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
Portage Packs
Rope Bags
Accessories

Brands

other
180 Tack
Aarn
ABS
Adirondack Rock Press
Advanced Base Camp
Adventure Driven
Alite
Alpina
ALPS Mountaineering

Genders

Unisex
Men's
Women's
Kids'

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

Ozark Trail single burner camp stove

rated 4 of 5 stars This burner is so simple to use. You adjust the gas flow and light the burner. No pumping or priming. The plastic base that comes with it makes the base very stable. I would recommend this burner as a starter burner for new campers. It's lightweight, but a little bulky. The Ozark Trail single burner stove is handy to have in camp. It's easy to pack on a boat trip. However a bit overkill for an overnight backpacking trip. I liked the 10,000 BTU burner and the ease of propane. I was also able to reduce… Full review

ALPS Mountaineering Shasta 3600

rated 4.5 of 5 stars This pack is rock solid durable. I would trust it every day of the week and twice on Sunday. The extensive adjustabilty, including the torso harness and especially the well designed load lifting straps and side compression straps, made configuring a heavy load easy. I have been a lifelong loyal supporter of external frames backpacks for a variety of reasons, most of which have nothing to do with performance. As a younger hiker, the lack of disposable income meant that all of my gear was particularly… Full review

Osprey Talon 44

rated 5 of 5 stars It is relatively light and versatile for a wide range of activities. The harness system is comfy and durable. Perfect for ultralight backpacking trips. Fit:  This is the pack that we chose to do a 12 day JMT hike. We decided on this because of weight and most importantly fit. The harness system makes it easy to mold to your body and the hip belt was perfect for the load (36 lbs).   Comfort: With the fit comes comfort due to its multiple adjustment points. This pack must be tried on first because… Full review

Mountainsmith Mountainlight Scream 25

rated 5 of 5 stars This pack is a great lightweight and minimalist choice for day hikes. It is easily packed down small to fit into a larger backpack. Durability exceeds anything else in its class. It is a frameless pack with minimal padding, so it has its limitations. If you take those considerations into account before buying this pack, you might just find that it's perfect for you. Fit: This is a one-size-fits-all pack. I'm about 5'10" and have a 19-ish inch torso, and it fits me really well. I'm a fairly normally… Full review

Deuter Futura 28

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Great daypack. Durable, comfortable, good storage features. Highly recommended! Comfortable pack, many pockets, I love extra storage options, the back ventilation is nice, minimal back perspiration! I am 5'4" with a longer torso and the s/m size works well for me. I have had this pack for three years and it is durable for all my crazy adventures! I also appreciate the lower sectioned zipper on bottom, great for shoes or wet items, can also be unzippered inside to make main upper larger. Great pack. Full review

Big Agnes Pumphouse

rated 3 of 5 stars The BA Pumphouse is too low-volume to be a good inflation device, and that property is the main feature that differentiates it from any other lightweight, waterproof, roll-top stuff sack. It does, however, have an unintended use -- it makes a good solar water heater. Although it is listed as just a stuff sack in the headline here on TS, it is really intended for use as a mattress inflater, with the suggested stuff sack and pillow as secondary uses. The bottom of sack has a little nozzle on it that… Full review

Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack

rated 4 of 5 stars A minimal day pack for short side trips on longer backpacking trips. No promises on comfort, and it is not very durable or waterproof, but that's reasonable given the small weight and size. I wouldn't recommend it for all-day hikes but it fills its niche well. We brought a pair of these along on our JMT through hike, and my daughter and I did several side trips to some of the nearer and easier summits using them. Short side trips when carrying larger pack are all I ever intend to use it for. When… Full review

The North Face Crestone 75

rated 5 of 5 stars Comfort is the one word I would use to describe this pack. Plenty of room and great support. Great pack with enough room for a thru hike. Love this pack, a bit on the heavy side though. Full review

GoLite Jam 70L

rated 5 of 5 stars A very well designed, ultralight frameless pack at an affordable price. Since reducing my base load weight to under 20 pounds (including a 5 lb. CPAP), I decided to try an ultralight backpack. I have been using a Kelty Trekker 65 and a Yukon 48 for years, and never expected to find a lighter pack that was capable of handling my necessarily bulky load with the same amount of comfort. After taking the Jam 70 on an overnight hike, I was not disappointed in its simplicity, comfort, capacity, and compressibility. Full review

Top-Rated Backpacks

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

Eberlestock G4 Operator
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)

Eberlestock G4 Operator
Expedition Pack
Eberlestock H2 Gunrunner
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)

Eberlestock H2 Gunrunner
Daypack
Nimrod Pack System
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)

Nimrod Pack System
External Frame Backpack
RE Factor Tactical Advanced Special Operations (ASO) Bag
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)

RE Factor Tactical Advanced Special Operations (ASO) Bag
$200 MSRP
180 Tack HydraQuiver Hydration Pack
180 Tack
HydraQuiver Hydration Pack
Hydration Pack
$85
Aarn Compact Balance Pockets
Aarn
Compact Balance Pockets
Front Pack
$52
Aarn Effortless Rhythm
user rating: 1 of 5 (1)
Aarn
Effortless Rhythm
Weekend Pack
$275 MSRP
Aarn Expedition Balance Pockets
Aarn
Expedition Balance Pockets
Front Pack
$74
Aarn Featherlite Freedom
Aarn
Featherlite Freedom
Weekend Pack
$299
Aarn Guiding Light 60L
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Aarn
Guiding Light 60L
Weekend Pack
$240
Aarn Liquid Agility 31L
Aarn
Liquid Agility 31L
Daypack
$149
Aarn Load Limo 75+18L
Aarn
Load Limo 75+18L
Expedition Pack
$360
Aarn Marathon Magic 11L
Aarn
Marathon Magic 11L
Daypack
$119
 
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Aarn
Marathon Magic 20L
Daypack
Aarn Marathon Magic 22L
Aarn
Marathon Magic 22L
Daypack
$179
Aarn Marathon Magic 33L
Aarn
Marathon Magic 33L
Overnight Pack
$199
 
Aarn
Mountain Magic 44L
Overnight Pack
Aarn Mountain Magic 50L
Aarn
Mountain Magic 50L
Overnight Pack
$274
 
Aarn
Mountain Magic 55L
Weekend Pack
Aarn Natural Balance 65+18L
Aarn
Natural Balance 65+18L
Weekend Pack
$330
Aarn Natural Exhilaration 33L
Aarn
Natural Exhilaration 33L
Overnight Pack
$199
Aarn Peak Aspiration
Aarn
Peak Aspiration
Overnight Pack
$222
Aarn Photo Balance Pockets
Aarn
Photo Balance Pockets
Front Pack
$110
Aarn Sport Balance Pockets
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Aarn
Sport Balance Pockets
Front Pack
$64
ABS Helmet Holder
ABS
Helmet Holder
Backpack Accessory
$15
ABS Powder 15 Backpack
ABS
Powder 15 Backpack
Avalanche Airbag Pack
$614
ABS Powder 5 Backpack
ABS
Powder 5 Backpack
Avalanche Airbag Pack
$608
ABS Powder Base Unit
ABS
Powder Base Unit
Avalanche Airbag Pack
$552
ABS Powder Line 15 Backpack
ABS
Powder Line 15 Backpack
Avalanche Airbag Pack
ABS Powder Zip-On 5
ABS
Powder Zip-On 5
Avalanche Airbag Pack
$55
ABS Vario 15 Backpack
ABS
Vario 15 Backpack
Avalanche Airbag Pack
$96 - $666
ABS Vario 25 Backpack
ABS
Vario 25 Backpack
Avalanche Airbag Pack
$85
ABS Vario 30 Backpack
ABS
Vario 30 Backpack
Avalanche Airbag Pack
$110
ABS Vario 40 Backpack
ABS
Vario 40 Backpack
Avalanche Airbag Pack
ABS Vario Base Unit
ABS
Vario Base Unit
Avalanche Airbag Pack
$604 - $699
ABS Vario Ultralight 18
ABS
Vario Ultralight 18
Avalanche Airbag Pack
$62 - $666
ABS Vario Ultralight 8
ABS
Vario Ultralight 8
Avalanche Airbag Pack
$656
ABS Zip-On SB 15
ABS
Zip-On SB 15
Avalanche Airbag Pack
$110
ABS Zip-On SB 5
ABS
Zip-On SB 5
Avalanche Airbag Pack
$76
ABS Zip-On Vario 15
ABS
Zip-On Vario 15
Avalanche Airbag Pack
$62
ABS Zip-On Vario 55
ABS
Zip-On Vario 55
Avalanche Airbag Pack
$130
ABS Zip-On Vario 8 Ultralight
ABS
Zip-On Vario 8 Ultralight
Avalanche Airbag Pack
$52 - $656
Adirondack Rock Press Canyon Rope Sack
Adirondack Rock Press
Canyon Rope Sack
Rope Bag
Advanced Base Camp Black Box Rope Bag
Advanced Base Camp
Black Box Rope Bag
Rope Bag
$8
Advanced Base Camp Dirtbagger Rope Tarp
Advanced Base Camp
Dirtbagger Rope Tarp
Rope Bag
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Adventure Driven
WolfPack 75L
Expedition Pack
discontinued
Alite Big Oak Pack
Alite
Big Oak Pack
Overnight Pack
$115
Alite Cypress Snap On Cup Holder
Alite
Cypress Snap On Cup Holder
Backpack Accessory
$24
Alite Hikari Pack
Alite
Hikari Pack
Daypack
$41 - $52
Alite Ochiba
Alite
Ochiba
Daypack
$105
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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.