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

Eagle Creek Truist 65L Weekend Pack
$172
Sierra Designs Sorcery 55 Weekend Pack
$115
VauDe Wizard Air 24+4 Daypack
$65 - $99
Mountain Hardwear Lani 50 Weekend Pack
$190 - $202
Nathan 5k Runners Pak Lumbar/Hip Pack
$25
CamelBak Highwire 20 100 Oz Hydration Hydration Pack
$66
Mountain Hardwear Canyonlands Backpack Daypack
$89
Mammut Ride Removable Airbag Avalanche Airbag Pack
$450 - $879
Gregory Freia 22 Daypack
$74 - $98
VauDe Tacora 20+4 Daypack
$65 - $99
DaKine Aux Hip Pack 10L Lumbar/Hip Pack
$34 - $38
Deuter Graduate Daypack
$89
CamelBak Spire 22 LR 100 Oz Hydration Pack
$150
The North Face Router Charged Daypack
$149 - $249
Deuter Cruise 30 Winter Pack
$149
Granite Gear Meridian Vapor Ki Weekend Pack
$20
Gregory Maya 10 Daypack
$65 - $84
Kelty Daypack Daypack
$56 - $69
Kelty Tour 1.0 Child Carrier
$185
NRS Paragon Pack Portage Pack
$100
JanSport Ember Daypack
$50
Mile High Mountaineering Champ 24L Approach Pack Daypack
$79
L.L.Bean Continental S Rucksack Daypack
$60
Marmot Flux 24 Daypack
$99
Marmot Apollo 35 Overnight Pack
$97 - $138
CAMP ack Rapid Winter Pack
$70 - $139
Marmot Scree 22 Daypack
$74
Ortlieb Flight 22 Daypack
$240
Gregory Cairn 68 Pack Weekend Pack
$224 - $299
The North Face Sabrina Rucksack Daypack
$99
REI XT 85 Shoulder Straps Backpack Accessory
$30
Mammut Lithia Z Daypack
$65
VauDe Hidalgo 45+10 Overnight Pack
$128
REI Passage 38 Overnight Pack
$100
Burton Gromlet Daypack
$17
L.L.Bean Traverse Backpack Daypack
$60
CamelBak Kicker Hydration Pack
$55
CamelBak Trailblazer 15 Hydration Pack
$74
Source Spinner NC Hydration Pack
$60
Burton Sidekick Daypack
$18
Osprey Koby Daypack
$50
Burton Rider's Pack (17 L) Daypack
$70
Fjallraven Kanken Mini Daypack
$60
The North Face Recon Squash Daypack
$47 - $55
Gregory Wander 70 Weekend Pack
$179 - $199
L.L.Bean Deluxe Kids Backpack Daypack
$40
Deuter Schmusebar Daypack
$39
L.L.Bean Discovery Backpack Daypack
$20 - $39
ERGObaby Performance Baby Carrier Child Carrier
$140
Patagonia Poco Mas 15L Daypack
$30 - $59
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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.