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
Portage Packs
Rope Bags
Accessories

Brands

CamelBak
ULA Equipment
Deuter
Kelty
Granite Gear
Patagonia
Gregory
Osprey
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

user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Stuff Sacks Stuff Sack
$8 - $18
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Mammut Trion Guide 45+7 Overnight Pack
$140 - $199
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Arc'teryx Cierzo 35 Overnight Pack
$99
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Osprey Mira 26 Hydration Pack
$149 - $150
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
The North Face Casimir 36 Overnight Pack
$95 - $169
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
DaKine Heli Pack Winter Pack
$70
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Black Diamond Demon Duffel Pack Duffel
$60 - $79
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
The North Face Jester Daypack
$42 - $65
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Osprey Farpoint 40 Overnight Pack
$150
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Black Diamond Magnum Daypack
$50 - $69
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Outdoor Research Backcountry Organizers Pack Pocket
$20 - $26
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Mountain Hardwear Hueco 34 Overnight Pack
$90 - $130
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Nathan Trail Mix Lumbar/Hip Pack
$31 - $45
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Mountainsmith Dart TLS Lumbar/Hip Pack
$24 - $34
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Mountainsmith Lariat 65 Weekend Pack
$200
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Osprey Porter 65 Weekend Pack
$150
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
EMS Impulse Hydration Pack Hydration Pack
$63
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Mammut Trion Light 28 Daypack
$126 - $189
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Deuter AC Aera 22 SL Daypack
$109
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
VauDe Ultra Hiker 20 Daypack
$55
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
High Sierra Access Overnight Pack
$50
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Osprey Raptor 10 Hydration Pack
$119 - $120
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Marmot Long Hauler Pack Duffel
$63 - $148
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Deuter ACT Lite 75+10 Expedition Pack
$229
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Outdoor Research Ultralight Ditty Sacks Stuff Sack
$25 - $28
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Mountainsmith Lookout 50 Weekend Pack
$162
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Osprey Stratos 34 Overnight Pack
$140
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Sierra Designs Discovery 30 Daypack
$85 - $131
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Black Diamond Innova 50 Weekend Pack
$157
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
EMS Long Trail 70 Weekend Pack
$183
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
CamelBak L.U.X.E. Hydration Pack
$65 - $133
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Osprey Exos 48 Overnight Pack
$157 - $190
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
The North Face Verto 26 Daypack
$58 - $79
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Mountain Hardwear Fluid Race Vest Daypack
$63 - $70
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
L.L.Bean White Mountain Pack Weekend Pack
$190
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Osprey Ariel 75 Expedition Pack
$310
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Compression Sack Compression Sack
$18 - $39
user rating: 4 of 5 (24)
Osprey Atmos 50 Weekend Pack
$157 - $210
user rating: 4 of 5 (14)
Osprey Stratos 24 Daypack
$98 - $120
user rating: 4 of 5 (14)
Gregory Deva 60 Weekend Pack
$241 - $329
user rating: 4 of 5 (12)
JanSport Carson 80 External Frame Backpack
$95
user rating: 4 of 5 (12)
Osprey Exos 58 Weekend Pack
$182 - $220
user rating: 4 of 5 (10)
REI Flash 18 Pack Daypack
$20
user rating: 4 of 5 (9)
Kelty Coyote 80 Expedition Pack
$140 - $209
user rating: 4 of 5 (8)
Mountainsmith Maverick Weekend Pack
$77
user rating: 4 of 5 (6)
Deuter ACT Lite 50+10 Weekend Pack
$179 - $185
user rating: 4 of 5 (6)
Osprey Volt 60 Weekend Pack
$180
user rating: 4 of 5 (6)
The North Face Terra 45 Overnight Pack
$129
user rating: 4 of 5 (5)
Gregory Z30 Daypack
$94 - $148
user rating: 4 of 5 (5)
Osprey Raptor 14 Hydration Pack
$130
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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.