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
Dry Packs
Portage Packs
Rope Bags
Accessories

Brands

ULA Equipment
CamelBak
Deuter
Kelty
Granite Gear
Patagonia
Osprey
Sea to Summit
Black Diamond
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: 3 of 5 (1)
Granite Gear Kahiltna 29 Daypack
$78 - $139
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Marmot Boulder 35 Daypack
$50
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Nathan Mirage Pak Lumbar/Hip Pack
$10 - $20
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Osprey Rev Solo Hydration Pack
$40
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Gregory Alpinisto 35 Overnight Pack
$119 - $198
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Big Agnes Pumphouse Stuff Sack / Sleeping Pad Accessory
$20
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
JanSport WatchTower Daypack
$90
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Gregory Border 35 Overnight Pack
$117 - $179
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Kelty Mijo Child Carrier
$139
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Patagonia Half-Mass Daypack
$99
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Gregory Denali 100 Expedition Pack
$299 - $399
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Klymit Motion 60 Weekend Pack
$165
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Klymit Air Beam Backpack Accessory
$50
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Arc'teryx Altra 48 LT Overnight Pack
$173 - $235
user rating: 2 of 5 (1)
Salomon Trail 20 Daypack
$100
user rating: 2 of 5 (1)
ALPS Mountaineering Zion Pack External Frame Backpack
$117
user rating: 2 of 5 (1)
Osprey DigiStow Pack Pocket
$12 - $199
user rating: 1 of 5 (1)
Mountainsmith Inca 45 Overnight Pack
$210 - $224
user rating: 0.5 of 5 (1)
SealLine Urban Backpack Dry Pack
$150
user rating: 0 of 5 (1)
Osprey MapWrap Pack Pocket
$25
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Mountainsmith Youth Pursuit Weekend Pack
$100 - $129
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
CamelBak Skeeter Hydration Pack
$35 - $40
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Kelty Yukon 48 External Frame Backpack
$85 - $169
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (5)
Kelty Yukon 50 External Frame Backpack
$170
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (2)
CamelBak Mini M.U.L.E. Hydration Pack
$49 - $50
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Deuter Climber Daypack
$55 - $69
user rating: 4 of 5 (2)
Deuter Fox 30 Daypack
$69 - $79
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
The North Face Youth Terra 55 Weekend Pack
$111 - $159
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
REI Passage 65 Weekend Pack
$159
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
REI Tarn 18 Daypack
$40
Ultimate Direction PB Adventure Vest 2.0 Hydration Pack
$160
Mountainsmith Scream 25 Mountainlight Daypack
$70
Ultimate Direction AK Race Vest 2.0 Hydration Pack
$100
NEW!
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Gregory Salvo 28 Daypack
$129
available Spring 2016
NEW!
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Mountainsmith Scream 55 Weekend Pack
$150
available Spring 2016
Backcountry Access Float 32 Avalanche Airbag Pack
$385 - $549
Mountain Hardwear Kapalina 22 Daypack
$74 - $100
Deuter Futura Vario Pro 45+10 SL Overnight Pack
$175 - $219
Sierra Designs Ministry 40 Overnight Pack
$56
Mammut Light Protection Airbag Ready Avalanche Airbag Pack
$248
Mammut Xera Flip Daypack
$90
DaKine Heli Pack 12L Winter Pack
$70
CamelBak K.U.D.U. 18 Hydration Pack
$146 - $224
L.L.Bean Klettersack Pack Daypack
$80
JanSport Klamath 68 Weekend Pack
$120
Gregory Amber 34 Overnight Pack
$89 - $148
Nathan Moxy Hydration Pack
$120
Kelty Ascender Trunk Backpack Expedition Pack
$130
DaKine ABS Signal 25L Avalanche Airbag Pack
$750
H2O Audio Amphibx Fit Waterproof Armband Case Dry Case/Pouch
$53
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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.