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

Mile High Mountaineering MHM Salute 34 Daypack

rated 4.5 of 5 stars This daypack has many features that give you the versatility to store your gear in many configurations for your next adventure. If this is your first pack I would think hard about buying it, I feel this pack is not for everyone.  I like to bushwhack and follow animal trails which sometimes have limited space areas, this pack has very strong material but at the cost of weight, but I don’t have the fear of knocking shoulder strap off. This pack gives me the ability to care want is needed on my… Full review

Millet Radikal 32

rated 5 of 5 stars Great little climbing pack. Enough room to spend a night out rough and to bring all your toys with. Stable enough for climbing and biking while fully loaded. I've used this pack for everything from day hikes to overnights. It's meant for winter activities and that's where it excelled. It has all the bells and whistles for climbing and back country skiing. I don't ski at all so I can't tell you how the ski carry options worked but if they work as well as the other special features then I would say… Full review

Kelty Men's Impact 30

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Great pack for long day hikes. I use this pack for all day hikes. I also use it for all my winter hiking/snowshoeing trips. The panel loading is great for stuffing bulky items like winter layers and such. The suspension really transfers the load to your hips and keeps your back cool. The waist belt pockets are large enough for a small camera (or cell phone) and energy bars. The map pocket is nice too. The sleeping bag compartment is way too small for my summer bag but I use it for my emergency kit,… Full review

Lowe Alpine Contour IV

rated 5 of 5 stars Have used on numerous treks in all seasons. Multiple adjustment strap system, built-in yoke strap, and padded waist belt were the convincing points for purchase in early 1990s for a tall, narrow waist male. Bought the Alpine IV in early 1990s, has been used in multiple treks, trips on weekends and summer. Holds as much as you want it to, sometimes too much. Chose this pack for its stability factor and ability to adjust various straps (belt, should) to ventilate or adjust CG while descending or ascending… Full review

Osprey Poco

rated 5 of 5 stars This product is well made with great supporting accessories. There are too many child carriers that are made for a stroll in the parking lot to the trailhead and back to the vehicle. Once parents or grandparents leave that parking lot it is critical that the equipment used provide the additional safety and protection needed in the outdoors. Of course it is also critical that the unit be comfortable for both the youngster being carried and the adult doing the carrying. Previous to having children… Full review

Deuter Futura 24 SL

rated 3.5 of 5 stars Cómodo para caminar en trayectos donde la temperatura es muy alta. [Comfortable for walking on paths where the temperature is very high.] I also have the Future 20. As option for bigger trips more days I bought this backpack to make an excursion three holidays in my beloved country Colombia. After use of the backpack I can say the following: 1. Like its companion (Future 20 liters) is very comfortable to walk and allows for ventilation, which is observed in the trips made with higher climes to… Full review

REI Morning Star 75

rated 4.5 of 5 stars It holds a lot and the top cap can be used as a basic summit bag. Little heavy, but has zippered body divider that I used to stash my shoes or dirty clothes in the bottom. Used it for a weeklong trip with my girlfriend in the Blue Ridge Mountain parks and it held all of the stuff we needed and then some. Long enough for tent poles and felt fine most of the time hiking. Was a little bigger than needed, but if you're going for a short trek and want to have some comfort gear then this pack will hold… Full review

Lowe Alpine Contour IV

rated 5 of 5 stars Durable, stable, comfortable, durable, easily adjustable (older version, not the new one). Bought the old one barely used maybe 20 years ago. Used to go to the Alps every year. Never had a single thing break on it but the waterproofing died years ago. Looked at all the new ones last year, probably some that were better, ended up getting another Contour IV (much newer model) barely used for $45 this fall. Added a homemade double loop thumbstrap to the sternum strap so I'd have a place to hook my… Full review

Swaygo Push Pack

rated 5 of 5 stars The Push Pack by Swaygo is a completely waterproof, nearly indestructible day pack that proves once again that anything big companies can do, cottage manufacturers can do better. The Push is ideal for cavers, canyoneers, white water rafters, and anyone in need of a durable, waterproof pack. A recent article in Outside Magazine inspired this review. Outside ranked the “best” waterproof packs. Swaygo's line were not included in the list—cottage vendors are rarely acknowledged by trendy mags. 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
$63 - $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 - $179
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
Deuter Futura 32 Daypack
$145 - $149
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
$25
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Patagonia Atom Daypack
$37 - $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
$244 - $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 - $119
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Ultimate Direction PB Adventure Vest Hydration Pack
$160
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (36)
Osprey Aether 70 Weekend Pack
$241 - $290
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
$186 - $249
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (21)
Gregory Z55 Weekend Pack
$167 - $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
$75 - $100
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (17)
Gregory Whitney 95 Expedition Pack
$307 - $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
$139 - $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
$181 - $259
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Granite Gear Leopard A.C. 58 Weekend Pack
$175 - $249
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Osprey UL Raincover Pack Cover
$17 - $39
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Deuter Futura Pro 34 SL Overnight Pack
$149 - $159
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 - $84
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.