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
Osprey
Equinox
Sea to Summit
Patagonia

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

CamelBak Arete 18
CamelBak
Arete 18
Hydration Pack
$64 - $65
VauDe Gravit 10+3
VauDe
Gravit 10+3
Daypack
$100
Deuter Cargo Bag EXP
Deuter
Cargo Bag EXP
Pack Duffel
$59
Nathan Zelos 2L
Nathan
Zelos 2L
Hydration Pack
$125
DaKine Mission Blackout 25L
DaKine
Mission Blackout 25L
Winter Pack
$52 - $59
Trango Cord Trapper Rope Tarp
Trango
Cord Trapper Rope Tarp
Rope Bag
$16
Outdoor Research Mesh Ditty Sacks
Outdoor Research
Mesh Ditty Sacks
Stuff Sack
$25
Arc'teryx Chilcotin 20
Arc'teryx
Chilcotin 20
Hydration Pack
$149
Gregory Sage 45 Pack
Gregory
Sage 45 Pack
Overnight Pack
$145 - $189
Mountain Hardwear Nalu 60
Mountain Hardwear
Nalu 60
Weekend Pack
$230
Gregory Baltoro 42
Gregory
Baltoro 42
Winter Pack
$135
Arc'teryx Altra 65 LT
Arc'teryx
Altra 65 LT
Weekend Pack
$449
Black Diamond Burn Pack
Black Diamond
Burn Pack
Daypack
$95 - $96
Osprey Mutant 38
Osprey
Mutant 38
Overnight Pack
$136 - $159
Deuter VQ Shoulder Straps
Deuter
VQ Shoulder Straps
Backpack Accessory
$25
Salomon XR Sensibelt
Salomon
XR Sensibelt
Lumbar/Hip Pack
$30 - $54
DaKine Classic Hip Pack
DaKine
Classic Hip Pack
Lumbar/Hip Pack
$16
Mammut Xera Shake
Mammut
Xera Shake
Daypack
$90 - $99
Lowe Alpine Nanon ND 35:40
Lowe Alpine
Nanon ND 35:40
Overnight Pack
$115
Nathan HPL #020 Race Vest
Nathan
HPL #020 Race Vest
Hydration Pack
$80 - $100
DaKine Atlas 25L
DaKine
Atlas 25L
Daypack
$27 - $44
Geigerrig Rig 1200
Geigerrig
Rig 1200
Hydration Pack
$149
Lowe Alpine Expedition 75:95
Lowe Alpine
Expedition 75:95
Weekend Pack
$315
Montane Cobra 25
Montane
Cobra 25
Daypack
$87 - $90
High Sierra Solo
High Sierra
Solo
Lumbar/Hip Pack
$28
Outdoor Research Antimatter Pack
Outdoor Research
Antimatter Pack
Daypack
$75
Roxy Grand Thoughts Backpack
Roxy
Grand Thoughts Backpack
Daypack
$45
Osprey Verve 7
Osprey
Verve 7
Hydration Pack
$74
Coghlan's Bottle Carrier
Coghlan's
Bottle Carrier
Sling/Strap
$4
Mountain Hardwear Wandrin 32
Mountain Hardwear
Wandrin 32
Overnight Pack
$92 - $185
CAMP Rox
CAMP
Rox
Overnight Pack
$50 - $109
High Sierra Lightning 35
High Sierra
Lightning 35
Overnight Pack
$73 - $99
Fjallraven Rucksack No. 21
Fjallraven
Rucksack No. 21
Daypack
$150 - $175
Granite Gear Hiker Wallet
Granite Gear
Hiker Wallet
Pack Pocket
$6
Gregory Targhee 32
Gregory
Targhee 32
Winter Pack
$134 - $178
Mile High Mountaineering Salute 34
Mile High Mountaineering
Salute 34
Overnight Pack
$215 - $229
Lowe Alpine AirZone Centro ND 33+10
Lowe Alpine
AirZone Centro ND 33+10
Overnight Pack
$100
Deuter Kid Comfort Air
Deuter
Kid Comfort Air
Child Carrier
$213 - $239
The North Face Base Camp Free Fall
The North Face
Base Camp Free Fall
Daypack
$60
Mammut Trion Light 40
Mammut
Trion Light 40
Overnight Pack
$220
Kelty Marmalard
Kelty
Marmalard
Daypack
$50 - $74
DaKine Mission Photo
DaKine
Mission Photo
Daypack
$105
Nathan Zeal 2L
Nathan
Zeal 2L
Hydration Pack
$125
REI Mesh Stuff Sack
REI
Mesh Stuff Sack
Stuff Sack
$7 - $14
Gregory Sketch 25
Gregory
Sketch 25
Daypack
$119
 
Terra Nova
Ultra 20
Daypack
$121
Lowe Alpine Eclipse ND14
Lowe Alpine
Eclipse ND14
Daypack
$100
Tubbs Snowshoe Pack
Tubbs
Snowshoe Pack
Winter Pack
$25 - $35
Mountain Hardwear Snowtastic 18 Backpack
Mountain Hardwear
Snowtastic 18 Backpack
Winter Pack
$75 - $100
Osprey Kode 32
Osprey
Kode 32
Winter Pack
$149 - $152
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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.