Bad backs and backpacks are never a great combination.
But the situation gets even worse when you mix bad backs with bad backpacks for bad backs…
They add fuel to the excruciating fire in your lumbar region, hugging and tugging in all the wrong places, and providing none of the support you need.
If you’re burdened by back pain, then you need the best backpack for bad backs possible. Thankfully, the best backpacks for back pain are designed with all the features you need to relieve the strain and distribute the load.
As someone who lives perpetually out of a backpack and struggles with periodic lower back pain, I decided to look into the best backpacks for people with back problems!
Are you on the hunt for a back-friendly backpack?
Keep reading for a buying guide that I hope will help you find the best backpack for your back possible.
[Last Checked & Updated: February 2021]
Heads up, this post contains affiliate links!
THE BEST BACKPACKS FOR BACK PAIN - SUMMARY TABLE
Read on to compare the pros and cons of the most popular back support backpacks available today.
TOP CONSIDERATIONS FOR CHOOSING THE BEST BACKPACK FOR BAD BACKS
But before we get into detailed reviews of each of these backpacks, let’s first consider what makes an excellent back-friendly backpack. Here are a few things to consider when shopping for the most comfortable backpack for your back.
The Total Capacity of the Back-Friendly Backpack
The first thing to look for in a back-friendly backpack is its capacity.
As you know, backpacks are available in a variety of sizes - ranging from super small to extra-large. A small, light-weight backpack might be good news for your back. But if it can’t hold all the items you want/need to carry, then it isn’t fit for purpose!
Decide the right size for you by considering the purpose for which you need the pack.
If all you need to carry around are a couple of textbooks and a laptop, then you can get away with a smaller one. Packing for a weekend camping trip though? You’re gonna need something much bigger!
How Well the Backpack Distributes the Weight
Once you’ve got the right size, it’s time to move onto performance.
Start by considering how much weight your packed backpack will put on your back and shoulders. You need a pack that evenly distributes the total load without putting undue strain on your chest, waist, shoulders, or back.
Generally speaking, the backpacks you want have wide shoulder straps as opposed to narrow ones. Look for waist and chest belts on ergonomically designed backpacks as well, which both help to distribute weight.
Finally, padded straps are another feature of the best backpacks with shoulder support. For bigger packs and heavier loads, the more padding you can get, the better!
The Number of Compartments
The number of compartments on the backpack should also play a role in the final purchase decision. More compartments mean a more organized backpack, but they also help distribute the total weight when full.
With more choice around where to store your items, you can spread your gear more effectively around the bag. For example, you can put heavy items in places that don’t add pressure or strain to painful areas of your back.
When you have a spacious backpack with multiple compartments, you’ll know exactly where to reach for which item. More importantly, though, your back and shoulders will thank you- especially on long hiking and camping trips!
The Cost of Backpacks That Are Good for Your Back
Of course, the price of the backpack will probably come into play as well.
Unfortunately, backpacks with the best back support can get relatively expensive. Though they are available for a range of different prices, a general rule of the thumb is the cost rises with the degree of back-friendly features.
I recommend that you do thorough research before making your final purchase decision.
In my opinion, it’s always better to spend a bit more on a good quality backpack that won’t damage your back any further. As far as investments go, it’s hard to argue with this one.
Related content you might find useful:
THE BEST BACKPACK FOR YOUR BACK BUYING GUIDE:
TOP 8 BACK SUPPORT BACKPACKS
Now, with the important considerations out of the way, let’s get on to the detailed reviews of my top 8 back support backpacks.
1. RUPUMPACK Insulated Hydration Backpack
Product weight: 1.4 pounds (650 g)
Product dimensions: 9.8 x 5.9 x 17.7 inches
Total Maximum capacity: 18 L with an additional 2.5 L bladder
Manufacturing material: polyester and nylon
Ventilated mesh padding
Warranty period: 1 year
Lugging around bulky, heavy backpacks is never fun when you suffer from back problems. That’s one reason why the Rupumpack hydration backpack is a top shout for the best backpack for shoulder pain and back pain.
Measuring 1.4 pounds and with a capacity of 18 litres, it’s a lightweight yet (moderately) spacious bag that’d be good for day-use and/or short hikes. The hip and waist straps work to distribute the total weight, and the extra pockets on the wide straps mean you can store small accessories.
This backpack features mesh padding on all the straps to relieve pressure and provide proper ventilation to the wearer. And the best part? It comes with a fully insulated hydration bladder to keep your water cold while you hike!
Another handy addition is a hydration insulation layer in the backpack. Crafted from high-quality aluminium foil, the water in the bladder will be kept chilled for up to 4 hours.
In practical terms, the Rupumpack won’t let you down. It’s a durable pack that’s made from high-quality, water-resistant nylon. Throw in the adjustable straps, heavy-duty zippers, and safety reflectors, and you’ve got a great unisex all-rounder that’ll provide good back support to boot.
Available in multiple colours
Great value for money
Large capacity for longer trips
Manufactured with waterproof, high-quality nylon
Hip straps provide extra stability, security, and comfort
Comes with an insulated hydration bladder to keep your drinks cold
Possibly too small for all but short hikes and day use.
2. Mardingtop Molle Tactical Backpack (Best Backpack for Back Problems)
Product weight: 2.7 pounds
Product dimensions: 12.2 x 10.2 x 20.5 inches
Maximum capacity: 35 litres
Manufacturing material: 600D polyester, YKK zippers
Waist belt design
This military-style backpack is excellent for carrying the heaviest loads with maximum comfort.
The sturdy chest, waist, and hip straps on this backpack prevent your shoulders and upper back from bearing all the weight, which is good news if you’re planning to fill it to its 35L capacity.
The molle webbing design allows you to clip on other accessories for easy carrying and access too. And then you’ve got two handy webbing straps on the backpack as well, which make it a breeze to hang bigger items such as rolled-up tents.
As we mentioned above, that all helps with the distribution of weight. You can attach things to the outside of your pack in a way that shares the load out evenly.
Backpacks with poor ventilation tend to be sweaty and uncomfortable to use. Thankfully, with its breathable shoulder straps and hip belt that promote good air circulation, the Mardingtop doesn’t fall into this category.
All told, you’re looking at another high-quality backpack for back support that’d be as well-suited to your daily commute as it would to time in the great outdoors.
Available in a multitude of sizes and colours
Has a 2.5 litre hydration flask
Economical and affordable
The snug fit waist belt helps with weight distribution
The hydration flask is not insulated
The hip strap is not removable
3. MOUNTAINTOP 40L Hiking Backpack
Product weight: 2.05 lbs
Product dimensions: 20.1 x 12.8 x 6.3 inches
Maximum capacity: 40 L
Manufacturing material: polyester, YKK zippers, YKK buckles
The Mountaintop backpack is a good option if you’re after something slightly bigger to take out and about.
With a maximum capacity of 40L, it should fit most things you’d need for short camping trips and mid-range hikes. I like that there’s a specially designated laptop compartment as well, which makes the backpack suitable for more than just hiking in the mountains! It’d be great for travellers, digital nomads, or anybody who commutes to work.
It’s always tempting to overpack a larger backpack, which could be an issue when you suffer with back pain. However, this is dealt with very efficiently on the Mountaintop thanks to the adjustable waist, chest, and shoulder straps.
Tightening these straps will bring the backpack closer to your body, helping to distribute the weight and keep it off your lower back. The padded back panel also allows for additional comfort and support.
Package includes a quality rain cover
Adjustable straps allow for a more comfortable fit
Loops and straps allow extra accessories to be hung off of the backpack
Versatile design fit for many uses
Mesh, padded back panel allows decent ventilation and comfort
Could get heavy on longer trips
4. Black Diamond Bullet 16 Backpack x
Product weight: 1.16 pounds
Product dimensions: 18 x 11 x 3 inches
Maximum capacity: 16L
Manufacturing material: Tough 420d nylon and 1260d ballistic nylon
For those who like to keep it simple, the Black Diamond Bullet 16 would make an excellent backpack.
It’s got a totally different design to other backpacks on this list, with a minimalist, stripped-back aesthetic that seems to prioritize ease-of-use over fancy additions. It seems perfect for daily use, commuting, sight-seeing, or any short outings in the great outdoors.
With its multiple compartments and removable hip belt, the Bullet 16 keeps your things organized and should distribute the total weight of the packed backpack effectively. It seems a well-made bag too, with high-quality materials that shouldn’t let you down with rough and ready usage.
To make sure you don’t get a sore back after carrying your backpack around all day, it comes with a removable foam insert for the back panel. It also sports a hydration hose port, which means you can use a water bladder if you want to.
It’s definitely compact, though, which is worth considering if you need to transport lots of items. Likewise, the shoulder straps don’t seem to be too wide or adjustable, which may detract from its ability to protect your back.
Minimalistic, sleek design
Hydration bladder compatible
Available in various colours
The back foam panel is removable
Too small for a long trip?
5. NEVO RHINO (Best Hiking Backpacks for Bad Backs)
Product weight: 2.2 lbs
Product dimensions: 21.65 x 7.87 x 13.39 inches
Maximum capacity: 45+10 L
Manufacturing material: high-quality nylon
The Nevo Rhino Internal Frame Backpacks have been designed especially for hiking and camping enthusiasts.
Back pain or no back pain, it has various features to entertain the camper inside you! You get a safety whistle, a rain cover, external gear straps, and more- this particular backpack has a lot to offer.
This backpack has a generous capacity of 45 + 10 L, which is the same size I take with me on the road!
I’d say it’s a perfect balance- small enough not to feel ungainly or awkward to carry, but big enough to live out of for weeks at a time.
Expect some trouble for your back and shoulders comes if you fill it to capacity though. At 55L, you’re looking at some considerable weight to carry. Over long distances or periods of time, you can expect it to take a toll on your back.
Having said that, the Nevo has a variety of features that’d help relieve the pressure. The internal frame, for instance, offers welcome support that takes a lot of the weight off your back. From there, you’ve got waist and chest straps that are adjustable to facilitate weight distribution and padded for extra comfort.
All told, I’d say the Nevo is a great bet for any hikers, campers, or travellers with a bad back who need to carry larger loads.
Great value for money
Customizable lumbar support
Includes a safety whistle for emergencies
Comes with a rain cover
Would be heavy when packed to capacity!
6. The Kelty Redwing 50 Backpack
Product weight: 3 lbs
Product dimensions: 26 x 16 x 12 inches
Maximum capacity: 50 L
Manufacturing material: unspecified
The Kelty Redwing 50 is one of the most popular backpacks online.
With hundreds of 5* raving reviews, you can expect it to deliver the goods (and carry them…) whether you suffer from back pain or not!
Its PerfectFit suspension system is of particular note though. This clever set up enables you to customize the backpack to your body with ease. By adjusting the straps and back supports you can find the perfect fit to relieve the pressure on your neck, shoulders, and back.
That’s good news! After all, this is another large pack that’s designed for long term travel or time of hikes. Having a means of spreading and relieving weight is a must. Thanks to its PerfectFit suspension system, the Kelty manages that task well.
The back pain benefits don’t stop there though!
This Kelty backpack has multiple sternum, waist, and hip straps to provide additional support- all of which are adjustable to ensure the right fit. The hex mesh back panel ensures thorough ventilation too, which is important when you’re lugging it around for long periods.
Some backpacks are uncomfortable on your shoulders due to a lack of padding. That’s no issue with the Kelty Redwing, though, which comes with wide, padded shoulder and waist straps that are gentle on your shoulders and upper back.
Load lifter strap
PerfectFit suspension system
Would be heavy when packed to capacity!
7. The Osprey Farpoint 40
Product weight: 3.2 lbs
Product dimensions: 22 x 14 x 9 inches
Maximum capacity: 40 L
Manufacturing material: unavailable
The Osprey Farpoint 40 is one of the most sought after backpacks out there.
They’re hugely popular all over the world because of the many useful features they have to offer. And, having owned one myself, I can vouch for their high-quality and performance on the road and as a carry on for plane journeys.
Farpoint 40s combine ease of carrying with a large capacity in a wonderful way.
The bag has an internal frame, tonnes of compartments, and can fit over 40L of your belongings. And it weighs less than 3.2 pounds when empty! It includes padded shoulder straps for added comfort too, and front compression straps to keep everything together.
That’s all good news in terms of its functionality and relieving the pain in your back.
A nice additional feature is that it converts to a duffel bag. Back sore and don’t want to wear it as a backpack? Zip the shoulder straps away and carry it by your side instead!
Made by a reputable company
Durable and long-lasting
Easy to wear for long durations
Sturdy construction with great attention to detail
Slightly expensive in its category
8. The North Face Borealis Backpack
Product weight: 2.2 lbs
Product dimensions: 13.5 x 8.5 x 19.75 inches
Maximum capacity: 28 L
Manufacturing material: synthetic
The North Face Borealis is another high-quality bag from a reputable company that’ll take good care of your back if you bought one.
This backpack sports multiple features that make it desirable for people with back problems.
For one thing, at 28L and 2.2lbs, this is a fairly small and lightweight pack, which puts a limit on how much strain it can put on your body.
However, if you did choose to load it up with heavy goods, there’s an adjustable sternum strap and a removable waist belt that’d provide additional support. There’s also a flexvent suspension system that boasts custom injection-molded shoulder straps and a breathable, padded mesh back panel.
All told, the Borealis would make a high-quality all-around backpack for anybody with back pain.
Built to last
Overhauled suspension system
Padded laptop sleeve
Front elastic bungee for extra storage
None I could see!
BEST BACKPACKS WITH BACK SUPPORT BUYING GUIDE: FINAL THOUGHTS
Whether you’re a traveller, camper, hiker, hunter, or all of the above, choosing the right backpack is always a big deal.
But when you suffer from back pain, finding the right one becomes even more important.
As you can tell, though, there’s a vast variety to choose from when it comes to the best backpacks for back pain, which makes picking the best backpacks with back support a real challenge. Hopefully, though, this buying guide will make the task feel a little easier!