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
Sea to Summit
Arc'teryx
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

REI 65L REI youth backpack

rated 4 of 5 stars Great youth pack with lots of room. My daughter lives it. I bought this pack for my youngest daughter. The sales staff at REI was spot on as usual. They fitted her took the time to show her all the balls and whisles. The pack has great external pockets. And the hood converts into a day pack. Easy to adjust sholder straps and hip belt. We went to south mountain state park with my boy scout troop. The pack served her very well. And we can't wait to do it again. Full review

Deuter ACT Lite 35+10 SL

rated 5 of 5 stars Never used it on an overnighter OMG I love this one. i need a lot of extra layers during winter, I don't regulate my body temp very well.  This allows me to take all the extras I could possibly need and still be compact enough for a day hike.   The hip fins are to die for:  angled for baby loving hips, well padded, contoured just right. Shoulder straps are also angled and well padded with no seams to irritate anywhere. i probably could do a summer overnighter with this, I haven't tried yet, I… Full review

Deuter ACT Trail PRO 32 SL

rated 3 of 5 stars I'm returning it urgh I so wanted to love this one!   The pack is superb, beautifully made, top materials, they really thought of everything.   Why am I returning it?  Because it does not fit me at all: even though this is from the SL line, meaning "slim line", women specific, I swear it actually fits like a man's pack.  The hip fins are not nearly as angled as they need to be and neither are the shoulder straps, I got nasty rub spots on my neck, collarbone and hip.   Its a real shame because… Full review

Karrimor Jaguar 65

rated 5 of 5 stars Bought mine in 1981 when I lived in Todmorden just over the hill from where they were made. Only issue is my side pockets are buckle closed rather than zipped but anything I put in there goes in a zip lock bag Bought mine in 1981 when I lived in Todmorden just over the hill from where they were made. Only issue is my side pockets are buckle closed rather than zipped but anything I put in there goes in a zip lock bag. Full review

Osprey Kestrel 32

rated 5 of 5 stars The little engine that could This pack is superb! I carry a 2 L bladder, extra layers, rain layers, food for the day, map, compass, first aid kit, extra mini Sawyer squeeze, trowel and tp, sunblock, buff, socks, hat, and the pack feels wonderful. The adjustability is off the charts, I can tweak the harness, shoulder straps, hip belt every which way easily, the rain cover is easy to pull out and stays put, and the reversible straps allow me to either compress the load or carry my snowshoes. Sometimes… Full review

Dana Design Astralplane Overkill

rated 5 of 5 stars can haul heavy loads great, fits well and lots of adjustment side and top access i have had 130 pounds in mine still looks new love this pack i have a few other but this is my go to pack and it will hauls heavy loads well hadi it on 5 trips in at 68 pounds and out at 110-130 pounds most pack dont hold up to this kind of used mine still looks brand new. Full review

Gregory Citro 25

rated 4.5 of 5 stars The Citro 25 is a good-sized and reasonably lightweight day pack with a surprisingly strong spring steel frame. The Citro's multiple pockets should appeal to organized hikers. The included '3D Hydro' 3 liter reservoir is excellent, and the hydration solution is unusually flexible. A small pack that can swing above its weight, depending on your needs and gear. BACKGROUND/DETAILS The Citro 25 falls into a popular niche of large day packs that can carry a decent amount of gear for a variety of conditions. Full review

REI New Star

rated 4.5 of 5 stars The performance of this pack has been unbelievable. Durable, comfortable, versatile...it was a great. I bought this pack in 1994.  Anyone have an older one?  Mine, I must say, is worn out.  It has been a great friend and I am a little sad that I need to replace it.  I believe that I easily put 2000 miles on it. Full review

Mammut Heron Light 65+15

rated 2.5 of 5 stars Not bad, but lacking ice axe loop. A sad oversight. Lacking a few simple but essential bits, like an ice axe loop. 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
$40 - $85
user rating: 5 of 5 (7)
Osprey Aura 65 Weekend Pack
$100
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
Gregory Z 40 Overnight Pack
$116 - $179
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
Deuter Futura 32 Daypack
$149
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Granite Gear Round Rock Solid Compression Sack
$20 - $37
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Patagonia Atom Daypack
$32 - $49
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Deuter Aircontact 65+10 Weekend Pack
$215 - $279
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Osprey Talon 11 Daypack
$63 - $100
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Pack Cover Pack Cover
$24 - $44
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
ULA Equipment Ohm 2.0 Weekend Pack
$200
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Arc'teryx Altra 65 Weekend Pack
$380
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Kelty Red Cloud 110 Expedition Pack
$230 - $239
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Deuter Kid Comfort II Child Carrier
$199 - $249
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Granite Gear Leopard A.C. 58 Weekend Pack
$150 - $189
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)
Osprey Manta 36 Daypack
$120
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Deuter ACT Trail 24 Daypack
$95 - $119
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Osprey Sirrus 24 Daypack
$84 - $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
$320
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Ultimate Direction PB Adventure Vest Hydration Pack
$120
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (47)
Osprey Aether 70 Weekend Pack
$180 - $290
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (23)
Osprey Aether 60 Weekend Pack
$182 - $259
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (22)
Gregory Z 55 Weekend Pack
$139 - $199
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (22)
Osprey Exos 58 Weekend Pack
$165 - $220
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (18)
Osprey Talon 44 Overnight Pack
$120 - $160
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (18)
CamelBak M.U.L.E. Hydration Pack
$57 - $110
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (17)
Gregory Whitney 95 Expedition Pack
$280
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (16)
Kelty Redwing 3100 Weekend Pack
$94
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (16)
Deuter Aircontact 75+10 Expedition Pack
$231 - $299
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (15)
Deuter ACT Lite 65+10 Weekend Pack
$167 - $209
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (14)
Osprey Kestrel 48 Overnight Pack
$180
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (13)
CamelBak Rim Runner Hydration Pack
$27 - $100
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (13)
Osprey Talon 22 Daypack
$70 - $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
$90
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (12)
Kelty Super Tioga External Frame Backpack
$180
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)
Gregory Baltoro 65 Weekend Pack
$299
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
$64 - $79
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (9)
Gregory Z 65 Weekend Pack
$166 - $229
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (8)
Sea to Summit eVent Compression Dry Sack Dry Bag / Compression Sack
$22 - $49
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Osprey UL Raincover Pack Cover
$22 - $40
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
$320 - $330
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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.