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
Deuter
Granite Gear
Patagonia
Equinox
Sea to Summit
Hyperlite Mountain Gear
SealLine

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

DaKine Capitol 23L Daypack
$18 - $27
Sea to Summit TPU Guide Waterproof Case for iPhone Dry Case/Pouch
$30
VauDe Brenta 25 Daypack
$110
Granite Gear Packable Duffel Pack Duffel
$50 - $89
GSI Outdoors Lexan Gear Box Waterproof Hard Case
$17
E-Case eSeries 20 Dry Case/Pouch
$16
Gregory Sketch 28 Daypack
$78 - $129
L.L.Bean Teardrop Backpack Daypack
$50
Kelty Junction 2.0 Child Carrier
$190
Gregory Citro 20 Daypack
$120
Mammut Cargon Duffel Bag Pack Duffel
$130 - $179
L.L.Bean Canteen Hydration Pack Hydration Pack
$90
Gregory Amber 60 Weekend Pack
$149 - $199
DaKine Mission Daypack
$38 - $69
Fjallraven Kajka 85 Expedition Pack
$415
Ultimate Direction Jurek Essential Lumbar/Hip Pack
$25
Lowe Alpine Cerro Torre ND 60:80 Weekend Pack
$300
Mountain Hardwear Ozonic 70 OutDry Weekend Pack
$290
Granite Gear Nimbus Trace Access 85 Ki Expedition Pack
$211
Gregory Juno 25 Daypack
$130
Boreas Gear Excelsior 30 Daypack
$91
Fjallraven Kaipak 28 Daypack
$150
Mammut Trion Felsturm 22 Winter Pack
$117
Thule Guidepost 75L Expedition Pack
$245 - $349
Hyperlite Mountain Gear CF8 Cuben Fiber Stuff Sack Stuff Sack
$20 - $90
SealLine Kodiak Window Dry Bag Dry Bag
$35
Mountain Hardwear Ozonic 50 OutDry Weekend Pack
$172
Burton Day Hiker 20L Pack Daypack / Winter Pack
$25
JanSport Klamath 65 Weekend Pack
$81 - $165
Osprey Duro 6 Hydration Pack
$110
CamelBak M.U.L.E. Raincover Pack Cover
$10
Outdoor Research Sensor Dry Pocket Dry Case/Pouch
$9 - $22
Thule Sapling Elite Child Carrier
$320
Witz Utility Locker I Waterproof Hard Case
$19
Petzl Classique Pack Daypack
$130
Exped Zip Pack UL Stuff Sack
$31
Black Diamond Cirque 45 Winter Pack
$219
DaKine 365 Pack 21L Daypack
$20
CamelBak Quantico Daypack
$159
Mystery Ranch Hip Monkey Lumbar/Hip Pack
$49
Oakley Kitchen Sink Backpack Daypack
$225
Mammut Neon Gear 45 Overnight Pack
$127 - $159
Fjallraven Rucksack No. 21 Large Daypack
$225
Osprey Kamber 42 Winter Pack
$190
Exped Travel Belt Pouch Lumbar/Hip Pack
$39
Patagonia Arbor 60L Duffel Pack Duffel
$99
Patagonia Refugio Pack 26L Daypack
$89
Deuter Rain Cover III Pack Cover
$35
Black Diamond Dawn Patrol 25 Winter Pack
$140
Gregory Sketch 18 Daypack
$100
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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.