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 »

Category

Daypacks
Overnight
Weekend
Expedition
External Frame
Winter Packs
Hydration Packs
Front Packs
Lumbar/Hip Packs
Child Carriers
Dry Packs
Portage Packs
Rope Bags
Accessories

Brand

ULA Equipment
CamelBak
Osprey
Gregory
Deuter
Granite Gear
Patagonia
Equinox
Sea to Summit
Kelty

User

Unisex
Men's
Women's
Kids'
Girls'

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

Metolius Dirt Bag II Rope Bag
$30
Big Agnes Girdle Compression Sack
$18
Mountain Hardwear Agama 30 Daypack
$74
Granite Gear Zipp Sack Stuff Sack
$17 - $19
Exped Torrent 30 Daypack
$139
The North Face Box Shot Overnight Pack
$30
Gregory Targhee 18 Winter Pack
$100
Gregory Jade 53 Weekend Pack
$149 - $199
Columbia Trail Elite 22L Daypack
$129
DaKine Heli Pro DLX 24L Winter Pack
$55
Arc'teryx Bora AR 49 Weekend Pack
$499
Osprey Skimmer 22 Daypack
$100
Osprey Ariel AG 75 Expedition Pack
$330
Gregory Compass 30 Daypack
$70 - $99
Backcountry Access Stash 40 Winter Pack
$195
Mystery Ranch Frazier Daypack
$125
Patagonia Black Hole Pack 32L Daypack
$134 - $149
Dynafit RC 20 Winter Pack
$183
Mammut Trion Zip 22 Daypack
$75 - $99
Aquapac Belt Case Dry Case/Pouch
$38
Granite Gear Uberlight CTF3 DrySack Dry Bag
$42
CamelBak Charm Hydration Pack
$49 - $50
Alchemy Equipment 35L Top Load Daypack Overnight Pack
$209
Exped Core 25 Daypack
$99
Deuter Guide 35+ Overnight Pack
$159
Arc'teryx Bora AR 61 Weekend Pack
$549
The North Face Litus 22 Daypack
$70 - $99
Platypus Duthie A.M. 10.0 Hydration Pack
$140
High Sierra Piton 30 Daypack
$56
Black Diamond Bolt 24 Pack Daypack
$140
Filson Roll Top Daypack
$475
The North Face Modulator ABS Avalanche Airbag Pack
$999
VauDe Optimator 38 Overnight Pack
$155
Outdoor Research Sensor Dry Pocket Premium Dry Case/Pouch
$20 - $30
Coghlan's Camper's Dry Sack Dry Bag
$15
Lowe Alpine AirZone Z 20 Daypack
$110
Black Diamond Mission 55 Weekend Pack
$220
Sea to Summit Stopper Dry Bag Dry Bag
$25
Osprey Ultralight Stretch Stuff Sack Stuff Sack
$14 - $46
Deuter Transit 40 Overnight Pack
$149
Coghlan's Nylon Mesh Dunk Bag Stuff Sack
$2
Poler Retro Rolltop Daypack
$60
Boreas Gear Erawan 70 Weekend Pack
$119
Nathan Firestorm Hydration Pack
$85
Lowe Alpine Kamet 65:75 Weekend Pack
$250
JanSport Fox Hole Daypack Daypack
$50
Gregory Maya 16 Daypack
$49 - $99
Hyperlite Mountain Gear 4400 Windrider Weekend Pack
$375
Deuter Futura Vario Pro 50+10 Weekend Pack
$219
Pieps Jetforce Tour Pro 34 Avalanche Airbag Pack
$1,050
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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.