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

Gregory
CamelBak
ULA Equipment
Deuter
Kelty
Granite Gear
Patagonia
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

Eureka! Stony Creek 35
Eureka!
Stony Creek 35
Daypack
$38 - $57
UltrAspire Kinetic Bottle Vest
UltrAspire
Kinetic Bottle Vest
Hydration Pack
$117 - $129
Burton AK 23L Pack
Burton
AK 23L Pack
Winter Pack
$87 - $149
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
$65 - $97
Marmot Sphinx 20
Marmot
Sphinx 20
Daypack
$54 - $108
Millet Peuterey Integrale 30 + 10 Pack
Millet
Peuterey Integrale 30 + 10 Pack
Overnight Pack
$136
CamelBak Vista FT
CamelBak
Vista FT
Hydration Pack
$97 - $195
L.L.Bean Carryall Day Pack
L.L.Bean
Carryall Day Pack
Daypack
$60
Columbia Vixen 22L
Columbia
Vixen 22L
Daypack
$83
CamelBak Karma
CamelBak
Karma
Hydration Pack
$49
Black Diamond Pulse
Black Diamond
Pulse
Daypack
$89
Mountain Hardwear Rico
Mountain Hardwear
Rico
Daypack
$48
Granite Gear Rongbuk 28
Granite Gear
Rongbuk 28
Daypack
$130
Kelty Dobler
Kelty
Dobler
Daypack
$33 - $49
Osprey Sternum Three Magnet Kit
Osprey
Sternum Three Magnet Kit
Backpack Accessory
$8
Mountain Hardwear Thruway 50
Mountain Hardwear
Thruway 50
Weekend Pack
$130 - $149
Black Diamond Infinity 60
Black Diamond
Infinity 60
Weekend Pack
$138 - $171
Terra Nova Laser 10
Terra Nova
Laser 10
Daypack
$95
Kelty Tannen
Kelty
Tannen
Daypack
$56 - $79
Aarn Compact Balance Pockets
Aarn
Compact Balance Pockets
Front Pack
$52
L.L.Bean Quickload Day Pack
L.L.Bean
Quickload Day Pack
Daypack
$79
Mammut Ride R.A.S. Avalanche Airbag Backpack
Mammut
Ride R.A.S. Avalanche Airbag Backpack
Avalanche Airbag Pack
$360 - $699
Osprey Zealot 16
Osprey
Zealot 16
Hydration Pack
$150
VauDe Wallaby 12
VauDe
Wallaby 12
Child Carrier
$220
Osprey Questa
Osprey
Questa
Daypack
$90
JanSport Katahdin 50L
JanSport
Katahdin 50L
Weekend Pack
$85
Deuter Compact EXP 12
Deuter
Compact EXP 12
Hydration Pack
$125
The North Face Activation Unit
The North Face
Activation Unit
Avalanche Airbag Pack
$180
The North Face Banchee 35
The North Face
Banchee 35
Overnight Pack
$169
DaKine Network
DaKine
Network
Daypack
$60
The North Face Longhaul 30
The North Face
Longhaul 30
Pack Duffel
$299
Outbound Power Pack Glide Daypack 2.0
Outbound
Power Pack Glide Daypack 2.0
Daypack
$60
Ortlieb AirFlex 11
Ortlieb
AirFlex 11
Daypack
$135
Granite Gear Cloud Cover
Granite Gear
Cloud Cover
Pack Cover
$29 - $31
Black Diamond Alias
Black Diamond
Alias
Winter Pack
$153 - $169
ABS Powder 15 Backpack
ABS
Powder 15 Backpack
Avalanche Airbag Pack
$614
The North Face Trappist Pack
The North Face
Trappist Pack
Daypack
$119
L.L.Bean North Ridge Backpack
L.L.Bean
North Ridge Backpack
Daypack
$60
Lowe Alpine AirZone 30 XL
Lowe Alpine
AirZone 30 XL
Daypack
$119
Salomon Sky 25
Salomon
Sky 25
Daypack
$95 - $134
ABS Zip-On Vario 55
ABS
Zip-On Vario 55
Avalanche Airbag Pack
$130
The North Face Slackpack 20
The North Face
Slackpack 20
Winter Pack
$99
Osprey Kode 22
Osprey
Kode 22
Winter Pack
$114 - $130
Kelty Cycle Hiker
Kelty
Cycle Hiker
Daypack
$80 - $99
Deuter KC Rain Cover
Deuter
KC Rain Cover
Child Carrier Accessory
$27 - $34
Petzl Standard Rope Bag
Petzl
Standard Rope Bag
Rope Bag
$25
JanSport Fifth Avenue
JanSport
Fifth Avenue
Lumbar/Hip Pack
$17
Roxy Ship Out
Roxy
Ship Out
Daypack
$38
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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.