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
Osprey
Equinox
Sea to Summit
Patagonia

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

Kelty Cache Hauler (Frame Only)
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (1)
Kelty
Cache Hauler (Frame Only)
External Frame Backpack
$120 - $149
Metolius Speedster
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (1)
Metolius
Speedster
Rope Bag
$38 - $46
Deuter Futura 24 SL
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (1)
Deuter
Futura 24 SL
Daypack
$93
Osprey Farpoint 70
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (1)
Osprey
Farpoint 70
Weekend Pack
$160 - $205
Inov-8 Race Pro Extreme 4
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (1)
Inov-8
Race Pro Extreme 4
Hydration Pack
$170
Kelty Red Cloud
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (1)
Kelty
Red Cloud
Expedition Pack
$169 - $239
Kelty Impact 30
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (1)
Kelty
Impact 30
Daypack
$76 - $118
L.L.Bean Escape 20 Day Pack
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (1)
L.L.Bean
Escape 20 Day Pack
Daypack
$70 - $79
Osprey Xenon 70
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (1)
Osprey
Xenon 70
Weekend Pack
$276
Kelty Redwing 40
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (1)
Kelty
Redwing 40
Overnight Pack
$45 - $114
 
user rating: 3 of 5 (2)
Sea to Summit
Accessory Straps
Sling/Strap
$8 - $10
Mountainsmith Rain Cover
user rating: 3 of 5 (2)
Mountainsmith
Rain Cover
Pack Cover
$14 - $19
Granite Gear Kahiltna 29
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Granite Gear
Kahiltna 29
Daypack
$130
Marmot Boulder 35
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Marmot
Boulder 35
Daypack
$59
Kelty Compression Stuff Sacks
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Kelty
Compression Stuff Sacks
Compression Sack
$16 - $20
Big Agnes Pumphouse
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Big Agnes
Pumphouse
Stuff Sack / Sleeping Pad Accessory
$15 - $19
JanSport WatchTower
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
JanSport
WatchTower
Daypack
$63 - $80
Deuter Compact Air EXP 8 SL
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Deuter
Compact Air EXP 8 SL
Hydration Pack
$100 - $125
Kelty Mijo
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Kelty
Mijo
Child Carrier
$105 - $139
Patagonia Half-Mass
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Patagonia
Half-Mass
Daypack
$74 - $99
Sierra Designs Herald 30
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Sierra Designs
Herald 30
Daypack
$90 - $131
Klymit Air Beam
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Klymit
Air Beam
Backpack Accessory
$37 - $49
Arc'teryx Altra 48 LT
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Arc'teryx
Altra 48 LT
Overnight Pack
$215 - $289
High Sierra Sentinel 65
user rating: 2.5 of 5 (1)
High Sierra
Sentinel 65
Weekend Pack
$90
Black Diamond Hollowpoint
user rating: 2.5 of 5 (2)
Black Diamond
Hollowpoint
Daypack
$63 - $69
Gregory Deva 70
user rating: 2.5 of 5 (3)
Gregory
Deva 70
Weekend Pack
$244 - $349
Black Diamond Boost
user rating: 2 of 5 (1)
Black Diamond
Boost
Daypack
$96 - $119
ALPS Mountaineering Zion Pack
user rating: 2 of 5 (1)
ALPS Mountaineering
Zion Pack
External Frame Backpack
$112
Nathan Elite 1 Plus
user rating: 2 of 5 (1)
Nathan
Elite 1 Plus
Lumbar/Hip Pack
$34
Mountainsmith Approach 35
user rating: 2 of 5 (1)
Mountainsmith
Approach 35
Overnight Pack
$75
Osprey DigiStow
user rating: 2 of 5 (1)
Osprey
DigiStow
Pack Pocket
$9 - $24
 
user rating: 1 of 5 (1)
Mountainsmith
Inca 45
Overnight Pack
$168
Osprey MapWrap
user rating: 0 of 5 (1)
Osprey
MapWrap
Pack Pocket
$14 - $19
CamelBak Skeeter
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
CamelBak
Skeeter
Hydration Pack
$29 - $39
Osprey Ace 48
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Osprey
Ace 48
Overnight Pack
$112 - $165
CamelBak Mini M.U.L.E.
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (2)
CamelBak
Mini M.U.L.E.
Hydration Pack
$37 - $50
Mountainsmith Youth Scout
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Mountainsmith
Youth Scout
External Frame Backpack
$90 - $95
Deuter Climber
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Deuter
Climber
Daypack
$45 - $69
Kelty Junior Tioga 2050
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Kelty
Junior Tioga 2050
External Frame Backpack
$63
Deuter Fox 30
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Deuter
Fox 30
Daypack
$79 - $99
Kelty Yukon 48
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Kelty
Yukon 48
External Frame Backpack
$110 - $169
JanSport Scout
user rating: 4 of 5 (4)
JanSport
Scout
External Frame Backpack
$75 - $100
Kelty Yukon 50
user rating: 4 of 5 (4)
Kelty
Yukon 50
External Frame Backpack
$127 - $169
The North Face Youth Terra 55
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
The North Face
Youth Terra 55
Weekend Pack
$103 - $159
REI Passage 65
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
REI
Passage 65
Weekend Pack
$127 - $159
REI Tarn 18
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
REI
Tarn 18
Daypack
$40
Backcountry Access Float 32
Backcountry Access
Float 32
Avalanche Airbag Pack
$550
DaKine Miley 16L
DaKine
Miley 16L
Daypack
$19
Deuter Futura Vario Pro 45+10 SL
Deuter
Futura Vario Pro 45+10 SL
Overnight Pack
$175 - $219
Sierra Designs Ministry 40
Sierra Designs
Ministry 40
Overnight Pack
$105 - $139
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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.