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
Osprey
Deuter
Kelty
Granite Gear
Patagonia
Sea to Summit
Arc'teryx
SealLine

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

Osprey Finesse Pro

rated 5 of 5 stars Lightweight for its capacity. Very tough construction. Easy to adjust to a stocky frame on a short guy. Taken it hiking. mountaineering, and day hiking where I had to haul in lots of stuff for back country picnics. Very good for winter use with all the attachment points, side ski holders etc. Flexible. Easy to adjust. Fits well, comfortable, good built-in volume management. Easy to adjust on the go. Full review

Osprey Atmos AG 65

rated 2 of 5 stars Two packs, two failures of the Velcro on the waistband. I received a replacement pack after the velcro "on the fly" adjuster failed and was slipping, meaning I couldn't tighten the waistband. It happened on day 1 of a 14-day trek and the pack was brand new. I had the weight of the pack on my shoulders for the remainder of the walk killing my back. On returning home I was provided a second pack and another failure of the Velcro hip belt occurred after around 7 days use and only 6kg in the pack. Full review

Mountainsmith Strapettes

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Important stability for lumbar packs, especially the TLS Day. I've been using the TLS Day and Tour for 5 years or so for lightweight hiking and biking plus my daily commute to work. At 5 feet 10 I found the straps a good length. In practice I've removed the buckles and attached the straps using the sliders. This provided a more stable and less twisty saggy over strappy system where the plastic Y divider, sits. I started using the whole system as an alternative to a pack. Lumbar disc problems dictated… Full review

Deuter Aircontact 75+10

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Great expedition backpack. Works exceptionally well under heavy weight for long distances. Pack is very adjustable, giving me the confidence to carry a heavy load and navigate over tricky mountain terrain. Very good construction and materials, creating a durable and strong pack. Looks good. After research on the Deuter Aircontact 75+10 and discussion with others on the mountains. I made the purchase last fall and have come to love this backpack and give it monumental trust. I noticed a prevailing… Full review

CamelBak Arete 18

rated 3 of 5 stars The CamelBak Arete 18 is a light, minimalist bag that keeps your water accessible and also has room for a few items to take along on your venture. I got this bag at a great price. There were actually a lot of CamelBak packs available when I got this, but I chose this one because of the lightweight design and minimalist look. I also liked that I had room for a few items that I like to take with me, such as a packable rain jacket, small bottle of OJ, glucose meter, and keys. A little extra room isn't… Full review

Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Compression Sack

rated 3 of 5 stars Good for keeping one of my most important pieces of gear dry—my sleeping bag. It's ultra lightweight and fairly waterproof. Compresses nicely with strong tabs. I bought this lightweight compression sack in a size medium, which is perfect for my Marmot Never Summer 0 degree bag, which weighs in at 3 lb-4oz in a size long. I listed this information because when I bought the compression sack I was guessing at what size would be the right fit for my sleeping bag.  This bag compresses down nicely… Full review

Aarn Sport Balance Pockets

rated 4 of 5 stars Designed to be used as part of an Aarn Bodypack these versatile front bags have proven to work pretty well with other backpacks too. The balancing benefits of carrying a small amount of weight in the front are quite noticeable, especially with heavier loads in back. Easy access to water bottles, snacks, camera gear, and other items you need to use often on trail are a great fringe benefit. Aarn is a New Zealand based company that has been making a system they call a Bodypack in various forms for… Full review

Osprey Atmos AG 65

rated 4 of 5 stars This is the perfect pack for a weekend or a week-long trip. You can detach the hood for a smaller pack. I've done so a few time when bushwhacking. The Anti Gravity system make for a very comfortable pack. The weight feels like it's gone. I can even tie my shoes with it on my back. My wife told me if I quit smoking I could get a new pack. So I'm smoke free. The pack is totally adjustable, but you should always get fitted. This is the most comfort I have ever seen in a pack. The hip belt could use… Full review

Cerro Torre Kodiak

rated 5 of 5 stars Tough as nails. I have had this pack for about 11 to 12 years, and it has been out in the snow for ski backpacking several years, camping in Florida, Oregon, Washington, Appalachian Trail, simple car camping, backpacking—you name it. This thing looks brand new. It's been beat, rained on, blizzarded on, sweated to death in humidity, used probably 60 days a year for 11-12 years. AMAZING PRODUCT. Even the clips were easily repaired if they got smashed in airports. I can't even say more than what… 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
$60 - $80
user rating: 5 of 5 (6)
Osprey Aura 65 Weekend Pack
$100
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
Deuter Futura 32 Daypack
$149
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
Kelty Redwing 50 Weekend Pack
$125 - $139
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Granite Gear Round Rock Solid Compression Sack
$25
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Patagonia Atom Daypack
$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
$90
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Pack Cover Pack Cover
$21 - $44
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Kelty Redcloud 110 Expedition Pack
$240
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Arc'teryx Altra 65 Weekend Pack
$449
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
$160
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
$160
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Deuter ACT Trail 24 Daypack
$95 - $119
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Osprey Sirrus 24 Daypack
$120
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
ULA Equipment Ohm 2.0 Weekend Pack
$200
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Porter Weekend Pack
$320
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (44)
Osprey Aether 70 Weekend Pack
$290
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (31)
Gregory Palisade 80 Expedition Pack
$250 - $318
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (22)
Gregory Z 55 Weekend Pack
$150
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (21)
Osprey Aether 60 Weekend Pack
$260
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (20)
Osprey Exos 58 Weekend Pack
$165 - $219
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (18)
Osprey Talon 44 Overnight Pack
$150
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (18)
CamelBak M.U.L.E. Hydration Pack
$82 - $109
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (16)
Kelty Redwing 3100 Weekend Pack
$140
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (15)
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
$75 - $100
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (13)
The North Face Big Shot Overnight Pack
$119
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (12)
Mountainsmith Day Lumbar/Hip Pack
$50 - $89
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (12)
Osprey Aether 85 Expedition Pack
$310
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (12)
REI Flash 18 Pack Daypack
$40
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (11)
ULA Equipment Circuit Weekend Pack
$225
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
$160
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (10)
Mountainsmith Tour Lumbar/Hip Pack
$50 - $79
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (9)
Gregory Baltoro 65 Weekend Pack
$299
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (9)
Gregory Z 65 Weekend Pack
$137 - $228
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Osprey UL Raincover Pack Cover
$22 - $39
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Kelty Redwing 32 Daypack
$100
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Windrider Weekend Pack
$320
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Deuter Futura Pro 34 SL Overnight Pack
$127 - $159
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Osprey Xena 85 Expedition Pack
$360
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Arc'teryx Altra 75 Expedition Pack
$479
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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.