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
Osprey
Equinox
Sea to Summit
Patagonia

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

Patagonia Critical Mass
Patagonia
Critical Mass
Daypack
$84 - $129
Arc'teryx Sebring 18
Arc'teryx
Sebring 18
Daypack
$119
Deuter Compact EXP Air SL
Deuter
Compact EXP Air SL
Hydration Pack
$125
Exped Mountain Lite 20
Exped
Mountain Lite 20
Daypack
$139 - $149
Mountain Hardwear Chuter 15
Mountain Hardwear
Chuter 15
Daypack
$64 - $75
Kelty Redstart 26
Kelty
Redstart 26
Daypack
$45
Granite Gear Belts for Ultralight Packs
Granite Gear
Belts for Ultralight Packs
Backpack Accessory
$40
Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra
Ultimate Direction
SJ Ultra
Hydration Pack
$89 - $129
Arc'teryx Jericho
Arc'teryx
Jericho
Daypack
$149
Deuter Transit 65
Deuter
Transit 65
Weekend Pack
$189
Arc'teryx Chilcotin 12
Arc'teryx
Chilcotin 12
Hydration Pack
$139
Arc'teryx Pack Shelter
Arc'teryx
Pack Shelter
Pack Cover
$30
Mammut Backbone Removable Airbag ready
Mammut
Backbone Removable Airbag ready
Avalanche Airbag Pack
$210 - $412
Sea to Summit Neoprene Pouches
Sea to Summit
Neoprene Pouches
Stuff Sack
$5
Kelty Red Cloud 80
Kelty
Red Cloud 80
Expedition Pack
$225
Granite Gear Skylark
Granite Gear
Skylark
Lumbar/Hip Pack
$23 - $45
Osprey Tempest 9
Osprey
Tempest 9
Daypack
$90
The North Face Enduro Plus Pack
The North Face
Enduro Plus Pack
Daypack
$160
VauDe Sentai 28
VauDe
Sentai 28
Winter Pack
$135
ALPS Mountaineering Vapor Hydration Pack
ALPS Mountaineering
Vapor Hydration Pack
Hydration Pack
$53
Alite Ochiba
Alite
Ochiba
Daypack
$68
Mammut Heron Pro 70+15
Mammut
Heron Pro 70+15
Weekend Pack
$238 - $249
Mammut Zephir Rope Bag
Mammut
Zephir Rope Bag
Rope Bag
$50
ALPS Mountaineering Caldera 4500
ALPS Mountaineering
Caldera 4500
Expedition Pack
$133
CAMP Trail Vest 10
CAMP
Trail Vest 10
Hydration Pack
$77
High Sierra Kenley Backpack
High Sierra
Kenley Backpack
Daypack
$36
Amphipod Rapid Access Pouch
Amphipod
Rapid Access Pouch
Pack Pocket
$14
EMS Espresso Waist Pack
EMS
Espresso Waist Pack
Lumbar/Hip Pack
$30
Grivel Rock
Grivel
Rock
Overnight Pack
$140
Outdoor Research AirPurge Dry Compression Sack
Outdoor Research
AirPurge Dry Compression Sack
Compression Sack / Dry Bag
$33 - $42
DaKine Reload
DaKine
Reload
Daypack
$175
Exped Mountain Lite 40
Exped
Mountain Lite 40
Overnight Pack
$199
Amphipod AirFlow Viz-Lite
Amphipod
AirFlow Viz-Lite
Lumbar/Hip Pack
$23
Black Diamond Epic 45
Black Diamond
Epic 45
Overnight Pack
$118 - $189
DaKine Pulse 18L
DaKine
Pulse 18L
Daypack
$59
Black Diamond Chase Backpack
Black Diamond
Chase Backpack
Daypack
$105 - $139
Lowe Alpine AirZone Quest 37
Lowe Alpine
AirZone Quest 37
Overnight Pack
$115
Edelweiss DJ Rope Bag
Edelweiss
DJ Rope Bag
Rope Bag
$50
Mammut Hera Crest 38+10
Mammut
Hera Crest 38+10
Overnight Pack
$160
Deuter Race
Deuter
Race
Daypack
$79
Osprey Viper 13
Osprey
Viper 13
Hydration Pack
$110
The North Face Fuel Tool Belt
The North Face
Fuel Tool Belt
Lumbar/Hip Pack
$50
Arc'teryx Astri 19
Arc'teryx
Astri 19
Daypack
$149
Burton Zoom 26L Pack
Burton
Zoom 26L Pack
Winter Pack
$155
Metolius Mega Duffel
Metolius
Mega Duffel
Pack Duffel
$129
Sea to Summit Deluxe Pack Cover
Sea to Summit
Deluxe Pack Cover
Pack Cover
$27 - $29
Patagonia Violeta 25L
Patagonia
Violeta 25L
Daypack
$48 - $69
REI Lode
REI
Lode
Lumbar/Hip Pack
$17
Mammut Ophir Rope Bag
Mammut
Ophir Rope Bag
Rope Bag
$35
JanSport Sinder 15
JanSport
Sinder 15
Daypack
$24 - $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.