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

The North Face Surge II Charged Daypack
$229
Marmot Aquifer 24 Hydration Pack
$129
Source VIM Hydration Pack
$65
Mammut Spindrift Tour 32 Winter Pack
$90
Source Spinner Pro Hydration Pack
$74
Gregory Z 25 Daypack
$69 - $76
Mountain Hardwear Expedition Pack Duffel
$60 - $375
Mountain Hardwear Agama 31L Daypack
$99
Black Diamond SuperSlacker Rope Bag
$40
 
Wenzel Bear River Daypack
$12
The North Face Sano Daypack
$45
Lowe Alpine AirZone Trail 25 Daypack
$120
Lowe Alpine AirZone Quest ND30 Daypack
$155
The North Face Hydro Heli Vest Hydration Pack
$124
Marmot Eiger 32 Daypack
$169
Eddie Bauer Alchemist 25 Pack Daypack
$134
Deuter Giga Pro Daypack
$95
VauDe Brenta 40 Overnight Pack
$100
Lowe Alpine Cholaste II ND 50:60 Overnight Pack
$175
Deuter Freerider 26 Winter Pack
$149
Gossamer Gear Air Beam Pack Frame Backpack Accessory
$39
Arc'teryx Altra 35 LT Overnight Pack
$212
Arc'teryx Cierzo 28 Daypack
$119
Arc'teryx Altra 62 LT Weekend Pack
$449
Deuter ACT Trail 28 SL Daypack
$103 - $129
Nathan Firecatcher Hydration Pack
$59
Kelty FC Sun/Rain Hood Child Carrier Accessory
$17 - $34
Columbia Treadlite Lumbar Pack Lumbar/Hip Pack
$50
Granite Gear Eagle Backpack Daypack
$35
Black Diamond Alias AvaLung Winter Pack
$196
Arc'teryx Carrier Duffel 75 Pack Duffel
$116 - $178
Millet Prolighter 25 Daypack
$130
Gregory Amber 70 Weekend Pack
$160 - $219
Lowe Alpine Illusion Pack Rope Bag
$36
 
Geigerrig Rig 710 Hydration Pack
$116
Gregory Tempo 8 Hydration Pack
$89 - $108
Pelican 1550 Case Waterproof Hard Case
$236
Gregory J 28 Daypack
$83 - $117
CamelBak Ultra 4 Hydration Pack
$114 - $115
Eddie Bauer Cargo Pack Overnight Pack
$60
DaKine Manual 20L Daypack
$28
Eddie Bauer Alchemist 40 Pack Overnight Pack
$172
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Stuff Pack Daypack
$105
 
Granite Gear Ultralight Pack Hipbelt Backpack Accessory
$40
Mammut Neon Pro 40 Overnight Pack
$140
High Sierra Swerve Overnight Pack
$48
JanSport Run Around Daypack
$60
The North Face Big Shot II Daypack
$98 - $109
VauDe Cluster 10+3 Hydration Pack
$116
Patagonia Stormfront Pack Daypack
$239 - $299
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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.