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 »


Internal Frame
External Frame
Winter Packs
Hydration Packs
Front Packs
Lumbar/Hip Packs
Child Carriers
Portage Packs
Rope Bags


ULA Equipment
Granite Gear
Sea to Summit




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

CamelBak Aurora Hydration Pack
$45 - $70
Terra Nova Laser 25 Daypack
EMS Squito Hydration Pack Hydration Pack
Granite Gear eVent Sil Ultra-Duty Packliners Stuff Sack
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Cuben Fiber Stuff Sack Stuff Sack
Lowe Alpine Strike 12 Daypack
Gregory Aspen 25 Pack Daypack
Osprey Escapist 20 Daypack
$75 - $99
Gregory Tempo 3 Hydration Pack
$69 - $99
Salomon Twin Belt Lumbar/Hip Pack
$36 - $65
Burton Echo Backpack Daypack
Boreas Gear Larkin 18 Daypack
$73 - $99
Granite Gear Cayenne 30 Daypack
Deuter Giga Daypack
The North Face Torrent 8 Hydration Pack
Millet Ubic 45 MBS Overnight Pack
The North Face Casimir 32 Daypack
$119 - $149
Coghlan's Arno Straps Sling/Strap
Equinox Bilby Nylon Stuff Bags Stuff Sack
$6 - $13
Osprey Rev 18 Hydration Pack
REI Ditty Bags Stuff Sack
Mile High Mountaineering Incline 18 Daypack
Rab Dynamo 25 Daypack
EMS Wanderer Hydration Pack Hydration Pack
JanSport Katahdin 70L Weekend Pack
$70 - $129
High Sierra Wave 50 Hydration Pack
Metolius Vortex Rope Bag Rope Bag
Exped Mountain Pro 50 Weekend Pack
The North Face Conness 65 Pack Weekend Pack
$200 - $298
Lowe Alpine TFX Cerro Torre ND 55+15 Weekend Pack
Wenzel Alpine Pass Daypack
REI Ghost Cruiser Travel Pack Daypack
Burton Traverse Pack Overnight Pack
NRS PFD Hydration Pack Hydration Pack
Mammut Trion Element 30 Daypack
Boreas Gear Erawan 50 Weekend Pack
Lowe Alpine Kamet ND 55:65 Backpack Overnight Pack
Outdoor Research Levitator Pack Daypack
$52 - $66
Marmot Apollo 60 Weekend Pack
Black Diamond Ascent Crampon Bikini Pack Pocket
Mountain Hardwear Cronus Backpack Daypack
$112 - $149
Mammut Nirvana Ride 22 Winter Pack
$140 - $149
Salomon Agile 12 Set Hydration Pack
$84 - $95
DaKine Boot Pack 41L
Salomon Quest 20 ABS Compatible Winter Pack
Geigerrig Rig 700 Hydration Pack
Deuter KC Deluxe Rain Cover Child Carrier Accessory
$26 - $34
Gregory Border 25 Pack Daypack
$104 - $149
JanSport City Scout Daypack
$27 - $39
REI Roadtripper Duffel Pack Duffel
$30 - $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.


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.