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

Deuter ACT Lite 65+10

rated 5 of 5 stars Lightweight, large capacity pack that's good for a week or a weekend. First and foremost, this pack is comfortable!  Deuter's Aircontact system provides great ventilation for your back and the foam padding on the hip belt and shoulder straps is very comfortable and breathable. And, at just over 4 pounds, the ACT Lite is lightweight while sacrificing nothing in quality or comfort. I also have Deuter's Aircontact 75+10 pack and have reviewed it too.  While the 75+10 has multiple lash points… Full review

Deuter ACT Lite 65+10

rated 5 of 5 stars This is a great lightweight pack that is extraordinarily strong as well. Took this on a fifty miler to break it in and it performed exceptionally. Had it fitted at the shop for my son who packed it on the fifty. Hip belts and should straps were comfortable and fit well. It carried everything he needed for a five-day backpacking trek without using the additional space. Load was well distributed and everything worked in harmony. This is a great pack that is well built and durable. It worked well in… Full review

Granite Gear Virga 2

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Minimalist, lightweight, quite comfortable, great for backcountry tips of one to several days and nights knowing that it is necessary to pack light. Even though this is advertised as a men's backpack, as a woman who backpacks alone, I need to carry as much as possible lightly. This pack fit my medium frame and height as well. Everything adjusts to fit, and the chest support can be adjusted to fit across correctly. I find with other men's packs, this strap hits in the wrong area, so when needed,… Full review

REI Trekker Wonderland

rated 5 of 5 stars Best pack by far that I have ever had! All kinds of room for organizing your gear for easy access on the trail. The Wonderland is very easy to adjust for a comfortable fit, easy to adjust on the fly when the trail goes from a climb to a descent. This pack is my favorite that I have every used. Bought it brand new at the R.E.I. in Seattle over 20 years ago and it is still in like new condition even with the abuse that I have put it through. Only question I have after reading all of these reviews… Full review

Osprey Atmos 65

rated 5 of 5 stars Excellent pack, very lightweight and comfortable. Great for weekend or PCT. I've been on 5 trips with this pack and overall was very pleased with my purchase of this pack. It is a good mix of weight, size, and construction. The area I traveled to required bear canisters and mine fit sideways into the pack no problem, which was a major plus. It has sufficient exterior pockets, and the sleeping bag compartment is good size and able to fit my down fill bag with ease! I have not tried a synthetic but… Full review

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

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
$45 - $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 (29)
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 (14)
Deuter ACT Lite 65+10 Weekend Pack
$167 - $209
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 (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.