Best Budget Backpacks

When looking for a new backpack it can sometimes feel like you need to fork over half the months food budget to just buy something halfway decent. For the most part, quality gear is not cheap. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t find a great bag that gets the job done for a fraction of the price of brand name apparel.

In this article, you will find a list some of the best backpacks for under $50. The bags on this list can be used for a variety of activities, including hiking and backpacking, biking, traveling, and going to school, work, or the gym. The prices on these backpacks vary, with the most quality products typically being the closest to the $50 mark. Still, all of these bags are fantastic economical choices for your next backpack.

High Sierra Swerve
  • High Sierra Swerve
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • High-quality straps
  • Spacious
  • Price: See Here
Paladineer
  • Paladineer
  • 4.9 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Comfortable
  • Breathable straps
  • Price: See Here
OutdoorMaster
  • OutdoorMaster
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Rain cover included
  • Durable
  • Price: See Here

10 Best Budget Backpacks

 

 

High Sierra Swerve

High Sierra Swerve
The High Sierra Swerve Backpack is a super sturdy choice for your everyday backpack. It has multiple large compartments that will be able to accommodate everything you need and the tough material can stand up to the test of time.
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Carrying Capacity

This backpack features two large compartments. The one in the back has a pocket for a laptop and room for a large number of other items. The one in front of that provides almost the same amount of room. There are many smaller compartments on this bag that allow you to organize small items, making it easy to find anything in a pinch. Do not over pack this bag though, as many customers have reported that it has weak zippers.

Water Storage

This bag has two mesh pockets on either side that can fit a water bottle. Although it is not designed to be compatible with a hydration bladder, it can fit one in the laptop compartment and even has a spot on the left shoulder strap where the hose can be secured.

Straps

The shoulder straps on this bag are large and comfortable, and do a good job of spreading the weight of this bag across your back even when it is full. There is also a small chest strap and waist belt that help to keep the bag securely in place. Straps along the sides also help secure the bag by synching extra space when it is not full.

Material

This bag is made of very sturdy material that can withstand heavy use. The material is also water repellent, and will help to keep your items dry. However, it is not waterproof.

Summary

The High Sierra Swerve Backpack is an excellent choice for a daily pack that will stand up to the test of time. It can also be a great choice for traveling, and with its large carrying capacity may be the only piece of luggage you need on a short trip.
Pros
  • Very large
  • Strap to secure hose on hydration bladder
  • Quality straps
Cons
  • Weak zippers
 

Paladineer Hiking

Paladineer Hiking
The Paladineer Hiking Backpack is a quality backpack at a great price. It is perfect for day hikes, camping, and any other outdoor activity that requires a decent amount of gear. This bag comes in two different designs with slightly different features, so carefully inspect which is which before making a purchase.
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Carrying Capacity

This bag can fit up to 30 liters worth of gear in its large main compartment. It also has multiple smaller pockets that are great for organizing everything you have, and a mesh compartment that can be expanded as needed.

Water Storage

Both styles of this bag are compatible with a hydration bladder, featuring helpful additions such as a separate pocket for the bladder, a loop to hold the bladder up, and spots on the straps to secure the hose. One of the styles also has a mesh compartment on each side that can fit a water bottle.

Straps

The shoulder straps on this bag features breathable mesh padding that is incredibly comfortable and keeps the bag cool. Waist and chest straps also help to distribute weight more evenly, and keep the bag securely in place. One style of this bag features a wide, padded waist belt, while the other has a thin, yet sturdy belt. Both styles also include an internal frame, which helps to lift the backpack off your back, making it even more comfortable.

Material

This bag is highly water-resistant, and although it is not waterproof it will keep your things dry in light to moderate rain. Each compartment also keeps moisture in, so a leak in one area of the back does not mean all the compartments will become wet. In severe weather, a rain cover is recommended. One version of this bag comes with a rain cover, but for the version other the rain cover must be bought separately.

Summary

The Paladineer Hiking Backpack is a highly recommended economical choice for a great outdoor adventure bag. Coming at a much cheaper price point than most other bags of similar quality, this bag offers comfort and spaciousness, and will hold up well to wear and tear.
Pros
  • Comes in two styles
  • Fully compatible with a hydration bladder
  • Comfortable, breathable straps
  • Internal frame
  • High quality water resistant material
Cons
  • Only one style comes with a rain cover
 

OutdoorMaster Hiking 50L

OutdoorMaster Hiking 50L
The OutdoorMaster Hiking Backpack - 50L is a versatile backpack that can work well for hiking, camping, and traveling. Its large carrying capacity will fit everything you need for a short backpacking trip or a longer trip oversees.
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Carrying Capacity

This backpack has two main compartments that together accommodate up to 50 liters worth of gear. It also features a front flap that can be expanded or synched down and can fit items such as an extra layer or helmet. Pockets in the waist belt provide space for small items and makes them easy to get to.

Water Storage

This bag has a mesh compartment on either side that can fit a water bottle. A pocket inside the main compartment closer to the back can fit a hydration bladder. Although there are no internal hooks to support a bladder, this bag does have a small hole that allows the hose to be fed through without opening the zippers.

Straps

The shoulder straps on this bag are sturdy and do a good job of distributing weight. They do not breath well though, and can get hot on warm days. A small chest strap and thick waist belt also help keep this bag in place. Taller people do report that the waist belt sits to high on their hips.

Material

This bag is made of sturdy yet lightweight moisture wicking material. For the truly rainy days it also includes a rain cover.

Summary

The OutdoorMaster Hiking Backpack 50L can be a great companion whether you are hiking trails behind your house or traveling the world. It provides adequate support so that it stays comfortable even when fully loaded with gear, and is roomy enough to fit everything you need.
Pros
  • Very large
  • Hole for hose on hydration bladder
  • Comes with a rain cover
Cons
  • Hot shoulder straps
  • Uncomfortable fit on tall people
 

Nike Club Team Swoosh

Nike Club Team Swoosh
The Nike Club Team Swoosh Backpack is a good choice for a daily bag or a gym bag. Designed to be a ball bag, this backpack does not actually fit a soccer ball, volleyball, or basketball and is better suited for everyday use.
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Carrying Capacity

This bag has a large upper compartment that can items such as books, or gym clothes. The lower compartment is great for carrying smaller items such as pens or shoes. This bag is not large enough to fit a computer.

Water Storage

This backpack has one mesh compartment on the side that can fit a water bottle. It is not compatible with a hydration pack.

Straps

This backpack has large, comfortable and sturdy shoulder straps. Meant to be used for school, work, or the gym, this backpack does not have a chest strap or waist belt.

Material

The material that this bag is made of is sturdy, although a bit thinner than what is found on a typical Nike backpack. It is not waterproof, but does resist some moisture and holds up well in the rain.

Summary

The Nike Club Team Swoosh Backpack is an excellent choice for a daily use bag. However, if you are looking for a more versatile backpack that you can use hiking or as a travel bag, this backpack will not be sufficient.
Pros
  • Great for everyday use
  • Sturdy shoulder straps
  • Sturdy material
Cons
  • Does not work as ball bag
  • No compatible with hydration pack
  • No chest strap or waist belt

Armycamousa Expandable Tactical

Armycamousa Expandable Tactical
The Armycamousa Expandable Tactical Backpack can be bought in a variety of different styles. Whichever one you choose, this bag offers spacious room and durability, and will work well for many different activities including hiking, traveling, and daily use.
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Carrying Capacity

This bag can comfortably accommodate 40 to 60 liters worth of gear. It features a large main compartment and two smaller, yet still spacious compartments in the front. Some styles of this bag also have a small mesh side compartment and a small pocket on the shoulder straps that can be shut with Velcro.

Water Storage

This bag is compatible with a hydration bladder, although there are no special features to accommodate this system. Some versions of this bag also include one mesh pocket on the side that can fit a very small water bottle.

Straps

The shoulder straps on this bag are wide and offer generous support. All versions of this backpack include a chest strap, and some also include a detachable waist belt. If a waist belt is important to you, make sure to double check that the style you are buying has this feature.

Material

While most customers have found that this bag stands up to the test of time, some of received bags that fall apart quickly. Usually, the problem is with the seams or zipper, and it doesn’t not seem to be an issue every time. The material this bag is made from is also highly water resistant, although it won’t repel all water in heavy rain.

Summary

The Armycamousa Expandable Tactical Backpack is a solidly made bag that offers a great deal of space and works well as a hiking backpack. Because it comes in a few different styles, make sure you have picked exactly what you want before making a final purchase.
Pros
  • Very large
  • Comes in multiple styles
  • Sturdy material
  • Highly water resistent
Cons
  • Not all versions come with waist belt
  • Questionable make

Sami Studio Foldable

Sami Studio Foldable
The Sami Studio Foldable Hiking Backpack is lightweight and packs easily, making it a good choice for a travel backpack. It can be folded up and stored within one of its own inner pockets, so when you aren’t using it you can easily store it out of the way. When folded it also has a small strap that makes it easy to carry.
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Carrying Capacity

This pack has one large compartment that can accommodate up to 35 liters worth of gear. A mesh compartment on the back can also be used to store items such as an extra layer, and a small compartment in the top flap can be used for small items.

Water Storage

This bag has a mesh compartment on either side that can fit a water bottle. These compartments have straps that can be synched down to ensure that items placed there won’t fall out. This back is not designed to be compatible with a hydration bladder, although it will fit a small one if desired.

Straps

This bag has shoulder straps with padding, and a chest strap to keep it in place. The padding on the shoulder straps is inadequate for comfort if the bag is packed with too much weight.

Material

The material that this bag is made from repels water, but is not waterproof. It will help keep your items dry in light rain, but a rain cover should be used in truly inclement weather. A large flap on the top of the bag covers the main compartment, making this the driest area in the bag.

Summary

The Sami Studio Foldable Hiking Backpack makes a great travel companion, gym bag, or light day hiking backpack. However, it is not sufficient for longer hikes and will become uncomfortable if you pack it with too much weight.
Pros
  • Can be folded inside of its own pocket
  • Good daily bag
Cons
  • No waist belt
  • Uncomfortable when heavy

EcoCity Lightweight Foldable

EcoCity Lightweight Foldable
The EcoCity Lightweight Foldable Backpack is another great choice for a lightweight hiking and travel pack that can be folded up and fitted into an inner pocket. On the small side, this bag works great for carrying everything you need on a day hike.
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Carrying Capacity

This bag has a large main compartment that can hold up to 30 liters worth of gear. It also has two littler compartments that can fit small items, making them easy to find.

Water Storage

What really sets this backpack apart is the inner hook that will keep your hydration bladder upright in the pack. This bag also has mesh pockets on the sides that can hold your water bottle.

Straps

The shoulder straps on this bag make it comfortable. It also has a chest strap that helps to secure it in place. However, this bag does not have a waist belt and should, therefore, be kept lightweight while hiking.

Material

The material on this bag is lightweight and easily compressible. Some customers have found that the bag falls apart after just a few uses, but most report that it stands up to normal wear and tear. Although slightly resistant, this bag will not keep rain out and should be used with a rain cover in even a light storm.

Summary

A lightweight and easily compressible bag, the EcoCity Lightweight Foldable Backpack works great for day hikes or as a travel backpack. With extra features that make it more compatible with a hydration bladder, this bag has a slight edge over other similar products.
Pros
  • Inner hook to hold hydration bladder
  • Can be folded inside of its own pocket
Cons
  • No waist belt
  • Weak material

Venture Pal Lightweight Daypack

Venture Pal Lightweight Daypack
The Venture Pal Lightweight Daypack is a great choice for day hikes. However, the material is not very sturdy, and this bag does become uncomfortable when too heavy. This same lightweight material makes the bag easy to pack though – it can be folded up and zippered into one of its inner pockets.
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Carrying Capacity

This bag can accommodate 35 liters of gear within a large main compartment. It also has two smaller front pockets that can be zippered shut. Each of these storage areas features compartments for organizing everything you have with you, whether you use this backpack for hiking or to go to school.

Water Storage

This bag has a mesh pocket on either side that can fit a 1 liter water bottle. It also has a pocket in the main compartment that can fit a hydration bladder. However, this bag is not designed to be compatible with a bladder system and therefore has nowhere to secure the hose.

Straps

This bag has thick, breathable mesh shoulder straps and a chest strap that help to distribute weight across the body. Customers have reported that this bag can be uncomfortable when filled too much.

Material

The material that this bag is made from is weak and tears easily, so be careful to not subject to excessive wear and tear. It is also resistant to moisture, however some customers have found that the waterproof lining begins to separate from the bag after some use.

Summary

The Venture Pal Lightweight Daypack is an economical choice for a hiking bag. However, with weak material and insufficient straps, this bag should only be used for day trips and can become uncomfortable when filled to excess.
Pros
  • Good for day trips
  • Can be folded inside of its own pocket
Cons
  • Weak material
  • Can’t secure hose on hydration bladder
  • Uncomfortable when heavy
  • No waist belt

GOHYO Hiking

GOHYO Hiking
The GOHYO Hiking Backpack is a lightweight choice that provides comfort while engaging in a variety of activities. Featuring a laptop compartment along with many other small spaces for storing your stuff, this bag can work as a daily pack for school or work as well as a great bag for exploring in the outdoors.
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Carrying Capacity

This bag can fit up to 40 liters worth of gear, making it one of the larger bags on this list. Most of this carrying capacity is found in the large main compartment, however, this bag also has two smaller zip compartments and an expandable mesh area on the back.

Water Storage

Two mesh pockets on the outside of this bag can each fit a water bottle. This bag is not designed to be compatible with a hydration bladder, however it can fit a small one if you desire.

Straps

Padded shoulder straps with mesh lining help to distribute weight and keep you cool. This bag also has a chest strap, which allows it to be secured in place.

Material

This bag is water resistant, but like other similar bags is not fully waterproof. If you will be using it in heavy rain a rain cover is recommended.

Summary

A very cheap choice for a sturdy hiking backpack, the GOHYO Hiking Backpack will get the job done. It can also work well for daily use or as a travel backpack. However, since this bag does not have a waist belt, it is not recommended for longer hikes or to carry very heavy loads.
Pros
  • Medium / large size
  • Sturdy build
Cons
  • No waist belt

Vbiger Hiking

Vbiger Hiking
The Vbiger Hiking Backpack has a large carrying capacity, and is a good choice as a travel bag. It also works well for hiking and backpacking, although be careful not to weigh it down too much as it does not have an internal frame. 20 to 25 pounds is what this bag can carry comfortably.
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Carrying Capacity

This bag can store up to 55 liters worth of gear. Many other small pockets throughout the bag make it easy to organize your things. Especially important are small pockets on the waist belt which allow you to access important items such as your wallet, keys, and phone without removing the bag.

Water Storage

This bag has mesh pockets on either side the allow for easy storage of a large water bottle. This can accommodate a hydration bladder, however it is not designed for one and therefore has no special features to help secure the bladder.

Straps

This bag has large shoulder straps that help to distribute weight across your back and prevent hot spots. It also has a wide waist belt that moves much of the weight from your back to your hips. A chest strap keeps everything in place. Some customers have reported that the straps are weak and broke during their first use of the bag.

Material

Water resistant fabric helps to repel water and keep the contents of this bag dry. However, this bag is not waterproof and should be used with a rain cover in heavy rain.

Summary

The Vbiger Hiking Backpack can fit everything you need for a long trip oversees, and provides an easy solution for carrying your things while you travel. However, without an internal frame this bag will become uncomfortable for long backpacking trips, and is better utilized for day hikes.
Pros
  • Very large
  • Great travel backpack
  • Good for day hikes
Cons
  • Uncomfortable when heavy
  • Questionable craftsmanship

 

Criteria Used For The Evaluation

Decide how you will primarily be using this backpack

Before purchasing a backpack you should always spend some time thinking about how exactly you plan to use it. There are many different activities that require a backpack, and each look for slightly different attributes in the perfect bag.

Backpacking backpacks need to be able to properly distribute the weight from your back around your back. This prevents extra weight concentrated in one area from causing irritation and pain. For backpacking, an internal frame backpack is the best choice. It can be hard to find cheap bags with this kind of specification, however, they do exist.

Backpacks that work for day hiking are much less particular. For truly short hikes a backpack without a waist belt or chest strap will even due. If you plan on carrying gear or climbing steep mountains though, a bag with quality straps and features such as hydration bladder compatibly and water repellent fabric are going to make you much more comfortable.

Using a backpack for travel can be comfortable and easy to manage alternative to a suitcase. If this is what you primarily need a backpack for, there are plenty of great options for low prices. Look for a bag that can accommodate a large amount of gear. An internal frame is less important on the kind of bag because most of what you are carrying will be lightweight clothing.

If you are mostly going to be using your backpack for things like going to work, school, or the gym, then you options for economically priced bags is much larger. Everyday backpacks don’t need special features or frills. Still, look for a bag made with quality material and workmanship, as you still want it to be able to last you a few years.

Once you figure out exactly what kind of backpack you are looking for you can narrow to search. This makes it much easier to figure out what the lowest price you’ll be able to pay without losing any of the features you need is.   

Search the Internet

The internet is full of great deals if you know where to look. If you are looking for cheap outdoor or athletic gear there are websites like Moosejaw.com, Sierratradingpost.com, and Backcountry.com that sell quality brands at discounted prices. This is a great place to look for a cheap backpack. Although items can often still be pricy, sometimes you will come across an incredible deal.

Checking in on brands at the end of a season is another smart way to find a cheap price on a nice backpack. When stores switch over what they carry, they will often offer massive sales. If you miss the big sale, make sure to double check the websites for the brands you like the most. Many stores often always have a rotating lineup of sale items.

Customer reviews are another way you can use the internet to find a cheap backpack. Some have a low price because they are cheaply made or uncomfortable. This is not always the case though, and reading customer reviews can help you figure out what bags are truly cheap and which are a good deal.

Shopping Local

Going to local thrift shops can also be a great way to find a cheap backpack. Many outdoor gear stores also have thrift programs that are specifically designed for reselling quality outdoor gear. Although it is always a gamble, great deals do happen to those who are persistent.

 

FAQs

Q:   What are the most important features of a backpack that shouldn’t be sacrificed for a better price?

Often times a product’s price is a reflection of the quality of the materials and workmanship that goes into it. This is true for backpacks just like anything else. However, there are certain features of a backpack that should never be compromised. These features apply to every bag no matter what activity it is best suited for.

Study shoulder straps are a must have for any backpack. These straps are what keep a back firmly on your back. If they begin to tear than the integrity of the backpack becomes compromised. If they come off completely than the backpack is rendered useless. If a backpack has problems in this area than it is too expensive at any price.

High-quality material that does not tear easily is another deal breaker for backpacks. The backpack is a utilitarian bag that is meant to make it easy for you to move and engage in activity. It is therefore important that backpacks be able to stand up to general wear and tear without falling apart.

Finally, no backpack is worthwhile if it can’t fit everything that you need it to carry. A cheap price for a bag is great but if it can only carry half of what you need on a daily basis than it is rendered unusable. Know what you will need to carry in your backpack before buying it, and spend a little more if you have to get the big bag.

Q:  What are easy ways to cut corners in price?

There are certain features that many backpacks have which add to the price and aren’t really necessary. Easy access to water is one example. Having pockets that can fit your water bottle on the outside can be handy but is not really necessary. Hydration bladder compatibility can also be really nice, but unless you are using your bag to exercise, is an easy feature to let go of. Furthermore, if you do decide to use your bag for running, biking, hiking, or another sport where convenient hydration is important, most backpacks that aren’t designed to be compatible to fit a hydration bladder can still accommodate one

Unless you know that you are going to be using your backpack for strenuous activity or carrying heavy load, waist belts and chest straps are another example of features that aren’t truly necessary. If you are going to sacrifice just one of the two, waist belts are usually the first to go. This is because chest straps work better to secure a pack in place on their own. Getting rid of extra pockets will also significantly decrease the price of your backpack. Small extra pockets are great for organization and can be truly helpful, however, they are not truly necessary.

 

 Final Thoughts

Buying a cheap backpack does not mean you have to purchase something that is uncomfortable or poorly made. There are plenty of bags on the market that provide everything you need in a good bag. The key to finding a quality backpack at a low price is doing your research and being patient enough to wait for the good deal.