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

CamelBak
ULA Equipment
Deuter
Kelty
Granite Gear
Patagonia
Gregory
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

Metolius Vortex Rope Bag Rope Bag
$40 - $49
Exped Mountain Pro 50 Weekend Pack
$359
The North Face Conness 65 Pack Weekend Pack
$209 - $299
Lowe Alpine TFX Cerro Torre ND 55+15 Weekend Pack
$300
Burton Traverse Pack Overnight Pack
$120
Deuter Transport Cover Pack Cover
$59
NRS PFD Hydration Pack Hydration Pack
$55
Mammut Trion Element 30 Daypack
$150
Boreas Gear Erawan 50 Weekend Pack
$150
Lowe Alpine Kamet ND 55:65 Backpack Overnight Pack
$234
Outdoor Research Levitator Pack Daypack
$52 - $65
Marmot Apollo 60 Weekend Pack
$139 - $198
 
Black Diamond Ascent Crampon Bikini Pack Pocket
$10
Mountain Hardwear Cronus Backpack Daypack
$134 - $149
Mammut Nirvana Ride 22 Winter Pack
$96 - $149
Salomon Agile 12 Set Hydration Pack
$96 - $119
DaKine Boot Pack 41L
$65
Salomon Quest 20 ABS Compatible Winter Pack
$144
Geigerrig Rig 700 Hydration Pack
$76 - $159
Deuter KC Deluxe Rain Cover Child Carrier Accessory
$34
Gregory Border 25 Pack Daypack
$134 - $149
JanSport City Scout Daypack
$27
Eagle Creek Ultimate Explorer LT Expedition Pack
$70
REI Roadtripper Duffel Pack Duffel
$30 - $55
Outbound Power Pack Active Pack Daypack
$80
Lowe Alpine Eclipse 35 Daypack
$91 - $103
Nike RPM Backpack Daypack
$80
Ultimate Direction Katoa Lumbar/Hip Pack
$49 - $69
Marmot Sidetrack 14 Winter Pack
$99
Salomon Hydro 45 Lumbar/Hip Pack
$35
Granite Gear Dreamsack Stuff Sack
$20
Gregory Athena Daypack
$74
Patagonia Arbor Pack 26L Daypack
$99
Lowe Alpine Attack 25 Daypack
$80
Granite Gear Escape A.C. 60 Weekend Pack
$250
High Sierra Quickshot 70 Hydration Pack
$40
Gregory Denali 75 Expedition Pack
$263 - $359
Black Diamond Anthem AvaLung Pack Avalanche Airbag Pack
$216 - $269
Marmot Apollo 25 Daypack
$94 - $98
Black Diamond Super Chute Rope Bag
$31 - $44
Gregory Jade 33 Daypack
$159
Osprey Poco Carrying Case Child Carrier Accessory
$30
Burton Provision Backpack Daypack
$80
Gregory Maya 5 Daypack
$55 - $68
Deuter Wizard Daypack
$32 - $36
REI Sprint Flap Daypack Daypack
$41
Mountainsmith Tour TLS Lumbar/Hip Pack
$55 - $74
Backcountry Access Stash 20 Winter Pack
$71 - $109
Black Diamond Halo 28 JetForce Avalanche Airbag Pack Avalanche Airbag Pack
$1,000 - $1,274
The North Face Vault Daypack
$35 - $55
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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.