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

Gregory
CamelBak
ULA Equipment
Deuter
Kelty
Granite Gear
Patagonia
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

Gregory Baltoro 65

rated 4 of 5 stars Great suspension, great size. Comfortable. Great pack. Have used this on a few weekend expeditions as well as a long distance thru hike. I would recommend it. It has a multitude of adjustments. It has held up very well without any obvious signs of wear. The capacity is large. This pack is too big to be in Trailspace weekend pack category. I had plenty of room for a two-month expedition (with weekly resupply). I found it comfortable, though if I could go back and buy it again, I would get the medium… Full review

Deuter Futura 30 SL

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Excellent pack. I was looking for a good pack to hike with and wanted something that would take all the weight off my shoulders and this pack does just that! I tried on several of the top brands but could feel shoulder strap pressure, this one converted all the weight to my legs — perfect.   The construction is impeccable, with quality zippers, cord lock and adjustment straps. I constantly over stuff the side bellows with no problems. I have not experienced any problems with the hydration system… Full review

L.L.Bean Duffle Bag

rated 5 of 5 stars This bag is a great size for weekend trips and a perfect size for a carry-on. This duffle is made out of a great, strong material and is very dependable and reliable for any adventure. I have owned my L.L. Bean duffle bag for years and it has been the best travel I have ever used. It has been through a lot of stuffing and throwing around, but it has held up tough.  It is very reliable and dependable. Full review

The North Face Men's Recon

rated 5 of 5 stars I think you could, if you planned carefully, use this pack as a weekender. If you had one of those new crush-able mats, and a very small tent, bivy or tarp. The only limitation I see would be carrying enough water. Unless you hike near water and have a filter. I recommend this pack. If you run into one for sale, buy it. You won't be sorry. I have owned my Recon for about 6 years. It has been to 14k and slightly more. I've hiked in Colorado, New Mexico, California, Oregon, and Washington. Here in… Full review

Osprey Quantum

rated 5 of 5 stars This is a great backpack for school, carry-on luggage, or short camping trips. It had held up very well to all the abuse I have subjected it to over the last four years. I'm a 5"10' and 190 lbs guy and the Quantum fits me perfectly. I used it though college, several weeklong trips with air travel and camping. It didn't require any breaking-in to be comfortable. It's more than adequate to hold everything you could need for a week with room to spare. I highly recommend the Osprey Quantum.  Full review

Ultimate Direction PB Adventure Vest

rated 5 of 5 stars I rarely write a review where I don't have a con. I looked long and hard for one on this piece of gear, but really couldn't find it, at least in functionality. I'm a bigger runner, so I notice that you must get the bigger size with this product or it just will be too small. I love the amount of gear it can carry, very versatile if you don't want to put a bottle in you can use that pocket for a myriad of other uses.   Great gear for both road and trail. Highly recommend.   Full review

Gregory Z30

rated 4 of 5 stars As with other Gregory packs, this one is well-designed and offers every feature I could imagine one would need in a daypack. That said, it could be tougher. Skinny hikers that have a medium build may also have trouble cinching the chest and waist tight enough. Gregory makes great packs. That's why they are, by now, a household name within backpacking and hiking circles. For a daypack, this gear provides plenty of features and a comfortable fit. Just make sure that you don't play too rough! The shoulder… Full review

Sierra Designs Jubilee 50

rated 1.5 of 5 stars Sub-standard pack for women. I really wanted to like this pack. I thought about it for weeks before making the purchase, so I was very dejected when it came. I left the tags on it for another couple of weeks while I deliberated over returning it. In the end I kept it only because I got it on clearance. Where to begin, I've learned to drop my expectations when purchasing gear made especially for women (that's a whole other rant), but this one was disappointing more that usual. I had to ignore the… Full review

Marmot Long Hauler

rated 5 of 5 stars Excellent quality in an attractive bag for a fair price! The heavy duty construction of this bag impressed me immediately. I wanted a duffel bag I could use for travel as well as camping and this bag didn't disappoint. It's seen airline abuse, many a camping trip and still looks brand new. It has several zippered pouches to help organize my gear and is large enough for two on camping trips. I would recommend this for any type of travel if you are like me and prefer a duffel to a suitcase. Full review

Top-Rated Backpacks

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

Gregory Denali Pro 105
user rating: 5 of 5 (12)
Gregory
Denali Pro 105
Expedition Pack
$412 - $549
CamelBak Rim Runner
user rating: 5 of 5 (11)
CamelBak
Rim Runner
Hydration Pack
$35 - $100
ULA Equipment Catalyst
user rating: 5 of 5 (8)
ULA Equipment
Catalyst
Expedition Pack
$250
CamelBak Cloud Walker
user rating: 5 of 5 (7)
CamelBak
Cloud Walker
Hydration Pack
$60 - $80
ULA Equipment Circuit
user rating: 5 of 5 (6)
ULA Equipment
Circuit
Weekend Pack
$225
Deuter ACT Lite 40+10
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
Deuter
ACT Lite 40+10
Overnight Pack
$169
Kelty Redwing 50
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
Kelty
Redwing 50
Weekend Pack
$90 - $124
Granite Gear Round Rock Solid
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Granite Gear
Round Rock Solid
Compression Sack
$22 - $29
Patagonia Atom
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Patagonia
Atom
Daypack
$45 - $49
Kelty Trekker 65
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Kelty
Trekker 65
External Frame Backpack
$140 - $179
Gregory Baltoro 75
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Gregory
Baltoro 75
Expedition Pack
$329 - $349
Deuter Aircontact 65+10
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Deuter
Aircontact 65+10
Weekend Pack
$246 - $269
Osprey Talon 11
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Osprey
Talon 11
Daypack
$89 - $90
Equinox Katahdin
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Equinox
Katahdin
Weekend Pack
$100
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Pack Cover
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Sea to Summit
Ultra-Sil Pack Cover
Pack Cover
$27 - $44
Deuter Futura 32
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Deuter
Futura 32
Daypack
$139 - $145
Deuter Kid Comfort II
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Deuter
Kid Comfort II
Child Carrier
$215 - $249
Deuter Trans Alpine 30
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Deuter
Trans Alpine 30
Daypack
$129
Black Diamond Demon
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Black Diamond
Demon
Daypack
$97 - $129
Osprey Manta 36
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Osprey
Manta 36
Hydration Pack
$160
Deuter ACT Trail 24
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Deuter
ACT Trail 24
Daypack
$109 - $119
Ultimate Direction PB Adventure Vest
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Ultimate Direction
PB Adventure Vest
Hydration Pack
$150 - $159
Kelty Cache Hauler
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Kelty
Cache Hauler
External Frame Backpack
$250
Osprey Aether 70
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (36)
Osprey
Aether 70
Weekend Pack
$279 - $290
Gregory Palisade 80
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (30)
Gregory
Palisade 80
Expedition Pack
$366 - $399
Osprey Atmos 65
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (27)
Osprey
Atmos 65
Weekend Pack
$175 - $255
Gregory Z55
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (21)
Gregory
Z55
Weekend Pack
$143 - $239
Osprey Aether 60
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (20)
Osprey
Aether 60
Weekend Pack
$5 - $260
CamelBak M.U.L.E.
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (17)
CamelBak
M.U.L.E.
Hydration Pack
$84 - $100
Gregory Whitney 95
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (17)
Gregory
Whitney 95
Expedition Pack
$439
Kelty Redwing 3100
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (16)
Kelty
Redwing 3100
Weekend Pack
$125
Osprey Exos 46
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (15)
Osprey
Exos 46
Overnight Pack
$179
Osprey Talon 44
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (13)
Osprey
Talon 44
Overnight Pack
$149 - $150
Deuter Aircontact 75+10
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (12)
Deuter
Aircontact 75+10
Expedition Pack
$289
Deuter ACT Lite 65+10
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (12)
Deuter
ACT Lite 65+10
Weekend Pack
$174 - $209
Osprey Kestrel 48
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (11)
Osprey
Kestrel 48
Overnight Pack
$169 - $180
Osprey Aether 85
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (11)
Osprey
Aether 85
Expedition Pack
$231 - $310
Osprey Kestrel 38
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (10)
Osprey
Kestrel 38
Overnight Pack
$122 - $195
Osprey Talon 22
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (10)
Osprey
Talon 22
Daypack
$99 - $100
Mountainsmith Tour
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (10)
Mountainsmith
Tour
Lumbar/Hip Pack
$70
Gregory Baltoro 65
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (9)
Gregory
Baltoro 65
Weekend Pack
$247 - $329
Gregory Z65
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (9)
Gregory
Z65
Weekend Pack
$168 - $259
Granite Gear Leopard A.C. 58
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Granite Gear
Leopard A.C. 58
Weekend Pack
$250
Osprey UL Raincover
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Osprey
UL Raincover
Pack Cover
$18 - $39
Deuter Futura Pro 34 SL
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Deuter
Futura Pro 34 SL
Overnight Pack
$75 - $155
Arc'teryx Altra 75
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Arc'teryx
Altra 75
Expedition Pack
$425 - $479
Osprey Momentum 34
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Osprey
Momentum 34
Overnight Pack
$104 - $118
Fjallraven Kajka 75
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Fjallraven
Kajka 75
Weekend Pack
$400
Outdoor Research Ultralight Compression Sack
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Outdoor Research
Ultralight Compression Sack
Compression Sack
$20 - $49
Deuter Futura 22
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Deuter
Futura 22
Daypack
$99
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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.