There are many brands that build backpacking packs, but the list presented here includes the best backpacking backpack brands that stand out from the rest.
These are brands that are globally known and present practically everywhere. They have been on the market for decades, and you will see an example of a company that started in 19th century.
The focus here is on the largest packs that are suitable for backpacking and long expeditions, but these brands build them in all sizes, including also packs for kids. So here is the list with the brands listed alphabetically, so this is not a ranking.
Did you know that this brand was established in the last decade of 19th century? They have been making packs ever since. This is a German brand and their base is still in Germany.
Deuter packs are known for durability and reliability. They are best known for the tensioned trampoline style ventilated backpanel system that was an original invention of Deuter introduced several decades ago in their famous Futura series.
Of interest for this text about backpacking packs are the packs from the Deuter Futura Vario, Deuter Futura Air Trek, and Deuter Aircontact series. The first two have the same trampoline style system, while the Aircontact packs are built on a different design where the pack is closer to the body and ventilation is through several ventilation cannels between the back panel padding.
All these packs have adjustable torso length and excellent padding on the hip belt. They also offer several access points and numerous pockets and attachment elements. They build gender-specific packs, those for women always have the letters SL in the name and this means ‘slim line’.
If you search for Deuter packs on Amazon, you will notice than practically all larger tents of this brand have +10 or sometimes even + 15 in the name. So this is a very distinctive and useful feature, and it means that the pack has an extendable collar for extra load. These numbers denote the number of liters that you can have extra when you expand the collar. This is also accompanied with a floating top lid that allows for such extra volume.
From backpackers’ perspective, Deuter packs could be described as medium to large sized. They do not have extra large backpacking and expedition packs. The picture below shows their new pack the Deuter Futura Air Trek 50 + 10.
This brand started in 1977 in the US, and it was one man behind it, the founder Wayne Gregory. The full name they use on their site is Gregory Mountain Products and they are located in Salt Lake City, Utah. They now also have a separate EU-branch, and the products are essentially the same on both markets.
Their philosophy is that packs should be worn not carried. So this means making comfortable packs. It is interesting that the same statement I have seen also when Osprey launched their AG suspension design.
Such approach implies making reliable packs that work with the body and not against it. But this also means accepting differences between male and female bodies and making packs that fit so different users. So they build parallel series for men and for women, and the best known examples of this brand are their Baltoro & Deva packs for men and women, respectively. The later is shown in the picture below.
Gregory packs are built for heavy loads and you will carry them comfortably. The mentioned Baltoro and Deva series are with the back panel design that keeps the pack close to the body. But this brand also has ventilated trampoline style mesh back panels used in their Gregory Katmai & Kalmia packs.
For backpacking, apart from the Baltoro & Deva packs, you also have their:
- Zulu & Jade series.
- Katmai & Kalmia packs.
- Amber & Stout packs.
- Maven & Paragon packs that are in the category of very light backpacking packs.
- Octal & Optic packs that are true ultralight backpacking and hiking packs.
When it comes to value for the price, it is hard to match Kelty. So these are usually the most affordable among the packs here in the group. But this is not on the account of quality, they are full of great features and some are unique to this brand. By the way, this brand has been around since 1972.
To realize what I mean with the statement about features, it is enough to see their Kelty Coyote 105 pack. This giant has no less than 12 pockets, numerous attachment elements, excellent weight to volume ratio, three access points and much more. They have numerous innovations introduced in the past in their packs, and they build them in all sizes. But the best known are their large packs that are among the largest on the market.
Kelty also builds gender-specific packs for women and men separately. In this case you normally always have the words ‘for women’ in the official name of the pack that is built for female users. You will find many of them on Amazon in all of their global stores, at Walmart and in many other online stores.
This is one of rare brands that still adds upper side zippers pockets, and some of their packs even have pass-through pockets that go behind these side pockets. So this is a feature that allows you to store some elongated items and fix them in place, see the picture.
Osprey as a brand was founded almost half a century ago in the US, more precisely in 1974 in California. Their factories are now in Vietnam. There is no brand that can match it regarding the number of packs on the market and also regarding the number of innovations which they introduce into their new packs that are launched for every season.
Note that almost all their series are built with gender-specific features so you have separate versions for men and for women. They have many backpacks series that are of interest for backpackers, and those include:
- Aether & Ariel packs.
- Aether & Ariel Plus packs.
- Atmos & Aura packs.
- The largest packs from Archeon series for men and women.
- The largest packs from their ultralight Exos & Eja series.
- The largest packs from Talon & Tempest series.
- The largest packs from their super-ultralight Levity & Lumina series.
- Several larger packs from their Sirrus & Stratos packs.
- Some larger packs from the Kestrel & Kyte series.
- Packs from Xenith & Xena series. These are all very large packs, you can see some of them also in my list extra large hiking backpacks.
As you see, the list is very long, and you always have the mentioned separate versions for men and for women. Several of these series have adopted the tensioned trampoline style ventilated back panels. I would say that Osprey has brought this design to perfection. You can find many of them on Amazon.
Note that some of these series include some of the largest packs on the market. This in particular holds for Xenith & Xena, and Aether & Ariel Plus packs. I would say that the latter is the best series they have ever built, you can see a bit more here.
So this was my list of best backpacking backpack brands, it is short but this is on purpose. There are many more brands that build reliable and high quality backpacks, but in my view those presented here stand out far above their competitors for various reasons. You can see some in my text with best backpacking backpacks for men.
By the way, did you know that Big Agnes has also started making backpacks? See them all presented in this text.
Let me know what you think. Should I include some other brand here that in your opinion deserves to be added? There is a comment box below. Thank you for reading.