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

CamelBak
ULA Equipment
Deuter
Kelty
Granite Gear
Patagonia
Gregory
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

Patagonia Ascensionist 35L Overnight Pack
$89 - $149
The North Face Borealis Daypack
$66 - $89
Deuter Giga Bike Daypack
$119
Osprey Exos 34 Overnight Pack
$149
Gregory Cairn 48 Pack Overnight Pack
$168 - $258
Eagle Creek Deviate 85L Travel Backpack Expedition Pack
$275
Osprey Waypoint 85 Expedition Pack
$238
Kelty Trekker 64 External Frame Backpack
$140 - $159
Deuter Gigant Daypack
$95 - $99
Deuter Compact EXP 16 Hydration Pack
$145
Lowe Alpine LightFlite 5 Lumbar/Hip Pack
$25
JanSport Air Cure Overnight Pack
$43
Terra Nova Laser 6 Pack Lumbar/Hip Pack
$47 - $54
Mammut MTR 201 10+2 Daypack
$67 - $89
Pelican 1085 HardBack Case Waterproof Hard Case
$89
The North Face Enduro Belt 1 Lumbar/Hip Pack
$35
NRS Tuff Sack Dry Bag Dry Bag
$20 - $36
Columbia Trail Pursuit 40L Overnight Pack
$179
Osprey Aura 65 AG Weekend Pack
$260
Under Armour Storm Backpack Daypack
$45 - $94
L.L.Bean Lily 18 Day Pack Daypack
$70 - $79
Granite Gear Athabasca 24 Daypack
$130
UltrAspire Surge Racing Vest Hydration Pack
$102 - $107
LokSak Splashsak Tern Dry Case/Pouch / Lumbar/Hip Pack
$26 - $32
Deuter ACT Trail 38 EL Overnight Pack
$100 - $139
JanSport Firewire Daypack
$100
VauDe Ultra Hiker 30 Daypack
$68
Columbia Silver Ridge 25L Daypack
$99
Black Diamond Onyx 55 Weekend Pack
$250
SealLine Nimbus Sack Dry Bag
$20 - $39
DaKine Interval Overnight Pack
$48
Gregory Stash Duffel Pack Duffel
$79 - $108
Osprey Quasar Daypack
$90
Patagonia Toromiro 22L Daypack
$79
Deuter Aircontact 55+10 Weekend Pack
$249
L.L.Bean Quad Backpack Daypack
$80
Salomon Quest 30L Winter Pack
$112 - $160
Gregory Targhee Winter Pack
$84 - $138
Arc'teryx Alpha FL 30 Daypack
$199
Granite Gear eVent Sil Ultra-Duty Drysack Dry Bag
$40 - $52
EMS Zenith Daypack Daypack
$71
Black Diamond Mission 50 Weekend Pack
$148 - $219
Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Windrider Pack Overnight Pack
$275
Arc'teryx Cordova Daypack
$169
The North Face Masen Duffel Pack Duffel
$79
Granite Gear Nighthawk Lumbar/Hip Pack
$37 - $57
Exped Torrent 20 Daypack
$125
Kelty No-Bug Net Child Carrier Accessory
$20
 
Lowe Alpine Eclipse ND 22 Daypack
$115
DaKine Eve Daypack
$36 - $41
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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.