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
Dry Packs
Portage Packs
Rope Bags
Accessories

Brands

ULA Equipment
CamelBak
Osprey
Deuter
Kelty
Granite Gear
Patagonia
Sea to Summit
Arc'teryx
SealLine

Genders

Unisex
Men's
Women's
Kids'
Girls'

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

JanSport Onyx BroadBand Daypack
$63 - $79
Scott Air Free AP 12 Pro Kit Avalanche Airbag Pack
$825
Lowe Alpine Attack Lite 40 Winter Pack
$88
 
Mystery Ranch Cube Master Duffel 45 Pack Duffel
$75
 
BlueWater Ropes Rope Cauldron Rope Bag
$37
Lowe Alpine Cloud Peak ND35 Overnight Pack
$55
Millet Prolighter 38+10 Overnight Pack
$180
Osprey Daylite Plus Daypack
$65
CamelBak Circuit Hydration Pack
$84 - $85
 
ALPS Mountaineering Breeze Pack Daypack
$30
Mountainsmith Cyber II Recycled Camera Case Pack Pocket
$7
CAMP M5 Weekend Pack
$180
Columbia Classic Outdoor 25L Daypack
$59
CamelBak Aventura 18 Daypack
$80 - $123
Exped Fold Drybag UL Dry Bag
$32
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Metro Pack Daypack
$145
Burton Apollo Urban Backpack Daypack
$65
DaKine Vagabond 38L Overnight Pack
$120
DaKine Sequence Overnight Pack
$132 - $219
Mountain Hardwear Ozonic 58 OutDry Weekend Pack
$260
ABS Vario 15 Backpack Avalanche Airbag Pack
$46
Osprey Radial 26 Daypack
$120 - $159
 
Topo Designs Cosmos Pack Daypack
$89
Poler Classic Rolltop Daypack
$75
Mystery Ranch Cairn Overnight Pack
$179
Arc'teryx Kitsilano Daypack
$64 - $98
Cabela's Ridgeline 60L Backpack Weekend Pack
$96
Mammut Trion Zip 28 Daypack
$130
 
Kong Bag 200 Rope Bag
$95
Under Armour VX2-Undeniable Daypack
$70
Cabela's Harlan 30L Waterproof Pack Daypack
$180
Gregory Petit Dru Pro 85 Expedition Pack
$370 - $528
Deuter Cross Air EXP 10 Daypack
$129
DaKine 101 Pack Daypack
$51 - $57
Patagonia Stormfront Sling 20L Daypack
$199
Marmot Lightning Overnight Pack Daypack
$104
Stio Basin Tech Tote 59L Pack Duffel
$109
Outdoor Research Durable Stuff Sacks Stuff Sack
$12 - $29
 
Marmot Graviton 48 Overnight Pack
$179
E-Case eSeries Cases Dry Case/Pouch
$16 - $19
DaKine Trail Photo Camera Backpack Daypack
$80
Nathan Grit Hydration Pack
$120
Cabela's XPG 70L Backpack Weekend Pack
$150
Black Diamond Dawn Patrol 32 Winter Pack
$160
The North Face Cobra 40+10 Overnight Pack
$125
REI Flash 60 Pack Weekend Pack
$199
Osprey Kyte 36 Overnight Pack
$80 - $159
The North Face Base Camp Lacon Daypack
$75
Fjallraven Rucksack No. 21 Small Daypack
$150
Millet Rockland 38 Overnight Pack
$120
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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.