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 »


External Frame
Winter Packs
Hydration Packs
Front Packs
Lumbar/Hip Packs
Child Carriers
Dry Packs
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

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Gregory Zulu 65 Weekend Pack
$172 - $229
Mammut Lithium Speed 20 Daypack
Granite Gear Belt for Air Current Packs Backpack Accessory
Outdoor Research Water Bottle Parka Growler Pack Pocket / Hydration Accessory
Sierra Designs Flex Summit Sack Daypack
Osprey Syncro 10 Hydration Pack
Eagle Creek Travel Bug Mini Daypack RFID Daypack
REI Traverse 70/85 Shoulder Strap Backpack Accessory
Osprey Hydraulics Hose Magnet Kit Hydration Accessory / Backpack Accessory
Mammut Trea Guide 30+7 Winter Pack
$135 - $189
Pelican 1050 Micro Case Waterproof Hard Case
$19 - $26
Oakley Bathroom Sink Pack Daypack
Nite Ize S-Biner Ahhh Backpack Accessory
NRS Canyon Camping Dry Box Dry Case/Pouch
Exped Backcountry 45 Overnight Pack
Mystery Ranch Bear Spray Holster Pack Pocket
$20 - $24
Patagonia Lightweight Travel Tote Pack Daypack
Black Diamond Gym 35 Gear Bag Rope Bag
$60 - $69
Seattle Sports Dry Doc Dry Case/Pouch
$5 - $14
Klymit Splash 25 Dry Pack
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil View Dry Sack Dry Bag
$17 - $44
GoMotion Reactor 2 Lightvest Hydration Pack
Granite Gear Storm Cell Pack Cover
$19 - $26
Edelrid Caddy Rope Bag
Mountainsmith Vibe Lumbar/Hip Pack
$21 - $29
Mountain Hardwear Hueco 20 Daypack
CamelBak Spark 10 LR Hydration Pack
$58 - $82
Columbia Packadillo Daypack Daypack
Osprey Nova Daypack
$102 - $120
DaKine Capitol 23L Daypack
Sea to Summit TPU Guide Waterproof Case for iPhone Dry Case/Pouch
VauDe Brenta 25 Daypack
Granite Gear Packable Duffel Pack Duffel
$50 - $89
GSI Outdoors Lexan Gear Box Waterproof Hard Case
E-Case eSeries 20 Dry Case/Pouch
Gregory Sketch 28 Daypack
$78 - $129
Jones Snowboards Further 24 Backpack Winter Pack
L.L.Bean Teardrop Backpack Daypack
Kelty Junction 2.0 Child Carrier
Gregory Citro 20 Daypack
Gregory Tempo 5 Hydration Pack
Mammut Cargon Duffel Bag Pack Duffel
$130 - $179
L.L.Bean Canteen Hydration Pack Hydration Pack
Gregory Amber 60 Weekend Pack
$149 - $199
DaKine Mission Daypack
$38 - $69
Deuter Compact EXP 10 SL Hydration Pack
Fjallraven Kajka 85 Expedition Pack
Orion Packs Archer Ski Pack Winter Pack
Ultimate Direction Jurek Essential Lumbar/Hip Pack
Lowe Alpine Cerro Torre ND 60:80 Weekend Pack
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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.