How Much Does a Backpack Cost?

If you ever considered taking up backpacking, you’ve probably asked yourself at some point: how much do backpacks usually cost?

There are so many backpacks on the market that selecting the one that best fits your needs is pretty challenging, if not a bit overwhelming at first glance. We understand your frustration, so we‘ve put together this article to help you out.

As a quick guide, you should expect a backpack to cost between $30 and $350, with store-brand day bags sitting at the cheaper end. If you want a proper, wilderness-quality hiking backpack, big brands like Osprey and North Face will easily cost you $400 and even up to $600. 

Our guide to backpack prices will help you no matter what your experience level. Whether you’re a seasoned backpacker, a novice looking to up your game or brand new to the backpacking world, we’ll help you set a backpack budget based on what you need it to do.

With that goal in mind, let’s start out on our backpack price guide trail.

Why Do Backpacks Costs Vary So Much?

Backpack prices are so varied because we expect them to do many different things.

Determining the cost of a backpack typically depends upon how it's used. To make this simple, let’s generalize and say there are three different levels of packs: easy hike, moderate hike, and hard hike. We’ll cover what each of those looks like below.

Hiking level is not the whole story. Within each of these backpack levels, there are other variables to keep in mind which have an impact on the retail price of the backpack, including:

  •  Type of Material - Strength, ventilation and weather-proofing properties
  • Capacity - The higher the volume, the higher the price
  • Weight - Backpack weight adds to your overall load, so lighter is usually means more expensive
  • Frame Design - How substantial the internal frame is for helping with weight distribution and comfortable carrying
  • Accessories attachment - Whether or not anchors and pouches for additional accessories are available
  • Water storage - Some backpacks include a water sleeve or Camelback

We’ll look at each of the three classifications of backpacks individually, the benefits to expect from each and some of the value-adding features to look for.

In addition to giving a typical price-range for each level, we’ll also show you what higher-end backpacks at each level should include and what price you can expect to pay for them.

Backpacks for an Easy Hike

When talking of ‘easy hikes', we’re thinking of an overnight camp (weekend at most), but more likely these backpacks will be used for simple day hikes. Even veteran hikers tend to have a daypack or overnight pack for shorter walks. They are smaller and not designed to carry nearly as much gear as multi-day and expedition type backpacks.

These are - by a long way - the most common types of backpack, so it should be no surprise that they are also the cheapest tier.

Designs tend to offer suspension-type weight distribution. Suspension designs transfer the load in the pack to the hips while still maintaining a comfortable carry. Generally speaking, they utilize a tensioned mesh for better ventilation by avoiding too much contact with your body.

Higher end designs of overnight backpacks have lumbar pads for more comfort and lighter weight, waterproof material. They normally also feature waist and sternum straps, as well as a hydration sleeve or Camelback reservoir.

Features to Look For in a Daypack Backpack

You should expect a daypack to have the following attributes:

  • Capacity: 30 to 49 liters
  • Weight: 10 oz. to 2.5 lbs
  • Frame: Lightweight internal (or no frame)
  • Accessories: Possibly a few straps for attaching additional gear
  • Water Storage: can come with a water reservoir, but usually feature only mesh pockets

Typical Price Range of a Daypack

Because this type of backpack is the most commonly bought, it is also the most competitively priced. Starter daypacks can range from as little as $30 up to $130.

High end overnight backpacks can run you between $150 and $200, with a select few costing over $250.

Example Daypacks

Click the Amazon images below to see backpacks typical of this ‘Easy Hike’ group.

Backpacks for a Moderate Hike

A moderate hike, in terms of backpacking, would be defined as spending multiple nights out on the trail during more moderate seasons with mostly fair weather.

While not quite as common as the overnight backpack, it makes up a decent share of the serious hikers’ market. These backpacks are designed to carry more gear than you would typically use on an overnight hike.

The following video shows you a sample of what you might take on a 5-day backpack trip. Packs in this bracket should cope with such a load.

These backpacks are designed with better weight distribution for longer hikes. They use an internal frame (adding to backpack cost) to make them more substantial but lightweight.

For the price of these moderate-hike packs, expect a higher grade, waterproof and lightweight nylon in their construction. You’ll also usually get lumbar support, and broader, more substantial padding in the shoulder straps and waist straps included too.

Higher end designs in this category are much more comfortable to carry and made of durable, ultra-light material.

Torso adjustment clips and straps are designed to be easier to operate and made of higher-quality, longer wearing materials. Also, these backpacks typically include more and better-organized pockets and pouches for carrying more gear. At the higher price points, they can be very near the quality of an expedition backpack.

Features to Look for in a Short Expedition Backpack

You should expect a daypack to have the following attributes:

  • Capacity: 50 to 69 liters
  • Weight: 16 oz. up to 4 lbs
  • Frame: More substantial internal
  • Accessories: a Higher number of pockets and fasteners for attaching and carrying additional equipment
  • Water Storage: Can come with a water sleeve

Typical Price Range of a Short Expedition Backpack

A backpack at the cheaper end of this groups will cost between $140 and $300. Higher end backpacks for multi-day hiking can range from $300 on up to $500.

Example Short Expedition Backpacks

Click on the Amazon links below to see backpacks typical of this Moderate Hike’ group

Backpacks for a Hard Hike

A pack, for those on a hard hike, is their entire home, food and medicine for the duration of the hike. A hard walk includes wilderness trekking, multiple nights on tough trails, dealing with harsh weather conditions and wilderness survival. These situations demand a backpack that can accommodate every need which might arise on the journey.

Long duration hard hiking requires a different strategy for packing. Here is a sample of how one particular backpacker prepares his pack.

The main difference you’ll notice for these sacks is their higher carrying capacity, ranging up to 85 liters. To support the extra weight from filling this space, these backpacks have a substantial internal frame in their design which is built for optimized weight distribution, greater comfort and reducing fatigue.

Waterproof material is a critical component in the design of these backpacks as is ventilation since the user will be wearing it for extended periods of time. A higher strength of nylon (100-200D front/top and 400-620D nylon back/bottom) is typically used in these backpacks to support the additional weight their volume allows.

Intense, smart organization of pouches and pockets is a common design feature in this type of backpack too. Giving you every opportunity to squirrel away - but easily find when needed - each piece of equipment on the trail.

High end in this type of backpack is about as high-end as backpacks get. Typical differences are the comfort level, durability and ease of use offered by its various design features. High quality, lightweight zippers, straps, adjustment hardware, buckles and snaps, add value to those models, which equates to a higher in price.

Features to Look for in a Long Distance Wilderness Backpack

You should expect a daypack to have the following attributes:

  • Capacity: more than 70 liters, generally up to 85 liters
  • Weight: 3.5 lbs to 6 lbs
  • Frame: Substantial internal frame
  • Accessories: Very well organized storage and additional straps and anchors for attaching accessories
  • Water Storage: not a standard feature on these packs

Typical Price Range of a Long Distance Wilderness Backpack

The price range on these higher level backpacks tends to range from $180 to $350. Though these backpacks are considered high end already, there are particular models of these backpacks that cast cost from $400 to $600.

Example Long Distance Wilderness Backpack

Click on the Amazon links below to see backpacks typical of this ‘Hard Hike’ group


Answering the question of how much a backpack costs is a great deal more involved than what you might have imagined at first.

Each classification of easy hike, moderate hike, and hard hike backpacks add their own set of variables into the value and price equation.

Additional variables also have to be taken into consideration before determining what price range you can expect when it comes time to make your purchase. To make your choice easier, answer these simple questions:

  • What type of hiking do you plan to do?
  • So, how much weight will you need to carry?
  • What kinds of conditions do you expect to face while hiking?

Once you have answered those questions you will be able to zero in on the classification or level of backpack you will need as well as the price you can expect to pay once you choose the pack which best fits your needs, preferences and expectations.