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

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
$90 - $92
Osprey Farpoint 70
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (1)
Osprey Farpoint 70 Weekend Pack
$140 - $199
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
$180 - $224
Kelty Impact 30
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (1)
Kelty Impact 30 Daypack
$76 - $110
L.L.Bean Escape 20 Day Pack
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (1)
L.L.Bean Escape 20 Day Pack Daypack
$60 - $79
Kelty Redwing 40
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (1)
Kelty Redwing 40 Overnight Pack
$45 - $114
Sea to Summit Accessory Straps
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
$17 - $19
Granite Gear Kahiltna 29
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Granite Gear Kahiltna 29 Daypack
$97 - $103
Gregory Border 35 L Pack
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Gregory Border 35 L Pack Overnight Pack
$179
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 - $25
Equinox Gila Ultralite Horizontal Pack Pocket
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Equinox Gila Ultralite Horizontal Pack Pocket Backpack Accessory
$15
Big Agnes Pumphouse
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Big Agnes Pumphouse Stuff Sack / Sleeping Pad Accessory
$16 - $19
Mountain Hardwear Snowtastic 28 Backpack
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Mountain Hardwear Snowtastic 28 Backpack Winter Pack
$96 - $120
JanSport WatchTower
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
JanSport WatchTower Daypack
$81 - $110
Deuter Compact Air EXP 8 SL
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Deuter Compact Air EXP 8 SL Hydration Pack
$99 - $112
Kelty Mijo
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Kelty Mijo Child Carrier
$140
Patagonia Half-Mass
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Patagonia Half-Mass Daypack
$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
Black Diamond Hollowpoint
user rating: 2.5 of 5 (2)
Black Diamond Hollowpoint Daypack
$65 - $69
Gregory Deva 70
user rating: 2.5 of 5 (3)
Gregory Deva 70 Weekend Pack
$244 - $349
Salomon Trail 20
user rating: 2 of 5 (1)
Salomon Trail 20 Daypack
$60 - $99
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 - $19
 
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
Mountainsmith Youth Pursuit
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Mountainsmith Youth Pursuit Weekend Pack
$104 - $129
CamelBak Skeeter
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
CamelBak Skeeter Hydration Pack
$29 - $38
Kelty Yukon 48
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Kelty Yukon 48 External Frame Backpack
$150 - $169
Osprey Ace 48
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Osprey Ace 48 Overnight Pack
$120 - $165
Kelty Yukon 50
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (5)
Kelty Yukon 50 External Frame Backpack
$140 - $169
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
$96
Deuter Climber
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Deuter Climber Daypack
$55 - $69
Kelty Junior Tioga 2050
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Kelty Junior Tioga 2050 External Frame Backpack
$45
Deuter Fox 30
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Deuter Fox 30 Daypack
$79 - $99
JanSport Scout
user rating: 4 of 5 (4)
JanSport Scout External Frame Backpack
$100
The North Face Youth Terra 55
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
The North Face Youth Terra 55 Weekend Pack
$127 - $159
REI Passage 65
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
REI Passage 65 Weekend Pack
$111 - $159
REI Tarn 18
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
REI Tarn 18 Daypack
$40
Berghaus Expedition Light 80
NEW!
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Berghaus Expedition Light 80 Expedition Pack

available 2014
Cotopaxi Inca 26
NEW!
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Cotopaxi Inca 26 Daypack
$109
available 2014
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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.