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
Sea to Summit
Metolius
Arc'teryx
Granite Gear
Mammut
Columbia
Equinox
Cabela's

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

Black Diamond Hollowpoint

rated 3 of 5 stars Tough well made bag let down by 2 design flaws which in turn render the bag unusable I have had the bag for 4-5 years mainly for urban use, cycling to work etc and unfortunately it now has to be replaced. The bag is not at all worn out and is made of very resistant materials. Except the top zip at the corners is very exposed wear and tear. It has prematurely worn to the point where I can no longer close the bag properly .  I will avoid zips in any future purchases Full review

Frost River Isle Royale

rated 3.5 of 5 stars Just two words to descibe this pack,Bomb Proof. My new pack arrived yesterday and as of yet has not been tested in the field but the fit for me is perfect.At the age of 65 and a lifetime of backpacking all over the world from Artic excersises in Norway during my service in the Royal Navy to the Yukon in Canada using military packs either British pack systems during my service or my pefered Norweigan Army pack this pack is right up there amongst the best.It does feel comfortable to wear,not yet sure… Full review

Granite Gear Air Compressor

rated 4.5 of 5 stars The Granite Gear medium Air Compressor is a nice lightweight alternative to the slightly heavier duty "Rock Solid" compression sack. It holds its own and has added features that increase its durability. The sack allows you to compress down to the strap limit without the fear of ripping at the seams. I have the older model with 4 nylon webbing straps. The newer model uses 4 paracord strings. The sack is easy to use. You just stuff, cinch the hole, pull the lid over the top and wrench down on the… Full review

Osprey Volt 60

rated 5 of 5 stars A great pack for people that don't like the feel of the Antigravity line. I bought this pack because I really disliked the way the Aether and Atmos have the Antigravity feature. I found that those packs sit way too far off of my back and made me feel like I was going to fall over backwards. This pack is a simple, more affordable and traditional alternative to the newer, more expensive designs. It easily holds a two-man tent, sleeping bag, mattress pad and other camping equipment for weekend or overnight… Full review

The North Face Renegade

rated 5 of 5 stars Hiked 88 miles at Philmont Scout Ranch with this pack in 2016. It is simply an awesome pack, tons of room, very flexible and received many comments from hikers that recognized my "vintage" pack. Going back to Philmont with my son in 2017 and taking the Renegade with me. Buy one if you can find one on the web. They are hard to find and sell very quickly on eBay and gear trade. One of the best packs that North Face has ever made. Awesome design, plenty of room, "vintage" looks, and very comfortable… Full review

Gregory Paragon 58

rated 3 of 5 stars This newly released lightweight backpack is equipped with user-friendly features without adding unnecessary weight. Supreme comfort meets a lighter base pack weight! This backpack is ideal for both the casual overnight hiker, and the long distance backpacker covering ground day-in, and day-out. Gregory has entered the market with their new line of lightweight backpacks, the Men's Paragon & Women's Maven series. Recreational backpacking has become obsessed with becoming UL (ultralight) over the… Full review

GoMotion Orion

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Perfect companion to early morning runs! Disclosure: The author of this review is a brand ambassador for GoMotion. I have had the opportunity to use the Orion light belt for about 6 months now and I am super impressed with its performance. I run primarily in the early morning hours—and I like to be seen while crossing roads! I normally run with at least one doggie running companion, so I feel an extra responsibility to make sure we are all safe and visible.  The light has three brightness settings… Full review

JanSport D3

rated 5 of 5 stars Purchased my D3 from R.E.I. in 1979. I have used this pack on the Appalachian Trail, hiking in Wyoming, more camping trips than I can count, and for a season of wilderness guiding in Maine. Love this pack. I have had this pack for 38 years. I have replaced both front panel zippers, but otherwise the pack has held up well. It has always fit me well at 5'7". It is very comfortable even with a heavy load. I love most that it has a large capacity to haul multiple days of bulky food packages. The front… Full review

Granite Gear Men's Nimbus Trace Access 70

rated 5 of 5 stars I own a few backpacks...and this has become my go-to pack. Plenty of straps that can be used to attach your tent, poles, or a rain jacket outside. Front panel access lets you get inside without opening the top. The wood frame is top notch with well placed adjustments. I picked this pack up for $207 plus free shipping. I gave this pack a 5 out of 5 because I do own a few packs, and this one fits right @ 70 liters for trips that are more then 3 to 7 nights. I can take a few extra things like a chair… 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
Coghlan's Ditty Bag Set Stuff Sack
$3
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Sea to Summit See Pouch Dry Case/Pouch
$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
Arc'teryx Kata 37 Overnight Pack
$4 - $14
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Nite Ize S-Biner MicroLock Backpack Accessory
$4
Granite Gear Air Pair Stuff Sack
$4
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Mammut Ambient Light Dry Bag Battery-Powered Lantern / Dry Bag
$4
Columbia Treadlite 16 Daypack
$5 - $109
 
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
Seattle Sports Dry Doc Dry Case/Pouch
$5 - $14
Gossamer Gear Pack Liner Bags Backpack Accessory
$5
Gossamer Gear Pack Foam Inserts Backpack Accessory
$5
 
Cabela's Cinchsack II Daypack
$6
Equinox Bilby Nylon Stuff Bags Stuff Sack
$6 - $13
Coghlan's Nylon/Mesh Stuff Bag Stuff Sack
$7
Coghlan's Nylon/Mesh Organizer Bags Stuff Sack
$7
Eagle Creek Pack-It Sac Stuff Sack
$7 - $39
Black Diamond Super Chute Rope Bag
$7 - $44
Witz Keep It Safe Case Waterproof Hard Case
$7
Witz See It Safe Case Waterproof Hard Case
$7
 
Easton Dry Sack Dry Bag
$7
Advanced Base Camp Black Box Rope Bag Rope Bag
$8
Coghlan's Waterproof Pouch Set Pack Pocket
$8
REI Mesh Stuff Sack Stuff Sack
$8
Seattle Sports Dry Doc Digi X Case Dry Case/Pouch
$8
Witz Glitter Box II Waterproof Hard Case
$8
Osprey Hydraulics Hose Magnet Kit Hydration Accessory / Backpack Accessory
$8
Witz Keep It Clear Case 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 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
Osprey Detachable Sternum Strap Magnet Kit Backpack Accessory
$8
Gossamer Gear Sternum Strap Assembly Sling/Strap
$8
Outdoor Research Accessory Straps Backpack Accessory
$9 MSRP
Dry Pak Alligator Wallet Dry Case/Pouch
$9
Sea to Summit Accessory Straps with Hooks Sling/Strap
$9 - $14
Equinox Bilby Ultralite Stuff Bag Stuff Sack
$10 - $16
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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.