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

other
180 Tack
3V Gear
5.11 Tactical
Aarn
ABS
Adidas
Advanced Base Camp
Advanced Elements
Adventure Driven

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

Osprey Atmos AG 65

rated 5 of 5 stars A well built product. Very comfortable AG back support system that makes this a must have. After many hikes with this pack (Arizona, Utah, & Florida) I've found it to be the most comfortable pack I've ever worn. A+ for the AG design! Osprey stands by their product and I've heard and read that they will replace your pack no questions asked for whatever reason for the lifetime of the product. I don't know for sure because I haven't had a single problem. I ordered the large size.. but medium height... Full review

Osprey Aether 70

rated 5 of 5 stars This pack is comfortable, durable, lightweight and versatile. The Aether provides excellent body fit, adjustability, and balance. Very well designed storage and accessory pockets. I'm 5'9", 160 lbs. ("average build"), over 60, and have a surgically repaired back, so comfort is important to me. After a fitting at REI and trying on several competitive models, it became clear Osprey understood body symmetry. Loaded with 35-40 lbs the pack sits comfortably above my tailbone and distributes the load… Full review

Osprey Talon 11

rated 5 of 5 stars This pack is great for day hikes as well as a short camping trip. Durable, lots of compartments and space, and can be used in many different ways. The Osprey Talon 11 is the perfect pack for day hiking and short camping trips, and with it's incredible amount of adjustable counterparts, it could be used for any shape or size of person. I purchased this backpack before a trip to Zion National Park in Utah during the summer of 2014, at a thrift store for a killer price. I was hesitant because of it… Full review

Thule Men's Capstone 40L

rated 5 of 5 stars Mesh back panel is amazing for those hot weather climates where having ventilation. Having an adjustable MicroAdjust Suspension system, this is perfect for those that always seem to have trouble finding the right size pack to fit their body. Great for day trips that require a lot of gear, or relaxed weekend trips where not many clothes are needed. For my trip to Costa Rica, I began using the Capstone as a carry on to take more luggage with me abroad. It may not be the right shape, but the dimensions… Full review

Black Diamond Magnum 16 Pack

rated 5 of 5 stars The Black Diamond Magnum 16 is daypack that can take abuse, hold enough gear for a savy overnighter. It has just the right ammount of features at a doable price point. It comes from a company with one of the best warranties I have ever had the pleasure of dealing with. This little pack is perfect for the budget minded day hiker. It does everything one would expect from a pack this size while not breaking your budget.  If you're looking for a decent pack with a hard to beat price point, the black… Full review

ALPS Mountaineering Daypack

rated 4 of 5 stars I have come to rely heavily on this pack for all of my hunting and most of my hiking activities. Be aware that the external straps for securing items to the outside of the pack can be vulnerable to tearing at the base if the item you are attaching is too heavy. I have used it a lot for shed antler hunting; strapping on 30 or 40 pounds of antlers has caused such tearing. Nonetheless, the zippers have never failed, and now I mount the daypack on a freighter frame if I might need extra support (I drop… Full review

Osprey Aura AG 50

rated 5 of 5 stars I love this pack. It's so comfortable. It feels like I am carrying 10 lbs less than what I am carrying. I've had always had back problems since giving birth, but with this pack's suspension my back is in heaven. I love this pack. It's so comfortable. It feels like I am carrying 10 lbs less than what I am carrying. I've had always had back problems since giving birth, but with this pack's suspension my back is in heaven. The shoulder straps are very cushioning. I took this backpack on an overnight… Full review

Quechua Arpenaz 20L Ultra-Compact Waterproof

rated 2 of 5 stars Not so good daypack, but it is better to use it as a dry bag like I do. Water resistant and when packed it is super compact. Good idea, but not good at all in practice and in everyday use. Best things to put inside are clothes, some types of food, and it can be used as a dry bag. Do not think about putting anything sharp inside because it could puncture it and also you will feel any shape and edge of any sturdy object you put inside, which include also bottles of water. For a price of about 10EUR… Full review

Quechua Arpenaz 10L

rated 5 of 5 stars Very compact and all in total a very good backpack for a price of just 3EUR. It is great option for a daypack if you are backpacker, photographer, and especially cyclist. I really can describe by words how good is this backpack for daily commuting throughout the city or short outdoors exploring. It is only 10l, but if you have compact gear you can really put a lot inside. I was able to put my compact rain jacket, pack of wet tissues, 0.6L bottle of water, sandwich, some snacks like almonds, peanuts… Full review

Top-Rated Backpacks

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

user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Aqua-Quest Nautica 30L Dry Bag
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Everest Hiking Pack Overnight Pack
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
London Bridge Light Infantry Patrol Pack Weekend Pack
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Manasalu Adventure 50+5 Weekend Pack
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
MFH German Winter Tarn Rucksack Winter Pack
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Modern Warrior 18.5" Tactical Military Style Backpack Overnight Pack
$35 MSRP
OneCoolBackpack EcoPack-1 External Frame Backpack
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
RE Factor Tactical Advanced Special Operations (ASO) Bag
$200 MSRP
user rating: 2.5 of 5 (3)
Travelon Clear View Waterproof Pouch Dry Case/Pouch
$13 MSRP
180 Tack HydraQuiver Hydration Pack Hydration Pack
$85
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
3V Gear Outlaw Gear Slinger Daypack
$40 MSRP
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
5.11 Tactical All Hazards Prime Daypack
$200 MSRP
user rating: 1 of 5 (1)
Aarn Effortless Rhythm Weekend Pack
$275 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Aarn Guiding Light 60L Weekend Pack
Aarn Marathon Magic 11L Daypack
$79
 
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Aarn Marathon Magic 20L Daypack
Aarn Mountain Magic 50L Overnight Pack
$249
user rating: 4 of 5 (2)
Aarn Sport Balance Pockets Front Pack
$60 MSRP
ABS Powder Base Unit Avalanche Airbag Pack
ABS Powder Zip-On 5 Avalanche Airbag Pack
$34
ABS Vario 15 Backpack Avalanche Airbag Pack
ABS Vario 30 Backpack Avalanche Airbag Pack
ABS Vario 40 Backpack Avalanche Airbag Pack
ABS Vario Base Unit Avalanche Airbag Pack
ABS Vario Silver Avalanche Airbag Pack
$500
ABS Vario Ultralight 18 Avalanche Airbag Pack
 
ABS Zip-On Vario 24 Avalanche Airbag Pack
$77
ABS Zip-On Vario 8 Ultralight Avalanche Airbag Pack
 
Adidas Alliance II Sackpack Daypack
$14
 
Adidas Hickory Backpack Daypack
$55
Advanced Base Camp Black Box Rope Bag Rope Bag
$9
Advanced Elements CargoPak Dry Bag
$70 MSRP
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Adventure Driven WolfPack 75L Expedition Pack
discontinued
Adventure Lion Sea Lion 10L Dry Bag
$39 MSRP
Aire Frodo Bag Dry Bag
$169
Aire Waterproof Kayak Cargo Hold Dry Bag
$169
Alchemy Equipment 20L Roll Top Daypack Daypack
$120
Alchemy Equipment 20L Softshell Daypack Daypack
$157
Alchemy Equipment 25L Softshell Daypack Daypack
$180
Alchemy Equipment 30L Zip Access Daypack Daypack
$180
Alchemy Equipment 35L Top Load Daypack Overnight Pack
$210
 
Alite Hatcher Backpack External Frame Backpack
$131
 
Alite Willow Pack Daypack
$100
 
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Alpina R114 Expedition Pack
discontinued
ALPS Mountaineering Amphibious Dry Sack Dry Bag
$21
ALPS Mountaineering Arvada Pack Daypack
$52
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
ALPS Mountaineering Big Bear Lumbar/Hip Pack
discontinued
 
ALPS Mountaineering Breeze Pack Daypack
$30
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
ALPS Mountaineering Bryce External Frame Backpack
$149 MSRP
ALPS Mountaineering Caldera 4500 Expedition Pack
$66 - $99
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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.