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
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

Deuter Futura 26

rated 5 of 5 stars Lightweight and durable pack, good for camping as well as longer backpacking trips. Rain cover is excellent for inclement weather. Recommended for general use. Brought this on a three-week long backpacking trip through rural China, and it held up excellently through all kinds of weather. It was monsoon season and the rain cover was very helpful and dried quickly. I have previously used it on several camping trips while climbing mountains. The pack is slightly tall for me (I'm 5 foot 2 inches in… Full review

CamelBak Scout

rated 4 of 5 stars Although marketed as a child's hiking pack, the Scout can be used by adults as well. It's lightweight and has enough space for a small amount of gear and snacks, and comes with a 1.5 litre water reservoir. Offering minimal shift, I have used this pack as an introductory running pack. I would recommend the Scout to anyone interested in getting into endurance running, particularly if they are on a budget. As a 5 foot tall adult beginning to take running more seriously, I was thrilled to find this… Full review

Osprey Aether 60

rated 5 of 5 stars Used often. High quality construction. Very adjustable to individual fit. Comfortable fit. Carried it from Maine to Vermont on the Appalachian Trail and all over Colorado. I’m 72. Having a load feel comfortable is a high priority. Full review

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Summit Pack

rated 2.5 of 5 stars I wanted a small light daypack and this one had the benefit of being watertight (until it ripped). I've been using this small day backpack about once a week for 1.5 to 2 years, mostly lightly packed with a few items for work etc. I purchased this pack because of the cuben fiber material which is a lightweight material with the added benefit of being watertight. This pack is made of cuben fiber laminated with a thin layer of woven nylon fabric which makes it as heavy as many of the daypacks on the… Full review

Gregory Cirque 30

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Great sturdy daypack with versatile pockets. I've put this pack through the ringer on many day hikes and scrambles.  I like the large top pocket and the main compartment is roomy enough for everything you'd need for a day hike. The hip pocket is handy too. I rarely use the long pocket on the front, but it is surprisingly roomy. It will only do for day hikes though. I tried packing it for a quick overnight and my sleeping bag took up the entire main portion.  The straps are comfortable and don't… Full review

CiloGear 75L W/NWD WorkSack

rated 0.5 of 5 stars The most horrible backpack ever!! Hello, Cilogear team, I tested your most expensive bag in the Himalayas on an expedition to Ama dablam for one month. This bag is the most uncomfortable bag I have worn in my mountaineering career. I wonder if you have field tested it? The shoulder straps bit into my shoulders and caused the blood supply to stop to my hands. It's in fact a dangerous bag and can lead to accidents on the mountain. I am sending you the video soon. I spent lot of money on this and could… Full review

JanSport Polaris 33

rated 5 of 5 stars Never had a better backpack than this. This has been my travel carry-on pack and city exploring pack for many years. I actually can't even remember when I bought it, but at least 14 years now. I usually have very heavy items when I travel with my family for my carry-on (i.e. two-three laptops, electronics, juices) but the waist belt is very supportive and thick which totally takes the pressure off the shoulders. The pockets are very well thought out and expansive. Also, there are multiple cinches… Full review

Granite Rocx The Cascade

rated 5 of 5 stars Best backpack for the beach and 1\2 backpacking Best backpack, nice fitting for comfort. Large compartment, cooler, leakproof. Full review

Gregory Baltoro 75 GZ

rated 4.5 of 5 stars What's not to like?! A reputable solar charger, conveniently built-in to the top lid of an already proven trail-worthy backpack! Separately, both Gregory and Goal Zero are reliable, durable, and functional. Together, they are a distance hiker's match made in heaven. No muss, no fuss...drop the pull-down lid of the neatly integrated Goal Zero and the solar panels convert the sun's rays to stored or usable energy. I already own and enjoy Gregory backpacks, so when I learned of the Baltoro GZ 75 collaborative...I… 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
$40 - $85
user rating: 5 of 5 (7)
Osprey Aura 65 Weekend Pack
$100
user rating: 5 of 5 (6)
Gregory Z 40 Overnight Pack
$129
user rating: 5 of 5 (6)
ULA Equipment Ohm 2.0 Weekend Pack
$200
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
Osprey Talon 11 Daypack
$100
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
Deuter Futura 32 Daypack
$149
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Granite Gear Round Rock Solid Compression Sack
$21 - $34
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Patagonia Atom Daypack
$59 - $79
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
$25 - $44
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Kelty Red Cloud 110 Expedition Pack
$230
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
$150
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Deuter Trans Alpine 30 Daypack
$129
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
SealLine Pro Pack Dry Pack
$200
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Deuter ACT Trail 24 Daypack
$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: 4.5 of 5 (49)
Osprey Aether 70 Weekend Pack
$199 - $310
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (24)
Osprey Aether 60 Weekend Pack
$195 - $290
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (22)
Osprey Exos 58 Weekend Pack
$220
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (19)
Osprey Talon 44 Overnight Pack
$160
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (18)
CamelBak M.U.L.E. Hydration Pack
$50 - $110
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
$299
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (15)
Deuter ACT Lite 65+10 Weekend Pack
$209
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (14)
CamelBak Rim Runner Hydration Pack
$60 - $104
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
$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
$46 - $89
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (12)
Gregory Baltoro 65 Weekend Pack
$262 - $299
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (12)
Osprey Aether 85 Expedition Pack
$330
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
$56 - $79
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (9)
Gregory Z 65 Weekend Pack
$179
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (8)
The North Face Terra 65 Weekend Pack
$125 - $179
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (8)
Sea to Summit eVent Compression Dry Sack Dry Bag / Compression Sack
$23 - $85
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
$28 - $40
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Granite Gear Nimbus Trace Access 70 Weekend Pack
$161 - $349
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Kelty Redwing 32 Daypack
$100
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
$159
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Osprey Xena 85 Expedition Pack
$360
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Mile High Mountaineering Salute 34 Overnight Pack
$169
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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.