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
REI

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

RailRiders Journey

rated 5 of 5 stars I am a member of Team RailRiders. I recently put into use the RailRiders Journey overnight pack. Now upfront I have access to lots and lots of packs that I have gathered over my twenty plus years of exploration. I was also quite skeptical as to whether or not the RailRiders brand who are most noted for being "the toughest clothes on the planet" could deliver an overnight pack. I am happy to report that the pack far exceeded my expectations. I do lots of overnight trips for speaking engagements that… Full review

Lowe Alpine Netherworld 90

rated 3.5 of 5 stars I've had this pack since the early '90s and it has served me well. I ended up getting Deuter's Act Lite 65+10 and shaved off about 3 pounds but that pack is already worn through in a few places. I have used the Lowe in the Sierras with 45-50 pounds and in the snow with snow shoes and it seems indestructible. The fit was adjustable with the help of the store personnel. The volume was wonderful. The separate compartment on the bottom served as another storage area without having to go into the main… Full review

Osprey Tempest 30

rated 5 of 5 stars Comfy, light day pack with all the features I could want. I just got this day pack after owning the Osprey Ariel 55 for ten years and loving it. I wanted a smaller day pack with the same wonderful women's shoulder harness. This little pack does not disappoint. It is just as comfortable and adjustable as the larger pack and carries more than you would think. Fit: Fits great. Designed for women's shoulders. I have a long torso and I like that the length can be adjusted easily with the Velcro inside… Full review

Osprey Ariel 55

rated 5 of 5 stars Great pack, super comfortable, rugged. I have used this pack since 2003 on the Long Trail for overnight hikes of 2-4 days, carrying 25-32 lbs. It will carry more but I try to limit the weight. Fit: This pack fits great. It is adjustable so many ways that despite layering on and off as I go. I can still feel comfortable with a pull or release on various straps. The women's shoulder harness is very well padded, but not bulky. Very comfortable, great range of motion for my arms with the pack on. Comfort:… Full review

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

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
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 - $259
Osprey Detachable Sternum Strap Magnet Kit
Osprey Detachable Sternum Strap Magnet Kit Backpack Accessory
$6 - $8
Granite Gear Toughsack
Granite Gear Toughsack Stuff Sack
$6 - $7
Sea to Summit Mesh Sacks
Sea to Summit Mesh Sacks Stuff Sack
$6 - $12
Sea to Summit Stuff Sack
Sea to Summit Stuff Sack Stuff Sack
$6 - $16
Granite Gear Hiker Wallet
Granite Gear Hiker Wallet Pack Pocket
$6
Outdoor Research Stuff Sack
Outdoor Research Stuff Sack Stuff Sack
$7 - $12
REI Mesh Stuff Sack
REI Mesh Stuff Sack Stuff Sack
$7 - $14
Sea to Summit Seam Sealed Stuff Sacks
Sea to Summit Seam Sealed Stuff Sacks Stuff Sack
$7 - $8
Granite Gear Air Bag
Granite Gear Air Bag Stuff Sack
$7 - $21
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
Sea to Summit Accessory Straps
user rating: 3 of 5 (2)
Sea to Summit Accessory Straps Sling/Strap
$8 - $10
 
CamelBak M.U.L.E. Raincover Pack Cover
$8
Kahtoola MICROspikes Tote Sack
Kahtoola MICROspikes Tote Sack Stuff Sack
$8 - $9
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Stuff Sacks
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Stuff Sacks Stuff Sack
$8 - $18
Coghlan's Nylon/Mesh Organizer Bags
Coghlan's Nylon/Mesh Organizer Bags 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
Eagle Creek Pack-It Compression Sac
Eagle Creek Pack-It Compression Sac Compression Sack
$9 - $22
Sea to Summit Alloy Buckle
Sea to Summit Alloy Buckle Sling/Strap
$9
Equinox Bilby Ultralite Stuff Bag
Equinox Bilby Ultralite Stuff Bag Stuff Sack
$10
Sea to Summit Accessory Straps with Hooks
Sea to Summit Accessory Straps with Hooks Sling/Strap
$9 - $11
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
REI Lightweight Stuff Sack
REI Lightweight Stuff Sack Stuff Sack
$10 - $13
 
Black Diamond Ascent Crampon Bikini Pack Pocket
$10
 
Granite Gear Air Style Hiker Wallet Pack Pocket
$10
GoLite HydroSwift
GoLite HydroSwift Lumbar/Hip Pack
$10 - $48
Mammut RAS Refill Kit
Mammut RAS Refill Kit Avalanche Airbag Pack
$10
JanSport Fifth Ave.
JanSport Fifth Ave. Lumbar/Hip Pack
$10
Granite Gear Air Pair
Granite Gear Air Pair Stuff Sack
$10 - $12
Granite Gear Air Pocket
Granite Gear Air Pocket Pack Pocket
$10 - $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
ULA Equipment Stuff Sack
ULA Equipment Stuff Sack Stuff Sack
$11 - $14
Equinox Gila Ultralite Vertical Pack Pocket
Equinox Gila Ultralite Vertical Pack Pocket Backpack Accessory
$12 MSRP
Mountainsmith Cyber II Recycled Camera Case
Mountainsmith Cyber II Recycled Camera Case Pack Pocket
$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.