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

Brands

ULA Equipment
CamelBak
Osprey
Deuter
Granite Gear
Patagonia
Equinox
Sea to Summit
Arc'teryx
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

JanSport Houston Daypack
$32 - $49
JanSport Superbreak Daypack
$21 - $36
DaKine Nora 25L Daypack
$50
 
Mystery Ranch Cube Master Duffel 60 Pack Duffel
$90
Osprey Verve 9 Hydration Pack
$100
Granite Gear Toughsack Stuff Sack
$7 - $15
Mountainsmith Day Classic Hemp Lumbar/Hip Pack
$63
Pacsafe Metrosafe 350 GII Daypack
$70
Pacsafe VentureSafe 15L GII Daypack
$100 - $130
Mammut Rocker Removable Airbag Avalanche Airbag Pack
$525
 
CamelBak Bike Tool Organizer Roll Pack Pocket
$11
 
Exped Pack Liner UL Waterproof Hard Case
$31
Mountain Hardwear Frequentor 30L Backpack Daypack
$83
 
Eddie Bauer Cassidy Pack Daypack
$60
Witz Keep It Clear Case Waterproof Hard Case
$8
Marmot Turnstile Daypack
$58 - $89
Mountain Hardwear Enterprise 21L Daypack
$50 - $53
 
E-Case eSeries 12 Dry Case/Pouch
$30
Mountain Hardwear Frequentor 20L Backpack Daypack
$69
High Sierra Emmett Daypack
$60
Mile High Mountaineering Slay 22 Winter Pack
$123
Marmot Curbside Daypack
$55
 
Salomon Skin Pro 15 Set Hydration Pack
$150
Ortovox Peak 45 Winter Pack
$189
Millet Trilogy 30 Winter Pack
$112
 
Salomon Peak 30 Daypack
$150
Ultimate Direction AK Mountain Vest 3.0 Hydration Pack
$112 - $149
DaKine Crystal Daypack
$19
Lowe Alpine TFX Cerro Torre 65:85 Weekend Pack
$300
SealLine iPad Case Dry Case/Pouch
$30
Thule Upslope 35L Winter Pack
$120 - $159
Mammut Spindrift Ultralight 20 Winter Pack
$130
Eagle Creek Deviate 60L Travel Backpack Weekend Pack
$235
Deuter Cruise 28 SL Winter Pack
$119
REI Traverse 70 Weekend Pack
$239
Pelican 1010 Micro Case Waterproof Hard Case
$12 - $22
Deuter Freerider Pro 28 SL Winter Pack
$120 - $159
VauDe Brenta 30 Daypack
$90 - $129
Grivel Brenta 30 Daypack
$150
Boreas Gear Lagunitas Daypack
$190
Mountainsmith Drift Lumbar/Hip Pack
$40 - $49
Lowe Alpine Mountain Attack 45:55 Overnight Pack
$175
Coghlan's Waterproof Pouch Set Pack Pocket
$8
Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Ice Pack Winter Pack
$285 - $290
Grivel Mago Daypack
$48
High Sierra Tactic Overnight Pack
$42
Osprey Skimmer 16 Daypack
$80
Bergans Istinden 34L Winter Pack
$94 - $141
Outdoor Research Zip Sack Stuff Sack
$19 - $23
Granite Gear Superior One Portage Pack
$230
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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.