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

Osprey Viva 65
Osprey
Viva 65
Weekend Pack
$199 - $200
Deuter Guide Tour 35+ SL
Deuter
Guide Tour 35+ SL
Winter Pack
$189
Mountainsmith Ghost 50
Mountainsmith
Ghost 50
Weekend Pack
$100 - $199
High Sierra Burnout Backpack
High Sierra
Burnout Backpack
Daypack
$40
Lowe Alpine AirZone Pro ND 33:40
Lowe Alpine
AirZone Pro ND 33:40
Overnight Pack
$139 - $185
Gregory Miwok 24
Gregory
Miwok 24
Daypack
$119
Ultimate Direction Sport Bottle Holster
Ultimate Direction
Sport Bottle Holster
Pack Pocket
$14
Deuter Ontop ABS 30 Avalanche Airbag Pack
Deuter
Ontop ABS 30 Avalanche Airbag Pack
Avalanche Airbag Pack
$1,199
Granite Gear Virga 2
Granite Gear
Virga 2
Weekend Pack
$140
Marmot Turnstile Daypack
Marmot
Turnstile Daypack
Daypack
$58 - $70
Osprey Viper 5
Osprey
Viper 5
Hydration Pack
$90
DaKine Garden Backpack
DaKine
Garden Backpack
Daypack
$27
Deuter Attack 20
Deuter
Attack 20
Daypack
$169 - $189
Metolius Dirt Bag II
Metolius
Dirt Bag II
Rope Bag
$30
JanSport Coho
JanSport
Coho
Daypack
$50
Big Agnes Girdle
Big Agnes
Girdle
Compression Sack
$18
Kelty Flyaway 43
Kelty
Flyaway 43
Overnight Pack
$135
Mountain Hardwear Agama 30
Mountain Hardwear
Agama 30
Daypack
$63 - $99
Granite Gear Zipp Sack
Granite Gear
Zipp Sack
Stuff Sack
$17
Deuter Futura 35 EL
Deuter
Futura 35 EL
Overnight Pack
$145
Exped Torrent 30
Exped
Torrent 30
Daypack
$129
Gregory Jade 53
Gregory
Jade 53
Weekend Pack
$199
Deuter Aircontact Pro 70+15 Backpack
Deuter
Aircontact Pro 70+15 Backpack
Weekend Pack
$339
Sierra Designs Jubilee 50
Sierra Designs
Jubilee 50
Weekend Pack
$168
The North Face Base Camp Crimp
The North Face
Base Camp Crimp
Daypack
$67
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Padded Soft Cell
Sea to Summit
Ultra-Sil Padded Soft Cell
Stuff Sack
$30 - $34
CamelBak Highwire 25
CamelBak
Highwire 25
Hydration Pack
$125
GoLite Rush 10L Pack
GoLite
Rush 10L Pack
Daypack
$60
High Sierra Diplomat
High Sierra
Diplomat
Lumbar/Hip Pack
$55 - $57
Mountain Hardwear Salida
Mountain Hardwear
Salida
Daypack
$62 - $67
Lowe Alpine Vector 25
Lowe Alpine
Vector 25
Daypack
$70
CamelBak Charm
CamelBak
Charm
Hydration Pack
$43 - $49
Granite Gear Aquatherm & Aquasack
Granite Gear
Aquatherm & Aquasack
Pack Pocket
$23
Exped Core 25
Exped
Core 25
Daypack
$135
Deuter Guide 35+
Deuter
Guide 35+
Overnight Pack
$159
High Sierra Spire 2500
High Sierra
Spire 2500
Daypack
$56
JanSport Air Cisco
JanSport
Air Cisco
Daypack
$42 - $49
Platypus Duthie A.M. 10.0
Platypus
Duthie A.M. 10.0
Hydration Pack
$110
High Sierra Piton 30
High Sierra
Piton 30
Daypack
$73
Mammut Pro Removable Airbag ready
Mammut
Pro Removable Airbag ready
Avalanche Airbag Pack
$320
Mountainsmith Quickfire Camera Bag
Mountainsmith
Quickfire Camera Bag
Daypack
$19
Montane Grand Tour 70
Montane
Grand Tour 70
Weekend Pack
$244
Deuter Bike One 20
Deuter
Bike One 20
Hydration Pack
$129
REI Double Diamond 50 Snowsports Pack
REI
Double Diamond 50 Snowsports Pack
Winter Pack
$104
 
Geigerrig
Bando
Hydration Pack
$41
The North Face Alteo 35
The North Face
Alteo 35
Overnight Pack
$110 - $117
VauDe Optimator 38
VauDe
Optimator 38
Overnight Pack
$155
Arc'teryx Altra 50 LT
Arc'teryx
Altra 50 LT
Weekend Pack
$289
JanSport Base Station
JanSport
Base Station
Daypack
$120
Eagle Creek Travel Bug
Eagle Creek
Travel Bug
Daypack
$38 - $41
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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.