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

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

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

CamelBak Ultra 10 Hydration Pack
$115 - $150
JanSport Equinox 50 Weekend Pack
$77
The North Face Overhaul 40 Overnight Pack
$111 - $159
Kelty Cache Hauler (Bag Only) Weekend Pack
$110
Nathan VaporCloud Hydration Pack
$140 - $200
Patagonia Critical Mass Daypack
$129
Deuter ACT Trail 22 SL Daypack
$95 - $119
Arc'teryx Sebring 18 Daypack
$83 - $89
 
Exped Mountain Lite 20 Daypack
$129
Mountain Hardwear Enterprise 29L Daypack
$109
Granite Gear Belts for Ultralight Packs Backpack Accessory
$40
UltrAspire Fastpack Race Vest Hydration Pack
$150
 
Lowe Alpine Atlas ND65 Weekend Pack
$200
Osprey Zealot 15 Hydration Pack
$105 - $140
Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Hydration Pack
$80 - $130
Arc'teryx Jericho Daypack
$97 - $119
Oakley Factory Pilot XL Backpack Overnight Pack
$38
Arc'teryx Blade 6 Daypack
$129 - $749
Deuter Transit 65 Weekend Pack
$189
Sea to Summit TPU Guide Waterproof Case for Smartphones Dry Case/Pouch
$30
Arc'teryx Chilcotin 12 Hydration Pack
$104 - $138
Filson Twill Rucksack Daypack
$290
Arc'teryx Pack Shelter Pack Cover
$30 - $44
Seattle Sports Grand Adventure Pack Dry Pack
$55
Mammut Backbone Removable Airbag ready Avalanche Airbag Pack
$180
E-Case iSeries Case Dry Case/Pouch
$28
Sea to Summit Neoprene Pouches Stuff Sack
$8
Outdoor Research Dry Envelope Dry Bag
$16 - $24
Outdoor Research Rangefinder Duffel Pack Duffel
$99
Kelty Red Cloud 80 Expedition Pack
$225
Deuter Freerider 24 SL Winter Pack
$110
Granite Gear Skylark Lumbar/Hip Pack
$32
Mountain Hardwear Dogpatch 25L Daypack
$69
Osprey Tempest 9 Daypack
$67 - $89
VauDe Sentai 28 Winter Pack
$67
Gossamer Gear Type 2 Utility Daypack
$99
Source Paragon Hydration Pack
$150
Mammut Heron Pro 70+15 Weekend Pack
$255
Black Diamond Axis 24 Pack Winter Pack
$120
Mammut Zephir Rope Bag Rope Bag
$50
Deuter Trans Alpine 30 AC Hydration Pack
$129
ALPS Mountaineering Caldera 4500 Expedition Pack
$78 - $123
NRS System 5 Dry Bag Dry Bag
$95
High Sierra Kenley Backpack Daypack
$38
 
Granite Gear Trad #4 Canoe Pack Portage Pack
$157
Arc'teryx Blade 28 Daypack
$189 - $749
Amphipod Rapid Access Pouch Pack Pocket
$14
Outdoor Research AirPurge Dry Compression Sack Compression Sack / Dry Bag
$33 - $49
DaKine Reload Daypack
$250
 
POC Thorax 11 Avalanche Airbag Pack
$645
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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.