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.

Test of the best: 65-65 litre backpack reviewed

by William Lobley |

If you’re off backpacking, on an expedition, or traveling, 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.

The best 60-65L rucksacks shortlist:

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:

Osprey Atmos AG 65

Awarded "Best in Test" by Trail Magazine
Osprey Atmos AG 65

View offer

Capacity: 65 litres Back size: M and L (men's Atmos AG 65), S and M (women's Aura AG 65) Weight: 2289g (men's L)

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.

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.

Deuter Aircontact Lite 65 + 10

Light and breezy
Deuter Aircontact Lite 65 + 10

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Capacity: 65 + 10 litres Back size: one size adjustable Weight: 1990g

What we liked:

The Vari-Flex back system allows the shoulder straps to be adjusted vertically to suit different back lengths. You get a pronounced air chimney up the centre of the pack between raised body-contact areas of padding overlaid with perforated mesh. The backpack's hipbelt is stiff and well-contoured too, and generally, this feels very supportive of light to heavy loads. The body has top entry to the main compartment via a floating lid and there is base entry too. There is a stretch front pocket, stretch side wand pockets, and compression straps. The carry is more stable than other low-priced packs.

However:

You do get that air chimney but you get even more airflow on some higher-priced packs with mesh trampoline designs. Also, the padding is quite firm, so while this is better than others around its price point, if you can pay more you get a more even and softer carry across the body. Also, like other packs, some care is needed to ensure the floating lid is adjusted to keep the rain out of the main compartment. Other packs have additional side or front pockets and rain covers.

Verdict:

Relatively light and well-priced, with a very stable carry and good airflow. But less padding than other packs.

Lowe Alpine Manslu 65

Good for travel
Lowe Alpine Manslu 65

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Capacity: 65-80 litres Back size: Large and Regular and adjustable (men's); one size adjustable women's Weight: 2350g (men's)

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.

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.

Berghaus Trailhead 65 2.0

Berghaus Trailhead 65
Amazon

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Capacity: 65 litres Back size: one size adjustable men's and women's Weight: 1890g (men's)

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.

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.

Vaude Unisex Asymmetric 52 + 8

Most sustainable
Asymmetric 52+8
Amazon

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Capacity: 52+8 litres Back size: One size, adjustable Weight: 1600g

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.

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.

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:

Glossary:

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.

William Lobley is a Senior Content Writer and reviewer for WhatsTheBest, specialising in technology and the outdoors. He also writes for Empire Online.

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