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
Dry Packs
Portage Packs
Rope Bags
Accessories

Brands

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

Genders

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

Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Compression Dry Sack Compression Sack / Dry Bag
$28 - $29
Grivel Tofane 45L Winter Pack
$200
Millet Peuterey Integrale 45 + 10 Overnight Pack
$200
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Summit Stuff Pocket Pack Pocket
$35 - $37
Lowe Alpine Eclipse ND 14 Daypack
$90
Gossamer Gear Sternum Strap Assembly Sling/Strap
$8
High Sierra Piton 35 Overnight Pack
$80
Burton White Collection Pack Daypack
$90
Ortlieb Cor 13 Daypack
$160
Mountain Hardwear Intention SoftEdge Shoulder Strap Backpack Accessory
$40
Ortovox Free Rider 24 Winter Pack
$319
High Sierra Wave 70 Hydration Pack
$24
 
Geigerrig Rig Cadence Hydration Pack
$104
Gregory Border 25 Daypack
$89 - $149
Salomon Synapse Flow 30 AW Daypack
$145
Cabela's Elias 40L Backpack Overnight Pack
$150
Black Diamond Creek 50 Pack Overnight Pack
$190
Deuter Rain Cover II Pack Cover
$24 - $30
The North Face Cobra 30+10 Daypack
$105
Burton Annex Backpack Daypack
$90
Mountainsmith Scream 25 Mountainlight Daypack
$70
Equinox Bilby Ultralite Stuff Bag Stuff Sack
$9 - $16
Millet Prolighter MXP 60+20 Weekend Pack
$220
Geigerrig Tactical Rigger Hydration Pack
$120
Gregory Stout 45 Overnight Pack
$135 - $169
The North Face Ice Project Backpack Winter Pack
$129 - $139
Trango Crag 48L Pack Overnight Pack
$99
Black Diamond Onyx 65 Weekend Pack
$202 - $269
 
Ultimate Direction AK Race Vest 2.0 Hydration Pack
$70
Oakley Big Kitchen Backpack Daypack
$250
Bergans Skarstind 32 Daypack
$139
Gregory Miwok 6 Daypack
$44 - $68
Mountain Hardwear Fluid Race VestPack Daypack
$67 - $85
Gregory Savant 38 Overnight Pack
$91
 
EMS Sector 22 Daypack
$79
Lowe Alpine Diran 65:75 Weekend Pack
$225
Ultimate Direction Fastpack 30 Daypack
$180
Marmot Backcountry 32 Winter Pack
$149
Ultimate Direction Phone Pocket Pack Pocket
$13
The North Face Pack Rain Cover Pack Cover
$15 - $24
Mountain Hardwear Pack Rain Cover Pack Cover
$22 - $29
The North Face Base Camp Citer Daypack
$125
L.L.Bean Timberline Roll Top Backpack Daypack
$70 - $79
Filson Dry Day Backpack Dry Pack
$125
 
Deuter OnTop Tour ABS 38+ SL Avalanche Airbag Pack
$1,249
Osprey Kode Race 18 Winter Pack
$70 - $99
Kelty Capture 15 Daypack
$50 - $55
Gregory 3D Precurved Harness and Waistbelt Backpack Accessory
$38 - $45
NRS Cylinder Dry Case Dry Case/Pouch
$10
E-Case iPod/iPhone Armband Case Dry Case/Pouch
$23
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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.