrushes, lip balm, and tweezers, and a large compartment for bulky lotions and hair-care items.

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L.L.Bean Personal Organizer Toiletry Bag

For more stuff and longer trips.

With a 6.4-liter capacity and over a dozen compartments, this toiletry bag has a place for everything—and everything will stay put during transit, too. It can also accommodate non-travel-size bottles.

The L.L.Bean Personal Organizer (medium) is a great option for longer trips and people who travel with full-size bottles. Its 6.4 liters of storage spread across a dozen compartments means there’s a dedicated place for pretty much everything you could want to bring on a trip—it even has a removable mesh shower caddy for shampoo and body wash. This level of organization is crucial for larger toiletry bags because, as we discovered after years of traveling with our picks, contents that aren’t securely fastened can shift around in transit, which increases the chance of spilling. The downside of all this organization is that the L.L.Bean weighs 14 ounces when empty, so it’s not ideal for carry-on travel.

If neither of these bags seems right for you, read our full review of the best toiletry bags and dopp kits to learn more about our picks and everything we tested.

Toiletry bottles

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Sea to Summit TPU Clear Zip Pouch with Bottles

These six TSA-friendly bottles are sturdy and smartly designed, dispensing liquids more precisely than any of the other bottles we tested.

For traveling with liquids in your carry-on, the Sea to Summit set is your best bet. All six bottles conform to TSA size limitations; three of them can hold 3 ounces of liquid each, and three can hold 1.5 ounces each, for a total of 13.5 ounces. Despite the set’s name, the bottles themselves are made not of thermoplastic polyurethane—“TPU" refers to the zip pouch—but a high-density polyethylene material, much like what you’d see used in most plastic milk jugs. It has an almost-smooth, semi-transparent surface just textured enough that it’s not slippery when wet. The plastic is also flexible enough that you don’t have to squeeze very hard to get your shampoo or liquid soap or whatever going. An insert at the mouth of each bottle helps regulate the flow, and the screw tops prevent liquids from leaking in transit.

Razor (faces)

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Gillette Mach3

The best manual razor for most faces.

This classic razor’s three widely spaced blades provide the best balance of speed, smoothness, and safety. Its handle is comfortable and well designed, and replacement blades can be had for a fair price.

We researched more than 100 and tested 11 manual razors for our full razor guide , concluding that the Gillette Mach3 is our top pick for manual razors. Although the three blades require a little extra time for a closer shave, it performs comparably to the latest and greatest offerings for as little as half the price.

The Gillette Mach3 provides the best balance of speed, smoothness, and safety. The Mach3’s simple, round handle is easy to grip and maneuver, and its three blades offer a close shave without over-irritating the skin or getting clogged with hair. And the price of Mach3 blades—$2 per cartridge or less, whether you buy them online or in a store—came close to, or even beat, the pricing of shave-club rivals, and the Mach3 shaved better than those competitors.

Razor (legs/body)

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Gillette Venus Smooth

The best body razor.

This classic Venus is one of the easiest razors to grip and maneuver and its three-blade design keeps the blades remarkably free of hair.

Disposable razors (both the completely disposable and replaceable-cartridge variety) are fine to take through airport security , and among them we like the Gillette Venus Original best for traveling. Although it’s now the runner-up pick in our guide to body razors —it was formerly the top pick—we believe that its simple aloe lubricating strips, which don’t become tacky when wet, make the Venus more travel friendly than our new top pick . Plus, as with any Venus, the Original’s body is compatible with any other Venus head and many heads from Gillette’s facial razors, making replacement heads easier to find when you’re on the road.

The Original’s head has three blades separated by considerable slats of space, making it far easier to clean the head between strokes. The Original is intuitive to hold and secure to maneuver, thanks to a contoured handle with corrugated chevrons of rubber. Though our testers have a wide range of hand sizes, no one found the Original difficult to grasp. Despite the significant ribbing, it doesn’t feel too bulky. Gillette claims its razors have lasted for five weeks; we think one razor for a weeklong trip should be fine.

(Know that, confusingly, the Venus appears for sale on some retail sites under the name Venus Close and Clean or Venus Smooth. It’s the same razor. If you’re unsure which Venus model you’re looking at, check for the Original’s three blades and trademark sea-foam blue color.)

Towel (packable)

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PackTowl Personal

The best all-around packable towel.

The PackTowl Personal Towel is lightweight, soft, absorbent, quick to dry, and odor-resistant.

With store pickup or REI membership (limited patterns)

We put 20 top-rated towels through a battery of tests including regular shower use, a trip to the beach, camping, and a 48-hour stay in a ziplock bag under the hot Hawaiian sun. After all was said and done, the Packtowl Personal Towel is still the best all-around travel towel for most people. In addition to being the softest lightweight towel we tested, it was more absorbent than competitors made of similar materials. It had the best odor-resisting abilities and comes with a convenient mesh carrying pouch. We also have alternate picks for ultralight and all-natural towels below.

The Personal Towel’s suede-like material was the softest of the thinner towels. The Personal Towel also had superior absorption when compared with other similarly constructed towels such as the Sea to Summit DryLite —in our tests, it absorbed 2.8 times its weight in water, while the others absorbed between 2.3 times and 2.7 times.

travel gear, travel towels

One of just two we tested that featured an added antimicrobial treatment, the Personal Towel was only a little musty smelling after 24 hours in a sealed ziplock bag, and remained unchanged at 48 hours.

If you’re looking for a budget option, consider the Rainleaf Microfiber Towel , which is a tad smaller than our other picks and is made from a seemingly lighter-feeling fabric. Unlike most budget options, it has an antibacterial coating and still managed to carry a pleasant smell after being testing in different environments.

Regardless of how you get to your final destination, it’s likely you’ll be stuck in a seat that’s less than ideal. Travel gadgets that claim to reduce this misery, such as compression socks, are popular. But when they take up precious luggage space for the duration of your trip—not just the flight or train ride–they need to be worth every cubic inch of space. The less you can make do with, the better off you’ll be.

Neck pillow

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Travelrest Nest Ultimate Memory Foam Travel Pillow

More support for most necks.

Its tall memory-foam walls let it offer more support than any other pillow we tested. It’s also shaped to sit flush against a headrest, and it compresses to a manageable size.

The uniquely angled back on the Travelrest Ultimate sets it apart from other travel pillows we tested because it can lay flat against the seat back. Most other pillows have a rounded back, which pushes your head away from the headrest. The Travelrest also has rubber grip dots to prevent slipping while sleeping. This pillow’s spongy memory foam cushions the entire circumference of your neck, preventing your head from leaning far in any direction, and its adjustable Velcro strap ensures it can fit most necks. The pillow’s cozy velour exterior is removable and machine-washable. Although it doesn’t pack flat, the Travelrest weighs less than a pound and compresses to a quarter of its size when rolled into its Velcro-strapped carrying case. Our only complaint is that the Travelrest’s high walls, though supportive, can push over-ear headphones off of the ears of people with shorter necks.

Noise-cancelling headphones

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Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

The best over-ear noise-cancelling headphones.

The Bose 700 headphones deliver excellent noise cancellation in a comfortable, lightweight design that’s traveler friendly—but they carry a high price.

The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 over-ear set has the most versatile active noise cancellation we’ve ever tested. With 10 levels of noise reduction to choose from, everyone should be able to find a setting that meets their needs. We also enjoyed the lightweight and comfortable design and the easy-to-use controls. What distinguishes the Bose 700’s ANC is the amount of adjustability it gives you: Most noise-cancelling headphones offer controls for only on/off or maybe high/low/off, but with the Bose 700 pair you can set the ANC level from 0 to 10, so you have more flexibility to dial in the ideal setting for your comfort. The 20-hour battery life, while not the best we’ve seen, is more than sufficient to get you to most destinations. We have additional options—including earbuds and surprisingly good budget options for  over-ear headphones and earbuds —in our full guide to noise-cancelling headphones .

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Mack’s Slim Fit Soft Foam Earplugs

For blocking out the most noise.

These blocked the most noise in our controlled testing and got the most votes from our subjective sleep panel.

When you’re traveling, it can be difficult to fall asleep to unfamiliar noises. That’s why we spent several hours researching new contenders and tested four top-rated models while sleeping in a house that was next to an airport in order to determine that Mack’s Ultra Soft Foam earplugs are the best earplugs  for sleeping.

The Mack’s 37.1 dB noise reduction rating was the highest among the models we tested. According to Cooper Safety , that’s enough to reduce the volume of a gas lawnmower to that of a normal conversation. What made the Mack’s earplugs so effective is the fact that we could insert them and rest assured that they would stay in the whole night. Meanwhile, the Howard Leight MAX1 might be a favorite from crowdsourced sleep-aid review site Sleep Like the Dead , but the earplugs would inevitably fall out in the middle of the night. Thus, they failed to block out the noise of planes landing and taking off throughout the night, despite the MAX1’s 33 dB noise reduction rating. The Howard Leights also made our ears ache on occasion, whereas the Mack’s has a tapered shape that was consistently comfortable night after night.

The Mack’s Slim Fit Soft Foam Earplugs cost about 20¢-35¢ per pair when purchased in a 50-pair pack. They come in a plastic case is about the size of a large coffee mug, which is small enough to toss in a large bag or suitcase. Many other ear plugs like our runner-up, the 3M’s E-A-Rsoft OCS1135 , can only be ordered in industrial-size lots that, while perhaps appealing to those who travel constantly (or run a hostel), are annoying to store and often lack a reusable container of any sort.

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Nidra Deep Rest Eye Mask

For air travelers and back-sleepers.

The lightweight and contoured Nidra mask is a light-blocking win for most face shapes, with deep eye cups that allow the wearer to blink freely and arrive feeling refreshed.

When bright lights hamper peaceful shut-eye, we recommend the light-blocking, contoured Nidra Deep Rest sleep mask. Of the 14 masks we tested , the Nidra blocked the most light on the most faces. It’s contoured to rest on your face like a pair of soft goggles, with fabric lenses that sit around your eyes (instead of directly over them). This design provides more space for your eyes to flutter during REM sleep, ensuring that you come through red-eye flights with less redness in your eyes. Makeup wearers will also appreciate that, with the Nidra’s elevated eye cups, there’s a smaller chance of smudging.

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Alaska Bear Natural Silk Sleep Mask

A flat, silk mask.

A silken exterior material, a flat design, and an adjustable strap make this mask a fit for almost any face, but it puts pressure on the eyes.

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Mzoo Sleep Mask

A smooth, contoured eye mask.

Soft, structured, and contoured, this mask stays on all night and prevents any light from seeping through

If the Nidra Deep Rest doesn’t fit your face quite right, we also recommend the Alaska Bear Natural Silk Sleep Mask and the Mzoo Sleep Mask . The Alaska Bear mask lacks contoured eyecups and thus applies some pressure to the eyes overnight like any regular eye mask does. But its flat design easily conforms to fit your face, and its silk exterior feels smooth and soft against skin (the padding is made of cotton). Its relative lack of structure makes it more difficult to knock off when you’re tossing and turning.

The Mzoo mask’s eyecups have a convex gap so your eyes can open and close. That gap is surrounded by a memory foam padding that rests on the perimeter of your eye sockets. The effect is such that you don’t feel like your eyes are being forced closed, but there is a bit of compression near your temples, eyebrows, and cheekbones. Most—though not all—of our testers found this sensation soothing. One liked how the contour of the eyecup kept the mask from brushing against their eyelashes, which makes it a good choice for people who wear eyelash extensions.

Few things are better than landing at an airport, turning on your phone, and having it just work. No hassles, no stress, no worries about brutal roaming fees. You can check in with loved ones, scope out the route to your lodgings, and maybe post an Instagram story or two—because your phone works just like it does at home. This is especially freeing, and it makes travel so much easier. (Of course, phones aren’t the only useful tech to bring: Check out our accessories reviews for guides to the best cables ( USB-C , Lightning , and Micro-USB ), Wi-Fi hotspots , Bluetooth speakers , and more.)

Unlocked mobile phone

One of the most useful gadgets for international travel is an unlocked smartphone that’s compatible with cheap, prepaid phone plans you can sign up for at your destination. Unless your carrier offers plans including high-speed data that you can access internationally (i.e., you’re with T-Mobile or Google Fi), traveling with a phone under contract with a major carrier means paying an arm and a leg for data. Being able to access data-guzzling apps like Google Maps or Google Translate on the fly is worth the hassle to unlock a phone. Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp are free, easy ways to communicate with people you meet on your trip and people from home. Plus there’s checking email, TripAdvisor, banking, social media, and so on.

travel gear, cell phone

An “unlocked” phone means you can buy prepaid SIM cards in the country you’re visiting, letting you access their local network for significantly less money than the roaming fees incurred by your home carrier. With a prepaid SIM, your phone effectively becomes a new phone with a new (now local) phone number. Instead of seeing “Verizon,” “AT&T,” or “Sprint” at the top of your phone, you might see “Vodafone,” “Yes Optus,” “M1,” or whatever provider you choose in the country you’re visiting. The first thing to check is if your phone will work where you’re going. If you’re unsure if your phone will work where you’re going, check the Wikipedia page for your phone or contact your provider.

Your phone will also require a removable SIM. (If your phone has an eSIM, as all new iPhones do, check out our blog post about those.) Most countries require a passport or other ID to buy a prepaid SIM without a contract, but switching the SIMs is easy. Most stores will do it for you while you’re there. Depending on the country/provider, this could take as long as 10 minutes but is often faster. The next question is easily the most complicated: Can you unlock your phone? Each carrier has different rules and criteria. Generally, if you have a brand new, expensive phone, they may not let you unlock it (there’s usually a waiting period after the purchase date). But if it’s a little older, or if you’ve paid it off, they probably will. The thing to remember is that a provider can deny an unlock request without giving a reason. You might be lucky, though; certain phones on certain providers are unlocked by default. Here are Verizon and AT&T’s pages on unlocking. Alternately, you can buy a pre-unlocked phone just for travel. Amazon and Best Buy, for example, sell unlocked phones. This is also a good option if you think you might lose your expensive phone and a cheaper one will suffice while you travel.

Plug adapter

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Epicka Universal Travel Adapter

Best universal travel adapter.

With four plugs that will work in most countries, plus faster-charging USB ports (and more of them) than its competitors, this adapter is the best all-around choice.

In a sea of almost-identical travel adapters, the Epicka Universal Travel Adapter stands out, combining the best of the features we look for. It contains the three most common international plugs and a US-style plug, which should cover you in the majority of countries around the world. It has the most USB ports—four of the standard USB-A and one USB-C—of any universal adapter we tested, and it charged more of our devices faster. A replaceable fuse and an included spare should take the brunt of any accidental, unfortunate, or shockingly bad connections. The Epicka is fairly compact and well built, and it even comes with an extra USB cable and a nylon case.

However, no universal travel adapter is truly universal, and they’re all a lot bulkier and more expensive than simple plug adapters. If you want the smallest adapter possible, or if you’re going someplace where a universal adapter won’t work (more on that in a minute), a plug adapter could be what you need.

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Ceptics International Worldwide Travel Plug Adapter 5 Piece Set

The best plug adapter.

Individually, these tiny plug adapters are smaller, lighter, and cheaper than any universal travel adapter. To juice up multiple devices, though, you’d need a separate multiport charger too.

The tiny plug adapters from Ceptics are barely larger than the prongs they convert. Small, simple, and cheap, they’re perfect for someone who wants to carry only the adapter they’ll need and who already has a multiport USB wall charger they like. Like our universal adapter picks, this set contains the three most common international plugs and the US plug. However, it also includes a somewhat rarer plug used in some European countries that has two thick, cylindrical prongs. This means that the Ceptics set will likely cover you in even more places—as long as you pack the appropriate plug adapter. These charts should help you find the shape you need before you order.

However, getting your gear to work in different countries isn’t quite as simple as it should be, and there’s no single solution that’s guaranteed to work for everyone. Our picks should work for you, but you may have some random piece of equipment, or be traveling to some country, for which our “good for most” picks just won’t work. (Case in point: One Wirecutter editor visited Iceland a few years back. The house she stayed in had outlets unlike anything on those charts, and the plug adapters she had used elsewhere in Reykjavik didn’t fit at all. It turns out the mystery sockets belonged to an obscure Italian system from the 1960s that was popular in Iceland for a time. Luckily, the hosts had power strips in the house that her adapters fit into.) The world is a big place, and when it comes to electricity and wall outlets, there’s a lot of variation. That’s important to keep in mind.

Whether two-prong or three-prong, an adapter just changes the shape of your plug, not anything about the electricity coming through the wires. However, this usually isn’t a problem because almost every power brick that comes with modern electronic gear is capable of accepting both the 110-volt standard used in the US and the 240-volt commonly used abroad. If your device has a power block on the cord, it likely says something like  “100-240 V ~ 50/60 Hz”—that’s the all-clear to use it without a voltage converter so long as the range covers the voltage of the country you’re visiting . This includes the vast majority of modern laptop and USB chargers.

Products without some sort of power block at the end or with a non-detachable cord—in particular, things with heating elements like hair dryers and curling irons—are more likely to need a voltage converter. Putting 220 V through a US 110 V device would be like attaching a firehose to a drinking fountain—you’re likely to blow your face off. But voltage converters are tricky devices, and most of the inexpensive ones have awful (or dishonest) reviews. Since hotels and hostels will often have hair dryers and most newer gear can do the full range of voltages, we strongly recommend that, whenever possible, you only bring items that work with a much simpler (and more reliable) adapter.

Wire/gadget organization system

Now that every device has a battery, every battery has a charger, and every charger has a cable—never mind power-plug adapters if you’re traveling abroad—the sheer quantity of accessories needed just to keep your gadgets running can take up more space than the devices themselves. And unless you organize them, you can bet on having to blindly fish them out of the least convenient spot at the bottom of your bag. Recently, our pick for carrying tech necessities, the Incase Nylon Accessory Organizer, which had been out of stock for a few years, returned to the Incase website and appears to be in stock. If you prefer mesh to easily see your contents, , we also like the Container Store Micro Mesh Pouches .

The Incase cable organizer is a poly-nylon blend, so it’s durable. It is a soft-shell bag, however, so its contents can distort the bag’s shape when it’s full. But the bag’s edges remain rigid—so the seams don’t pucker—its contents don’t fall out, and zipping and unzipping the bag is still easy. We have other picks in our full guide to bag and cable organizers , including a roll-up bag and a stylish duo of cosmetics travel pouches ; we’ll also start testing other options to replace this one.

USB battery packs

usb-battery-packs-group

A USB battery pack (also called a power bank) can keep your small electronics—from phones and cameras to tablets and more—going while you’re on the road. Although the length of your trip will determine exactly how much extra juice you’ll need to have on hand, whatever your requirements, we have a great USB battery recommendation for you. The Belkin Boost Charge Plus 10K weighs about half a pound, and its rounded edges make it easy to hold or slip into a pocket. Its USB-C Power Delivery (PD) port can charge most handheld devices and recharge itself at top speed (with the right USB-C cable and wall charger), and it can pass power to another device while being recharged from a wall outlet. It only comes in one color, but it has enough capacity to fully charge most smartphones up to three times, as well as built-in USB-C and Lightning cables that are easy to slide in and out of their holsters.

If you’re traveling for leisure, try not to get too wrapped up in technology because you might miss what you’re actually there to do: experience a new place. OneBag’s Doug Dyment said in an interview, “Wearing headphones and staring at a screen is like putting a digital wall around yourself when you’re traveling. It makes you seem unapproachable and uninterested in what’s around you.” That may be a good thing if you do truly want to be left alone, but Dyment went on to say that some of his most memorable traveling experiences were the result of just looking lost and getting help from the locals. “One minute, you’re a lost foreigner in an unfamiliar village, then someone asks if you need directions. Before you know it, you’re eating dinner with his family.”

Travel binoculars

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Athlon Optics Midas ED

The overall best binoculars.

Amazingly affordable with great optics, these binoculars have performance comparable with that of many models that cost thousands more.

Our top pick for binoculars is durable and great for near-home hikes. In hot or dusty environments that may call for a clearer optical boost, the Athlon Optics Midas ED 8×42 binoculars deliver top quality. Its focus dial offers a wide range of depths that makes it easier to see whatever it is you desire—birds, grass or darkened areas of the forest. Our recommendation comes with the assistance of a professional ornithologist who spent over 100 hours putting 17 pairs of binoculars to the test in the mountains of Southern California and the rain forests of southern Mexico.

Although the Celestron TrailSeeker ED binoculars don’t offer a clear edge-to-edge view to the same degree of the Athlon Optics Midas EDs , they’re a comparable runner-up model that’ll be lighter on your wallet if having binoculars while traveling is a must. The TrailSeekers are equipped with great light-gathering qualities, close focus, and impressive optical resolution. Or, if you’re concerned about saving space, we liked the Pentax AD 8x25 WP binoculars. While not quite as powerful as our other picks, this compact pair of binoculars is well made and easy to fit into a carry-on while traveling via plane.

Ebook reader

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Amazon Kindle (2022)

The best e-reader for most people.

Amazon’s most affordable Kindle is also its most portable, and it’s finally been upgraded with sharper text on its 6-inch screen and support for USB-C charging. Those features bring it in line with much-pricier e-readers.

The entry-level Amazon Kindle finally got an upgrade and is now our favorite e-reader , with the same crisp display and USB-C charging as the pricier Kindle Paperwhite has (and with double the storage space of the previous entry-level model). Amazon’s well-stocked ebooks store remains its biggest selling point, along with the ease of checking out library books via Libby and sending them directly to a Kindle.

Even if you don’t have time for pleasure reading on your trip, it’s worth investing in a Kindle because many major travel guides are available in fully searchable ebook formats now. Furthermore, e-texts will also work on your phone, tablet, and computer, thanks to the Kindle ecosystem.

Packable daypack

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Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Travel Day Pack

A pack that fits in your palm.

Toss this lightweight, phone-sized packable bag into your luggage or coat pocket, and you’ll never get caught without a spare bag again. If you need something to carry every day, though, we think you’ll prefer one of our more-structured picks.

Packing a stowable daypack, one that stuffs down to fit in your luggage when not in use, is a relatively small investment of space in exchange for a high return of function and flexibility. After researching dozens of packable daypacks across a spectrum of portability, features, and prices, and then packing, unpacking, loading, wearing, and drenching the top-rated finalists during multiple rounds of testing, the Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Travel Day Pack is the smallest and lightest packable backpack we recommend. Packed up, it is very discreet: nearly the size of a keychain accessory.

The bag itself is a no-frills sack made from a paper-thin siliconized Cordura nylon, which means it’s very light and water-resistant. It has reinforced stitching at stress points, allowing the Ultra-Sil to carry more weight than you would expect. That said, since this pack is made of such thin, light material, carrying large or awkwardly shaped loads is somewhat uncomfortable, especially when compared with our more structured picks.

If comfort or waterproofing is important to you, check out the alternative picks in our review of packable daypacks for travel .

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Field Notes 3-Pack Original Kraft Memo Books

For ultimate portability.

Field Notes are cheap but contain high-quality paper that earns praise from pen and stationery geeks across the web.

For writing your adventures as you travel, you can’t beat the portability, practicality, and romanticism of a pocket notebook. There’s nothing better in that category than Field Notes (three-packs available in a variety of styles and types ). These pocket-sized notebooks are widely praised for their excellent paper quality, and the Pen Addict’s Brad Dowdy tells me “Field Notes is pretty much the runaway pocket notebook champ.” Dowdy has praised it for the lack of feathering or bleedthrough with almost any pen, as well as for the light brown ruled lines, which are easier to write over than solid black. Austin Smith of Art Supply Critic told us in an email that his recommendation is “Field Notes has it, no question.” The Well-Appointed Desk has reviewed a slew of different Field Notes variants for those looking for something a bit more interesting.

travel gear, field notes

Field Notes Expedition

A weather-resistant option.

Weather-resistant Expedition Field Notes are great if you’re writing in wet conditions, but don’t get them if you don’t need them. The synthetic paper feels weird and can cause some inks to smear.

If you think you’re going to be writing in foul weather, Field Notes also has the waterproof Expedition version with pages made from a synthetic water-and-tear resistant paper. You should only get these if you really need them, because otherwise, they just feel unnaturally slick and are more prone to smearing ink. At least one user has said that the paper shows less soaking through when wet than the similar Rite in the Rain books . The one caveat is that the synthetic paper will only work with pencils and certain inks ; thankfully, the Uni-ball Jetstream RT , our pick for best pen , definitely makes the grade.

Things can go wrong while you’re traveling, both where you are and where you’re not. Though you can’t prepare for every worst-case scenario, the peace of mind that a little bit of preparation grants will allow you to focus on what’s in front of you, instead of having to worry about what could go wrong. But preparation doesn’t simply mean buying more stuff just in case; it also means making efficient use of what you already have.

good travel hiking gear

Merchant & Mills for Purl Soho Rapid Repair Kit

For the best combination of sewing tools.

The Merchant & Mills Rapid Repair Kit is the only travel kit we found that had objectively high-quality thread and scissors.

There’s nothing quite like a wardrobe malfunction to put a damper on vacation, especially when traveling with limited clothing. A good travel-size sewing kit allows you to mend a popped button or ripped seam on the fly—or even tackle more pressing issues like fixing a tent, sleeping bag, or backpack. After 15 hours of research, interviews with sewing teachers and avid home sewers, and tests of six travel and full-size kits, we found the Merchant & Mills for Purl Soho Rapid Repair Kit had by far the best tools and was the easiest to keep organized. Standard travel sewing kits usually contain mediocre thread and plastic-handled scissors that break easily. They can also be hard to keep organized (a truth we confirmed when testing six top-rated travel and full-sized kits). The Merchant & Mills set was the only one that had high-quality thread, all-metal mini scissors (don’t worry, the TSA shouldn’t stop you ), and a durable tin case (about the size of a deck of cards) to keep everything well organized.

travel gear, sewing kit

Because the sewing pins are neatly stuck into paper inside a slim envelope and the three needles are housed in a mini glass vial, this kit also limits the risk of losing a sharp object in your bags. We found the Merchant & Mills needles easier to thread than others (no need for a fussy needle threader!) and we also like the vintage-looking safety pins that come clipped together along with two small white buttons. Although this kit only comes with black and white thread, the thread is strong and there’s more of it than you’d get in a flimsier set with shorter strands of multiple colors. We do think it would be nice if the kit included a more durable measuring tape than the paper one included, but overall everything about this kit is leagues ahead of anything else we considered. We didn’t find editorial reviews for any of the kits we tested, but the Merchant & Mills rapid repair kit was recommended by several sewing bloggers and is sold in many reputable indie fabric shops.

good travel hiking gear

Repel Windproof Travel Umbrella

The best umbrella for most people.

This is a solidly built, easy-to-find umbrella that holds up in high winds. It also comes in a variety of colors.

price may vary by color or style

An umbrella you take traveling should be small, light, sturdy, and affordable. After putting in 66 hours of research and evaluating a total of 48 umbrellas across five rounds of testing (including one thunder-snowstorm), we found that the Repel Windproof Travel Umbrella is the best umbrella for most people. Its durable, nine-rib construction held up admirably against gale-force winds, and it’s as sturdy as umbrellas that sell for more than twice as much.

The Repel folds up to an 11½-inch long, 14-ounce package that fits easily into most bags and glove boxes. And it forcefully expands at a touch of a button to reveal an ample 37-inch-diameter canopy that protects your head and torso from precipitation in all but the windiest of conditions. Its lengthy, textured handle is easy to grip for hands of all sizes. We also appreciate that the Repel comes in a wide variety of colors, so it’s easier to pick yours out of a crowded umbrella bucket. Finally, despite its affordable price, it’s backed by a lifetime replacement guarantee, but only if you purchase directly from Repel and register the item under the company’s warranty.

A person holding a red Repel Easy Touch umbrella in the rain.

Packing method for clothes

While packing cubes and other organization tools are helpful for maximizing your bag’s usable space, efficient packing is also achievable without the aid of tools and compartments. One Bag’s Doug Dyment tried all manners of folding aids and compression products but was unsatisfied with their claims of compression and wrinkle prevention. Frustrated, he developed his own method of packing clothes compactly called the Bundle Method, which he’s used and perfected over several decades of traveling.

The Bundle Method involves layering your shirts and pants at opposing angles on a flat surface, then wrapping them around a small “core” parcel (e.g. a packing cube full of underwear and socks). We won’t get into details, but Dyment does on his website ; you can watch this easy-to-follow video from NBC . The resulting bundle is compact and has no sharp creases that will require ironing out later on. Additionally, Dyment explains that “the slight tension created in the fabric by the wrapping process, along with the anchoring of the resulting bundle, greatly reduces the chances of wrinkling.” You then put it in your bag and use the tie-down straps to provide just enough pressure to keep it together.

While simple to perform, this packing method isn’t something you can master in one go. It takes a bit of practice, but once you get it, it’s like riding a bike. The downside is that you can’t just leave your clothing packed and expect to be able to access your underwear without fully unpacking your clothes first. But unpacking is a good habit to get into anyway, as it allows your clothes to breathe and avoid wrinkles or mildew. Wirecutter founder and frequent traveler Brian Lam says that unpacking the moment he enters a room has a grounding effect that allows him to feel a bit more at home in a new environment.

travel gear, travel tips

If this sounds like too much of a hassle for you, you can do what we did before we found out about bundling: roll up your socks and underwear tightly and place them in packing cubes, then put your wrinkle-prone items (shirts, pants, skirts, dresses, jackets) in a garment folder—we used the Eagle Creek Pack-It Reveal Garment Folder . This is also travel guru Rob King’s preferred method of packing. Though the garment folder is not quite as space-efficient as the bundle method due to the added bulk of the folder and folding board, the plastic backboard does go a long way towards preventing wrinkles. Just be aware that if you leave your clothes in there for longer than a day, they’ll begin to develop unsightly creases that require an iron to get rid of.

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A big thank-you to the Hotel Lucia in downtown Portland, Oregon, for lending us a suite to use for the photos in this guide.

This article was edited by Ria Misra and Christine Ryan.

Meet your guide

Wirecutter Staff

Mentioned above

  • There’s more to a great in-flight personal item than being small enough to stuff under a plane seat. Here’s how to choose the right one for your travel needs. The Best Underseat Luggage and Personal-Item Bags  
  • The Cotopaxi Allpa 35L is our backpack pick for most travelers. We also have picks for other travelers, including those who want to carry a bit more. The Best Carry-On Travel Backpacks  
  • After 10 years of airport dashes and overhead-compartment stashes, the Travelpro Platinum Elite is still the suitcase we want to carry. The Best Carry-On Luggage  
  • After researching 30 models, we found that Travelpro Platinum Elite 25″ Expandable Spinner is the best suitcase for most travelers who check bags. The Best Suitcases for Checking  
  • We chose five luggage tags that will help you identify your belongings in a sea of similar suitcases. The Best Luggage Tags  
  • After researching and traveling with packing cubes for more than five years, the Eagle Creek Pack-It Reveal Cube Set is what we keep in our luggage. The Best Packing Cubes  

Further reading

good travel hiking gear

How to Sleep Well (or at Least Better) While Traveling

by Christine Ryan

Our sleep and travel editors recommend gear for coping with travel-induced insomnia, vetted through hours of testing and years of personal experience.

good travel hiking gear

The Gadgets We Bring on Every Trip

by Haley Perry

You don't have to be a digital nomad to travel like one. Here are a few gadgets and accessories to make travel as painless as possible.

road trip checklist

Road-Trip Essentials

by Eve O'Neill

We spend a lot of time driving each year, and this is our list of essential road-trip gear to include in your packing list.

Hundreds of people waiting in a congested airport security check area.

Air Travel Is Chaos. This Gear Will Help Get You Through the Exasperating Delays.

by Elissa Sanci

These things don’t make your flight take off any faster, but they can make the wait a little more tolerable.

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I Trek Hundreds of Miles Every Year, and These Are the 15 Spring Hiking Gear Items I'm Adding to My Collection

They're going to be worth every penny.

Travel Leisure / Daisy Rodriguez

While many people started hiking during the pandemic, I’ve been hitting the trails ever since I was a toddler . Granted, back then I was in a backpack on my dad’s shoulders. He was basically my Uber for the great outdoors — until it was time to kick me out so my baby brother could get a lift. More than 30 years later, I’m still logging hundreds of miles annually . In the last 12 months alone I’ve hiked in Colorado, the Canary Islands, Norway, the Philippines, South Africa, and Tuscany. However, these days, there are no free rides, and I’m responsible for tying my own laces, something that I still haven’t mastered (more on that below), and packing my own bag. 

Fortunately, I’ve been working part-time as a product tester since 2014. Because I live in Montana and spend so much time outdoors as a travel writer, I specialize in hiking and camping gear. Not only do brands send me samples to test, but if I sign an NDA, I often get a first look at products before they’re released to the public. Do I ever get duds? You bet. But after 10 years in this business, I’m pretty good at dodging them. 

My next hiking trip is to Orlando, Florida, where I'll be happy to bust the myth that treks require elevation gains, followed by two weeks in Australia; I’ll hike the Scenic Rim , mountainous remnants of an ancient volcano. Below are the 15 products that I plan on picking up and packing for these treks, and more importantly, highly recommend that you invest in for the upcoming hiking season. Finally, if you run into Bigfoot out on the trails, tell him that I want my Ray-Bans back; I lost them while trekking in Glacier National Park, and my gut says that he’s got ‘em. 

Trekology Trekking Poles Collapsible Nordic Hiking Poles

I used to think that using trekking poles was a sign of weakness. Then I took a trip to Antarctica, where they were required for hiking on the ice, and I realized just how much they help. What’s great about these specific poles is the fact they have cork grips, which absorb sweat. They also collapse down to just 15 inches, and despite being made with aircraft-grade aluminum, each pole only weighs 11.5 ounces. Unlike previous poles that I’ve owned, this set comes with a carrying case and four different tip styles for specific terrains. More than 70 percent of Amazon shoppers have given them a five-star rating, and they’re so popular that more than 3,000 sets were sold in the last month, according to the retailer. 

“These poles made the journey of a lifetime possible for us,” wrote one reviewer , who got them for their wife to use on a trip to Europe. “I watched her navigate with them for two hours on the streets of Pompeii." The shopper continued, "The poles helped her balance as she picked her way across the randomly-sized cave stones the Romans used to pave their streets 2,000 years ago.”

Cherainti Leak-Proof Hydration Bladder 

I love my stainless steel Yeti Rambler , but when I need hands-free hydration, I hike with this top-selling (Amazon notes that more than 3,000 were bought in the last month) lightweight leak-proof bladder. It’s compatible with most backpacks that have hydration sleeves and hang loops, including my Cotopaxi Inca 26L . But unlike other hydration bladders, this one boasts an extra-large opening, which means that I can fit ice cubes in it, and it’s not awkward to clean. The mouthpiece is easy to use, water flows freely when you bite down, and it comes with a cover to keep dirt out.

Out of all of the 1,000-plus five-star reviews, I can relate to this one left by a shopper who bought theirs for conquering Mt. Rainier. “I won’t hike without it now,” they wrote . “It's so convenient to be able to take sips of water every time you take a minute to breathe on a hard hike.” 

Slson Collapsible Pet Bowls

My dog also gets thirsty, so we never hike without these convenient collapsible bowls. They have nearly 22,000 five-star ratings, and are ranked no. 2 on Amazon’s list of best-sellers in dog travel bowls . I love that they come with carabiners so I can clip them to the outside of my backpack or the end of my dog’s leash. Currently, they come in 14 different color combinations and two sizes. My leonberger weighs more than me, so I got the large versions , which cost $14. And because they’re made with silicone, these bowls are dishwasher-safe and extremely durable.

“We have had them for about two years and they have held up well over time,” one pet owner happily shared . “No cracking or splitting of the rubber.” 

Nocs Provisions Standard Issue 8x25 Waterproof Binoculars

While working on a 2024 gear guide for National Geographic , I tested these ultra-compact binoculars (i.e. ideal for hiking) that have been deemed the “ best for beginners ” by Travel + Leisure editors. I thought all optics had to be black, but boy was I wrong. I love that Nocs come in cool colors like Glacial Blue and Cyprus, and that they have ridges, which give them a unique look and make them easier to grip. Plus, thanks to the adjustable eye cups, I can wear them with my sunglasses or glasses, something that I can’t comfortably do with other models that I’ve looked at. They’re also so waterproof that they can be submerged in 3 feet of water for up to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, the lenses are fog-proof and feature an anti-scratch, anti-reflection coating.

According to one REI shopper, who bought the binoculars for an upcoming Alaskan cruise and has been using them on treks around Colorado and Utah, "They're great quality, feel really durable, and they're still compact enough to not take up too much room in my hiking pack." They also added, "You can also take zoomed pics through the lens with your phone." 

Baleaf Women's Hiking Pants

I used to only hike in shorts. But after trekking to see the mountain gorillas in Rwanda, where my legs were susceptible to stinging nettles and fire ants (among other horrors), I became a big fan of hiking pants. This best-selling pair by Baleaf has racked up more than 9,100 five-star ratings at Amazon, and they’re not only waterproof, but their polyester spandex blend is water-resistant and quick-drying. It also offers UPF 50+ protection from the sun, and like my favorite Lululemon leggings , they offer four-way stretch. Despite being so affordable, these pants are packed with features like four zippered pockets, an adjustable drawstring waist, and even tapered legs with bungee cords so you can wear them as capris. 

“They were super comfortable, regardless of how cold (as low as 2 degrees Fahrenheit) or how hot (75 degrees Fahrenheit) [it was],” wrote a traveler , who purchased theirs for a three-week backpacking trip in New Zealand. And despite hiking 100 miles, they never experienced any chafing. 

Pike Trail Pocket Blanket 

I love hiking to the ice caves in Montana’s Snowy Mountains. However, every time I summit, I regret not bringing a blanket to sit on, especially when the ground is wet. This year, I’m going to come prepared and pack this waterproof Pike Trail blanket. Unlike my Rumpl Puffy , this little guy is pocket-sized and weighs just 6.9 ounces (the Rumpl weighs 2 pounds.) Unfolded, it’s an impressive 56 inches by 60 inches, and it’s easy to stake down thanks to loops and corner pockets, which I can stuff with rocks or sand. Because this blanket is made with extra strong, ripstop nylon, it won't suffer any punctures from sticks or rocks. I also like that the stuff sack has a carabiner attached so I can clip it to the outside of my pack. 

But, don’t just take it from me. One shopper noted that "this was probably one of the most useful pieces of equipment on our three-day backpacking trip. After trekking through miles of mud, and no open grassy spot in sight, we threw this down over some brush and tall grass to sit, rest and eat lunch right off the trail." They also noted that it's "highly durable, lightweight and waterproof. Also, it's great to sit outside of the tent door to put hiking shoes and wet clothes." 

Keen Women’s Targhee 2 Mid-Height Waterproof Hiking Boots 

Recently, I finally retired the Merrell hiking boots that I’ve been rocking since 2008 . I’m still a Merrell fan, but I replaced them with this popular pair from Keen for their rounded toe boxes (I inherited my dad’s wide feet). I haven’t put many miles on them yet, but I feel good knowing that they have nearly 4,000 five-star ratings. Plus my mom, who has plantar fasciitis, sings their praises every time she wears hers. I’m most excited about the all-terrain rubber traction and the fact each boot weighs just 14 ounces (i.e. they won't be too heavy to pack). 

One shopper even brought theirs on a trip to Central Europe and wrote, “They are very comfortable for hiking straight up a cliff to a castle, and came up a bit higher around my ankle, so when I stepped in puddles, the water did not splash into the shoes.” 

Salomon Speedcross 5 Trail-Running Shoes

George W. Bush was president when the first Salomon Speedcrosses debuted. Today, the brand sells more than 1 million pairs annually (that’s just in Europe), and has a celebrity fanbase that includes Bella Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski, and Kendall Jenner. These shoes are great for trail running and hikes where you want something really lightweight. Personally, I love them because they boast Salomon’s signature Quicklace System . Almost every time that I’ve tripped while hiking (and it happens at least once a year) has been on my own shoelaces. Unlike previous iterations, the Speedcross 5s have taller profiles for more ankle support and bigger lugs on the outsoles for extra grip. 

“They worked supremely well with zero break-in needed,” said a traveler , who got theirs for a trip to Iceland. “I had no problems, whether walking downhill on loose gravel or through slippery rocky paths near waterfalls. I appreciated the ease [with] which they slipped on/off too.”

Osprey Women's Aura AG 65 Pack

After testing dozens of backpack brands, I’ve come to the conclusion that Osprey is the Apple of backpacks. Yes, it’s expensive, but you get what you pay for in terms of usability and durability. The Aura AG 65 originally caught my eye because it has so many exterior pockets — eight to be exact — that provide easy access to my essentials. I hate having to stop and dig through my pack’s main compartment every time that I need sunscreen, snacks, etc. In particular, the two zippered hip-belt pockets, where I stash my phone and lip balm, are total game-changers. This pack also stands out because it has a women’s specific fit (the Atmos AG is the men’s version), and almost every feature is adjustable so you can mold it to your body and what you’re wearing that day. 

Like other packs that I’ve tested, it comes with a rain cover, trekking pole attachments, and a separate sleeping bag compartment. But unlike other packs, it has a safety whistle on the sternum strap. It’s a small detail, but it could save a life. They earned a stamp of approval from a traveler, who successfully lived out of their Aura AG 65 on a week-long backpacking trip in Yosemite: “On the trail, it was hands-down the most comfortable pack I’ve ever worn." 

REI Co-op Women's Traverse 32 Pack

Of course, not every hike calls for 65 liters of space. For shorter hikes, I want to try this 32-liter backpack, which is described as a “well-organized workhorse" on the REI site. Like the Osprey pack, it has an internal frame, a rain cover, and exterior pockets (six). But, it has a zipper on the side for easy access to the main compartment, meaning that it opens more like a duffel bag, so you don’t have to dig to the bottom of the bag to find what you’re looking for. I also like that the water bottle pockets are slanted, which makes it easier to get a larger bottle like a HydroFlask out. That said, this pack has a hydration port and tube routing if you want to use a bladder with it.

“​​It ticks all the boxes on my ‘must have list’ and has introduced me to a few new ‘must-haves,’ like the side zipper,” wrote a Boulder-based hiker. Another shopper, who wore theirs while hiking to Everest Base Camp, found that they “love how it distributes weight to the hips.”

Kühl Women's Freeflex Cargo Short

It’s no secret that Kühl makes some of the world’s warmest jackets (I’m a big fan of its Ukon Down Parka ), but after reading TL's list of 2024’s Best Hiking Shorts for Women , I decided that I have to try the brand’s regular apparel, too. With their oversized side pockets and rear pockets — all snap closure — the Kühl Cargo Shorts are well-deserving of their "Best Pockets" title. The lightweight polyester that they're made with is moisture-wicking and offers UPF 50+ sun protection. And there’s an internal drawcord, so you can adjust the waistband. The only thing that I’d change about these shorts is their 10-inch inseam (I like my shorts shorter), but shoppers seem to love it.

“I've been wearing them multiple days a week,” one REI shopper said. “They're roomy and comfortable without being baggy. The fabric is soft and dries quickly. They never feel hot or sticky, even in the humidity.”

Patagonia Women's Storm Racer Jacket

Patagonia just announced its Fall 2024 line, and for hiking, I’m most excited about this new ultralight rain jacket. At 6.3 ounces, it weighs half as much as Patagonia’s best-selling Boulder Fork Rain Jacket , which I tested for National Geographic earlier this year. While there are a lot of travel-friendly rain jackets out there, this one is not only packable (it stuffs into its chest pocket), but it’s also designed for performance. Why is that important? I sweat a lot when I hike, so I need breathable layers made for movement. And unlike most affordable rain jackets , which are made with cheaper materials under questionable circumstances, the Storm Racer is made of a 100 percent recycled nylon ripstop in a Fair Trade Certified factory. 

Smartwool Performance Hike Light Cushion Crew Socks 

I didn’t start getting hiking-specific socks until I was an adult, but trust me: they’re worth it. Unlike regular socks that you can buy for $3 a pair, these Smartwool socks are packed with features that your feet will appreciate, whether you’re hiking 2 miles or 10 miles. They have built-in cushioning, so they’re extra comfy and prevent blisters, and reinforced durability zones that make it nearly impossible to tear holes in the heels. I also love the seamless toe design and the fact that these socks are made with sustainably-sourced merino wool. The fabric is ultra moisture-wicking (humid conditions can lead to fungus and athlete’s foot) and naturally antimicrobial. That’s why Smartwool socks earned a spot in TL's roundup of the 14 Best Hiking Socks of 2024 . 

The brand always usually appears on lists of podiatrist-approved socks. As for consumers, 93 percent of REI shoppers would buy them again. They're “the best socks,” according to a shopper who wears them on all-day hikes. 

Lululemon Everywhere Belt Bag 

If I’m just going out for a mile or two, I carry my water bottle in my hand and my wallet, keys, and phone in my beloved Lululemon Everywhere Belt Bag. From the steamy jungles of Thailand to the saguaro tree-lined deserts of Tucson, this little legend has served me well in some pretty extreme environments. Like all of Lululemon’s best-selling belt bags , it’s versatile and can be worn crossbody style for hands-free convenience. It’s also made with water-repellent fabric, so I never panic if I get caught in a storm. Plus, the main pocket is big enough to hold my phone, wallet, snacks, and sunscreen, and the zippered back pocket is perfect for a credit card, my car keys, and other valuables. 

While it’s been known to sell out, the original Lululemon Everywhere Belt Bag is currently available in 14 colors. More importantly, it has 18,600 five-star ratings. One shopper, who bought theirs for a hike in Acadia National Park, was impressed by how much it could hold. In one word, they described it as “perfect.” 

Lululemon Fleece + Ripstop Hiking Pullover

In 2022, Christmas came in July when Lululemon debuted its first-ever hiking collection (something that I pushed for while I worked for the brand as a store educator). One of my favorite pieces is this cozy pullover. For starters, I love that it’s made out of repurposed waste. Who knew that plastic bottles could be transformed into super-soft polar fleece? I also appreciate the large kangaroo pocket, which keeps my hands warm and features a hidden sleeve for my iPhone. I stash other small valuables in the zippered chest pocket. While this top is slightly cropped, my midriff never gets cold because there’s a shock cord at the waist that keeps drafts out. 

“The perfect hiking companion,” proclaimed one shopper, who described it as “particularly chic” and loved its texture, functionality, and style. 

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Home » Gear » Best Backpacks for Hiking

The 12 Best Hiking Backpacks: The COMPLETE Roundup for 2024

Whether you are heading to the mountains for a quick hike or for weeks at a time, you need to make sure you have the right gear.

I’ve been hiking for nearly ten years and have tried out over a dozen awesome hiking packs… This is why I wrote this article on the best backpacks for hiking and adventuring to help you find your soul-pack.

Trekking is one of my favorite past-times when travelling. To me, getting out of the city and into the woods or mountains is crucial. It helps reset my batteries and feel connected to nature. Plus, it’s free! As a broke backpacker, I spend a lot of my time camping out and hiking in the mountains.

I have a sneaking suspicion you feel the same way   🙂

But unfortunately, choosing the best backpack for hiking isn’t easy…

The internet is flooded with outdoor brands, all of which claim to make the ‘best’ hiking packs. And some of the options on the market are rubbish. 

As a ten-year world traveler and experienced hiker, I’ve personally tried every one of the hiking backpacks in this post on different hikes and expeditions.

In this article, I assess the best hiking packs for  you . I lay out my top picks for my favorite hiking backpacks, and I’ll introduce you to my favourite outdoor gear company.

With the help of this article, you’ll know exactly what to look for when picking out the best backpack for your hiking adventures…

These are my top hiking backpack recommendations. Let’s dive in.

Quick Answer: What Are The Best Hiking Packs?

Buying guide: how to choose the right hiking backpack, rounding up the best backpacks for hiking, more great hiking backpacks, how we tested to find the best hiking backpacks, faq about the best backpacks for hiking, conclusion: so, what is the best hiking backpack.

In the market for one of the best backpacking packs of 2024? Here are our top recommendations:

  • Osprey Airscape UNLTD – Best Overall Hiking Backpack
  • Osprey Aether / Ariel – Best Hiking Backpack For Long Trips
  • Osprey Exos 58 – Best Ultralight Hiking Backpack
  • Deuter Speed Lite 21 – Best Small Hiking Backpack

Kodiak Kobuk – Best Leather Hiking Backpack

  • The Adventure Pack – Freshest Daypack For Hiking
  • Deuter Air Contact – Best Backpack for Backpacking Long-Term
  • WANDRD PRVKE 31 – Best Hiking Backpack For Photographers
  • Nomatic Travel Backpack – Best Hiking Backpack for Travelers on Brief Trips
  • Beta Light 30L Backpack – Best Hiking Backpack for comfort

Osprey UNLTD AirScape 68 Pack - Women's

Osprey Airscape UNLTD

> $$$$$ > Uses ground breaking 3d tech > Comfortable and versatile

Osprey Ariel 55 Pack - Women's

Osprey Aether/Ariel

> $$ > Weather-resistant materials > Plenty of storage

Osprey EXOS 58

Osprey Exos 58

> $$ > Ultra light material > Minimalist

Kodiak Kobuk

KODIAK KOBUK

> $$ > Lovely quality leather > Stylish and versatile

The Stubble & Co adventure bag

STUBBLE & CO ADVENTURE PACK

> $$ > Lightweight and ergonomic > Mad from recycled plastic

Deuter Aircontact Core 65 + 10 Pack - Men's

Deuter Air Contact

> $$ > Super comfortable > Comes with a detachable rain cover

REI Co-op Traverse 32 Pack - Men's

REI Co-op Traverse 32 Pack – Men’s

> $ > Plenty of pockets for storage > Built-in rain cover

Deuter Speed Lite 21 Pack

Deuter Speed Lite 21

> $ > Four exterior pockets > Comfortable padded back

Nomatic Travel Pack

Nomatic Travel Bag

> $$$ > Very light and very efficient > Tough and comfortable

backpacking backpack comfort

The Broke Backpacker is supported by you . Clicking through our links may earn us a small affiliate commission, and that's what allows us to keep producing free content 🙂 Learn more .

You may be wondering how exactly it is we compare backpacks. How can you identify which backpack is best for you and how exactly do you choose the right backpack for your hiking trip? Well, in our view the most important factor when choosing a hiking backpack is to pick something that is comfortable.

If you are carrying a heavy load in your pack you will definitely 100% need a hip belt so that you can take the majority of the weight onto your hips rather than having it hanging off your shoulders and straining your back.

I’ve carried 20kg over eighteen days for hundreds of kilometers relatively comfortably as I had picked a backpacking backpack with a really well-designed, well-padded, back and hip belt. In my opinion, the most comfortable hiking pack is going to have a ventilated back, a thick and comfortable hip belt, and the ability to adjust in several places.

Next…

You get what you pay for

I’ll level with you right now – the more you spend, the better a hiking backpack you will get.

Quality hiking backpacks are not cheap and whilst there are some good value options on the market, it’s best to think of this purchase as an investment. I recommend spending a bit more so that you can buy a hiking backpack with a lifetime guarantee – that way you can be sure it will last forever!

In my opinion, it’s worth spending the extra money and choosing an Osprey hiking pack as that way your backpack will be covered by Osprey’s almighty guarantee – meaning they will repair or replace it, no matter what happens. However, note that there are some exceptions to the All-Mighty Guarantee. They will not fix airline damage, accidental damage, hard use, wear & tear, or damp-related damage. Still, it’s a lot better than most guarantees on the market.

Go for something lightweight

hiker on a misty mountain

You want your backpack to be as lightweight as possible whilst still being incredibly tough and durable. I once had an ultralight backpacking pack but it broke pretty quickly as it just couldn’t stand the wear and tear of being thrown around.

The best backpacking backpacks are lightweight anyway so this isn’t such a big concern. If this is a big concern for you, choose a daypack for hiking instead.

You want a tough backpack for backpacking

You want to choose a rough and tough pack that can take a beating and still come out smiling. These days, most backpacks are tough but you want to find something that is also water-resistant to keep your stuff from getting soaked during sudden downpours.

No matter how tough your pack is it will eventually get damaged if you use it constantly – I live out of my backpack – so again, try to pick a hiking backpack with a lifetime warranty.

Check out our list of awesome water-proof backpacks.

Internal frame backpacks are best

I always recommend going for a backpack with an internal frame. The best backpacks for hiking have rods that support them built into the bag instead of outside of it, which makes it super practical and easy to carry.

External frames make your bag heavier and, believe me when you are hiking in the wild, the last thing you want is a bulky, complicated backpacking backpack to slow you down. Pack light and you won’t need a big frame!

Volume is key

Osprey Ariel 60

Contrary to popular belief: go small or go home. It doesn’t matter if you think you are a light packer, if you carry around a big backpack, chances are it is going to be filled eventually with tons of stuff you don’t actually need.

Choosing a more minimalist backpack will help you to economize space and keep your luggage light.

Material can make or break…

If you are into hiking, you should know that, eventually, you will need to face the elements. Rain, heat, or even snow, everything can happen when you are out there in the wilderness.

Therefore, choosing the right material is crucial when you are planning to buy one of the best backpacks for hiking.

Light and resistant materials like Dyneema are ideal, especially because this fabric is water-resistant. It can be more pricey than other fabrics like nylon, but it is worth the investment, I promise!

The sexy-factor!

Best backpacks for hiking

If you are already putting some money into one of the best backpacks for hiking out there, at least you want to make you that it looks good on you. There are plenty of options regarding color and style, so choose one that makes you feel sexy… Well, as sexy as you can feel in the middle of a muddy jungle! Let’s be honest, the best hiking bag looks good whilst performing too!

#1 Osprey Airscape UNLTD – Best Overall Hiking Backpack

Osprey UNLTD AirScape 68 Pack - Women's

Price: $700

The Osprey Airscape is one of two spanking hiking packs launched by the world’s leading backpack brands as part of its UNLTD series. It has risen to become one of the best backpacks for hiking that the world has yet seen from one of the best hiking backpack brands that the world will ever know.

The Airscape UNLTD is a 68-liter hiking and travel backpack that utilizes cutting-edge, 3D printing technology to create an ultra-comfy, supportive, and breathable lumbar, back support.

Aiden and the Osprey Airscape

Whilst there are too many little features to list in this section (read on for the full run down), another major bonus is the 8l top lid that converts to an 18l day pack which brings a whole new dimension to the pack. 

Alas, the Osprey Airscape UNLTD also comes with a hefty $700 price tag which by far makes it the most expensive backpack that I have ever come across. Whether it is really worth that amount of money is of course debatable but what we can say is that this is by far the most comfortable hiking backpack that we have ever tried – it feels absolutely amazing.

I absolutely bloody loved how comfortable this pack feels and part of that was just how adjustable almost every section is. With all the different straps and clips I could easily make this pack fit my body shape with ease. Another feature I loved was how the pack sat on my back once properly adjusted. Basically this meant even more comfort as the weight was now evenly distributed across your body rather than on your shoulders alone.

I s the Osprey Airscape UNLTD for you?

This is a highly innovative and unique backpack that excels when used for hiking and trekking. The only downside is the hefty price tag which will deter a lot of would-be users and there are other packs on this list that are a third of the price. But, if you are in the market for a high-end piece of gear then this may well be the pack for you and it’s why we’ve rated it as the best backpack for hiking. Me and my girlfriend both used these packs and both agreed they were the best feeling packs we ever tried.

good travel hiking gear

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#2 Osprey Aether / Ariel – Best Hiking Backpack For Big Trips

Osprey Ariel 55 Pack - Women's

“Compact and easy to carry”

Price: $300

We swear by Osprey backpacks. They simply make the best backpacks around – period. They consistently put out some of the best bags on the market, and the Aether (for men) and the Ariel (for the ladies) are two of Osprey’s flagship backpacking backpacks. Both myself and TBB founder Will use this pack when go backpacking and several of our team members have also used this model in the past.

The Aether/Ariel has all the advantages of every Osprey pack (all-mighty guarantee, durability, comfort), which makes it a fantastic pack and it’s just another reason we’ve rated them/it as the best hiking backpack for longer trips.

This is a full-sized backpacking/trekking pack and is NOT suitable for short hikes or overnight trips. Only plump for this pack if you are going on a proper hiking trip and need to bring camping gear.

osprey aether 70

For men – the Aether 85 pack is better if you prefer to carry some extra gear on your trekking trips, but 95% of the time I could easily get away with the space in the Aether 70l backpack on my hikes.

If you prefer something a bit smaller, check out the Osprey Talon 33 , or for the ladies, check out the Osprey Sirrus 36.

But there’s more…

Additionally, the Aether and Ariel have plenty of pockets and compartments to keep things extra organized and an AirScape ventilated back panel to keep you cool on the warmest adventures.

If you are going to be camping out and need to carry a tent and a lot of gear, you will need a decent camping backpack and the Osprey Aether will not disappoint. It has a sleeping bag compartment (which I personally use for shoe), and a generous top lid. You can fit a lot of gear into this baby, and attach even more to the outside and still come out smiling as the Osprey Aether is one of the most comfortable big backpacks on the market.

We just love how light and comfortable this pack felt for the sheer amount of gear that it can fit inside. The padded shoulders, thick hip belt, and adjustable fit it was perfect for several members of our team without much extra effort.

  • Check out our in-depth review of the Aether here. 
  • Check out our in-depth review of the Ariel here.

Is the Osprey Aether/Ariel for you?

Osprey has been my go-to for years, and for good reason. Their durability and design make their bags perfect for hiking or traveling, and most importantly they are super comfortable. The Osprey Aether is my highest recommendation. Be careful on Amazon, a lot of the Aether’s are overpriced. The links below are the latest price on Aether bags for 2024.

#3 Osprey Exos 58 – Best Ultralight Hiking Backpack

Osprey EXOS 58

“Ultralight backpack with excellent comfort and carrying capacity “

Price: $260

If you are in the market for an ultralight, versatile, no-bullshit backpack for backpacking or your next hiking trip or long-term travel adventure, look no further than the Osprey Exos 58 – one of the best Osprey backpacks around!

This is technically a minimalist backpack, weighing in at just 2.7 pounds. However, I would say it is on the larger side of the spectrum for the category. It does not have all of the bells and whistles nor the weight of a hiking pack that weighs 2 or 3 times its size.

We love the light wire alloy frame that offers great support even when carrying loads up to 40 pounds. The AirSpeed 3-D tensioned mesh back panel also kept our back cool and sweat free – there are a solid 5 inches of air space between where your back sits and the frame of the backpack! Say goodbye to the swamp-back blues!

On the side of the backpack, you have dual access stretch mesh side pockets for storing water bottles and other backpacking gear with compression straps. At the bottom area of the Exos 58, you can attach your sleeping pad or tent using more compression straps. These straps are removable in case you are really counting ounces.

And, of course, the backpack comes with the Osprey lifetime guarantee, which is part of the reason my love of Osprey backpacks is so strong!

For a bag that will fit two weeks’ worth of clothes, equipment, and supplies, check out the Osprey Volt 60 – just as light but definitely more spacious, it’s another great hiking option. To find out even more about this awesome pack, check out our in-depth backpack  review of the Osprey Exos 58 .

Is the Osprey Exos 58 for you?

A bit smaller and with fewer features than the Aether 70, the Exos 58 is the perfect backpack for someone who likes to hike quick and light. Also, you just can’t beat that lifetime guarantee!  The button below has a link to the latest price on REI. 

A similar bag you might want to check out is the Near Zero Dean Backpack at 50l, it’s a great hiking pack.

Kodiak Kobuk Best Leather Hiking Backpack

Price: $279

The Kobuk is a versatile and stylish back that is equally at home on the street or out in the woods. It’s fully loaded with convenient features and high-quality workmanship making it a worthy choice to take camping or hiking. 

The roll-top opening allows you to utilize extra liters of storage capacity or buckle it down for a compact traveling companion. It has plenty of capacity for all your hiking gear, a hip belt to help spread the weight and the robust leather is waterproof enough to withstand a good rain shower. All in all, it certainly has the durability and storage capacity to work on your next camping trip. 

When it’s time to get to work, the laptop and phone pockets make commutes easier and prove that one bag really can get you through the week and the weekends, and there are even two water bottle pockets.

Is the Kodiak Kobuk for you?

Whilst leather is not obvious to use as a hiking pack, this one is certainly the best hiking bag made from leather that we have tried. It does the job admirably and has the advantage of being versatile enough to take to work, traveling, the gym, or on a hike.

We loved how stylish and elegant this bag looks, whilst still being super functional in day-to-day use. We also love that although the pack wasn’t just for hiking, but it felt super versatile and could be used anywhere from the trails to commuting to and from the office.

#4 Stubble & Co Adventure Pack – Freshest New Hiking Pack

Stubble & Co Adventure Pack the Freshest New Hiking Pack

Price: $239

Now let us introduce this innovative, super uber cool, brand new to-the-market hiking daypack from the good people at Stubble & Co. We love this pack because it’s tough, durable, and also highly functional. It is designed to be a go-anywhere, do-anything bag that is equally adept when out hiking in the woods, hitting the gym, or undertaking the daily hell that is the wretched commute to work! .

The Adventure Bag is built to last but is also made from recycled plastic giving up some much welcome eco cred. It’s lightweight and compact and can be used as a carry-on for flights. It boasts a 16′ laptop compartment, a shoe compartment, a bottle pocket, an on-the-go card pocket, compression straps and nice to the touch grab handles. For hikes, there is a waist strap and other adjustable sternum straps to make it nice and comfy plus a soft padded back panel.

All in all, it’s 42 liters of adventure-ready baggy goodness. For this reason I use it for carry-on trips and weekend breaks rather than for hiking but it feels like it would work very well on a hike. Our writer Nic agreed too agreed too -she felt the 42l of storage was a good mid-ground allowing her to pack all gear for her trip without overpacking or carting too much weight. We both also loved the hidden passport pocket too which made it ideal for backpacking as well as hiking.

#5 Deuter Air Contact – Best Backpack for Backpacking Long-Term

Deuter Aircontact Core 65 + 10 Pack - Men's

Price: $250

Ok, so this is not a super light backpack, however, it made it to the list because it is super comfortable (maybe even one of the most comfortable hiking packs in existence) and well-built for longer hikes.

The shoulder straps and waist belt feel supportive but soft making them perfect for carrying heavy loads. The ventilation system kept us cool and fresh in a variety of different weather types. All in this is one of the best multi-day backpacks we laid hands on yet.

The Deuter Air comes with a detachable rain cover that will keep all your belongings dry and dual-zippered cargo pockets that are super resistant.

I recommend this pack for long trekking trips or for people who like to carry a lot of stuff but don’t want to splash out on the Osprey Aether. The Deuter Air offers great value for your money and is the best budget backpack in this size category, plus it’s tough as nails and can take a beating on any adventure.

Is the Deuter Air Contact for you?

If you are a dedicated camper, who loves epic hiking – meet your soul match. While it is a bit on the heavy side, Deuter’s durability and comfort can’t be matched and will pay for itself many times over.

Our team mirrored those feelings and for them, one of their main points of feedback was just how tough and durable this pack felt. The quality of the sewing, the thickness of the material, and the general workmanship that went into it were well worth the extra weight.

If you want to learn more about this bag , be sure to read our review of the Dueter Air Contact.

#6 REI Co-op Traverse 32 Pack – Men’s – Best Budget Hiking Backpack

REI Co-op Traverse 32 Pack - Men's

“The go-to backpack for short hikes”

Price: $139

I’ve been using my REI Traverse for a while now as my go-to ultralight backpack for day hikes.

It’s one hell of a pack and is the best budget hiking backpack I’ve come across. It’s pretty cheap considering the quality and it has plenty of pockets for storage, a padded hip belt, a supportive yet breathable back panel, and a built-in rain cover.

It’s the best 35L backpack around and is good for day hikes or ultralight hiking weekends rather than long trekking expeditions where you have to carry tents and food. It’s hands down one of the best backpacks for hiking at the weekend…

Need a bit more space? Have a look at the larger Rei Flash 55 Backpack .

Is the REI Co-op Traverse for you?

Are you looking for a light bag for quick weekend hikes? The Traverse might be your soul bag. Not good for epic camping trips, the quality of REI products has made them one of my go-to’s for years for both traveling and hiking. And, the price is nice and lean!

#7 Deuter Speed Lite 21 – Best Small Hiking Backpack

Deuter Speed Lite 21 Pack

“Perfect for adventure racing, sports climbing, or trekking tours”

If you are heading into the hills for a simple day hike then you can probably get away with a small hiking backpack and the Deuter Speed Lite is that pack – the best backpacking pack for hiking over short distances.

Designed with endurance athletes in mind, this is a great ultralight backpack, weighing just over 1lbs and is one of the best value small hiking backpacks on the market.

The Deuter Speed Lite 21L hiking pack boasts four exterior pockets so there’s plenty of storage as well as a detachable hip belt and a comfortable padded back with an air-escape feature meaning air can get between you are the back of your pack – this will keep you cool and stop you getting sweaty.

This is the best value backpack in this size.

Is the Deuter Speed Lite for you?

Our team loved the smaller size of this pack and felt it was the ideal accompaniment for those wanting a minimalist hiking experience. The lightweight pack however didn’t skimp on comfort and instead produced a pack that the team felt really made their adventures super enjoyable and most importantly didn’t get in the way of their trek.

Not ideal for camping or longer hikes, if you are looking for a well-priced super light backpack for hiking, it’s hard to beat the Deuter Speed Lite.

#8 Nomatic Travel Bag – Best Carry-on For Hiking

Nomatic Travel Pack the Best Carry on For Hiking

Price: $340

Looking for a backpack for your upcoming vacation and planning on doing a little hiking along the way? Don’t want to lug around a 60 or 70-liter dedicated-hiking backpack while you’re at it?

We understand that not everyone wants to carry a cumbersome hiking backpack on their trip abroad; at the same time, we get that people don’t want to be limited to overly-specialized packs.

Luckily the Nomatic Travel Backpack is a superlatively well-rounded backpack that can handle all kinds of different scenarios. Many people remark that the Nomatic is the very best travel backpack around and we tend to agree with this statement.

The Nomatic Backpack is great because it is very light and very efficient. It uses every little bit of space possible and gets massive points for its organizational qualities. Seriously, this backpack gets pretty creative in terms of ergonomics and you can store a lot of different items in this bad boy.

The Nomatic is tough and comfortable enough to handle some hiking and many people have actually taken it on the trail with them. There’s certainly enough space for some day trip items, like a water bottle and a basic first aid kit, though you’ll obviously want to leave the bulk of your items back at the hotel.

Let it be said though that this is not a backpack for backpacking anywhere overly-rugged, nor is it a backpack for backpacking long term in Southeast Asia or elsewhere for that matter. The Nomatic is just too small and wasn’t designed for these kinds of adventures. It’s not the best backpack for hiking by any stretch but it can be adapted.

For more information on the Nomatic Travel Bag, check out our in-depth review here!

Is the Nomatic for you?

Nomatic Camera backpack

Our testers felt this was a great hybrid pack that would work well for not only hiking but for carry-on city breaks, general backpacking, or even business trips. The two most popular features for our team were the sleek outer appearance of the bag as well we the unbeatable internal organizational features.

This one is not really directly comparable to the others on our list. It is simply not designed in the same way or intended to fulfill the same function. While it is a similar size to the REI Co-op 35, the shape is utterly different and so it feels different to pack and carry. Rather the Nomatic is a great hiking backpack for travelers who are on smaller trips and want to do a little bit of hiking. If you want to do a more intensive trek, you may want to invest in another backpack on this list though.

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#9 WANDRD PRVKE 31 – Best Hiking Backpack for Photographers

“Keeping all your gear safe”

wandrd prvke 31 backpack

Price: $219

The WNDRED PRVKE 31 isn’t a straight up backpack for hiking, but rather, a backpack for photographers . This sexy, sleek, and superior-designed pack is chalked full of features and compartments that will hold a great deal of gear. I’ve been using one of these to carry around my Fujifilm gear – complete with 2 camera bodies, 3 lenses, and many accessories – and haven’t had a problem yet.

If you want to truly turn it into one of the best backpacks for hiking, then we recommend pairing this with the peak design camera clip so you can carry your camera on your hip or on the chest strap of your bag, making it accessible in seconds. It’s an excellent hiking camping backpack if you are an avid photographer. Word up, this is not the best hiking bag per se, but it is rather perfect for the niche of hiking photographers. The other thing to bear in mind is that WANDRD doesn’t do gendered versions so while this is amongst the best hiking backpacks for men, it is not one of the best travel backpacks for women .

I’ve had this pack for a few years now and though I didn’t buy it as a backpack for hiking, it’s now become my go to hiking backpacks fro trips when I bring my camera. For me, the useability of the side opening and the organization of all my gear whilst still having space for my waterproof and down jackets and a water bottle make it perfect.

For a more in-depth look at this photography backpack, be sure to check out our comprehensive review of the WNDRD PRVKE 31 here!

#10 Gregory Katmai 55 Pack – Best Hiking Backpack for Winter Treks

Gregory Katmai 55 Pack - Men's

Price: $289.95

If you are looking for the best backpack for an alpine expedition , search no more! The Gregory Katmai is one of the best backpacks for hiking because it is specially designed for winter environments. The pack comes with a ski-carrying system and a variety of removable components ideal for snowy journeys. It is a great backpacking backpack as well and you could definitely use it on a trip around the world.

good travel hiking gear

The Gregory Katmai is super practical since it has numerous gear loops and other attachment sections. Additionally, it comes with lash points, glove-friendly hardware, and hip belt padding and if you are a winter hiking fan this is probably the best hiking pack made by Gregory for mountain expeditions.

We love how well this pack worked for trips into the mountains. They were able to fit inside a 70m rope, layers, gear, helmet, tools, and crampons with ease. They felt even when needing to transport lots of equipment on challenging terrain it remained super comfortable and importantly it wasn’t top heavy either.

good travel hiking gear

Now, you  could spend a fat chunk of $$$ on the WRONG present for someone. Wrong size hiking boots, wrong fit backpack, wrong shape sleeping bag… As any adventurer will tell you, gear is a personal choice.

So give the adventurer in your life the gift of convenience: buy them an REI Co-op gift card!  REI is The Broke Backpacker’s retailer of choice for ALL things outdoors, and an REI gift card is the perfect present you can buy from them. And then you won’t have to keep the receipt. 😉

#11 CamelBAK Fourteener – Best Hiking Pack For Hydration

Fourteener 32 Hydration Hiking Pack with Crux 3L CamelBAK

Price: $140.00

The Fourteener 32, a premier product from CamelBak, is a 32L hiking pack equipped with a 3L Crux water reservoir. This pack is meticulously designed and assembled to ensure users stay sufficiently hydrated during extended hikes. It boasts a unique Air Support back panel that offers excellent breathability, helping reduce perspiration. The integrated Crux reservoir is engineered to provide more water per sip than most rivals and includes a user-friendly on/off lever to mitigate leakage.

Besides its superior hydration capabilities, the Fourteener 32 offers an abundance of storage space with numerous pockets and compartments to accommodate all your hiking necessities. The pack’s design impeccably balances weight distribution and storage capacity, thereby ensuring optimal comfort during any hike. For those in search of a hydration pack that does not sacrifice capacity, the Fourteener 32 certainly merits consideration.

Note that the pack accommodates 29L of gear which makes it suitable for day hikes or overnight hikes when you don’t need to carry all that much camping gear.

#12 Osprey Daylite – Best For Day Hikes

Osprey Daylite Plus Pack

Price – $150

One of Osprey’s most affordable yet adaptable bags is their Daylite, a classic, hiking orientated design protected by a lifetime warranty and coming with two water bottle holders.  As the name suggests, this pack is really light so is ideal for hiking and it has a very handy hip belt along with sternum straps that guarantee comfort.

The storage capacity is 20 litres which is plenty of room for a day hike (jacket, snacks etc) and then there are 2 side pockets that fit water bottles. It also boasts a pretty good level of water resistance too.

Oh, the Daylite is also a great everyday pack that suits all manner of occasions. It has a 15” laptop sleeve making it a pretty suitable commuter backpack.

#13 Beta Light 30L Backpack – Best Hiking Backpack for comfort

good travel hiking gear

Price – $369.95

When it comes to hiking over long distances the two main things that come to mind when I’m looking for a backpack are weight and comfort. That’s where the Beta Light UL 30 stands out on it’s own as a beacon of innovation. If you’re looking to cover distances at speed and want to lead the charge unimpeded by your pack, then say hello to your new best friend.

Made from super lightweight Challenge Sailcloth Ultra 200 body fabric the bag also features taped seams with a roll-top closure. All this results in a bombproof bag that will keep the weather out whilst being mega lightweight and durable at the same time. What’s more, it also has running-vest-inspired shoulder straps adding comfort, versatility and storage for a few snackie here and there!

In an ideal world of perfect science, the optimal way to compare hiking backpacks would be for one single person to take them all on the same hikes but obviously, that’s utterly unfeasible. Instead, various members of our team tried and tested them at different times, at different locations over a period of a number of years. When testing them our team was of course paying close attention to how light/ comfortable the pack felt, how easy it was to pack and unpack, how it performed in adverse weather, and how damn sexy they felt in it.

To test the best bags for hiking, we grabbed them and took them out for a proper test drive over a period of time. We got various members of our team to take these backpacks out on their many trips all over the world and in many different environments.

Packability

A backpack is designed to carry stuff and so one of the most important features is just how packable it was and we awarded top points for this. A decent pack maximizes space and makes effective packing easy. So, to test this we simply packed and unpacked these backpacks the way we usually would.

We also wanted to pay close attention to how easy this process of packing and unpacking was. Does the design of the zippers for example make being able to retrieve items easily or not?

Weight and Comfort of Carrying

If a pack is overly heavy or awkward to carry then taking it along on trips becomes uncomfortable and reduces the enjoyment of your time in all honesty! Believe us on this, we’ve all had more than our fair share of backpacks that just weighed an ounce or two too much or perhaps had crappy straps that made them feel twice as heavy!

With that in mind, we awarded full marks for packs that minimize weight and maximum carry comfort.

Functionality

In order to test out how well a pack fulfilled its primary purpose we used it for, ya know, this purpose!

For example, if it’s a carry-on pack then we took it along as a carry-on and made sure it actually passes the Ryanair test. When we wanted to find the best trekking backpack, then we took it trekking! You get the idea right? 

Here we’re looking for the best hiking backpacks, so we took them on the train to work and back… nah, I’m kidding, we took them hiking of course!

Some people say that travel gear doesn’t need to look good as long as it functions. Well, not us! We’ve awarded extra points for packs that look both sexy as well as actually doing a good job!

Let’s be honest, nowadays just because you’ve got the best hiking backpack on, doesn’t mean you have to look like a dork!

Durability and Weatherproofing

Ideally, in order to really test out how durable a backpack is we would drop it from a plane and then wear it in a hurricane! But seeing as we like to do all our own stunts here at TBB, we’ve toned it down a little!

Instead, we simply inspected the materials used and the build quality of the packs paying attention to things like the seam sewing, the smoothness of the zips, and the pressure points on the packs that tend to break. 

To test how waterproof these packs were, well we got super technical and just threw a liter of water over them! Any packs caught leaking were promptly banned entirely from inclusion in our round-ups because any pack worthy of being considered one of the best backpacks for hiking needs to keep your stuff dry!

Osprey Aether

Still have some questions? No problem! We’ve listed and answered the most commonly asked questions below. Here’s what people usually want to know:

What is the best size backpack for a day hike?

A day-hike backpack needs to be big enough to carry your essentials but be light and comfortable enough to let you move fast and efficiently. We recommend a 30-40L capacity with a lightweight material.

What qualities should a hiking backpack have?

That depends on how long you’re hiking. Generally, comfort, size, and durability of the material are the most essential features of hiking backpacks.

How can you find the best hiking backpack for you?

In order to find the best hiking backpack, these are the things you need to consider: 1. Durability of your hike 2. How much gear do you need to bring 3. Your upper body specs (length and width of your torso)

What is the best waterproof hiking backpack?

Having a waterproof hiking backpack is never a bad idea. We recommend getting the Sea to Summit Hydraulic Dry Pack 35L .

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Honestly, it depends on what kind of adventure you are going on – will you be escaping into the mountains for weeks at a time or simply going on day hikes?

I swear by Osprey – really there is no competition, Osprey definitely does make the best packs in the world – the question is, can you afford the price tag?

I will hike with my Osprey Aether 70 liter pack  on most multi-day hikes and if I am on a multi-week expedition, I carry my Osprey Aether 85 litre pack , it’s big but I find it super comfortable though so it’s not really a problem for me.

For anything under a week, I carry the REI Co-op Traverse assuming I don’t have to carry a tent and will be sleeping in huts or lodges.

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Aiden Freeborn

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19 Comments

Love your site! my question is, which backpack model would you suggest to a 175 pds man that has a sensitive lower back?.

The best backpack for lumbar support is by far the Osprey Airscape series. However they are expensive packs.

The Osprey Aether is also adjustable and comfortable too.

What an incredibly comprehensive and informative post!

As someone who loves hiking and backpacking, I know how important it is to have a quality hiking backpack that can carry all the necessary gear comfortably and efficiently. Your roundup of the 12 best hiking backpacks is an invaluable resource for anyone in the market for a new pack.

I appreciate the attention you paid to features such as capacity, weight, comfort, and durability, as well as the detailed descriptions and pros and cons of each backpack. The inclusion of backpacks at various price points is also helpful for those on a budget. Thank you for sharing your expertise and putting together such a thorough roundup!

I love the REI Flash series. Have a 45L and 55L (new this Christmas – thanks Santa!). For us torsoly challenged hikers, the Flash is a perfect fit. I’m about 18.5 to 19 inches. About 2.5 pounds, durable, great design and features. Prices at about 1/2 of Osprey.

Thanks, Will for this insightful piece. I really love how you describe all the pros and cons so briefly. I’m definitely a fan of Osprey myself. It is always be my first choice when looking for backpacks.

Keep up the good work!! 🙂

I am trying to get my youngest daughter to join me in hiking. Still building up daytrips with her to get fitter and tougher. She is not carrying anything yet. Looks like the Rei Co-op Traverse would be a good start for us?

I bought an Osprey Exos 58 last month and it is really cool. This time, I am looking for something smaller for my wife. I think Osprey Aether would be a great choice.

That’s an amazing list! Great research.

I am going for Mt Kilimanjaro in June time, and am looking for a backpack that I can carry. Any suggestions? I would try to keep it below 35L.

Also have a camelbak hydration system, so was wondering if a as my of the other brands can fit camelbak hydration.

Many Osprey daypacks have hydration reservoirs. I also recommend Gregory and Deuter if you are wanting a proper hiking backpack on the smallish side. Check out this article for more inspiration: https://www.thebrokebackpacker.com/best-hydration-packs/

That’s an awesome list and you did a great job in describing the pros and cons of each pack – something which I personally look for when choosing my next backpack. My wife recently both an Osprey Sirrus and I have Osprey Stratos 50 so I’m definitely a fan of Osprey. It’s rare to find a more ‘complete’ backpack but it all depends on many factors and the price is an important one too. Thanks for the insightful piece!

Hi Will, A really interesting and compelling review, thank you. Until I came upon it, I’d almost made my mind up to buy an Osprey Atmos AG 50. For me, comfort and support is essential, as I’ve recently had both my hips renewed. When backpacking, I’ve moved towards lightweight gear. Stratospire 1 tent, Western Mountaineering Summer Lite bag, Neo Air pad, Evernew titanium cookware, Hoka Summit shoes etc. So I’ll be using walking poles and making critical decisions about capacity and weight. 50L should be fine. I get that Osprey is the best, but is the AG the most comfortable and supportive? Keep up the excellent work, young man. Steve, UK

Morning. I am a hot guy!! My back struggles with heat. Got an old faithful 25L pack that has been with me everywhere. Added comfy but hot as hell!! So, airflow is critical.

I need a new one. Your choice for me (Isle of Man ? )

Personally, I would go for the Berghaus Freeflow

I finally bought a Lightwave 55w rucksack in the smaller size. I prefer to carry my sack higher up my back and the longer length, my daughter has one, is a bit long. She is out on the hills camping most weekends and doesn’t need a rain cover after 4yrs of constant use, her partner has had his longer and it is still in nearly perfect order so they will take some punishment too. Lightwave are a small British company but you can buy them online and I know Craigdon in Inverness are getting all their rucksacks in on trial soon.

Excellent review, thanks for sharing your experience and information.

First of all, thank you for all this information! I am hoping to go to South America for 7-8 months next year and am starting to get very overwhelmed with all the planning and what will work best for me. In 2015, I got the Osprey Farpoint 70 travel backpack. I still use it and was intending on using it for this trip. I would love to get your opinion on that backpack if you have one. If I can avoid buying a new pack that would be great. I plan on doing trekking in all countries I hope to visit and will obviously be exposed to very different climates. (Peru-Ecuador-Colombia-Brazil-Bolivia-Chile-Argentina) Any help would be appreciated!! Thanks! 🙂

The Osprey Farpoint is a SOLID pack, one of my favourites… But it isn’t the best for trekking, I would personally want something with a proper hipbelt and ventilated back.

I have had an Osprey Tallon rucksack for a number of years, one problem it leaks even with a new rain cover on. It is comfortable but it makes it more difficult to pack if everything has to go into dry bags before packing. I am looking at a Lightwave rucksack as they seem to be more rain resistant and do better sizes for a small woman. Denise

That’s a very good point – the Osprey talon is great for weekend hikes but if I was heading on a proper expedition, or into the Himalayas for a couple of weeks, I would go for a bigger backpack with better rain protection for sure.

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The Budget Backpacking Gear List

F or the budget-conscious hiker, buying long-distance backpacking gear can be an intimidating prospect. Sleep systems, backpacks, trekking poles, clothes … the choices are endless, and the less it weighs, the more expensive it tends to be.

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy estimates that a new set of backpacking gear runs $1,200 to $2,000 or more, and for a thru-hike, that’s on top of an average of $1,200 per month in trip expenses. Most respondents to our 2023 Appalachian Trail thru-hiker survey reported spending between $1,000 and $3,000 on gear.

good travel hiking gear

So many gear choices…

But does backpacking gear need to be expensive to work for you? Not at all!

Below, you’ll find a list of budget-friendly options compiled from our 2023 Best Gear lists. These gear choices are not necessarily the cheapest in their categories; instead, they are what we consider to be the best balance of affordability and functionality.

As you can see, it’s realistic to outfit yourself with quality gear from scratch for around $1000 and still come out with a modest base weight. Do note that this list doesn’t include luxury items, consumables, or specialty gear like a bear canister or microspikes.

*Note on footwear: When it comes to shoes, fit and comfort are priorities. Everyone’s feet are different, and keeping yours happy should be your main consideration. They are rather important to the whole business of walking, after all. That’s why we’ve refrained from recommending a budget option. It really is important to get the pair that works for you rather than the pair that costs $25 less.

Buying the cheapest available shoes can lead to injuries if they don’t provide you with enough support/create too much friction/pinch parts of your feet/etc. Once you know which shoes work best for you, it’s possible to save money by buying them during seasonal sales or looking for them at REI garage sales.

Don’t forget to budget for replacement shoes every 400 – 700 miles.

budget backpacking gear

PSA: Don’t Blindly Follow the List

No matter what gear you choose, it needs to work for you. The list above is one example of a packing list that won’t drain your bank account while simultaneously obliterating your soul. That doesn’t mean there aren’t other affordable options out there that could work better for you.

Research is key! You’ll want to read up on tech specs and reviews to get a better idea of whether or not a piece of gear is likely to fit your needs and preferences. Test your gear before embarking on a big trip to make sure you like it.

Save Money by Investing in Quality

While backpacking doesn’t have to be expensive, keep in mind that if you pick gear based solely on up-front price, you might end up needing to replace it sooner than you’d like with something more comfortable and/or durable.

You can actually save more money in the long run by investing in quality gear that won’t wear out quickly and won’t need to be replaced as often. “Buy once, cry once,” as the saying goes.

For a great place to start researching, check out our Best Gear lists. We provide information on a wide range of options in each category to help you build your backpacking setup:

  • The Best Thru-Hiking Tents of 2024
  • The Best Backpacks for Thru-Hiking of 2024
  • The Best Sleeping Pads for Thru-Hiking of 2024
  • The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags of 2024
  • The Best Backpacking Quilts of 2024
  • The Best Trail Runners for Thru-Hiking of 2024
  • The Best Hiking Shoes for Thru-Hiking of 2024
  • The Best Down Jackets for Backpacking of 2024
  • The Best Backpacking Rain Jackets for Thru-Hiking of 2024
  • The Best Synthetic Jackets for Backpacking of 2024
  • The Best Trekking Poles for Backpacking of 2024
  • The Best Backpacking Stoves of 2024
  • The Best Backpacking Baselayers of 2021
  • The Best Fleece Midlayers for Backpacking of 2024
  • The Best Backpacking Headlamps of 2024

Save Money by Carrying Less

You can also save money — and weight — simply by carrying less. Luxury items such as inflatable pillows, camp chairs, electronics, etc. can add up quickly, so it’s worth considering what you can live without.

For instance, depending on the location and length of your backpacking trip and your level of experience, it’s possible you won’t need a power bank or a GPS device. The power bank and GPS recommendations in the list above add up to about $170, so if you’re planning a shorter trip on a well-marked trail, you may not need to spend that money.

Likewise, three-season hikers probably don’t need to carry an insulated jacket and a hiking fleece and can save significant weight and money by just choosing one or the other.

READ NEXT – How To Afford a Thru-Hike: Expert Advice for Saving Money on Gear, Logistics, and Town Expenses for a Long-Distance Backpacking Trip

The Bottom Line

You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on gear to hike successfully. Budget backpacking gear can take you a long way, and this list is just one example of how to outfit yourself without taking out mortgage. By doing your research and finding the balance between affordability and functionality, you’ll be well on your way to a successful and budget-friendly backpacking experience.

Featured image: Graphic design by Chris Helm .

good travel hiking gear

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Diane Duffard

Hi! I'm Diane, but I also answer to Firefly. I discovered backpacking in college and thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2016, followed by the Pacific Crest Trail in 2018. If I'm not hiking, I can usually be found writing, gardening, or hanging out with my dog, Theo.

good travel hiking gear

The Stanco Greasepot and the IMUSA aluminum cups .7 liter and 1.2 quart) are lighter and much less expensive for cooking with.

good travel hiking gear

Granite Gear Crown is a great budget pack, often found for well under $150.

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The 8 Best Carry-On Backpacks

Portrait of Katherine Gillespie

In this article

  • Best overall
  • Best duffel-backpack
  • Best for business travel
  • Best for lumbar support
  • Best for long trips
  • Best for short trips
  • Best for rugged trips

Even though much of my job as a travel writer involves testing suitcases , I usually prefer to fly with a carry-on backpack when I have the choice. You just can’t beat the sense of freedom that comes with strapping your possessions to your shoulders and heading to the airport — to me, a suitcase says “business trip” whereas a backpack says “adventure.” Not to mention the fact that backpack wearers are almost never singled out at the gate to check their luggage.

As backpack reviewer Geoff Grisdale of One Bag Travels explains, a carry-on backpack means “you can move around a lot quicker — it’s a lot easier to travel around cities with one.” Suitcases become cumbersome as soon as you’re confronted with cobblestone streets or multiple flights of stairs, adds freelance backpack designer Jeff Mullins. “And you have to have room to store them when you get home, whereas a backpack can be compressed.” Below, you’ll find the best carry-on backpacks for different sorts of trips, as tested by myself and other globetrotting experts. While you’re here, I’ve also written guides to the best travel pillows and the best toiletry bottles .

What we’re looking for

For trips longer than a weekend, you’ll require a carry-on backpack with a capacity of at least 28 liters, says Grisdale. From there, the size you choose will depend on your packing style, how long the trip is, and whether you need room for warm layers or extra shoes. Most of the experts I spoke with agreed that the sweet spot is somewhere between 28 and 35 liters.

Some carry-on backpacks can be as large as 45 liters, which is actually five liters more volume than an Away carry-on suitcase . While this size of backpack can be useful for long-haul trips, just note that it will be “really big and heavy — and you lose a lot of the mobility you’d get when carrying a smaller backpack,” says Grisdale. Mullins agrees: “If you’re a smaller woman, for example, I don’t think you should go over 35 liters.” Even though I’ll happily hike with an ultralight 55 liter backpack, I’m not a fan of wearing carry-on bags larger than 40 liters — they’re significantly bulkier, and the back pain afterwards just isn’t worth it.

Packing style

The best carry-on backpacks are designed for ease of packing. Rather than unzipping at the top, they’ll either open up like a clamshell (with separate zippered compartments on either side), or like a duffel bag (with one big compartment that’s accessible from the front of the bag). If you’re an intentional packer who likes to keep organized on the road, the former option is likely best. But Grisdale notes that duffel-style bags are usually quicker and easier to pack because “you can just stuff your gear in there and off you go.”

Your backpack will be crammed into overhead bins or underneath aircraft seats, so look for one that’s fairly rectangular in shape, with straps and a hip belt that can be removed or tucked away. “Anything that dangles has to be gone,” says Mullins. He also notes that there should be a handle on pretty much every side of the bag, so you can grab it from whichever space it’s wedged.

Organizational features

A nice thing about living out of a backpack as opposed to a suitcase is that exterior pockets provide easy access to small items like wallets and passports. I also love that backpacks typically have loops or straps on the outside to which you can attach carabiners and clips. A good backpack will enable you to “get to all your small stuff without fully opening it,” says Mullins. “Whether that’s your phone, earbuds, book, glasses, or food.” You still don’t want a backpack with too many pockets, as these will steal real estate from the main compartment inside. “I like enough exterior pockets to be able to hold gear but not so many pockets that they take up a lot of room in the bag,” says Grisdale.

Best carry-on backpack overall

Cotopaxi Allpa 35 L Travel Pack

Capacity: 35 liters | Packing style: Clamshell, tuckaway straps, removable waist belt | Organizational features: External laptop sleeve, top pocket, carabiner loops

The Cotopaxi Allpa is truly a backpack for suitcase people. Its clamshell design unzips fully to reveal a large mesh compartment on the right-hand side and three smaller ones on the left, mimicking the layout of rolling luggage. It also has a hidden laptop sleeve in the back that’s generously padded (I once checked my Allpa with a MacBook inside and the laptop survived unscathed), as well as an easy-access storage compartment on top that can fit snacks, a book, and your passport. The bag is comfortable to carry, with a sternum strap and removable waist belt for extra support. It comes in three different sizes, but this 35-liter version will be the best for most people — it’s big enough for a week’s worth of clothes but small enough that you can use it as an airline personal item or large daypack. (Strategist contributing writer Margaret Eby took one on a flight to Italy in addition to a rolling suitcase, and says the tuckaway straps helped her squish it under the seat in front of her.) One gripe: There’s no external water-bottle holder on the Allpa 35, although you could easily attach a carabiner to any of its handles or lash loops.

The best carry-on duffel backpack

Patagonia Black Hole Mini MLC

Capacity: 30 liters | Packing style: Duffel, tuckaway straps, tuckaway waist belt, convertible shoulder strap, trolley sleeve | Organizational features: External laptop compartment, top pocket, water bottle holder

Patagonia’s Mini MLC is constantly sold out, and for good reason. This is an unusually roomy and rugged bag that can be used as your main piece of carry-on luggage (it’s available in a 45-liter version as well, if you prefer to overpack) or as a personal item that sits atop your wheeled carry-on. (Former Strategist associate editor Louis Cheslaw refers to his as a “ secret second suitcase ,” because it lets him pack heavy without checking a bag.) Unlike the Allpa, the Mini MLC opens duffel-style, revealing a deep interior compartment that can fit several outfits and a pair of extra shoes. There’s also a laptop compartment, small stash pocket on top of the bag that’s big enough for a passport or wallet, and stretchy water-bottle holder.

The best (less-expensive) carry-on backpack

TomToc Navigator-T66 Travel Laptop Backpack

Capacity: 40 liters | Packing style: Duffel opening, compression straps | Organizational features: External laptop compartment, water bottle holder, quick-access front pocket

At less than half the price of the Allpa or Mini MLC, TomToc’s Navigator is a thoughtfully designed carry-on backpack with a large capacity and helpful organizational features. It zips open at the front to reveal a generous duffel compartment that can be filled with several outfits, whether or not you’re using packing cubes . There’s also a front pocket that’s big enough for a book, as well as a laptop sleeve in the back that can be fully unzipped, revealing extra storage space for documents, cables, and stationery. It’s an excellent affordable option, according to Grisdale.

The best carry-on backpack for business travel

Tortuga Travel Backpack Pro

Capacity: 30 liters | Packing style: Clamshell, removable waist belt | Organizational features: External laptop compartment, top pocket, front pocket, water bottle holders

Tortuga’s backpack designs are highly respected among gear reviewers across the internet. I’ve been testing out its very professional-looking Travel Backpack Pro, which opens clamshell-style to reveal two suitcase-style compartments and also features a nicely padded laptop sleeve with a false bottom for extra protection. The sternum straps are extremely comfortable and can be tucked away when not in use, the bag’s rectangular shape means it slots easily into overhead lockers (as well as airline baggage sizers — mine recently passed the Spirit Airlines personal item test with flying colors), and I like that the exterior fabric is highly waterproof and easy to wipe down. It’s also much more anonymous-looking than Cotopaxi’s colorful Allpa or Patagonia’s gorp-y Mini MLC, which makes it ideal for business travelers and digital nomads.

The best carry-on backpack with lumbar support

Osprey Fairview 40 Travel Backpack

Capacity: 40 liters | Packing style: Duffel, adjustable tuckaway hip belt and harness | Organizational features: External laptop sleeve, external toiletries pocket

When spending her year abroad as the inaugural New York Times 52 Places traveler, journalist Jada Yuan learned the hard way that rolling luggage is terrible for long-haul travel. “I don’t know how I got through 16 stops of my trip before buying the Osprey Fairview,” she recalls. “My back and shoulders hurt all the time. I needed something with strong lumbar support, a waist belt, and a chest strap so that I could make it through the trip without getting crippled.” The Fairview’s packing style she says, is perfectly bare-bones: “Just one giant cavity, plus a zippered section for your laptop and a bunch of straps on the outside for carrying, say, a bulky jacket.” It’s definitely the most comfortable backpack on this list, says Grisdale: “Osprey’s packs are good because they have a lot of padding, they’re really thick, and they’re also adjustable. So if it doesn’t fit you right out of the box, you can move things around.”

Best carry-on duffel backpack for long trips

Away The Outdoor Convertible Backpack 45L

Capacity: 45 liter | Packing style: Duffel, compression straps, removable shoulder straps, trolley sleeve | Organizational features: External laptop compartment, hidden top pocket for valuables

Away is best known for its hard luggage, but the DTC brand’s outdoor gear shouldn’t be overlooked. Brand marketing consultant Jennifer Olson came across this big duffel-backpack while gearing up for an eight-month road trip through South America with her partner. “We’d be living in a converted Land Cruiser and needed baggage soft and malleable enough to be thrown around the back of a truck and wedged into small spaces,” she explains. “Though we’d be hiking here and there, we weren’t doing any hardcore treks, so we didn’t need a traditional trekking backpack — but rather something in between.” True to Away’s suitcase-y roots, the bag’s internal storage compartment features compression straps that are designed to secure a set of packing cubes , which Olson says really helped keep things organized on her big trip. And the convertible straps have come in handy now that she’s returned home: “I usually use it as a duffle when I’m on weekend trips or using it as a carry on, and when the bag is a little more loaded with my things, I use it in backpack mode to disperse the weight.”

The best carry-on backpack for short trips

ULA Ultra Dragonfly

Capacity: 30 liters | Packing style: Duffel, compression straps | Organizational features: Internal laptop sleeve, stretchy side and front pockets, front bungee elastic

I first heard about the ULA Ultra Dragonfly when lurking on the 729,000-member-strong sub-Reddit r/OneBag , which has popularized the idea of bringing no more than one smallish bag on trips and vacations. And while many One Baggers own Allpas and MLCs, this is the bag they covet most. It unzips duffel-style, with a Goldilocks-size 30-liter capacity that means it can hold a decent amount of stuff but still slide underneath a plane seat if needed. There’s no hip belt, but uniquely shaped shoulder straps are designed to be worn for hours at a time without discomfort. There’s a laptop sleeve for digital nomads, and the Ultra fabric is slightly stretchy (allowing for a bit of overpacking), unusually durable (similar to ripstop nylon), and highly waterproof (which makes it appropriate for treks and other more rugged adventures). There’s just one catch: Due to stock issues, you can only purchase the Dragonfly Ultra once a week on Wednesdays at 3 p.m. ET. Within a couple of hours, the bag sells out and its buy button disappears for another seven days.

The best carry-on backpack for rugged trips

Timbuk2 Impulse Travel Backpack Duffel

Capacity: 45 liters | Packing style: Duffel, tuckaway shoulder straps, compression straps | Organizational features: External shoe compartments, external laptop sleeve, passport pocket

More duffel-shaped than some of the very suitcase-y backpacks on this list, Timbuk2’s unique carry-on has zip-up shoe pockets at each end, allowing you to separate dirty footwear from the rest of your stuff — an especially nice feature for anyone packing a pair of hiking shoes . I also like how waterproof this bag is. All of the fabric is easy to wipe down, and the bottom of the bag has an extra protective “boot” which means you can plonk it down anywhere without worrying about it getting muddy. “The very considered design is ideal for someone who is most at home hopping on and off planes and trains,” says Andrew Barker, the former chief content officer of the travelers club, PRIOR . He appreciates the TSA-friendly slip pockets, which give easy access to your laptop and passport.

Our experts

• Andrew Barker, former chief content officer of the travelers club PRIOR • Louis Cheslaw , former Strategist associate editor • Margaret Eby , Strategist contributing writer • Geoff Grisdale, backpack reviewer at One Bag Travels • Jeff Mullins , freelance backpack and soft-goods designer • Jennifer Olson , brand marketing consultant • Jada Yuan , Washington Post reporter and inaugural New York Times 52 Places traveler

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6 of the Best Hiking Shoes for 2024

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By Courtney Johnson

From the volcanic peaks along the Pacific Crest Trail to the forests in the Rocky Mountains, going for a hike can be one of the most enjoyable and healthy ways to enjoy the outdoors. To keep the happiness level high, properly fitting trail shoes is one of the most important factors in enjoying the hike from start to finish.

Most hiking footwear offers ankle support, a roomy toe box, and traction. For its tried and true performance from one trail to another, the Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX is our pick for best overall. These waterproof hiking shoes offer a targeted fit, breathable waterproof membrane, and endless grip.

In this guide, we’ve chosen hiking shoes that will fit the needs of a wide range of hikers from weekend warriors to backpack enthusiasts.

This post contains affiliate links. Outdoors.com may earn a commission when you make a purchase through these links. Thank you for your support.

Best Hiking Shoes for 2024

Best overall: salomon x ultra 4 gtx, best barefoot feel: xero shoes scrambler low hiking shoes, best budget: merrell moab 3, best comfort: hoka anacapa 2 low gtx, best crossover: salewa ultra train 3, best for kids: columbia trailstorm.

best-hiking-shoes

  • Weight: 1 lb 9.6 oz (W), 1 lb 11.5 oz (M)
  • GORE-TEX waterproof membrane
  • Contagrip MA outsoles for foot control
  • SensiFit for a custom fit
  • ADV-C chassis for stability and flexibility

The Salomon X Ultra 4 is our top pick for the best overall hiking shoe. Coming in a gender-specific anatomical design, this shoe has softer materials and density particular to the age and sex of the wearer.

GORE-TEX protection means this waterproof hiking shoe will keep your feet dry from start to finish. With the durable All Terrain Contragrip Outsole, hikers can confidently tackle any surface. The quick SensiFit lace system is a fav for getting a custom fit to cradle the foot for support even with rough terrain.

The ADV-C Chassis adds flexibility for more mobility in the front and provides stability in the foot while pushing off and planting. Although we chose the waterproof version, these shoes come in non-waterproof, mid-height, and wide versions for fit and protection for a wide range of hiker needs.

best-hiking-shoes

  • Weight: 14.8 oz (W), 1 lb 2.4 oz (M)
  • Michelin Fiberlite sole for a natural feel
  • A natural fit with a wider toe box
  • Moisture-wicking lining

These lace-up and lightweight hiking shoes provide a natural fit with a wider foot-shaped toe box for miles of comfortable hiking. With a moisture-wicking lining and breathable mesh uppers, stinky feet are kept at bay, so you can focus on the view and not discomfort.

This is the perfect shoe for short to moderate-length dry hikes. In terms of a minimalist shoe, this one gives a more barefoot connected-to-the-earth feel. This lightweight hiking shoe containing Micheline Fiberlite offers wearers flexibility to push off naturally with each step.

Moisture-wicking lining keeps your feet dry and comfortable. With the zero-drop mountain bike-inspired treads for traction, these lightweight shoes can be used for all kinds of activities, including hitting the terrain on two wheels.

best-hiking-shoes

  • Weight: 1 lb 10 oz (W), 2 lbs 2 oz (M)
  • Vibram TC5 outsole for cushioned traction
  • Air Cushion for shock absorption
  • Kinetic Fit Advanced footbed
  • Toe cap and rubber heel for extra protection

While more budget friendly, this capable hiking shoe can handle it all—from scenic routes to technical terrain. The Vibram TC5+ outsole offers superior traction, while the Air Cushion offers shock absorption for the downhills and traverses.

The leather upper makes these shoes wear and tear-resistant, while the multiple colorways add style. Stride naturally down the trail with the Kinetic Fit Advanced footbed that forms to the foot. Even with the low style, extra support is built into the ankle to keep the foot in place and stable with each step.

Hikers with wider feet will enjoy the roomier feel, while heel strikers will appreciate the design. More of a dedicated hiking shoe, the Moab 3 is a bit on the heavy side. This shoe comes in a GORE-TEX version for more wet weather hiking and a mid-length for support on longer hikes.

best-hiking-shoes

  • Weight 1 lb 8.8 oz (W), 1.79 lbs (M)
  • GORE-TEX membrane keeps feet dry
  • Breathable gold-certified nubuck leather
  • Sugarcane EVA midsole for max cushioning
  • Vibram Megagrip outsole for traction on varied terrain

When outdoors enthusiasts think of comfort, Hoka always comes to mind. The Hoka Anacapa 2 Low GTX is no exception. For long days on the trail or for those who love a cushiony feel, this is the best hiking shoe for you.

With a GORE-TEX membrane, these shoes will keep feet comfortable and dry from stream crossings to humid temperatures. The Vibram Megagrip outsole keeps you grounded wherever the path takes you. The Gold-certified nubuck leather uppers provide durability with improved breathability.

The sugarcane EVA midsole offers unparalleled comfort while also being lightweight. The achilles heel comfort build is icing on an already cushy ride. The abrasion-resistant top cap safeguards the forefoot. This style also comes in a mid version for more stability.

good travel hiking gear

  • Weight: 0.69 lb (W), 0.78 lb (M)
  • POMOCA outsole for traction in all conditions
  • Anti-Rock Heel Cup for protection and stability
  • OrthoLite footbed for moisture control and cushioning
  • Stretch gaiter keeps out dirt and rocks

Getting better with each version, the Salewa Ultra Train 3 gets our vote for best crossover hiking shoe for hiking, speed hiking, and as a trail running shoe. With the Motion Guidance technology, your feet will love the stability and support over varietal terrain, whether you want a hike or to pick up the speed.

The mesh upper allows for breathability, while the patented 3F system allows for flexibility, full foot support, and a glove-like fit. Arches, metatarsals, and the heel will appreciate the OrthoLite footbed. An Anti-Rock Heel Cup keeps the heel in the proper place, while the stretch gaiter at the tongue keeps out debris.

Wet conditions, a rocky trail—none of these are a problem for the POMOCA outsole. An aggressive lug pattern offers traction and grip no matter the trail surface. With reinforced TPU film at critical wear points, these shoes get high marks for durability and our pick for a versatile hiking shoe.

good travel hiking gear

  • Weight: 8 oz
  • Omni-Grip for superior traction
  • Cinch cord laces for smaller sizes
  • TechLite midsole offers cushioning and comfort

From climbing boulders trailside to running down the hill, the Columbia Trailstorm offers adult-hiking-shoe features in a kid-size shoe with a more budget-friendly price tag. Superior traction with Omni-Grip means your little hiker can keep up with you, even on tougher terrain and wet conditions.

A bumper protects the toesies from rocks and roots. No more stopping to tie shoes on the trail with the simple cinch-cord lace system. The foot stays locked in place with the lacing and eyelet system for stability and blister-free days hitting the trails. The TechLite midsole absorbs impact while cushioning.

With a non-marking outsole, these shoes can be used for a variety of activities, even if the day takes you to the tennis or basketball court. The whole family can match with the Trailstorm, available in sizes from toddler to adult. Reviewers wish for more colorways and that the shoes were machine washable.

Tips for Buying Hiking Shoes

Many factors come into play when finding the right hiking shoes. Here are some key things to consider when making this purchase.

Fit is by far the most important factor when purchasing hiking shoes. A properly fitting hiking shoe will help you navigate a hike safely and injury-free. The correct size is essential, so plan to try shoes on in the store with hiking socks. Shoes should fit snugly with room in the toe box for toes to wiggle.

Overall foot support, including arch support, is the key to any good hiking shoe. Low-profile hiking shoes will provide flexibility, while a higher-cut shoe offers more ankle support. Think about your hiking goals and desires, typical hike locations/terrain, and whether or not you will be backpacking.

Protective Features

Hiking shoes offer protective features—from waterproof uppers to full rubber toe cap protection. A heel box adds extra protection on rocky terrain, while waterproof uppers keep your feet dry and warm, preventing blisters and more.

The traction for hiking shoes will vary among brands and styles, but most shoes will feature soles meant for a variety of conditions. Choose the shoe with the right traction for the terrain you typically hike on. Durable rubber, outsole lug patterns, and multiple-direction treads offer great traction.

If you tend to enjoy shorter hikes or mix your hiking with some trail running, a lightweight hiking or trail running shoe is the best choice. If rocky trails and full-day hikes are more your wheelhouse, heavier hiking boots and trail running shoes will offer the best support and protection.

Breathability

Having breathable shoes is a must when logging miles. Look for shoes that have an abrasion-resistant mesh upper, especially for hot weather hikes. This will allow sweat to escape, keeping your feet drier when the temperature heats up.

Frequently Asked Questions About Hiking Shoes

How much can i expect to spend on a good hiking shoe.

The cost of hiking shoes will vary depending on the features, including if the shoe is waterproof. The more features, the heavier the price tag. By taking care of the shoes, you can expect years of use.

What is the difference between a hiking boot and a hiking shoe?

The biggest difference between a hiking boot and a hiking shoe is that hiking boots offer more ankle support. A hiking boot sits higher, covering the ankle, allowing more stability but less mobility. Hiking boots are often heavier than hiking shoes.

This article is a great reference point to help you choose.

What are the best materials and features for hiking shoes?

The best material and features for hiking shoes will vary based on personal preferences and needs. If you plan to hike in a variety of locations and terrains, maybe a GORE-TEX waterproof shoe is best. A rubber toe cap offers toe protection for trails with sharp rocks, while a heel cup keeps the foot in place.

Do I need to break in my hiking shoes?

Like any shoe, there is a break-in period for hiking shoes. Wear your hiking shoes around the house, for short walks around the neighborhood, or even to do some errands. This will help take away some of the stiffness and discomfort of new shoes before you hit the trails.

Can my hiking shoes be used for other outdoor activities?

Whether you purchase backpacking footwear or shoes more for day hiking, the shoes can typically be used for other activities off trail. Some of these activities include gardening and outdoor work, neighborhood walks, trail running, and more.

How do I care for my hiking shoes?

Each manufacturer provides care instructions for their shoes, and the instructions will vary based on the materials the shoes are made from. To keep shoes lasting for many hikes, be sure the shoes are dry before storage, clean off debris after each hike, store properly, and treat them, if waterproof.

Final Thoughts: Best Hiking Shoes

Although you can wear running shoes to hike many simple trails, hiking footwear will offer many more features to keep you safe for miles, even with uneven terrain. Most hiking shoes offer toe protection, will keep your feet warm but not too warm, and have a sticky rubber outsole for more rugged terrain.

Hiking-specific shoes, whether you are looking for a backpacking boot, a low-cut hiking boot, or one for day hiking, are designed to support and protect the feet. Men’s hiking shoes and women’s hiking shoes will differ because of autonomy, so it is best to find the shoe that fits your gender-specific needs.

Overall, the best hiking shoes are the ones that get you to and from the trailhead safely. While other hiking footwear offers great features, the Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX get top marks for support, traction, durability, and breathability, even with a GORE-TEX membrane.

Hiking Sandal Showdown: KEEN Newport H2 vs. Xero Shoes Z-Trail EV

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The Best Hiking Clothes – What To Wear Hiking

T he best hiking clothes have come a long way from animal skins to advanced synthetic materials that are quick-drying, lightweight, and even some that are biodegradable.

But don’t count out those animal fibers just yet. Materials like Alpaca and Merino Wool are still a staple in most high-end hiking apparel lines. Both are often used in organic and sustainable kids’ clothing of all types.

If you’re planning a fun day hike, or you’re looking for the best camping clothes for a weekend outdoors hitting the trails, then you’ve come to the right place.

When creating your day hike packing list , be sure to include quality hiking clothes. They can make all the difference.

THIS ARTICLE MAY CONTAIN COMPENSATED LINKS. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLAIMER FOR MORE INFO. THIS POST WAS WRITTEN BY JILL GREISING-MURSCHEL , A FAMILY TRAVEL AND RV LIVING EXPERT .

With so many options for finding the best hiking clothes, where do you start? Well, let’s start with where you will be hiking.

Will you be visiting some of Utah’s National Parks and finding amazing hikes at Zion or Bryce Canyon, or will you be hiking the rainforests in Costa Rica?

Are you looking for cold weather hiking pants for some winter hiking or typical hiking clothes for the warmer months? Your choice of hiking clothes has a lot to do with the location of your trip. For example, if you’re hiking in the winter months then you’re going to want to have a pair of great hiking gloves , whereas in the summer months, you may not need them.

So, let’s first dive into the topic of finding hiking pants versus hiking shorts and how to choose between the two pieces of hiking wear.

Finding the best hiking pants may actually lead you to find the best hiking shorts as well. Many top brands these days create convertible pants with zip-off legs so you can always be prepared. 

Owning both dedicated hiking pants and convertible pants I can say both are a great choice but it again depends on where you will be hiking.

Best Hiking Shorts

Dedicated hiking shorts are a great choice if you know the temperature will stay consistently temperate and there would be little chance of severe temperature swings. Shorts are also a possibility when you know your hike will provide very little exposure to the sun and wind.

The best men’s hiking shorts I’ve found are actually the Kühl Radikl shorts . Rugged yet soft is how I would describe them.

Where shorts…fall short…are when you are in a climate or zone where you can have extreme amounts of sun or wind exposure.

You would think staying cool on a desert hike would be the priority and wearing hiking shorts is a no-brainer. However, especially on a desert hike, you are going to want your skin to be covered completely with lightweight, breathable fabrics.

This is where you are going to want to find the best hiking pants. Again, it seems counterintuitive but having full coverage in the desert will not only keep you cool, but it will keep you safe as well.

Best Hiking Pants

Okay, so we agreed. Based on your hiking location you want to find pants, but what pants to wear hiking for men or women? Let’s find out!

Best Hiking Pants For Men

I personally own a variety of hiking pants including Kuhl, Marmot , and Columbia . Some are dedicated pants and some are convertible.

What I’ve found is that variety is key, especially in our lifestyle of full-time travel. Traversing Angels Landing in Zion NP I chose dedicated pants, namely the Marmot Arch Rock Pants. These worked out great because they offered enough maneuverability, coverage, and breathability for this hike which has some extreme exposure.

The Kühl Radikl pants were sent to us as part of working with them and I was shocked!

I happened to drop a glob of a melted energy bar on my leg while wearing these and thought for sure they were ruined. Not only didn’t I need to wash the pants, but simply wiping them off with a damp paper towel already made the chocolate disappear without even a trace

They also met the comfort and maneuverability I was looking for in all-around hiking attire.

Kuhl offers the best pants for hiking, hanging out, and more.   Click here to shop now.

Best Hiking Pants For Women

Moving on to the best hiking pants for women we’ll find a lot of similarities.

Materials and composition are similar but style is where the divergence comes in or does it? With yoga pants like these being such a staple of the female wardrobe, it’s surprisingly low on the list when it comes to the best hiking pants for women.

Looking through REI’s online shop at hiking pants for women, the top-10 are all pants and not tights.

Something else interesting to see is that most of the top-10 best-selling pants for both men and women are convertible hiking pants.

This will tell you that most people appreciate the flexibility of having zip-off or roll-up legs since with most hikes, it’s always better to be prepared.

Even though the best hiking shorts out there are fantastically comfortable, rugged, and protective, most hikers generally lean towards pants. That’s not to say shorts aren’t a possibility, they’re just less chosen due to the variability of hikes.

Jill honestly loves her new women’s  Trekr pants that she was given by Kuhl. Since we’ve been in the mountains this Spring, she wears them almost every day and they honestly don’t get dirty!

Best Hiking Shirts

Moving upwards we’re onto how to find the best hiking shirts. Just like with pants vs shorts we’re going to go head-long into short sleeves versus long sleeves and which one is better.

Back to REI. 

We find the top shirts sold in both categories are long sleeve shirts , and why do you suppose that is?

You guessed it: preparedness. Exposure, wind, rain, bugs, all these things a long sleeve hiking shirt will help protect you against.

Below, I’m wearing my favorite long-sleeved hoody from REI which has now lasted me over 2 years and it’s in excellent shape!

The quality of hiking clothes can make such a huge difference. I’ve worn my hoody at least once per week, if not more, for over 2 years and it still looks new. 

The best combination from many hiking gear stores seems to be convertible hiking pants and lightweight, long sleeve, button-up shirts for men.

Women’s hiking shirts and pants were the same too. But that’s not to say short sleeves aren’t useful.

What do you think you’d wear under that long sleeve to be prepared for the elements? A short sleeve hiking shirt, paired with a long-sleeve shirt is going to be seen as more of a base layer.

If you want to look stylish while you’re hiking, then there are plenty of options for you. There’s a range of the best hiking dresses available that are both fashionable and functional. They have a flattering fit that is still comfortable, while the fabric is breathable to help you stay cool throughout your hike.

Your base layer is almost, as if not more important, than your outerwear. Depending on your planned excursions, you are going to want to have a good base layer.

This is where some hikers may falter. They get the nice, lightweight, breathable outerwear, then throw it on top of a cotton t-shirt and cotton underwear.

Soon they’ll find themselves with a ton of sun exposure, no breeze, and their outerwear isn’t performing as expected due to the cotton attached to their skin.

Have no fear though, the best hiking t-shirts out there include short-sleeve base layers . Made of wicking materials or my favorite, merino wool, these will help not only your gear, but your body, perform at its peak during your hikes.

Now, what about outfitting your kids for hiking?

Kids Hiking Gear and Clothes

Kids can be a bit picky, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find some great gear to make them enjoy the great outdoors. So how do you find the best kids hiking clothes?

Simple. Find the most durable and long-lasting hiking shoes clothes and that you can!

For instance, the best hiking shoes for kids include those that are comfortable and give excellent support to make sure they don’t twist an ankle. Don’t forget to buy them hiking socks along with their trail running shoes!

REI has some high-quality and durable selection of kids clothes and shoes , that are great for your kid’s outdoor gear.

We have a range of kids from 8 to 14 years old who play outside daily. They normally wear whatever fits at that moment. So when we can find high-end kids hiking clothing, I know it’s worth the investment.

Our youngest will wear anything I buy her. While our oldest wants to have a good style and comfort. Honestly, REI is our go-to place as we can shop online and stop in a store for kids hiking outfit to try on to make sure it’s the right size.

Other Gear For Kids

The best hiking gear for adults.

We don’t have the breadth to cover what the best hiking boots or hiking packs are in this article. But we do LOVE our REI jackets that pack up small into their own pockets and we highly recommend getting your own hydration packs. A rain jacket is also a must-have especially if you’re going on cold weather hikes.

Comment below and let us know what your favorite piece of hiking gear is. We’d love to know!

A special thanks to Kuhl for giving our family clothes in exchange for an honest review. Never owning clothes by Kuhl before, we were honestly surprised by how much we love their clothes.

The post The Best Hiking Clothes – What To Wear Hiking appeared first on Let's Travel Family .

The best hiking clothes have come a long way from animal skins to advanced synthetic materials that are quick-drying, lightweight, and even some that are biodegradable. But don’t count out those animal fibers just yet. Materials like Alpaca and Merino Wool are still a staple in most high-end hiking apparel lines. Both are often used ... Read more

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The Outdoor Rolling Duffle 85L

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Soft packable front duffle and a lightweight hard back shell

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Compression and collapsibility systems ensure flat-packing and optimal storage

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Interior and exterior storage to fit items like shoes, pouches and gear

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  • Easy-roll, durable, oversized wheels for smooth travel over any terrain

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A signature kickstand keeps your duffle stable & upright for easy access to your belongings

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  • Forest Green

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Expand your horizons with the Outdoor Rolling Duffle 85L, our latest addition to the Outdoor Collection. With a soft packable front duffle, a lightweight polycarbonate back shell, oversized wheels, and added pockets for storage, this checked bag ensures you arrive at your final destination fully equipped. Complete with compression and collapsibility systems, this wheeled duffle is the perfect adventure buddy for longer trips filled with both clothing and gear.

Made from 30% recycled, water- and abrasion-resistant materials, our Outdoor Collection is designed to keep your belongings safe and dry—whether you’re staying local or going off the grid.

Easy-roll oversized wheels

Features & functions:

  • Signature compression and collapsibility systems ensure flat-packing for optimal storage, leaving plenty of room for gear on top
  • A signature kickstand keeps your duffle stable & upright for easy access to your belongings
  • Thoughtful interior and exterior organizational details include a front entry opening and interior organization pockets
  • Hidden front, exterior pocket large enough for shoe storage
  • High-grade, quick-release trolley handle with 2 adjustable height settings
  • Grab handles on all four sides for easy lifting
  • This duffle stores flat - great for those with less room for storage
  • Easy-wipe pockets keep your bag clean and pristine

Material content:

  • Durable, lightweight 100% polycarbonate back shell
  • 100% recycled polyester duffle body that’s lightweight and abrasion-resistant
  • 100% recycled webbing, mesh, and drawcord
  • Packaging made from compostable materials

Capacity 85L Dimensions 30.5" x 16.1" x 11" Weight 7.96 lbs

We want you to love everything about getting Away—which is why we offer free returns and exchanges on unused items for the first 100 days. We can only accept returns on unused items, so please gently test them out at home before traveling with them. Learn more about our return policy .

Our suitcases are guaranteed by a limited warranty that covers any damage to the shell, wheels, handles, zippers, and many other functional elements of our luggage. Learn more about our warranty .

Keep in mind that while personalized items cannot be returned or exchanged, they are still covered by our warranties. For shipping info, see our FAQ .

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The Best Electric Chainsaws of 2024

Electric chainsaws reduce emissions by using electricity, and they're cheaper to run than gas chainsaws. Here's our list of the best electric chainsaws of 2024.

best electric chainsaws

Electric chainsaws are better than gas chainsaws. That may feel like a controversial statement, but cordless electric saws eliminate most of the issues that make gas saws a pain.

They seriously reduce emissions by using electricity instead of oil and gas. And they’re cheaper to run — most don’t need maintenance beyond an occasional chain sharpening.

Electric chainsaws also eliminate carburetors, fuel lines, spark plugs, and air filters, including the cost and hassle of maintaining, cleaning, and replacing those. Because they don’t use gas, gas won’t go bad inside the saw. Some saws are also so quiet that not only will they be less disturbing to your neighbors and wildlife, but there’s also less of a chance they’ll impact your hearing.

They’re also super easy to start. If you’re an intermittent user, that may be what convinces you to make the switch. Electric chainsaws start when you release the safety and pull the trigger with your finger. There’s no pull cord, so there’s no need to leave a saw idling so you don’t have to start it again or keep the gas engine warm. Electric chainsaws turn on and off in a flash. And when they’re on, because they vibrate less, they’re less tiring to use.

Be careful when you use an electric chainsaw. Because there’s no roar of a gas-powered engine, they can seem like toys. But an electric chainsaw chain can do just as much work as a gas-powered saw — and just as much damage if used inappropriately. Operators should wear the same PPE they put on when using gas-powered saws. And before you use any chainsaw, it’s imperative to get educated on proper safety and handling.

Our team at GearJunkie has collectively tested dozens of these electric beasts and left no stone unturned in finding the best saws for this guide. Whether bucking logs in the backcountry or cutting trees while building trails, lead tester and author Berne Broudy has years of experience with both electric and gas-powered chainsaws and harnessed this wisdom and the collective knowledge of our team to bring you the streamlined selection of eight chainsaws you see today.

For more information about electric chainsaws, check out our comprehensive buyer’s guide , comparison chart , and FAQ at the end of this article.

Editor’s Note: We updated this guide on May 14, 2024, adding the WEN 40V Max Lithium Ion 16-inch Brushless Chainsaw , our new pick for those on a tight budget.

  • Best Overall Electric Chainsaw: Greenworks GS181 82V 18″ Chainsaw
  • Best Budget Electric Chainsaw: DeWalt XR 12″ 20V Battery Chainsaw Kit
  • Best Electric Chainsaw on a Tight Budget: WEN 40V Max Lithium Ion 16-Inch Brushless Chainsaw
  • Best Midsize Electric Chainsaw: Stihl MSA 220 C-B
  • Best Light-Duty Electric Chainsaw: Hart 8” Pruning Saw
  • Best for Hard-to-Reach Branches: Greenworks 10″ Brushless Pole Saw

Greenworks GS181 82V 18″ Chainsaw

  • Weight (with battery) 17 lbs., 4 oz.
  • Bar length 18”
  • Bucking spikes Steel
  • Chain brake Yes
  • Chain tensioning Via included but no onboard tool
  • Warranty 2 years

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  • As powerful as a gas saw
  • Long-lasting battery
  • Quick charging
  • Batteries and chargers sold separately
  • No onboard chain-tightening tool
  • Manual chain tightening

The chainsaw that made us rethink owning a gas saw, the  Greenworks 18-inch-bar GS181  ($535), can handle any task a prosumer Stihl can, from felling mature ash and maple to bucking up the log. We used it to fell and cut four cords of firewood and never missed our gas saw.

Greenworks GS181 has the power and torque of a 50cc gas engine with a more reliable, efficient, and economical brushless electric motor. It runs on a 4Ah 82V battery, the biggest battery of the saws on this list.

The battery has exceptional life. Greenworks optimized it for performance in the tool as well as efficient charging. It’s Bluetooth-enabled, so we could register it and track its performance. With Bluetooth, we always know which battery is the oldest. And when we loaned one to a neighbor, Bluetooth reminded us to get it back.

The GS181’s motor provided instant high torque, zero maintenance, and zero-exhaust cutting with decreased vibration and noise. We used this saw’s predecessor for 2 years, and while it was a fantastic second saw, it didn’t have the power to fell the largest trees. The thinner blade felt too delicate to fell big hardwoods. This tough, powerful big brother crushed any tree felling, trimming, or log sawing project we threw its way, including forestry work.

To operate this saw, we filled the clear oil reservoir with chain oil. Because the reservoir is translucent, it was easy to monitor chain oil levels on the fly. That’s important because, unlike a gas saw, we didn’t need to refill the oil. On gas saws, we typically refuel and refill the oil at the same time. The saw’s automatic oiler applied oil to the bar and chain as needed to ensure durability and smooth functioning.

When we were ready to saw, we pressed the power button above the handle and were ready to go. To start the chain spinning, release the lock on top of the saw, pull the trigger, and the saw comes to life. Your upper hand is protected by a chain brake that stops the saw instantly when engaged. Releasing the trigger also stops the blade.

The saw’s battery status and remaining charge were indicated by LED lights on the 400Ah battery. (It can also be run with Greenworks 250Ah and 500Ah batteries, and Bluetooth batteries are not required.) When the chain brake was engaged, a caution light flashed to let us know.

With the saw pressed against a tree, the steel bucking spikes bit in to give leverage and control. The high-quality chain, driven by the powerful battery and motor, ripped through wood with the same power as a gas saw, but with none of the fumes and a whole lot less noise.

Made for professional use, this saw has a metal plate protecting the bottom. It adds weight, but it also means we won’t ever crack the saw’s body. The new plate ruggedizes the saw and makes it feel even more trustworthy.

For quick tasks, it’s quiet enough that we didn’t feel like we needed hearing protection. But this saw is so big and powerful, we wore it anyway.

For people who use a chainsaw frequently and depend on it for tasks of all sizes, there’s no better saw than the Greenworks 18-inch GS181 . It’s somewhere between prosumer and professional in design and power. And while it’s hefty, it gives the confidence to get any job done. This is the only saw on this list suitable for professional use.

DeWalt XR 12″ 20V Battery Chainsaw Kit

  • Weight 9 lbs., 5 oz.
  • Bar length 12″
  • Bucking spikes Plastic ridges
  • Chain tensioning Tool-free
  • Warranty N/A

The Best Electric Chainsaws of 2024

  • Lightweight
  • Not great for bigger jobs
  • Takes longer to cut than other models

Small and light enough to carry in a backpack, this  12-inch saw  ($279) is our new go-to for trail work. A homestead workhorse, it cut landscaping timbers, cut down a stud wall, limbed trees, and cleaned up winter blowdown. And, at under $300, it’s a solid budget pick that still gets moderately difficult jobs done.

The 12-inch-blade saw was light and easy to handle, but it had the safety and convenience features of bigger, more expensive saws. It was the only sub-14-inch saw we tested that had a chain brake. It was self-oiling for continuous use, with a sealed reservoir that kept it from leaking when we carried the saw in a pack. All of the other saws in this class that we tested had manual oiling mechanisms, which were messy and unreliable.

The low-kickback, 12-inch Oregon bar and chain got the job done, though with a lot more vibration than larger saws. On the bright side, when the chain rattled loose, adjusting it was tool-free.

The tool is designed for smaller jobs. It had plastic ridges — not quite spikes. But that wasn’t a deal-breaker, as most of the time we used this saw to clear branches, cut down saplings, and trim bridge planks. It could cut down a tree up to 8 or so inches, it just took longer than the larger saws we liked.

This saw is part of Dewalt’s 20V Max system of tools. The kit includes the tool plus a 5Ah 20V Max battery, charger, and a bar cover.

WEN 40417 40V Max Lithium Ion 16-Inch Brushless Chainsaw

  • Weight (with battery) 12 lbs.
  • Bar length 16"
  • Bucking spikes N/A

The Best Electric Chainsaws of 2024

  • Budget-pricing
  • Proven Oregon 16" bar
  • 40V battery provides decent torque and run-time
  • Cheaper plastic construction isn’t as durable
  • Stock chain isn’t a high-quality option

Electric chainsaws are still fairly new to the power tools market, and for those unsure about the jump, a budget option offers a low-cost-of-entry opportunity to see what the fuss is all about. The WEN 40V Max Lithium Ion 16-Inch Brushless Chainsaw ($179) doesn’t ask a lot and performs on par with many of the saws we’ve tested to date.

As the ideal garden saw, the WEN is more suited to brushing out an overgrown lot than felling trees, but we had no problem using it for that task. The 40-volt battery is about the middle of the pack when it comes to e-saws, and we used the WEN for full days of trail work before it needed to be recharged.

Thankfully, WEN knows when to tag in the big guns where it counts, and the 16″ Oregon bar is a welcome sight on this saw. While not a burly unit, the lightweight bar is designed to limit kickback, and we had no issues with it overheating when running hard.

As with many power tools, it’s important to consider the brand and system you’ll be investing in, and while WEN does offer up several other 40V lawn and garden tools, the budget brand may not be the tool ecosystem you’re looking to go all in on.

For those already plugged into a big-name battery system, it may be best to spend the extra dough to keep battery cross-compatibility. But if an electric chainsaw is a one-off purchase or the beginning of your power tool collection, the  WEN 40V Max Lithium Ion 16-inch Brushless Chainsaw  may be the ticket. It certainly won’t take a bite out of your wallet like some other serious saws will.

Stihl MSA 220 C-B

  • Weight 12 lbs., 9 oz.
  • Bar length 14″ and 16″
  • Bucking spikes Plastic and metal
  • Warranty 3 years

The Best Electric Chainsaws of 2024

  • Tool-free chain tensioning
  • Rugged and durable
  • Louder than other saws of similar size

Capable of felling and limbing small and medium-sized trees, and ideal for softwood projects, this  light- to medium-duty 36V Stihl  ($420) is the brand’s first battery-powered chainsaw with a 16-inch bar. And it’s the most powerful electric saw in the Stihl lineup.

This rugged, well-designed, well-built saw has all the most important convenience and safety features. According to Stihl, its bar and chain stay lubricated while also using up to 50% less oil than conventional saws. The system works via two ramps placed in the guide bar rail that contain oil flow and channel oil to the sliding faces of the bar, the chain links, the rivets, and the driver holes.

The saw’s chain brake stopped the chain fast when I activated it with my hand. It would auto-engage if the saw kicked back. One of our favorite features of this saw was a raised and printed felling stripe, a feature not found on any of the other saws we tested. It gave a visual of where the tree we were cutting would fall, which was accurate and educational.

A clear chain oil reservoir let us continuously monitor how much was left and when I needed to refill. But the handiest feature of this saw was Stihl’s Quick Chain Adjuster, which let us tension the chain without tools.

The MSA 220 C-B uses a light and compact brushless electric motor with reduced vibration. The soft rubber on the handle was easy to grip and comfortable to hold all day. While it was quieter than a gas saw, this saw was louder than other saws we tested and required hearing protection at all times.

We ran this saw with   Stihl’s AP 300 S battery  — a 7.8Ah battery and the most powerful Stihl offers. The battery has 25% more capacity than the AP 300 for longer runtime as well as an enhanced power-to-weight ratio. It’s compatible with a wide range of Stihl tools, including extended-reach hedge trimmers, pole pruners, chainsaws, and blowers.

The saw comes with Stihl’s 3/8-inch PICCO super chain and a low-profile, low-kickback saw chain with a square-cornered cutter shape for minimum chain friction and a smooth, clean cut. It was one of the nicest chains of any saw we tested. It sliced through small logs like a knife through butter with the power and precision practically synonymous with the Stihl name.

Metal and plastic spikes bit into the bark to give us purchase. But when we tackled trees 8 inches or larger, despite the long bar, the saw hesitated even when we weren’t applying pressure. We tested the 16-inch bar saw. But considering its power, I’d buy this saw with the 14-inch blade instead.

Hart 8” Pruning Saw

  • Weight 6 lbs., 8 oz.
  • Bar length 8″
  • Bucking spikes No
  • Chain brake No
  • Chain tensioning Onboard tool
  • Warranty 3 years, limited

The Best Electric Chainsaws of 2024

  • No oil required
  • Small and lightweight for light jobs around the house
  • Not great for big jobs
  • No chain brake

One step up from manual loppers, the no-oil-required  Hart 8-inch pruning saw  ($145) is a handy lawn and garden tool for light jobs around the house and relatively infrequent use. The 20V saw is powered by a 2Ah battery with a fast charger. The battery is compatible with many other Hart tools, and the saw is compatible with any Hart 20V battery.

Though the saw is light-duty, it comes with a chain-tensioning tool in the handle. There’s no chain brake, but a plastic block protects your hand.

Hart does provide a tip guard to help prevent improper sawing techniques that could lead to kickback. With the tip guard installed, the bar cover didn’t fit. The frame of the saw keeps the blade off the ground, so when we stopped to clear out the branches we had cut, it didn’t get in the dirt.

Greenworks 10″ Brushless Pole Saw

  • Weight 12 lbs., 12.8 oz.
  • Bar length 10”
  • Warranty 4 years

The Best Electric Chainsaws of 2024

  • Perfect for high branches
  • Niche design limits use

For most people, a pole saw falls in the n+1 category, as in non-essential. But once you’ve used this pole saw, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.

With a small chainsaw at the end of a three-piece pole that extends up to 10 feet, this pole saw ($179) is ideal for maintaining trails and driveways, cleaning up storm damage, pruning fruit and ornamental trees, and getting to broken branches that are higher than you can reach.

The saw, which has an automatic chain oiler, is on an angle at the end of the pole. That provides a great angle for sawing overhead tree limbs and helps with precision. The angled head also directs the weight of the saw down for a gravity assist with cuts. The three-section 10-foot poles gave 11 feet of reach. It twists to adjust.

To engage the saw, we pressed on the release and pulled the trigger in the handle (at the end of the pole farthest from the saw). That’s also where the battery lives, which kept the weight low and acted as ballast to help control the saw overhead.

When we cut a limb and it got hung up in the tree, a branch hook at the base of the saw helped us pull it down. We also used the branch hook to hang the saw when alternating between the pole saw and the chainsaw.

The 10-inch Pole Saw ran on the same batteries and used the same charger as the  Greenworks GS181 82V 18-inch Chainsaw . It is a great tool for an ambitious homeowner but is also capable of handling professional jobs.

Ryobi 40V HP 18” Brushless Chainsaw

  • Weight 13 lbs.
  • Bucking spikes Plastic
  • Chain tensioning Via onboard tool
  • Warranty 5 years

The Best Electric Chainsaws of 2024

  • Comes with carrying case
  • Killer price for a powerful saw
  • Plastic spikes instead of metal
  • Vulnerable battery position under saw

Powerful and aggressive, Ryobi’s 40V HP 18-inch Brushless Chainsaw ($369) rivaled more expensive saws with its ability to fell trees and cut firewood. While it wasn’t as powerful or long-lasting, it is powerful enough for small projects and occasional use, and it gave us a lot of bang for the buck.

The saw’s load-sensing, brushless motor auto-adjusted the saw’s power levels to what was needed to cut. Using it, we cut a wedge from a 10-inch birch and then dropped it with confidence.

A mechanical chain brake protected us from kickback and let us disengage the chain anytime we wanted to stop the saw. It was placed comfortably so we didn’t knock it accidentally but could easily engage it when we needed it. In past Ryobi saws, some users have complained there wasn’t sufficient space between the handle and the chain brake, so it engaged unintentionally.

The clear oil reservoir was a handy window that let us keep track of our chain oil level. And the tool in the handle was handy for tightening the chain, though smaller than what’s usually specced with a chainsaw. It clips into the handle, so we always had it. But we sometimes needed to use a branch or other tool to remove it from its handle storage area.

This saw can handle the occasional downed mature tree, making it perfect for the homeowner who needs a saw with a longer bar. But plastic spikes, not metal ones, and the smaller battery made it best for household projects, not production work. Plastic spikes gave some purchase on rougher bark, but not enough grab to leverage the saw. And the battery didn’t last long enough to buck up a whole tree.

The saw is well-balanced and has a good grip. Our only design concern is that the battery, which is on the bottom of the saw, is exposed. It’s recessed into the frame, but it feels vulnerable.

Pack the saw up, and the scabbard not only sheaths the bar and chain but also covers the bucking spikes. The scabbard inserts into the saw’s plastic carry case that transports the saw and keeps any leaked chain oil contained. It was a convenient system that also didn’t take up awkward space when we stored the case when the saw was in use.

The battery didn’t last as long as the Greenworks or Stihl batteries, but it did recharge in just under an hour, and it’s compatible with many Ryobi tools and chargers. Plus, it has a 5-year warranty.

Ego Power+ CS1800

  • Weight 9 lbs.
  • Bar length 16”

The Best Electric Chainsaws of 2024

  • Solid performance at a good price
  • Simple chain tension adjustment
  • Quick charging battery
  • Plastic bucking spikes are small and not very effective
  • Slow wind-up time

Quickly lop up logs for an evening fire, clear trees for a new trail, or simply keep your bushes tamed in the front yard — the Ego Power+ CS1800 ($330) is a lightweight and affordable saw. As one of the lightest e-saws on this list, and with an impressively long battery life, we were able to bring this tool deep into the woods on backcountry trail work and perform endless tasks around the house before having to put it back on to charge. For simple to moderately taxing jobs, this easy-to-use saw will have you questioning why you used gas-guzzlers in the first place.

This chainsaw is a cinch to use right out of the box, and the battery charges up lightning-fast (about 30 minutes). Throw in some chain lube, and you’re ready to go. While we wish the saw came with a case for an easier carry, we schlepped this to some remote areas for trail work, and for the power it brings, we were shocked at how easy it is to handle. Its high-efficiency brushless motor delivers 6,800 RPM with the power to cut through moderately large trees or branches, and the 56V 5Ah battery keeps it humming along for hours.

The 16-inch bar is just about perfect for most trail-building and home maintenance tasks we encounter, and the tool-free chain adjustment means we can quickly and easily make tweaks without disrupting our workflow. This isn’t the beefiest — or most powerful — saw on the market, but we were pleasantly surprised by how fast it slices through moderately large branches, and how long the battery lasts while on remote jobs.

While testing, a few cons did surface. Namely, the plastic bucking spikes aren’t very prominent or sharp and don’t bite into large logs well — meaning you don’t get the most effective pivot point to work with for large-diameter cuts. Since we generally use this for smaller logs and branches this isn’t much of an issue, but was noticeable on a couple of occasions. Additionally, it has a pretty slow wind-up time, which isn’t a dealbreaker, but does slow down workflow a bit.

These slight quibbles aside, the Ego Power+ CS1800 is a budget-friendly, lightweight, and powerful e-chainsaw that is capable of handling most tasks you’ll encounter around the house or while building/maintaining a trail. It doesn’t quite stack up to some of the larger, longer saws we tested, but it performs well enough and keeps your wallet happy in the process.

Electric Chainsaws Comparison Chart

Lineup of electric chainsaws

How We Tested Electric Chainsaws

From bucking logs at a job site, to amassing wood for the winter on homesteads, the GearJunkie team is no stranger to the chainsaw game. Our lead tester, Berne Broudy, has spent many a day covered in sawdust and culminated our initial selection of six chainsaws back in March of 2021. Since then, we’ve had our finger on the pulse of the electric chainsaw market and make sure to scope out new technologies and updates as soon as they’re available.

We chopped up endless lengths of logs, cleared miles of trails, and amassed piles of firewood with each of these models, using them on rigorous jobs to truly test their mettle. We focused on the ease of use, battery power, efficiency, and durability of each saw — and each had to impress us on multiple fronts to earn any real estate in this guide.

We know the competition for the chainsaw podium is fierce, which is why we keep this guide on an iterative update schedule, ensuring the roundup you see above is the most current, deserving selection possible. Rest assured — each saw on this list will tackle your sawing tasks with ease.

Buying Guide: How to Choose an Electric Chainsaw

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What Is the Point of an Electric Chainsaw?

There’s a feeling of power in yanking a gas-powered saw to life and hearing it rumble in your hands. Take away that allure — and remove some power — and you might be wondering what the point of an electric chainsaw would be. They don’t sound as cool, they have less tenacity, and you have to remember to keep their batteries charged.

So why buy one? Below, we’ll take a look at some of the primary pros and cons of these e-beasts, and you can decide for yourself.

Pros of Electric Chainsaws

To us, these saws’ discrete draw lies in their simplicity, weight, safety, eco-friendly nature, and financial savings. Electric chainsaws hum to life at the flick of a switch, whereas gas saws require you to pull a cord a few times to start it up — which bears the inherent danger of kickback occurring and injuring the operator. Even with electric saws, we always wear PPE, including heavy-duty work pants and work boots , along with eye and ear protection.

Gas saws also run on a blend of gas and oil, and insufficient blends can keep the motor from turning over — and require regular maintenance. Having carburetors, fuel lines, spark plugs, and air filters in the system adds a significant number of potential failure points. Additional gas and oil are also continued financial burdens.

Gas-powered models are heavier to operate and more unwieldy, which also places them on the more dangerous fringe of the spectrum. Finally, gas chainsaws transmit fumes that are toxic to the environment, and require a continual influx of fossil fuels to run. Electric chainsaws are better for the planet and are generally easier to operate.

cutting a small log with the WEN electric chainsaw

Cons of Electric Chainsaws

The primary con of electric chainsaws lies in their lack of power compared to their gas-infused cousins. While they hold their own considering their weight and simplicity, they won’t be able to handle the caliber of tasks that a gas-powered saw of the same size could. Additionally, it is more difficult to accomplish remote jobs with electric chainsaws, as you need to be close to a power source to keep your batteries charged, and bringing loads of extra batteries gets heavy, expensive, and downright frustrating.

As you can see, it boils down to personal preference and the types of jobs you plan on tackling when it comes to choosing between an electric or gas-powered chainsaw. Both have their own advantages and drawbacks, but we tend to gravitate to electric saws for moderate work that has access to an outlet. The pros seem to outweigh the cons for us in most everyday DIY tasks we encounter.

Stihl MSA 220 C-B

What Other Battery-Powered Tools Do You Already Own?

The key to battery-powered tools is that many of the batteries can be used in a family of tools, not just a single tool. This can save you some major money.

If you’re already committed to a brand’s battery system, it may make sense to buy a compatible chainsaw. If you haven’t committed to a brand’s battery system, choose carefully, because you may be committing to more than just the chainsaw once you get started. The batteries in my Greenworks chainsaw also power my lawnmower, leaf blower, pole saw, and more.

Choose Your Batteries and Charger Wisely

Electric chainsaws run on quick-charging lithium-ion batteries. Many recharge in about an hour. A bigger battery will give you saw longer life. It will also weigh more. If you’re doing light yard work and using your saw infrequently, it may make sense to have multiple smaller batteries instead of big ones.

Actually, it always makes sense to have multiple batteries, because there’s nothing more frustrating than being halfway through a project and having to wait until your battery recharges, which could be 40 minutes to several hours. Some e-chainsaws have battery-charging options. If a quick recharge is important to you, spend a few extra bucks to save yourself hours of waiting.

Ryobi 40V HP 18” Brushless Chainsaw

What Do Ah and V Numbers Mean?

When shopping for a battery-operated chainsaw, amps (A), amp-hours (Ah), and voltage (V) tell you how much work you’ll be able to do with the saw-and-battery combination.

Amps or amperage is the amount of electrical current the battery can provide. Amp-hours tells you how long the battery can provide a certain amount of current. And voltage is how much force the saw has to push current from one part of the electrical circuit to the next. More expensive saws will have higher numbers.

Weigh Your Options

Hart 8” Pruning Saw

Smaller saws are lighter and easier to operate. Pick one large enough to get your jobs done. If you’re planning on carrying a saw for trail work , you may want the smallest, not the most powerful. If you’re using your saw to fell trees and buck up firewood for the season, power and large size are key.

Battery choice also affects the saw’s running weight. Choose batteries with enough juice you won’t be waiting for a recharge. Keep in mind that lighter batteries are usually shorter-lived but also make a saw easier to manage.

What Features Matter?

Not every saw has a chain brake and not every saw is self-oiling. Some come standard with bucking spikes, others leave them off. Pick a saw with the operation and safety features that are important to you. Some e-chainsaws have tool-free chain tensioning, some have clip-in storage for a tool, etc.

Bucking Spikes — What Are They and Do You Need Them?

greenworks gs181 82v chainsaw

Bucking spikes — known by other monikers such as teeth, spikes, dawgs, or dogs — are metal or plastic plates that can be fixed to the powerhead of a chainsaw. Most chainsaws come with bucking spikes already pre-mounted, but some have mounting areas where different types of spikes can be mounted directly to the saw.

“Dawgs,” as we like to call them, provide something of a pivot point when bucking up large sections of logs, as they allow you to dig the spike into the log and use them as a point of leverage to force your bar through the log. This is extremely important when using particularly large chainsaws with long bars to cut through oversized logs.

To properly use a chainsaw dawg, use the rotation of your chain to help you jam the spikes into the log when you begin your cut. This allows you to use the sticking point to pivot your chainsaw bar down into the log. After you have cut through a significant portion of the log, you can pull the dawgs out of the log, and continue cutting as normal. If it is a particularly large log, you can continue jamming the spikes back into the log for multiple pivot cuts.

We have noted if each of the electric chainsaws above has bucking spikes or not in the specs chart .

You Get What You Pay For

DeWalt XR 12 in. 20-volt Battery Chainsaw Kit

Electric chainsaws are like most other tools: You get what you pay for. If you buy a cheap saw, expect that it won’t have all the bells and whistles of a more expensive saw, and the battery likely won’t be as powerful or long-lasting.

Not everyone needs a pro-grade saw, but for us, features like a chain brake and automatic chain oiler are non-negotiable. Chainsawing safety is paramount, and an auto-oiler will keep your saw in tip-top shape.

Caring for Electric Chainsaws

“Take care of your tools and they’ll take care of you” — a maxim we’ve probably all heard our dads mutter in the past. While electric chainsaws are much easier to maintain, clean, and operate than gas-powered models, there are still some important considerations to keep in mind before you leave the job site at the end of a long day.

First and foremost, it is vital to ensure your oil tank is filled with quality bar and chain lubricant before each use. Operating any electric chainsaw without chain oil or when the oil level is below the minimum mark will result in long-term damage to the saw. We’ve been using a premium oil-free lubricant from EGO Power+ and have had solid results with it.

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After each use, it’s a good idea to clean debris like dirt and wood chips from the chain and guide bar with a soft brush. You should also wipe the saw surface with a clean, damp cloth soaked in a mild soap solution or mechanic’s wipes. Make sure you have removed the battery before cleaning your saw.

After you have done this, remove the side cover, and use your soft brush, paper towels, or even an old toothbrush to clear debris from the guide bar, saw chain, and sprocket under the cover. Sawdust and gunk build up fast in here, so it’s important to stay on top of this! If the buildup is difficult to remove, add a bit of carb cleaner to your toothbrush or cloth to help break it up.

Next, make sure that the body of your saw is clear of sawdust and dirt, such as your battery compartment and connections, and vent areas. Over time you will need to sharpen or replace your chain and perform heavier maintenance tasks, but keeping it clean after each use will greatly prolong the life of your saw.

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Safety Considerations When Using Electric Chainsaws

Just because these are electric chainsaws, doesn’t mean they are any less dangerous than their gas-guzzling counterparts. Chainsaw work is, by definition, extremely risky, and even lightweight 10″ “yard-work” saws could lop your finger off as easily as they trim the bushes. Electric chainsaws are sometimes also considered even more dangerous than gas-powered saws, as there is no rumble of the motor to remind you that the saw is operational.

It’s important to read the instructions and owner’s manual completely for any electric chainsaw you decide to go with and remove the battery before checking and adjusting chain tension or refilling bar oil. Make sure to learn how to safely use a chainsaw from someone you trust who has experience in the craft before setting off on your own. Additionally, stock up on all of the appropriate safety gear before working with these tools. They have the potential to seriously injure you, but there are steps you can take — and apparel you can wear — to mitigate the risk.

hart 8” pruning saw

Part of the allure of electric chainsaws is how easy they are to operate. Generally speaking, they are much more straightforward than gas-powered saws and require you to simply charge up the battery and fire it up with the flick of a switch. Make sure to fill the saw with bar oil before operating it — but aside from that, no additional fluids are needed.

Each saw is slightly different in its own regard, so be sure to thumb through the owner’s manual before ripping into branches to make sure you understand how it works, and how to stay safe while using it.

We cover a handful of the pros and cons of electric chainsaws in our buyer’s guide above, but it truly does boil down to personal preference and the task at hand. Some remote jobs would be better served by a more powerful gas chainsaw, as they don’t require you to be close to an outlet or carry loads of extra batteries. However, gas-powered saws can be more expensive and maintenance-intensive over the long run, and aren’t quite as eco-friendly.

Electric chainsaws are easy to use, better for the environment, quieter, safer, and more affordable over time. For us, electric chainsaws make the most sense for the majority of light to moderately demanding jobs we encounter day to day.

We have highlighted a number of different categories of saws in this guide, and one might better suit your needs over another. As an all-around workhorse capable of tackling a diverse array of jobs, we narrowed in on the Greenworks GS181 82V 18″ Chainsaw for our best overall award.

This may not be the best saw for you personally, however, and something like Hart’s 8” Pruning Saw or Greenworks’ 10″ Brushless Pole Saw could be perfect if you just need light tasks done around the house, as opposed to big ol’ bucking jobs in the backcountry.

Consider the full scope of objectives you want to accomplish before dialing in on the electric chainsaw you end up buying.

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The Best Work Pants of 2024

Work pants provide functional utility for carpentry, construction, ranch work, or DIY home projects. These are the best work pants we have found.

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The Best Work Boots of 2024

Intense work can tread over sharps, hot surfaces, high voltage, and dangerous objects. Protect your feet with one of our picks for the best work boots!

Berne Broudy

Berne Broudy is a contributing writer at GearJunkie.com.

Broudy has been writing about cycling, skiing, and outdoor gear for more than 20 years. Before that, Broudy spent time guiding hiking and cycling tours in South America, Europe, and the U.S.

Based in Vermont, Berne Broudy is a core user of and expert in outdoor, cycling, and ski gear, as well as overlanding and powersports gear. She has been writing about outdoor products, business, and issues for more than 20 years. She has written and photographed for more than 20 publications and has served as a contributing editor at many of them.

Broudy currently sits on several nonprofit boards in her home state of Vermont. She is an avid mountain biker, gravel biker, backcountry skier, overlander, and adventure traveler.

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Based in beautiful Chattanooga, Tennessee, Chris Carter is a Senior Editor for GearJunkie, while squeezing in side gigs as an adventure filmmaker and content creator in the outdoor industry. Drawing from his childhood in Africa, experience as a rock climbing and backpacking guide, ultra-marathon running, and years of extensive thru-hiking, he’s passionate about journalism that gets people into the wild. He has thru-hiked the Triple Crown of long trails in America: the Pacific Crest Trail (2018), the Continental Divide Trail (2021), and the Appalachian Trail (2021), and has explored, rock-climbed, and backpacked all over the world. He hopes to spread his love of adventure and travel through his writing, art, and videography.

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Rolling Stone Summer Essentials 2024: The 30+ Best Travel, Beach, and Party Gear for the Season

  • By Sage Anderson

Sage Anderson

If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, Rolling Stone may receive an affiliate commission.

Whether you’re gearing up for a “yacht party and polos” summer or “White Claw and napping by the pool” kind of summer, it feels damn good to get out once the temps start ticking up. To the beach , the campground , or just cruising around town, no matter where you’re heading off to, these are the products to pick up and make it your best getaway yet.

Think speakers that double as karaoke machines, pool loungers you can take into the ocean and — for wannabe high rollers — the return of an iconic Eighties Riviera sunscreen with a twist. We’ve tested these products to ensure they hold up to big parties and solo adventures alike, and make sure they come with a high rating from users like you. Here’s what earned our Rolling Stone seal of approval.

1. Sonos Move 2

2. jbl partybox club 120  .

With up to 12 hours of playtime and a splash-proof design, the JBL PartyBox Club 120 really lets you turn up the fun. Built-in light show (all synced to the beat of the music) and karaoke capabilities make this modern boombox a must-have. Not to mention that it delivers clear, dynamic sound and deeper bass than its predecessors, even at top volume. For backyard barbecues or days at the beach, this is the best way to get big sound in a portable package.

3. Novogratz Poolside Collection Asher Wood Burning Fire Pit

Editor’s picks, every awful thing trump has promised to do in a second term, the 250 greatest guitarists of all time, the 500 greatest albums of all time, the 50 worst decisions in movie history, 4. gozney dome s1.

Contrary to popular belief, no, you do not need to import water from the Big Apple to make a worthy pizza pie. All you need is a workhorse of an oven, or maybe just the impeccably-designed  Dome S1 . While we love wood-charred flavor as much as the next pizza lover, focusing on propane here makes for a (nearly) fool-proof cooking experience. Its removable stone floor, integrated temperature display, and high-heat propane gas control give you all the essentials to turn you into a bonafide pizzaiolo at home (please don’t use store-bought dough though, trust us here). 

5. Crocs Getaway Platform Flips

From road trips to staycations, here's why rvshare is our go-to for festival camping, 2024 acm awards: how to watch the show and performances online, indiana fever vs. new york liberty: how to watch the wnba game online, 6. ostrich deluxe 3-n-1 lightweight beach chair.

The days of sacrificing portability for comfort at the shore are over thanks to the insanely-supportive Ostrich Deluxe 3-N-1 Lightweight Beach Chair . It’s got adjustable foot and backrests, and a lumbar pillow for long evenings prepping your campfire grub or watching the waves. By adjusting the back, you can lie completely flat, and there’s even a face hole for tanning and convenient reading. We’ve been on the hunt for the Goldilocks for beach chairs for ages, and credit Ostrich for upping our beachside enjoyment.

7. LG CineBeam Q

This new stylish and portable projector from LG is the best cinematic experience you’ll get in your backyard this year. The rotating handle has two practical benefits — swinging the handle up easily lets you transport the lightweight, 3-pound projector virtually anywhere. Adjusting it down also gives you the flexibility to point and play at any angle. What we love about this projector is that it displays a sharp, bright 4K picture with unreal color reproduction, even in the dark, so your movie nights will never be the same.

8. Polaroid Wave Underwater 4K Camera

Built to accompany you on all your underwater adventures, the Polaroid Wave is a fun, lightweight alternative to traditional action cameras. Since it’s waterproof in up to 10 feet and wrapped in a protective case, there’s very little terrain you can’t capture photos in. It’s also just a solid, high-quality camera you’d want to use anywhere, with 4K UHD 18mp video capabilities and Wi-Fi connectivity that lets you share upload content to your social channels directly from the camera itself.

9. Bob Marley x Slowtide Blankets

10. igloo ecocool 24-can backpack cooler.

Sometimes your day trip to the beach doesn’t necessitate schlepping an entire hard cooler just to take the party with you. For wherever your next adventure goes, Igloo’s portable ECOCOOL Backpack is up to the task — without being hard on the environment. It’s tough as nails yet still lightweight, with a new kind of insulation made from repurposed algae and recycled EVA that keeps 24 bevvies cold for days. With more structure than your typical soft-sided cooler, it’s especially great for making sure those glass bottles won’t tip over and break (and being made out of plastic bottles gives it bonus points in our book).

11. Brümate BrüTank 55-Quart Rolling Cooler

Capacity is the name of the game when we’re shopping for coolers, and the Brümate BrüTank certainly delivers in this arena. Its 55-quart interior means you can transport your favorite canned or bottled bevs with ease, but did we also mention the removable 2.8-gallon drink tank with a built-in tap? The all-terrain wheels also afford it the ability to glide over any surface, so it’s quickly became a mainstay for all our backyard, park, and beach hangs.

12. Fun Boy Leisure Island: Classic Backrest Water Hammock

Looking to elevate your aquatic activities this summer? Fun Boy’s new Classic Backrest Water Hammock is a massive floating island with a large mesh relaxation area that makes basically the best floating dock ever. We’ve used it out on a lake, and while it looks chic, we were quite impressed by how heavy duty it feels. The mesh allows just enough water in to cool you down (without feeling like your skin is just sticking to nylon on a hot day), and with a couple canned drinks in hand, it’s so comfortable it’ll almost want to make you drift out to sea.

13. Snow Peak Festival Landbreeze Pro Air Duo Tent

14. sparrow eye 2 rooftop tent.

Cozy, easy-to-use rooftop tents like the Sparrow EYE 2 make it obvious why the tent style has become so popular. Roofnest’s sleek clamshell tent is extremely easy to set up and take down in under a minute, while its large windows and 40-inch height lend plenty of comfort. For “burning daylight” portability and “sleeping under the stars” comfort, it’s the best of both worlds.

15. Lightspeed Outdoors Quick Cabana Beach Tent  

Not a fan of lounging on the hot, grainy sand while kicking back at the beach? If you want to forgo the typical towels and umbrellas, this beach tent is built for the hottest days of the season with three windows that can be opened for ventilation and an overhang that provides ample shade. While other tent counterparts can get pricey, you’ll get comparably high-quality water-proof materials with easy assembly and plenty of pockets — all for an affordable price tag.

16. Camelbak The A.T.P 20 Backpack

If you’re constantly on the never-ending search for that perfect travel backpack, we’re telling you to stop looking. Camelbak’s go-anywhere, do-anything A.T.P. 20 pack is a compact packer’s best friend, with plenty of storage at 20 L to work from a cafe in Austin or glide through customs on the way to Puebla. The streamlined design could clearly be mistaken for hiker’s gear, but little touches like the compression straps and removable laptop sleeve help this pack punch far above its weight in the luggage category.

17. Away The Outdoor Duffle 70L

Away’s outdoor travel collection features all the necessities you need for a weekend away, and The Outdoor Duffle 70L is constructed with a unique compression system that helps you pack even more in. The interior has a ton of space, including a mesh pocket for organization and the exterior has a hidden zipper compartment for additional items. If you’re heading out on a camping trip to Big Sur, or for an international weekend away to Iceland, The Outdoor Duffle 70L deserves to be your go-to carry-on. 

18. Dagne Dover Vida Cotton Tote Bag

19. yeti rambler 26 oz chug cap bottle.

Forget huge, bulky straw sippers — this is the summer of chugging water, and there’s no better bottle for quenching thirst than Yeti’s Rambler tumbler with its specialty chug cap . They brand is known for their insulation, so it’s no surprise that this is top-tier at chilling, and kept our drinks perfectly icy even after several hours in a hot car. But its best feature is the ability to gulp down a drink without all the ice spilling over your face, and the cap has the added benefit of keeping sand and bugs out of your precious bevvy.

20. Ray-Ban Aviator Reverse Sunglasses

Ray-Ban has been seen on everyone from Taylor Swift to JFK, and featured in movies like The Blues Brothers where they became film iconography. It’s hard not to say Ray-Ban is probably one of the most revered eyewear brands in history, but of their vast selection, we’re wearing the Aviator Reverse sunglasses this summer. They not only have classic appeal, but their high-performance anti-glare treatment means you’ll get the sharpest visuals possible in one frame. The sleek, inverted lens design follows the natural curve of your cheekbones, giving it a modern yet timeless look (so it’s safe to say you’ll have these around for a while).

21. J.Crew Stretch Swim Trunk

As a brand with a rich historical lens for American style, J.Crew’s selection is top tier — and of their summertime selections, Stretch Swim Trunk hits all the right notes. The 6-inch inseam sits comfortably on the upper leg, allowing the full length of your calves to really pop. The elastic stretch on the material also allows for thick thighs to feel comfortable while splashing in the waves or playing volleyball in the sand.

22. Apex Hybrid Trunks By Kelly Slater

23. everlane the day fisherman sandal.

Hailey Bieber set the trend when she wore them during the summer of 2023, and now the world can’t get enough. Fisherman sandals, when worn the right way with socks, are the best accessory to add some texture to an otherwise simple outfit. For those looking for an entry into this amazing trend, look no further than Everlane’s The Day Fisherman Sandal . Expect the incredibly soft Nappa leather upper to form perfectly to your feet over time, and the added buckle detailing adds some charming hardware to an otherwise minimalist shoe.

24. GoBQ Portable Charcoal Grill

The GoBQ is the most portable grill we’ve ever tried, so light and compact it’ll fit in a backpack. It’s even TSA-approved — yes, you heard us right, you can fly with this grill. Made of essentially the same material used in baking mats, the fabric is inherently fire-proof and non-stick, and can withstand over 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit. Just toss some charcoal into the hanging mesh wire basket, roll the grilltop over it, and spark it up. It’s campfire cooking elevated to the next level, and lets you “grill out” far and beyond your boring backyard.

25. Reebok Unisex Club C 85 Sneaker

Reebok re-introduced one of their most iconic sneakers, the Club C 85 Vintage , that proves a low-key look doesn’t need to make a splash to make a statement. We think Reeboks timing is just right, as we’re all trying to get our hands on some court sneakers for the Challengers -inspired, tennis-core summer look. The classic Club C 85s fit the bill with high-quality leather construction and a low-top, Eighties-inspired silhouette.

26. Kangol Washed Bucket Hat

We consider bucket hats to be a summertime wardrobe staple even as we dip our toes in and out of Nineties/Oughts trends. This washed bucket from Kangol nails the look with a versatile cotton build and a low-key Kangol logo. Throw it on for a beach day or wear it with statement sneakers and cargo pants as a going-out look.

27. Sixthreezero Around the Block 500W Electric Bike

28. ride1up revv 1 e-bike.

The Revv 1 from Ride1Up doesn’t just look like one of the coolest new e-bikes on the block — it rides like it too. The beefy “moped-style” e-bike puts you in charge of a very powerful 750-watt battery, which propels the rugged ride to more than 30 miles per hour (even without pedaling) in our testing.

29. Vacation Orange Gelée SPF 30 Sunscreen

This year, trendy sunscreen brand Vacation revived a nostalgic French Riviera classic, “Bain de Soleil Orange Gelée,” the Eighties Saint-Tropez icon revered for its sweet orange scent and powerful bronzing abilities. Developed alongside a panel of eleven fans and beauty experts, Vacation’s Orange Gelée pays homage to the legendary look, feel, scent and shine of the original. Only now it’s got an SPF 30 twist (the original had a pithy SPF 4) and more luscious natural oils and butters. The bottom line: You won’t find a more elegant sunscreen at the beach this year.

30. Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen

Donna summer's estate reaches settlement with kanye west over alleged 'theft' of 'i feel love', chiefs kicker spreads antisemitic lies in benedictine college graduation speech, 2024 acm awards: the complete winners list, cardi b on proving her greatness: ‘i’m that bitch, and y’all fucking know it’, 31. maison margiela replica sailing day fragrance.

This fragrance takes us away to where we always dreamed we’d be…sailing on a bay, preferably with some oysters and a spritz in our future. While aquatic scents can dip into laundry-ish territory, Maison Margiela’s Sailing Day feels fresh and invigorating in all the right ways. Besides the initial spray of ocean waves, the fragrance is rounded out with a sharp rush of iris and coriander, finished off with grounding notes of red seaweed essence and salty ambergris accord. It’s as sophisticated as an expression of the seaside can get, and this is officially our scent of the summer.

32. Boy Smells Sweet Pits Candle

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Cabela’s Is Having a Huge Sale on Outdoor Gear—Up to 30% Off

Save on top brands like The North Face, Garmin, and Camp Chef during this spring sales event at Cabela's

By Amanda Oliver | Published May 14, 2024 6:30 PM EDT

Friends sitting around campfire at campsite with Kelty tent

We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs. Learn more ›

To those of us who believe life is better outside, warmer weather means one thing: more time outdoors doing the stuff we love. And for that, you might want (or even need) some new gear. Right now, Cabela’s is having its annual Go Outdoors sale , where you can score hundreds of dollars off camping tents, flashlights, packs, coolers, and so much more.

Get $100 off a 4-person dome tent perfect for weekend adventures or $50 off a Camp Chef camp stove . Or snag a super bright Streamlight camping lantern for just $29. Whether you’re into camping, backpacking, hiking, fishing, or any other outdoor activity, the massive Cabela’s spring sale has tons of discounted gear.

Below are the best deals at the Cabela’s Go Outdoors sale right now, from top brands like Streamlight, Sea to Summit, Garmin, and Osprey. The clearance event only lasts for a few more days, so don’t hesitate to shop it while you still can.

Best Deals at Cabela’s Go Outdoors Sale

  • Cabela’s Getaway 4-Person Dome Tent for $99 (Save $100)
  • Cabela’s Alaskan Guide Model Geodesic 4-Person Tent for $299 (Save $100)
  • Cabela’s Alaskan Guide Model Geodesic 8-Person Tent for $499 (Save $100)
  • Sea to Summit Telos TR3 Plus 3-Person Tent for $560 (Save $190)

Grills and Camp Cooking

  • Bass Pro Shops Single Burner Propane Stove for $27 (Save $8)
  • Cabela’s Stainless Steel Tabletop Propane Grill for $89 (Save $30)
  • Camp Chef Explorer 2-Burner Camp Stove for $99 (Save $50)
  • Camp Chef Pro Series Deluxe 2-Burner Camp Stove for $259 (Save $40)
  • Cabela’s Deluxe 24 Pellet Grill for $449 (Save $150)

Flashlights and Lanterns

  • Streamlight MicroStream USB Ultracompact Rechargeable Flashlight for $24 (Save $8)
  • 5.11 Tactical Rapid PL 1AA Flashlight for $28 (Save $8)
  • Streamlight Siege 3D LED Lantern for $29 (Save $10)
  • Ascend Meander 20L Daypack for $39 (Save $10)
  • CamelBak Rogue Light 70-oz. Hydration Pack for $54 (Save $25)
  • Ascend Folsom 39L Daypack for $71 (Save $18)
  • 5.11 Tactical Rush12 2.0 Backpack for $83 (Save $22)
  • Osprey Skarab 22 Hydration Backpack for $95 (Save $25)
  • 5.11 Tactical Rush24 2.0 Backpack for $107 (Save $30)
  • Ascend Pintler 90L Backpack for $135 (Save $35)
  • Cabela’s Coldsnap Latch Cooler for $68 (Save $22)
  • Bass Pro Shops Coldsnap 24-Can Cooler for $89 (Save $30)
  • Orca Walker Tote Softside Cooler for $148 (Save $51)
  • Orca Walker 20 Softside Cooler for $163 (Save $56)

Hiking Boots and Shoes

  • RedHead Wildcat Hiking Boots for $59 (Save $20)
  • The North Face Vectiv Escape Hiking Shoes for $79 (Save $55)
  • Merrell Oakcreek Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots for $81 (Save $28)
  • Merrell Moab Speed Hiking Shoes for $96 (Save $33)
  • Cabela’s Rimrock Mid Gore-Tex Hiking Boots for $99 (Save $30)
  • Keen Targhee III Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots for $122 (Save $43)

Garmin Gear

  • Garmin Instinct 2 Solar GPS Smartwatch for $299 (Save $150)
  • Garmin GPSMAP 66i GPS Handheld and Satellite Communicator for $399 (Save $200)
  • Garmin epix Gen 2 GPS Smartwatch for $499 (Save $300)

Amazon Outdoor Gear Sale May 2024: Up to 50% Off Hiking and Camping

Find deals on Columbia, CamelBak, Merrell and more.

amazon outdoor gear sale may 2024

Our product picks are editor-tested, expert-approved. We may earn a commission through links on our site. Why Trust Us?

If you're into trail running, hiking , camping , or just chilling outside, then these deals are going to help maximize your budget. To help you save some time, we're rounding up the best hidden gem deals from Amazon's outdoor gear section in real time through May. Keep scrolling to see our top deals, followed by a curated list of category links that make for easier navigation of the sale.

Read more: Amazon Spring Golf Gear Sale

Best Outdoor Gear Deals at Amazon

Solar Charger Power Bank, 10,000mAh Portable

Blavor Solar Charger Power Bank, 10,000mAh Portable

Zakeep Cooler Backpack, 36 Cans Capacity

Zakeep Cooler Backpack, 36 Cans Capacity

Powerlix Ultralight Sleeping Pad for Camping

Powerlix Ultralight Sleeping Pad for Camping

Coaster 2 Person Inflatable Kayak

Retrospec Coaster 2 Person Inflatable Kayak

Columbia Men's Watertight II Jacket

Columbia Men's Watertight II Jacket

Down Camping Blanket

Get Out Gear Down Camping Blanket

FirePit Smokeless Outdoor Wood and Charcoal Burning

BioLite FirePit Smokeless Outdoor Wood and Charcoal Burning

Space Acacia Camping Tent, 2-3 Person Pop Up

Acacia Space Acacia Camping Tent, 2-3 Person Pop Up

CamelBak M.U.L.E. Mountain Biking Hydration Backpack

CamelBak M.U.L.E. Mountain Biking Hydration Backpack

Merrell Men's Moab 3 Hiking Shoe Earth

Merrell Men's Moab 3 Hiking Shoe Earth

Survival First Aid Kit 142 in 1 Set

Survival First Aid Kit 142 in 1 Set

Alvada Merino Wool Hiking Socks Thermal

Alvada Merino Wool Hiking Socks Thermal

Coleman Evanston Screened Camping Tent, 6/8 Person

Coleman Evanston Screened Camping Tent, 6/8 Person

Klymit Drift Camping Pillow, Reversible

Klymit Drift Camping Pillow, Reversible

Durecopow Solar Charger

Durecopow Solar Charger

Mongoose Switchback Expert Adult Mountain Bike

Mongoose Switchback Expert Adult Mountain Bike

Amazon Basics Dome Camping Tent

Amazon Basics Dome Camping Tent

Emerson CQC-6K Folding Pocket Knife

Kershaw Emerson CQC-6K Folding Pocket Knife

VIEW ALL AMAZON OUTDOOR DEALS HERE

Shop Amazon's Outdoor Gear Sale by Category

  • Camping and Hiking Equipment Deals
  • Camping and Hiking Apparel Deals
  • Climbing Equipment Deals
  • Cycling Equipment Deals
  • Outdoor Accessories Deals
  • Winter Sports Deals
  • Sports and Outdoors Deals

Shop More of Our Favorite Outdoor Gear

Best Camping Gadgets | Camping Solar Panels | Camping Gift | Camping Essentials | Camping Lanterns | Camping Tents | Camping Grills

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IMAGES

  1. Hiking Gear List: Asheville Trails

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  2. Hiking 101

    good travel hiking gear

  3. Day Hiking Gear Essentials

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  4. The Best Men’s Hiking Gear of 2021

    good travel hiking gear

  5. Essential Day Hiking Gear List

    good travel hiking gear

  6. The Best Travel Gear: Ultimate Packing List & Accessories

    good travel hiking gear

VIDEO

  1. Awesome Travel Products Ep. 10

  2. 10 Coolest Hiking Gear Essentials Available Today

  3. What's the Right Gear for a Day Hike?

  4. Strong Storm Camping

  5. NEW BACKPACKING GEAR FOR 2024 #gear

  6. 7 Lightweight Travel Gear for Any Trip

COMMENTS

  1. Best Hiking Gear of 2024

    This helps us separate the best from the rest so you can find the perfect hiking gear. Ryan Huetter is a Washington state native turned Sierra Nevada adventurer. As an outdoor professional with a IFMGA guide certification , Ryan spends 200+ days of the year hiking, either for work or for play, which has cemented the importance of having good ...

  2. Best Hiking Gear 2024 (Top Picks)

    The best hiking gear for 2024, updated regularly, trail tested by a professional hiking guide. ... Hiking Travel. REI Co-op Big Haul ( REI) It can be tough to travel with my backpack and gear when traveling with a carryon, especially if I have a blade and items that are not TSA-friendly. This bag is like a huge cave that I can throw things into ...

  3. The Best Hiking Gear (2024): Backpacks, Tents, and More

    REI Co-Op Flash 22 Backpack for $60. The sweet spot for a daypack is between 15 and 25 liters—enough to hold rain layers, a fleece, maps, water, sunscreen, lunch, and snacks, plus room for a ...

  4. CleverHiker Gear Guide

    We test outdoor gear for a living - we've logged over 20,000 trail miles and 1,000 nights in the wilderness. Our team has thru-hiked some of the most iconic long trails, including the Continental Divide Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, Appalachian Trail, Colorado Trail, Long Trail, Oregon Coast Trail, Arizona Trail, Pinhoti Trail, Superior ...

  5. Hiking Gear Reviews

    See our in-depth hiking gear reviews, including reviews of top trail-running shoes, hiking boots and shoes, down jackets, rain jackets, daypacks and more. Switchback Travel. Search. Hike. Hiking Boots ... Best Women's Travel Pants of 2024. Traveling can be an involved and exhausting undertaking, but staying comfortable on long plane rides and ...

  6. The Ultimate Backpacking Gear Checklist for 2024

    Backpacking packs are designed to carry large loads (30-50 pounds) for multiple days and usually range between 50-80 liters in capacity. If you plan to hike long distances with smaller loads, see below for ultralight packs. Your choice of backpack should be durable, easy to use, and most of all, comfortable.

  7. CleverHiker

    10 Best Hiking Pants for Women 2024. We took to the trails to test the most promising hiking pants for women. We looked for the most comfortable, lightweight, and durable options so you'll feel great in your new 'fit.

  8. The 7 Best Backpacking Backpacks of 2024

    We tested backpacking backpacks from Osprey, Granite Gear, Gregory, REI, Arc'teryx, and more to find the best models. By Sam Schild, Ian Nicholson, Adam Paashaus, Ben Applebaum-Bauch, and Bennett Fisher. Friday April 19, 2024.

  9. The 10 Best Backpacking Packs for Any Adventure (2024)

    Best for First-Timers: Rab Muon 50 ($260) Best Organization: Lowe Alpine Yacuri 55 ($320) Best for Technical Terrain: Mountain Hardwear Direttissima 55L ($420) Most Eco-friendly: Fjällräven Kajka 65 ($375) Best for Bigger Bodies: Osprey Rook/Renn 65 EF ($190) Choosing the Right Backpacking Pack. How We Test.

  10. The Best Expert-approved Hiking Gear Under $100

    CamelBak M.U.L.E. Hydration Backpack. Amazon. Buy on Amazon$115$96. While it's designed for mountain biking, the CamelBack M.U.L.E. Hydration Backpack is my go-to bag whether I'm hiking in ...

  11. The 7 Best Backpacking Backpacks of 2024

    The 36 Best Hiking and Camping Gear Deals at Amazon Right Now, Handpicked by an Expert The 6 Best Sleeping Pads for Camping in 2024 The 8 Best Hiking Shoes for Women of 2024, Tested and Reviewed

  12. The Best Travel Gear: Ultimate Packing List & Accessories

    I've put together this gear page to share my long-term travel packing list. Obviously, I recommend traveling with high-quality, lightweight & durable stuff. The travel gear I use may not work for everyone. I carry extra photography equipment to maintain this travel blog, along with camping equipment for trekking up mountains, hitchhiking long ...

  13. The Best Gear for Travel in 2024

    This synthetic men's sock is perfect for day hiking in most weather. $18 from REI. $24 from Darn Tough. If you are sensitive to wool, prefer a vegan product, or want a cooler option for the ...

  14. 15 Best Hiking Gear to Invest in for Spring

    Pike Trail Pocket Blanket. Amazon. Buy on Amazon $35 $25. I love hiking to the ice caves in Montana's Snowy Mountains. However, every time I summit, I regret not bringing a blanket to sit on ...

  15. 12 Best Hiking Backpacks (COMPLETE Guide for 2024)

    Here are our top recommendations: Osprey Airscape UNLTD - Best Overall Hiking Backpack. Osprey Aether / Ariel - Best Hiking Backpack For Long Trips. Osprey Exos 58 - Best Ultralight Hiking Backpack. Deuter Speed Lite 21 - Best Small Hiking Backpack. Kodiak Kobuk - Best Leather Hiking Backpack. The Adventure Pack - Freshest Daypack ...

  16. The Budget Backpacking Gear List

    The Appalachian Trail Conservancy estimates that a new set of backpacking gear runs $1,200 to $2,000 or more, and for a thru-hike, that's on top of an average of $1,200 per month in trip expenses. Most respondents to our 2023 Appalachian Trail thru-hiker survey reported spending between $1,000 and $3,000 on gear. So many gear choices….

  17. The Best Men's Travel Pants of 2024

    Best Overall Men's Travel Pants: Bluffworks Envoy Lightweight Travel Pants; Best Budget Men's Travel Pants: UNIONBAY Rainier Travel Chinos; Best Travel Pants for Adventuring In: LIVSN Ecotrek ...

  18. Best Carry-On Travel Backpacks 2024

    The 15 Best Women's Hiking Boots and Shoes The 15 Best Women's Hiking Boots and Sho ... By Katherine Gillespie, a writer at the Strategist covering outdoors and travel gear.

  19. 6 of the Best Hiking Shoes for 2024

    Best Hiking Shoes for 2024. Best Overall: Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX; Best Barefoot Feel: Xero Shoes Scrambler Low Hiking Shoes; Best Budget: Merrell Moab 3; Best Comfort: Hoka Anacapa 2 Low GTX; Best Crossover: Salewa Ultra Train 3; Best for Kids: Columbia Trailstorm; Best Overall: Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX Image by Salomon. Specs: Weight: 1 lb 9.6 oz ...

  20. Must-Have Hiking Gear: 10 Essentials for Your Outdoor Adventures

    Related: Adventurous Wardrobe: The 10 Best Travel Clothes For Women. ... For those interested in undertaking one of the many multi-day hikes around the world, some extra hiking gear is necessary.

  21. The Best Hiking Clothes

    The best combination from many hiking gear stores seems to be convertible hiking pants and lightweight, long sleeve, button-up shirts for men. Women's hiking shirts and pants were the same too.

  22. Best Camping Gear for Your Next Adventure 2024

    Best sleeping pad: REI Co-Op Trailmade Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad; Best camping blanket: Rumpl Puffy Blanket; Best pillow: Coop Home Goods Adjustable Travel Pillow; Best camping cot: Helinox Lite ...

  23. Shop The Outdoor Rolling Duffle 85L

    Complete with compression and collapsibility systems, this wheeled duffle is the perfect adventure buddy for longer trips filled with both clothing and gear. Made from 30% recycled, water- and abrasion-resistant materials, our Outdoor Collection is designed to keep your belongings safe and dry—whether you're staying local or going off the grid.

  24. Hiking Deaths: Multiple Incidents Lead to 5 Fatalities

    The Best Travel Pillows of 2024 More Power, Range, and Almost Countless Upgrades: QuietKat Apex HD & XD Review Budget-Friendly and Flexible: REI Co-Op Flash Hyperstretch Fleece Jacket Review

  25. The Best Electric Chainsaws of 2024

    The Best Travel Pillows of 2024. More Power, Range, and Almost Countless Upgrades: QuietKat Apex HD & XD Review ... Based in Vermont, Berne Broudy is a core user of and expert in outdoor, cycling ...

  26. 30+ Summer Essentials for 2024: Best Beach Accessories, Camping Gear

    We tested and reviewed the best summer essentials for the beach, camping, and beyond, from outdoor wireless speakers to e-bikes and fire pits. 30+ Summer Essentials for 2024: Best Beach ...

  27. Cabela's Is Having a Huge Sale on Outdoor Gear—Up to 30% Off

    At the Cabela's Go Outdoors sale, save on outdoor gear like camping tents, packs, grills, flashlights, and hiking boots. Shop deals from Garmin, The North Face, and more.

  28. The 5 Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

    The 5 Best Travel Backpacks of 2024. We thoroughly tested travel backpacks from Osprey, Cotopaxi, Tortuga, Peak Design, The North Face, and other brands to help you pick the ideal adventure partner. By Hale Milano, Liz Chamberlain, and Hayley Thomas. Wednesday April 17, 2024.

  29. How to organize outdoor gear

    Protect your gear in this large, hard-sided gear box built for rugged travel and storage. The 24-gallon box comes in a set of two that nest on top of each other when stacked.

  30. Amazon Outdoor Gear Sale May 2024: Up to 50% Off Hiking and Camping

    Best Outdoor Gear Deals at Amazon. Blavor Solar Charger Power Bank, 10,000mAh Portable. Now 24% Off. $29 at Amazon. Zakeep Cooler Backpack, 36 Cans Capacity. Now 18% Off. $33 at Amazon.