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 »


Internal Frame
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
Black Diamond




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

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Nano CF8 Cuben Stuff Sack Stuff Sack
Granite Gear Air Compressor Tactical Compression Sack
$20 - $24
Backcountry Access Float 32 Avalanche Airbag Pack
$380 - $549
Mountain Hardwear Kapalina 22 Daypack
$80 - $100
Deuter Futura Vario Pro 45+10 SL Overnight Pack
$164 - $219
Sierra Designs Ministry 40 Overnight Pack
Mammut Light Protection Airbag Ready Avalanche Airbag Pack
Granite Gear Pack Pocket Pack Pocket
Mammut Xera Flip Daypack
$67 - $89
DaKine Heli Pack 12L Winter Pack
$52 - $70
CamelBak K.U.D.U. 18 Hydration Pack
$168 - $225
L.L.Bean Klettersack Pack Daypack
JanSport Klamath 68 Weekend Pack
Gregory Amber 34 Overnight Pack
$119 - $149
Underwater Kinetics 309 Dry Box Waterproof Hard Case
Nathan Moxy Hydration Pack
$96 - $119
Kelty Ascender Trunk Backpack Expedition Pack
DaKine ABS Signal 25L Avalanche Airbag Pack
$712 - $749
H2O Audio Amphibx Fit Waterproof Armband Case Dry Case/Pouch
Black Diamond Revelation Avalung Winter Pack
$160 - $195
Pacsafe VentureSafe 10L GII Daypack
Salewa Ascent 26 Daypack
$111 - $139
VauDe Centauri 75+10 XL Expedition Pack
Mammut Trion Matterhorn 35+7 Overnight Pack
Burton Paradise Pack 15L Winter Pack
Arc'teryx Kea 37 Overnight Pack
REI Grand Tour 80 Travel Pack Expedition Pack
Columbia Manifest Daypack Daypack
Fjallraven Abisko 55 Weekend Pack
Mammut Lithium 25 Daypack
EMS Wapack 60 Weekend Pack
Mountainsmith Mayhem 35 Winter Pack
$80 - $129
Deuter ACT Lite 45+10 SL Overnight Pack
$151 - $189
VauDe Ultra Hiker 15 Daypack
Osprey Skarab 24 EX Daypack
Black Diamond Element 60 Weekend Pack
Deuter Airlite 14 SL Daypack
$79 - $99
Osprey Skimmer 30 EX Daypack
NRS Dri-Stow Clear Dry Bag Dry Bag
$13 - $23
Geigerrig Guardian Rig Hydration Pack
$113 - $129
Burton AK Pack 17L Winter Pack
Granite Gear Traditional #4 Expedition Pack
$100 - $125
Mountainsmith Modular Hauler 4 System Pack Duffel
$70 - $89
Osprey Cyber Daypack
$97 - $129
Dynafit RC 28 Winter Pack
Gossamer Gear Pack Liner Bags Backpack Accessory
Pacsafe VentureSafe 45L GII Overnight Pack
Sea to Summit TPU Guide Waterproof Case for Tablets Dry Case/Pouch
Burton Kilo Backpack Daypack
DaKine Option Daypack
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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.