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

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
$93 - $117
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
$42
Lowe Alpine AirZone Z 20
Lowe Alpine
AirZone Z 20
Daypack
$90
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
$63 - $89
Inov-8 Race Elite 16
Inov-8
Race Elite 16
Daypack
$90
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
GoLite HydroSwift
GoLite
HydroSwift
Lumbar/Hip Pack
$10
Osprey Kode ABS Compatible 42
Osprey
Kode ABS Compatible 42
Avalanche Airbag Pack
$220
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
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 - $105
Salomon Skin Pro 3 Set
Salomon
Skin Pro 3 Set
Hydration Pack
$95 - $134
Backcountry Access Float Snowboard Carry System
Backcountry Access
Float Snowboard Carry System
Backpack Accessory
$28 - $35
Granite Gear Taku 24
Granite Gear
Taku 24
Daypack
$120
Lowe Alpine AirZone Trek ND 30
Lowe Alpine
AirZone Trek ND 30
Daypack
$108 - $109
Trango Antidote Rope Bag
Trango
Antidote Rope Bag
Rope Bag
$34
Platypus Tokul X.C. 3.0
Platypus
Tokul X.C. 3.0
Hydration Pack
$53 - $69
JanSport Flare
JanSport
Flare
Daypack
$40 - $60
Osprey Flare
Osprey
Flare
Daypack
$52 - $80
Black Diamond Flare
Black Diamond
Flare
Daypack
$60 - $118
Ultimate Direction Highline
Ultimate Direction
Highline
Hydration Pack
$120
NRS Purest Mesh Bag
NRS
Purest Mesh Bag
Pack Duffel
$40 - $49
Marmot Trans Hauler
Marmot
Trans Hauler
Daypack
$84 - $90
Burton Booter Daypack
Burton
Booter Daypack
Winter Pack
$80
Roxy Ramble Backpack
Roxy
Ramble Backpack
Daypack
$58
Roxy Gallery Backpack
Roxy
Gallery Backpack
Daypack
$52
Lowe Alpine AirZone ND 32
Lowe Alpine
AirZone ND 32
Daypack
$100
Osprey Transporter 65
Osprey
Transporter 65
Weekend Pack
$85
NRS Go! Duffel
NRS
Go! Duffel
Pack Duffel
$80
Jones Snowboards Higher 30 Backpack
Jones Snowboards
Higher 30 Backpack
Winter Pack
$149
Boreas Gear Bolinas
Boreas Gear
Bolinas
Daypack
$150
Petzl Bolsa Rope Bag
Petzl
Bolsa Rope Bag
Rope Bag
$40
Gregory J 63
Gregory
J 63
Weekend Pack
$172 - $229
Columbia Endura 35
Columbia
Endura 35
Overnight Pack
$129
Boreas Gear Buttermilks 55
Boreas Gear
Buttermilks 55
Weekend Pack
$145 - $184
Outdoor Research Dry Down Backpackers Kit
Outdoor Research
Dry Down Backpackers Kit
Compression Sack
$59
DaKine Laurel Backpack
DaKine
Laurel Backpack
Daypack
$29
Oakley Works 35L Backpack
Oakley
Works 35L Backpack
Overnight Pack
$100
Fjallraven Packbags
Fjallraven
Packbags
Stuff Sack
$30
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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.