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

Top-Rated Backpacks

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

Aquapac MP3 Case + Headphones Dry Case/Pouch
$70
SealLine Seal Pak Dry Bag
$48
Geigerrig Rig 500 Hydration Pack
$122
Aquapac Stormproof Padded Drybag Dry Bag
$63
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Summit Pack Daypack
$175
JanSport Ashland Lumbar/Hip Pack
$25
NRS Whitewater Kayak Sherpa Portage Pack
$80
CamelBak Molokai Hydration Pack Hydration Pack
$99 - $100
The North Face Litus 32 Daypack
$90 - $129
Outdoor Research Dry Synthetic Backpackers Kit Compression Sack
$64
Roxy Drive Out Backpack Daypack
$52
Dynafit Cho Oyu 35 Winter Pack
$160
Boreas Gear Topaz 25 Daypack
$55
Hummingbird E-Reader Case Dry Case/Pouch
$32
Deuter Futura Pro 36 Overnight Pack
$127 - $159
Kelty Catalyst 80 Expedition Pack
$200
Mountain Hardwear Agami Backpack Daypack
$66 - $69
Burton Focus Pack Daypack
$190
REI Daysack Pack Daypack
$45 - $47
ABS Vario 40 Backpack Avalanche Airbag Pack
$525
Mountainsmith Tour FX Lumbar/Hip Pack
$100
Marmot Ledge Backpack Daypack
$82
Osprey Transporter 40 Overnight Pack
$70
Kelty Oriole Lumbar/Hip Pack
$35 - $59
Arc'teryx Blade 15 Daypack
$143
 
DaKine Stowaway 21L Daypack
$45
Mountain Hardwear Direttissima 50 Weekend Pack
$135 - $270
DaKine Heli Pro 18L Winter Pack
$54 - $69
Marmot Kona Daypack
$62
Campmor Ultralight Vertical Compression Stuff Sack Compression Sack
$33
Nathan Elevation Hydration Pack
$97 - $160
Amphipod Profile-Lite 32 Lumbar/Hip Pack
$38
Oakley Method 540 Daypack
$75
The North Face Waterproof Daypack Daypack
$55 - $80
Aquapac Waterproof Case for iPad Dry Bag
$55 - $59
Black Diamond Elixir 45 Overnight Pack
$140 - $199
Fjallraven Kajka 100 Expedition Pack
$300 - $424
Arc'teryx Maka 2 Bag Lumbar/Hip Pack
$45
Innate Portal Travel Waist Pouch Dry Case/Pouch
$20
DaKine Mod 23L Daypack
$56
The North Face Zealot/ La Loba Shoulder Harness Backpack Accessory
$45
Mountainsmith Laurel Overnight Pack
$135
Mammut Heron Light 60+15 Weekend Pack
$195
Granite Gear Armored Pocket Pack Pocket
$12 - $24
Seattle Sports Aquaknot Dry Pack
$66 - $88
Black Diamond Covert AvaLung Winter Pack
$156 - $180
Under Armour VX2-V Daypack
$115
Granite Gear Brimson Backpack Daypack
$40
Pacsafe VentureSafe 65L GII Weekend Pack
$324
Deuter Quantum 60+ 10 SL Weekend Pack
$269
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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.