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

Brands

ULA Equipment
CamelBak
Osprey
Gregory
Deuter
Granite Gear
Patagonia
Equinox
Sea to Summit
Kelty

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

Tepui Duffle Bag

rated 3.5 of 5 stars Bomb proof fabric and excellent construction make this a great duffle for backpack travel protection or just hitting the road. A washable water resistant finish keeps the contents clean and the outside looking new. Tepui, the company that is best known for their wild cartop tents also makes some very good expedition style duffles. I've had their duffle bag since January and have taken it on a couple of trips for testing. This is a large size duffle with interior space a bit over 3.5 square feet. Full review

Mystery Ranch Men's Glacier

rated 5 of 5 stars Features I don't see in other packs, quality seldom seen anywhere. I used a 1970s model Lowe Expedition for years, then the sorry scum in Marsailles stole it and everything in it. I had not found a pack its equal since. Then I found this. The suspension is extremely well thought out and adjustable. It can be configured as a big sack or you can separate the bottom compartment. The compartments on the back are large enough to actually be useful—something a lot of current packs sort of miss out on. Full review

Matador Daylite16 Packable Backpack

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Matador Daylite16 packable backpack is a decent, lightweight option for daily use or day hikes. It has a minimalist look, two zipper pockets, 2 outside water bottle pockets, and packs away into a palm-sized pouch. I received this a few months ago as a gift. I have never owned a packable bag so, this was my first experience with one. Since receiving it, I have carried it almost every day packed with various items. I have never owned a bag this small, and at 16L you have to choose wisely what you… Full review

Dana Design K2 Longbed

rated 5 of 5 stars Dana Design screwed up discontinuing LongBed K-2. It is bomb proof, great organizing external pockets, comfortable waist strap, adjustable upper frame extension, enormous capacity it is built to last not years but decades. If you like to take the kitchen sink this is the pack for you. It is over built and will last, I dare say a life time. I wouldn't sell mine EVER there is nothing out there that could replace it. People on the trail are always commenting on my pack and want to know were to get… Full review

Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Dry Sacks

rated 5 of 5 stars This review is for the Ultra-Sil 1 L. size bag ( in orange) that I use while canoeing, to protect my electronic keys and/or flip phone. It would also be very suitable for protecting items while hiking,snowshoeing, or in any foul weather conditions. I certainly can recommend this bag, as I have used it successfully ( gear has not been damaged by water) for over a year. I purchased this bag to protect my electronic car key and fob, while canoeing, and sometimes while snowshoeing in wet weather. Since… Full review

Black Diamond Hollowpoint

rated 3 of 5 stars Tough well made bag let down by two design flaws which in turn render the bag unusable. I have had the bag for 4-5 years mainly for urban use, cycling to work etc, and unfortunately it now has to be replaced. The bag is not at all worn out and is made of very resistant materials. Except the top zip at the corners is very exposed to wear and tear. It has prematurely worn to the point where I can no longer close the bag properly .  I will avoid zips in any future purchases. Full review

Frost River Isle Royale

rated 3.5 of 5 stars Just two words to describe this pack, bomb proof. My new pack arrived yesterday and as of yet has not been tested in the field, but the fit for me is perfect. At the age of 65 and a lifetime of backpacking all over the world from Arctic exercises in Norway during my service in the Royal Navy to the Yukon in Canada using military packs either British pack systems during my service or my preferred Norwegian Army pack this pack is right up there amongst the best. It does feel comfortable to wear. Not… Full review

Granite Gear Air Compressor

rated 4.5 of 5 stars The Granite Gear medium Air Compressor is a nice lightweight alternative to the slightly heavier duty "Rock Solid" compression sack. It holds its own and has added features that increase its durability. The sack allows you to compress down to the strap limit without the fear of ripping at the seams. I have the older model with 4 nylon webbing straps. The newer model uses 4 paracord strings. The sack is easy to use. You just stuff, cinch the hole, pull the lid over the top and wrench down on the… Full review

Osprey Volt 60

rated 5 of 5 stars A great pack for people that don't like the feel of the Antigravity line. I bought this pack because I really disliked the way the Aether and Atmos have the Antigravity feature. I found that those packs sit way too far off of my back and made me feel like I was going to fall over backwards. This pack is a simple, more affordable and traditional alternative to the newer, more expensive designs. It easily holds a two-man tent, sleeping bag, mattress pad and other camping equipment for weekend or overnight… Full review

Top-Rated Backpacks

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

user rating: 5 of 5 (9)
ULA Equipment Catalyst Expedition Pack
$250
user rating: 5 of 5 (7)
CamelBak Cloud Walker Hydration Pack
$47 - $85
user rating: 5 of 5 (7)
Osprey Aura 65 Weekend Pack
$100
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
Gregory Z 40 Overnight Pack
$95 - $116
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
$20 - $34
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Patagonia Atom Daypack
$49
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Deuter Aircontact 65+10 Weekend Pack
$209 - $279
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Osprey Talon 11 Daypack
$63 - $100
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Equinox Katahdin Weekend Pack
$130
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Pack Cover Pack Cover
$23 - $44
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
ULA Equipment Ohm 2.0 Weekend Pack
$200
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Kelty Red Cloud 110 Expedition Pack
$180 - $229
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Deuter Kid Comfort II Child Carrier
$187 - $249
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Granite Gear Leopard A.C. 58 Weekend Pack
$175
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Deuter Trans Alpine 30 Daypack
$97 - $129
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
SealLine Pro Pack Dry Pack
$150 - $199
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Osprey Manta 36 Daypack
$120
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
$184 - $229
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Porter Weekend Pack
$340
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (47)
Osprey Aether 70 Weekend Pack
$180 - $232
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (23)
Osprey Aether 60 Weekend Pack
$195 - $217
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
$33 - $109
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (16)
Kelty Redwing 3100 Weekend Pack
$100
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (16)
Deuter Aircontact 75+10 Expedition Pack
$224 - $299
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (15)
Deuter ACT Lite 65+10 Weekend Pack
$157 - $209
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (14)
Osprey Kestrel 48 Overnight Pack
$135 - $180
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (13)
CamelBak Rim Runner Hydration Pack
$57 - $100
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (13)
Osprey Talon 22 Daypack
$75 - $110
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (13)
The North Face Big Shot Overnight Pack
$68 - $119
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (13)
REI Flash 18 Pack Daypack
$40
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (12)
Mountainsmith Day Lumbar/Hip Pack
$72 - $89
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (12)
Osprey Aether 85 Expedition Pack
$217 - $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
$135 - $180
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (11)
Gregory Baltoro 65 Weekend Pack
$225 - $299
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (10)
Osprey Kestrel 38 Overnight Pack
$120 - $160
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (10)
Mountainsmith Tour Lumbar/Hip Pack
$45 - $79
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (9)
Gregory Z 65 Weekend Pack
$125 - $178
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (8)
Sea to Summit eVent Compression Dry Sack Dry Bag / Compression Sack
$18 - $85
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Osprey UL Raincover Pack Cover
$23 - $40
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Granite Gear Nimbus Trace Access 70 Weekend Pack
$192 - $349
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Kelty Redwing 32 Daypack
$75 - $99
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Windrider Weekend Pack
$340
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Deuter Futura Pro 34 SL Overnight Pack
$119 - $159
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Osprey Xena 85 Expedition Pack
$270 - $360
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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.