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

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

Gregory G Pack

rated 2.5 of 5 stars I used this pack for day hikes in Utah canyons. After a couple of trips, I had holes worn in the fabric where it had scraped against the sandstone. This pack might be useful for someone who never gets off the trail, but the unreinforced fabric means that you need to be careful with it. The pack fit fine and it is the best lightweight daypack I have used. The durability of the pack is the issue. In only a couple of trips to Utah, there were holes worn through the fabric so that I was dropping gear… Full review

Lowe Alpine Contour IV 90+15

rated 4 of 5 stars Solid VERY large pack. Great for extended use or winter camping/hiking. I picked my pack up from a buddy for 25 bucks used about 10 years ago. GREAT deal. I'm a bigger guy and was looking for a large pack for extended trips and winter camping/packing. This pack is very well made and is constructed of a heavier nylon Cordura. Great in that it is tear-proof and holds up, but it makes it a little heavy by today's standards. The pack is designed for a larger person. I'm 6'1" 250# and I have no trouble… Full review

Gregory Denali 100

rated 2.5 of 5 stars OK pack, but not for the heaviest loads and longer trips due to some weak parts of the carrying system (described below) and too small volume, narrow bottom, and side pockets. In wintertime when carrying a bigger sleeping bag and generally more equipment this pack will, in my opinion, be too small for more than a couple of days outdoors. I bought this pack summer 2015. Used it on some weekend trips in forest regions and one 17-day trip tenting in the mountains. What I don't like is the narrow bottom… Full review

LifeProof nüüd case for iPhone 5/5s/SE

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Plain and simple: this thing works. My phone survived days-long exposure to heavy rain with no damage whatsoever. Very simply, it seems to work as advertised. For two years or so, my general impression was that it was simply functional and practical. It provides solid protection from drops, dust, and moisture with a less bulky profile than either LifeProof's larger cases or waterproof cases from some competitors because instead of covering the screen, it seals the rest of the case around it with… Full review

ULA Equipment Ohm 2.0

rated 4.5 of 5 stars This is now my favorite pack after a year of solid testing in all range of temperatures and trail conditions. A lightweight pack with a suspension frame that helps it carry loads up to 30 pounds comfortably. Except for full winter or over a week long trips, this pack can handle everything I need it to do. The other reviews prior to mine do an excellent job of summarizing the qualities of this pack, and helped me choose the Ohm. I felt after a year that I would add to and support those reviews with… Full review

Gregory Deva 70 GZ

rated 5 of 5 stars The Gregory Deva/Baltoro series is great for anyone from the weekend hiker who likes to bring everything but the kitchen sink to the long trail thru-hiker. The Deva is a very comfortable, durable, stable load hauler that comes packed full of removable features that allow you to have a custom and perfect fit. From the integrated solar panel to the water-resistant zippers and hip belt pouch, Gregory included almost every imaginable bell and whistle when they designed this highly detailed pack.  … 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
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
$105 - $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
$148 - $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
$179 - $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.