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 »

Category

Daypacks
Overnight
Weekend
Expedition
External Frame
Winter Packs
Hydration Packs
Front Packs
Lumbar/Hip Packs
Child Carriers
Dry Packs
Portage Packs
Rope Bags
Accessories

Brand

ULA Equipment
CamelBak
Osprey
Gregory
Deuter
Granite Gear
Patagonia
Equinox
Sea to Summit
Kelty

User

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

Nathan Triangle Lumbar/Hip Pack
$30
Arc'teryx Blade 20 Daypack
$117 - $179
Mystery Ranch Scapegoat 25 Daypack
$218 - $294
Nite Ize CamJam Tie Down Strap Backpack Accessory
$12
Arc'teryx Quintic 20 Winter Pack
$143
Arc'teryx Brize 25 Daypack
$159
Dry Pak Cell Phone Case Dry Case/Pouch
$14
Lowe Alpine AirZone Z ND18 Daypack
$110
Granite Gear Lutsen 45 Overnight Pack
$140 - $199
L.L.Bean Ridge Runner 25 Day Pack Daypack
$99
Seattle Sports E-Merse DryMax Clear 3D Camera Case Dry Case/Pouch
$9 - $19
Mammut Xeron Element 22 Daypack
$60 - $69
Arc'teryx Bora AR 50 Weekend Pack
$499
Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack Daypack
$35
Gobi Gear SegSac Compress Stuff Sack
$35 - $39
VauDe Asymmetric 48+8 Overnight Pack
$180
Deuter Pace 28 SL Winter Pack
$119
Salomon Agile 2 Set Hydration Pack
$70 - $79
OtterBox T5000 Watertight Case With Foam Waterproof Hard Case
$35 - $44
Gregory Kletter Day Daypack
$110
Sherpani Indie Bag Daypack
$80
Exped Splash 15 Dry Bag
$29
REI Stuff Sack Stuff Sack
$9
 
ULA Equipment Stuff Sack Stuff Sack
$11 - $14
Sea to Summit Stuff Sack Stuff Sack
$8 - $18
Mammut Light Removable 3.0 Airbag Avalanche Airbag Pack
$580
Topo Designs Y-Pack Daypack
$68
E-Case iPod/iPhone 4 case with jack Dry Case/Pouch
$14 - $17
Light My Fire Add-a-Twist Waterproof Hard Case
$17
Singing Rock Expedition Duffel Bag Pack Duffel
$150 - $159
Deuter Futura Vario 45+10 SL Overnight Pack
$219
Mammut Lithium Guide 35 Overnight Pack
$85
Arc'teryx Pender Daypack
$70
Mammut Lithium Zip 24 Daypack
$90 - $119
Gregory Verte 25 Daypack
$69 - $79
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Porter Water Bottle Holder Backpack Accessory
$30
Mountain Hardwear Scrambler RT 35 OutDry Overnight Pack
$112 - $150
Lowe Alpine Ultralite Rucksack Liner Stuff Sack
$26
The North Face Snomad 34 Winter Pack
$159
SealLine Storm Sack Dry Bag
$12 - $14
Marmot Calistoga Daypack
$40 - $59
Deuter Rise Pro 32+ SL Winter Pack
$175
Granite Gear Superior Daypack
$29
Lowe Alpine Manaslu 55:65 Weekend Pack
$225 - $235
Mammut Nirvana Rocker Winter Pack
$55 - $99
Gregory Amasa 14 Daypack
$130
Platypus B-Line Pack Hydration Pack
$39
Lowe Alpine AirZone Trail 35 Daypack
$120 - $144
Gregory Miwok 12 Daypack
$49 - $85
Fjallraven Kaipak 58 Weekend Pack
$235 - $249
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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.