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 »


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

Deuter Transit 40 Overnight Pack
Coghlan's Nylon Mesh Dunk Bag Stuff Sack
Boreas Gear Erawan 70 Weekend Pack
Oakley AP Backpack 3.0 Daypack
Grivel Alpine Pro 40+10 Overnight Pack
Nathan Firestorm Hydration Pack
$49 - $63
Lowe Alpine Kamet 65:75 Weekend Pack
JanSport Fox Hole Daypack Daypack
Gregory Maya 16 Daypack
Gregory Explore Boone Daypack
Deuter Futura Vario Pro 50+10 Weekend Pack
REI Flash 60 Weekend Pack
Osprey Ultralight Pack Liner Stuff Sack
$35 - $45
Dry Pak Belt Pack Dry Case/Pouch
Backcountry Access Float Snowboard Carry System Backpack Accessory
$21 - $27
Deuter Aircontact Lite 65+10 Weekend Pack
Trango Antidote Rope Bag Rope Bag
$26 - $34
NRS Purest Mesh Bag Pack Duffel
Osprey Transporter 65 Pack Duffel
NRS Go! Duffel Pack Duffel
Petzl Bolsa Rope Bag Rope Bag
Ultimate Direction Wink Hydration Pack
Gregory J 63 Weekend Pack
$172 - $229
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Daybreak Daypack
Boreas Gear Buttermilks 55 Weekend Pack
VauDe Asymmetric 52+8 Weekend Pack
REI Ruckpack 18 Daypack
Mammut Xeron Courier 20 Daypack
NRS HydroLock Mapcessory Map Case Dry Case/Pouch
$14 - $16
Outdoor Research Dry Ditty Sacks Dry Bag
Dry Pak Multi-Purpose Case - Clear Dry Case/Pouch
Exped Waterproof Compression Bag Dry Bag
JanSport Half Pint Daypack
Mystery Ranch Urban Assault Daypack
Gregory Swift 25 Hydration Pack
Exped Vertigo 45 Overnight Pack
Metolius Crag Station Overnight Pack
$103 - $128
Lowe Alpine AirZone Trek + 45:55 Overnight Pack
Alchemy Equipment 25L Softshell Daypack Daypack
Granite Gear Air Current Shoulder Straps Backpack Accessory
Deuter Traveler 60+10 SL Weekend Pack
Marmot Kompressor Plus Daypack
$52 - $65
Nathan Mercury 2 Lumbar/Hip Pack
Equinox Stingray Ultralite Internal Frame Pack Cover Pack Cover
$20 - $21
Mountain Hardwear Piero 25L Daypack
Granite Gear Boundary Backpack Daypack
$25 - $49
Osprey Aether AG 85 Expedition Pack
High Sierra Riptide 25 Hydration Pack
Seattle Sports See-Through Security Dry Bag Dry Bag
Mammut Helmet Holder Backpack Accessory
$10 - $12
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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.