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


Mountain Hardwear
ULA Equipment
Granite Gear




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

NRS Outfitter Dry Bag Dry Bag
$80 - $89
Mile High Mountaineering Switch 24 Pack Daypack
Black Diamond Access Hipbelt Backpack Accessory
Kahtoola MICROspikes Tote Sack Stuff Sack
Deuter Quantum 70+10 Weekend Pack
$259 - $269
Black Diamond Magnum 20 Pack Daypack
Deuter Trans Alpine 26 SL Daypack
$90 - $106
Deuter AC Aera 28 SL Daypack
$109 - $119
Marmot Kompressor Verve 32 Daypack
$104 - $148
Harmony Dry Flex MP3 Case Dry Case/Pouch
The North Face Matthes Crest 85 Pack Expedition Pack
Mammut MTR 201 7 Daypack
Sea to Summit Accessory Straps with Hooks Sling/Strap
$9 - $11
Osprey Escapist 25 Daypack
CamelBak Octane 18X Hydration Pack
$75 - $120
The North Face Haystack Backpack Daypack
$38 - $59
Nathan FireStorm Race Vest Hydration Pack
Mountainsmith Modular Hauler 3 System Deluxe Pack Duffel
Sea to Summit Hydraulic Dry Bag Dry Bag
$24 - $139
CamelBak Arete 18 Hydration Pack
$64 - $65
VauDe Gravit 10+3 Daypack
Deuter Cargo Bag EXP Pack Duffel
Nathan Zelos 2L Hydration Pack
$94 - $125
Trango Cord Trapper Rope Tarp Rope Bag
$13 - $16
Arc'teryx Chilcotin 20 Hydration Pack
$97 - $148
Gregory Sage 45 Pack Overnight Pack
$130 - $189
Granite Gear Slacker Packer Drysack Dry Pack
Arc'teryx Altra 65 LT Weekend Pack
$340 - $449
Bergans Rondane 30L Daypack
Sea to Summit Trash Dry Sack Dry Bag
$30 - $34
Osprey Mutant 38 Overnight Pack
$112 - $160
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Nano Dry Sack Dry Bag
Deuter VQ Shoulder Straps Backpack Accessory
Salomon XR Sensibelt Lumbar/Hip Pack
$31 - $54
DaKine Classic Hip Pack Lumbar/Hip Pack
$11 - $19
Rossignol Lap Backpack Winter Pack
Lowe Alpine Nanon ND 35:40 Overnight Pack
Fjallraven Greenland Daypack Daypack
$74 - $130
Nathan HPL #020 Race Vest Hydration Pack
$70 - $100
Aquapac Small Stormproof Camera Pouch Dry Bag
Gregory Verte 15 Daypack
DaKine Atlas 25L Daypack
$27 - $44
Geigerrig Rig 1200 Hydration Pack
Lowe Alpine Expedition 75:95 Weekend Pack
NRS Heavy-Duty Bill's Bag Dry Pack
Sea to Summit Guide Map Case Dry Case/Pouch
$25 - $29
L.L.Bean Day Trekker 25 Pack with Boa
DaKine Lid 26L Daypack
Aire Frodo Bag Dry Bag
Montane Cobra 25 Daypack
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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.