It’s hard to judge which are the most beloved backpacks, but I’ve based popular on two things mainly, which are reputation and reviews. I’ve also separated the backpacks in to a few different categories to help you find which are the most popular backpacks with certain basic features.
Popular High Capacity Backpacks
- ULA Equipment Catalyst – ULA make many excellent lightweight backpacks that are popular with lightweight backpacking enthusiasts. Their whole product line is excellent, and while the 75 Liter Catalyst is a smaller capacity than many high capacity backpacks, some of which get upwards of 100 Liters, it makes up for it by being an extremely lightweight backpack. If weight is a big concern then this backpack may be the one for you.
- Arc’teryx Bora 95 – The Bora 95 is yet another high quality backpack. The Bora is nowhere near as light as the Catalyst, but it’s got 25 more Liters of carrying capacity and is well reviewed and popular with the backpacking community.
- Osprey Argon 70 – The 70 is the smallest of the Argon line of bags from Osprey, there’s also an 85 and a 110 if you’re looking for something bigger. The Argon is another of the top backpacks that wont stack up to the Catalyst in terms of weight but is very well reviewed and evidently very popular with backpackers.
Popular Frame Backpacks
- ULA Equipment Circuit – The Circuit is a step down from the Catalyst above. It’s got a smaller, more lightweight frame and less carrying capacity, and that works out to an appreciable weight difference between the two. If weight is your chief concern in looking for a backpack then ULA is the brand for you. They make popular backpacks and the Circuit is one of their most popular.
- Granite Gear Blaze A.C. 60 – The Blaze A.C. 60 won top honors at the Backpacker Magazine Awards for Editor’s Choice of Best Backpack. It’s new for 2011 so it hasn’t had a chance to gain many reviews or followers yet, but Backpacker Magazine has a good track history with picking quality gear and you can be sure this is going to be a well loved backpack from a well respected backpacking manufacturer.
- Osprey Atmos 50 – The Atmos is another award winner, this time for Outside Magazine. The design has been upgraded since it won top honors but they haven’t changed any of the things that made it such a good backpack to begin with. It’s not as lightweight as the Circuit but with all the positive reviews for this backpack it’s hard to find much of a fault.
Popular Frameless Backpacks
- ULA Equipment CDT – It’s not a coincidence that ULA has a backpack in all three of these categories. Lightweight backpackers know and respect their products, and if you’re looking for lightweight ULA is a safe place to turn. The CDT is low on capacity and weight, making it an ideal choice for those looking for a lightweight backpack to really embrace the idea of lightweight backpacking.
- Gossamer Gear G4 Ultralight – The G4 is another lightweight backpack that is no doubt well known to lightweight backpacking enthusiasts but not so much to everyone else. The G4 has been through a few design evolutions over the years and has only gotten better with age. The evolution in design has helped it to become a more respected backpack over the years and if you’re looking for a lightweight frameless backpack it’s worth considering.
- GoLite Jam – The Jam is another backpack that’s been through a few design tweaks since it first came on to the market. Those design tweaks have added a few ounces to the overall weight of the backpack, but the additions have only served to improve the design and make it a more beloved backpack.