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

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
$60
Mammut Niva Ride
Mammut
Niva Ride
Winter Pack
$91 - $139
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
$511 - $749
Gregory J 38
Gregory
J 38
Overnight Pack
$179
Mile High Mountaineering Snack Stacker
Mile High Mountaineering
Snack Stacker
Stuff Sack
$48
Granite Gear Exo-Lite Belt
Granite Gear
Exo-Lite Belt
Backpack Accessory
$47
ABS Zip-On SB 15
ABS
Zip-On SB 15
Avalanche Airbag Pack
$110
Osprey Ozone Day Pack
Osprey
Ozone Day Pack
Daypack
$70 - $99
The North Face Torrent 8 Pack
The North Face
Torrent 8 Pack
Hydration Pack
$110
Mountainsmith Mystic 65
Mountainsmith
Mystic 65
Weekend Pack
$220
Deuter Guide 30+SL
Deuter
Guide 30+SL
Daypack
$159
Mammut Togir Rope Bag
Mammut
Togir Rope Bag
Rope Bag
$45
Marmot Sidecountry 22
Marmot
Sidecountry 22
Winter Pack
$103 - $128
The North Face Rhyolite Backpack
The North Face
Rhyolite Backpack
Daypack
$79
DaKine Finley 25L
DaKine
Finley 25L
Daypack
$25
Bergans Hodlekve 15L
Bergans
Hodlekve 15L
Winter Pack
$109
Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta
Ultimate Direction
Ultra Vesta
Hydration Pack
$125
Backcountry Access Float 30
Backcountry Access
Float 30
Avalanche Airbag Pack
$524
Millet Steep 20
Millet
Steep 20
Winter Pack
$96
Equinox Bilby Mesh Stuff Bag
Equinox
Bilby Mesh Stuff Bag
Stuff Sack
$7
Mountain Hardwear Shaka Shoulder Straps
Mountain Hardwear
Shaka Shoulder Straps
Sling/Strap
$28 - $42
 
Geigerrig
Rig 1210
Hydration Pack
$146
Black Diamond Mission 75
Black Diamond
Mission 75
Expedition Pack
$240
Osprey Zealot 10
Osprey
Zealot 10
Hydration Pack
$130
Fjallraven Vintage 20 Pack
Fjallraven
Vintage 20 Pack
Daypack
$120
Arc'teryx Altra 85 AR
Arc'teryx
Altra 85 AR
Expedition Pack
$499
Deuter Aircontact 70+10 SL
Deuter
Aircontact 70+10 SL
Weekend Pack
$289
Arc'teryx Sebring 25 Pack
Arc'teryx
Sebring 25 Pack
Daypack
$139
Millet Steep 27
Millet
Steep 27
Winter Pack
$120
Gregory Aspen 30 Pack
Gregory
Aspen 30 Pack
Daypack
$149
EMS Cirque
EMS
Cirque
Overnight Pack
$103
EMS Long Trail 60
EMS
Long Trail 60
Weekend Pack
$179
DaKine Blade
DaKine
Blade
Winter Pack
$180
Arc'teryx Maka 1 Bag
Arc'teryx
Maka 1 Bag
Lumbar/Hip Pack
$39
Black Diamond Speed 55
Black Diamond
Speed 55
Weekend Pack
$161 - $189
Platypus Tokul X.C. 5.0
Platypus
Tokul X.C. 5.0
Hydration Pack
$60 - $79
Granite Gear Go and Stow Travel Pack
Granite Gear
Go and Stow Travel Pack
Daypack
$60
REI Stoke 29 Pack
REI
Stoke 29 Pack
Daypack
$69
Arc'teryx Pyxis 18
Arc'teryx
Pyxis 18
Daypack
$80 - $86
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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.