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

Mountainsmith Tour TLS

rated 4.5 of 5 stars No one is arguing that fanny packs make you look cool. But its durability and comfort make the Mountainsmith Tour TLS pack a pretty great choice for day hikes, cross country skiing, and using as a man-purse (or lady purse) around town. Fit: This fanny lumbar pack will fit most adults, although the heavier you are, the less coverage you'll get from the light padding on the hipbelt. I have a 32 inch waist and I might get nervous if I was skinnier than a 30 inch waist. Mountainsmith says it will work… Full review

Cold Cold World Chernobyl

rated 4.5 of 5 stars This pack is tough as nails, simple, entirely devoted to functionality. It's meant for climbing, and it is perfect for that. Its single-minded devotion to vertical endeavors limits its usefulness for other applications, but that's not really a drawback. This is a great climbing pack, pure and simple. Fit:  This pack comes in two sizes, so it's not exactly adjustable. The small is for torsos from 15 to 17 inches, and the regular is for 18 to 21. If you fall in between, or you're exceptionally tall… Full review

Kelty Continental Divide 5300 (External)

rated 4 of 5 stars Some people will look at this pack and say it has an identity crisis. It is basically an internal frame bag attached to a narrow external frame. There are pros and cons to this, mostly depending on how you like to pack. This model is out of production, but a lot of folks might find that it meets their needs. This sort of design works great for expeditions with heavy loads, and it could be a great deal for someone who finds it used. No one has reviewed this pack in almost ten years, but I figured… Full review

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Porter

rated 5 of 5 stars Lightweight, super tough. The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Porter meets all my needs in a backpack. It is very light, the material and stitching are first rate. It handles winter loads well. The strength of the fabric was tested during a trip to the Ventana Wilderness where we spent two days scrambling through some nearly impassable brush. No holes in the fabric and after a quick wash it looked like new. A forty+ pound winter load (mid tarp tent, -20 degree bag, five days food and fuel) was easily swallowed… Full review

Cotopaxi Nepal 65

rated 3 of 5 stars The Cotopaxi Nepal 65L pack has a number of innovative features, and is appropriate for trips of a few days or longer. While it didn’t work well for my body type and the weight I carry, it’s worth a look due to its design and unique features. Introduction I feel a bit conflicted in writing about this pack. I really wanted to like it. It’s an interesting pack with some unique design features. Also, Cotopaxi commits to contributing part of the proceeds of each product sale to worthy causes. Full review

Granite Rocx The Cascade

rated 4 of 5 stars The Cascade is an all-in-one convenience pack that delivers on many levels. There is ample storage and multiple compartments to store everything you need, including a cooler that attaches to the outside of the pack. Perfect for day trips to the water or the mountains, the Cascade is a pack that can be used year round, regardless of where you go. Who: Granite Rocx is a company based in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, that specializes in making functional and unique backpacks that are perfect for any day trip. Full review

Deuter Pace 36

rated 4.5 of 5 stars The Pace 36 is a weight-shaving daypack with a very light frame and wide mesh hip belt. I applaud Deuter for figuring out how to make a bag this light that is also quite comfortable. The pockets and features are things people can actually use; I would take this along as a winter day/summit bag. The Pace 36 can carry a surprising amount of weight comfortably, but it would not be my choice for consistently carrying more than 30 pounds on a regular basis. The simplicity that helps make this so easy… Full review

RailRiders Journey

rated 5 of 5 stars I am a member of Team RailRiders. I recently put into use the RailRiders Journey overnight pack. Now upfront I have access to lots and lots of packs that I have gathered over my twenty plus years of exploration. I was also quite skeptical as to whether or not the RailRiders brand who are most noted for being "the toughest clothes on the planet" could deliver an overnight pack. I am happy to report that the pack far exceeded my expectations. I do lots of overnight trips for speaking engagements that… Full review

Lowe Alpine Netherworld 90

rated 3.5 of 5 stars I've had this pack since the early '90s and it has served me well. I ended up getting Deuter's Act Lite 65+10 and shaved off about 3 pounds but that pack is already worn through in a few places. I have used the Lowe in the Sierras with 45-50 pounds and in the snow with snow shoes and it seems indestructible. The fit was adjustable with the help of the store personnel. The volume was wonderful. The separate compartment on the bottom served as another storage area without having to go into the main… 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
$64 - $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 - $169
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
Deuter Futura 32 Daypack
$104 - $145
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
$22 - $24
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Patagonia Atom Daypack
$45 - $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
$256 - $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 - $109
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Ultimate Direction PB Adventure Vest Hydration Pack
$160
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Kelty Cache Hauler External Frame Backpack
$175
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (36)
Osprey Aether 70 Weekend Pack
$279 - $295
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
$187 - $250
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (21)
Gregory Z55 Weekend Pack
$169 - $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
$65 - $100
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (17)
Gregory Whitney 95 Expedition Pack
$329 - $439
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (16)
Kelty Redwing 3100 Weekend Pack
$87
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
$149 - $209
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (11)
Osprey Kestrel 48 Overnight Pack
$169 - $180
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (11)
Osprey Aether 85 Expedition Pack
$310
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
$99 - $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
$168 - $259
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Granite Gear Leopard A.C. 58 Weekend Pack
$187 - $249
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Osprey UL Raincover Pack Cover
$19 - $38
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Deuter Futura Pro 34 SL Overnight Pack
$149 - $155
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
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
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Deuter Futura 22 Daypack
$69 - $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.