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 »

Category

Daypacks
Overnight
Weekend
Expedition
External Frame
Winter Packs
Hydration Packs
Front Packs
Lumbar/Hip Packs
Child Carriers
Dry Packs
Portage Packs
Rope Bags
Accessories

Brands

Coghlan's
Nite Ize
Metolius
Arc'teryx
Columbia
Witz
Sea to Summit
Equinox
Cabela's
Backcountry Access

User

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

Geigerrig Rig 700

rated 4 of 5 stars A tough little hydro pack with lots of cool features, perfect for mountain biking, xc skiing, trail running, or any quick high output outdoor pursuit. Is it worth the steep price tag? Not convinced. A good word for this bag is "trick".  It's full of little tricks, some of which I was still discovering a year later.  I've had it for about 2 years now and it looks completely unscathed, having very robust materials.  The inside hydration sleeve pocket is a bit stretched out, that's about it. The… Full review

Deuter Flight Cover 60

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Lightweight and durable bag to protect your backpack when travelling, basic but enough for this purpose. Features: Weight: 12 oz. (330 grs) Volume: 90 liters Size: 118 cm (H) x 72 cm (W) (Diameter)          21 cm x 21 cm (Once packed) This is a bag designed for backpackers who wants to protect their backpacks when taking a flight or travelling by public transport which generally does not care about your equipment. It’s made with a lightweight material, thicker than a normal rain cover and… Full review

Deuter Fox 40

rated 4.5 of 5 stars A great backpack to get the kids excited to get outside and explore a little more, and let them carry a little more gear on our backpacking trips. Shoulder straps have a large range of adjustability to fit many different torso lengths. I recently purchased the Deuter Fox 40 so my kids can shoulder more of the weight on our upcoming backpacking trip. My three older kids (ages 5, 7, and 9) were excited to see it and took turns trying it on. They all felt it fit great, though I did have to cinch the… Full review

Osprey Exos 58

rated 5 of 5 stars https://bencerise.wordpress.com/2017/01/07/ultralight-backpacking-gear-list/ Full review

Rivendell Mountain Works Jensen

rated 4 of 5 stars One of the first frameless packs made... Back around 1977 I heard tell of a new concept in packs—no external frame. Internal frame packs had not yet made their appearance. I read the reviews, I looked at the pictures, and I had a friend who operated a backpacking store order me one. I think it cost me an awesome $35 or $40. That was a pile of money for an impoverished grad student. The limitations of my frame pack were many for an impoverished student that traveled by hitchhiking and buses. My… Full review

Bergans Skarstind 32

rated 5 of 5 stars The Skarstind 32 is a smart, lightweight pack featuring the comfortable and ventilating Skarstind carrying system. The backpack is hydration system compatible and has multiple pockets and practical solutions for the great outdoors. Totally adjustable shoulder straps, waist belt, and load lifters making for a comfortable fit. Lightweight with a unique internal frame that keeps the pack off your back offering exceptional breathability. Removable brain, large side pockets that can hold a 1.5 L water… Full review

Karrimor SF Sabre 45

rated 5 of 5 stars This pack was designed for British Special Forces, is super tough 1000 denier nylon, 45 L main pack is expandable by adding the PLCE side pouches which add another 25 L capacity. Side pouches can also be attached to an optional yoke turning them into a day pay for exploring. Excellent pack, will easily carry 50 Lbs. I took it on a ten-day backcountry hiking trip and it was very comfortable, carried all my food and everything else with no problem, sheds water effectively in the rail. There are lighter… Full review

Deuter Speed Lite 20

rated 4.5 of 5 stars This is a simple and lightweight pack. It is great for a day hikes when a tremendous amount of extra gear isn't needed. The straps and outer pockets are great when you need to bring just a little more along than you thought you would. The ability to lash stuff on makes this a nice pack for winter use as well as summer. Fit: This is a one size fits most pack. It doesn't come in different sizes. I'm 5'9"-ish with a medium build and medium torso length, and this pack fits perfectly. I was able to try… Full review

Granite Gear Lutsen 55

rated 3.5 of 5 stars I liked the adjustability of the torso and hip belt and the way the frame curves out from the lumbar area to provide ventilation. I’ve been looking for a new pack since my old one is starting to show signs of wear and tear. I had to opportunity to test the Granite Gear Lutsen 55, a new offering from Granite Gear. I was looking for a pack that weighed less than 3 lbs and this one was just over the mark at 3.1 lbs. There were a few features that I really liked. One thing I liked is the way the back… Full review

Top-Rated Backpacks

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

Coghlan's All-Weather Wallet Pack Pocket
$2
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (3)
Nite Ize S-Biner Backpack Accessory
$2
Coghlan's Nylon Mesh Dunk Bag Stuff Sack
$2
Coghlan's Ditty Bag Set Stuff Sack
$3
Coghlan's Three-Piece Mesh Ditty Bag Set Stuff Sack
$3
Metolius Quickdraw Slings w/Monster Webbing Sling/Strap
$3
Nite Ize S-Biner SlideLock Backpack Accessory
$3
Coghlan's Bottle Carrier Sling/Strap
$3
Arc'teryx Kata 37 Overnight Pack
$4 - $199
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Nite Ize S-Biner MicroLock Backpack Accessory
$4
Columbia Treadlite 16 Daypack
$4 - $159
Witz Keep It Safe Case Waterproof Hard Case
$4 - $7
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Sea to Summit See Pouch Dry Case/Pouch
$4
Nite Ize S-Biner Ahhh Backpack Accessory
$4
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Equinox Marsupial Ultralite Pouch Pack Pocket
$5 MSRP
 
Cabela's Cinchsack I Daypack
$5
Coghlan's Stuff Bag Stuff Sack
$5
Witz Keep It Clear Case Waterproof Hard Case
$5 - $7
Equinox Bilby Mesh Stuff Bag Stuff Sack
$8 - $14
Backcountry Access Stash 20 Winter Pack
$5 - $239
Gossamer Gear Pack Liner Bags Backpack Accessory
$5
Gossamer Gear Pack Foam Inserts Backpack Accessory
$5
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Mammut Ambient Light Dry Bag Battery-Powered Lantern / Dry Bag
$5
 
Cabela's Cinchsack II Daypack
$6
Equinox Bilby Nylon Stuff Bags Stuff Sack
$6 - $13
Osprey Detachable Sternum Strap Magnet Kit Backpack Accessory
$6 - $8
 
Cabela's Lightweight Dry Sacks Dry Bag
$6
Coghlan's Nylon/Mesh Stuff Bag Stuff Sack
$7
Coghlan's Nylon/Mesh Organizer Bags Stuff Sack
$7
 
GSI Outdoors N-Case 420 Waterproof Hard Case
$7 MSRP
Eagle Creek Pack-It Sac Stuff Sack
$7 - $39
 
Easton Dry Sack Dry Bag
$7
CamelBak Rain Cover Pack Cover
$7 - $16
Advanced Base Camp Black Box Rope Bag Rope Bag
$8
Coghlan's Waterproof Pouch Set Pack Pocket
$8
Dry Pak Alligator Wallet Dry Case/Pouch
$8
REI Mesh Stuff Sack Stuff Sack
$8
Witz Glitter Box II Waterproof Hard Case
$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 - $11
Sea to Summit Mesh Sack Stuff Sack
$8 - $14
Sea to Summit Stuff Sack Stuff Sack
$8 - $18
Granite Gear Toughsack Stuff Sack
$8 - $19
 
Easton Ultralight Dry Sack Dry Bag
$8
Nite Ize CamJam XT - Aluminum Cord Tightener Backpack Accessory
$8 - $11
Gossamer Gear Sternum Strap Assembly Sling/Strap
$8
Outdoor Research Accessory Straps Backpack Accessory
$9
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Granite Gear Hiker Wallet Pack Pocket
$9
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.

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.