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
Overnight
Weekend
Expedition
External Frame
Winter Packs
Hydration Packs
Front Packs
Lumbar/Hip Packs
Child Carriers
Dry Packs
Portage Packs
Rope Bags
Accessories

Brands

ULA Equipment
CamelBak
Osprey
Deuter
Granite Gear
Patagonia
Sea to Summit
Arc'teryx
Kelty
SealLine

Genders

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

Mammut Creon Zip 30 Daypack
$104 - $129
Montane Cobra 25 Daypack
$91
 
Ultimate Direction Groove Stereo Lumbar/Hip Pack
$70
Outdoor Research Antimatter Pack Daypack
$75 - $79
 
Cabela's Cinchsack II Daypack
$6
L.L.Bean Vintage Rucksack Daypack
$60
Coghlan's Bottle Carrier Sling/Strap
$3
Dry Corp. Dry Case Dry Case/Pouch
$50
Aquapac Mini Camera Case Dry Case/Pouch
$30 - $34
CAMP Rox Overnight Pack
$48 - $109
High Sierra Lightning 35 Overnight Pack
$120
Outdoor Research Water Bottle Parka #2 Pack Pocket
$30
Bergans Skarstind Hip Pack 6 Lumbar/Hip Pack
$49
REI Trail 5 Waistpack Lumbar/Hip Pack
$40
Granite Gear Slacker Packer Compression Drysack Dry Pack
$50
Gregory Targhee 32 Winter Pack
$125 - $199
 
Berghaus Freeflow 30 Daypack
$104
Deuter Kid Comfort Air Child Carrier
$191 - $239
Mammut Nirvana Flip Winter Pack
$120
DaKine Arc 34L Backpack Winter Pack
$102 - $119
Underwater Kinetics 409 Dry Box Waterproof Hard Case
$30
Mystery Ranch Pitch 20 Daypack
$119
Mammut Trion Light 40 Overnight Pack
$160 - $189
DaKine Mission Photo Daypack
$90
Patagonia Nine Trails Pack 15L Daypack
$63 - $79
Snowpulse Highmark RAS Airbag Vest Avalanche Airbag Pack
$587
North Water UnderDeck Bag Dry Bag
$63
Osprey National Park Foundation Trip 20 Daypack
$60
 
Lowe Alpine Eclipse 35 Large Overnight Pack
$130
Mammut Lithium Light 25 Daypack
$120
Osprey Stratos 50 Weekend Pack
$135 - $179
REI Mesh Stuff Sack Stuff Sack
$8
Gregory Sketch 25 Daypack
$89
Lowe Alpine Eclipse ND14 Daypack
$90
Tubbs Snowshoe Pack Winter Pack
$25
Hyperlite Mountain Gear CF11 Cuben Fiber Stuff Sack Stuff Sack
$20 - $82
Osprey Kode 32 Winter Pack
$97 - $149
Dry Pak VHF Radio Case Dry Case/Pouch
$15
Osprey Isoform Harness Backpack Accessory
$19 - $39
Snowpulse Highmark Prime RAS Airbag Pack Avalanche Airbag Pack
$524
Exped Tempest Duffle Pack Duffel
$229 - $248
Osprey Kamber 32 Winter Pack
$170
DaKine Point Daypack
$60
Patagonia Lightweight Travel Mini Hip Pack 1L Lumbar/Hip Pack
$29
DaKine Team Mission Winter Pack
$48
Salomon X Alp 30 Daypack
$175
Aquapac Small Camera Case Dry Case/Pouch
$35 - $49
Black Diamond Bullet 16 Pack Daypack
$45 - $59
REI Crestrail 65 Hipbelt Backpack Accessory
$14
 
DaKine Sophia 20 Daypack
$12
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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.