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 »


External Frame
Winter Packs
Hydration Packs
Front Packs
Lumbar/Hip Packs
Child Carriers
Dry Packs
Portage Packs
Rope Bags


ULA Equipment
Granite Gear
Sea to Summit




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

CAMP Raid Vest Hydration Pack
DaKine Eve Daypack
CamelBak K.U.D.U. 12 Hydration Pack
$70 - $200
Salewa Apex 22 Daypack
Gregory Navarino 12 Daypack
EMS Colden Daypack Daypack
The North Face Surge II Charged Daypack
$183 - $228
Mammut Spindrift Tour 32 Winter Pack
Gregory Z 25 Daypack
Mountain Hardwear Expedition Pack Duffel
Osprey Kamber ABS Compatible 42 Avalanche Airbag Pack
Black Diamond SuperSlacker Rope Bag
The North Face Sano Daypack
Ultimate Direction Adventure Vesta Hydration Pack
The North Face Hydro Heli Vest Hydration Pack
Marmot Eiger 32 Daypack
Roxy Camper Backpack Daypack
VauDe Brenta 40 Overnight Pack
Deuter Freerider 26 Winter Pack
Arc'teryx Altra 35 LT Overnight Pack
Arc'teryx Cierzo 28 Daypack
Arc'teryx Altra 62 LT Weekend Pack
Nathan Firecatcher Hydration Pack
Kelty FC Sun/Rain Hood Child Carrier Accessory
$24 - $34
Deuter OnTop Lite ABS 26 Avalanche Airbag Pack
Granite Gear Eagle Backpack Daypack
Black Diamond Alias AvaLung Winter Pack
Outdoor Research Dry Summit Pack LT Daypack / Dry Pack
Arc'teryx Carrier Duffel 75 Pack Duffel
$100 - $178
Witz Glitter Box II Waterproof Hard Case
JanSport Sputnik Daypack
Black Diamond Sonar Pack Daypack
Millet Prolighter 25 Daypack
Gregory Amber 70 Weekend Pack
$164 - $218
Patagonia Arbor Grande 32L Daypack
Gregory Baltoro 95 Expedition Pack
Geigerrig Rig 710 Hydration Pack
Gregory Tempo 8 Hydration Pack
$89 - $128
Osprey Farpoint 80 Weekend Pack
Ortovox Free Rider 26 Winter Pack
Pelican 1550 Case Waterproof Hard Case
Gregory J 28 Daypack
CamelBak Ultra 4 Hydration Pack
DaKine Manual 20L Daypack
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Stuff Pack Daypack
Gregory Drift 10 Daypack
Underwater Kinetics UltraCase Waterproof Hard Case
Osprey Poco AG Raincover Child Carrier Accessory
Mammut Neon Pro 40 Overnight Pack
High Sierra Swerve 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.


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.