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

other
180 Tack
5.11 Tactical
Aarn
ABS
Adidas
Advanced Base Camp
Advanced Elements
Adventure Driven
Aire

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

Osprey Aura AG 50

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Fits perfectly, the mesh back lining really takes the weight off my shoulders. This fits well, rides on my hips just like it should, and can carry all of my things for a weeklong hike. Full review

Osprey Aether 70

rated 4.5 of 5 stars If you want a bag that is going to last and fit everything you could possibly want inside, then this is the bag for you. Extremely sturdy as well as being very comfortable and adjustable! This bag has a huge number of adjustable straps that are mostly there to make your pack as comfortable as possible. Along with the normal shoulder, chest, and hip straps, there are two more (located above the shoulder) than can move the top of the bag closer or further away from your body depending on your preference. Full review

Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Southwest

rated 5 of 5 stars Ultralight, tough, surprisingly comfortable and versatile pack. A real winner. I've always had pretty high-tech backpacks. My original internal frame backpack was an Osprey Zenith, loaded with bells and whistles. From that 7 lb behemoth which served me well, I eventually ended up with an Osprey Aether (the original model), which at about 4 lbs, served me well on a thru-hike of the JMT. I thought I was doing pretty well getting my pack weight down to about 34 lbs for a six-day trip. I realized there… Full review

Gregory Amber 44

rated 4.5 of 5 stars A really comfortable pack for women with the right size. I am 60 years old and so I don't want a really heavy pack and this suits me fine for up to 40 pounds on the trail.The medium size holds 46 litres of volume, which is plenty if you pack light. I use it for carry on as well, also included rain cover seals the deal. I dislike fancy expensive packs that leave a rain cover as an option. No pack is fully waterproof. I will not pay extra for this option. It is a necessity not a luxury. If you want… Full review

Osprey Aether 60

rated 4.5 of 5 stars This is a comfortable, fully adjustable, reasonable weight pack for light backpacking. 60L is a fairly tight fit, but enough room if you pack wisely. Not much to complain about with this pack. I use it for overnight hikes and winter snowshoe trips to shelters. It holds just enough gear without anything outside. And if pressed I'm sure I could pack more. It's extremely comfortable and I often forget I'm wearing it. I've never used the removable top as a waist belt and feel it's a somewhat useless… Full review

Deuter Guide Tour 35+ SL

rated 5 of 5 stars All the winter bag I will ever need for day hiking in the snow. Rugged, has everything I need and more! This is my first ever winter pack and I love it! I bought it specifically to strap my snowshoes on. This pack can also carry skis and a snowboard as well. My snowshoes strap to the pack easily with no hassle. The pack is waterproof as well. It holds extra gear and food. It has multiple entry areas and zippers. It has a front zipper area for emergency snow avalanche shovel pocket. This is a great… Full review

Six Moon Designs Fusion 50

rated 4.5 of 5 stars FINALLY, the pack I've been looking for! Lightweight, but tough and can carry everything needed for 3-5 days...and a little more. Just for comparison purposes, I'm 5'10" tall, at 190 lb I'm about 30 lb overweight, old (55), lazy and, if you can't tell by my description so far, out of shape...unless you consider "round" a shape. Due to my advancing age and lack of physical fitness, I've been spending the last few years getting the gear I carry down to a more reasonable weight and, for a change,┬áleaving… Full review

Osprey Aura AG 65

rated 5 of 5 stars Fits as if it were made for me! Comfortable and able to carry 40 pounds easily. Lots of pockets and securing straps. Removable lid. I bought this pack for this season and I am in love with it already. It fits like a glove to my torso. It is comfortable with 37-42 pounds, which will be my average weight on the trail with food. I like all the pockets and the deep side pockets fit my 32 oz Nalgene bottle perfectly. I like having hip belt pockets for easy to reach snacks and gear. I got a deal on this… Full review

The North Face Snow Leopard Pack

rated 5 of 5 stars I've had this pack since 1988. It has completed the AT, the Vermont Long Trail, the Wonderland Trail around Mt. Rainier including a summit of Rainier, and it has seen every inch of around 400 miles of trail and summit in the Catskill Mountains of N.Y. To this day, it has never torn, zippers have not broken, stays have stayed true to my body. It is still (other than the clear faded colors) as good as new. 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: 5 of 5 (1)
Eberlestock FAC Track Internal Frame Backpack
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Eberlestock G4 Operator Expedition Pack
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Eberlestock H2 Gunrunner Daypack
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: 5 of 5 (1)
Nimrod Pack System External Frame Backpack
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)
5.11 Tactical All Hazards Prime Daypack
$200 MSRP
Aarn Compact Balance Pockets Front Pack
$52 MSRP
user rating: 1 of 5 (1)
Aarn Effortless Rhythm Weekend Pack
$275 MSRP
Aarn Expedition Balance Pockets Front Pack
$68 MSRP
Aarn Featherlite Freedom Weekend Pack
$260 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Aarn Guiding Light 60L Weekend Pack
Aarn Liquid Agility 31L Daypack
Aarn Load Limo 75+18L Expedition Pack
Aarn Marathon Magic 11L Daypack
$79
 
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Aarn Marathon Magic 20L Daypack
Aarn Marathon Magic 22L Daypack
Aarn Marathon Magic 33L Overnight Pack
Aarn Mountain Magic 50L Overnight Pack
$249
Aarn Natural Balance 65+18L Weekend Pack
Aarn Natural Exhilaration 33L Overnight Pack
Aarn Peak Aspiration Overnight Pack
$175 MSRP
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Aarn Sport Balance Pockets Front Pack
$60 MSRP
 
ABS Helmet Holder Backpack Accessory
ABS Powder 5 Backpack Avalanche Airbag Pack
ABS Powder Base Unit Avalanche Airbag Pack
ABS Powder Zip-On 5 Avalanche Airbag Pack
$34
ABS Vario 15 Backpack Avalanche Airbag Pack
$46
ABS Vario 25 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 SB 15 Avalanche Airbag Pack
ABS Zip-On Vario 15 Avalanche Airbag Pack
 
ABS Zip-On Vario 24 Avalanche Airbag Pack
$77
ABS Zip-On Vario 55 Avalanche Airbag Pack
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
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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.