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

Osprey National Park Foundation Trip 20 Daypack
Lowe Alpine Eclipse 35 Large Overnight Pack
Mammut Lithium Light 25 Daypack
Osprey Stratos 50 Weekend Pack
$180 - $190
REI Mesh Stuff Sack Stuff Sack
Gregory Sketch 25 Daypack
$89 - $118
Lowe Alpine Eclipse ND14 Daypack
Tubbs Snowshoe Pack Winter Pack
Hyperlite Mountain Gear CF11 Cuben Fiber Stuff Sack Stuff Sack
$23 - $90
Osprey Kode 32 Winter Pack
Dry Pak VHF Radio Case Dry Case/Pouch
Osprey Isoform Harness Backpack Accessory
$25 - $40
Snowpulse Highmark Prime RAS Airbag Pack Avalanche Airbag Pack
Exped Tempest Duffle Pack Duffel
$229 - $248
Osprey Kamber 32 Winter Pack
Haglofs Lava 50 Pack Duffel
DaKine Point Daypack
Patagonia Lightweight Travel Mini Hip Pack 1L Lumbar/Hip Pack
Salomon X Alp 30 Daypack
Aquapac Small Camera Case Dry Case/Pouch
$35 - $49
Black Diamond Bullet 16 Pack Daypack
REI Crestrail 65 Hipbelt Backpack Accessory
DaKine Sophia 20 Daypack
CamelBak H.A.W.G. NV Hydration Pack
$85 - $158
Marmot Luxton Daypack
Fjallraven High Coast 18 Daypack
The North Face Aleia 32 Daypack
$104 - $129
Mountainsmith Approach 45 Overnight Pack
$104 - $129
Marmot Conduit Daypack
$44 - $57
L.L.Bean Continental Travel Pack Daypack
$129 - $149
JanSport Wrapper Sling Pack Daypack
Coghlan's Dry Pouch Dry Case/Pouch
Columbia Classic Outdoor 20L Daypack
MSR B-Line 8.0 Hydration Pack
$77 - $109
Platypus B-Line 8.0 Hydration Pack
Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest 3.0 Hydration Pack
Osprey Momentum 22 Daypack
Eagle Creek 2-in-1 Backpack Daypack
Cabela's Pathway Camo Duffel Pack Duffel
ALPS Mountaineering Arvada Pack Daypack
REI Pack Duffel Pack Duffel
REI Crestrail 70 Hipbelt Backpack Accessory
Salewa Guide 40 Overnight Pack
Arva XPowder Avalanche Airbag Pack
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Roll-Top Stuff Sack Stuff Sack
$38 - $75
Lowe Alpine Eclipse ND 32 Daypack
Edelrid Element Rope Bag Rope Bag
Columbia Remote Access 35L Overnight Pack
Bergans Rondane 12L Hydration Pack
Boreas Gear Echo Waterproof Pack Daypack
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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.