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

Osprey
CamelBak
ULA Equipment
Deuter
Kelty
Granite Gear
Patagonia
Gregory
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

Osprey Poco Premium

rated 5 of 5 stars Lightweight and well designed. I don't believe there are any features that they didn't incorporate to make this pack perfect for hiking with a little one. My wife and I hike all the time with our daughter and she absolutely loves riding in this pack. It's super comfortable for her and has so many pockets to store her toys and baby gear. I personally love how relaxed she can be in there which makes it easier for me to focus on my hiking. I have done several 10+ mile hikes with her on my back and… Full review

Osprey Atmos 65 AG

rated 2.5 of 5 stars Overall, the pack is very comfortable. However, I am not sure the designers ever thought about anyone carrying more than 30 lbs in it or they would have NEVER made the hip belt pads lock in place with sub-standard hook-and-loop closure system. This failed on my 5th day wearing the pack, with only 40 lbs loaded in the pack. I had to shoulder 90% of the weight of my pack for a week after this, ruining my trip. I purchased this pack new and took it on a quick weekend trip with about 32 lbs in it, and… Full review

Ozark Trail 28L Atka

rated 3 of 5 stars Handy in town on trails and for short hikes away from basecamp. It is an ultra lightweight daypack made from durable nylon fabric. Hydration-compatible, it is versatile and rugged. This backpack is ready for your next outdoor adventure. I bought this pack recently on a whim while shopping Walmart. I needed a day pack and didn't really have lots of time to search at REI for the various styles provided having only gone to one store. This daypack ended up being the cheapest after a quick perusal. Walmart… Full review

Gossamer Gear Mariposa Ultralight

rated 5 of 5 stars Semi-ultralight pack with lots of pockets. First, I'm not going to give you the specs. If you're interested in the pack you probably know all that. Thus my story. Long long ago in a far off national park I had my ass leveled backpacking. I had been packing with some guys on our level southern trails and was carrying over 50 lbs for a weekend, not a problem. You ask why the weight? 8 lb packs, 8 lb tents, propane stoves, you get the picture. Then we hit the mountains, what hell it was. I'm sure some… Full review

Outdoor Products Vortex 8.0

rated 2 of 5 stars Not for long term use. My husband uses this for taking his lunch and a few other things into the plant he works in. Before it was in use for a year, the middle zipper is broken and even after leaving voice messages and emails with the company, I have gotten no response to a warranty repair. The company has a lifetime warranty and does not seem to want to honor it. By the way, the middle zipper is the one he uses least. Full review

GoLite Peak Pack

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Buy one (if you can). I got it used for $30. This is the pack I take with me on short hikes. It is easy to convert so I mostly use this as a daypack, would not work for longer trips but works for an overnight camping. No problem on fishing trips with the family, takes all the gear without a problem. I got it used so I have no idea how much it had been used before I got it. I only had it for a few months but I hike quite a bit so it has seen some use. It seems durable. Backing a frameless pack… Full review

The North Face Terra 65

rated 4 of 5 stars Just a great back. It is a simple and comfortable. Just the perfect size for a week or two of the trail. I got it as a reserve pack, but I ended up using it more that my main pack. Well organized  Simple "not a lot of stuff that can go wrong" Easy to adjust  Comfortable. I had issues with shoulder straps but after a little getting used to and modification it works great.  It is a cheap pack that might surprise you. Full review

Arc'teryx Bora 95

rated 5 of 5 stars A tough, durable backpack designed to last forever! You can fit a vast volume of things in this backpack, so it's perfect for longer trips, i.e. not for ultralight backpacking. Conditions: I'm living in Ecuador, and have been working a couple of years in the jungle, making maps. The humidity is constantly high and the vegetation is pretty much always wet, there are thorns and sharp rocks everywhere, and the elevations differences lead to quite high falls. I routinely fall into mud and every now… Full review

Osprey Atmos 65 AG

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Combined with Osprey’s modern features like the removable lid, the “Stow-On-The-Go” trekking pole system, and the “Fit-On-The-Fly” hip belt, this pack can satisfy both the seasoned veteran and the beginning backpacker! Ridge-runners, weekend hikers, and lightweight thru-hikers can all make the most of the versatile Atmos 65 AG backpack. With a truly revolutionary “anti-gravity” (hence the “AG”) design, this ventilated backpack conforms to the wearer’s back, successfully transferring… Full review

Top-Rated Backpacks

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

user rating: 5 of 5 (12)
Osprey Kestrel 48 Overnight Pack
$169 - $179
user rating: 5 of 5 (12)
CamelBak Rim Runner Hydration Pack
$27 - $100
user rating: 5 of 5 (8)
ULA Equipment Catalyst Expedition Pack
$250
user rating: 5 of 5 (7)
CamelBak Cloud Walker Hydration Pack
$79 - $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
$118 - $179
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
Deuter Futura 32 Daypack
$145 - $149
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
Kelty Redwing 50 Weekend Pack
$90 - $124
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Granite Gear Round Rock Solid Compression Sack
$25 - $32
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Patagonia Atom Daypack
$37 - $49
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Gregory Baltoro 75 Expedition Pack
$255 - $349
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Deuter Aircontact 65+10 Weekend Pack
$215 - $269
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Osprey Talon 11 Daypack
$89
 
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
$30 - $44
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Gossamer Gear Gorilla Ultralight Overnight Pack
$200
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
$68 - $129
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
SealLine Pro Pack Dry Pack
$200
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Osprey Manta 36 Hydration Pack
$160
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Deuter ACT Trail 24 Daypack
$95 - $119
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Ultimate Direction PB Adventure Vest Hydration Pack
$160
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Kelty Red Cloud 110 Expedition Pack
$240
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (39)
Osprey Aether 70 Weekend Pack
$232 - $289
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (31)
Gregory Palisade 80 Expedition Pack
$238 - $318
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (28)
Osprey Atmos 65 Weekend Pack
$239 - $259
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (22)
Gregory Z55 Weekend Pack
$150 - $199
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (20)
Osprey Aether 60 Weekend Pack
$249 - $259
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (17)
CamelBak M.U.L.E. Hydration Pack
$99 - $109
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (17)
Gregory Whitney 95 Expedition Pack
$262 - $439
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (16)
Kelty Redwing 3100 Weekend Pack
$125
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
$231 - $289
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (13)
The North Face Big Shot Overnight Pack
$119
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (12)
Deuter ACT Lite 65+10 Weekend Pack
$167 - $209
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (11)
Kelty Super Tioga External Frame Backpack
$180
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (11)
Osprey Aether 85 Expedition Pack
$310
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (11)
REI Flash 18 Pack Daypack
$35
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (10)
Osprey Kestrel 38 Overnight Pack
$149 - $159
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (10)
Osprey Talon 22 Daypack
$75 - $99
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (9)
Gregory Baltoro 65 Weekend Pack
$230 - $348
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (9)
Gregory Z65 Weekend Pack
$180 - $239
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Granite Gear Leopard A.C. 58 Weekend Pack
$250
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Osprey UL Raincover Pack Cover
$20 - $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)
Outdoor Research Dry Peak Bagger Dry Pack
$69
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.