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
Patagonia
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

Top-Rated Backpacks

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

Montane Medusa 32 Daypack
$139
Equinox Python Ultralite Compression Stuff Bag Compression Sack
$33
Deuter Speed Lite 20 Daypack
$74 - $89
Backcountry Access Float 22 Avalanche Airbag Pack
$467 - $499
Sea to Summit Mini Stuff Sack Stuff Sack
$22
Osprey Viper 9 Hydration Pack
$100
ABS Zip-On Vario 8 Ultralight Avalanche Airbag Pack
$64
Kelty Journey 2.0 Child Carrier
$208 - $259
Osprey Spin 32 Daypack
$150
Lowe Alpine Fjell Runner Lumbar/Hip Pack
$24 - $25
Pacsafe Venturesafe 25L GII Daypack
$135
Aarn Mountain Magic 50L Overnight Pack
$249
Carhartt Legacy Standard Work Pack Daypack
$60
Pieps Myotis Winter Pack
$130
Osprey Hi-Vis Raincover Pack Cover
$20 - $23
Mammut Neon Element 22 Daypack
$42 - $59
VauDe Gomera 18 Daypack
$70
Mammut Niva Ride Winter Pack
$150
Hydrapak Bishop EXT Hydration Pack
$90
Mile High Mountaineering Compression Stackers Compression Sack
$28
CamelBak FlashFlo LR Hydration Pack
$39 - $57
REI Pillow Stuff Sacks Stuff Sack
$14
Mammut Pro Removable Airbag Avalanche Airbag Pack
$584 - $749
Gregory J 38 Overnight Pack
$179
Mile High Mountaineering Snack Stacker Stuff Sack
$48
Granite Gear Exo-Lite Belt Backpack Accessory
$47
ABS Zip-On SB 15 Avalanche Airbag Pack
$110
Osprey Ozone Day Pack Daypack
$90 - $99
The North Face Torrent 8 Pack Hydration Pack
$88 - $110
Mountainsmith Mystic 65 Weekend Pack
$176 - $219
Deuter Guide 30+SL Daypack
$159
Mammut Togir Rope Bag Rope Bag
$45
Marmot Sidecountry 22 Winter Pack
$129
The North Face Rhyolite Backpack Daypack
$79
DaKine Finley 25L Daypack
$27
Bergans Hodlekve 15L Winter Pack
$109
Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta Hydration Pack
$125
Backcountry Access Float 30 Avalanche Airbag Pack
$524
Mountain Hardwear Shaka Shoulder Straps Sling/Strap
$28 - $42
Black Diamond Mission 75 Expedition Pack
$216 - $239
Osprey Zealot 10 Hydration Pack
$97 - $130
Fjallraven Vintage 20 Pack Daypack
$120
Arc'teryx Altra 85 AR Expedition Pack
$374 - $498
Deuter Aircontact 70+10 SL Weekend Pack
$289
Arc'teryx Sebring 25 Pack Daypack
$139
Gregory Aspen 30 Pack Daypack
$112
EMS Cirque Overnight Pack
$103
EMS Long Trail 60 Weekend Pack
$143
DaKine Blade Winter Pack
$162 - $180
Arc'teryx Maka 1 Bag Lumbar/Hip Pack
$39
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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.