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 »


Internal Frame
External Frame
Winter Packs
Hydration Packs
Front Packs
Lumbar/Hip Packs
Child Carriers
Dry Packs
Portage Packs
Rope Bags


180 Tack
Advanced Base Camp
Adventure Driven




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

REI Men's Crestrail 48

rated 4 of 5 stars This is a good little pack that is perfect for filling the gap between your small overnight pack, and your week + pack. It is lightweight, and has well thought out, usable features, without the clutter of too many. I recommend this pack to anyone that needs an inexpensive mid sized pack, or wants a lightweight pack that isn't stripped of features. I'm not sure what the picture on this page is, but...... this is what my Crestrail 48 packs look like. The Crestrail 48 is the little brother of the Crestrail… Full review

Mountain Hardwear Scrambler 30 OutDry

rated 3.5 of 5 stars Solid build, but the waterproofing is a gimick. Overall I think this is a decent day pack for scrambles and hiking. I tested this out.  The side pockets are adequate, the material is very solid, and I found the fit to be adequate, but not superb. The lack of a decent hipbelt was off-putting, especially for a 30L pack. For me that rules it out of being useful as a crag pack, or for heavier hauls, which the burely material suggests it can handle well.  The pack is advertised as waterproof. An OutDry… Full review

CamelBak Rogue

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Great hydration pack! The Rogue was my first hydration pack and after two years I still love it. I use it for mountain biking and short hikes and it is perfect for my needs. There are two zipped pockets so you can carry your wallet, phone, energy bars, and multi-tool with you and an expandable pouch that will hold a light jacket. The 70oz bladder holds plenty of water and the pack is insulated well enough to keep it cool for a couple hours. I would not hesitate to buy another one. Full review

REI Men's Trail 40 Pack

rated 5 of 5 stars A great pack for lightweight and ultralight backpackers. I originally purchased this bag to use as a daypack when hiking with my girlfriend. However, this was around the same time I started moving to ultralight hiking and now I use it for any kind of hiking / backpacking trip. I have only had this pack for about two months, but have already put over 250 miles on it with various loads. FIT I found the large REI Trail 40 to be a little bit on the small side (I'm 6'2"), but only slightly. The pack… Full review

Source Spinner Pro Race

rated 5 of 5 stars This is a great unit for biking and hiking. It is easy to use and easy to clean. This is a great hydration pack. I use it all the time when I go biking and hiking and even take it hunting. It fits very comfortably and the bladder holds enough water for all my outings. T he bladder is easy to clean and easy to use. I love the valve also. This is a top notch unit. Full review

Osprey Rev Solo

rated 3 of 5 stars Coolest fanny pack available. A sleek and sporty styling makes for the coolest fanny pack I've ever owned.  Had a lot of bounce when I wore the pack on my lumbar. Moved it around to front and my belly helps keep it from jumping up and down. Rises up off the hips.  Very comfortable, even after you realize how tight you need to cinch it down to keep it from moving too much.  Enough space to hold a smaller smart phone (I still use an old iPhone 4 and it fits with room to spare, but I'm sure something… Full review

Osprey Talon 33

rated 3.5 of 5 stars Good day pack. I bought this pack for lightweight multi-day hikes. The bag has tons of features; belt pockets, hydration sleeve, removable brain with lots of pockets for organization. The webbing in the back panel does a great job of keeping the pack off your back and your shirt dry! The pack fits me great, and is comfortable, up to the manufacturer's suggested weight limit, which is about 15 pounds. Once over that weight, the pack becomes pretty uncomfortable and feels unstable. The hydration pouch… Full review

Source DUNE X-Fit

rated 5 of 5 stars Perfect for sports that require more movement. Great weight distribution. Lots of storage. I love this pack and have no plans of replacing it. It's so comfortable. Perfect for sports that require more movement. Great weight distribution. Lots of storage. Full review

Gregory Cairn 58

rated 5 of 5 stars Waist belt moves with you as you walk, preventing waist bruising when properly fit. Excellent for weekend hikes. Built to compliment a woman's frame. Bought this pack because I am a small framed woman. Pack fits nicely. Contours the back very well. The waist belt moves with you as you walk instead of remaining stationary as other packs do. Helps prevent hip bruising and soreness. Three point access makes getting into the pack while on the trail very easy without having to remove the pack from your… 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: 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
2XU Transition Bag Daypack
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
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 44L Overnight Pack
Aarn Mountain Magic 50L Overnight Pack
Aarn Mountain Magic 55L Weekend Pack
Aarn Natural Balance 65+18L Weekend Pack
Aarn Natural Exhilaration 33L Overnight Pack
Aarn Peak Aspiration Overnight Pack
$175 MSRP
Aarn Photo Balance Pockets Front Pack
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Aarn Sport Balance Pockets Front Pack
$60 MSRP
ABS Helmet Holder Backpack Accessory
ABS Powder 15 Backpack Avalanche Airbag Pack
ABS Powder 5 Backpack Avalanche Airbag Pack
ABS Powder Base Unit Avalanche Airbag Pack
ABS Powder Zip-On 5 Avalanche Airbag Pack
ABS Vario 15 Backpack Avalanche Airbag Pack
ABS Vario 25 Backpack Avalanche Airbag Pack
ABS Vario 30 Backpack Avalanche Airbag Pack
$44 - $519
ABS Vario 40 Backpack Avalanche Airbag Pack
ABS Vario Base Unit Avalanche Airbag Pack
$372 - $807
ABS Vario Silver Avalanche Airbag Pack
ABS Vario Ultralight 18 Avalanche Airbag Pack
$38 - $512
ABS Vario Ultralight 8 Avalanche Airbag Pack
ABS Zip-On SB 15 Avalanche Airbag Pack
ABS Zip-On SB 5 Avalanche Airbag Pack
ABS Zip-On Vario 15 Avalanche Airbag Pack
ABS Zip-On Vario 24 Avalanche Airbag Pack
ABS Zip-On Vario 55 Avalanche Airbag Pack
ABS Zip-On Vario 8 Ultralight Avalanche Airbag Pack
$54 - $63
Advanced Base Camp Black Box Rope Bag Rope Bag
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Adventure Driven WolfPack 75L Expedition Pack
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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.


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.