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
Dry Packs
Portage Packs
Rope Bags
Accessories

Brands

Nite Ize
Coghlan's
Metolius
Equinox
Backcountry Access
Gossamer Gear
Osprey
Granite Gear
Outdoor Research
GSI Outdoors

Genders

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

The North Face Patrol 45 Duo

rated 5 of 5 stars Some times they get it right . More Pros Nylon side pocket ( not cheap ) Universal buckles ( easy to replace or expand ) Wide belt Loops for climbing gear   I bought this new in 2003 and have used it for everything from Back country camping - expanded to 60lt and outside harness system handle a foamy and tent very well. Fly fishing - added buckles to my float tube and clipped it to the pack - fly rod rests in the side pocket Ski touring - 3 different ways to carry your skis Snowshoeing - harness… Full review

Manasalu Adventure 50+5

rated 4.5 of 5 stars A well made and versatile pack for every day or for the longer trek. Very well made and designed, definitely user friendly. For some time I have been trawling through the web looking for a new 55 L pack which had all the features that I wanted in a pack; This one I had seen and it fitted all the points that was on my list. When a New Zealand supplier decided after a year plus of stocking this pack they had a silly clearance price offer which I couldn't refuse. The pack is very well designed and… Full review

Teton Sports Mountain Adventurer 4000

rated 5 of 5 stars A fantastic pack for a great price! This pack is designed for Ultra Light backpacking. It weighs only 4lbs. I would definitely recommend this pack for those who are heading out for a few days, and want to keep the weight of their gear, including pack, to a minimum. I'm very impressed with this pack and I love using it. This is one of Teton Sports' newest packs, part of their Black-Out Line. It is a really smart-looking piece of gear, that I am happy to take on the trail.  It's a modern, innovative,… Full review

REI New Star

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Great pack. Rides well and very comfortable. Large size with plenty of compartments and straps to store and adjust load. Well made with beautiful colors—scarlet red and forest green. I'm 6'1" and this fit me great, was very comfortable, with a huge capacity. Compression straps allow for various size loads and kept the pack riding well. Padded shoulder straps and hip belt stayed in place and were comfortable. Three main compartments and a small one inside held items securely with easy access. The… Full review

Platypus Sprinter XT 35

rated 4 of 5 stars This is a great pack. Well-constructed, waterproof, comfortable (probably more comfortable for men), but it may not fit everyone’s hiking needs niche perfectly. I didn’t really like this pack to start. I had taken it on several day hikes and field work, but I couldn’t figure out its niche. It holds far more than I would take on a day trip, but not enough for my typical overnight. In an attempt to think about what other people would like to know and in reading reviews is when I really started… Full review

Gregory Athena

Great pockets, good space, but small straps (meant for a shorter/smaller person). First...I read a review that said this fits small (meant for a smaller woman or larger child) and that is true! That said, it fits me perfectly because I'm small. So...I haven't actually filled/tried it yet, but it's exactly what I wanted style wise/pocket wise. Hard to find a daypack/travel pack with external pockets like I needed, but this has it at a great price! (Moosejaw has a killer deal on it as of 5/10/16)… Full review

High Sierra Karadon 55

rated 3.5 of 5 stars High Sierra’s Karadon 55-liter backpack features an innovative, fully adjustable torso and waist belt. This design seems ideal for growing adolescent hikers, families with multiple children, or anyone on the market for a pack that is likely to fit a variety of body shapes and sizes. However, if you’re an experienced backpacker looking for a high-end pack designed for your specific body type, move on; this is likely not the pack for you. Testing Conditions I tested the Karadon 55-liter pack from… Full review

Outdoor Products Fieldline Alpha OPS Daypack

rated 4 of 5 stars Good, basic bag. Comfortable to carry, roomy interior. Good for EDC, day hikes, or Get Home Bag in car or office. Good for a beginner who doesn't want to spend a lot of money on a starter bag. I picked up this bag last year from Amazon. I was looking for a black tactical-looking daypack to replace one I had worn out. This Fieldline Alpha Ops Daypack was a decent replacement for the price. It's not my every day bag but it's getting decent use. As soon as I got it last year, I loaded it up and took… Full review

Kelty Yukon 48

rated 3 of 5 stars Great, durable backpack, used from Cub Scouts to present (I'm 30). I've had this pack since I was 12, and save for a couple squirrel holes internally (my bad. [cub scout]), it's held up amazingly. I've recently gotten into lightening my load (considerably), and took a seam ripper to it (it's from 1997, and I couldn't stand getting rid of it) to fit my new lightweight approach. It now sits just over 3 lbs, and functions as an extremely comfortable (and rugged...(can't do the Cuben/sil-nylon, as I… Full review

Top-Rated Backpacks

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

Nite Ize S-Biner SlideLock Backpack Accessory
$3
Coghlan's All-Weather Wallet Pack Pocket
$3
Coghlan's Waterproof 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
$4
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Nite Ize S-Biner MicroLock Backpack Accessory
$4
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Equinox Marsupial Ultralite Pouch Pack Pocket
$5 MSRP
Equinox Bilby Mesh Stuff Bag Stuff Sack
$15
Backcountry Access Stash 20 Winter Pack
$5 - $239
Gossamer Gear Pack Liner Bags Backpack Accessory
$5
Gossamer Gear Pack Foam Inserts Backpack Accessory
$5
Equinox Bilby Nylon Stuff Bags Stuff Sack
$8 - $13
Osprey Detachable Sternum Strap Magnet Kit Backpack Accessory
$6 - $8
Granite Gear Toughsack Stuff Sack
$6 - $16
Granite Gear Air Bag Stuff Sack
$7 - $11
Outdoor Research Accessory Straps Backpack Accessory
$7
 
GSI Outdoors N-Case 420 Waterproof Hard Case
$7 MSRP
Mountainsmith Cyber II Recycled Camera Case Pack Pocket
$7
Witz Keep It Safe Case Waterproof Hard Case
$7
Sea to Summit Mesh Sack Stuff Sack
$7 - $23
Seattle Sports Dry Doc Dry Case/Pouch
$7 - $11
 
Granite Gear Air Style Hiker Wallet Pack Pocket
$7
 
Easton Dry Sack Dry Bag
$7
REI Mesh Stuff Sack Stuff Sack
$8
Eagle Creek Pack-It Sac Stuff Sack
$8 MSRP
REI Stuff Sack Stuff Sack
$8
Seattle Sports Glacier Clear Dry Bags Dry Bag
$8 - $23
 
Sea to Summit Alloy Buckle Sling/Strap
$8
user rating: 3 of 5 (2)
Sea to Summit Accessory Straps Sling/Strap
$8 - $9
Sea to Summit Stuff Sack Stuff Sack
$8 - $149
 
CamelBak M.U.L.E. Raincover Pack Cover
$8
Sea to Summit Seam Sealed Stuff Sacks Stuff Sack
$8
 
Easton Ultralight Dry Sack Dry Bag
$8
Coghlan's Nylon/Mesh Organizer Bags Stuff Sack
$8
Witz Keep It Clear Case Waterproof Hard Case
$8
Gossamer Gear Sternum Strap Assembly Sling/Strap
$8
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Outdoor Research Ultralight Dry Sacks Dry Bag
$8
Advanced Base Camp Black Box Rope Bag Rope Bag
$9
Nite Ize CamJam Tie Down Strap Backpack Accessory
$9 - $15
Equinox Bilby Ultralite Stuff Bag Stuff Sack
$9 - $16
Sea to Summit Accessory Straps with Hooks Sling/Strap
$9 - $879
CamelBak Rain Cover Pack Cover
$9 - $13
Nite Ize CamJam XT - Aluminum Cord Tightener Backpack Accessory
$9 - $11
Sea to Summit Ultra-Mesh Stuff Sack Stuff Sack
$10
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Dry Sacks Dry Bag
$10 - $32
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Stuff Sack Stuff Sack
$10 - $785
Sea to Summit Lightweight Dry Sack Dry Bag
$10 - $199
Granite Gear Air Pocket Pack Pocket
$10
Outdoor Research Lightweight Stuff Sacks Stuff Sack
$10 - $22
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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.