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

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
$84 - $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
Carhartt Legacy Gear Bag
Carhartt
Legacy Gear Bag
Pack Duffel
$75 - $139
Jones Snowboards Higher 30 RAS Ready Pack
Jones Snowboards
Higher 30 RAS Ready Pack
Winter Pack
$219
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
Craft Coach Pack
Craft
Coach Pack
Overnight Pack
$100
Lowe Alpine Airzone ND 24
Lowe Alpine
Airzone ND 24
Daypack
$110 - $140
 
REI
Uplode Daypack
Daypack
$100
CamelBak SnoBlast
CamelBak
SnoBlast
Winter Pack
$62 - $90
Alite Cypress Snap On Cup Holder
Alite
Cypress Snap On Cup Holder
Backpack Accessory
$24
 
Liberty Mountain
Backpack Rain Cover
Pack Cover
$17
Burton Traction Pack 24L
Burton
Traction Pack 24L
Daypack
$51 - $54
CamelBak RaceBak
CamelBak
RaceBak
Hydration Pack
$90 - $100
Deuter Junior
Deuter
Junior
Daypack
$33 - $39
Granite Gear Leopard V.C. 46 Ki
Granite Gear
Leopard V.C. 46 Ki
Overnight Pack
$207 - $229
Aarn Natural Exhilaration 33L
Aarn
Natural Exhilaration 33L
Overnight Pack
$199
Nathan Elite Surge
Nathan
Elite Surge
Hydration Pack
$45
Mammut Lithium Z 20
Mammut
Lithium Z 20
Daypack
$75 - $99
Kelty Basecamp Duffel
Kelty
Basecamp Duffel
Pack Duffel
$30
DaKine Campus Pack
DaKine
Campus Pack
Overnight Pack
$32 - $54
Mammut Neon Pro
Mammut
Neon Pro
Daypack
$98
JanSport Equinox 50
JanSport
Equinox 50
Weekend Pack
$99
The North Face Overhaul 40
The North Face
Overhaul 40
Overnight Pack
$159
Kelty Cache Hauler (Bag Only)
Kelty
Cache Hauler (Bag Only)
Weekend Pack
$80 - $109
Nathan VaporCloud
Nathan
VaporCloud
Hydration Pack
$160 - $199
Mountain Hardwear Wandrin 28
Mountain Hardwear
Wandrin 28
Daypack
$95 - $107
Patagonia Critical Mass
Patagonia
Critical Mass
Daypack
$103 - $129
Arc'teryx Sebring 18
Arc'teryx
Sebring 18
Daypack
$119
Exped Mountain Lite 20
Exped
Mountain Lite 20
Daypack
$119 - $138
Mountain Hardwear Chuter 15
Mountain Hardwear
Chuter 15
Daypack
$64 - $75
Granite Gear Belts for Ultralight Packs
Granite Gear
Belts for Ultralight Packs
Backpack Accessory
$40
UltrAspire Fastpack Race Vest
UltrAspire
Fastpack Race Vest
Hydration Pack
$170
Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra
Ultimate Direction
SJ Ultra
Hydration Pack
$75 - $129
Arc'teryx Jericho
Arc'teryx
Jericho
Daypack
$149
Oakley Factory Pilot XL Backpack
Oakley
Factory Pilot XL Backpack
Overnight Pack
$55
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 - $34
Mammut Backbone Removable Airbag ready
Mammut
Backbone Removable Airbag ready
Avalanche Airbag Pack
$210 - $449
Sea to Summit Neoprene Pouches
Sea to Summit
Neoprene Pouches
Stuff Sack
$8
Mile High Mountaineering PowderKeg 32
Mile High Mountaineering
PowderKeg 32
Winter Pack
$229
Kelty Red Cloud 80
Kelty
Red Cloud 80
Expedition Pack
$202 - $224
Granite Gear Skylark
Granite Gear
Skylark
Lumbar/Hip Pack
$46
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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.