Best lightweight backpack

by Jul 3, 2018

Whether you are backpacking around the world, camping with family or taking a multi-day hike, the best lightweight backpack is an essential item for storing your gear.  You don’t want to be giving precious pounds away with a heavier backpack than is necessary.

Once upon a time you would be forgiven for thinking an ultra lightweight backpack was something you only needed for a multi-day trek.  Now we know that regardless of our travel style, traveling with a good lightweight backpack is not only much more comfortable, but it allows us to travel further and longer without being concerned about neck, back and shoulder strains.

If you are in the market for a super lightweight backpack, then you have come to the right place as I have put together this guide to help you choose one of the best lightweight backpacks for you.  The guide includes everything you need to know when purchasing a best lightweight rucksack as well as looks at some of the best backpack lightweight brands including Osprey and Granite.

Maybe you are after the best lightweight backpack for women or a great mens lightweight backpack, or maybe a lightweight camping backpack, the best lightweight hiking backpack or the best lightweight travel backpack.  Regardless of the situation or the type of pack you are after you will no doubt find what you are looking for in these lightweight backpack reviews.

COMPARISON CHART BEST LIGHTWEIGHT BACKPACKS

Don’t have time to read the entire review on the best lightweight packs?  See the table below for a quick comparison of the main features of the various options for the top lightweight backpacks.

NameWeight (lbs)Capacity (Litres)Dimensions (inches)Our Rating
Osprey Aura AG 503.815030H x 14W x 13D4.1
Granite Gear Crown 2.346023.5H x 13W x 8D4.7
Granite Gear Blaze2.146022H x 15W x 9D4.6
Osprey Packs Exos 58 2.65822H x 14W x 6D4.7
Kelty Redwing 503.035024H x 15W x 12D4.6
Teton Sports Talus 27004.14426H x 11W x 9D4.5
Granite Gear Lutsen 3.34526.2H x 13.2W x 11.5D4.7
Roamm Nomad 454.94532H x 12W x 11D4.8

WHAT YOU SHOULD CONSIDER IN A LIGHTWEIGHT BACKPACK

Before buying the first lightweight durable backpack you see, take some time to consider what it is you need for your pack to be the most comfortable lightweight backpack for you.

Consider the following:

  1. WEIGHT

Your backpack is one of the heaviest items you will have regardless of whether you are on a camping trip, hiking or travelling the world, so it’s a great place to start in keeping the overall weight of your gear down.

I recommend you look for a pack around the 2.5-3 lbs.  If you are going to be carrying a heavy load you will need a backpack with a little more padding, so go for something a little heavier.

Always be sure to check the actual weight of the pack and never rely on the brand’s claim that the bag is one of the best ultra lightweight backpacks on the market.

I have included the weights of all of the packs reviewed in this guide in the easy comparison table above.

  1. ADJUSTABILITY

Ensure all the straps on your pack are adjustable, these days even a cheap lightweight backpack should be adjustable.  Straps such as the shoulder straps, hip belt, sternum strap and the carry strap all form part of the carrying system and time should be taken adjusting the straps until you are comfortable.  This will assist in avoiding back, neck and shoulder strain.

  1. VOLUME /CAPACITY

For a pack to adequately store your belongings you will need one with a capacity of at least 40 litres.  If you are looking for a lightweight carry on backpack then I would recommend you don’t go past 45 litres, but if you are after the best lightweight backpack for hiking or as a check in bag you could go up to around 60 litres.

  1. FRAME

What sort of frame you need in your pack really depends on the sort of gear you will be carrying and for how long.  

The good news is that with technology enabling all our gear to be much more lightweight, the need for a strong supportive frame in a backpack isn’t as important as it once was.

Some lightweight backpacks have thin internal frames which contour your body, some have a little bit of padding whilst others don’t have any frame at all.  

  1. COMFORT AND SUSPENSION

Even a very lightweight backpack needs to be comfortable to carry and these days many packs come in various sizes depending upon your torso length.  A pack fits perfectly when the hip strap fits nicely above your hip bone so the majority of the load is on your hips and not your shoulders.

Also consider a pack with breathable fabric for increased comfort.  

  1. RAIN COVER

Whilst many packs are water resistant a rain cover will still come in handy in those unexpected down pours where you have nowhere to seek cover.  Some packs come with these covers or alternatively you can purchase one separately.

OTHER FEATURES TO CONSIDER WHEN PURCHASING THE BEST LIGHTWEIGHT BACKPACK

There are a bunch of other features that some of the best ultra lightweight backpacks can come with, consider the following features and decide whether they are a must for your lightweight backpack.

  1. COMPRESSION STRAPS

Compression straps wrap around your pack and help to keep your pack secure by squeezing out any excess space in your pack.  By having your pack nice and compact, this keeps the load snug and close to your back making it easier to carry.

 

  1. FRONT PANEL

Some packs have an easy access pocket at the front of your pack.  Usually these pockets are made from stretchy mesh and are great for squeezing in a pair of shoes.

  1. SIDE POCKETS

Similar to the front pocket but on the side of your pack (some packs there is a pocket on either side, on other packs just a single pocket on one side).  Side pockets are perfect for a drink bottle.

  1. TREKKING POLE LOOPS

If you after the best lightweight hiking pack, trekking pole loops may be essential.  Trekking pole loops are basically just that, loops on your pack that you can use to hang your trekking poles.

  1. EXTRA LOOPS

There is always something to carry when you are travelling or hiking, so look for travel or hiking lightweight backpacks with a few extra loops on your backpack are great for tying a fleece to or a pair of shoes.  I recommend purchasing a few carabiners and keeping them on these loops, so you have somewhere to hang items from.

THE BEST LIGHTWEIGHT BACKPACK REVIEWS

  • Osprey Aura AG 50 Backpack Women’s

Osprey are well known for their lightweight, high-quality backpacks that are trusted by hikers and globetrotters alike and this is the first of two Osprey lightweight backpacks in this review.

This Osprey women’s backpack is by far one of the most comfortable women’s lightweight backpack options currently on the market. It’s well designed harness and anti-gravity mesh system allows the Osprey travel backpack to sit comfortably on the hips, giving great support to the back.

Weighing in at just under 4 pounds, it isn’t one of lightest of all the backpacks in these reviews, however it does have a storage capacity of 50 litres, with a carrying capacity of 40 pounds. The Osprey 50l backpack has an adjustable torso length harness and hip pads allowing for a custom fit for many heights and frames making it a great choice for a ladies lightweight backpack.

Other great features of this Osprey lightweight backpack include the external hooks, ties and pockets in all the right places including on the hip belt. Internal storage is also easily accessible via a zippered front panel or the top of the pack.

This Osprey ladies backpack is perfect for women who want an easily adjustable, lightweight women’s backpack that is very comfortable regardless of how much you pack.

 

  • Granite Gear Crown 2 60 Backpack – Men’s

Granite make some of the lightest packs on the market and are super durable offering great quality, which is why this is the first of three Granite lightweight hiking packs to feature in this review.

The Granite Gear Crown 2 60 men’s backpack is a great simple large lightweight backpack with a single roll-top main compartment complete with big exterior pockets and compressions straps.

Weighing in at just over 2 pounds, this is one of the lightest packs in these reviews but also one of the best large lightweight backpacks.  It has a large capacity of 60 litres, plenty of pockets as well as having a supportive frame which consists of a moulded foam pad and a full length removable plastic sheet.

Other great features of this lightweight 60l backpack include a fully adjustable and removable hip belt, removable top lid and internal hydration sleeve.  For the perfect fit, this light hiking backpack also comes in 3 different sizes depending upon your torso length.

This pack is perfect for men or even women looking for a large light backpack for hiking or one of the best lightweight backpacks for travel without being weighed down.

  1. Granite Gear Blaze AC 60 Backpack

The second Granite ultra lightweight hiking backpack in these reviews and also the lightest!

This Granite lightweight multi day backpack features a 3-dimensionally moulded alloyed frame, that works in conjunction with a moulded foam pad and durable stretch mesh that assist in venting heat and moisture away from the back.  This ensures you stay cool and comfortable throughout your journey.

This pack is not only the lightest in our reviews but also has the biggest capacity. Weighing in at just 2.14 pounds with a 60-litre capacity means you will not have to sacrifice weight for capacity or vice versa. There’s ample internal and external storage for organising your things including the external stretch mesh pockets on the bottom of the pack sides. The simple lidless top loading design with a tall opening and tall front centre pocket gives you easy access to the internal storage.

Other great features of this lightweight trail backpack include, padded shoulder straps, quick and easy adjustable torso length, and a swappable ultralight hip belt for a very comfortable and custom fit. The compression straps allow for the load to be compressed tightly in every direction as well as allowing extra gear to be latched onto the backpack.

This pack is perfect if you need one of the lightweight hiking backpacks or even the best lightweight travel bag.  It is also covered by a lifetime warranty against defects in material and workmanship and comes in 3 different sizes to match your torso length.

  • Osprey Packs Exos 58 Backpack

The Second Osprey backpack in these reviews but with a bigger capacity and a lighter weight.

Weighing in at a mere 2.6 pounds with a 58 litre capacity, this Osprey ultralight backpack is not only light but has a big carrying capacity.

There is a removable top pocket with an internal key clip and the under-lid zippered mesh pocket provides for perfect organization. The pack also has a layered mesh harness and hip belt allowing ventilation and the shoulder straps are also padded and extremely comfortable.

Other great features of this best Osprey backpack include removable key straps and attachment points, bottom sleeping pad strap and a tool strap for trekking poles.

This backpack comes in different sizes to suit various torso lengths and is one of the great lightweight backpacks women will love.

  • Kelty Redwing 50 Backpack

Kelty products are designed to be both lightweight and durable and the Redwing 50 is no exception.

This Kelty lightweight 50l backpack has a single aluminium stay and ‘Dynamic AirFlow’ back panel which keeps your load stable and comfortable. Its comes in two sizes small/medium and medium large, and two colours black or green.

Weighing in at just over 3 pounds with a 50 litre capacity this backpack isn’t the lightest and it doesn’t have the biggest carrying capacity of these reviews, but it does have a convenient panel loading storage layout. With its U-zipper design it allows for easy access to all your gear and works as both a top loader and panel loader.

Other great features of this best lightweight backpack for traveling include a very convenient strap layout that makes it very easy to grab, hang, wear, and compress the pack, several external and internal pockets, comfortable padded waist belt that is easy to tuck away and the pack is also adjustable.

This best lightweight backpack for travel is perfect as a great hiking pack, a great travel bag, or both.

 

  • Teton Sports Talus 2700 Backpack

Teton products are known for their overall quality, features, durability, comfort and affordability.

The Teton Sports Talus 2700 Backpack has one main compartment which opens completely for easy internal access. The adjustable shoulder, chest, and torso straps allow for superior comfort and a precise fit whilst the thickly padded lumbar provides exceptional lower back comfort. Other comfort features include thick shoulder pads and air channels along your back to maximize air circulation.

The above comfort features are required as this backpack is one of the heaviest backpacks in these reviews with the smallest carrying capacity, weighing in at 4.1 pounds with a 44 litre carrying capacity. However, the Talus 2700 is the only small lightweight backpack in these reviews that includes a tarp that can be pitched as a shelter or used as a poncho to keep you and your pack dry.

Other great features include, a zippered waist belt pocket, storm-proof zippers with oversized pulls to keep your gear dry and secure, a velcro hang tab for hanging up to a 3-litre hydration bladder and two large external side mesh pockets to fit water bottles. Multiple gear ties and loops make carrying extra gear easy whilst multiple compression straps help keep gear cinched tight.

The Teton Sports Talus 2700 Backpack is perfect for men, women and youths. Whether it be for hiking, camping, travel, and/or participating in extreme weather outdoor sports, it’s very versatile with its endless options for pack configurations and usage without adding weight or bulk.

 

  • Granite Gear Lutsen 45 Backpack

This is the third Granite backpack in these reviews but slightly longer, deeper and heavier with a smaller carrying capacity than the other two Granite backpacks.

The Granite Gear Lutsen 45 Backpack has a fully adjustable torso, shoulder harness and hip belt making it a great lightweight women’s backpack or men’s. The Lutsen also provides superior load-transfer capabilities to the shoulders and hips.

Adjusting the torso size on these small lightweight backpacks is as easy as breaking the hook-n-loop connection and re-aligning it using the markings that correspond to your torso length. Adjusting the hip-belt is equally as simple by sliding the belt from behind the pack’s ventilated back panel and adjusting the hook-n-loop to match your waist size.

Other great features include, external storage loops to tie gear to, a zippered stretch mesh hip belt pocket that is water proof, stretch side pockets, water-resistant zippers and fabrics, conveniently-placed hydration ports and compression straps.

This pack weighs 3.3 pounds with a 45 litre carrying capacity and comes in 3 different colours and 2 sizes. It is perfect for men or women and is suitable for hiking and backpacking alike.

  • Roamm Nomad 45 Backpack

Roamm outdoor is a brand that emphasise their passion for adventure, combining decades of gear testing with attention to detail and design creating quality outdoor gear at affordable prices.  

The Roamm Nomad 45 Backpack has a fully adjustable shoulder harness, lightweight alloy frame, frame sheet and aluminium stay to ensure a sturdy, comfortable and perfect fit. There is one main compartment with top, bottom and side access allowing for easy access to your belongings and an adjustable sleeping bag diaphragm. In addition to a removable top lid, to lighten your load or store extra gear.

Weighing in at 4.9 pounds with a 45 litre carrying capacity it is the heaviest pack in these reviews with the smallest capacity. However, it is packed full of great features such as, the reinforced bottoms on the side pockets letting you carry tent poles, tripods, or snow pickets with peace of mind. In addition to dual ice axe/trekking pole loops with shock cord shaft retainers allowing you to stow both trekking poles and ice axes quickly and securely.

Other great features include large dual zippered pockets on the removable hip belt, utility loops on top of the lid, zippered mesh pocket inside for important documents, a large front stretch pocket, mesh side pockets for water bottles and a reservoir sleeve and hydration ports for your water bladder. It also includes an emergency whistle, sunglasses retainer on the sternum strap, and reflective strips for night time visibility.  If you’re after a waterproof lightweight backpack you will love the high visibility rain cover to ensure your gear stays dry.

This pack is perfect if you are after one of the lightweight backpacks for camping or lightweight backpacks for hiking.

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Hi, I’m David Angel and I love Europe.   I’ve been fortunate to have spent every spare moment of the past 25 years travelling and photographing this extraordinary continent.  This site shares my best advice, tips and travel secrets for Europe.   And I hope my photos will encourage you to delve deeper and discover some less visited gems of Europe.  You can find out more about me here.

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