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 »

Category

Daypacks
Overnight
Weekend
Expedition
External Frame
Winter Packs
Hydration Packs
Front Packs
Lumbar/Hip Packs
Child Carriers
Dry Packs
Portage Packs
Rope Bags
Accessories

Brands

ULA Equipment
CamelBak
Osprey
Gregory
Deuter
Granite Gear
Patagonia
Equinox
Sea to Summit
Kelty

User

Unisex
Men's
Women's
Kids'
Girls'

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

Recent Backpack Reviews

Gregory Paragon 68

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Great pack for several day backpacking trips where weight is a key consideration. However, the pack does not sacrifice comfort or storage for the reduction in bulk. It was easy to pack up and traveled wonderfully with no discomfort for a humid 7 mile Alabama hike. The backpack fits comfortably on your hips and did not cause any blisters or painful spots during my hike. I am 5’8” and found that by adjusting the frame to the smallest setting the pack fit very comfortably on my back. If you were… Full review

Eureka! Mt. Isolation 65L Pack

rated 2 of 5 stars Loved the design, but this pack was uncomfortable and impossible to keep adjusted during a rugged week long hike. Load lifters poorly designed and strap adjustment needed frequent attention. Problems with pack shifting due to shoulder yoke attachment to pack rails. I purchased my Eureka Mt. Isolation 65L backpack a few years ago directly from Eureka at the Toronto Sportsman Show along with a number of other items. It appeared to be a good quality backpack and I was assured that it was designed to… Full review

Klymit Motion 60

rated 4 of 5 stars Great for the weekend warrior or thru-hiker seeking a lightweight, yet durable and versatile pack. As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I was able to test the Klymit Motion 60 Back Pack.  My husband was in the market to update his old backpack when I won the May camping review contest from The Dyrt. I spent some additional money and purchased their top-of-the-line backpack for him to enjoy. What we like most about this backpack: Super lightweight and comfortable…a mere 2.7 pounds. His old backpack weighed… Full review

REI Trekker Wonderland

rated 5 of 5 stars I have used this pack for many years on extended trips of up to 9 days. It has seen many cross country hiking in very rough terrain. It has always performed well and is comfortable until I get up to 60+ lbs of weight but over 60 lbs what pack is comfortable? Zippers are still functioning well as is the rest of the pack. I am very sad to see that you can no longer buy a new one. Fits well and is comfortable. Full review

Osprey Volt 75

rated 4 of 5 stars Good pack for 2-5 day trips, good storage, good construction. Fit: Easy to adjust to my body type. I'm "that athletic guy", 5'10" 165 lbs. Comfort: When the pack is fitted properly it helps me stand with pretty good posture (although leaning forward a little), and that helps out a lot for longer trips because my back feels fine. The hip belt is OK and does wrap around my hips, but after a while doesn't feel that great. Because I have a fairly trim figure I don't have a lot of cushion on my hips,… Full review

Granite Gear Nimbus Meridian

rated 5 of 5 stars Unequaled. This pack has been around the world with me and performed some the most demanding work, never letting me down. Still loving it to this day in mid-2017. I've owned this pack for 10 years and done the Tour du Mont Blanc with the GG Nimbus Meridian, in camping only mode. 110 miles and 37,000 ft of elevation gain/loss. Beyond this, it served me perfectly as a member of the Vail Mountain Search and Rescue team. I'd bought a well regarded pack to do this work rather than beating up my GG Nimbus… Full review

Snugpak Sleeka Force 35

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Good weekend or small pack for the trails. The Snugpak Sleeka 35 ltr bag is a simple design rucksack with a lot of extras found in other hiking bags. The bag is constructed off 500D nylon material and is plenty durable and should last years of trail abuse. The Sleeka comes with an included rain cover, two large covered side compartments, shoulder/chest/hip straps, as well as a front mesh compartment (although it's on the small side ), a top zippered compartment sits on top of the pack flap and can… Full review

Black Diamond Dawn Patrol 32

rated 5 of 5 stars This pack is designed for backcountry ski touring. It is comfortable and big enough for emergency gear, food, etc. I've used this pack for almost two winters in the mountains of northern New Mexico. It's as good as new; it's trustworthy. Unlike the packs I previously used, I can wear this on a full-day outing and hardly notice it, even when it is fully loaded. I'm a medium size in most clothes, and the Dawn Patrol 32 is a good fit. In comparison, standard rucksacks, such as the BD Nitro pack, feel… Full review

The Big Heavy

rated 5 of 5 stars The Big Heavy is my home away from home carrying everything I need except me. The Big Heavy is an amazing external frame backpack from the late '80s. This isn't one of those wooden framed canvas Boy Scout things mind you, but a bit newer and more high-tech. The Big Heavy is able to carry anything and I love it so! Starting with my sleep system I have a tarp. I've never liked the sound those plastic one's make so I found an old painters tarp. It's canvas so it weighs a bit more, and it gets wet,… Full review

Top-Rated Backpacks

Sort by: name | rating | price | availability | recently reviewed

user rating: 5 of 5 (10)
ULA Equipment Catalyst Expedition Pack
$250
user rating: 5 of 5 (7)
CamelBak Cloud Walker Hydration Pack
$45 - $85
user rating: 5 of 5 (7)
Osprey Aura 65 Weekend Pack
$100
user rating: 5 of 5 (6)
Gregory Z 40 Overnight Pack
$116
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
Osprey Talon 11 Daypack
$67 - $100
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
ULA Equipment Ohm 2.0 Weekend Pack
$200
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
Deuter Futura 32 Daypack
$149
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Granite Gear Round Rock Solid Compression Sack
$18 - $34
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Patagonia Atom Daypack
$49 - $79
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Deuter Aircontact 65+10 Weekend Pack
$195 - $279
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Equinox Katahdin Weekend Pack
$130
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Pack Cover Pack Cover
$25 - $44
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Kelty Red Cloud 110 Expedition Pack
$230
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Deuter Kid Comfort II Child Carrier
$249
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Granite Gear Leopard A.C. 58 Weekend Pack
$150
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Deuter Trans Alpine 30 Daypack
$129
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
SealLine Pro Pack Dry Pack
$200
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Osprey Manta 36 Daypack
$120
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Deuter ACT Trail 24 Daypack
$119
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Osprey Sirrus 24 Daypack
$90 - $130
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Mountainsmith Lariat 65 Weekend Pack
$184 - $229
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Porter Weekend Pack
$340
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Patagonia Black Hole Duffel Pack Duffel
$69 - $169
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Osprey UL Raincover Pack Cover
$30 - $40
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Granite Gear Nimbus Trace Access 70 Weekend Pack
$192 - $349
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Kelty Redwing 32 Daypack
$80 - $99
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Windrider Weekend Pack
$340
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Deuter Futura Pro 34 SL Overnight Pack
$155 - $159
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Osprey Xena 85 Expedition Pack
$360
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Mile High Mountaineering Salute 34 Overnight Pack
$229
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
REI Trail 40 Pack Overnight Pack
$109
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Haglofs Tight Daypack
$50
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Fjallraven Kajka 75 Weekend Pack
$400
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Mystery Ranch Glacier Weekend Pack
$350
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Outdoor Research Ultralight Compression Sack Compression Sack
$26 - $55
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Gregory Miwok 18 Daypack
$64 - $99
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Marmot Kompressor Daypack
$35 - $835
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Mystery Ranch Wet Rib Pack Pocket
$30
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Arc'teryx Arro 22 Daypack
$149 - $199
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Deuter Kid Comfort III Child Carrier
$299
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Marmot Ultra Kompressor Daypack
$65 - $88
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
ALPS Mountaineering Cyclone Stuff Sacks Compression Sack
$22
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Watershed Animas Dry Pack
$116 - $150
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Granite Gear Air Zippditty Stuff Sack
$17 - $20
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Mountain Hardwear Enterprise Daypack
$55 - $72
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Osprey Rev 6 Hydration Pack
$75
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Mountainsmith Scream 25 Daypack
$64 - $79
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
The North Face Terra 35 Overnight Pack
$90 - $159
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Deuter Pace 36 Winter Pack
$90 - $129
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Dry Sacks Dry Bag
$11 - $32
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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.