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

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
$150 - $199
Fjallraven Kajka 100
Fjallraven
Kajka 100
Expedition Pack
$425
Arc'teryx Maka 2 Bag
Arc'teryx
Maka 2 Bag
Lumbar/Hip Pack
$45
DaKine Mod 23L
DaKine
Mod 23L
Daypack
$80
Mountainsmith Laurel
Mountainsmith
Laurel
Overnight Pack
$135
Granite Gear Armored Pocket
Granite Gear
Armored Pocket
Pack Pocket
$18 - $24
Black Diamond Covert AvaLung
Black Diamond
Covert AvaLung
Winter Pack
$148 - $259
Aarn Expedition Balance Pockets
Aarn
Expedition Balance Pockets
Front Pack
$74
Pacsafe VentureSafe 65L GII
Pacsafe
VentureSafe 65L GII
Weekend Pack
$325
JanSport Katahdin 40L
JanSport
Katahdin 40L
Overnight Pack
$64
Lowe Alpine Mountain Attack 35:45
Lowe Alpine
Mountain Attack 35:45
Overnight Pack
$175
DaKine Burnside 28L
DaKine
Burnside 28L
Daypack
$38
Osprey Tempest 20
Osprey
Tempest 20
Daypack
$100
Fjallraven Friluft Forest Pack
Fjallraven
Friluft Forest Pack
Overnight Pack
$175
Montane Ultra Tour 22L Pack
Montane
Ultra Tour 22L Pack
Daypack
$110
Eagle Creek Mountain Valley Backpack
Eagle Creek
Mountain Valley Backpack
Daypack
$70 - $100
Granite Gear Sawtooth Daypack
Granite Gear
Sawtooth Daypack
Daypack
$63
Granite Gear White Pine
Granite Gear
White Pine
Lumbar/Hip Pack
$44 - $72
JanSport Growler
JanSport
Growler
Daypack
$55 - $85
Montane Medusa 32
Montane
Medusa 32
Daypack
$139
Equinox Python Ultralite Compression Stuff Bag
Equinox
Python Ultralite Compression Stuff Bag
Compression Sack
$25 - $32
Deuter Speed Lite 20
Deuter
Speed Lite 20
Daypack
$89 - $99
Mountain Hardwear Intention 65
Mountain Hardwear
Intention 65
Weekend Pack
$295
Backcountry Access Float 22
Backcountry Access
Float 22
Avalanche Airbag Pack
$500
 
Sea to Summit
Mini Stuff Sack
Stuff Sack
$22
Osprey Viper 9
Osprey
Viper 9
Hydration Pack
$70 - $100
VauDe Terkum II 55+10
VauDe
Terkum II 55+10
Weekend Pack
$170
ABS Zip-On Vario 8 Ultralight
ABS
Zip-On Vario 8 Ultralight
Avalanche Airbag Pack
$64
Kelty Journey 2.0
Kelty
Journey 2.0
Child Carrier
$259
Osprey Spin 32
Osprey
Spin 32
Daypack
$150
Lowe Alpine Fjell Runner
Lowe Alpine
Fjell Runner
Lumbar/Hip Pack
$35
Pacsafe Venturesafe 25L GII
Pacsafe
Venturesafe 25L GII
Daypack
$121 - $135
Aarn Mountain Magic 50L
Aarn
Mountain Magic 50L
Overnight Pack
$274
Pieps Myotis
Pieps
Myotis
Winter Pack
$130
Osprey Hi-Vis Raincover
Osprey
Hi-Vis Raincover
Pack Cover
$20 - $23
ALPS Mountaineering Solitude
ALPS Mountaineering
Solitude
Overnight Pack
$78
Mammut Neon Element 22
Mammut
Neon Element 22
Daypack
$45 - $59
VauDe Gomera 18
VauDe
Gomera 18
Daypack
$95
Mammut Niva Ride
Mammut
Niva Ride
Winter Pack
$91 - $149
Hydrapak Bishop EXT
Hydrapak
Bishop EXT
Hydration Pack
$90
Salomon Synapse 15
Salomon
Synapse 15
Hydration Pack
$125
Kelty Flyway 43
Kelty
Flyway 43
Overnight Pack
$135
Fjallraven Abisko 75
Fjallraven
Abisko 75
Expedition Pack
$290
Mile High Mountaineering Compression Stackers
Mile High Mountaineering
Compression Stackers
Compression Sack
$28
CamelBak FlashFlo LR
CamelBak
FlashFlo LR
Hydration Pack
$55 - $57
REI Pillow Stuff Sacks
REI
Pillow Stuff Sacks
Stuff Sack
$14
Mammut Pro Removable Airbag
Mammut
Pro Removable Airbag
Avalanche Airbag Pack
$730 - $749
The North Face Isabella
The North Face
Isabella
Daypack
$85
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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.