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

Montane Dragon 20

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Finally a nice pack that allows for multi-day runs. It's not perfect, but in the most important aspect- carry while running, it's great. I was able to get this pack out for a two day trip into the Crazy Mtns.  I had to load a little more kit as we received a big dump of snow and cooler temps.  Kit consisted of a 30F down quilt, inflatable pad (had to add a thin ccf pad due to temps), eVENT bivy, small pot/esbit stove, steripen, down jacket, hooded midlayer, tights, spare socks and the usual small… Full review

Montane Dragon 20

rated 3.5 of 5 stars A well-built and lightweight pack for ultrarunning and fast packing, big enough to carry layers, emergency gear, and food for long mountain runs in mixed weather, or for a UL weekender. Recommended for those kinds of activities, but not as a general purpose day pack. I received the Montane Dragon 20 from Trailspace a little too late to try it out in the 60 km Birkebeiner Ultra, but have put it to the test on some of my longer training runs and on a few day hikes. It is very well-designed and -built,… Full review

Blackhawk! Barrage Hydration Pack

rated 4 of 5 stars A heavy-duty "military style" 3-day pack that is designed to last forever, no matter what you do with it. Although BlackHawk! categorizes it as a hydration pack, I believe the hydration bladder is a small portion of this pack. I purchased this pack prior to a deployment overseas in 2008 and it still looks brand new today. In between being an every day carry item thru Kuwait and Afghanistan, it has also been used as a day pack for hikes and hunting. As well as a great commuter bag and travel bag. … Full review

Osprey Volt 75

rated 5 of 5 stars Great fit without a lot of weight. I would definitely recommend this backpack for anyone doing a 3-4 night outing. Just purchased this pack in July 2014. Have used it 4 times in the Adirondacks of NY and AT in NJ and Maine. I bought it for the lesser pack weight of 3lbs 12oz vs my other, older Osprey pack. This is a one-size-fits-all pack with an adjustable stay system that I really liked, especially if you're an in-between size like me. It carries 4,700 cu, so I did have to choose my gear wisely… Full review

Osprey Talon 44

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Great transitional bag! I'm 5'11" with a slender build @ 162 lbs. I bought the bag at the beginning of the 2014 spring season with the intent of doing lightweight trips up to 5 nights. On a 1-2 night cool-weather trip, I carry 27 lbs of gear (including a full 3 liter hydration bladder and 1 change of clothes), minus food. For longer cool weather trips, an additional change of clothes and larger fuel bottle brings it to 30 lbs of gear, minus food. The bag handles this very well, is light, quite… Full review

Mountain Hardwear Fluid 32

rated 4 of 5 stars I am an avid backpacker, hiker, and mountain biker. I needed a new full size day pack. I wanted a bag I could use for long day hikes, as well as around town. This pack is the newer model (Panel Loader Design). Pros: New panel load design allows me to open the bag up enough to see all the contents. Very lightweight and versatile. Does a great job and distributing the all my gear, yet I can compress it and stow the waist belt, and use it sightseeing and for quick overnight traveling. H2O bladder compatible,… Full review

GoLite Jam 50L

rated 5 of 5 stars Solid entry into backpacking with less weight, more miles and more fun. If you're wanting to go lighter but aren't ready to commit lots of money to a specialized pack, go for this pack. Fit: 35" waist and got a large; this will put you at the end of the belt straps — lose any weight and belt won't be as tight (just a note) 19.5" back measurement (iirc); length is fine on the large Comfort: hip belt padded appropriately; no rough spots shoulder straps padded appropriately; no digging/pinching/etc… Full review

Teton Sports Scout 3400

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Great quality pack with lots of pockets and loops. I purchased this backpack about 1 years ago, used it so much. On trips I carried food, a tent, a sleeping bag, sleeping pad and clothes for three days without a problem. I'm content with this product. Full review

Berghaus Expedition Light 80

rated 4.5 of 5 stars The Berghaus Expedition Light 80 is a large capacity pack with a lightweight design. It has a surprisingly supportive suspension system which provides comfort in the hips and shoulders. It has a low, stable profile, even while strapping everything from skis to my dog's pack to the outside. It can be warm during hot days. I would recommended the Expedition Light to backpackers and mountaineers looking for a large capacity pack that is functional with heavy loads in the 50 plus pound range all seasons… 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
$384 - $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
$125
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
$31 - $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
$262 - $349
Deuter Aircontact 65+10
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Deuter
Aircontact 65+10
Weekend Pack
$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
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 (35)
Osprey
Aether 70
Weekend Pack
$279 - $290
Gregory Palisade 80
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (30)
Gregory
Palisade 80
Expedition Pack
$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
$159 - $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
$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
$199
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
$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 Z65
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (9)
Gregory
Z65
Weekend Pack
$181 - $259
Gregory Baltoro 65
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (8)
Gregory
Baltoro 65
Weekend Pack
$247 - $329
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
$24 - $39
Deuter Futura Pro 34 SL
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Deuter
Futura Pro 34 SL
Overnight Pack
$89 - $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
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
$19 - $53
Deuter Futura 22
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Deuter
Futura 22
Daypack
$99
Gregory Miwok 18
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Gregory
Miwok 18
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.