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
Deuter
Granite Gear
Patagonia
Equinox
Sea to Summit
SealLine
Mountainsmith

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

Osprey Kamber ABS Compatible 22+10 Avalanche Airbag Pack
$158
Mystery Ranch Cube Master Duffel 45 Pack Duffel
$56
Millet Prolighter 38+10 Overnight Pack
$180
Osprey Daylite Plus Daypack
$65
CamelBak Circuit Hydration Pack
$55 - $89
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Metro Pack Daypack
$165
Mountain Hardwear Ozonic 58 OutDry Weekend Pack
$156
Osprey Radial 26 Daypack
$128 - $170
Topo Designs Cosmos Pack Daypack
$89
Poler Classic Rolltop Daypack
$45
Mystery Ranch Cairn Overnight Pack
$81 - $179
Thule RoundTrip Boot Backpack Winter Pack
$79
Mammut Trion Zip 28 Daypack
$97
Patagonia Lightweight Black Hole Duffel 45L Pack Duffel
$99
Cabela's Harlan 30L Waterproof Pack Daypack
$140
Gregory Paragon 48 Overnight Pack
$135 - $179
Outdoor Research Dry Payload Pack Daypack / Dry Pack
$112
Patagonia Stormfront Sling 20L Daypack
$229
Exped Pack Liner Stuff Sack
$35
Marmot Graviton 48 Overnight Pack
$134 - $188
E-Case eSeries Cases Dry Case/Pouch
$17
Nathan Grit Hydration Pack
$66
The North Face Cobra 40+10 Overnight Pack
$116
Osprey Kyte 36 Overnight Pack
$120 - $160
Fjallraven Rucksack No. 21 Small Daypack
$150
Nathan VaporKrar 4L Race Vest Hydration Pack
$105 - $119
VauDe Wizard 18+4 Daypack
$95
Montane Ultra Tour 40 Overnight Pack
$90 - $134
Bergans Rondane 18L Daypack
$89
Deuter Guide Lite 28 SL Daypack
$105 - $112
Granite Gear Cross Trek 36 Liter Overnight Pack
$100
CamelBak SnoBlast Winter Pack
$71 - $81
Osprey Parsec Daypack
$68 - $90
Patagonia Fore Runner Vest 10L Hydration Pack
$103 - $129
Osprey Kamber Race 18 Winter Pack
$100
Osprey Palea Daypack
$105 - $140
Exped Black Ice 30 Daypack
$127
DaKine Campus Pack Overnight Pack
$27 - $64
CamelBak Ultra 10 Hydration Pack
$112
The North Face Overhaul 40 Overnight Pack
$119 - $159
Patagonia Lightweight Black Hole Duffel 30L Pack Duffel
$59 - $79
Deuter ACT Trail 22 SL Daypack
$84 - $89
Pacsafe Venturesafe X22 Daypack
$105
Mountain Hardwear Enterprise 29L Daypack
$82
JanSport Salish Overnight Pack
$60
Witz Passport Locker Waterproof Hard Case
$11
Osprey Zealot 15 Hydration Pack
$105
The North Face Fovero 70 Weekend Pack
$188 - $289
Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Hydration Pack
$71 - $89
Cabela's Endicott 65L Backpack Weekend Pack
$140
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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.