As avid hikers, we all know that selecting a good backpack is crucial for any hiking trip. The backpack you choose can make or break your experience. But what if carrying a backpack is not an option for you, or you simply want to try something new? Fortunately, there are a lot of alternatives to backpacks for hiking that can provide you with the needed space, comfort, and functionality. In this article, we will explore the top options to replace your traditional hiking backpack.

1. Fanny Pack

Yes, you read that right. Fanny packs are back in style, and they are not just for tourists anymore! Fanny packs come in a variety of styles, sizes, and materials, making them a great alternative to backpacks. You can easily fit in your essentials such as water bottles, snacks, phone, and wallet, without any added weight on your shoulders. Fanny packs also offer quick and easy access to your gear, making them ideal for shorter day hikes.

2. Vest Pack

Vest packs are becoming increasingly popular among hikers as they allow you to carry your gear on your chest, freeing up your arms and back for better mobility. Some vests even come with hydration systems, eliminating the need for water bottles. You can find vest packs in different sizes and configurations, depending on the length and difficulty of your hike.

3. Shoulder Bag

Shoulder bags are an excellent alternative to backpacks for urban hiking or low-intensity hikes where you don’t need to carry as much gear. They offer a stylish and practical way to carry your essentials close to your body, distributing the weight evenly across your shoulders. Shoulder bags come in various materials and styles, such as leather, canvas, and nylon, making them adaptable to different hiking environments.

4. Wheeled Backpack

If you are not a fan of carrying your gear on your back, a wheeled backpack might be the perfect alternative for you. With the added convenience of wheels, you can easily roll your backpack on flat surfaces, such as airports, train stations, and well-maintained trails. Wheeled backpacks usually have a detachable daypack, which you can use for short hikes while leaving the larger backpack behind.

5. Pannier Bags

Pannier bags are a popular alternative to backpacks for bikepacking or cycling trips. They attach to the sides of your bike rack, allowing you to carry your gear without putting any additional strain on your back or shoulders. Pannier bags are also suitable for hikers who want to add a little challenge to their journey by carrying their gear on a bike.

6. Tote Bag

Tote bags are another stylish option for low-intensity hikes or urban hikes. They are lightweight and easy to carry around, making them ideal for short hikes. You can find tote bags in various sizes and designs, so you can choose one that fits your specific needs.


In conclusion, there are plenty of alternatives to backpacks for hiking, depending on your preference, style, and type of hike. From fanny packs to pannier bags, each option has its unique advantages and disadvantages. The key is to choose the one that suits you best and enhances your overall hiking experience. Don’t be afraid to try something new, and happy hiking!