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

E-Case iSeries Case Dry Case/Pouch
$15 - $23
Outdoor Research Dry Envelope Dry Bag
$18 - $21
Kelty Red Cloud 80 Expedition Pack
$165 - $219
Deuter Freerider 24 SL Winter Pack
$105 - $139
Arc'teryx Brize 32 Daypack
$189
REI Big Haul Duffel Pack Duffel
$90 - $149
Osprey Tempest 9 Daypack
$75
Black Diamond Cirque 35 Winter Pack
$150 - $199
Osprey BigKit Pack Duffel
$113 - $150
Mammut Heron Pro 70+15 Weekend Pack
$255
ALPS Mountaineering Caldera 4500 Expedition Pack
$66 - $95
CAMP Trail Vest 10 Hydration Pack
$90
Granite Gear Trad #4 Canoe Pack Portage Pack
$157
Arc'teryx Blade 28 Daypack
$199
Grivel Mountain Runner Comp 5 Daypack
$100
Equinox Pine Creek Cargo Bag Pack Duffel
$52
Outdoor Research AirPurge Dry Compression Sack Compression Sack / Dry Bag
$27 - $55
Geigerrig Tactical 700 Hydration Pack
$160
Edelweiss DJ Rope Bag Rope Bag
$40
EMS Saranac Backpack Daypack
$69
Deuter Attack Enduro 16 Daypack
$140 - $149
UltrAspire Titan 2.0 Hydration Vest Hydration Pack
$150
Mammut Lithium Speed 15 Daypack
$67
Osprey Poco AG Carrying Case Pack Duffel / Child Carrier Accessory
$23
Sea to Summit Clear Stopper Dry Bag Dry Bag
$20
Osprey BioForm4 Shoulder Straps Backpack Accessory
$32 - $43
REI Lightweight Stuff Sack Stuff Sack
$9
The North Face Adder 40 Overnight Pack
$189
CamelBak Aurora Hydration Pack
$40 - $69
Deuter Rise Lite 28 Winter Pack
$105 - $150
Lowe Alpine Strike 12 Daypack
$55
The North Face Convert Lumbar Lumbar/Hip Pack
$111 - $150
Gregory Tempo 3 Hydration Pack
$54
Pelican i1010 Case Waterproof Hard Case
$27
Marmot Salt Point Daypack
$52
Osprey Escapist 32 Daypack
$98 - $130
Millet Ubic 45 MBS Overnight Pack
$200
Equinox Bilby Nylon Stuff Bags Stuff Sack
$7 - $13
REI Ditty Bags Stuff Sack
$15
Fjallraven Ovik 15 Daypack
$130
Gregory Peary Daypack
$65
EMS Wanderer Hydration Pack Hydration Pack
$62
Exped Vertigo 30 Daypack
$143
Deuter Groden 30 SL Daypack
$90
Ultimate Direction TO Race Vest 3.0 Hydration Pack
$55 - $65
Exped Mountain Pro 50 Weekend Pack
$203 - $276
Gregory Boone Rucksack Daypack
$160
Osprey Aether AG 60 Weekend Pack
$217 - $290
SealLine HP Map Case Dry Case/Pouch
$20 - $44
Black Diamond Blitz 28 Daypack
$75 - $99
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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.