One of the most important pieces of gear to bring along on 14er trips is a backpack to carry everything else. Cheap backpacks available online may seem appealing, however they often fall apart after a bit of use or are made with heavy, ineffective materials. Here are the biggest factors to consider when deciding on the best backpacks for 14ers, along with my personal top 3 recommendations.
Backpack Factors to Consider
The main four categories to consider when picking the best backpacks for 14ers are their capacity, weight, comfort and hydration bladder. They also may include other features that are handy to have. Here’s a quick overview of each of these factors.
Capacity in Liters
For a 14er day trip, you should have a backpack with a 15-25 liter capacity. This is enough space for food, water, and the ten essentials like a first aid kit, emergency gear and rain gear. A large backpacking bag is unnecessary unless you’re doing an overnight trip.
Your bag will be one of the heaviest things you bring along with you. Even a difference of half a pound makes a difference at 14,000 feet with less oxygen. If you can afford it, invest in a more expensive bag designed to cut a few extra ounces.
The materials and design of a bag directly impact how comfortable it is to carry for long hikes required on 14ers. Many top-line bags have special designs or straps to help increase the comfort of the bag on your back.
Hydration Bladder Pocket
A hydration bladder is a must-have for 14ers, making it quick and easy to hydrate along the hike as you go. Check to make sure your bag has this pocket and buy a bladder it it doesn’t come with one that’s got at least 2 Liters of capacity.
There are many additional features that, while not necessary, do come in handy. A helmet clip is nice for attaching climbing helmets for Class 3 and 4 climbs. Trekking Poles and Ice Axe clips are likewise great to have for storing those extra pieces of equipment. Whistles, water bottle pickets, and extra pockets are additional features to look for and keep in mind.
My Recommendation: Best Backpacks for 14ers
Considering all these factors, my recommendations are the same you’ll find on many backpack guides: Osprey takes the cake for the best backpacks for 14ers. Here’s all my picks.
The Talon 22 is the best backpack for 14ers for many reasons. With 22 liters of space there’s more than enough room for everything you need. Its lightweigh material means it comes in at 1 pound ,12.6 ounces, despite a plethora of features. The bag is built with you in mind – the strap system is built to distribute weight evenly, and a mesh backing helps air reach your back when you’re wearing it. It fits up to a 2.5 liter bladder in a special pocket, and includes great features. These include a helmet clip, ice axe attachments, trek pole stow-as-you-go clips, water bottle pockets and a number of pockets. Click here to buy it.
Deuter has done a well job with their Speed Lite 20, creating a bag nearly as good as the Talon 22 but at a significant price reduction. It’s the lightest bag on this list at just 1 pound, 1 ounce, and includes 20 liters of space, nearly as much as the Talon. It also includes a pocket with plenty of space for your hydration bladder of choice (not included). The bag’s selling point is its aeronautical design that prevents drag and looks sleek. However, it lacks many of the features offered by the Tallon – hance its place in 2nd. Click here to learn more and buy it.
The Sports Oasis is a solid choice for its low price in all of the main categories. There’s 18 liters of space to fill, slightly less than the competitors but still a solid space. At 2 pounds, it’s also a bit heavier than the rest. It does feature numerous extra gadgets like the Osprey that the Speed Lite lacks, including water bottle pockets, a whistle and trekking poles attachments. There’s also a built-in rain cover, which neither of the others includes, and a free water bladder comes with your order. However, it lacks many of the comfort features that the others include, and may get sore after long hikes. Click Here to Learn More.
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About the Author: Alex Derr
Alex Derr is a mountaineer and blogger based in Denver Colorado. He is working to climb Colorado’s highest 100 peaks, and the 20 tallest peaks in California. He created The Next Summit to share advice, stories, history & reflections from the Colorado Rockies & Sierra Nevada. When not climbing, he is managing the Communications strategy at Visible Network Labs.