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 »


External Frame
Winter Packs
Hydration Packs
Front Packs
Lumbar/Hip Packs
Child Carriers
Dry Packs
Portage Packs
Rope Bags


ULA Equipment
Granite Gear
Sea to Summit
Hyperlite Mountain Gear




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

Burton Kilo Backpack Daypack
$45 - $64
Lowe Alpine Strike 18 Daypack
Mystery Ranch Pitch 17 Daypack
Kelty Redtail 27 Daypack
EMS Tacamo Hydration Pack Hydration Pack
EMS Berm Hydration Pack Hydration Pack
Arc'teryx Aerios 10 Daypack
Granite Gear Rift 2 Daypack
Marmot Urban Hauler Daypack
$22 - $43
Deuter Ontop ABS 20 Pack Avalanche Airbag Pack
Patagonia Linked Pack 16L Daypack
$59 - $79
Osprey Pixel Daypack
Mammut Neon Light Daypack
$52 - $69
Nathan Trail Mix Plus Lumbar/Hip Pack
Millet Ubic 40 Overnight Pack
The North Face Cinder Pack 55 Weekend Pack
CamelBak M.U.L.E. LR Hydration Pack
$85 - $150
Marmot Kompressor Comet Daypack
Osprey Poco AG Child Carrier
$219 - $250
Kelty TC Sun/Rain Hood Child Carrier Accessory
Exped Mini Belt Pouch Lumbar/Hip Pack
Osprey Sirrus 50 Weekend Pack
Nite Ize CamJam XT - Aluminum Cord Tightener Backpack Accessory
$8 - $11
SealLine Seal Pak Dry Bag
$48 - $49
Cotopaxi Cusco 26 Daypack
Nathan VaporHowe 4L Race Vest Hydration Pack
Geigerrig Rig 500 Hydration Pack
$105 - $130
Gregory Avenues Pierpont Daypack
Gregory Citro 30 Daypack
Osprey Bitstream Daypack
Mountainsmith Divide Daypack
$62 - $89
NRS Whitewater Kayak Sherpa Portage Pack
Osprey Manta AG 36 Daypack
Columbia Treadlite 16 Daypack
$6 - $141
Black Diamond Nitro 22 Daypack
$97 - $109
Witz Shutter Case Waterproof Hard Case
Slumberjack Carbine 2500 Overnight Pack
Salomon S-Lab Adv Skin 5Set Hydration Pack
The North Face Litus 32 Daypack
$84 - $129
Deuter Futura Pro 36 Overnight Pack
Patagonia Lightweight Black Hole Pack 26L Daypack
Amphipod AirFlow Trail Pack Lumbar/Hip Pack
Aquapac Small Stormproof Phone Case Dry Case/Pouch
Burton Focus Pack Daypack
Bergans Helium 40 Overnight Pack
Deuter Walker 20 Daypack
Mystery Ranch Coulee 40 Overnight Pack
Osprey Transporter 40 Pack Duffel
Exped Backcountry 55 Weekend Pack
Mountain Hardwear Direttissima 50 Weekend Pack
$230 - $270
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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.


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.