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
Deuter
Granite Gear
Patagonia
Sea to Summit
SealLine
Mountainsmith
Hyperlite Mountain Gear

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

user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Lost Creek Monster TAG Daypack
$78 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Rivendell Mountain Works Jensen Pack
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Arc'teryx Cierzo 35 Overnight Pack
$119 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Cactus Climbing Miklat Overnight Pack
$150 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Osprey Mira 26 Daypack
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
The North Face Casimir 36 Overnight Pack
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Arc'teryx Arrakis 65 Weekend Pack
$499 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
DaKine Heli Pack Winter Pack
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
MindShift Rotation180° Professional 38L Overnight Pack
$390 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus FS Weekend Pack
$269 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Black Diamond Demon Duffel Pack Duffel
$70 MSRP
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Badlands 4500 Expedition Pack
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Serratus Orion Weekend Pack
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Klymit Motion 35 Overnight Pack
$150 MSRP
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
High Peak Kathmandu 70 + 10 Expedition Pack
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Cerro Torre Kodiak Expedition Pack
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Black Diamond Magnum Daypack
$70 MSRP
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
PolePack
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Source DUNE X-Fit Hydration Pack
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Ferrino Stratus Overnight Pack
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
London Bridge Light Infantry Patrol Pack Weekend Pack
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Aqua-Quest Nautica 30L Dry Bag
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Mountainsmith Dart TLS Lumbar/Hip Pack
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
GoLite Rush Daypack
$70 MSRP
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
The Big Heavy External Frame Backpack
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Outdoor Research Window Dry Bags Dry Bag
$30 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Mile High Mountaineering Flatiron 38 Overnight Pack
$189 MSRP
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
L.L.Bean Duffle Bag Pack Duffel
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
MEC Alpinelite 85 Expedition Pack
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Tough Traveler child carrier Child Carrier
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Wild Things Rock and Ice Sac Weekend Pack
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Quechua Arpenaz 10L Daypack
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
EMS Impulse Hydration Pack Hydration Pack
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
MEI Flying Scotsman II Weekend Pack
$192 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Osprey Poco Child Carrier
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Berghaus Wilderness 65+15 Weekend Pack
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
ALPS Mountaineering Quadrant 4900 Expedition Pack
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Kifaru Cargo Panel Pack Cover
$140 MSRP
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Jandd Sufa Lite Weekend Pack
$270 MSRP
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Bach Fat Maxx Expedition Pack
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Patagonia MLC
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
GoLite HydroSpeed Lumbar/Hip Pack
$50 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
L.L.Bean Mountainside Backpack Daypack
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Deuter AC Aera 22 SL Daypack
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
GoLite Pursuit Weekend Pack
$165 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Equinox Parula Ultralite Day Pack Daypack
$47 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Ortlieb Back-Roller Plus QL2.1
$225 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
LifeProof iPhone 4/4S Case Waterproof Hard Case
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
VauDe Ultra Hiker 20 Daypack
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Bergans Skarstind 32 Overnight Pack
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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.