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
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
Sea to Summit
Arc'teryx
Kelty
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

user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Osprey Rev 1.5 Hydration Pack
$70
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
DaKine Duel Daypack
$40 - $41
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
JanSport Katahdin 20L Daypack
$42
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Mountainsmith Explore Daypack
$70
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Sea to Summit See Pouch Dry Case/Pouch
$4
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Black Diamond Speed 22 Daypack
$75 - $99
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
The North Face Diad Pro 22 Daypack
$32 - $49
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Salomon Park Hydro Handset Hydration Pack
$42
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Nathan VaporCloud Hydration Pack
$200
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Kelty Redwing 44 Overnight Pack
$90 - $124
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Granite Rocx The Cascade Daypack
$81
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
JanSport Mesh Pack Daypack
$20 - $29
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
JanSport Katahdin 70L Weekend Pack
$130
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Marmot Eiger 35 Overnight Pack
$169
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Kelty Kite Daypack Daypack
$55
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Dyneema 2400 Ice Pack Overnight Pack
$500
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Black Diamond Element 45 Overnight Pack
$150 - $200
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
DaKine Pro II Winter Pack
$78 - $83
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack Daypack
$33
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Deuter ACT Zero 50+15 Weekend Pack
$142 - $189
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Black Diamond Anarchist AvaLung Winter Pack
$208 - $209
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Mammut Trea Guide 40+7 Winter Pack
$180 - $199
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Granite Gear Blaze AC 60 Weekend Pack
$240
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Gregory Deva 85 Expedition Pack
$274
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Granite Gear Leopard V.C. 46 Overnight Pack
$115 - $169
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Mountainsmith Parallax Pro Camera Pack Daypack
$180 - $195
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Gregory Savant 48 Overnight Pack
$189
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Lowe Alpine Peak Attack 42 Overnight Pack
$77
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Black Diamond Epic 35 Overnight Pack
$126 - $159
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Marmot Eiger 42 Overnight Pack
$189
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Nite Ize S-Biner MicroLock Backpack Accessory
$4
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Platypus Duthie A.M. 12.0 Hydration Pack
$120
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
SealLine Baja Dry Bag Dry Bag
$20 - $39
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Fuel Belt Crush Lumbar/Hip Pack
$11
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
REI Crestrail 48 Weekend Pack
$117
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Granite Gear Air Compressor Compression Sack
$28 - $35
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Granite Gear Vapor Current Airbeam Frame Backpack Accessory
$50
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
REI Trail 30 Pack Daypack
$100
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
The North Face Angstrom 20 Daypack
$70 - $99
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Mountainsmith Scream 55 Weekend Pack
$120 - $149
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Kelty Redwing 50 Reserve Weekend Pack
$160
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Sea to Summit Big River Dry Sack Dry Bag
$20 - $56
 
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
LifeProof Iphone 5S Case Waterproof Hard Case
$80
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
CamelBak HydroBak Hydration Pack
$37 - $49
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Bergans Rondane 6L Hydration Pack
$99
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Bergans Glittertind 70 Weekend Pack
$259
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Granite Gear Rongbuk 28 Daypack
$78 - $134
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Deuter Pulse Four EXP Lumbar/Hip Pack
$45
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Mountainsmith Day TLS Lumbar/Hip Pack
$72 - $84
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Deuter Zea Daypack
$44
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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.