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
Dry Packs
Portage Packs
Rope Bags


Mountain Hardwear
ULA Equipment
Granite Gear




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

Liberty Mountain Backpack Rain Cover Pack Cover
Patagonia Fore Runner Vest 10L Hydration Pack
Burton Traction Pack 24L Daypack
CamelBak RaceBak Hydration Pack
$50 - $100
DaKine DLX Cargo Pack 55L Weekend Pack
Under Armour VX2-T Daypack
Deuter Junior Daypack
Granite Gear Leopard V.C. 46 Ki Overnight Pack
Mammut Lithium Z 20 Daypack
$70 - $74
DaKine Campus Pack Overnight Pack
$22 - $54
Mammut Neon Pro Daypack
CamelBak Ultra 10 Hydration Pack
JanSport Equinox 50 Weekend Pack
$71 - $76
The North Face Overhaul 40 Overnight Pack
Kelty Cache Hauler (Bag Only) Weekend Pack
Nathan VaporCloud Hydration Pack
$140 - $149
Mountain Hardwear Wandrin 28 Daypack
Patagonia Critical Mass Daypack
$77 - $129
Deuter ACT Trail 22 SL Daypack
Arc'teryx Sebring 18 Daypack
$89 - $100
Exped Mountain Lite 20 Daypack
$70 - $128
Mountain Hardwear Chuter 15 Daypack
Granite Gear Belts for Ultralight Packs Backpack Accessory
UltrAspire Fastpack Race Vest Hydration Pack
Osprey Zealot 15 Hydration Pack
Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Hydration Pack
Arc'teryx Jericho Daypack
$112 - $149
Oakley Factory Pilot XL Backpack Overnight Pack
Deuter Transit 65 Weekend Pack
Sea to Summit TPU Guide Waterproof Case for Smartphones Dry Case/Pouch
Arc'teryx Chilcotin 12 Hydration Pack
$90 - $138
Filson Twill Rucksack Daypack
Arc'teryx Pack Shelter Pack Cover
$30 - $34
Mammut Backbone Removable Airbag ready Avalanche Airbag Pack
Sea to Summit Neoprene Pouches Stuff Sack
Mile High Mountaineering PowderKeg 32 Winter Pack
Outdoor Research Dry Envelope Dry Bag
$15 - $24
Osprey Tempest 9 Daypack
The North Face Enduro Plus Pack Daypack
$120 - $140
VauDe Sentai 28 Winter Pack
Gossamer Gear Type 2 Utility Daypack
Source Paragon Hydration Pack
Mammut Heron Pro 70+15 Weekend Pack
$255 - $339
Black Diamond Axis 24 Pack Winter Pack
$96 - $119
Mammut Zephir Rope Bag Rope Bag
Deuter Trans Alpine 30 AC Hydration Pack
ALPS Mountaineering Caldera 4500 Expedition Pack
NRS System 5 Dry Bag Dry Bag
High Sierra Kenley Backpack Daypack
Granite Gear Trad #4 Canoe Pack Portage 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.