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

Nite Ize
Liberty Mountain
Coghlan's
Equinox
Inov-8
Osprey
REI
Granite Gear
Outdoor Research
GoLite

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

Recent Backpack Reviews

Deuter Futura 30 SL

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Excellent pack. I was looking for a good pack to hike with and wanted something that would take all the weight off my shoulders and this pack does just that! I tried on several of the top brands but could feel shoulder strap pressure, this one converted all the weight to my legs — perfect.   The construction is impeccable, with quality zippers, cord lock and adjustment straps. I constantly over stuff the side bellows with no problems. I have not experienced any problems with the hydration system… Full review

L.L.Bean Duffle Bag

rated 5 of 5 stars This bag is a great size for weekend trips and a perfect size for a carry-on. This duffle is made out of a great, strong material and is very dependable and reliable for any adventure. I have owned my L.L. Bean duffle bag for years and it has been the best travel I have ever used. It has been through a lot of stuffing and throwing around, but it has held up tough.  It is very reliable and dependable. Full review

The North Face Men's Recon

rated 5 of 5 stars I think you could, if you planned carefully, use this pack as a weekender. If you had one of those new crush-able mats, and a very small tent, bivy or tarp. The only limitation I see would be carrying enough water. Unless you hike near water and have a filter. I recommend this pack. If you run into one for sale, buy it. You won't be sorry. I have owned my Recon for about 6 years. It has been to 14k and slightly more. I've hiked in Colorado, New Mexico, California, Oregon, and Washington. Here in… Full review

Osprey Quantum

rated 5 of 5 stars This is a great backpack for school, carry-on luggage, or short camping trips. It had held up very well to all the abuse I have subjected it to over the last four years. I'm a 5"10' and 190 lbs guy and the Quantum fits me perfectly. I used it though college, several weeklong trips with air travel and camping. It didn't require any breaking-in to be comfortable. It's more than adequate to hold everything you could need for a week with room to spare. I highly recommend the Osprey Quantum.  Full review

Ultimate Direction PB Adventure Vest

rated 5 of 5 stars I rarely write a review where I don't have a con. I looked long and hard for one on this piece of gear, but really couldn't find it, at least in functionality. I'm a bigger runner, so I notice that you must get the bigger size with this product or it just will be too small. I love the amount of gear it can carry, very versatile if you don't want to put a bottle in you can use that pocket for a myriad of other uses.   Great gear for both road and trail. Highly recommend.   Full review

Gregory Z30

rated 4 of 5 stars As with other Gregory packs, this one is well-designed and offers every feature I could imagine one would need in a daypack. That said, it could be tougher. Skinny hikers that have a medium build may also have trouble cinching the chest and waist tight enough. Gregory makes great packs. That's why they are, by now, a household name within backpacking and hiking circles. For a daypack, this gear provides plenty of features and a comfortable fit. Just make sure that you don't play too rough! The shoulder… Full review

Sierra Designs Jubilee 50

rated 1.5 of 5 stars Sub-standard pack for women. I really wanted to like this pack. I thought about it for weeks before making the purchase, so I was very dejected when it came. I left the tags on it for another couple of weeks while I deliberated over returning it. In the end I kept it only because I got it on clearance. Where to begin, I've learned to drop my expectations when purchasing gear made especially for women (that's a whole other rant), but this one was disappointing more that usual. I had to ignore the… Full review

Marmot Long Hauler

rated 5 of 5 stars Excellent quality in an attractive bag for a fair price! The heavy duty construction of this bag impressed me immediately. I wanted a duffel bag I could use for travel as well as camping and this bag didn't disappoint. It's seen airline abuse, many a camping trip and still looks brand new. It has several zippered pouches to help organize my gear and is large enough for two on camping trips. I would recommend this for any type of travel if you are like me and prefer a duffel to a suitcase. Full review

Deuter ACT Lite 50+10

rated 3.5 of 5 stars Great pack. I have been on four week-long overseas trips with this pack and it performed above expectations. This pack is awesome. Super comfortable. The pack fit this mixture pretty well. NO complaints and I would recommend this pack to anyone in the market for a new pack. Full review

Top-Rated Backpacks

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

Nite Ize S-Biner
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (3)
Nite Ize
S-Biner
Backpack Accessory
$2 - $7
Liberty Mountain 1 inch Field Repair Side Release Buckle
Liberty Mountain
1 inch Field Repair Side Release Buckle
Backpack Accessory
$3
Liberty Mountain Mini Round Cord Locks
Liberty Mountain
Mini Round Cord Locks
Backpack Accessory
$4
Coghlan's Bottle Carrier
Coghlan's
Bottle Carrier
Sling/Strap
$4
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Equinox
Marsupial Ultralite Pouch
Pack Pocket
$5 MSRP
Coghlan's Arno Straps
Coghlan's
Arno Straps
Sling/Strap
$5
Equinox Bilby Mesh Stuff Bag
Equinox
Bilby Mesh Stuff Bag
Stuff Sack
$7
 
Inov-8
Mesh Pocket
Pack Pocket
$5
Equinox Bilby Nylon Stuff Bags
Equinox
Bilby Nylon Stuff Bags
Stuff Sack
$5 - $13
Osprey Aether 60
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (20)
Osprey
Aether 60
Weekend Pack
$5 - $260
REI Stuff Sack
REI
Stuff Sack
Stuff Sack
$6 - $15
Granite Gear Hiker Wallet
Granite Gear
Hiker Wallet
Pack Pocket
$6
Outdoor Research Stuff Sack
Outdoor Research
Stuff Sack
Stuff Sack
$7 - $12
GoLite 8.5L Ditty Bag
GoLite
8.5L Ditty Bag
Stuff Sack
$7
REI Mesh Stuff Sack
REI
Mesh Stuff Sack
Stuff Sack
$7 - $14
Granite Gear Toughsack
Granite Gear
Toughsack
Stuff Sack
$7 - $8
Ultimate Direction Side Kick Clip-On
Ultimate Direction
Side Kick Clip-On
Pack Pocket
$8 - $10
Eagle Creek Pack-It Sac
Eagle Creek
Pack-It Sac
Stuff Sack
$38
Sea to Summit Neoprene Pouches
Sea to Summit
Neoprene Pouches
Stuff Sack
$8
Osprey Sternum Three Magnet Kit
Osprey
Sternum Three Magnet Kit
Backpack Accessory
$8
Osprey Detachable Sternum Strap Magnet Kit
Osprey
Detachable Sternum Strap Magnet Kit
Backpack Accessory
$8
Sea to Summit Accessory Straps
user rating: 3 of 5 (2)
Sea to Summit
Accessory Straps
Sling/Strap
$8 - $10
Sea to Summit Mesh Sacks
Sea to Summit
Mesh Sacks
Stuff Sack
$8 - $12
Sea to Summit Stuff Sack
Sea to Summit
Stuff Sack
Stuff Sack
$8 - $16
 
CamelBak
M.U.L.E. Raincover
Pack Cover
$8
DaKine Hip Pack
DaKine
Hip Pack
Lumbar/Hip Pack
$8 - $13
Coghlan's Nylon/Mesh Organizer Bags
Coghlan's
Nylon/Mesh Organizer Bags
Stuff Sack
$8
GoLite 15.5L Ditty Bag
GoLite
15.5L Ditty Bag
Stuff Sack
$8
Advanced Base Camp Black Box Rope Bag
Advanced Base Camp
Black Box Rope Bag
Rope Bag
$8
Granite Gear Hacky Stash
Granite Gear
Hacky Stash
Stuff Sack
$9
Outdoor Research Accessory Straps
Outdoor Research
Accessory Straps
Backpack Accessory
$9
Osprey DigiStow
user rating: 2 of 5 (1)
Osprey
DigiStow
Pack Pocket
$9 - $19
Sea to Summit Seam Sealed Stuff Sacks
Sea to Summit
Seam Sealed Stuff Sacks
Stuff Sack
$9
Sea to Summit Alloy Buckle
Sea to Summit
Alloy Buckle
Sling/Strap
$9
Sea to Summit Accessory Straps with Hooks
Sea to Summit
Accessory Straps with Hooks
Sling/Strap
$9 - $11
Equinox Bilby Ultralite Stuff Bag
Equinox
Bilby Ultralite Stuff Bag
Stuff Sack
$10 - $13
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Stuff Sacks
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Sea to Summit
Ultra-Sil Stuff Sacks
Stuff Sack
$9 - $18
Granite Gear Air Bag
Granite Gear
Air Bag
Stuff Sack
$9 - $26
Outdoor Research Sternum Strap
Outdoor Research
Sternum Strap
Backpack Accessory
$10
 
UltrAspire
Immerse
Backpack Accessory
$10
CamelBak Rain Cover
CamelBak
Rain Cover
Pack Cover
$10 - $12
REI Lightweight Stuff Sack
REI
Lightweight Stuff Sack
Stuff Sack
$10 - $13
Kahtoola MICROspikes Tote Sack
Kahtoola
MICROspikes Tote Sack
Stuff Sack
$10
 
Black Diamond
Ascent Crampon Bikini
Pack Pocket
$10
Sea to Summit Ultra-Mesh Stuff Sack
Sea to Summit
Ultra-Mesh Stuff Sack
Stuff Sack
$10 - $17
GoLite HydroSwift
GoLite
HydroSwift
Lumbar/Hip Pack
$10 - $34
Eagle Creek Pack-It Compression Sac
Eagle Creek
Pack-It Compression Sac
Compression Sack
$11 - $28
JanSport Fifth Ave.
JanSport
Fifth Ave.
Lumbar/Hip Pack
$10
The North Face Pack Rain Cover
The North Face
Pack Rain Cover
Pack Cover
$11 - $17
Outdoor Research Water Bottle Tote
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Outdoor Research
Water Bottle Tote
Pack Pocket
$14
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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.