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
Dry Packs
Portage Packs
Rope Bags
Accessories

Brands

Osprey
CamelBak
ULA Equipment
Deuter
Kelty
Granite Gear
Patagonia
Gregory
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

Deuter Guide 35+ Overnight Pack
$111 - $159
High Sierra Spire 2500 Daypack
$49
JanSport Air Cisco Daypack
$30
The North Face Litus 22 Daypack
$70 - $99
Platypus Duthie A.M. 10.0 Hydration Pack
$110
Gossamer Gear G4 Belt Sling/Strap
$25
High Sierra Piton 30 Daypack
$72
Mammut Pro Removable Airbag ready Avalanche Airbag Pack
$170
Montane Grand Tour 70 Weekend Pack
$182 - $195
Deuter Bike One 20 Hydration Pack
$129
 
Filson Roll Top Daypack
$395
 
Seattle Sports Reign Backpack Dry Pack
$100
The North Face Alteo 35 Overnight Pack
$118 - $135
VauDe Optimator 38 Overnight Pack
$110
Outdoor Research Rangefinder Seabag Daypack
$139
Arc'teryx Altra 50 LT Weekend Pack
$217 - $289
Patagonia Black Hole Snow Roller Pack Duffel
$179 - $329
Nathan Grit Race Vest Hydration Pack
$120
Bergans Skarstind 22L Daypack
$109
JanSport Base Station Daypack
$120
Lowe Alpine AirZone Z 20 Daypack
$90 - $110
Boreas Gear Halo 75 Expedition Pack
$290
Osprey Poco Child Carrier Sun Shade Child Carrier Accessory
$18 - $24
Marmot Notch 30 Daypack
$89
Sea to Summit Stopper Dry Bag Dry Bag
$23
Dry Pak Tablet Case Dry Case/Pouch
$22 - $23
Osprey Xenith 105 Expedition Pack
$390
Boreas Gear Erawan 70 Weekend Pack
$160
JanSport Fox Hole Daypack Daypack
$50
Fjallraven Friluft 35 Pack Overnight Pack
$160 - $169
GoLite HydroSwift Lumbar/Hip Pack
$21
Osprey Kode ABS Compatible 42 Avalanche Airbag Pack
$140 - $219
Gregory Z 25 Pack Daypack
$119
 
Mountainsmith Tour Raincover Pack Cover
$14
Deuter Futura Vario Pro 50+10 Weekend Pack
$175 - $219
NRS Pelican Case - 1170 Dry Case/Pouch
$65
L.L.Bean Commuter Day Pack Daypack
$99
DaKine Heli Pro DLX 18L Winter Pack
$63 - $83
Salomon Skin Pro 3 Set Hydration Pack
$135
Backcountry Access Float Snowboard Carry System Backpack Accessory
$28 - $35
Stio Kletterwerks Flip Pack Daypack
$229
Granite Gear Taku 24 Daypack
$120
Lowe Alpine AirZone Trek ND 30 Daypack
$85
Trango Antidote Rope Bag Rope Bag
$34
Platypus Tokul X.C. 3.0 Hydration Pack
$70
Osprey Flare Daypack
$60 - $79
Black Diamond Flare Daypack
$102
Ultimate Direction Highline Hydration Pack
$120
NRS Purest Mesh Bag Pack Duffel
$40 - $42
Marmot Trans Hauler Daypack
$80 - $129
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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.