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 »


Internal Frame
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

Sort by: name | rating | price | availability | recently reviewed

Marmot Sidecountry 22 Winter Pack
Marmot Kontract 6 Hydration Pack
$55 - $69
The North Face Rhyolite Backpack Daypack
Aquapac Small VHF Pro Case Dry Case/Pouch
$55 - $64
DaKine Finley 25L Daypack
Bergans Hodlekve 15L Winter Pack
Arc'teryx Velaro 35 Backpack Overnight Pack
$175 - $199
Kelty Catalyst 76 Expedition Pack
$150 - $199
Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta Hydration Pack
$106 - $125
Backcountry Access Float 30 Avalanche Airbag Pack
Millet Steep 20 Winter Pack
Equinox Bilby Mesh Stuff Bag Stuff Sack
$7 - $8
Mountain Hardwear Shaka Shoulder Straps Sling/Strap
$19 - $41
Geigerrig Rig 1210 Hydration Pack
Black Diamond Mission 75 Expedition Pack
Osprey Zealot 10 Hydration Pack
$91 - $97
Boreas Gear Scrimshaw Drybag Daypack Dry Pack
Fjallraven Vintage 20 Pack Daypack
Arc'teryx Altra 85 AR Expedition Pack
NRS MightyLight Dry Sack Dry Bag
Deuter Aircontact 70+10 SL Weekend Pack
Oakley Method 1080 Daypack
Arc'teryx Sebring 25 Pack Daypack
$110 - $139
Gregory Aspen 30 Pack Daypack
Lowe Alpine Zephyr ND55:65 Pack Weekend Pack
High Sierra Marlin 18 Hydration Pack
Patagonia SnowDrifter 30L Winter Pack
DaKine Blade Winter Pack
$126 - $179
Arc'teryx Maka 1 Bag Lumbar/Hip Pack
Black Diamond Speed 55 Weekend Pack
Platypus Tokul X.C. 5.0 Hydration Pack
Granite Gear Go and Stow Travel Pack Daypack
REI Stoke 29 Pack Daypack
DaKine Builder's Pack Daypack
Arc'teryx Cambie Daypack
$59 - $78
Osprey Rev 12 Hydration Pack
$83 - $109
REI Acumen Daypack Daypack
The North Face Base Camp Travel Canister Stuff Sack
$25 - $39
Black Diamond Mercury 65 Weekend Pack
DaKine Altitude ABS 40L Backpack Avalanche Airbag Pack
DaKine Amp 12L Hydration Pack
$91 - $139
SealLine See Pouch Dry Case/Pouch
$10 - $14
Eureka! Saranac Daypack
Osprey Xenith 88 Expedition Pack
$266 - $359
Gossamer Gear Mariposa Ultralight Weekend Pack
Metolius Big Wall Stuff Sack Stuff Sack
NRS Outfitter Dry Bag Dry Bag
$68 - $79
Mile High Mountaineering Switch 24 Pack Daypack
Black Diamond Access Hipbelt Backpack Accessory
Kahtoola MICROspikes Tote Sack Stuff Sack
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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.