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
Osprey
Equinox
Sea to Summit
Patagonia

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

Top-Rated Backpacks

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

Black Diamond Onyx 75
Black Diamond
Onyx 75
Expedition Pack
$261 - $289
Osprey Pixel
Osprey
Pixel
Daypack
$112 - $139
Black Diamond Bandit AvaLung Package
Black Diamond
Bandit AvaLung Package
Winter Pack
$290
Mammut Neon Light
Mammut
Neon Light
Daypack
$70
Arc'teryx Miura 45
Arc'teryx
Miura 45
Overnight Pack
$229
Mountain Hardwear Escalante Backpack
Mountain Hardwear
Escalante Backpack
Daypack
$63 - $79
Millet Ubic 40
Millet
Ubic 40
Overnight Pack
$160
The North Face Cinder Pack 55
The North Face
Cinder Pack 55
Weekend Pack
$149
DaKine Apollo 30L
DaKine
Apollo 30L
Daypack
$100
Deuter AC Lite 22
Deuter
AC Lite 22
Daypack
$71 - $99
Mammut Ride Short Removable Airbag
Mammut
Ride Short Removable Airbag
Avalanche Airbag Pack
$420 - $489
Burton Emphasis Pack
Burton
Emphasis Pack
Daypack
$30
Kelty TC Sun/Rain Hood
Kelty
TC Sun/Rain Hood
Child Carrier Accessory
$26 - $34
Granite Gear DrySack
Granite Gear
DrySack
Stuff Sack
$10 - $25
Advanced Base Camp Black Box Rope Bag
Advanced Base Camp
Black Box Rope Bag
Rope Bag
$8
Outdoor Research Accessory Straps
Outdoor Research
Accessory Straps
Backpack Accessory
$9
Salomon Trail 20
Salomon
Trail 20
Daypack
$75 - $99
The North Face Patrol 34 Pack
The North Face
Patrol 34 Pack
Winter Pack
$170
Deuter Futura 20 SL
Deuter
Futura 20 SL
Daypack
$79 - $99
Marmot Sphinx 15
Marmot
Sphinx 15
Daypack
$65 - $73
Geigerrig Rig 500
Geigerrig
Rig 500
Hydration Pack
$122
Patagonia Special Edition Summit Pack
Patagonia
Special Edition Summit Pack
Daypack
$99
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Summit Pack
Hyperlite Mountain Gear
Summit Pack
Daypack
$155
High Sierra Mayhem Daypack
High Sierra
Mayhem Daypack
Daypack
$49
JanSport Ashland
JanSport
Ashland
Lumbar/Hip Pack
$19 - $25
NRS Whitewater Kayak Sherpa
NRS
Whitewater Kayak Sherpa
Portage Pack
$80
Sierra Designs Summit Sack
Sierra Designs
Summit Sack
Daypack
$36 - $42
CamelBak Molokai Hydration Pack
CamelBak
Molokai Hydration Pack
Hydration Pack
$74 - $100
ABS Zip-On Vario 15
ABS
Zip-On Vario 15
Avalanche Airbag Pack
$62
EMS Ridgeline Waist Pack
EMS
Ridgeline Waist Pack
Lumbar/Hip Pack
$37
Mountainsmith Borealis AT
Mountainsmith
Borealis AT
Daypack
$142
Outdoor Research Dry Synthetic Backpackers Kit
Outdoor Research
Dry Synthetic Backpackers Kit
Compression Sack
$64
VauDe Tecographic 23
VauDe
Tecographic 23
Daypack
$90
Boreas Gear Topaz 25
Boreas Gear
Topaz 25
Daypack
$44
Deuter Futura Pro 36
Deuter
Futura Pro 36
Overnight Pack
$124 - $155
Mountain Hardwear Agami Backpack
Mountain Hardwear
Agami Backpack
Daypack
$74 - $99
JanSport Prepster
JanSport
Prepster
Daypack
$28 - $29
Grivel Marbrees 30
Grivel
Marbrees 30
Daypack
$120
Deuter Compact EXP 10
Deuter
Compact EXP 10
Hydration Pack
$100 - $125
Gregory Border 35 L Pack
Gregory
Border 35 L Pack
Overnight Pack
$179
Mountainsmith Tour FX
Mountainsmith
Tour FX
Lumbar/Hip Pack
$79 - $89
Osprey Transporter 40
Osprey
Transporter 40
Overnight Pack
$70
Kelty Oriole
Kelty
Oriole
Lumbar/Hip Pack
$45 - $59
Arc'teryx Blade 15
Arc'teryx
Blade 15
Daypack
$159
Mountain Hardwear Direttissima 50
Mountain Hardwear
Direttissima 50
Weekend Pack
$169 - $240
DaKine Heli Pro 18L
DaKine
Heli Pro 18L
Winter Pack
$59 - $89
Nathan Elevation
Nathan
Elevation
Hydration Pack
$150
The North Face Waterproof Daypack
The North Face
Waterproof Daypack
Daypack
$80
Black Diamond Elixir 45
Black Diamond
Elixir 45
Overnight Pack
$200
Arc'teryx Maka 2 Bag
Arc'teryx
Maka 2 Bag
Lumbar/Hip Pack
$45
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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.