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

ULA Equipment
CamelBak
Osprey
Deuter
Kelty
Granite Gear
Patagonia
Sea to Summit
Arc'teryx
Hyperlite Mountain Gear

Genders

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

Kelty Oriole Lumbar/Hip Pack
$60
 
DaKine Stowaway 21L Daypack
$45
Mountain Hardwear Direttissima 50 Weekend Pack
$270
Marmot Kona Daypack
$43
Campmor Ultralight Vertical Compression Stuff Sack Compression Sack
$33
Nathan Elevation Hydration Pack
$160
Amphipod Profile-Lite 32 Lumbar/Hip Pack
$55
 
Marmot Lightning 28 Daypack
$329
VauDe Minimalist 15 Daypack
$30 - $84
Osprey Ellipse Daypack
$52 - $69
Oakley Method 540 Daypack
$75
The North Face Waterproof Daypack Daypack
$56 - $80
Exped Fold Drybag Endura 15 Dry Bag
$52
Aquapac Waterproof Case for iPad Dry Bag
$60
Black Diamond Elixir 45 Overnight Pack
$200
Fjallraven Kajka 100 Expedition Pack
$425
Arc'teryx Maka 2 Bag Lumbar/Hip Pack
$31 - $58
Innate Portal Travel Waist Pouch Dry Case/Pouch
$20
DaKine Mod 23L Daypack
$56
Mammut Heron Light 60+15 Weekend Pack
$200
Mammut Trion Tour 28+7 Winter Pack
$120
Seattle Sports Aquaknot Dry Pack
$84 - $93
Under Armour VX2-V Daypack
$115
Granite Gear Brimson Backpack Daypack
$40
Pacsafe VentureSafe 65L GII Weekend Pack
$227
Deuter Quantum 60+ 10 SL Weekend Pack
$269
JanSport Katahdin 40L Overnight Pack
$80
Pelican 1170 Case Waterproof Hard Case
$65
L.L.Bean Day Trekker Day Pack Daypack
$129
Osprey Tempest 20 Daypack
$100
Fjallraven Friluft Forest Pack Overnight Pack
$180
 
Alchemy Equipment 20L Softshell Daypack Daypack
$210
The North Face Inductor Charged Backpack Daypack
$229
Montane Ultra Tour 22L Pack Daypack
$110
Nathan IceStorm Insulated Waist Pak Lumbar/Hip Pack
$60
Patagonia Lightweight Travel Hip Pack 3L Lumbar/Hip Pack
$39
 
Mountainsmith Approach 25 Daypack
$90
Granite Gear Sawtooth Daypack Daypack
$49
Mammut Lithium Proof Daypack
$160
Deuter Airlite 26 SL Daypack
$119
 
High Sierra Passport Lumbar Pack Lumbar/Hip Pack
$16
 
Marmot Helm Daypack
$66 - $98
Dynafit Enduro 12 Hydration Pack
$90
Gregory Sula 28 Daypack
$129
Mystery Ranch Hooded Pack Fly Pack Cover
$65
Montane Medusa 32 Daypack
$111
L.L.Bean Cresta Day Pack Daypack
$90
Granite Gear Splitrock Daypack
$60
Equinox Python Ultralite Compression Stuff Bag Compression Sack
$33
 
Millet Trilogy 25 Winter Pack
$130
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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.