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

Lowe Alpine AirZone Pro 35:45
Lowe Alpine
AirZone Pro 35:45
Overnight Pack
$190
DaKine Factor
DaKine
Factor
Daypack
$27
Granite Gear Air Current Shoulder Straps
Granite Gear
Air Current Shoulder Straps
Backpack Accessory
$38
Salomon Advanced Skin S-Lab Belt Set
Salomon
Advanced Skin S-Lab Belt Set
Lumbar/Hip Pack
$49 - $79
Marmot Kompressor Plus
Marmot
Kompressor Plus
Daypack
$54 - $55
The North Face Base Camp Lumbar
The North Face
Base Camp Lumbar
Lumbar/Hip Pack
$75
Equinox Stingray Ultralite Internal Frame Pack Cover
Equinox
Stingray Ultralite Internal Frame Pack Cover
Pack Cover
$29
The North Face Bozer Hip Pack
The North Face
Bozer Hip Pack
Lumbar/Hip Pack
$29
Gregory Miwok 44
Gregory
Miwok 44
Overnight Pack
$169
Under Armour UA VX2-V
Under Armour
UA VX2-V
Daypack
$115
Mountainsmith Lens Case
Mountainsmith
Lens Case
Pack Pocket
$33
Mountainsmith Vibe TLS
Mountainsmith
Vibe TLS
Lumbar/Hip Pack
$24 - $29
ABS Helmet Holder
ABS
Helmet Holder
Backpack Accessory
$15
DaKine Amp 24L
DaKine
Amp 24L
Hydration Pack
$81
Platypus Origin 32
Platypus
Origin 32
Hydration Pack
$103
Mammut Nirvana Pro
Mammut
Nirvana Pro
Winter Pack
$133
Ultimate Direction Naviti
Ultimate Direction
Naviti
Lumbar/Hip Pack
$75
 
BlueWater Ropes
Rope Cauldron
Rope Bag
$37
The North Face Enduro Belt 2
The North Face
Enduro Belt 2
Lumbar/Hip Pack
$50
Osprey Metron 25
Osprey
Metron 25
Daypack
$97 - $103
ALPS Mountaineering Breeze Pack
ALPS Mountaineering
Breeze Pack
Daypack
$60
Mountainsmith Cyber II Recycled Camera Case
Mountainsmith
Cyber II Recycled Camera Case
Pack Pocket
$12
CAMP M5
CAMP
M5
Weekend Pack
$160
 
CamelBak
Aventura 18
Daypack
$124
DaKine Vagabond 38L
DaKine
Vagabond 38L
Overnight Pack
$150
Gregory Sequence
Gregory
Sequence
Daypack
$78
DaKine Sequence
DaKine
Sequence
Overnight Pack
$120 - $219
ABS Vario 15 Backpack
ABS
Vario 15 Backpack
Avalanche Airbag Pack
$96 - $666
Deuter City Light
Deuter
City Light
Daypack
$37 - $39
Mammut Hera Light 55+15
Mammut
Hera Light 55+15
Weekend Pack
$195 - $259
Eagle Creek Load Warrior LT 22
Eagle Creek
Load Warrior LT 22
Pack Duffel
$230
Osprey Radial 26
Osprey
Radial 26
Daypack
$160
Arc'teryx Kitsilano
Arc'teryx
Kitsilano
Daypack
$99
Kong Bag 200
Kong
Bag 200
Rope Bag
$95
Gregory Petit Dru Pro 85
Gregory
Petit Dru Pro 85
Expedition Pack
$317 - $528
Electric Everyday Ruck Sack
Electric
Everyday Ruck Sack
Daypack
$39
DaKine 101 Pack
DaKine
101 Pack
Daypack
$55 - $84
Outdoor Research Durable Stuff Sacks
Outdoor Research
Durable Stuff Sacks
Stuff Sack
$16 - $17
L.L.Bean Day Trekker Lumbar Pack
L.L.Bean
Day Trekker Lumbar Pack
Lumbar/Hip Pack
$50
DaKine Trail Photo Camera Backpack
DaKine
Trail Photo Camera Backpack
Daypack
$78 - $129
JanSport Unhinged
JanSport
Unhinged
Overnight Pack
$60
Gregory Pace H1
Gregory
Pace H1
Hydration Pack
$49
VauDe Vajolet 25
VauDe
Vajolet 25
Winter Pack
$150
Osprey Kyte 36
Osprey
Kyte 36
Overnight Pack
$149 - $160
The North Face Base Camp Lacon
The North Face
Base Camp Lacon
Daypack
$75
Granite Gear Crampon Holster
Granite Gear
Crampon Holster
Backpack Accessory
$30
DaKine Quest 28L Photo Pack
DaKine
Quest 28L Photo Pack
Winter Pack
$147
Deuter Guide Lite 28 SL
Deuter
Guide Lite 28 SL
Daypack
$149
Nathan VaporStorm Hydration Pack
Nathan
VaporStorm Hydration Pack
Lumbar/Hip Pack
$40 - $50
Craft Coach Pack
Craft
Coach Pack
Overnight Pack
$100
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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.