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
Portage Packs
Rope Bags
Accessories

Brands

Gregory
CamelBak
ULA Equipment
Deuter
Kelty
Granite Gear
Patagonia
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

REI Flash 18 Pack
user rating: 4 of 5 (10)
REI
Flash 18 Pack
Daypack
$35
Kelty Coyote 80
user rating: 4 of 5 (9)
Kelty
Coyote 80
Expedition Pack
$150 - $209
ALPS Mountaineering Cascade 5200
user rating: 4 of 5 (9)
ALPS Mountaineering
Cascade 5200
Expedition Pack
$130
Kelty Tioga
user rating: 4 of 5 (9)
Kelty
Tioga
External Frame Backpack
$180
Mountainsmith Maverick
user rating: 4 of 5 (8)
Mountainsmith
Maverick
Weekend Pack
$88
GoLite Jam 50L
user rating: 4 of 5 (7)
GoLite
Jam 50L
Weekend Pack
$110
Deuter ACT Lite 50+10
user rating: 4 of 5 (6)
Deuter
ACT Lite 50+10
Weekend Pack
$179 - $185
Osprey Volt 60
user rating: 4 of 5 (6)
Osprey
Volt 60
Weekend Pack
$179 - $180
The North Face Terra 45
user rating: 4 of 5 (6)
The North Face
Terra 45
Overnight Pack
$129
Gregory Z30
user rating: 4 of 5 (5)
Gregory
Z30
Daypack
$97 - $139
Osprey Raptor 14
user rating: 4 of 5 (5)
Osprey
Raptor 14
Hydration Pack
$130 - $135
CamelBak Trail Blazer
user rating: 4 of 5 (4)
CamelBak
Trail Blazer
Hydration Pack
$74 - $75
The North Face Surge
user rating: 4 of 5 (4)
The North Face
Surge
Overnight Pack
$125
ALPS Mountaineering Cascade 4200
user rating: 4 of 5 (4)
ALPS Mountaineering
Cascade 4200
Weekend Pack
$110
Granite Gear Crown V.C. 60
user rating: 4 of 5 (4)
Granite Gear
Crown V.C. 60
Weekend Pack
$200
CamelBak Rogue
user rating: 4 of 5 (4)
CamelBak
Rogue
Hydration Pack
$69 - $70
Osprey Talon 33
user rating: 4 of 5 (4)
Osprey
Talon 33
Overnight Pack
$129 - $130
Kelty PK 50
user rating: 4 of 5 (4)
Kelty
PK 50
Weekend Pack
$200
Sierra Designs Revival 65
user rating: 4 of 5 (4)
Sierra Designs
Revival 65
Weekend Pack
$80 - $194
Mountainsmith Haze 50
user rating: 4 of 5 (4)
Mountainsmith
Haze 50
Weekend Pack
$97 - $129
Mountain Hardwear Fluid 32
user rating: 4 of 5 (3)
Mountain Hardwear
Fluid 32
Daypack
$120 - $127
Osprey Raptor 6
user rating: 4 of 5 (3)
Osprey
Raptor 6
Hydration Pack
$110
Deuter Futura 30 SL
user rating: 4 of 5 (3)
Deuter
Futura 30 SL
Daypack
$97 - $145
Osprey Manta 30
user rating: 4 of 5 (3)
Osprey
Manta 30
Hydration Pack
$160
Mountain Hardwear Kanza 55
user rating: 4 of 5 (3)
Mountain Hardwear
Kanza 55
Weekend Pack
$150 - $169
Marmot Kompressor Summit
user rating: 4 of 5 (3)
Marmot
Kompressor Summit
Daypack
$95 - $199
Osprey Stratos 36
user rating: 4 of 5 (3)
Osprey
Stratos 36
Overnight Pack
$118 - $150
Osprey Kestrel 28
user rating: 4 of 5 (3)
Osprey
Kestrel 28
Daypack
$140
Montane Dragon 20
user rating: 4 of 5 (3)
Montane
Dragon 20
Daypack
$154
REI Lookout 40 Pack
user rating: 4 of 5 (3)
REI
Lookout 40 Pack
Overnight Pack
$100
Aarn Sport Balance Pockets
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Aarn
Sport Balance Pockets
Front Pack
$64
Granite Gear Nimbus Trace Access 70
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Granite Gear
Nimbus Trace Access 70
Weekend Pack
$350
Gregory Alpinisto 50
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Gregory
Alpinisto 50
Weekend Pack
$229 - $239
Osprey Hornet 46
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Osprey
Hornet 46
Overnight Pack
$119
Black Diamond Mercury 75
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Black Diamond
Mercury 75
Expedition Pack
$290
Lowe Alpine AirZone Quest 27
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Lowe Alpine
AirZone Quest 27
Daypack
$150 - $165
ALPS Mountaineering Shasta 3600
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
ALPS Mountaineering
Shasta 3600
Weekend Pack
$119
Osprey Xenith 75
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Osprey
Xenith 75
Weekend Pack
$330
The North Face Angstrom 28
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
The North Face
Angstrom 28
Daypack
$85 - $119
CamelBak M.U.L.E. NV
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
CamelBak
M.U.L.E. NV
Hydration Pack
$95 - $135
Osprey Momentum 26
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Osprey
Momentum 26
Daypack
$90 - $96
Mountain Hardwear Trad
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Mountain Hardwear
Trad
Overnight Pack
$115
Bergans Glittertind 55
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Bergans
Glittertind 55
Weekend Pack
$239
REI Traverse 30 Pack
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
REI
Traverse 30 Pack
Daypack
$49
The North Face Sport Hiker
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
The North Face
Sport Hiker
Lumbar/Hip Pack
$85
Ultimate Direction Uno
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Ultimate Direction
Uno
Lumbar/Hip Pack
$22
Deuter ACT Lite 60+10 SL
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Deuter
ACT Lite 60+10 SL
Weekend Pack
$199 - $209
ALPS Mountaineering Red Tail
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
ALPS Mountaineering
Red Tail
Expedition Pack
$117 - $169
Gregory Pace 3
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Gregory
Pace 3
Hydration Pack
$84 - $98
Kelty TC 3.0
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Kelty
TC 3.0
Child Carrier
$200
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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.