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


Nite Ize
Gossamer Gear
Sea to Summit




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 Hiker Wallet

rated 5 of 5 stars This great little product may seem unnecessary, but it will grow on you! I recommend the Hiker Wallet to anyone that goes into the backcountry that doesn't want to carry their big heavy wallet! Okay, I admit it—this was an impulse buy! But I am happy that I bought it! This is a great little product from Granite Gear that I have been using for several years now. It's one of those things that isn't really necessary, but you'll be glad you have it. After I purchased it, I thought "Well this is silly. Full review

REI Men's Crestrail 48

rated 4 of 5 stars This is a good little pack that is perfect for filling the gap between your small overnight pack, and your week + pack. It is lightweight, and has well thought out, usable features, without the clutter of too many. I recommend this pack to anyone that needs an inexpensive mid sized pack, or wants a lightweight pack that isn't stripped of features. I'm not sure what the picture on this page is, but...... this is what my Crestrail 48 packs look like. The Crestrail 48 is the little brother of the Crestrail… Full review

Mountain Hardwear Scrambler 30 OutDry

rated 3.5 of 5 stars Solid build, but the waterproofing is a gimick. Overall I think this is a decent day pack for scrambles and hiking. I tested this out.  The side pockets are adequate, the material is very solid, and I found the fit to be adequate, but not superb. The lack of a decent hipbelt was off-putting, especially for a 30L pack. For me that rules it out of being useful as a crag pack, or for heavier hauls, which the burely material suggests it can handle well.  The pack is advertised as waterproof. An OutDry… Full review

CamelBak Rogue

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Great hydration pack! The Rogue was my first hydration pack and after two years I still love it. I use it for mountain biking and short hikes and it is perfect for my needs. There are two zipped pockets so you can carry your wallet, phone, energy bars, and multi-tool with you and an expandable pouch that will hold a light jacket. The 70oz bladder holds plenty of water and the pack is insulated well enough to keep it cool for a couple hours. I would not hesitate to buy another one. Full review

REI Men's Trail 40 Pack

rated 5 of 5 stars A great pack for lightweight and ultralight backpackers. I originally purchased this bag to use as a daypack when hiking with my girlfriend. However, this was around the same time I started moving to ultralight hiking and now I use it for any kind of hiking / backpacking trip. I have only had this pack for about two months, but have already put over 250 miles on it with various loads. FIT I found the large REI Trail 40 to be a little bit on the small side (I'm 6'2"), but only slightly. The pack… Full review

Source Spinner Pro Race

rated 5 of 5 stars This is a great unit for biking and hiking. It is easy to use and easy to clean. This is a great hydration pack. I use it all the time when I go biking and hiking and even take it hunting. It fits very comfortably and the bladder holds enough water for all my outings. T he bladder is easy to clean and easy to use. I love the valve also. This is a top notch unit. Full review

Osprey Rev Solo

rated 3 of 5 stars Coolest fanny pack available. A sleek and sporty styling makes for the coolest fanny pack I've ever owned.  Had a lot of bounce when I wore the pack on my lumbar. Moved it around to front and my belly helps keep it from jumping up and down. Rises up off the hips.  Very comfortable, even after you realize how tight you need to cinch it down to keep it from moving too much.  Enough space to hold a smaller smart phone (I still use an old iPhone 4 and it fits with room to spare, but I'm sure something… Full review

Osprey Talon 33

rated 3.5 of 5 stars Good day pack. I bought this pack for lightweight multi-day hikes. The bag has tons of features; belt pockets, hydration sleeve, removable brain with lots of pockets for organization. The webbing in the back panel does a great job of keeping the pack off your back and your shirt dry! The pack fits me great, and is comfortable, up to the manufacturer's suggested weight limit, which is about 15 pounds. Once over that weight, the pack becomes pretty uncomfortable and feels unstable. The hydration pouch… Full review

Source DUNE X-Fit

rated 5 of 5 stars Perfect for sports that require more movement. Great weight distribution. Lots of storage. I love this pack and have no plans of replacing it. It's so comfortable. Perfect for sports that require more movement. Great weight distribution. Lots of storage. 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 - $7
Coghlan's Waterproof Pouch Dry Case/Pouch
Nite Ize S-Biner SlideLock Backpack Accessory
$3 - $6
Arc'teryx Kata 37 Overnight Pack
$3 - $199
Metolius Quickdraw Slings w/Monster Webbing Sling/Strap
Nite Ize S-Biner Ahhh Backpack Accessory
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Mammut Ambient Light Dry Bag Battery-Powered Lantern / Dry Bag
$4 - $24
Coghlan's Bottle Carrier Sling/Strap
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Equinox Marsupial Ultralite Pouch Pack Pocket
Coghlan's Arno Straps Sling/Strap
Equinox Bilby Mesh Stuff Bag Stuff Sack
$7 - $8
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Nite Ize S-Biner MicroLock Backpack Accessory
Gossamer Gear Pack Liner Bags Backpack Accessory
Gossamer Gear Pack Foam Inserts Backpack Accessory
Equinox Bilby Nylon Stuff Bags Stuff Sack
$7 - $13
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Compression Sack Compression Sack
$6 - $299
Osprey Detachable Sternum Strap Magnet Kit Backpack Accessory
$6 - $8
Kahtoola MICROspikes Tote Sack Stuff Sack
user rating: 2 of 5 (1)
Osprey DigiStow Pack Pocket
$7 - $199
GSI Outdoors N-Case 420 Waterproof Hard Case
Sea to Summit Accessory Straps with Hooks Sling/Strap
$7 - $879
Witz Keep It Safe Case Waterproof Hard Case
Advanced Base Camp Black Box Rope Bag Rope Bag
Granite Gear Toughsack Stuff Sack
$8 - $19
Eagle Creek Pack-It Sac Stuff Sack
Sea to Summit Neoprene Pouches Stuff Sack
Osprey Sternum Three Magnet Kit Backpack Accessory
user rating: 3 of 5 (2)
Sea to Summit Accessory Straps Sling/Strap
$8 - $10
Sea to Summit Mesh Sack Stuff Sack
$8 - $25
Sea to Summit Stuff Sack Stuff Sack
$8 - $149
CamelBak M.U.L.E. Raincover Pack Cover
Coghlan's Nylon/Mesh Organizer Bags Stuff Sack
Witz Keep It Clear Case Waterproof Hard Case
Gossamer Gear Sternum Strap Assembly Sling/Strap
Seattle Sports Glacier Clear Dry Bags Dry Bag
$8 - $21
Outdoor Research Accessory Straps Backpack Accessory
user rating: 0 of 5 (1)
Osprey MapWrap Pack Pocket
$9 - $24
GSI Outdoors N-Case 840 Waterproof Hard Case
Sea to Summit Seam Sealed Stuff Sacks Stuff Sack
Granite Gear Air Bag Stuff Sack
Sea to Summit Alloy Buckle Sling/Strap
Nite Ize CamJam XT - Aluminum Cord Tightener Backpack Accessory
$9 - $11
Equinox Bilby Ultralite Stuff Bag Stuff Sack
$9 - $13
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Outdoor Research Ultralight Dry Sacks Dry Bag
$9 - $29
REI Stuff Sack Stuff Sack
Seattle Sports Omni Dry Bags Dry Bag
$10 - $11
Ultimate Direction Fury Lumbar/Hip Pack
Black Diamond Ascent Crampon Bikini Pack Pocket
Granite Gear Air Style Hiker Wallet Pack Pocket
NRS Cylinder Dry Case Dry Case/Pouch
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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.