Why are Hiking Backpacks so Expensive?

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Hiking is considered to be one of the most popular outdoor activities. Every time I go hiking, after crossing a challenging terrain, when I reach the peak to see that beautiful sunset, my heart feels with joy. In my years’ worth of hiking journey, one thing that never failed to astonish me is how expensive the hiking gears are, especially a good hiking backpack. You might also wonder, why are hiking backpacks so expensive? I’ll tell you why.

Hiking backpacks are expensive because it is an essential part of a hiker’s journey. High-quality hiking backpacks are made out of quality materials; also, a skillfully designed backpack requires an expert set of eyes, and none of these are cheap.

There are so many reasons why hiking gears and backpacks are expensive, and you’ll be surprised that how much of it makes sense. Below I’m going to explain some reasons for it, so you can justify your reasons to get a quality backpack.

4 Reasons Why Hiking Backpacks are so Expensive:

A Quality Backpack Ensures Comfort

First and foremost, by no means hiking is easy. Yes, people do it to have fun, to enjoy the thrill. But don’t think that it’s just like a walk in the park. Hiking can be a challenging experience, and to ace it, you need a good-quality backpack that can push you on your journey and keep you safe.

Some hiking trails are dangerous, and let’s be honest; you can be a victim of the changing mood of mother nature at any time.

For instance, let’s suppose you went for a hike with a cheap, frail backpack that is not really water-resistant. And suddenly starts to rain. All of your expensive hiking gears would get destroyed, and your bag will be a hundred pounds heavier. Can you carry that and enjoy the hike at the same time? Not possible.

In this scenario, if you had a good backpack that’s water-resistant, it could have saved you so much trouble. And don’t forget you have to pay up for good things; thus, quality backpacks are expensive.

Materials Matters  

Think of it this way, whenever you pay good money for something, it’s most often because of good quality material, then comes workmanship, branding, etc. Backpacks that are cheap are not necessarily of bad quality. But most certainly, the expensive ones provide you with premium materials.

We usually see that a good backpack featuring high-grade fabrics like canvas fabric, Dyneema fabric are on the pricey spectrum Because these fabrics are very sturdy, water-resistant, and comes with so many other good attributes. Good materials make a backpack last for a very long time and trust me, you don’t want to buy a hiking backpack every now and then.

So, this is another reason why hiking backpacks are expensive.

Dedicated Design and Engineering

For a good hiking experience, you need a backpack that is made with the thought of serving you the best experience possible. There are so many things that can transform a backpack from a regular one to an excellent hiking backpack. The design, engineering, and placement of things are some of those.

A hiking backpack has to have tons of storage for you to carry as many essential things as possible. It also needs to have a good frame so that you can carry it with ease. One complaint that every backpacker has is about its weight; a good hiking bag is most certainly not very heavy.

Nick Naks of small changes like a water bottle pocket, a rope hanger, sideways handle, etc., are small design changes that are crucial in a hiking backpack. So, if you calculate it all, there are so many things to look out for, and still, there lies room for improvement. This takes time, energy, resource, and that is what makes hiking backpacks expensive.

Research and Development

Brands like Osprey, North Face, Fjällräven spends a fortune in research and development to improve their design every year. Also, there goes on research to find the most effective and efficient fabrics to make a quality hiking backpack. That is yet another factor that contributes to the pricing.

A Brief Story of Fjällräven- Arctic Fox

Somewhere in Sweden in the sixties, a young lad named Ake Nordin felt frustrated with the clunky, heavy, and uncomfortable hiking gears they used to have back in the day. With that thought in mind, he revolutionized the industry by creating his first aluminum-framed hiking backpack, which was comfortable, compatible also nature friendly.

That’s where their story began, and they started producing hiking gears, expensive hiking gears also these pricey backpacks. They have created a sustainable and eco-friendly brand that creates tastefully designed backpacks and gears that don’t harm nature in any way. And that is why their prices are so high up there.

Their famous line, the Kanken backpacks, is made out of plastic bottle-made single yarn, which helps reduce waste. Also, it uses 39% less energy, 75% less water, and 67% fewer chemicals. This sort of invention and dedication requires a lot of money, and that’s what adds up to its price point.

So, if you are still wondering why hiking backpacks are so expensive, this example of the Arctic Fox AKA Fjällräven should answer your question.

Hiking Backpack Vs. Regular Backpack

If you don’t remember, let me remind you that how incredibly painful was carrying all of the textbooks back in forth to school and home when you were younger. A regular backpack is not designed in a way that we can carry it for a long time without developing physical problems. I knew a friend who had developed permanent back problems due to his regular backpack being hefty, yet he used it to go hiking.

Let’s suppose you somehow manage to cramp everything in your regular backpack but, the weight would be devastating. But a hiking backpack is specially designed in a way so that weight can be equally distributed, and you don’t end up hurting your back in the long run.

In conclusion, you should never use a regular backpack for the purpose of hiking. It will not only ruin your adventure but also may end up hurting you.

How Much Should I Spend on a Hiking Backpack?

The above example of artic fox can somewhat be considered a luxury hiking brand. You don’t necessarily have to spend that much on a hiking backpack. However, if you are just starting off, or you are planning to switch your current one, I would suggest you think of a hiking backpack as an investment.

You see, when you don’t have a good backpack and barely manage to pack your necessities by making constant changes or, worst case, if you can’t even conveniently fit everything and have to carry stuff, it can be a hellish experience. The whole point of hiking is to enjoy it without worrying about external things like this.

And if I’m completely honest, I don’t support buying a cheap one. Because it’s true what they say, you get what you pay for. Things that are of top-notch quality will cost you extra: and that extra amount is worth it.

I cannot give you an exact amount that you should spend while shopping for a hiking backpack, but the good ones can easily set you off by 200 to 300 dollars.

How Much Should my Backpack Weigh

It’s a crucial point to talk about before you start off your hike. Expensive or good quality backpacks weigh very minimum on their own; also, when you stuff your necessities in, it gives you a very good weight distribution by having specific compartments for things a hiker usually needs.

The less your backpack weighs, the better, but there are some debates about the topic, which I will not go into for now. However, if you want to follow a guideline, then I have some pointers for you.

  • After you fully load your backpack, it should not weigh more than 20% of your total body weight. For example, if you weigh about 130 pounds, then your backpack should weigh 20% of 130 = 26 pounds or less.
  • If you plan on hiking in a frigid temperature, make sure you don’t load extra weights in your backpack. Instead, wear more layers and keep some warming packs just in case.
  • Weigh everything before you load your backpack. That way, you can control how much you are carrying. Also, prioritize your stuff according to your needs.
  • Meals consume a ton of storage in the backpack if you’re hiking for a longer time. Do not just take whatever you have at the last minute. Meal prep your food and ration them throughout your hike.

Final Words

There are so many brands out there that manufacture hiking backpacks that are affordable. Yet, if you ask me or anyone who is hiking for years will tell you to invest in a good hiking backpack, especially if you are just starting off.

Once you start, you will realize that how much a good hiking backpack helps. If you want to enjoy the experience, invest in your gears and learn from the experts. Also, don’t sweat it too much; you can find a lot of help online.

I hope I could answer your question, ‘why are hiking backpacks so expensive’- well enough. If you have anything else to add, or if you have more questions, reach out in the comments. You are more than welcome.