Best 65L rucksacks reviewed: Test of the best

Looking for a decent rucksack for your next hike? Check out our list of the best 55-65l backpacks you can buy.

best 65L rucksack

by William Austin-Lobley |
Updated on

If you’re off backpacking, on an expedition, or travelling, a rucksack of at least 50 litres needs to be one of your first purchases. It isn’t just a bag, it's your home, and you’re going to be living out of it. It needs to be big enough, robust enough, and comfortable enough to see you through and hold your essential kit. Simply, it's important. Below, we rank our favourite of the best 65L rucksacks available to help you find the one that works for you.

The best 60-65L rucksacks at a glance:

Best 65L rucksack: Osprey Atmos AG 65 - View on Amazon
Best for travel: Lowe Alpine Manslu 65 - View on Trekitt
Best budget: Berghaus Trailhead 65 2.0 - View on Amazon
Most sustainable: Vaude Asymmetric 52+8 - View on Amazon

There’re a lot of solutions out there boasting a lot of features – some of them needed, some gimmicks. To cut through all the jargon, we’ve included a rundown of the essential features your bag will need.

Lid

The lid covers the top main opening to the backpack. These can be fixed to the rucksack or they may have a floating design that allows the main compartment to be extended vertically. To ensure water does not creep under a floating lid into the main compartment when the lid is extended a little, some designs also have a baffle linking the lid to the body of the sack.

Compression Straps

These straps are found on the sides of some rucksacks, and allow you to compress the body of the sack to help stabilise the load. They are also useful for stashing items onto the side of the pack, such as trekking poles or tent poles.

Ventilated Back System

Many rucksacks have mesh panels that hold the sack away from the body, to increase airflow and thereby reducing the horrid clammy sensation that some rucksacks produce. The greater the airflow across the back, the less clammy you will feel.

Wand Pockets

Originally designed for avalanche probes or ‘wands’, these pockets on the side of a rucksack are often made of stretchy mesh fabrics, and are ideal for stashing the ends of trekking poles, as well as smaller items including water bottles or snacks.

Hip Belt

This is designed to carry most of the load if the pack is heavy. It should fit snugly around your hips, be comfortable and easy to adjust, yet stiff enough to support the load without distorting too much. Rucksacks designed specifically for women are more likely to fit female body shapes better in this area.

Pockets

At least one external zipped pocket is useful for guidebooks, maps and GPS receivers, but some people like more, while others can tolerate less. Stretch pockets without zips are commonly placed on the front of the backpack, and these are ideal for stowing waterproof jackets between showers. Zipped side pockets are great for drinks bottles, flasks or food.

We’ve tried, tested, and reviewed many fantastic and not-so-fantastic rucksacks so we can bring you, with our utmost confidence, a definitive list of the best 55-65l rucksacks your money can buy. To help bust rucksack jargon, at the bottom of the page you will find a fitting guide and glossary. If you're not in need of such a huge capacity, consider a 30-35L backpack.

The best 60-65l rucksacks, as tested:

Awarded "Best in Test" by Trail Magazine

Osprey Atmos AG 65Amazon
Price: $324.86

What we liked:

The Anti-Gravity (AG) trampoline-style back system holds the body of the pack away from the body of the wearer, to provide maximum airflow with exceptional comfort. The fit is also good thanks to the hip belt in particular moulding to the body, but there is also good weight transfer of the load to the hips, due to the stiffness of the design, and loads are carried with good stability. The main compartment has a top entry with a floating lid and an additional Flapjacket cover that allows you to remove the lid if needed. There are two massive front-zipped pockets behind the stretch stash pocket and you get pretty much all the packing options you need here. It might just be the best 65l rucksack.

However:

This is a heavy pack, although the weight does include a 123g rain cover, which you could remove, and an additional Flapjacket cover under the lid, which you cannot remove. It would have been good to have just a normal drawcorded snow lock extension under the lid and ditch the Flapjacket, but that is the only niggle here. Like many floating lid designs, water could creep under the back of the lid and make its way into the main compartment if you are not careful with the adjustment of the lid in the rain. The price is high, but you are getting improved comfort and better stability in some cases for the extra cash.

Verdict:

Superb rucksack for bigger loads when airflow, comfort and stability are all top of your must-have list, but the price may be a load too big to shoulder.

Pros

  • Antigravity 3D suspended mesh backpanel
  • Exoform and biostretch harness
  • Sternum strap with emergency whistle

Cons

  • Noticeably bulky, even when empty

Best for travel

Lowe Alpine Manslu 65Trekitt
Price: £174 (was £290)

www.trekitt.co.uk

What we liked:

The Manaslu is great for travel, with carry straps on the front and back, making this rucksack easier to lob into luggage racks. The back system allows the shoulder straps to be raised and secured with Velcro, and there's a mesh covering sitting against the body to increase airflow. The hipbelt is particularly wide, stiff, and well-padded. You get mesh wand pockets on the side and compression straps. A worthy inclusion in our roundup of the best 65l rucksack options in 2023.

However:

This pack appears heavy compared to others, but it includes a very robust removable backpack rain cover, so remove this and the weight comes down. The carry is slightly unusual as the hip belt is exceptionally supportive, the shoulder straps are a little narrow and the back panel tends to barrel a little to create a firm contact area in the middle of the back. Some others were more comfortable, allowed more airflow across the back, and tended to hug my body better for a more stable carry, particularly at the shoulders. Also, as with others, the floating lid design needs careful adjustment to stop water creeping into the main compartment.

Verdict:

Design is useful for travel, and if you ditch the rain cover the weight is good, but carry and comfort could be better.

Pros

  • Adjustable hipbelt
  • Walking pole and axe attachment
  • Huge amount of pockets

Cons

  • Carry is slightly difficult

Best budget 65L backpack

Berghaus Trailhead 65Amazon
Price: $149.00

What we liked:

We tested the old Wilderness rucksack a while ago and found it bettered by other rucksacks for comfort. However, the Trailhead 65 is more comfortable thanks to the adjustable BIOFIT system and added padding. Entry to the main compartment is via the lid and you also get a host of additional storage pockets under the compression straps and above the mesh wand pockets. On the back, the raised padded areas allow reasonable airflow. If you want one of the best 65l rucksack choices, but you are on a budget, this is a good way to lean.

However:

The lack of front access via zip can be a little annoying at times. This is the main issue, really. It just means that quick access to things is not very quick. Some higher-priced packs do also have better airflow.

Verdict:

Well-priced for bigger loads with improved comfort. Lack of front access is a little annoying.

Pros

  • Raised padded areas allow good airflow to avoid over-heating
  • Separated compartment for wet gear
  • Good amount of pockets

Cons

  • Lacks in larger external pockets that zip

Most sustainable

Asymmetric 52+8Amazon
Price: $346.58

What we liked:

The low weight is the instant appeal of this rucksack, coupled with its competitive price. But it's also made sustainably, adhering to Bluesign Fair Wair Foundation standards, and uses more eco-friendly waterproof treatment on the materials. The back length is adjustable, with perforated mesh providing airflow across the padded body contact areas. The main compartment gets base, front, and top entry via a floating lid. There is a huge front pocket and the compression straps work well with the deep mesh side wand pockets. The carry is acceptable with light loads, and some will like both the relatively firm and stable feel of this pack and that the weight does transfer well to the wide hipbelt.

However:

This rucksack is firmer in body contact areas and there is less airflow across the back, so this is best used with lighter loads to compensate. The capacity is smaller than other rucksacks too, so you do need to have the lid and pockets expanded fully to reach a similar capacity to others. Many higher-priced rucksacks use more durable nylon, rather than the polyester used here. Like others, the floating lid needs to be carefully managed to ensure no water creeps in, although this one does cover the top of the pack better than most. The lid pocket zip does not get an external storm flap, so it leaks easier than others.

Verdict:

Good lightweight pack for use with smaller and lighter loads, but not the most comfortable option and if you pay more there are benefits.

There’re a lot of solutions out there boasting a lot of features – some of them needed, some of them gimmicks. To cut through all the jargon, we’ve included a rundown of the essential features your bag will need.

Pros

  • Height-adjustable, back-friendly carrying system
  • Made from mostly recycled materials
  • Great for hut tours, alpine trekking, pilgrimages and backpacking

Cons

  • Hand wash only

Excellent expedition pack

Osprey Ariel Plus 60Osprey

What we liked:

This is a serious pack. In fact, with its array of features and robust build, we’re verging from backpacking rucksack to full-on expedition pack. There are dedicated men’s and women’s models (the men’s is the Aether Plus 60), with two sizes for each. The back length is also adjustable. But you can further fine-tune fit, as the ‘fit-on-the-fly’ shoulder straps and hipbelt can be extended to suit. The Ariel Plus offers main and bottom compartments (with front zipped access to the main body as well as via the lid), a multitude of pockets and plenty of webbing to lash additional kit to the front or bottom of the pack. The removable lid even converts into a day- or summit pack. 

However:

The Airscape back panel doesn’t offer quite the same ventilation as a suspended back system, but balances airflow with load-carrying stability. Even on technical terrain, the pack feels evenly weighted.

Verdict:

Tough, extremely well-built and a highly capable gear-hauler - a hefty pack that's up to expedition use.

Pros

  • Custom-fit on-the-Fly hipbelt and shoulder strap
  • Stable close-to-body carry - great for heavy loads
  • Removable top lid can be used as a DayLid daypack

Cons

  • Ventilation isn't as good as other backpacks on our list

A buyer's guide to 65-litre rucksacks

How to fit a rucksack

It is impossible to stress how important proper fitting is. A properly fitted rucksack distributes the load as it should, so you don't have excess stress on your body. Fitting your rucksack is best done with a practical demonstration. Check out Go Outdoors' video below:

What does the "65L" capacity mean?

The capacity of a rucksack is measured in litres (L), indicating the volume of the main storage compartment. A 65L rucksack has a capacity of 65 litres, which is considered large and suitable for multi-day trips or extended travel.

Is a 60L or 65L rucksack too big for day hikes?

Yes, a 60+L rucksack is generally too large for day hikes. It is designed for longer trips where you need to carry more gear and supplies. For day hikes, a smaller backpack with a capacity of around 20-35L is more appropriate.

Can a 60L or 65L rucksack be used for air travel?

Yes, a 65L rucksack can be used for air travel, but it may need to be checked in as luggage due to its size. Different airlines have specific regulations regarding the size and weight of carry-on baggage, so it's important to check with the airline beforehand.

How much weight can a 65L rucksack carry?

The weight-carrying capacity of a 65L rucksack varies depending on its design and build quality. Most well-constructed packs can comfortably carry 15-20 kilograms of weight. It's important to consider your own strength and comfort level when determining how much weight to carry.

Can a 65L rucksack be used for backpacking?

Yes, a 65L rucksack is commonly used for backpacking trips and trekking. It offers enough space to carry all the necessary gear, clothing, food, and other essentials needed for extended trips in remote areas. However, it's important to pack efficiently and avoid overpacking to prevent excessive weight and discomfort.

William Lobley is the Editor for What's The Best. Here, he oversees, curates and researches listicles and reviews as many products as his home office can handle.

He has spent nearly five years writing about tech, audio, outdoors and fitness and has reviewed everything from smartphones to ice baths. In addition, he's well-versed in sniffing out the best deals and savings the internet offers.

When not at his desk writing, reviewing or deal-hunting, he'll be relaxing with Japanese crime novels, bingeing some classic anime, strolling the countryside or at the gym listening to the heaviest metal Spotify has to offer.

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