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
Overnight
Weekend
Expedition
External Frame
Winter Packs
Hydration Packs
Front Packs
Lumbar/Hip Packs
Child Carriers
Dry Packs
Portage Packs
Rope Bags
Accessories

Brands

ULA Equipment
CamelBak
Osprey
Deuter
Granite Gear
Patagonia
Sea to Summit
Arc'teryx
Kelty
SealLine

Genders

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

 
Salomon Peak 30 Daypack
$150
Ultimate Direction AK Mountain Vest 3.0 Hydration Pack
$150
Lowe Alpine TFX Cerro Torre 65:85 Weekend Pack
$300
SealLine iPad Case Dry Case/Pouch
$30
Mammut Spindrift Ultralight 20 Winter Pack
$80
Eagle Creek Deviate 60L Travel Backpack Weekend Pack
$235
Deuter Cruise 28 SL Winter Pack
$110 - $119
REI Traverse 70 Weekend Pack
$239
Pelican 1010 Micro Case Waterproof Hard Case
$12 - $22
Deuter Freerider Pro 28 SL Winter Pack
$120 - $159
VauDe Brenta 30 Daypack
$82
Grivel Brenta 30 Daypack
$120
Mountainsmith Drift Lumbar/Hip Pack
$40 - $49
Lowe Alpine Mountain Attack 45:55 Overnight Pack
$175
Coghlan's Waterproof Pouch Set Pack Pocket
$8
Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Ice Pack Winter Pack
$285
Grivel Mago Daypack
$40 - $63
High Sierra Tactic Overnight Pack
$42
Osprey Skimmer 16 Daypack
$80
Bergans Istinden 34L Winter Pack
$159
Outdoor Research Zip Sack Stuff Sack
$16 - $23
Granite Gear Superior One Portage Pack
$230
Salomon Extend Max Gear Bag Winter Pack
$42 - $64
 
Outdoor Research Antimatter Duffel Pack Duffel
$65
Sea to Summit Alloy Buckle Sling/Strap
$8 - $10
Burton Cadet Backpack Daypack
$34
SealLine Urban Backpack Organizer Pack Pocket
$25
DeLorme inReach Protective and Flotation Case Waterproof Hard Case
$20
The North Face Cragaconda Overnight Pack
$170
 
Gossamer Gear Kumo Belt Sling/Strap
$20
Ortovox Peak 32 S Winter Pack
$169
Carhartt Legacy Deluxe Work Pack Daypack
$100
The North Face Surge II Daypack
$106 - $129
Mountainsmith Apex 100 Expedition Pack
$200 - $249
Nathan Fireball Hydration Pack
$100
Pelican 1020 Micro Case Waterproof Hard Case
$16 - $25
VauDe Astrum 70+10 Weekend Pack
$270
Salewa Peutery 30 Daypack
$159 - $168
Exped Typhoon 25 Daypack
$89 - $118
DaKine Heli Pro 20L Winter Pack
$54 - $89
Gossamer Gear RikSak Daypack
$30
The North Face Slackpack 16 Daypack
$79
Cotopaxi Taboche 55 Hiking Pack Weekend Pack
$190
Patagonia Anacapa Pack 20L Daypack
$59
 
Easton Ultralight Dry Sack Dry Bag
$8
 
Millet Venom 15 Daypack
$100
Deuter Guide 40+ SL Overnight Pack
$179
Granite Gear Vapor Current Belts Backpack Accessory
$40 - $43
Topo Designs Flap Pack Daypack
$224
JanSport Onyx Source Pack Daypack
$56
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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.