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What is the Best Backpack for New Zealand?

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Which Backpack to Choose for New Zealand?

It’s going to be your travel companion for your entire trip! Choosing a good backpack is a crucial decision that can really make an impact on the enjoyment of your travels in New Zealand. If you’re in New Zealand for a few months seeing the whole country, you’ll want something that you can fit your life into while being comfortable and durable. On the other hand, if you want to make the most of New Zealand’s multi-day hikes, you’ll need a backpack that doubles up as an amazing hiking backpack. Whatever your style of travel, we’ve listed what we think answers the question: what is the best backpack for New Zealand?

The backpacks listed below fit a range of travel styles and budgets. However, we always recommend not cheaping out too much when choosing a backpack. Getting a bad backpack can strain your back and make travelling around a misery. Be sure to follow our tips on How to Choose a Good Backpack so you know what to look for.

For a complete list of things to pack for a trip around New Zealand, check out our complete New Zealand Packing List.

5 Tips to Pick a Good Backpack

  • Measure your back from shoulders to waist in inches. This is the back size your backpack needs to fit!
  • The capacity of backpacks is measured in litres. The best sizes for trips to New Zealand are between 40-80l.
  • Not only should your backpack have water-resistant material, you need a pull-over waterproof cover. Most of the backpacks listed below have a waterproof cover included. If you get backpack without a waterproof cover, be sure to purchase one as it rains frequently in New Zealand. Check out this waterproof cover on Amazon.
  • Choose a backpack with a well-ventilated back support frame, especially when choosing a backpack for hiking.
  • If your main goal for choosing a backpack is for travelling, then be mindful of where the compartments are. You’ll want to easily access your stuff when moving around a lot!

For more tips, see How to Choose a Good Backpack.

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Wasing 55l

For the budget-conscious backpacker on a short trip to New Zealand, this is the perfect travel companion. The Wasing is a no-frills backpack having all the right storage compartments and adjustable fit in all the right places. At 55l storage, it’s definitely for the backpacker who knows how to pack light. If compacted tight enough, you’ll even be able to take it as carry-on luggage on your flight.

The criteria for choosing the Wasing 55l is pretty simple: if you’re on a tight budget, if you’re travelling for a month or less, or if you’re doing overnight hikes.

Check out the latest price on Amazon.

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Osprey Aether / Ariel 70l

One of the more expensive backpacks on the list, this Osprey 70l backpack is worth the extra dollars if you’re willing to invest in extra comfort for heavy loads. The Osprey Aether is the men’s version of the backpack and the Ariel is the women’s.

When backpacking on a gap year or working holiday, you’ll find that it’s ideal for carrying a lot of stuff. Having a 70l backpack like this one means you can afford to not have to pack too light. On top of that, this Osprey backpack is a popular pick for multi-day hikes, so keep it in mind if the New Zealand Great Walks or other multi-day hikes are on your agenda.

This backpack has all the compartments and features that you’d expect but one extra feature that we love, especially for travelling New Zealand, is that the top of the backpack folds out into a separate day pack – and a pretty efficient one at that.

Check out the latest price on Amazon.

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Lowe Alpine Manaslu 55/65l

Coming in both a men’s and women’s version, the Lowe Alpine Manaslu is a 55l backpack with the ability to expand the pack to fit 65l. The backpack is reasonably priced for its high quality. It has all the bells and whistles of a good backpacking backpack, plus a compartment for a water bladder (great for hiking).

The Lowe Alpine Manaslu backpack is a great backpack choice if you are travelling New Zealand for up to a month or so. We love it for it’s more manageable size compared to other backpacks on the market. It’s possible to use it has a backpack for extended trips in New Zealand, like 6 months or so, but only if you are able to pack light. It also makes a fantastic hiking backpack for hikes around two to three days.

Check out the latest price on Amazon.

Amazon© Amazon

Tatonka Bison 60+10l

This is backpacking without the hassle of losing your stuff in a sea of clothes in your backpack! Thanks to the front, U-shaped zippers, the Tatonka Bison has all the benefits of a backpack, like being versatile, but the added benefit of actually being able to find your stuff quickly – like in the suitcase. The backpack is designed for one-size-fits-all, so all the straps and back are adjustable. What’s more, it’s super affordable!

The Tatonka Bison is a great pack for travelling around New Zealand. It’s concise, easy to handle and has compartments in all the right convenient places. It will work well for overnight hiking trips too. However, if you’re wanting to do some longer hiking trails, perhaps look at different options.

Amazon© Amazon

Fjallraven Kajka 65l

If a backpack was even going to win style points, it has to be the Fjallraven Kajka. The simplistic old-school design and choice of several colours not only looks good, it actually holds all the practical modern design features you’d expect. However, there’s no denying that this pack is expensive, but the extremely durable fabric sturdy build reassures you that this pack is meant to last a lifetime. The shoulders, waist and even the back are all adjustable so it literally could fit you throughout your lifetime!

Not only is the Fjallraven Kajka a good choice for backpacking in New Zealand, both through backpacking travel and multi-day hikes, but it’s also a good option for round-the-world travel. If backpacking around the world is your future, then this backpack will definitely see you through. While the Fjallraven Kajka comes in 55l, 65l, 75l and even 85l, we think the 65l is a comfortable size to fit all the essentials in (and a bit more) without the risk of the pack getting too heavy.

Check out the latest price on Amazon.

What is the Best Backpack for New Zealand?©

Herschel Supply Co. Little America 25l

For casual day-tripping and city exploration (while looking good doing it), set your sights on the backpacks from Herschel Supply Co. Not only do their day packs like Little America 25l have enough space for all your day-trip essentials, but their Eco Collection bags are made with 11-25 post-consumer plastic water bottles! On top of that, the rest of the fabrics used for the liner, for instance, are made with 100% recycled fabrics giving you a reason to feel as good as you look.

Unlike the other backpacks listed in this article, Little America is not designed for strenuous hikes. The backpack lacks features like a waist belt and sternum strap that usually make a bag good for heavy loads and hiking. Nevertheless, it still have densely padded shoulder straps and back padding with ventilation gaps to make it much more comfortable than the average day pack. See our full review, The Best Eco-Friendly Backpacks for New Zealand.

Check out the latest price on Herschel Supply Co.
We also like the Retreat Backpack 19.5l as a smaller day pack – check out the latest price on Herschel Supply Co.

Amazon© Amazon

Osprey Sorjourn 80l

The backpack for people that don’t like backpacks! The Osprey Sojourn is essentially a wheeled backpack and one of the best ones in this category of luggage. There are a ton of advantages that wheeled suitcases offer that backpacks just don’t have, for instance, they’re far easier to carry in urban areas. The great thing about the Osprey Sorjourn is that you can convert this wheeled suitcase into a backpack when you hit that rougher terrain, which can happen often when travelling around New Zealand. However, with the wheel offset quite far from the ground, you might find that it can be wheeled over rough terrain too.

Travelling or backpacking New Zealand will take you to a real mix of urban and off-the-beaten-track locations. The Osprey Sorjourn is ideal for this type of travel, and with pack sizes going up to 80l, you can fit your life in there – great for gap years. However, if you’re hitting the mountains for multi-day hikes, we suggest picking one of the other backpack options.

Check out the latest price on Amazon.


The information in this guide has been compiled from our extensive research, travel and experiences across New Zealand and the South Pacific, accumulated over more than a decade of numerous visits to each destination. Additional sources for this guide include the following:

Our editorial standards: At NZ Pocket Guide, we uphold strict editorial standards to ensure accurate and quality content.

About The Author

Robin C.

This article has been reviewed and approved by Robin, who is the co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. With more than 15 years of experience in the New Zealand tourism industry, Robin has co-founded three influential tourism businesses and five additional travel guides for South Pacific nations. He is an expert in New Zealand travel and has tested over 600 activities and 300+ accommodations across the country.

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