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 »


External Frame
Winter Packs
Hydration Packs
Front Packs
Lumbar/Hip Packs
Child Carriers
Dry Packs
Portage Packs
Rope Bags


Nite Ize
Sea to Summit
Granite Gear
Backcountry Access
Gossamer Gear




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

Granite Gear Air Zippditty

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Just the right size (.6L) for the little odds and ends you want to keep in one place when hiking, camping, backpacking, or any other outdoor activity. Well-made bags in high visibility colors, great for small first aid kits, fire starting kits, snacks, electronics, and more. A perfect way to bring some order to your backcountry existence. Multi-use Organization for the Outdoor Enthusiast As any outdoor enthusiast knows, organization can save time, prevent loss, and bring peace of mind to one's outdoor… Full review

Nimrod Pack System

rated 5 of 5 stars IVE BEEN MILITARY 28 YEARS!!! I can tell you that the military could learn a few things from Nimrod Packs systems!! I own every piece from binoc/45 case to the meat rack. If you spend your money on the OTHER guys costing twice your money your wrong!...this stuff is top quality and the craftsmanship is excellent. The owner is a top quality individual and the warranty is world class...try it! it will be the last one you will ever need!! I tell every one i meet they need to look at the prices the "Hunting Magazine… Full review

Gregory Baltoro 65

rated 5 of 5 stars I’ve crossed around 1,000 miles the past six months with this pack, carrying an average weight of 36 pounds. I could never imagine a backpack can be so comfortable and make the weight just disappear. I’ve crossed around 1000 miles the past 6 months with this pack, carrying an average weight of 36 pounds, I could never imagine a backpack can be so comfortable and make the weight just disappear. This is the 2016 model. Suspension: Superb. I have no idea how they made it, but this pack just gets… Full review

Wild Things Guide Pack

rated 4 of 5 stars This light, old-school day pack is great for people who want a low profile pack with plenty of tie-down options. Made for climbing, this pack should prove to be very durable. It has light but very comfortable shoulder straps and a removable lid and back pad for those who want to minimize weight. Unpadded hip belt and crude hydration accommodations might not thrill some people. I purchased the Guide pack a year ago because most of my 'day' packs were larger, heavier, and made to carry more weight. Full review

Osprey Exos 58

rated 4 of 5 stars Looking for light pack ? This will be a superb choice with its 1.1kg weight. You can pack more stuff in it than in a no-frame pack, but still have to stay under 15kg if needed ultimate comfort. Sizing is crucial, so try it before buying it. I tried and tested the pack in many multi-day hikes, but the major outing was again the GR20 last summer. Since then I have been using the pack nearly every second weekend for full day hikes. I don't need that much on gear, in addition I am a trail runner so… Full review

Dana Design ArcFlex Terraplane

rated 5 of 5 stars As an outdoor professional, I bought my Terraplane in 1996 through a work for trade deal from Appalachian Outdoors. It has been my only pack ever since. I have used it on every trip from Malaysia to Maine. My friends gave me a hard time spending 300 bucks on a pack, but 20 years later, I still have it. I have always believed in buying something once, even if it is pricy. I still have my Wiggy's sleeping bag and WhisperLite Internationale stove I last used to make coffee and warm a baby bottle on… Full review

Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler Duffel 90L

rated 4 of 5 stars This 90-liter duffel with wheels can consume a ton of gear. Has handles if you would rather carry than wheel it. Pack straps allow it to be carried on your back. When getting ready for an airplane trip necessary for an adventure, there is always, "how am I going to transport all my gear safely?" We all would love to carry on all our outdoor gear for its own protection. Unfortunately, that isn't always possible. I found myself in that position early in September as I packed for the Tour of Mont Blanc… Full review

Thule Stir 35L

rated 3.5 of 5 stars The Thule 35-liter Stir backpack carried everything I needed for a 100 mile, 10-day, hut-to-hut hike. Rides well if not overweighted. Pack adjusts easily for different height users. While I had a variety of backpacks to choose from, a recent hike of the Tour of Mont Blanc in France presented some new pack challenges. Since I would not be camping I was looking for just the right size pack to take on this trip. I decided that 35-liters would work well. Luckily my friends at Backbone Media were able… Full review

Arc'teryx Cierzo 18

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Excellent compact day pack. It's ideal as a summit pack, for travel, or just smaller day hikes. The Cierzo is a truly excellent pack with a number of innovative features. Its design as a summit pack defines it but doesn't limit its utility. Primarily it's a great multi-pitch rock climbing and summit pack for longer trips where you don't want to haul your 60Litre up a mountain. But this compressibility makes it ideal for travel and daily use as well. I took this pack trekking in Peru and on the odd… Full review

Top-Rated Backpacks

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

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (3)
Nite Ize S-Biner Backpack Accessory
$2 - $6
Coghlan's All-Weather Wallet Pack Pocket
Coghlan's Nylon Mesh Dunk Bag Stuff Sack
Nite Ize S-Biner SlideLock Backpack Accessory
Coghlan's Ditty Bag Set Stuff Sack
Coghlan's Three-Piece Mesh Ditty Bag Set Stuff Sack
Nite Ize S-Biner Ahhh Backpack Accessory
Metolius Quickdraw Slings w/Monster Webbing Sling/Strap
Coghlan's Bottle Carrier Sling/Strap
Arc'teryx Kata 37 Overnight Pack
$4 - $199
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Sea to Summit See Pouch Dry Case/Pouch
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Nite Ize S-Biner MicroLock Backpack Accessory
Granite Gear Stuffball Stuff Sack
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Equinox Marsupial Ultralite Pouch Pack Pocket
Coghlan's Nylon/Mesh Stuff Bag Stuff Sack
Coghlan's Stuff Bag Stuff Sack
Equinox Bilby Mesh Stuff Bag Stuff Sack
$8 - $14
Backcountry Access Stash 20 Winter Pack
$5 - $239
Mountainsmith Cyber II Recycled Camera Case Pack Pocket
Gossamer Gear Pack Liner Bags Backpack Accessory
Gossamer Gear Pack Foam Inserts Backpack Accessory
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Mammut Ambient Light Dry Bag Battery-Powered Lantern / Dry Bag
Cabela's Cinchsack II Daypack
Equinox Bilby Nylon Stuff Bags Stuff Sack
$6 - $13
Osprey Detachable Sternum Strap Magnet Kit Backpack Accessory
$6 - $8
Coghlan's Nylon/Mesh Organizer Bags Stuff Sack
Columbia Treadlite 16 Daypack
$7 - $220
GSI Outdoors N-Case 420 Waterproof Hard Case
Eagle Creek Pack-It Sac Stuff Sack
$7 - $39
Witz Keep It Safe Case Waterproof Hard Case
Witz See It Safe Case Waterproof Hard Case
Easton Dry Sack Dry Bag
Advanced Base Camp Black Box Rope Bag Rope Bag
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Fuel Belt Crush Lumbar/Hip Pack
Coghlan's Waterproof Pouch Set Pack Pocket
Dry Pak Alligator Wallet Dry Case/Pouch
REI Mesh Stuff Sack Stuff Sack
Witz Glitter Box II Waterproof Hard Case
Witz Keep It Clear Case Waterproof Hard Case
REI Stuff Sack Stuff Sack
Sea to Summit Alloy Buckle Sling/Strap
$8 - $10
user rating: 3 of 5 (2)
Sea to Summit Accessory Straps Sling/Strap
$8 - $11
Sea to Summit Mesh Sack Stuff Sack
$8 - $17
Sea to Summit Stuff Sack Stuff Sack
$8 - $18
Granite Gear Toughsack Stuff Sack
$8 - $19
Easton Ultralight Dry Sack Dry Bag
Gossamer Gear Sternum Strap Assembly Sling/Strap
Outdoor Research Accessory Straps Backpack Accessory
Nite Ize CamJam Tie Down Strap Backpack Accessory
$9 - $15
Dry Pak Multi-Purpose Case - Clear Dry Case/Pouch
$9 - $12
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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.