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

Nite Ize
Coghlan's
Metolius
Arc'teryx
Sea to Summit
Equinox
CamelBak
Backcountry Access
Gossamer Gear
Columbia

Genders

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

Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Southwest

rated 5 of 5 stars Ultralight, tough, surprisingly comfortable and versatile pack. A real winner. I've always had pretty high-tech backpacks. My original internal frame backpack was an Osprey Zenith, loaded with bells and whistles. From that 7 lb behemoth which served me well, I eventually ended up with an Osprey Aether (the original model), which at about 4 lbs, served me well on a thru-hike of the JMT. I thought I was doing pretty well getting my pack weight down to about 34 lbs for a six-day trip. I realized there… Full review

Gregory Amber 44

rated 4.5 of 5 stars A really comfortable pack for women with the right size. I am 60 years old and so I don't want a really heavy pack and this suits me fine for up to 40 pounds on the trail.The medium size holds 46 litres of volume, which is plenty if you pack light. I use it for carry on as well, also included rain cover seals the deal. I dislike fancy expensive packs that leave a rain cover as an option. No pack is fully waterproof. I will not pay extra for this option. It is a necessity not a luxury. If you want… Full review

Osprey Aether 60

rated 4.5 of 5 stars This is a comfortable, fully adjustable, reasonable weight pack for light backpacking. 60L is a fairly tight fit, but enough room if you pack wisely. Not much to complain about with this pack. I use it for overnight hikes and winter snowshoe trips to shelters. It holds just enough gear without anything outside. And if pressed I'm sure I could pack more. It's extremely comfortable and I often forget I'm wearing it. I've never used the removable top as a waist belt and feel it's a somewhat useless… Full review

Deuter Guide Tour 35+ SL

rated 5 of 5 stars All the winter bag I will ever need for day hiking in the snow. Rugged, has everything I need and more! This is my first ever winter pack and I love it! I bought it specifically to strap my snowshoes on. This pack can also carry skis and a snowboard as well. My snowshoes strap to the pack easily with no hassle. The pack is waterproof as well. It holds extra gear and food. It has multiple entry areas and zippers. It has a front zipper area for emergency snow avalanche shovel pocket. This is a great… Full review

Six Moon Designs Fusion 50

rated 4.5 of 5 stars FINALLY, the pack I've been looking for! Lightweight, but tough and can carry everything needed for 3-5 days...and a little more. Just for comparison purposes, I'm 5'10" tall, at 190 lb I'm about 30 lb overweight, old (55), lazy and, if you can't tell by my description so far, out of shape...unless you consider "round" a shape. Due to my advancing age and lack of physical fitness, I've been spending the last few years getting the gear I carry down to a more reasonable weight and, for a change, leaving… Full review

Osprey Aura AG 65

rated 5 of 5 stars Fits as if it were made for me! Comfortable and able to carry 40 pounds easily. Lots of pockets and securing straps. Removable lid. I bought this pack for this season and I am in love with it already. It fits like a glove to my torso. It is comfortable with 37-42 pounds, which will be my average weight on the trail with food. I like all the pockets and the deep side pockets fit my 32 oz Nalgene bottle perfectly. I like having hip belt pockets for easy to reach snacks and gear. I got a deal on this… Full review

The North Face Snow Leopard Pack

rated 5 of 5 stars I've had this pack since 1988. It has completed the AT, the Vermont Long Trail, the Wonderland Trail around Mt. Rainier including a summit of Rainier, and it has seen every inch of around 400 miles of trail and summit in the Catskill Mountains of N.Y. To this day, it has never torn, zippers have not broken, stays have stayed true to my body. It is still (other than the clear faded colors) as good as new. Full review

ALPS Mountaineering Quadrant 4900

rated 5 of 5 stars A solid pack for the extended trip. Plenty of space with accessible pockets and an easy to get to rainfly make this a good pack. I have been using this pack for the better part of two years, and we go camping about once a month (weekends) and one week-long trip in the summer and one-week long trip in the winter. I have reduced my load considerably and the pack continues to deliver.   It is easy to wear, easily adjustable. I’m 6'4" and have found this to fit me nicely where other packs ride too… Full review

Granite Gear Ancho 18

rated 3.5 of 5 stars Great lightweight daypack for short hikes; has an internal pocket to hold a hydration bladder, two external side pockets, and a front long zip compartment for easy access. I use this for bike commuting and for short excursions where I don't need any gear. Granite Gear really puts a lot of thought into product development. The side pocket zippers are oriented front-to-back so you can unzip and grab things without taking off the pack. I love this bag. It's lightweight, the color is great, and it's… Full review

Top-Rated Backpacks

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

Nite Ize S-Biner SlideLock Backpack Accessory
$3
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (3)
Nite Ize S-Biner Backpack Accessory
$3
Nite Ize S-Biner Ahhh Backpack Accessory
$3
Coghlan's All-Weather Wallet Pack Pocket
$3
Coghlan's Waterproof Pouch Dry Case/Pouch
$3
 
Metolius Quickdraw Slings w/Monster Webbing Sling/Strap
$3
Arc'teryx Kata 37 Overnight Pack
$4 - $198
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Nite Ize S-Biner MicroLock Backpack Accessory
$4
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Sea to Summit See Pouch Dry Case/Pouch
$4
Coghlan's Bottle Carrier Sling/Strap
$4
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Equinox Marsupial Ultralite Pouch Pack Pocket
$5 MSRP
CamelBak Rain Cover Pack Cover
$5 - $14
Backcountry Access Stash 20 Winter Pack
$5
Equinox Bilby Mesh Stuff Bag Stuff Sack
$8 - $14
Gossamer Gear Pack Liner Bags Backpack Accessory
$5
Gossamer Gear Pack Foam Inserts Backpack Accessory
$5
Columbia Treadlite 16 Daypack
$6 - $35
Equinox Bilby Nylon Stuff Bags Stuff Sack
$6 - $13
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Compression Sack Compression Sack
$6 - $39
Osprey Detachable Sternum Strap Magnet Kit Backpack Accessory
$6 - $8
 
GSI Outdoors N-Case 420 Waterproof Hard Case
$7 MSRP
Mountainsmith Cyber II Recycled Camera Case Pack Pocket
$7
Witz Keep It Safe Case Waterproof Hard Case
$7
 
Easton Dry Sack Dry Bag
$7
Eagle Creek Pack-It Sac Stuff Sack
$8 MSRP
REI Mesh Stuff Sack Stuff Sack
$8
 
Sea to Summit Alloy Buckle Sling/Strap
$8
REI Stuff Sack Stuff Sack
$8
user rating: 3 of 5 (2)
Sea to Summit Accessory Straps Sling/Strap
$8 - $9
Sea to Summit Stuff Sack Stuff Sack
$8 - $16
Granite Gear Toughsack Stuff Sack
$8 - $19
Sea to Summit Mesh Sack Stuff Sack
$8 - $23
 
Easton Ultralight Dry Sack Dry Bag
$8
Coghlan's Nylon/Mesh Organizer Bags Stuff Sack
$8
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Mammut Ambient Light Dry Bag Battery-Powered Lantern / Dry Bag
$8
Witz Keep It Clear Case Waterproof Hard Case
$8
Gossamer Gear Sternum Strap Assembly Sling/Strap
$8
Outdoor Research Accessory Straps Backpack Accessory
$9
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Outdoor Research Ultralight Dry Sacks Dry Bag
$9 - $14
Advanced Base Camp Black Box Rope Bag Rope Bag
$9
Granite Gear Air Bag Stuff Sack
$9
Equinox Bilby Ultralite Stuff Bag Stuff Sack
$9 - $16
Sea to Summit Accessory Straps with Hooks Sling/Strap
$9 - $879
Nite Ize CamJam XT - Aluminum Cord Tightener Backpack Accessory
$9 - $11
Seattle Sports Glacier Clear Dry Bags Dry Bag
$10 - $23
Osprey Ultralight Dry Sack Dry Bag
$10 - $13
SealLine See Pouch Dry Case/Pouch
$10 - $14
Cabela's Cinchsack I Daypack
$10
NRS Cylinder Dry Case Dry Case/Pouch
$10
VauDe Rock 45+10 Winter Pack
$10
Page 1 of 102:  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  Next » 

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.