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

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

user rating: 4 of 5 (5)
Osprey Raptor 14 Hydration Pack
$130
user rating: 4 of 5 (4)
CamelBak Trail Blazer Hydration Pack
$74 - $75
user rating: 4 of 5 (4)
The North Face Surge Overnight Pack
$75
user rating: 4 of 5 (4)
Granite Gear Crown V.C. 60 Weekend Pack
$200
user rating: 4 of 5 (4)
CamelBak Rogue Hydration Pack
$49 - $70
user rating: 4 of 5 (4)
Osprey Talon 33 Overnight Pack
$130
user rating: 4 of 5 (4)
Kelty PK 50 Weekend Pack
$140 - $199
user rating: 4 of 5 (4)
Sierra Designs Revival 65 Weekend Pack
$140 - $194
user rating: 4 of 5 (4)
Mountainsmith Haze 50 Weekend Pack
$130
user rating: 4 of 5 (3)
Mountain Hardwear Fluid 32 Daypack
$108 - $127
user rating: 4 of 5 (3)
Osprey Raptor 6 Hydration Pack
$110
user rating: 4 of 5 (3)
Deuter Futura 30 SL Daypack
$123 - $145
user rating: 4 of 5 (3)
Osprey Manta 30 Hydration Pack
$160
user rating: 4 of 5 (3)
Marmot Kompressor Summit Daypack
$95 - $118
user rating: 4 of 5 (3)
Osprey Stratos 36 Overnight Pack
$118 - $150
user rating: 4 of 5 (3)
Osprey Kestrel 28 Daypack
$140
user rating: 4 of 5 (3)
Montane Dragon 20 Daypack
$154
user rating: 4 of 5 (3)
REI Lookout 40 Pack Overnight Pack
$79
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Aarn Sport Balance Pockets Front Pack
$59
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Granite Gear Nimbus Trace Access 70 Weekend Pack
$315 - $349
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Gregory Alpinisto 50 Weekend Pack
$229 - $239
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Black Diamond Mercury 55 Weekend Pack
$250
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Black Diamond Mercury 75 Expedition Pack
$261 - $289
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Lowe Alpine AirZone Quest 27 Daypack
$165
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
ALPS Mountaineering Shasta 3600 Weekend Pack
$119
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Osprey Xenith 75 Weekend Pack
$330
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
The North Face Angstrom 28 Daypack
$85 - $119
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
CamelBak M.U.L.E. NV Hydration Pack
$94 - $134
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Osprey Momentum 26 Daypack
$90 - $96
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Mountain Hardwear Trad Overnight Pack
$130
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Bergans Glittertind 55 Weekend Pack
$239
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
REI Traverse 30 Pack Daypack
$70
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
The North Face Sport Hiker Lumbar/Hip Pack
$64 - $85
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Ultimate Direction Uno Lumbar/Hip Pack
$25 - $30
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Deuter ACT Lite 60+10 SL Weekend Pack
$149 - $209
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
ALPS Mountaineering Red Tail Expedition Pack
$170
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Gregory Pace 3 Hydration Pack
$74 - $89
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Gregory Wasatch 12 Daypack
$53 - $89
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Arc'teryx Cierzo 25
$99
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Black Diamond 50 Caliber Weekend Pack
$127 - $169
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Kelty Red Cloud 90 Expedition Pack
$225
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Arc'teryx Quiver Winter Pack
$119
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
REI Flash 45 Pack Overnight Pack
$129
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Granite Gear Blaze AC 60 Ki Weekend Pack
$240
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Kelty Redwing 2500 Overnight Pack
$128 - $199
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Mountainsmith Apex 75 Expedition Pack
$210
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Deuter Aircontact Lite 60+10 SL Weekend Pack
$199
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Gregory Z 40 Pack Overnight Pack
$179
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Osprey Viva 50 Weekend Pack
$179 - $180
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Deuter Cross City Daypack
$62
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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.