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

ULA Equipment
CamelBak
Deuter
Kelty
Granite Gear
Patagonia
Osprey
Gregory
Sea to Summit
Black Diamond

Genders

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

Deuter Futura Pro 42

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Purchased in 2009 and used everyday while working seasonally for the USFS (six years). Pack is bombproof, no popped zippers, no torn seams or ripped attachments even while it was way overstuffed and used to carry trail maintenance tools. Used this pack for over 160 days a year for over six seasons in the Nez Perce NF with the US Forest Service without a lick of trouble. Held its shape even when stepped on by a pack mule. The pack was very comfortable to wear and my back stayed cooler than the traditional… Full review

Black Diamond Speed 30

rated 4.5 of 5 stars I bought this pack a year and a half ago, and it has served me well through daily hiking and camping use, canoe trips, and multi-pitch climbing. In one word: fantastic! I bought this pack a year and a half ago, and it has served me well through daily hiking and camping use, canoe trips, and multi-pitch climbing. It fits well to my back, and tightens on well enough that it doesn't bounce around when I run. It's been durable, and seems like it will last a good while longer as well. It has a top pouch… Full review

Mountain Hardwear Fluid 18

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Very lightweight and sleek pack perfect for day hikes, especially in tight bush. I bought this pack to replace my old Asolo light day pack. I use two different day packs depending on the circumstances, my other is a North Face Terra 40. This pack is the first one I have tried that is made of the newer, thinner nylon, altough it is still thicker than the thinnest stuff they use. I have been using this pack weekly for close to 6 months now, although it was bought about a year ago. My first impression… Full review

Mountain Hardwear Scrambler 30 OutDry

rated 4.5 of 5 stars This backpack is a great day hike bag, for use in wet or dry climates, keeping your stuff dry. No frills design looks clean and is super functional. I got this bag a few weeks ago and have taken it sea kayaking, hiking, running, and climbing.  The waterproofness worked great while it was stowed in my sea kayak and kept all my stuff dry. My dry bags that I normally use for kayaking were back in the States, but I didn't need them with this backpack!  Taking this bag hiking is a nice no-frills, cleanly… Full review

The North Face Diad Pro 22

rated 4 of 5 stars The North Face Diad Pro 22 is a handy little pack that's perfect for day hikes, or even a minimalist overnight trip. Its list of features make it seem a lot bigger than it is. I'm somewhat lacking in small backpacks for three-season day hiking, my MH Snowtastic 28 is really pretty heavy for its capacity and my next larger pack is way too big, so when I saw the TNF Diad Pro 22 for $24 on S&C I scooped it up. When it arrived I unwrapped it and was really surprised by how light it was. TNF says… Full review

UltrAspire Kinetic Bottle Vest

rated 4 of 5 stars Versatile, comfortable, flexible, usable. Skeptical at first, but this pack has become a fave! Normally I don't think I would have picked this pack for myself, I thought I was a bladder guy. After trying it out a few times I was pretty happy with it. I remember a few people asking me about the pack at the time and commenting how my elbows would hit the bottles. That has been no problem at all. The location is in a great spot I think. Lower on the back creates a nice low center of gravity, feels… Full review

Lost Creek Flint Ridge

rated 5 of 5 stars Lost Creek's Flint Ridge is an 8L, durable cave pack for those needing to travel fast and light through tight passages. While this pack is limited in size, it is ideal for shorter trips. Having used this pack for 15 years, I have no doubt about its durability. Lost Creek is a cottage manufacture of caving gear that has seen three different owners since the 1970's. Each generation of owners seems to have improved upon the original Lost Creek pack. The current owners at Seven Bends continue the tradition… Full review

Lost Creek Monster TAG

rated 5 of 5 stars Lost Creek's Monster TAG pack is a 22L, virtually indestructible cave pack that has stood the test of time. This is an exceptionally large cave pack for those carrying vertical gear, camera equipment, or group gear. Lost Creek is a cottage manufacture of caving gear that has seen three different owners since the 1970s. Each generation of owners seems to have improved upon the original Lost Creek pack. The current owners at Seven Bends continue the tradition of building nearly indestructible cave… Full review

Mountainsmith Scream 55

rated 4 of 5 stars A well-built frameless weekender, the Scream 55 can be a year-round performer if the rest of your gear allows it. Keep your total weight under 30 pounds and head for the hills. Best For: Weekend warriors with lightweight gear still looking for that 90%-of-the-time backpack. Ultralighters that want a measure of waterproofness. Design The Scream 55 is a mid-size, frameless backpack constructed mostly of Robic, one of the newest, most promising fabrics to come along since the Dimension Polyant's X-Pac… Full review

Top-Rated Backpacks

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

user rating: 5 of 5 (8)
ULA Equipment Catalyst Expedition Pack
$250
user rating: 5 of 5 (7)
CamelBak Cloud Walker Hydration Pack
$63 - $80
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
Deuter Futura 32 Daypack
$119 - $149
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
Kelty Redwing 50 Weekend Pack
$99 - $139
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Granite Gear Round Rock Solid Compression Sack
$20 - $29
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Patagonia Atom Daypack
$45 - $49
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Deuter Aircontact 65+10 Weekend Pack
$215 - $269
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Osprey Talon 11 Daypack
$90
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Gregory Z40 Overnight Pack
$116 - $178
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Pack Cover Pack Cover
$18 - $44
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Deuter Kid Comfort II Child Carrier
$199 - $249
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Deuter Trans Alpine 30 Daypack
$129
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Black Diamond Demon Daypack
$78
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
SealLine Pro Pack Dry Pack
$200
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Osprey Manta 36 Hydration Pack
$112 - $159
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Deuter ACT Trail 24 Daypack
$95 - $119
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
ULA Equipment Ohm 2.0 Weekend Pack
$200
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Ultimate Direction PB Adventure Vest Hydration Pack
$160
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Arc'teryx Altra 65 Weekend Pack
$449
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Kelty Red Cloud 110 Expedition Pack
$240
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (43)
Osprey Aether 70 Weekend Pack
$254 - $289
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (22)
Gregory Z55 Weekend Pack
$129 - $198
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (20)
Osprey Aether 60 Weekend Pack
$219 - $259
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (18)
CamelBak M.U.L.E. Hydration Pack
$87 - $109
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (17)
Osprey Exos 58 Weekend Pack
$165 - $219
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (17)
Gregory Whitney 95 Expedition Pack
$263
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (16)
Kelty Redwing 3100 Weekend Pack
$125
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (16)
Osprey Talon 44 Overnight Pack
$149 - $150
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (14)
Deuter ACT Lite 65+10 Weekend Pack
$167 - $209
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (13)
Osprey Kestrel 48 Overnight Pack
$143 - $179
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (13)
CamelBak Rim Runner Hydration Pack
$27 - $99
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (13)
Osprey Talon 22 Daypack
$75 - $99
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (13)
Deuter Aircontact 75+10 Expedition Pack
$202 - $289
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (13)
The North Face Big Shot Overnight Pack
$119
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (12)
Osprey Aether 85 Expedition Pack
$289 - $309
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (12)
REI Flash 18 Pack Daypack
$25 - $34
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (11)
Kelty Super Tioga External Frame Backpack
$180
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (10)
Osprey Kestrel 38 Overnight Pack
$127 - $159
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (10)
ULA Equipment Circuit Weekend Pack
$225
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (9)
Gregory Baltoro 65 Weekend Pack
$239 - $348
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (9)
Gregory Z65 Weekend Pack
$149 - $239
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (8)
Osprey Volt 60 Weekend Pack
$179
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Granite Gear Leopard A.C. 58 Weekend Pack
$150 - $249
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Osprey UL Raincover Pack Cover
$22 - $39
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Deuter Futura Pro 34 SL Overnight Pack
$127 - $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
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
REI Trail 40 Pack Overnight Pack
$109
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Fjallraven Kajka 75 Weekend Pack
$400
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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.