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

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

CamelBak Fourteener

rated 4 of 5 stars Great pack for day trips. I bought this pack in 2014 so mine is most likely a newer model, than what is pictured. I can add pictures of mine, if anyone is curious. This pack fits me great, I am 6'2" and about 195 lbs. and have no issues with the straps being long enough, in fact there is plenty for it to fit some one taller and larger than myself. As for comfort I have used a few other day packs (osprey, which I enjoy) and this one is my favorite. The padding on the back and the belt is comfortable… Full review

Osprey Exos 58

rated 4.5 of 5 stars This is an excellent light pack for UL backpackers who can go for 7 days with a starting load under 30 lbs (2014 model). This would make a great thru-hiker pack. I bought this pack to replace my aging REI Cruise UL 60 pack. I love the EXOS 58's comfort, even with 30 lbs. The mesh back panel rides very comfortably and is cooler by far than my mesh covered foam REI back panel.  Inside this single compartment pack is a small QR buckle to hold up your hydration bladder in its sleeve. Also there's a… Full review

REI Flash 18 Pack

rated 5 of 5 stars I got my first one of these when they first came out and would still be using it if it hadn't been stolen out of my car. I use this constantly in and out of town. A full hydration bladder makes a great back panel to cushion your back from pokey things like crampons (inside a crampon bag of course) or stove and teapot. I would load this with gear for early morning/breakfast hikes. Survival kit, stove and teapot, extra layer for taking extended break to eat, and Z-rest pad sits it on. I used stretchy… Full review

Mile High Mountaineering Salute 34

rated 4.5 of 5 stars This daypack has many features that give you the versatility to store your gear in many configurations for your next adventure. If this is your first pack I would think hard about buying it. I feel this pack is not for everyone. I like to bushwhack and follow animal trails, which sometimes have limited space areas. This pack has very strong material, but at the cost of weight, but I don’t have the fear of knocking shoulder strap off. This pack gives me the ability to care want is needed on my… Full review

Millet Radikal 32

rated 5 of 5 stars Great little climbing pack. Enough room to spend a night out rough and to bring all your toys with. Stable enough for climbing and biking while fully loaded. The first pic is of the ice axe system, particularly the straps and cover for the pick.Pic 2 is the helmet carrier strap. It unfolds from its own pocket on the top lid. For these pics I loaded the pack with what I would normally take out for a winter day in the mountains. A 40 degree synthetic bag, a space blanket/tarp, crampons, a small stove… Full review

Kelty Men's Impact 30

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Great pack for long day hikes. I use this pack for all day hikes. I also use it for all my winter hiking/snowshoeing trips. The panel loading is great for stuffing bulky items like winter layers and such. The suspension really transfers the load to your hips and keeps your back cool. The waist belt pockets are large enough for a small camera (or cell phone) and energy bars. The map pocket is nice too. The sleeping bag compartment is way too small for my summer bag but I use it for my emergency kit,… Full review

Lowe Alpine Contour IV

rated 5 of 5 stars Have used on numerous treks in all seasons. Multiple adjustment strap system, built-in yoke strap, and padded waist belt were the convincing points for purchase in early 1990s for a tall, narrow waist male. Bought the Alpine IV in early 1990s, has been used in multiple treks, trips on weekends and summer. Holds as much as you want it to, sometimes too much. Chose this pack for its stability factor and ability to adjust various straps (belt, should) to ventilate or adjust CG while descending or ascending… Full review

Osprey Poco

rated 5 of 5 stars This product is well made with great supporting accessories. There are too many child carriers that are made for a stroll in the parking lot to the trailhead and back to the vehicle. Once parents or grandparents leave that parking lot it is critical that the equipment used provide the additional safety and protection needed in the outdoors. Of course it is also critical that the unit be comfortable for both the youngster being carried and the adult doing the carrying. Previous to having children… Full review

Deuter Futura 24 SL

rated 3.5 of 5 stars Cómodo para caminar en trayectos donde la temperatura es muy alta. [Comfortable for walking on paths where the temperature is very high.] I also have the Future 20. As option for bigger trips more days I bought this backpack to make an excursion three holidays in my beloved country Colombia. After use of the backpack I can say the following: 1. Like its companion (Future 20 liters) is very comfortable to walk and allows for ventilation, which is observed in the trips made with higher climes to… Full review

Top-Rated Backpacks

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

user rating: 5 of 5 (11)
CamelBak Rim Runner Hydration Pack
$33 - $100
user rating: 5 of 5 (8)
ULA Equipment Catalyst Expedition Pack
$250
user rating: 5 of 5 (7)
CamelBak Cloud Walker Hydration Pack
$60 - $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
$125 - $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
$34 - $49
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Kelty Trekker 65 External Frame Backpack
$160 - $179
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Gregory Baltoro 75 Expedition Pack
$244 - $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)
Deuter Kid Comfort II Child Carrier
$185 - $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)
Osprey Manta 36 Hydration Pack
$160
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Deuter ACT Trail 24 Daypack
$80 - $119
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Ultimate Direction PB Adventure Vest Hydration Pack
$160
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (36)
Osprey Aether 70 Weekend Pack
$279 - $290
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (30)
Gregory Palisade 80 Expedition Pack
$292 - $399
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (28)
Osprey Atmos 65 Weekend Pack
$170 - $249
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (21)
Gregory Z55 Weekend Pack
$159 - $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
$80 - $100
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (17)
Gregory Whitney 95 Expedition Pack
$307 - $439
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
$246 - $289
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (12)
Deuter ACT Lite 65+10 Weekend Pack
$139 - $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
$75 - $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 - $329
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (9)
Gregory Z65 Weekend Pack
$181 - $259
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Granite Gear Leopard A.C. 58 Weekend Pack
$175 - $249
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Osprey UL Raincover Pack Cover
$17 - $39
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Deuter Futura Pro 34 SL Overnight Pack
$149 - $159
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Porter Weekend Pack
$345
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Arc'teryx Altra 75 Expedition Pack
$479
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Osprey Momentum 34 Overnight Pack
$104 - $119
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Fjallraven Kajka 75 Weekend Pack
$400
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Outdoor Research Ultralight Compression Sack Compression Sack
$22 - $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.