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

Mountain Hardwear
CamelBak
ULA Equipment
Deuter
Kelty
Granite Gear
Patagonia
Gregory
Osprey
Equinox

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

user rating: 2 of 5 (1)
Osprey DigiStow Pack Pocket
$10 - $19
user rating: 0.5 of 5 (1)
SealLine Urban Backpack Dry Pack
$150
user rating: 0 of 5 (1)
Osprey MapWrap Pack Pocket
$9 - $16
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Mountainsmith Youth Pursuit Weekend Pack
$105 - $129
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
CamelBak Skeeter Hydration Pack
$25 - $40
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Kelty Yukon 48 External Frame Backpack
$143 - $169
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Osprey Ace 48 Overnight Pack
$112 - $159
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (5)
Kelty Yukon 50 External Frame Backpack
$140 - $169
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (2)
CamelBak Mini M.U.L.E. Hydration Pack
$40 - $50
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Deuter Climber Daypack
$55 - $69
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Deuter Fox 30 Daypack
$79 - $99
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
The North Face Youth Terra 55 Weekend Pack
$159
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
REI Passage 65 Weekend Pack
$159
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
REI Tarn 18 Daypack
$27 - $39
Patagonia Black Hole Snow Roller Pack Duffel
$179 - $329
Patagonia Black Hole Pack 35 Daypack
$149
Patagonia Black Hole Duffel Pack Duffel
$99 - $159
Backcountry Access Float 32 Avalanche Airbag Pack
$330 - $449
DaKine Miley 16L Daypack
$23
Mountain Hardwear Kapalina 22 Daypack
$100
Deuter Futura Vario Pro 45+10 SL Overnight Pack
$175 - $219
Sierra Designs Ministry 40 Overnight Pack
$56 - $139
Mammut Light Protection Airbag Ready Avalanche Airbag Pack
$310
Granite Gear Pack Pocket Pack Pocket
$17 - $22
CamelBak K.U.D.U. 18 Hydration Pack
$224 - $225
JanSport Klamath 68 Weekend Pack
$120
Gregory Amber 34 Overnight Pack
$149
Underwater Kinetics 309 Dry Box Waterproof Hard Case
$22 - $29
Kelty Ascender Trunk Backpack Expedition Pack
$200
DaKine ABS Signal 25L Avalanche Airbag Pack
$812
H2O Audio Amphibx Fit Waterproof Armband Case Dry Case/Pouch
$53
Black Diamond Revelation Avalung Winter Pack
$168 - $279
Mountain Hardwear Napali 50 Weekend Pack
$123
 
Pacsafe VentureSafe 10L GII Daypack
$60
REI Flash Sport 15 Pack Daypack
$40
VauDe Centauri 75+10 XL Expedition Pack
$198
Mammut Trion Matterhorn 35+7 Overnight Pack
$180
Burton Paradise Pack 15L Winter Pack
$68
Under Armour Lax Backpack Daypack
$80
Arc'teryx Kea 37 Overnight Pack
$199
REI Grand Tour 80 Travel Pack Expedition Pack
$139
Columbia Manifest Daypack Daypack
$79
Fjallraven Abisko 55 Weekend Pack
$260
 
Ultimate Direction Fury Lumbar/Hip Pack
$26
Mammut Lithium 25 Daypack
$140
EMS Wapack 60 Weekend Pack
$159
Mountainsmith Mayhem 35 Winter Pack
$130
Deuter ACT Lite 45+10 SL Overnight Pack
$151 - $189
VauDe Ultra Hiker 15 Daypack
$41 - $49
Millet Peuterey 35 Limited Overnight Pack
$120
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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.