The best overnight backpacks reviewed (2023) | 35-50L

Heading away for overnight treks during summer requires only a mid-sized pack because you can pack light. These are our favourite summer overnight backpacks (35-50L).

Photos of overnight backpacks

by Chris Williams |
Published on

When someone mentions a ‘hiking rucksack’ the mind’s eye often sees this great big backpacking pack half the size of the human carrying it. But in summer, if you pack light, you can use a smaller, mid-size overnight backpack for one or two nights away in the hills.

Doing this makes your hikes more comfortable and agile. With an overnight backpack of 35 to 50 litres, you feel more like an energetic adventurer and less like a beast of burden lugging a large backpacking pack.

Hikers on Hopegill Head ridge, carrying overnight backpacks
©Live For The Outdoors

The mid-size hiking pack market is fierce and varied because it contains the most versatile packs. 35 to 50-litre hiking backpacks, depending on their design and features, can be used for overnight hiking trips, multi-day hut-to-hut trips, long mountain day treks, or as winter daypacks.

Our shortlist

Lowe Alpine Cholatse 42:47 - Best in Test

Mammut Lithium 50 - Best Value

deuter Futura Pro 36 - Best for breathability

Osprey Kyte 48 - Best for carrying heavy gear

Exped Lightning 45 - Best lightweight overnight backpack

ORTLIEB Atrack 45 - Best waterproof overnight backpack

Jack Wolfskin 3D Aerorise 40 - Best innovation

In this roundup, we’ve tested and recommended our favourite overnight backpacks for hiking. They all fit within the 35 to 50-litre volume size, and are each part of a wider range of packs. This means that there are larger and smaller versions of each, which may suit you better. You can also find useful buying advice below.

The best overnight backpacks in detail

Best in Test


Just how much thought that’s been thrown into the design of this pack is remarkable. And it’s


  • Brilliant features
  • Very versatile
  • Durable
  • Comfortable


  • Maybe too many features for some (but not for us)

Best Value


Like the Lowe Alpine Cholatse 42:47, this is a versatile pack which is suitable for wild camp


  • Versatile
  • Clever features
  • Sustainable


  • Only one hip belt pocket
  • One size only

Best for breathability


Designed for longer treks and adventures, deuter’s Futura Pro packs are armed with fantastically


  • Super breathable
  • Sustainable
  • Zipped base compartment


  • A close-to-body fit is better for technical terrain
  • Curved frame cuts into compartment space

Best for carrying heavy gear


The Kyte (or men’s Kestrel) packs are dependable and durable mainstays of the Osprey range. The


  • Tough
  • Great for heavy loads
  • Very stable and comfortable
  • Sustainable


  • Heavier than other packs here

Best internal storage and organisation

Near Zero The Dean 55L Hiking BackpackLive For The Outdoors
Price: £187.00


Arizona-based brand Near Zero takes a unique approach to its overnight pack design. Instead of


  • Stable, secure fit
  • Fantastic internal organisation
  • Reasonably lightweight
  • Easy-access front zip
  • Good back panel breathability


  • Base material could be tougher
  • Hipbelt straps sometimes wiggle out of their storage sleeves

Best lightweight overnight backpack


Fans of the minimalist style of hiking and trekking will love the aptly named Lighting 45. In


  • Lightweight
  • Copes with heavier loads better than other lightweight packs
  • Utilitarian spec level


  • Pretty basic carry system

Best waterproof overnight backpack


Fully waterproof hiking backpacks are few and far between. And good ones are rarer still. German


  • Properly waterproof
  • Durable


  • Not the most comfortable

Best innovation


Jack Wolfskin has its Aero carrying systems for its packs and has added Aerorise to the lineup.


  • Very lightweight
  • Sustainable
  • Ideal for ultralightweight trips


  • Not suitable for heavy loads
  • Hardly the best value
  • Not the toughest pack

How to buy the best overnight backpack

Measure your back: There are different fit sizes and back lengths for backpacks to suit different body sizes. A lot of packs come with adjustable back lengths to home in on the ideal fit but begin by measuring your back length first.

Back systems: There are essentially three types of backpack back system. A padded foam design fits provides excellent cushioning, comfort, and stability. Channelled back systems use grooves to improve ventilation. Suspended mesh systems hold the pack away from your back for ultimate ventilation. It is largely a personal choice.

Compartments and storage: Big single compartment designs are great for simply piling in your gear and getting on the move. Multi-compartment designs are much better for organising your gear. And having multiple zips or entry points on the front or side of the pack helps with easy gear access.

Pockets and attachment points: Generous side/stash pockets, hip belt pockets, and gear attachment points are very useful for accessing items on the go and stowing gear on the outside of your pack.

Sustainability: As packs are made from synthetic materials, try and get one made from recycled material if you can. All the best backpack brands are using recycled material now so this shouldn’t be an issue. Also keep an eye out for PFC-free products and DWRs. Bluesign is another useful certification to look for, as are fair labour certifications like Fair Wear Foundation membership.

Weatherproofing: The vast majority of hiking packs aren’t waterproof. Many have some water repellency thanks to a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coating. Packs often come supplied with a detachable rain cover but use dry bags as well to ensure gear stays totally dry.

Hiking backpack care and maintenance

Female hiker carrying an overnight pack and walking with her dog in the hills
©Live For The Outdoors

Hiking packs use tough and durable fabrics that are able to last a very long time. But to achieve that, they need to be cleaned occasionally. Neglect will lead to accelerated degradation.

Fortunately, cleaning your pack properly is easy. It needs doing every season or after heavy use and requires the right cleaning product.

Backpacks are also one of the most repairable pieces of outdoor equipment. So, if a zip is busted, a buckle broken, or a piece of fabric torn, make use of the repair services offered by retailers and brands to get your pack fixed. It's far more cost effective and eco-friendly than throwing away and buying new.

Best backpack care kit

Grangers Tent And Gear Kit

Rrp: £19

Price: £14.49


Grangers' effective and eco-friendly care kit for outdoor gear such as packs and tents. The


  • Water-based and PFC-free
  • Easy spray-on water repel
  • Good value


  • Reproofing spray needs applied quite regularly

Highly recommended

Nikwax Camping Care Kit
Price: £17.49


Nikwax's gear care kit is just as good as the Grangers kit and also water-based and PFC-free.


  • Water-based and PFC-free
  • Dry bag included


  • Reproofing spray needs applied quite regularly

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