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

Kelty Launch 25
Kelty Launch 25 Daypack
$80 - $94
Columbia Montlake Backpack
Columbia Montlake Backpack Daypack
$80
Mammut Trea Element 35
Mammut Trea Element 35 Winter Pack
$120
High Sierra U.S. Snowboard Team Backpack
High Sierra U.S. Snowboard Team Backpack Winter Pack
$77
REI XT 85 Hipbelt
REI XT 85 Hipbelt Backpack Accessory
$30
Salomon Quest 20 ABS
Salomon Quest 20 ABS Avalanche Airbag Pack
$144
Black Diamond Pilot 11 JetForce Avalanche Airbag Pack
Black Diamond Pilot 11 JetForce Avalanche Airbag Pack Avalanche Airbag Pack
$1,250
Lowe Alpine Eclipse 15
Lowe Alpine Eclipse 15 Daypack
$75 - $99
Marmot Sidecountry 20
Marmot Sidecountry 20 Winter Pack
$87 - $128
Aarn Marathon Magic 22L
Aarn Marathon Magic 22L Daypack
$149
Black Diamond EXL Backpack
Black Diamond EXL Backpack Daypack
$75 - $99
ABS Vario 30 Backpack
ABS Vario 30 Backpack Avalanche Airbag Pack
$82 - $109
Patagonia Yerba 22L
Patagonia Yerba 22L Daypack
$54 - $79
Deuter Race X
Deuter Race X Daypack
$71 - $89
DaKine Sentry 24L
DaKine Sentry 24L Daypack
$37
Mammut Spindrift Guide 30
Mammut Spindrift Guide 30 Winter Pack
$172
JanSport Sinder 20
JanSport Sinder 20 Daypack
$25 - $44
Mountain Hardwear Fluid 12
Mountain Hardwear Fluid 12 Daypack
$60 - $80
High Sierra Ridgeline
High Sierra Ridgeline Lumbar/Hip Pack
$45
Carhartt Elements Dome Duffel Bag
Carhartt Elements Dome Duffel Bag Pack Duffel
$95 - $129
Arc'teryx Altra 33 LT
Arc'teryx Altra 33 LT Overnight Pack
$185 - $249
Gregory Compass 30L
Gregory Compass 30L Daypack
$73 - $99
Rossignol ABS Compatible Pack
Rossignol ABS Compatible Pack Avalanche Airbag Pack
$198
Osprey Tempest 40
Osprey Tempest 40 Overnight Pack
$112 - $150
JanSport Right Pack Digital Edition
JanSport Right Pack Digital Edition Daypack
$52 - $75
CamelBak Delaney Fit
CamelBak Delaney Fit Lumbar/Hip Pack
$27 - $37
Granite Gear Air Pocket
Granite Gear Air Pocket Pack Pocket
$10
Osprey Syncro 20
Osprey Syncro 20 Daypack
$97 - $129
Eureka! Stony Creek 35
Eureka! Stony Creek 35 Daypack
$38 - $57
UltrAspire Kinetic Bottle Vest
UltrAspire Kinetic Bottle Vest Hydration Pack
$130
Burton AK 23L Pack
Burton AK 23L Pack Winter Pack
$81 - $119
Mountain Hardwear Lander
Mountain Hardwear Lander Daypack
$54 - $70
Fjallraven Kajka 55
Fjallraven Kajka 55 Weekend Pack
$350
Black Diamond Sonic Backpack
Black Diamond Sonic Backpack Daypack
$105
Marmot Sphinx 20
Marmot Sphinx 20 Daypack
$65 - $87
Millet Peuterey Integrale 30 + 10 Pack
Millet Peuterey Integrale 30 + 10 Pack Overnight Pack
$136
CamelBak Vista FT
CamelBak Vista FT Hydration Pack
$87 - $134
L.L.Bean Carryall Day Pack
L.L.Bean Carryall Day Pack Daypack
$40 - $49
CamelBak Karma
CamelBak Karma Hydration Pack
$49
Black Diamond Pulse
Black Diamond Pulse Daypack
$90
Source Pulse
Source Pulse Hydration Pack
$80
Mountain Hardwear Rico
Mountain Hardwear Rico Daypack
$41
Granite Gear Rongbuk 28
Granite Gear Rongbuk 28 Daypack
$97 - $103
Kelty Dobler
Kelty Dobler Daypack
$33 - $49
Osprey Sternum Three Magnet Kit
Osprey Sternum Three Magnet Kit Backpack Accessory
$8
Bergans Birken Duo 18L
Bergans Birken Duo 18L Hydration Pack
$69
Mountain Hardwear Thruway 50
Mountain Hardwear Thruway 50 Weekend Pack
$140
Black Diamond Infinity 60
Black Diamond Infinity 60 Weekend Pack
$138
Kelty Tannen
Kelty Tannen Daypack
$44 - $79
Aarn Compact Balance Pockets
Aarn Compact Balance Pockets Front Pack
$49
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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.