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

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

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

Mammut Heron Light 65+15

rated 2.5 of 5 stars Not bad but lacking ice axe loop. A sad over sight. Lacking a few simple but essential bits like an ice axe loop Full review

Gregory G Pack

rated 2.5 of 5 stars I used this pack for day hikes in Utah canyons. After a couple of trips, I had holes worn in the fabric where it had scraped against the sandstone. This pack might be useful for someone who never gets off the trail, but the unreinforced fabric means that you need to be careful with it. The pack fit fine and it is the best lightweight daypack I have used. The durability of the pack is the issue. In only a couple of trips to Utah, there were holes worn through the fabric so that I was dropping gear… Full review

Lowe Alpine Contour IV 90+15

rated 4 of 5 stars Solid VERY large pack. Great for extended use or winter camping/hiking. I picked my pack up from a buddy for 25 bucks used about 10 years ago. GREAT deal. I'm a bigger guy and was looking for a large pack for extended trips and winter camping/packing. This pack is very well made and is constructed of a heavier nylon Cordura. Great in that it is tear-proof and holds up, but it makes it a little heavy by today's standards. The pack is designed for a larger person. I'm 6'1" 250# and I have no trouble… Full review

Gregory Denali 100

rated 2.5 of 5 stars OK pack, but not for the heaviest loads and longer trips due to some weak parts of the carrying system (described below) and too small volume, narrow bottom, and side pockets. In wintertime when carrying a bigger sleeping bag and generally more equipment this pack will, in my opinion, be too small for more than a couple of days outdoors. I bought this pack summer 2015. Used it on some weekend trips in forest regions and one 17-day trip tenting in the mountains. What I don't like is the narrow bottom… Full review

LifeProof nüüd case for iPhone 5/5s/SE

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Plain and simple: this thing works. My phone survived days-long exposure to heavy rain with no damage whatsoever. Very simply, it seems to work as advertised. For two years or so, my general impression was that it was simply functional and practical. It provides solid protection from drops, dust, and moisture with a less bulky profile than either LifeProof's larger cases or waterproof cases from some competitors because instead of covering the screen, it seals the rest of the case around it with… Full review

ULA Equipment Ohm 2.0

rated 4.5 of 5 stars This is now my favorite pack after a year of solid testing in all range of temperatures and trail conditions. A lightweight pack with a suspension frame that helps it carry loads up to 30 pounds comfortably. Except for full winter or over a week long trips, this pack can handle everything I need it to do. The other reviews prior to mine do an excellent job of summarizing the qualities of this pack, and helped me choose the Ohm. I felt after a year that I would add to and support those reviews with… Full review

Gregory Deva 70 GZ

rated 5 of 5 stars The Gregory Deva/Baltoro series is great for anyone from the weekend hiker who likes to bring everything but the kitchen sink to the long trail thru-hiker. The Deva is a very comfortable, durable, stable load hauler that comes packed full of removable features that allow you to have a custom and perfect fit. From the integrated solar panel to the water-resistant zippers and hip belt pouch, Gregory included almost every imaginable bell and whistle when they designed this highly detailed pack.  … Full review

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 two 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 700… Full review

Deuter Flight Cover

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

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 - $6
Coghlan's All-Weather Wallet Pack Pocket
$2
Coghlan's Nylon Mesh Dunk Bag Stuff Sack
$2
Nite Ize S-Biner SlideLock Backpack Accessory
$3 - $5
Arc'teryx Kata 37 Overnight Pack
$3 - $149
Coghlan's Ditty Bag Set Stuff Sack
$3
Coghlan's Three-Piece Mesh Ditty Bag Set Stuff Sack
$3
Nite Ize S-Biner Ahhh Backpack Accessory
$3
Metolius Quickdraw Slings w/Monster Webbing Sling/Strap
$3
Coghlan's Bottle Carrier Sling/Strap
$3
Backcountry Access Stash 20 Winter Pack
$4 - $239
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Nite Ize S-Biner MicroLock Backpack Accessory
$4
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Sea to Summit See Pouch Dry Case/Pouch
$4 - $6
Columbia Treadlite 16 Daypack
$5 - $164
 
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
Equinox Bilby Mesh Stuff Bag Stuff Sack
$8 - $14
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
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
Witz Keep It Safe Case Waterproof Hard Case
$7
Witz See It Safe Case Waterproof Hard Case
$7
 
Easton Dry Sack Dry Bag
$7
CamelBak Rain Cover Pack Cover
$7 - $15
Advanced Base Camp Black Box Rope Bag Rope Bag
$8
Coghlan's Waterproof Pouch Set Pack Pocket
$8
Sea to Summit TPU Guide Waterproof Case for iPhone Dry Case/Pouch
$8 - $39
Seattle Sports Dry Doc Dry Case/Pouch
$8 - $14
Dry Pak Alligator Wallet Dry Case/Pouch
$8
REI Mesh Stuff Sack Stuff Sack
$8
Witz Glitter Box II Waterproof Hard Case
$8
Witz Keep It Clear Case Waterproof Hard Case
$8
REI Stuff Sack Stuff Sack
$8
Sea to Summit Alloy Buckle Sling/Strap
$8 - $10
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
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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.