Backpacks

Whether you’re setting off on an alpine climb, afternoon trail run, or extended thru hike, you need a pack to carry your outdoor gear and essentials while on the go.

Below you'll find our top picks for the best backpacks for hiking, backpacking, climbing, mountaineering, trail running, and more, thanks to hundreds of independent reviews by real hikers, backpackers, alpinists, and other outdoor enthusiasts.

From field-tested ultralight packs to load haulers to kid carriers to hydration packs, our reviewers have shared their real-world experience to help you select an appropriate, dependable backpack for your next outdoor adventure. Find your pack. Pack your gear. Head out.

Learn more about how to choose a backpack below »

Category

Daypacks
Overnight
Weekend
Expedition
External Frame
Winter Packs
Hydration Packs
Front Packs
Lumbar/Hip Packs
Child Carriers
Dry Packs
Portage Packs
Rope Bags
Accessories

Brand

ULA Equipment
CamelBak
Osprey
Gregory
Deuter
Granite Gear
Patagonia
Equinox
Sea to Summit
Arc'teryx

User

Unisex
Men's
Women's
Kids'
Girls'

Price

less than $25
$25 - $49.99
$50 - $99.99
$100 - $199.99
$200 - $299.99
$300 - $399.99
$400 - $499.99
$500 and above

Recent Backpack Reviews

U.S. Military CFP 90

rated 4 of 5 stars Another fine military item that has already been reviewed on Trailspace. I just wanted to back up what's already been said. I'll cover the camo colors, negative aspect of large-capacity and some low costs. I was hoping to find the way to leave a comment but for whatever reason, when scrolling down to find the comment section, none of that ever shows up, although on the published reviews, I see that readers can make comments.  The only thing that shows on my computer is "write a review," so this… Full review

The North Face Fusion

rated 5 of 5 stars 20 years on...still a great pack! I still use it all the time. It's extremely durable so I can't imagine what brainchild was doing to it in 2002 to kill it so quickly. No issues. Fantastic backpack. Full review

CamelBak Sequoia 22

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Great hiking pack with lots of attention to details that matter. There's a compartment for a hydration bladder as well as a pocket for a water bottle. There are several other pockets of various sizes, including generously sized hip-belt pockets. The curved back and soft wide pods allows for ventilation and comfortable carrying. As a person who hikes most days of the week doing trail patrol, leading hikes, and volunteering at our local state parks in Sonoma, I need a technical pack. It has to have… Full review

Sea to Summit eVent Compression Dry Sack

rated 4 of 5 stars Waterproof compression sack. Perfect for compressing sleeping bag and/or clothing for backpacking. Added bonus in that the bag is waterproof to protect your items. Have used for four years, big fan. Very easy to use. Full review

Osprey Talon 22

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Excellent daypack. Very comfortable. Bought in 2016 for day hikes and travel. Really comfortable for both myself and my wife, who is half my size.  Bought because I was so impressed with my Aether 70, and Osprey always seems to get rave reviews. The hip belt allows you to load this thing down and still be comfortable on a long walk. Also has a water reservoir slot, which I use often. Great little pack. Full review

Osprey Aether 70

rated 5 of 5 stars Comfortable, well designed pack. Purchased (2013) for long weekend trips. I prefer to pack lots of creature comforts, and this pack allows me to bring everything I want and need for 2-3 night trips.   The suspension is what sold me. Even heavily weighed down, it is comfortable and fits my hips/shoulders/back really well. I would advise trying on before purchase, as you'll want the size option that best fits your torso.   Lots of compartments. The pocket for the water reservoir is easy to access,… Full review

REI Women's Flash 65

rated 4.5 of 5 stars This pack is excellent for longer multi-day backpacking trips. It's half the price of the major ultralight bags, but at only 3 pounds it's not that much heavier. This pack has been with me through thick and thin. Literally. My first backpacking trip was on a trail (the BRT) that had been pistol whipped by winter storms. Our group was literally the only group to thru-hike the trail that year. The fact that my pack walked off that trail without so much as a snag convinced me that we were BFF's. Besides… Full review

Camp Trails Ponderosa

rated 5 of 5 stars I have an old Camptrails pack too. Not sure of the model but it is one of the larger ones. Purchased April 9, 1974 -- I still have the receipt. With a few trips to the shoemaker to sew in some Cordura, it is still usable. These packs are made of iron. To stay in shape, I put 50 lbs of free weights in it, raise my treadmill to 15 degrees, put a 5 lb weight on each ankle and cover a mile in about 18 minutes. The divide between the top and bottom compartments is still holding up. Full review

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Dyneema Summit Pack

rated 4 of 5 stars No way this deserves 5 stars! The fabric is fantastic and the design works for me since I was not looking for anything complicated.  Top closure ensures it will resist a storm but seam tape around shoulder strap stitching is already failing after a single light use. At this price I can’t see how this can be justified. Also, I got mine and it is missing the compression cords, which for me indicates sloppy QA prior to sending it. The seam sealing is the same thing. Fix these issues and it's a winning… Full review

Top-Rated Backpacks

Sort by: name | rating | price | availability | recently reviewed

user rating: 5 of 5 (10)
ULA Equipment Catalyst Expedition Pack
$250
user rating: 5 of 5 (7)
CamelBak Cloud Walker Hydration Pack
$63 - $85
user rating: 5 of 5 (7)
Osprey Aura 65 Weekend Pack
$100
user rating: 5 of 5 (6)
Gregory Z 40 Overnight Pack
$179
user rating: 5 of 5 (6)
ULA Equipment Ohm 2.0 Weekend Pack
$200
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
Osprey Talon 11 Daypack
$75 - $100
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
Deuter Futura 32 Daypack
$112 - $149
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Granite Gear Round Rock Solid Compression Sack
$25 - $37
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Patagonia Atom Daypack
$49 - $79
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Equinox Katahdin Weekend Pack
$117 - $129
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Pack Cover Pack Cover
$23 - $44
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Arc'teryx Altra 65 Weekend Pack
$450
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Kelty Red Cloud 110 Expedition Pack
$135 - $229
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Deuter Kid Comfort II Child Carrier
$249
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Granite Gear Leopard A.C. 58 Weekend Pack
$250
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Deuter Trans Alpine 30 Daypack
$129
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Black Diamond Demon Daypack
$78
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
SealLine Pro Pack Dry Pack
$150 - $199
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Osprey Manta 36 Daypack
$160
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Deuter ACT Trail 24 Daypack
$89 - $119
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Osprey Sirrus 24 Daypack
$90 - $130
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Mountainsmith Lariat 65 Weekend Pack
$161 - $229
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Porter Weekend Pack
$340
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Ultimate Direction PB Adventure Vest Hydration Pack
$160
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (50)
Osprey Aether 70 Weekend Pack
$199 - $289
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (24)
Osprey Aether 60 Weekend Pack
$195 - $259
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (22)
Gregory Z 55 Weekend Pack
$199
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (22)
Osprey Exos 58 Weekend Pack
$165 - $220
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (19)
Osprey Talon 44 Overnight Pack
$120 - $160
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (18)
CamelBak M.U.L.E. Hydration Pack
$60 - $110
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (17)
Deuter ACT Lite 65+10 Weekend Pack
$157 - $209
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (17)
Gregory Whitney 95 Expedition Pack
$263
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (16)
Osprey Kestrel 48 Overnight Pack
$180
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (16)
Deuter Aircontact 75+10 Expedition Pack
$289 - $299
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (14)
CamelBak Rim Runner Hydration Pack
$75 - $104
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (14)
Osprey Talon 22 Daypack
$75 - $110
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (13)
The North Face Big Shot Overnight Pack
$119
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (13)
REI Flash 18 Daypack
$40
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (12)
Mountainsmith Day Lumbar/Hip Pack
$63 - $89
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (12)
Gregory Baltoro 65 Weekend Pack
$240 - $299
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (12)
Osprey Aether 85 Expedition Pack
$248 - $309
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (11)
ULA Equipment Circuit Weekend Pack
$225
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (11)
Osprey Volt 60 Weekend Pack
$180
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (10)
Osprey Kestrel 38 Overnight Pack
$160
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (10)
Mountainsmith Tour Lumbar/Hip Pack
$80
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (9)
Gregory Z 65 Weekend Pack
$179 - $238
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (9)
Sea to Summit eVent Compression Dry Sack Dry Bag / Compression Sack
$22 - $85
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (8)
The North Face Terra 65 Weekend Pack
$125 - $179
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Patagonia Black Hole Duffel Pack Duffel
$74 - $169
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Osprey UL Raincover Pack Cover
$30 - $40
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How to Choose a Backpack

Like most outdoor gear, choosing the right backpack depends on how you plan to use it and selecting one that fits you, your needs, your budget, and your gear.

Capacity (or How Big?)

Consider the following questions to help determine capacity, or how big of a pack you really need.

  • How long are you heading out for: a day, an overnight, a week?
  • What's your outdoor style? Are you a minimalist, or deeply attached to creature comforts, or somewhere in between?
  • How much and what gear will you bring for specific trips and activities? Don't forget group gear and seasonal items (for example: winter gear will take up more room).

Pack Sizes

Obviously you need a backpack that fits all your gear. If possible, lay it all out, including food and water, and be honest about what you'll need to fit in your pack.

Backpack sizing varies between individuals and manufacturers, but the following ranges are a basic starting point:

  • Day Pack:
    less than 2,000 cubic inches
    up to 30 liters
  • Overnight:
    2,000 - 2,999 cubic inches
    30-50 liters
  • Weekend and Multi-Day:
    3,000 - 4,499 cubic inches
    50-73 liters
  • Week-Long and Expedition:
    4,500+ cubic inches
    74 liters and up

Pack Tip: Don't buy a backpack bigger than you need. You'll be tempted to fill it and carry more than necessary, or you'll end up with an annoying floppy, half-filled pack.

Fit (Is It Comfy?)

Nothing beats the expertise of a knowledgeable pack fitter. Find one at your local outdoor retailer. In the meantime, here are some additional tips to help you choose a backpack that fits you well.

Torso Length

Size a backpack to your torso length. Don't assume you need the tall (or the regular or the short) model based on your height. The sizes of different manufacturers' frames may correspond to different torso lengths. Check each pack's technical specifications.

To find your torso length, have someone measure from the iliac crest at the top of your hipbone to the prominent bone at the base of your neck (the seventh cervical vertebrae). (See how to properly fit a backpack in this instructional video.)

Pack Gender

Many pack manufacturers produce women-specific or short torso versions. Women, kids, and others with short torsos can consider backpacks sized for them. On average, these fit the average woman better.

Pack Tip: Don't get stuck on a pack's gender though. Buy the one that fits you best.

Straps and Padding

Shoulder straps, which control the fit of the suspension system, should be well padded and adjustable.

An adjustable sternum strap, which connects the shoulder straps, helps bring the load weight forward and off your shoulders.

Since it supports your pack's weight, make sure the hipbelt provides adequate padding. Some pack makers offer interchangeable hipbelts in different styles and in sizes for both men and women for a better individual fit.

Load

Fitting your gear in the pack is one thing. Making sure it rides comfortably is another. What's the typical weight of your gear? Check that it matches the manufacturer's recommendation, particularly if you're opting for an ultralight pack.

During a fitting, load the pack with weight to see how well it carries. Walk around with the loaded pack, practice taking it on and off, move around, and climb up and down stairs and slopes.

How well is the pack's load distributed? Does it remain comfortable over its carrying capacity and intended uses? Does it feel stable?

 

Features & Organization

Consider the pack's organization. Is equipment stowed securely? Is it easy to access? Intuitive?

If you'll be carrying any specialty gear, such as ice axes, snowshoes, skis, or a snowboard, look for a pack with features or accessories designed to hold those items, rather than trying to jury-rig them on later.

Depending on your different activities you may need more than one backpack, perhaps a large internal frame pack for multi-day backpacking trips and a small daypack for day hikes.

Find the best pack for you and your activities and you'll be ready to hit the trail.