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
Sea to Summit
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

CamelBak Charge LR 70 Oz Hydration Pack

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Awesome pack for biking. Great for day hikes and biking. Lots of room for gear. Only drawback is that the last few oz of water are difficult to drink due to the bladder configuration. Full review

Osprey Aura 65

rated 5 of 5 stars So comfy. Straps are padded well and the back has air venting. The weight falls on my hips. There are a lot of pockets and tie-offs. I can put my sleeping bag in bottom zipper and the bear canister above it and the stuff around it and in the pockets. Have not messed with the compression straps much. Had it fitted at REI and they said I had a short torso. I would have bought a medium because i am 5'7" and 140 lbs. My torso is longer and my legs are shorter, but i took their advice and am glad I did. … Full review

Kelty Red Cloud

rated 3.5 of 5 stars Comfortable shoulder straps, lots of space and pockets to store all your hiking needs. Have had issues with the side pocket zippers failing. Full review

ALPS Mountaineering Cascade 5200

rated 3.5 of 5 stars Nice pack for the price, roomy. Good for long term backpacking. Held all my gear for a 10-day trip plus 5 days food. In preparation for a 10-day trek to Philmont, the Boy Scout backpacking paradise in NE New Mexico, I purchased a Cascade 5200. We did two long weekend training trips in Kansas and finally our big trip in New Mexico. The pack was roomy, held all my gear and at one time 5 days worth of food. The zippers were large and sturdy. The zippers held up well and didn’t catch on the material. Full review

Deuter Aircontact 75+10

rated 5 of 5 stars The Deuter Aircontact 75+10 pack is a great pack. It is a very comfortable pack with tons of features. The suspension is great and can carry a very heavy load comfortably. Best used for week+ trips or family backpacking trips. I love this pack and highly recommend it. One thing that really sold me on this pack is the adjustable torso length. I love this feature. If you have family members who like to borrow your gear, this pack is great because it can be adjusted to just about any length. This makes… Full review

Osprey Mira 34

rated 4.5 of 5 stars I love the mesh back panel, which is like the one on my Osprey Aura 65, for keeping me cool on the long day hikes in town. This is a great pack designed for women that feels great. The first thing that surprised me on this pack was the size I needed. I got this pack before I got my Aura and was unsure of my Osprey sizing. I got some help at my local store in getting fitted. I ended up with the XS/S. Once all of the straps were adjusted and hooked together, this pack felt great. I'm heavy chested… Full review

Gregory Robson

rated 5 of 5 stars Owned it for 20 years. To be clear Mr Weatherbottom.... The did make a Robson with carbon fiber stays, early/mid '90s before the "Pro". The Robson Pro, in my opinion, was nothing like the previous pack. And, I would offer Gregory packs don't make anything like they did then. Lighter, maybe, but not as tough. Full review

JanSport WatchTower

rated 3 of 5 stars It's a nice looking bag that falls short in its design. By adding too many compartments, they've lost valuable space. I liked the construction, but not the layout. Full review

Kelty Trekker 4300

rated 5 of 5 stars I got my first Kelty in 1968, and still use it for day hikes. In addition to the 'orginal' Kelty, I have the Trekker 4300 and the Tioga 5500.  Use depending on the length of the hike. Love all three.  Most of my hiking is in the desert SW and Grand Canyon. The externals allow greater airflow. Load is balanced over the hips—the long hike up from the bottom of Grand Canyon goes much easier with the 'over-the-hips' weight distribution. I still do an annual Rim-2-Rim at the Canyon—and of course… 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
$1 - $7
Liberty Mountain Ultralight Hook and Loop Straps
Liberty Mountain
Ultralight Hook and Loop Straps
Sling/Strap
$2
Nite Ize S-Biner Ahhh
Nite Ize
S-Biner Ahhh
Backpack Accessory
$3
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
$8
Inov-8 Mesh Pocket
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
Sea to Summit Neoprene Pouches
Sea to Summit
Neoprene Pouches
Stuff Sack
$5
Sea to Summit Mesh Sacks
Sea to Summit
Mesh Sacks
Stuff Sack
$6 - $12
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
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
Osprey Detachable Sternum Strap Magnet Kit
Osprey
Detachable Sternum Strap Magnet Kit
Backpack Accessory
$8
Granite Gear Toughsack
Granite Gear
Toughsack
Stuff Sack
$8 - $9
Sea to Summit Accessory Straps
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Sea to Summit
Accessory Straps
Sling/Strap
$8 - $10
Sea to Summit Stuff Sack
Sea to Summit
Stuff Sack
Stuff Sack
$8 - $16
 
CamelBak
M.U.L.E. Raincover
Pack Cover
$8
Sea to Summit Seam Sealed Stuff Sacks
Sea to Summit
Seam Sealed Stuff Sacks
Stuff Sack
$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
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 - $24
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 Style Hiker Wallet
Pack Pocket
$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
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
$12
 
UltrAspire
Immerse
Backpack Accessory
$10
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 - $14
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
Granite Gear Pack Pocket
Granite Gear
Pack Pocket
Pack Pocket
$10 - $22
The North Face Sack Pack
The North Face
Sack Pack
Daypack
$11 - $20
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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.