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

Deuter Futura 30 SL

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Excellent pack. I was looking for a good pack to hike with and wanted something that would take all the weight off my shoulders and this pack does just that! I tried on several of the top brands but could feel shoulder strap pressure, this one converted all the weight to my legs — perfect.   The construction is impeccable, with quality zippers, cord lock and adjustment straps. I constantly over stuff the side bellows with no problems. I have not experienced any problems with the hydration system… Full review

L.L.Bean Duffle Bag

rated 5 of 5 stars This bag is a great size for weekend trips and a perfect size for a carry-on. This duffle is made out of a great, strong material and is very dependable and reliable for any adventure. I have owned my L.L. Bean duffle bag for years and it has been the best travel I have ever used. It has been through a lot of stuffing and throwing around, but it has held up tough.  It is very reliable and dependable. Full review

The North Face Men's Recon

rated 5 of 5 stars I think you could, if you planned carefully, use this pack as a weekender. If you had one of those new crush-able mats, and a very small tent, bivy or tarp. The only limitation I see would be carrying enough water. Unless you hike near water and have a filter. I recommend this pack. If you run into one for sale, buy it. You won't be sorry. I have owned my Recon for about 6 years. It has been to 14k and slightly more. I've hiked in Colorado, New Mexico, California, Oregon, and Washington. Here in… Full review

Osprey Quantum

rated 5 of 5 stars This is a great backpack for school, carry-on luggage, or short camping trips. It had held up very well to all the abuse I have subjected it to over the last four years. I'm a 5"10' and 190 lbs guy and the Quantum fits me perfectly. I used it though college, several weeklong trips with air travel and camping. It didn't require any breaking-in to be comfortable. It's more than adequate to hold everything you could need for a week with room to spare. I highly recommend the Osprey Quantum.  Full review

Ultimate Direction PB Adventure Vest

rated 5 of 5 stars I rarely write a review where I don't have a con. I looked long and hard for one on this piece of gear, but really couldn't find it, at least in functionality. I'm a bigger runner, so I notice that you must get the bigger size with this product or it just will be too small. I love the amount of gear it can carry, very versatile if you don't want to put a bottle in you can use that pocket for a myriad of other uses.   Great gear for both road and trail. Highly recommend.   Full review

Gregory Z30

rated 4 of 5 stars As with other Gregory packs, this one is well-designed and offers every feature I could imagine one would need in a daypack. That said, it could be tougher. Skinny hikers that have a medium build may also have trouble cinching the chest and waist tight enough. Gregory makes great packs. That's why they are, by now, a household name within backpacking and hiking circles. For a daypack, this gear provides plenty of features and a comfortable fit. Just make sure that you don't play too rough! The shoulder… Full review

Sierra Designs Jubilee 50

rated 1.5 of 5 stars Sub-standard pack for women. I really wanted to like this pack. I thought about it for weeks before making the purchase, so I was very dejected when it came. I left the tags on it for another couple of weeks while I deliberated over returning it. In the end I kept it only because I got it on clearance. Where to begin, I've learned to drop my expectations when purchasing gear made especially for women (that's a whole other rant), but this one was disappointing more that usual. I had to ignore the… Full review

Marmot Long Hauler

rated 5 of 5 stars Excellent quality in an attractive bag for a fair price! The heavy duty construction of this bag impressed me immediately. I wanted a duffel bag I could use for travel as well as camping and this bag didn't disappoint. It's seen airline abuse, many a camping trip and still looks brand new. It has several zippered pouches to help organize my gear and is large enough for two on camping trips. I would recommend this for any type of travel if you are like me and prefer a duffel to a suitcase. Full review

Deuter ACT Lite 50+10

rated 3.5 of 5 stars Great pack. I have been on four week-long overseas trips with this pack and it performed above expectations. This pack is awesome. Super comfortable. The pack fit this mixture pretty well. NO complaints and I would recommend this pack to anyone in the market for a new pack. 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
$561
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
$700
ABS Vario Ultralight 18
ABS
Vario Ultralight 18
Avalanche Airbag Pack
$57 - $614
ABS Vario Ultralight 8
ABS
Vario Ultralight 8
Avalanche Airbag Pack
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
$64
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
$53 - $59
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.