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
Dry Packs
Portage Packs
Rope Bags
Accessories

Brands

CamelBak
ULA Equipment
Deuter
Kelty
Granite Gear
Patagonia
Gregory
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

Arc'teryx Bora 80

rated 5 of 5 stars In this world of ultralight BPing gear is there still a place for this 7 lb beast? Answer, "Oh hell yeah!" I bought this pack when they were still made in Canada. It is not made of the lighter waterproof materials that I've read about in some reviews.  So what?  That's why they make dry bags and pack covers. The benefits of the older Bora 80s is they are virtually indestructible.  Let me put it to you like this and I'll let you ponder the implications of having something that weighs a couple… Full review

Arc'teryx Bora 95

rated 5 of 5 stars Great large capacity pack that is excellent in cold wet/snowy weather. I've put this pack through some interesting situations. Once, I wanted to camp out on an island on a river so I threw the full pack on an inner tube and swam across the river to the island. Along the way the pack was about 1/4 submerged. When I unpacked, everything was dry.  Another time I brought the pack up a frozen river with a bunch of small, frozen-over cascades. On the way out, I rode the pack down the iced river on a… Full review

Mammut Lithium Z 8 Pack

rated 4 of 5 stars Nice little daypack for fast & light endeavors. This is a nice little daypack for your fast and light adventures; nice, but not perfect I've never owned a Mammut pack and this little pack caught my eye with fast and light day trips in my mind. It's light (just under 16 oz on my scale), but not so overly light it's uncomfortable to carry.  The materials and construction also add to the weight, but add to its durability — you won't have to baby this pack.   The 8 liter volume is just about… Full review

Lowe Alpine Morning Star 75L+

rated 4 of 5 stars Large single compartment, no frills, no extras, water resistant pack. Does the job well but offers little in access points. Fit: Fits well and fits a variety of sizes. I've lent the pack to others over the past several years and everyone has said that it was a good ride. Comfort: I find the pack is very comfortable. The hip and shoulder straps don't look like much but they have a pretty firm closed cell foam core that works pretty well.  Capacity: This pack holds a surprising amount. It expands… Full review

Osprey Crescent 85

rated 5 of 5 stars Great pack for extended trips. Places majority of weight on the hips. Very comfortable and very durable. It is my current go to pack. Fit: Form fitted foam for the hips. Shoulder straps are very comfortable. I bought the pack used and did not get it re-fitted but the pack is still fantastic. I think the pack distributes a bit too much to the hips and my hips were sore for the first two days of a week-long trip. If I get the hips re-molded, I think it will solve the problem.  Comfort: Minus the… Full review

Gregory Stout 35

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Great hiking, climbing, overnight or travel pack. Beautiful design and color scheme. Nice fit and larger than expected. This is for the large size. First, the pack is larger that I expected, and probably holds more than the stated 35L.  Not a bad thing, but remember this is the smallest in the line-up.  Second, the color of the bag blew me away – such a nice design...the orange is a little darker, more of a rusty orange, with beautiful blue-green trim including under the lid and the rain cover. Full review

Outgear rucksack

rated 4.5 of 5 stars I have had my rucksack for nearly 18 years. It still looks new! It has outlasted many others on the market which friends have purchased and is still going strong. Zip quality is exceptional. Purchased this rucksack and shell case 18 years ago — have travelled extensively since. Straps and locks still functioning as new. Zips working perfectly with the lager tags on end much easier to open and close in all weather conditions. Tough canvas cover worn extremely well; tolerates water/snow/heat without… Full review

Inov-8 Race Pro 4

rated 5 of 5 stars My go-to short distance, sub 2 hour, trail runner pack. This has been a great purchase. I have a variety of running packs I use dependent on where and how long I intend to run. This pack is great for sub 2 hour runs.  The fit is superb. It cinches tight and does not jiggle nor loosen during my runs. It is very comfortable to wear. The capacity is as advertised. Internally the bag fits my first aid kit, spare socks, tissues, and waterproof jacket.  The external bungee straps I put my ultralight… Full review

Osprey Aether 70

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Comfortable, rugged, reliable brand. This pack has fit like a glove since day one. I'm a big fella and able to carry some big loads. This pack ensures the weight is firmly driven into the hips and not carried on the shoulders. The hip belt is the strength of this pack. It is nicely padded and carries the load perfectly. I do long tramps for tens of kilometres a day and this bag makes that all the more doable. This is all the more so given the type of county The organisation of the pack is also great. Full review

Top-Rated Backpacks

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

user rating: 5 of 5 (11)
CamelBak Rim Runner Hydration Pack
$27 - $100
user rating: 5 of 5 (8)
ULA Equipment Catalyst Expedition Pack
$250
user rating: 5 of 5 (7)
CamelBak Cloud Walker Hydration Pack
$79 - $80
user rating: 5 of 5 (6)
ULA Equipment Circuit Weekend Pack
$225
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
Deuter ACT Lite 40+10 Overnight Pack
$127 - $179
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
Deuter Futura 32 Daypack
$145 - $149
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
Kelty Redwing 50 Weekend Pack
$125
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Granite Gear Round Rock Solid Compression Sack
$25
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Patagonia Atom Daypack
$29 - $49
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Gregory Baltoro 75 Expedition Pack
$275 - $349
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Deuter Aircontact 65+10 Weekend Pack
$269
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Osprey Talon 11 Daypack
$89 - $90
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Equinox Katahdin Weekend Pack
$100
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Pack Cover Pack Cover
$27 - $44
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Gossamer Gear Gorilla Ultralight Overnight Pack
$200
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Deuter Kid Comfort II Child Carrier
$239 - $249
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Deuter Trans Alpine 30 Daypack
$129
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Black Diamond Demon Daypack
$78 - $130
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
SealLine Pro Pack Dry Pack
$200
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Osprey Manta 36 Hydration Pack
$160
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Deuter ACT Trail 24 Daypack
$119
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Ultimate Direction PB Adventure Vest Hydration Pack
$160
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Kelty Cache Hauler External Frame Backpack
$65
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (37)
Osprey Aether 70 Weekend Pack
$279 - $290
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (31)
Gregory Palisade 80 Expedition Pack
$279 - $399
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (28)
Osprey Atmos 65 Weekend Pack
$187 - $259
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (21)
Gregory Z55 Weekend Pack
$149 - $239
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (20)
Osprey Aether 60 Weekend Pack
$249 - $260
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (17)
CamelBak M.U.L.E. Hydration Pack
$99 - $109
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (17)
Gregory Whitney 95 Expedition Pack
$275 - $438
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (16)
Kelty Redwing 3100 Weekend Pack
$125
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (15)
Osprey Exos 46 Overnight Pack
$179
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (13)
Osprey Talon 44 Overnight Pack
$150
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (13)
Deuter Aircontact 75+10 Expedition Pack
$289
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (12)
Deuter ACT Lite 65+10 Weekend Pack
$209
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (11)
Osprey Kestrel 48 Overnight Pack
$169 - $180
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (11)
Kelty Super Tioga External Frame Backpack
$180
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (11)
Osprey Aether 85 Expedition Pack
$310
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (11)
REI Flash 18 Pack Daypack
$35
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (10)
Osprey Kestrel 38 Overnight Pack
$149 - $160
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (10)
Osprey Talon 22 Daypack
$99 - $100
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (10)
Mountainsmith Tour Lumbar/Hip Pack
$70
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (9)
Gregory Baltoro 65 Weekend Pack
$247 - $348
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (9)
Gregory Z65 Weekend Pack
$155 - $259
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Granite Gear Leopard A.C. 58 Weekend Pack
$250
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Osprey UL Raincover Pack Cover
$24 - $39
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Deuter Futura Pro 34 SL Overnight Pack
$159
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Arc'teryx Altra 75 Expedition Pack
$479
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Mile High Mountaineering Salute 34 Overnight Pack
$229
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Outdoor Research Dry Peak Bagger Dry Pack
$69 - $70
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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.