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

Mountain Hardwear
CamelBak
ULA Equipment
Deuter
Kelty
Granite Gear
Patagonia
Gregory
Osprey
Equinox

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

Ultimate Direction Highline Hydration Pack
$120
NRS Purest Mesh Bag Pack Duffel
$40 - $49
Marmot Trans Hauler Daypack
$103
 
Burton Booter Daypack Winter Pack
$60
Lowe Alpine AirZone 25 Daypack
$82
Roxy Ramble Backpack Daypack
$48
Roxy Gallery Backpack Daypack
$36
Lowe Alpine AirZone ND 32 Daypack
$100
 
Osprey Transporter 65 Weekend Pack
$85
NRS Go! Duffel Pack Duffel
$80 - $89
Jones Snowboards Higher 30 Backpack Winter Pack
$127
Boreas Gear Bolinas Daypack
$103 - $149
Petzl Bolsa Rope Bag Rope Bag
$32 - $39
Ultimate Direction Wink Hydration Pack
$120
Gregory J 63 Weekend Pack
$160 - $239
Columbia Endura 35 Overnight Pack
$90
Boreas Gear Buttermilks 55 Weekend Pack
$138 - $184
NRS HydroLock Mapcessory Map Case Dry Case/Pouch
$14 - $16
Outdoor Research Dry Down Backpackers Kit Compression Sack
$59
Outdoor Research Dry Ditty Sacks Dry Bag
$30 - $31
Dry Pak Multi-Purpose Case - Clear Dry Case/Pouch
$11
The North Face Diad Pro 22 Daypack
$50
Exped Waterproof Compression Bag Dry Bag
$40 - $41
Oakley Works 35L Backpack Overnight Pack
$70
Fjallraven Packbags Stuff Sack
$30
JanSport Half Pint Daypack
$22 - $24
The North Face Patrol 24 ABS Avalanche Airbag Pack
$707 - $1,001
Eureka! Sawtooth 45L Pack Overnight Pack
$65
Deuter Nomi Daypack
$32 - $49
Mountain Hardwear Escala Backpack Daypack
$50 - $79
Salomon Park Hydro Handset Hydration Pack
$40 - $42
Victorinox Swiss Army Orbital Waist Pack Lumbar/Hip Pack
$18
Metolius Crag Station Overnight Pack
$95 - $119
Lowe Alpine AirZone Trek + 45:55 Overnight Pack
$200
Lowe Alpine AirZone Pro 35:45 Overnight Pack
$190
DaKine Factor Daypack
$22 - $44
Mammut Pro Short Removable Airbag Avalanche Airbag Pack
$438 - $729
Granite Gear Air Current Shoulder Straps Backpack Accessory
$38
Deuter Traveler 60+10 SL Weekend Pack
$289
Salomon Advanced Skin S-Lab Belt Set Lumbar/Hip Pack
$70
Marmot Kompressor Plus Daypack
$28 - $59
The North Face Base Camp Lumbar Lumbar/Hip Pack
$48
Equinox Stingray Ultralite Internal Frame Pack Cover Pack Cover
$22 - $28
The North Face Bozer Hip Pack Lumbar/Hip Pack
$29
Columbia Trail Pursuit 30L Daypack
$119
Gregory Miwok 44 Overnight Pack
$127 - $168
Granite Gear Boundary Backpack Daypack
$37 - $49
Mountainsmith Lens Case Pack Pocket
$33
Seattle Sports See-Through Security Dry Bag Dry Bag
$65
 
Bergans Istinden 18L Winter Pack
$149
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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.