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
Osprey
Equinox
Sea to Summit
Patagonia

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

Deuter Futura 35 EL
Deuter
Futura 35 EL
Overnight Pack
$145
Exped Torrent 30
Exped
Torrent 30
Daypack
$129 - $139
 
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
$45 - $59
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Padded Soft Cell
Sea to Summit
Ultra-Sil Padded Soft Cell
Stuff Sack
$22 - $34
CamelBak Highwire 25
CamelBak
Highwire 25
Hydration Pack
$81 - $125
GoLite Rush 10L Pack
GoLite
Rush 10L Pack
Daypack
$60
High Sierra Diplomat
High Sierra
Diplomat
Lumbar/Hip Pack
$55 - $58
Dynafit RC 20
Dynafit
RC 20
Winter Pack
$96
Mountain Hardwear Salida
Mountain Hardwear
Salida
Daypack
$62 - $67
The North Face Flyweight Rucksack
The North Face
Flyweight Rucksack
Daypack
$45
Lowe Alpine Vector 25
Lowe Alpine
Vector 25
Daypack
$70
CamelBak Charm
CamelBak
Charm
Hydration Pack
$43 - $49
Exped Core 25
Exped
Core 25
Daypack
$135
Deuter Guide 35+
Deuter
Guide 35+
Overnight Pack
$119 - $159
High Sierra Spire 2500
High Sierra
Spire 2500
Daypack
$70
Gregory Imlay 22
Gregory
Imlay 22
Daypack
$73
JanSport Air Cisco
JanSport
Air Cisco
Daypack
$30 - $39
Platypus Duthie A.M. 10.0
Platypus
Duthie A.M. 10.0
Hydration Pack
$110
Mammut Pro Removable Airbag ready
Mammut
Pro Removable Airbag ready
Avalanche Airbag Pack
$240
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
Geigerrig
Bando
Hydration Pack
$52
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
Daypack
$120
Eagle Creek Travel Bug
Eagle Creek
Travel Bug
Daypack
$38 - $41
Lowe Alpine AirZone Z 20
Lowe Alpine
AirZone Z 20
Daypack
$100
Osprey Poco Child Carrier Sun Shade
Osprey
Poco Child Carrier Sun Shade
Child Carrier Accessory
$24
Marmot Notch 30
Marmot
Notch 30
Daypack
$89
Black Diamond Dart
Black Diamond
Dart
Daypack
$79 - $89
Inov-8 Race Elite 16
Inov-8
Race Elite 16
Daypack
$90
Mountain Hardwear Scrambler Trl 30
Mountain Hardwear
Scrambler Trl 30
Daypack
$69
Osprey Xenith 105
Osprey
Xenith 105
Expedition Pack
$390
Boreas Gear Erawan 70
Boreas Gear
Erawan 70
Weekend Pack
$160
JanSport Fox Hole Daypack
JanSport
Fox Hole Daypack
Daypack
$50
Fjallraven Friluft 35 Pack
Fjallraven
Friluft 35 Pack
Overnight Pack
$135
GoLite HydroSwift
GoLite
HydroSwift
Lumbar/Hip Pack
$10 - $34
Gregory Z 25 Pack
Gregory
Z 25 Pack
Daypack
$99
Gregory Maya 16
Gregory
Maya 16
Daypack
$99
 
Mountainsmith
Tour Raincover
Pack Cover
$14
Deuter Futura Vario Pro 50+10
Deuter
Futura Vario Pro 50+10
Weekend Pack
$219
Columbia Half Track III Backpack
Columbia
Half Track III Backpack
Daypack
$59
L.L.Bean Commuter Day Pack
L.L.Bean
Commuter Day Pack
Daypack
$89
DaKine Heli Pro DLX 18L
DaKine
Heli Pro DLX 18L
Winter Pack
$73
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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.