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

Deuter ACT Lite 35+10 SL

rated 5 of 5 stars Never used it on an overnighter OMG I love this one. i need a lot of extra layers during winter, I don't regulate my body temp very well.  This allows me to take all the extras I could possibly need and still be compact enough for a day hike.   The hip fins are to die for:  angled for baby loving hips, well padded, contoured just right. Shoulder straps are also angled and well padded with no seams to irritate anywhere. i probably could do a summer overnighter with this, I haven't tried yet, I… Full review

Deuter ACT Trail PRO 32 SL

rated 3 of 5 stars I'm returning it urgh I so wanted to love this one!   The pack is superb, beautifully made, top materials, they really thought of everything.   Why am I returning it?  Because it does not fit me at all: even though this is from the SL line, meaning "slim line", women specific, I swear it actually fits like a man's pack.  The hip fins are not nearly as angled as they need to be and neither are the shoulder straps, I got nasty rub spots on my neck, collarbone and hip.   Its a real shame because… Full review

Karrimor Jaguar 65

rated 5 of 5 stars Bought mine in 1981 when I lived in Todmorden just over the hill from where they were made. Only issue is my side pockets are buckle closed rather than zipped but anything I put in there goes in a zip lock bag Bought mine in 1981 when I lived in Todmorden just over the hill from where they were made. Only issue is my side pockets are buckle closed rather than zipped but anything I put in there goes in a zip lock bag. Full review

Osprey Kestrel 32

rated 5 of 5 stars The little engine that could This pack is superb! I carry a 2 L bladder, extra layers, rain layers, food for the day, map, compass, first aid kit, extra mini Sawyer squeeze, trowel and tp, sunblock, buff, socks, hat, and the pack feels wonderful. The adjustability is off the charts, I can tweak the harness, shoulder straps, hip belt every which way easily, the rain cover is easy to pull out and stays put, and the reversible straps allow me to either compress the load or carry my snowshoes. Sometimes… Full review

Dana Design Astralplane Overkill

rated 5 of 5 stars can haul heavy loads great, fits well and lots of adjustment side and top access i have had 130 pounds in mine still looks new love this pack i have a few other but this is my go to pack and it will hauls heavy loads well hadi it on 5 trips in at 68 pounds and out at 110-130 pounds most pack dont hold up to this kind of used mine still looks brand new. Full review

Gregory Citro 25

rated 4.5 of 5 stars The Citro 25 is a good-sized and reasonably lightweight day pack with a surprisingly strong spring steel frame. The Citro's multiple pockets should appeal to organized hikers. The included '3D Hydro' 3 liter reservoir is excellent, and the hydration solution is unusually flexible. A small pack that can swing above its weight, depending on your needs and gear. BACKGROUND/DETAILS The Citro 25 falls into a popular niche of large day packs that can carry a decent amount of gear for a variety of conditions. Full review

REI New Star

rated 4.5 of 5 stars The performance of this pack has been unbelievable. Durable, comfortable, versatile...it was a great. I bought this pack in 1994.  Anyone have an older one?  Mine, I must say, is worn out.  It has been a great friend and I am a little sad that I need to replace it.  I believe that I easily put 2000 miles on it. Full review

Mammut Heron Light 65+15

rated 2.5 of 5 stars Not bad, but lacking ice axe loop. A sad oversight. 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

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
 
Kanooler products CreekKooler Waterproof Hard Case
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 SB 15 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
$8
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
$160
Alchemy Equipment 20L Softshell Daypack Daypack
$210
Alchemy Equipment 25L Softshell Daypack Daypack
$240
Alchemy Equipment 30L Zip Access Daypack Daypack
$240
Alchemy Equipment 35L Top Load Daypack Overnight Pack
$280
 
Alite Hatcher Backpack External Frame Backpack
$131
 
Alite Willow Pack Daypack
$100
 
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Alpina R114 Expedition Pack
discontinued
Alpine Luddites Park Pack Daypack
$175 MSRP
ALPS Mountaineering Amphibious Dry Sack Dry Bag
$30
ALPS Mountaineering Arvada Pack Daypack
$52
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
ALPS Mountaineering Big Bear Lumbar/Hip Pack
discontinued
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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.