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

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

Klymit Motion 60

rated 3 of 5 stars The Motion 60 is a lightweight, large capacity backpack built around the Airbeam Framesheet, that Klymit has become famous for. Its best features are the cavernous hipbelt and water bottle pockets, the Airbeam technology and the layout of the pack. It is however, way oversized for an UL pack and suffers from excess in many areas. It would be best for someone needing a large sized pack without the need to haul big loads. Specs (from Klymit): Weight: 2.6 lbs/ 1.18 kg Volume: 55L +5L pocket Waist Size:… Full review

RE Factor Tactical Advanced Special Operations (ASO) Bag

rated 5 of 5 stars Bag has everything I need! Great bag perfect for traveling. It's very durable and the waterproof bottom is a huge plus. I really liked the large opening on the top so I could fit larger items into the bag. Full review

Gregory Z55

rated 5 of 5 stars I have used this pack for the last four years in the Southeast primarily. Great comfort, load carrying, and ventilation at a relatively low weight. This is my primary pack for weekend to week long trips. It has the capacity, if you have the right gear, for a winter week trip, at least here in the mid Atlantic and South. At just over 3 lbs, it is on the heavy side for a lightweight pack, but every time I consider going lighter or ultralight the comfort and back ventilation bring me back. I have lower… Full review

RE Factor Tactical Advanced Special Operations (ASO) Bag

rated 5 of 5 stars The RE Factor Tactical ASO Bag is hands down the best all around bag I have ever purchased. I used this as a range bag, travel bag, short hiking bag, and bug-out bag. The bag is designed to versatile and has replaced about 10 other bags that I used for various purposes. The ASO Bag was designed by some military guys as a bag that could be carried through an international airport and not look like a tactical bag, but also has all the great features of a bag that a soldier might need. From this design… Full review

Osprey Viper 7

rated 4 of 5 stars Huge Osprey Fan. I've owned three Osprey packs, and will likely own more in my future. This is a simple, do all pack for biking or quick hikes. Bought this on Steep and Cheap for a song, so it was a win no matter the outcome. This is a simple hydration pack that has plenty of features for everything you do. Great for mountain biking. Big enough for rain layer, snacks and tools, has hemet lock also. I also use mine as a quick daypack. Great for my First Aid, SOL kit and snacks. Stretchy outer stuff… Full review

REI Mars 80

rated 5 of 5 stars You can disappear for seven days with this very comfortable pack without leaving any gear behind. Great Pack. I have used this on a 50-mile trip hiking the north loop in Glacier National Park and a 38-mile trip on the AT in North Carolina. I carried six days worth of food on both trips. I tend to bring  a lot of unnecessary gear, chairs, hammock, electronics, and a big first aid kit. The Glacier trip I carried 65 pounds without discomfort and had to scramble a couple of times. Pack feels like a… Full review

High Sierra Bobcat 65

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Great size and lightweight for an older female. This pack was a great find for me, I am an older female that needed to put an emergency 3-day pack together, I have severe cervical spine problems and this wonderful pack made it easy for me to be able to "carry my own load." The pockets are very large and easy to access the most used or wanted items..water, snacks, rain gear, etc. I am now confidant that I will be ready for at least 3 days in case of evacuation or road trip problems. One never knows… Full review

ROKK Flat Iron

rated 2.5 of 5 stars Not really that well made, blew out the zipper on the top cover pouch on day 1. Okay, we attached it with carabiners for the remainder of the trip. Not really comfortable for anything over 40 pounds, lightly built shoulder straps cut into you. Not intended for "big guys". Good weekend pack if you set up a base camp and don't have to carry this everywhere you go. Received this pack as a gift, Fit: Uncomfortable for a large shouldered guy. Capacity: Okay for a weekend trip, wouldn't put anything more… 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 - $675
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
$53 - $59
Alite Ochiba
Alite
Ochiba
Daypack
$68 - $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.