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

user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Osprey Ariel 75 Expedition Pack
$45 - $247
user rating: 4 of 5 (17)
Osprey Stratos 24 Daypack
$84 - $119
user rating: 4 of 5 (15)
Osprey Daylite Daypack
$37 - $50
user rating: 4 of 5 (14)
Gregory Deva 60 Weekend Pack
$197 - $328
user rating: 4 of 5 (11)
Kelty Tioga External Frame Backpack
$180
user rating: 4 of 5 (10)
Kelty Coyote 80 Expedition Pack
$165 - $219
user rating: 4 of 5 (10)
Osprey Volt 60 Weekend Pack
$144 - $179
user rating: 4 of 5 (10)
Osprey Atmos AG 65 Weekend Pack
$208 - $260
user rating: 4 of 5 (9)
ALPS Mountaineering Cascade 5200 Expedition Pack
$100 - $129
user rating: 4 of 5 (8)
High Sierra Appalachian 75 Expedition Pack
$130
user rating: 4 of 5 (8)
Deuter Guide 45+ Overnight Pack
$179
user rating: 4 of 5 (7)
The North Face Terra 50 Weekend Pack
$159
user rating: 4 of 5 (6)
Black Diamond Speed 30 Daypack
$100 - $149
user rating: 4 of 5 (6)
Gregory Z 30 Daypack
$68 - $139
user rating: 4 of 5 (6)
Deuter ACT Lite 50+10 Weekend Pack
$151 - $189
user rating: 4 of 5 (6)
CamelBak Rogue Hydration Pack
$45 - $70
user rating: 4 of 5 (6)
Osprey Talon 33 Overnight Pack
$91 - $129
user rating: 4 of 5 (5)
CamelBak Trail Blazer Hydration Pack
$52 - $73
user rating: 4 of 5 (5)
Osprey Raptor 14 Hydration Pack
$112 - $140
user rating: 4 of 5 (5)
Kelty PK 50 Weekend Pack
$120 - $199
user rating: 4 of 5 (5)
High Sierra Explorer 55 Weekend Pack
$85
user rating: 4 of 5 (4)
Deuter Futura 50 + 10 Vario Weekend Pack
$219
user rating: 4 of 5 (4)
The North Face Surge Overnight Pack
$65 - $138
user rating: 4 of 5 (4)
ALPS Mountaineering Cascade 4200 Weekend Pack
$117
user rating: 4 of 5 (4)
Mountain Hardwear Scrambler 30 OutDry Daypack
$130
user rating: 4 of 5 (4)
Granite Gear Crown V.C. 60 Weekend Pack
$200
user rating: 4 of 5 (4)
Sierra Designs Revival 65 Weekend Pack
$80
user rating: 4 of 5 (3)
Mountain Hardwear Fluid 32 Daypack
$120
user rating: 4 of 5 (3)
Osprey Raptor 6 Hydration Pack
$82 - $92
user rating: 4 of 5 (3)
Deuter Futura 30 SL Daypack
$119 - $149
user rating: 4 of 5 (3)
Gregory Contour 60 Weekend Pack
$178
user rating: 4 of 5 (3)
Osprey Stratos 36 Overnight Pack
$112 - $159
user rating: 4 of 5 (3)
Osprey Kestrel 28 Daypack
$112 - $139
user rating: 4 of 5 (3)
Montane Dragon 20 Daypack
$154
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Deuter Aircontact 50+10 SL Weekend Pack
$259
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Granite Gear Nimbus Trace Access 70 Weekend Pack
$350
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Deuter ACT Lite 45+10 SL Overnight Pack
$189
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Gregory Alpinisto 50 Weekend Pack
$229 - $239
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Aquapac Mini Camera Case with Hard Lens Dry Case/Pouch
$48
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Black Diamond Mercury 55 Weekend Pack
$200 - $249
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Black Diamond Mercury 75 Expedition Pack
$240 - $299
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
ALPS Mountaineering Shasta 3600 Weekend Pack
$110
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Osprey Xenith 88 Expedition Pack
$288 - $359
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
The North Face Angstrom 28 Daypack
$88 - $119
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
CamelBak M.U.L.E. NV Hydration Pack
$104 - $139
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Deuter ACT Trail PRO 38 SL Overnight Pack
$135 - $169
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Osprey Momentum 26 Daypack
$140
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
REI Traverse 85 Expedition Pack
$279
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Orange Mud HydraQuiver Single Barrel Hydration Pack
$80 - $84
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Windrider Overnight Pack
$285 - $290
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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.