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

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

DaKine Prom Backpack Daypack
$30 - $37
Mammut Light Removable Airbag Ready Avalanche Airbag Pack
$189
UltrAspire Alpha 2.0 Hydration Vest Hydration Pack
$125
Edelweiss Easy Rope Bag Rope Bag
$30
Kelty Shrike 26 Daypack
$100
The North Face Patrol 24 Winter Pack
$145
Grivel Gamba 30 Daypack
$82
Petzl Portage Pack Overnight Pack
$137
Osprey Escapist 18 Daypack
$100
Nathan Intensity BlackLight Hydration Pack
$95
Amphipod AirFlow Microstretch Belt Lumbar/Hip Pack
$25
 
Fjallraven Camper 40 Overnight Pack
$120
Gossamer Gear RikSak 2 Daypack
$35
SealLine Boundary Pack Dry Pack
$90 - $119
 
Exped Mountain Pro 20 Daypack
$249
Patagonia Transport Pack 30L Daypack
$129
Lowe Alpine Eclipse 45:55 Overnight Pack
$112 - $144
Mountainsmith Travel Trunk Bag Pack Duffel
$48 - $69
The North Face BC Compressor Overnight Pack
$125
DaKine Foundation 26L Daypack
$32 - $74
Sea to Summit Pack Converter Pack Duffel
$60 - $74
Kelty Redstart 23 Daypack
$50
K2 Backside Float 30 Avalanche Airbag Pack
$360 - $431
The North Face Sack Pack Daypack
$12 - $20
Outdoor Research Lightweight Dry Sack Dry Bag
$14 - $21
Sea to Summit Lightweight Dry Sack Dry Bag
$10 - $24
Outdoor Research Sensor Dry Holster Dry Case/Pouch
$55 - $70
Columbia Wylder 15L Daypack
$55
Montane Batpack 6 Lumbar/Hip Pack
$47
High Sierra Composite 31L Daypack
$29
Ortovox Haute Route 45 Winter Pack
$189
Fjallraven Kanken Daypack
$63 - $75
Pelican 1030 Micro Case Waterproof Hard Case
$18
Mammut Trea Nordwand 32 Winter Pack
$300
Lowe Alpine Metanoia Expedition Pack
$210
Arc'teryx Khamski 38 Winter Pack
$224 - $253
Ortovox Base 20 ABS Avalanche Airbag Pack
$206 - $298
Ortovox Free Rider 18 Winter Pack
$120
CAMP X3 600 Daypack
$96 - $119
Petzl Bug Daypack
$67
Terra Nova Laser 20 Daypack
$59 - $69
Alite Shifter Pack Daypack
$88
Oakley Halifax Backpack Daypack
$66
CamelBak Volt 13 LR 100 Oz Hydration Pack Hydration Pack
$88 - $125
Mountainsmith Swift TLS Lumbar/Hip Pack
$55 - $59
REI Trail 30 Pack Daypack
$100
SealLine Cirrus Sack Dry Bag
$15
Deuter Speed Lite 15 Daypack
$69
The North Face Litho 24 Daypack
$110
CamelBak Gambler Hydration Pack Hydration Pack
$95
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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.