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

Outdoor Research Antimatter Pack
Outdoor Research
Antimatter Pack
Daypack
$75
Roxy Grand Thoughts Backpack
Roxy
Grand Thoughts Backpack
Daypack
$45
Coghlan's Bottle Carrier
Coghlan's
Bottle Carrier
Sling/Strap
$4
Mountain Hardwear Wandrin 32
Mountain Hardwear
Wandrin 32
Overnight Pack
$120 - $128
CAMP Rox
CAMP
Rox
Overnight Pack
$45 - $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 - $179
Mile High Mountaineering Salute 34
Mile High Mountaineering
Salute 34
Overnight Pack
$150 - $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
$239
DaKine Arc 34L Backpack
DaKine
Arc 34L Backpack
Winter Pack
$170
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
$165 - $189
Kelty Marmalard
Kelty
Marmalard
Daypack
$50 - $74
DaKine Mission Photo
DaKine
Mission Photo
Daypack
$90 - $150
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
Mountain Hardwear Snowtastic 18 Backpack
Mountain Hardwear
Snowtastic 18 Backpack
Winter Pack
$75 - $100
Osprey Kode 32
Osprey
Kode 32
Winter Pack
$150 - $152
Deuter KangaKid Sun Roof
Deuter
KangaKid Sun Roof
Child Carrier Accessory
$39
L.L.Bean Classic Wool Day Pack
L.L.Bean
Classic Wool Day Pack
Daypack
$90
Osprey Celeste Backpack
Osprey
Celeste Backpack
Daypack
$100
Gregory Z 55 Pack
Gregory
Z 55 Pack
Weekend Pack
$199
Snowpulse Highmark Prime RAS Airbag Pack
Snowpulse
Highmark Prime RAS Airbag Pack
Avalanche Airbag Pack
$749
DaKine Point
DaKine
Point
Daypack
$41 - $47
Patagonia Lightweight Travel Mini Hip Pack 1L
Patagonia
Lightweight Travel Mini Hip Pack 1L
Lumbar/Hip Pack
$29
DaKine Team Mission
DaKine
Team Mission
Winter Pack
$80
 
REI
Crestrail 65 Hipbelt
Backpack Accessory
$30
CamelBak H.A.W.G. NV
CamelBak
H.A.W.G. NV
Hydration Pack
$149 - $150
Black Diamond Shot
Black Diamond
Shot
Daypack
$40
Kelty Wren
Kelty
Wren
Daypack
$55 - $74
ABS Vario 25 Backpack
ABS
Vario 25 Backpack
Avalanche Airbag Pack
$85
Osprey Momentum 22
Osprey
Momentum 22
Daypack
$130
JanSport Sinder 22
JanSport
Sinder 22
Daypack
$31 - $45
Eagle Creek 2-in-1 Backpack
Eagle Creek
2-in-1 Backpack
Daypack
$70
Jandd Micro Fanny II
Jandd
Micro Fanny II
Lumbar/Hip Pack
$22
REI Pack Duffel
REI
Pack Duffel
Pack Duffel
$25 - $29
REI Crestrail 70 Hipbelt
REI
Crestrail 70 Hipbelt
Backpack Accessory
$30
ABS Powder 5 Backpack
ABS
Powder 5 Backpack
Avalanche Airbag Pack
$561
CamelBak Bootlegger
CamelBak
Bootlegger
Hydration Pack
$55
Boreas Gear Bootlegger
Boreas Gear
Bootlegger
Daypack
$200
The North Face Crevasse
The North Face
Crevasse
Daypack
$99
Arva XPowder
Arva
XPowder
Avalanche Airbag Pack
$49
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Roll-Top Stuff Sack
Hyperlite Mountain Gear
Roll-Top Stuff Sack
Stuff Sack
$32
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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.