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 »

Categories

Daypacks
Internal Frame
External Frame
Winter Packs
Hydration Packs
Front Packs
Lumbar/Hip Packs
Child Carriers
Portage Packs
Rope Bags
Accessories

Brands

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

Genders

Unisex
Men's
Women's
Kids'

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

Osprey Ariel 55

rated 0.5 of 5 stars I would not purchase this pack for one reason, and one reason only...no side pockets for my water bottle(s). Full review

Lowe Alpine Netherworld 90

rated 3.5 of 5 stars I've had this pack since the early '90s and it has served me well. I ended up getting Deuter's Act Lite 65+10 and shaved off about 3 pounds but that pack is already worn through in a few places. I have used the Lowe in the Sierras with 45-50 pounds and in the snow with snow shoes and it seems indestructible. The fit was adjustable with the help of the store personnel. The volume was wonderful. The separate compartment on the bottom served as another storage area without having to go into the main… Full review

Osprey Tempest 30

rated 5 of 5 stars Comfy, light day pack with all the features I could want. I just got this day pack after owning the Osprey Ariel 55 for ten years and loving it. I wanted a smaller day pack with the same wonderful women's shoulder harness. This little pack does not disappoint. It is just as comfortable and adjustable as the larger pack and carries more than you would think. Fit: Fits great. Designed for women's shoulders. I have a long torso and I like that the length can be adjusted easily with the Velcro inside… Full review

Osprey Ariel 55

rated 5 of 5 stars Great pack, super comfortable, rugged. I have used this pack since 2003 on the Long Trail for overnight hikes of 2-4 days, carrying 25-32 lbs. It will carry more but I try to limit the weight. Fit: This pack fits great. It is adjustable so many ways that despite layering on and off as I go. I can still feel comfortable with a pull or release on various straps. The women's shoulder harness is very well padded, but not bulky. Very comfortable, great range of motion for my arms with the pack on. Comfort:… Full review

Eberlestock FAC Track

rated 5 of 5 stars One of my favorite backpacks. Check out the review on Youtube. Nice for outdoor and military. Have fun. Here you can watch the review. Have fun. Full review

Arc'teryx LEAF Khard 45

rated 4.5 of 5 stars One of my favorite backpacks. Check out the review on Youtube. Have fun. Here you can watch the review. Have fun. Full review

Mountain Hardwear Scrambler 30 OutDry

rated 3 of 5 stars This backpack wasn't bad. It wasn't my favourite, but I also didn't hate it either. Great pack for wet hiking conditions, a winter snowshoe hike, or an all weather commuter. As I mentioned in the summary, I don't dislike this pack. But I was also happy to return to use my old faithful. Though the waterproofing is great, and I wish my other pack was waterproof. I took this bag on two solid day hikes of waterfalling and a canoe trip and one thing is for sure — the main compartment is definitely… Full review

Deuter Futura 32

rated 5 of 5 stars Great pack! Very comfortable and functional. My back stayed pretty dry, despite some warm conditions on long day hikes in the Grand Canyon, recently. Purchased this pack recently to use on some long day hikes, with a few overnighters on occasion. I just came back from a week of camping at the Grand Canyon, with some long day hikes taken every day. Each day I packed a full hydration bladder, a liter of Gatorade, snacks, first aid kit, and a light jacket. Everything fit perfectly, though when the… Full review

Mountain Hardwear Snowtastic 28 Backpack

rated 3 of 5 stars The Mountain Hardwear Snowtastic 28 pack is a good idea that just wasn't executed very well. Some of the flaws can be fixed with very little time and money, others leave me scratching my head and asking "why did they choose to do it that way?" As far as carrying capacity, I'd say it's great for day trips, but accessing your stuff isn't the easiest. I bought the MH Snowtastic 28 because I want to get a little more adventurous in my snowshoeing this year, and my Camelbak pack doesn't hold much more… Full review

Top-Rated Backpacks

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

Gregory Denali Pro 105
user rating: 5 of 5 (12)
Gregory
Denali Pro 105
Expedition Pack
$412 - $549
CamelBak Rim Runner
user rating: 5 of 5 (11)
CamelBak
Rim Runner
Hydration Pack
$35 - $100
ULA Equipment Catalyst
user rating: 5 of 5 (8)
ULA Equipment
Catalyst
Expedition Pack
$250
CamelBak Cloud Walker
user rating: 5 of 5 (7)
CamelBak
Cloud Walker
Hydration Pack
$60 - $80
ULA Equipment Circuit
user rating: 5 of 5 (6)
ULA Equipment
Circuit
Weekend Pack
$225
Deuter ACT Lite 40+10
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
Deuter
ACT Lite 40+10
Overnight Pack
$144 - $169
Deuter Futura 32
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
Deuter
Futura 32
Daypack
$104 - $145
Kelty Redwing 50
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
Kelty
Redwing 50
Weekend Pack
$112 - $124
Granite Gear Round Rock Solid
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Granite Gear
Round Rock Solid
Compression Sack
$22 - $29
Patagonia Atom
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Patagonia
Atom
Daypack
$36 - $49
Kelty Trekker 65
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Kelty
Trekker 65
External Frame Backpack
$140 - $179
Gregory Baltoro 75
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Gregory
Baltoro 75
Expedition Pack
$279 - $349
Deuter Aircontact 65+10
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Deuter
Aircontact 65+10
Weekend Pack
$215 - $269
Osprey Talon 11
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Osprey
Talon 11
Daypack
$89 - $90
Equinox Katahdin
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Equinox
Katahdin
Weekend Pack
$100
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Pack Cover
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Sea to Summit
Ultra-Sil Pack Cover
Pack Cover
$22 - $44
Deuter Kid Comfort II
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Deuter
Kid Comfort II
Child Carrier
$199 - $249
Deuter Trans Alpine 30
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Deuter
Trans Alpine 30
Daypack
$129
Black Diamond Demon
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Black Diamond
Demon
Daypack
$78 - $130
Osprey Manta 36
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Osprey
Manta 36
Hydration Pack
$160
Deuter ACT Trail 24
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Deuter
ACT Trail 24
Daypack
$109 - $119
Ultimate Direction PB Adventure Vest
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Ultimate Direction
PB Adventure Vest
Hydration Pack
$111 - $159
Kelty Cache Hauler
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Kelty
Cache Hauler
External Frame Backpack
$170 - $249
Osprey Aether 70
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (36)
Osprey
Aether 70
Weekend Pack
$279 - $290
Gregory Palisade 80
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (30)
Gregory
Palisade 80
Expedition Pack
$339 - $399
Osprey Atmos 65
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (28)
Osprey
Atmos 65
Weekend Pack
$187 - $255
Gregory Z55
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (21)
Gregory
Z55
Weekend Pack
$119 - $239
Osprey Aether 60
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (20)
Osprey
Aether 60
Weekend Pack
$5 - $260
CamelBak M.U.L.E.
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (17)
CamelBak
M.U.L.E.
Hydration Pack
$99 - $100
Gregory Whitney 95
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (17)
Gregory
Whitney 95
Expedition Pack
$329 - $439
Kelty Redwing 3100
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (16)
Kelty
Redwing 3100
Weekend Pack
$125
Osprey Exos 46
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (15)
Osprey
Exos 46
Overnight Pack
$179
Osprey Talon 44
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (13)
Osprey
Talon 44
Overnight Pack
$149 - $150
Deuter Aircontact 75+10
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (13)
Deuter
Aircontact 75+10
Expedition Pack
$289
Mountainsmith Day
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (12)
Mountainsmith
Day
Lumbar/Hip Pack
$64
Deuter ACT Lite 65+10
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (12)
Deuter
ACT Lite 65+10
Weekend Pack
$179 - $209
Osprey Kestrel 48
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (11)
Osprey
Kestrel 48
Overnight Pack
$169 - $180
Osprey Aether 85
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (11)
Osprey
Aether 85
Expedition Pack
$310
Osprey Kestrel 38
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (10)
Osprey
Kestrel 38
Overnight Pack
$122 - $195
Osprey Talon 22
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (10)
Osprey
Talon 22
Daypack
$99 - $100
Mountainsmith Tour
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (10)
Mountainsmith
Tour
Lumbar/Hip Pack
$70
Gregory Baltoro 65
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (9)
Gregory
Baltoro 65
Weekend Pack
$280 - $329
Gregory Z65
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (9)
Gregory
Z65
Weekend Pack
$155 - $259
Granite Gear Leopard A.C. 58
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Granite Gear
Leopard A.C. 58
Weekend Pack
$250
Osprey UL Raincover
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Osprey
UL Raincover
Pack Cover
$24 - $39
Deuter Futura Pro 34 SL
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Deuter
Futura Pro 34 SL
Overnight Pack
$60 - $155
Arc'teryx Altra 75
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Arc'teryx
Altra 75
Expedition Pack
$425 - $479
Osprey Momentum 34
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Osprey
Momentum 34
Overnight Pack
$104
Fjallraven Kajka 75
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Fjallraven
Kajka 75
Weekend Pack
$400
Outdoor Research Ultralight Compression Sack
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Outdoor Research
Ultralight Compression Sack
Compression Sack
$23 - $53
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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.