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 »

Category

Daypacks
Overnight
Weekend
Expedition
External Frame
Winter Packs
Hydration Packs
Front Packs
Lumbar/Hip Packs
Child Carriers
Dry Packs
Portage Packs
Rope Bags
Accessories

Brand

ULA Equipment
CamelBak
Osprey
Deuter
Granite Gear
Patagonia
Equinox
Sea to Summit
Hyperlite Mountain Gear
SealLine

User

Unisex
Men's
Women's
Kids'
Girls'

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

Top-Rated Backpacks

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

Ortovox Haute Route 32 Winter Pack
$170
Osprey Hi-Vis Raincover Pack Cover
$20 - $25
Lowe Alpine Prism 22 Daypack
$50
Cabela's Catch-All Gear Bag Pack Duffel
$13
Fjallraven Rucksack No. 21 Medium Daypack
$175
Fjallraven Abisko 75 Expedition Pack
$270
CamelBak FlashFlo LR Hydration Pack
$39 - $59
The North Face Isabella Daypack
$85
Dry Pak Alligator Wallet Dry Case/Pouch
$9
Gregory J 38 Overnight Pack
$97 - $121
Deuter Gravity Expedition 45 Overnight Pack
$140
Deuter Zugspitze 22 SL Daypack
$119 - $120
Mountainsmith Lariat 55 Weekend Pack
$165 - $219
Exped Serac 35 Overnight Pack
$189
Osprey Eja 58 Weekend Pack
$220
The North Face Pivoter Daypack
$79
Arc'teryx Carrier Duffel 40 Pack Duffel
$175
L.L.Bean Wirefly Backpack Daypack
$100
Mammut Togir Rope Bag Rope Bag
$36
Aquapac Small VHF Pro Case Dry Case/Pouch
$53 - $64
Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta Hydration Pack
$88 - $100
Equinox Bilby Mesh Stuff Bag Stuff Sack
$7 - $14
Black Diamond Mission 75 Expedition Pack
$240
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Compression Dry Sack Dry Bag
$30 - $49
Deuter StepOut 16 Daypack
$44
Osprey Skarab 18 Daypack
$80
NRS MightyLight Dry Sack Dry Bag
$20 - $24
Ultimate Direction PB Adventure Vest 2.0 Hydration Pack
$110
Deuter Aircontact 70+10 SL Weekend Pack
$299 - $300
Arc'teryx Sebring 25 Pack Daypack
$139
UltrAspire Revolt Vest Hydration Pack
$64
Osprey Ariel AG 65 Weekend Pack
$310
Black Diamond Speed 50 Weekend Pack
$190
EMS Long Trail 60 Weekend Pack
$229
Arc'teryx Maka 1 Bag Lumbar/Hip Pack
$35 - $49
Platypus Tokul X.C. 5.0 Hydration Pack
$67 - $89
Granite Gear Go and Stow Travel Pack Daypack
$60
Gregory Contour 70 Weekend Pack
$185
Hyperlite Mountain Gear 4400 Ice Pack Winter Pack
$380
Osprey Eja 48 Overnight Pack
$200
The North Face Base Camp Travel Canister Stuff Sack
$34
Black Diamond Mercury 65 Weekend Pack
$148 - $269
Osprey Perigee Daypack
$63 - $90
SealLine See Pouch Dry Case/Pouch
$10 - $14
High Sierra Explorer 50 Weekend Pack
$80
Patagonia Tres Pack 25L Daypack
$129
Boreas Gear Tsum Trek Weekend Pack
$169
Aire Waterproof Kayak Cargo Hold Dry Bag
$169
NRS Outfitter Dry Bag Dry Bag
$90 - $109
Deuter Freerider Lite 25 Daypack / Winter Pack
$119 - $120
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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.