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

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

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
$71 - $95
DaKine Heli Pro 20L Winter Pack
$63
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
$134 - $179
Granite Gear Vapor Current Belts Backpack Accessory
$40
Topo Designs Flap Pack Daypack
$224
JanSport Onyx Source Pack Daypack
$56
EMS Sector 40 Overnight Pack
$97
 
Lowe Alpine Elbrus 55:65 Weekend Pack
$240
Montane VIA Trail Vest Hydration Pack
$109
Granite Gear Nimbus Trace Access 60 Weekend Pack
$330
Gregory Maya 22 Daypack
$83 - $115
Burton Riders 22L Pack Winter Pack
$60
NRS HydroLock Dry bag Dry Bag
$20 - $34
High Sierra Computer Day Pack Daypack
$51
 
Mystery Ranch Ravine Weekend Pack
$279
Deuter ACT Trail 30 Daypack
$97 - $129
Nite Ize S-Biner SlideLock Backpack Accessory
$3
DaKine Cannery Row 10L Lumbar/Hip Pack
$45
Patagonia Stormfront Roll Top Pack 30L Daypack
$149
Exped ition 65 Weekend Pack
$549
Marmot Draft 20 Daypack
$65
 
Cotopaxi Volta 35L Rolltop Overnight Pack
$110
Gregory Stout 75 Expedition Pack
$219
Mountainsmith Cruiser Daypack
$65
CamelBak Ambush Hydration Pack
$112
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Daybreak Pack Daypack
$215
Geigerrig Tactical 1600 Hydration Pack
$180
Mountainsmith Buzz TLS Lumbar/Hip Pack
$55
 
Grivel Marmolada 28 Daypack
$110
Eagle Creek Universal Traveler Daypack RFID Daypack
$140
Kelty Transit 3.0 Child Carrier
$172 - $229
ABS Powder Zip-On 5 Avalanche Airbag Pack
$34
Topo Designs Trail Pack Daypack
$98
Dynafit Dy.N.A. X7 Hydration Pack
$90
Oakley Snowmad R.A.S. 30 Avalanche Airbag Pack
$158
Equinox Gila Ultralite Vertical Pack Pocket Backpack Accessory
$13
 
Granite Gear Virga 26 Daypack
$120
Vargo Ti-Arc CF External Frame Backpack
$400
Metolius RopeMaster Rope Bag
$39
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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.