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 »

Category

Daypacks
Overnight
Weekend
Expedition
External Frame
Winter Packs
Hydration Packs
Front Packs
Lumbar/Hip Packs
Child Carriers
Dry Packs
Portage Packs
Rope Bags
Accessories

Brand

ULA Equipment
CamelBak
Osprey
Gregory
Deuter
Granite Gear
Patagonia
Equinox
Sea to Summit
Kelty

User

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

VauDe Hidalgo 42+8 Overnight Pack
$120
L.L.Bean Deluxe Plus Kids Backpack Daypack
$50
Fjallraven Kanken Mini Daypack
$70
Cabela's Wolf Backpack Daypack
$30
Osprey Jet 12 Daypack
$50
The North Face Recon Squash Daypack
$50
Gregory Wander 70 Weekend Pack
$189
L.L.Bean Deluxe Kids Backpack Daypack
$35 - $39
Deuter Schmusebar Daypack
$39
Osprey Pogo Daypack
$60
The North Face Mini Berkeley Daypack
$55
Ultimate Direction Half Marathon Vest Hydration Pack
$60
Osprey Jet 18 Daypack
$60
Osprey Ace 38 Overnight Pack
$140
Osprey Ace 75 Expedition Pack
$180
Deuter Junior Daypack
$39
Mountainsmith Pursuit 50 Weekend Pack
$150
L.L.Bean Super Deluxe Kids Backpack Daypack
$60
Patagonia Bonsai Pack 14L Daypack
$59
Gregory Wander 38 Overnight Pack
$139
Deuter Chin Pad Child Carrier Accessory
$14
Kelty Sanitas 34 External Frame Backpack
$90 - $119
Deuter Kikki Daypack
$45
Osprey Moki Hydration Pack
$50
Marmot Arbor Daypack
$55
L.L.Bean Classic Campus Pack III Daypack
$60
Gregory Sucia 28 Daypack
$74 - $99
Kelty Red Cloud Junior Weekend Pack
$180
Gregory Wander 50 Weekend Pack
$169
Osprey Ace 50 Weekend Pack
$160
Fjallraven Kajka JR Daypack
$100
The North Face Sprout Pack Daypack
$26 - $35
Kelty Redcloud Junior Weekend Pack
$180
Cabela's Butterfly Backpack Daypack
$30
Osprey HydraJet Hydration Pack
$70
Marmot Root Daypack
$39
REI Tarn 12 Daypack
$35
user rating: 5 of 5 (40)
Arc'teryx Bora 80 Expedition Pack
$399 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (12)
Gregory Denali Pro 105 Expedition Pack
user rating: 5 of 5 (12)
Arc'teryx Bora 95 Expedition Pack
$435 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (8)
Norrona Recon External Frame Backpack
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (7)
Camp Trails Wilderness (External) External Frame Backpack
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
Granite Gear Nimbus Latitude Ki Weekend Pack
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Blackhawk! 3-Day Assault Backpack Overnight Pack
$140 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Gossamer Gear Gorilla Ultralight Overnight Pack
$195 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Figure Four Delta Pack Overnight Pack
$230 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Arc'teryx Altra 65 Weekend Pack
$375 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
CiloGear 60L Worksack Weekend Pack
$260 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Goruck GR1 Daypack
$295 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Mystery Ranch G6000 Expedition Pack
$525 MSRP
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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.