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

JanSport Katahdin 20L
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
JanSport
Katahdin 20L
Daypack
$51 - $59
Platypus Sprinter X.T. 35.0
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Platypus
Sprinter X.T. 35.0
Hydration Pack
$103 - $159
Mountainsmith Explore
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Mountainsmith
Explore
Daypack
$80
Black Diamond Speed 22
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Black Diamond
Speed 22
Daypack
$70 - $99
Inov-8 Race Elite 3
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Inov-8
Race Elite 3
Lumbar/Hip Pack
$45
Kelty Redwing 44
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Kelty
Redwing 44
Overnight Pack
$115
JanSport Mesh Pack
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
JanSport
Mesh Pack
Daypack
$25 - $29
Kelty Kite Daypack
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Kelty
Kite Daypack
Daypack
$40 - $54
Gregory Jade 40
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Gregory
Jade 40
Overnight Pack
$109 - $219
Mountainsmith Clear Creek 20
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Mountainsmith
Clear Creek 20
Daypack
$48
Kelty Redtail 30
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Kelty
Redtail 30
Daypack
$80
Marmot Alpha 25
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Marmot
Alpha 25
Daypack
$99
DaKine Pro II
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
DaKine
Pro II
Winter Pack
$71 - $140
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Sea to Summit
Ultra-Sil Day Pack
Daypack
$33
Deuter ACT Zero 50+15
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Deuter
ACT Zero 50+15
Weekend Pack
$185
Black Diamond Anarchist AvaLung
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Black Diamond
Anarchist AvaLung
Winter Pack
$240 - $299
Mammut Trea Guide 40+7
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Mammut
Trea Guide 40+7
Winter Pack
$200
Granite Gear Blaze AC 60
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Granite Gear
Blaze AC 60
Weekend Pack
$216 - $239
Black Diamond Axiom 30
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Black Diamond
Axiom 30
Daypack
$97 - $109
UltrAspire Quantum Belt
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
UltrAspire
Quantum Belt
Lumbar/Hip Pack
$20
Mountainsmith Parallax Pro Camera Pack
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Mountainsmith
Parallax Pro Camera Pack
Daypack
$216 - $269
Osprey Escapist 30
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Osprey
Escapist 30
Daypack
$130
Mountain Hardwear Lomasi 60
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Mountain Hardwear
Lomasi 60
Weekend Pack
$208
Black Diamond Epic 35
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Black Diamond
Epic 35
Overnight Pack
$108 - $169
Platypus Duthie A.M. 12.0
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Platypus
Duthie A.M. 12.0
Hydration Pack
$90 - $119
Osprey Hornet 24
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Osprey
Hornet 24
Daypack
$119
Granite Gear Air Compressor
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Granite Gear
Air Compressor
Compression Sack
$23 - $27
Granite Gear Vapor Current Airbeam Frame
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Granite Gear
Vapor Current Airbeam Frame
Backpack Accessory
$50
The North Face Angstrom 20
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
The North Face
Angstrom 20
Daypack
$99
Granite Gear Habanero 28
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Granite Gear
Habanero 28
Daypack
$57 - $114
Gregory Savant 48 Pack
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Gregory
Savant 48 Pack
Overnight Pack
$152 - $189
CamelBak HydroBak
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
CamelBak
HydroBak
Hydration Pack
$43 - $49
Kelty Pawnee 50
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Kelty
Pawnee 50
Weekend Pack
$131 - $169
Kelty Pawnee 55
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Kelty
Pawnee 55
Weekend Pack
$131
GoLite Quest 80L
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
GoLite
Quest 80L
Expedition Pack
$150
Bergans Glittertind 70
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Bergans
Glittertind 70
Weekend Pack
$259
GoLite Quest 50L
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
GoLite
Quest 50L
Weekend Pack
$120
Mountainsmith Day TLS
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Mountainsmith
Day TLS
Lumbar/Hip Pack
$63 - $84
 
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Deuter
Zea
Daypack
$59
Osprey Daylite
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (10)
Osprey
Daylite
Daypack
$49 - $50
Osprey Aura 50
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (6)
Osprey
Aura 50
Weekend Pack
$199 - $210
Mountain Hardwear Scrambler 30
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (5)
Mountain Hardwear
Scrambler 30
Daypack
$70 - $100
Osprey Variant 52
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (3)
Osprey
Variant 52
Weekend Pack
$156 - $200
Mile High Mountaineering Divide 55
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (2)
Mile High Mountaineering
Divide 55
Weekend Pack
$254 - $339
Exped Lightning 60
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (2)
Exped
Lightning 60
Weekend Pack
$249 - $289
JanSport Odyssey
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (2)
JanSport
Odyssey
Overnight Pack
$85 - $100
CamelBak Classic
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (2)
CamelBak
Classic
Hydration Pack
$52 - $59
JanSport Klamath 55
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (2)
JanSport
Klamath 55
Weekend Pack
$77 - $154
REI Pinnacle 50 Pack
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (1)
REI
Pinnacle 50 Pack
Overnight Pack
$159
REI XT 85 Pack
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (1)
REI
XT 85 Pack
Expedition Pack
$289
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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.