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

The North Face Modulator ABS Avalanche Airbag Pack
The North Face Alteo 35 Overnight Pack
Outdoor Research Sensor Dry Pocket Premium Dry Case/Pouch
$20 - $31
Arc'teryx Altra 50 LT Weekend Pack
Coghlan's Camper's Dry Sack Dry Bag
Lowe Alpine AirZone Z 20 Daypack
Black Diamond Mission 55 Weekend Pack
Sea to Summit Stopper Dry Bag Dry Bag
$23 - $59
Osprey Ultralight Stretch Stuff Sack Stuff Sack
$14 - $45
Deuter Transit 40 Overnight Pack
Coghlan's Nylon Mesh Dunk Bag Stuff Sack
Grivel Alpine Pro 40+10 Overnight Pack
Nathan Firestorm Hydration Pack
Lowe Alpine Kamet 65:75 Weekend Pack
JanSport Fox Hole Daypack Daypack
Osprey Kode ABS Compatible 42 Avalanche Airbag Pack
Gregory Maya 16 Daypack
Hyperlite Mountain Gear 4400 Windrider Weekend Pack
Deuter Futura Vario Pro 50+10 Weekend Pack
$164 - $219
REI Flash 60 Weekend Pack
Pieps Jetforce Tour Pro 34 Avalanche Airbag Pack
DaKine Heli Pro DLX 18L Winter Pack
Salomon Skin Pro 3 Set Hydration Pack
Osprey Ultralight Pack Liner Stuff Sack
$35 - $45
Dry Pak Belt Pack Dry Case/Pouch
Backcountry Access Float Snowboard Carry System Backpack Accessory
$17 - $34
Trango Antidote Rope Bag Rope Bag
Osprey Flare Daypack
Ultimate Direction Highline Hydration Pack
NRS Purest Mesh Bag Pack Duffel
Marmot Trans Hauler Daypack
Roxy Ramble Backpack Daypack
Roxy Gallery Backpack Daypack
Osprey Transporter 65 Pack Duffel
$50 - $140
NRS Go! Duffel Pack Duffel
Petzl Bolsa Rope Bag Rope Bag
Ultimate Direction Wink Hydration Pack
$84 - $120
Gregory J 63 Weekend Pack
$172 - $238
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Daybreak Daypack
Dynafit Chugach 32 Winter Pack
Boreas Gear Buttermilks 55 Weekend Pack
VauDe Asymmetric 52+8 Weekend Pack
REI Ruckpack 18 Daypack
Mammut Xeron Courier 20 Daypack
NRS HydroLock Mapcessory Map Case Dry Case/Pouch
$14 - $16
Outdoor Research Dry Down Backpackers Kit Compression Sack
Outdoor Research Dry Ditty Sacks Dry Bag
$30 - $34
Dry Pak Multi-Purpose Case - Clear Dry Case/Pouch
$12 - $13
Exped Waterproof Compression Bag Dry Bag
$38 - $39
Oakley Works 35L Backpack Overnight Pack
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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.