TAKE A HIKE
Whether you're spending a few hours at the greenbelt or embarking on a multi-day backcountry trek, a good hiking backpack is essential. Packs aimed at serious hikers and campers can cost several hundred dollars, but there are cheap hiking backpacks from top brands like Osprey, REI, and The North Face that will do just as well for the occasional outdoor adventure. Cheapism.com consulted professional test results and owner reviews on major retail sites to identify the best hiking backpacks and daypacks under $200.
Hiking backpacks are available in a variety of sizes, their capacity measured in liters. Hikers and bikers who plan to be out for only a few hours should choose a daypack. These bags, which can hold a small water bottle, an energy bar, and a few personal items, typically have a capacity of 20 liters or less. Weekend campers should look for a hiking backpack in the 30- to 50-liter range; hikers planning excursions of three to five days should consider a pack of up to 70 or 80 liters. Most hiking backpacks have an internal frame, but there are also external-frame hiking packs available. These are heavier and are designed to tote heavy gear across long distances.
Regardless of price or size, the most important quality to look for in any backpack is proper fit. A good hiking backpack should feel balanced across the shoulders, with most of the weight resting on the hips. Some packs are available in multiple sizes for a custom fit, but many cheap backpacks come in only one size, so it's essential to try on packs in person before you buy. Look for a well padded hip belt and shoulder straps, plus load-lifter straps and a sternum belt for added stability. Other nice-to-have features include a rain cover, internal hydration bladders, pockets for water bottles and personal items, and attachment loops and daisy chains to tote additional gear.
Prices and availability may vary.