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 »


External Frame
Winter Packs
Hydration Packs
Front Packs
Lumbar/Hip Packs
Child Carriers
Dry Packs
Portage Packs
Rope Bags


ULA Equipment
Granite Gear
Sea to Summit




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

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Equinox Python Ultralite Compression Stuff Bag Compression Sack
Millet Trilogy 25 Winter Pack
Deuter Gravity Motion 45 Overnight Pack
Granite Gear eVent Sil DrySack Dry Bag
$21 - $29
Patagonia Black Hole Cube Pack Duffel
$29 - $39
CamelBak Sundowner LR 22 Hydration Pack
$159 - $160
Backcountry Access Float 22 Avalanche Airbag Pack
$80 - $499
Outdoor Research Isolation Pack Daypack
$45 - $47
Sea to Summit Mini Stuff Sack Stuff Sack
Osprey Viper 9 Hydration Pack
Kelty Journey 2.0 Child Carrier
Pacsafe Venturesafe 25L GII Daypack
$90 - $119
Thule Upslope 20L Winter Pack
$96 - $119
Osprey Dyna 1.5 Hydration Pack
Arva Picture Pro Pack Winter Pack
Aarn Mountain Magic 50L Overnight Pack
Ortovox Haute Route 32 Winter Pack
Deuter Wash Bag Lite Pack Pocket
Carhartt Legacy Standard Work Pack Daypack
Osprey Hi-Vis Raincover Pack Cover
$20 - $25
Lowe Alpine Prism 22 Daypack
Mammut Neon Element 22 Daypack
Cabela's Catch-All Gear Bag Pack Duffel
Cabela's Outfitter Zonz Woodlands Duffel Pack Duffel
Fjallraven Rucksack No. 21 Medium Daypack
$126 - $180
CamelBak FlashFlo LR Hydration Pack
$36 - $60
Deuter Aircontact Pro 70+15 Weekend Pack
The North Face Isabella Daypack
$50 - $85
Dry Pak Alligator Wallet Dry Case/Pouch
Gregory J 38 Overnight Pack
$116 - $133
EMS Sector 28 Daypack
Granite Gear Exo-Lite Belt Backpack Accessory
High Sierra Rappel 50 Weekend Pack
Topo Designs Rover Pack Daypack
Deuter Gravity Expedition 45 Overnight Pack
Deuter Zugspitze 22 SL Daypack
Duluth Scoutmaster Pack Daypack
Cabela's Merritt 14L Hydration Pack Hydration Pack
Beal Combi Crag Pack Rope Bag
Mountainsmith Mystic 65 Weekend Pack
Mountainsmith Lariat 55 Weekend Pack
$176 - $219
Exped Serac 35 Overnight Pack
The North Face Pivoter Daypack
$47 - $79
Arc'teryx Carrier Duffel 40 Pack Duffel
$140 - $147
Boreas Gear Modular Super-Tramp Suspension Backpack Accessory
Lowe Alpine Eclipse ND42:52 Overnight Pack
Deuter Guide 30+SL Daypack
L.L.Bean Wirefly Backpack Daypack
Mammut Togir Rope Bag Rope Bag
$31 - $44
Marmot Sidecountry 22 Winter Pack
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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.


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.