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
Granite Gear
Sea to Summit
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

Eberlestock FAC Track

rated 5 of 5 stars One of my favorite backpacks. Check out the review on Youtube. Nice for outdoor and military. Have fun. Here you can watch the review. Have fun. Full review

Arc'teryx LEAF Khard 45

rated 4.5 of 5 stars One of my favorite backpacks. Check out the review on Youtube. Have fun. Here you can watch the review. Have fun. Full review

Mountain Hardwear Scrambler 30 OutDry

rated 3 of 5 stars This backpack wasn't bad. It wasn't my favourite, but I also didn't hate it either. Great pack for wet hiking conditions, a winter snowshoe hike, or an all weather commuter. As I mentioned in the summary, I don't dislike this pack. But I was also happy to return to use my old faithful. Though the waterproofing is great, and I wish my other pack was waterproof. I took this bag on two solid day hikes of waterfalling and a canoe trip and one thing is for sure — the main compartment is definitely… Full review

Deuter Futura 32

rated 5 of 5 stars Great pack! Very comfortable and functional. My back stayed pretty dry, despite some warm conditions on long day hikes in the Grand Canyon, recently. Purchased this pack recently to use on some long day hikes, with a few overnighters on occasion. I just came back from a week of camping at the Grand Canyon, with some long day hikes taken every day. Each day I packed a full hydration bladder, a liter of Gatorade, snacks, first aid kit, and a light jacket. Everything fit perfectly, though when the… Full review

Mountain Hardwear Snowtastic 28 Backpack

rated 3 of 5 stars The Mountain Hardwear Snowtastic 28 pack is a good idea that just wasn't executed very well. Some of the flaws can be fixed with very little time and money, others leave me scratching my head and asking "why did they choose to do it that way?" As far as carrying capacity, I'd say it's great for day trips, but accessing your stuff isn't the easiest. I bought the MH Snowtastic 28 because I want to get a little more adventurous in my snowshoeing this year, and my Camelbak pack doesn't hold much more… Full review

Deuter Aircontact 75+10

rated 5 of 5 stars Wonderful backpack. Very comfortable. Had a lot of room inside and many straps outside that you can attach you gear to them. Will advise that backpack to everyone. The best backpack I've ever had. Full review

REI Flash 45 Pack

rated 4.5 of 5 stars This is a fantastic lightweight pack. It carries well for such a light pack that doesn't have much in the way of a frame. This pack would be great for those starting on the journey to ultralight backpacking, while still having a pack with a lot of features. Fit:  This pack claims it fits up to a 19" torso in the Large size. I am 6'3" with around a 20" torso but decided to give it a try anyway. The pack is essentially frameless outside of the back padding and the Delrin rod around the outside of… Full review

Columbia Vixen 22L

rated 4 of 5 stars Light, comfortable day pack designed for women. Ample pockets for water bottles, poles, camera etc. on side, top, and back of pack as well as the waist belt. Love that load is kept off the back! Pack is extremely comfortable, even with a full load. Accommodates a bladder inside or water bottles on sides of pack. Zippered top pouch and two pouches on the belt. Great overall day pack. Full review

Salomon Trail 20

rated 2 of 5 stars Though personal, I think it can be said this pack has poor fit. Even if tightened down it will bounce. Does not carry the weight well. This is a nice enough pack. Pretty solidly constructed, OK capacity for bigger unsupported runs, or smaller fast packing ventures. But where it counts most this pack fails to deliver — it is uncomfortable when loaded with any amount of weight that matches its volume. Fit/Comfort: The fit seems nice enough, until you load it up with a bit more than just your wind… 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
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
Granite Gear Hiker Wallet
Granite Gear
Hiker Wallet
Pack Pocket
$6
Sea to Summit Stuff Sack
Sea to Summit
Stuff Sack
Stuff Sack
$7 - $16
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
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
Granite Gear Toughsack
Granite Gear
Toughsack
Stuff Sack
$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
 
CamelBak
M.U.L.E. Raincover
Pack Cover
$8
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
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
CamelBak Rain Cover
CamelBak
Rain Cover
Pack Cover
$9 - $12
Outdoor Research Sternum Strap
Outdoor Research
Sternum Strap
Backpack Accessory
$10
REI Stuff Sack
REI
Stuff Sack
Stuff Sack
$16
The North Face Sack Pack
The North Face
Sack Pack
Daypack
$10 - $20
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
 
Granite Gear
Air Style Hiker Wallet
Pack Pocket
$10
Sea to Summit Ultra-Mesh Stuff Sack
Sea to Summit
Ultra-Mesh Stuff Sack
Stuff Sack
$10 - $16
GoLite HydroSwift
GoLite
HydroSwift
Lumbar/Hip Pack
$10 - $48
Mammut RAS Refill Kit
Mammut
RAS Refill Kit
Avalanche Airbag Pack
$10
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 - $12
Advanced Base Camp Black Box Rope Bag
Advanced Base Camp
Black Box Rope Bag
Rope Bag
$11
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.