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

Terra Nova Laser 25
Terra Nova
Laser 25
Daypack
$89
EMS Squito Hydration Pack
EMS
Squito Hydration Pack
Hydration Pack
$41
Granite Gear eVent Sil Ultra-Duty Packliners
Granite Gear
eVent Sil Ultra-Duty Packliners
Stuff Sack
$40 - $44
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Cuben Fiber Stuff Sack
Hyperlite Mountain Gear
Cuben Fiber Stuff Sack
Stuff Sack
$12
Lowe Alpine Strike 12
Lowe Alpine
Strike 12
Daypack
$70
DaKine Terminal
DaKine
Terminal
Daypack
$55 - $73
Gregory Aspen 25 Pack
Gregory
Aspen 25 Pack
Daypack
$129
Osprey Escapist 20
Osprey
Escapist 20
Daypack
$100
Gregory Tempo 3
Gregory
Tempo 3
Hydration Pack
$84 - $98
ABS Vario Ultralight 8
ABS
Vario Ultralight 8
Avalanche Airbag Pack
$707
Salomon Twin Belt
Salomon
Twin Belt
Lumbar/Hip Pack
$30 - $52
Boreas Gear Larkin 18
Boreas Gear
Larkin 18
Daypack
$100
Granite Gear Cayenne 30
Granite Gear
Cayenne 30
Daypack
$95 - $135
Deuter Giga
Deuter
Giga
Daypack
$70 - $79
Alite Hikari Pack
Alite
Hikari Pack
Daypack
$53 - $59
The North Face Torrent 8
The North Face
Torrent 8
Hydration Pack
$110
The North Face Casimir 32
The North Face
Casimir 32
Daypack
$104 - $149
Coghlan's Arno Straps
Coghlan's
Arno Straps
Sling/Strap
$5
Equinox Bilby Nylon Stuff Bags
Equinox
Bilby Nylon Stuff Bags
Stuff Sack
$5 - $13
Osprey Rev 18
Osprey
Rev 18
Hydration Pack
$120
REI Ditty Bags
REI
Ditty Bags
Stuff Sack
$17
Mile High Mountaineering Incline 18
Mile High Mountaineering
Incline 18
Daypack
$83 - $89
EMS Wanderer Hydration Pack
EMS
Wanderer Hydration Pack
Hydration Pack
$69
High Sierra Wave 50
High Sierra
Wave 50
Hydration Pack
$25
Metolius Vortex Rope Bag
Metolius
Vortex Rope Bag
Rope Bag
$50
Exped Mountain Pro 50
Exped
Mountain Pro 50
Weekend Pack
$359
The North Face Conness 65 Pack
The North Face
Conness 65 Pack
Weekend Pack
$299
Lowe Alpine TFX Cerro Torre ND 55+15
Lowe Alpine
TFX Cerro Torre ND 55+15
Weekend Pack
$300
REI Flash 45 Pack
REI
Flash 45 Pack
Overnight Pack
$129
Burton Traverse Pack
Burton
Traverse Pack
Overnight Pack
$108
NRS PFD Hydration Pack
NRS
PFD Hydration Pack
Hydration Pack
$55
The North Face Village Base Camp Crimp
The North Face
Village Base Camp Crimp
Daypack
$69
Mammut Trion Element 30
Mammut
Trion Element 30
Daypack
$110
Boreas Gear Erawan 50
Boreas Gear
Erawan 50
Weekend Pack
$150
JanSport Catalyst
JanSport
Catalyst
Daypack
$54
Lowe Alpine Kamet ND 55:65 Backpack
Lowe Alpine
Kamet ND 55:65 Backpack
Overnight Pack
$260
Outdoor Research Levitator Pack
Outdoor Research
Levitator Pack
Daypack
$59 - $65
Marmot Apollo 60
Marmot
Apollo 60
Weekend Pack
$199
 
Black Diamond
Ascent Crampon Bikini
Pack Pocket
$10
Mountain Hardwear Cronus Backpack
Mountain Hardwear
Cronus Backpack
Daypack
$112 - $149
Mammut Nirvana Ride 22
Mammut
Nirvana Ride 22
Winter Pack
$96
Salomon Agile 12 Set
Salomon
Agile 12 Set
Hydration Pack
$120
Liberty Mountain Ultralight Hook and Loop Straps
Liberty Mountain
Ultralight Hook and Loop Straps
Sling/Strap
$2
Geigerrig Rig 700
Geigerrig
Rig 700
Hydration Pack
$113
Deuter KC Deluxe Rain Cover
Deuter
KC Deluxe Rain Cover
Child Carrier Accessory
$34
Gregory Border 25 Pack
Gregory
Border 25 Pack
Daypack
$129 - $149
JanSport City Scout
JanSport
City Scout
Daypack
$28 - $40
Eagle Creek Ultimate Explorer LT
Eagle Creek
Ultimate Explorer LT
Expedition Pack
$70
REI Roadtripper Duffel
REI
Roadtripper Duffel
Pack Duffel
$30 - $55
Arc'teryx Altra 72 & 62 Hipbelt Replacement
Arc'teryx
Altra 72 & 62 Hipbelt Replacement
Backpack Accessory
$65
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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.