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
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
5.11 Tactical
Aarn
ABS
Adidas
Advanced Base Camp
Advanced Elements
Adventure Driven
Aire

Genders

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

Salomon S-Lab Adv Skin 12Set

rated 5 of 5 stars Amazing fit, so many features, and it is variable allowing a lot of flexibility. You'll forget you're wearing it. I definitely don't run much further than 30km at a time, so I was hesitant to pick up a pack designed more for long ultras. But with the variable conditions I run through this has ended up being a fantastics running vest/pack. Despite looking a little silly, I actually take it hiking too just because it is so comfortable. And when I need it just for holding a can of bear spray comfortably… Full review

Osprey Aether 60

rated 4 of 5 stars Great pack for work and recreation. Adjustable torso length, comfortably carries big loads, mostly good features, pretty durable so far. The way it feels on my back is most important to me and it does pretty well overall. The adjustability of and subsequent comfort are great. I usually fall right between small and medium and I was able to get this pack to fit perfectly. I occasionally put 40+ pounds in it and it rides pretty well with a load. I sometimes use it as a day pack especially if I need… Full review

Osprey Daylite

rated 4 of 5 stars Great lightweight daypack. I bought this from the REI Outlet. I wanted a lightweight day pack that I could carry with me while canoe camping and backpacking in case I stayed at a campsite for multiple days. Very lightweight. Great for carrying water, food, a shell, and any other smaller gear you want to carry. My Gregory Triconi 60 has a lid fanny pack, but I don't like taking the pack apart to use it. Set up at Dutch Doctor Shelter in Harriman State Park, and had to hike to a lake to pump water. Full review

Eberlestock V90 Battleship

rated 5 of 5 stars This is an improvement over my old internal frame pack (a Mystery Ranch NICE 6500) and it is bigger than the Kelty Super Tioga external frame. It comes with a large tethered rain cover in a compartment in the bottom. The rain cover won't get lost in the winds from the approaching storm. If you have tried to attach a rain cover and had the wind parachute the cover and see the cover soar away you know what I'm talking about. I also sprayed the pack with weatherproofing so it keeps dry in light snow. Full review

Osprey Daylite

rated 5 of 5 stars Great all-around day pack for many uses from outdoor active to around town travel. I got this pack last year and I've used it on several outings, from day hikes, snowshoe trips, cross country skiing, and even just shopping around town while travelling. The pack is comfortable and has enough pockets to stow everything I need while not being too busy with excessive pockets. The integrated hydration pocket holds a water bladder securely, but sometimes I simply tuck a water bottle in the side pocket. Full review

Kelty Men's Coyote 4900

rated 4 of 5 stars A bomb proof pack that does it a little on the heavy side. This product is best for 2+ day expeditions in any terrain. I would recommend this to a friend with a larger waist. The pack fits excellent and true to size. I however have a smaller waist and even with the straps fully tightened it is a little too big around the belt. I have hiked with this pack on multi-day treks and it is very comfortable. Everything is adjustable. The torso adjustment came in very handy seeing I have a longer torso. Full review

Arc'teryx Bora 65

rated 5 of 5 stars The Bomb — indestructible, comfortable, and capable. Awesome multiday backpack can carry it all anywhere almost effortlessly due to the suspension system which transfers the load to where it should be. Originally bought a lower quality pack, but it was so uncomfortable because it was not really designed to carry loads. I'm glad I had that bad experience because it made me spend a little more so I wouldn't have to suffer again. Great accessibility through side zip and zippered pouch, has all the… Full review

Lowe Alpine Peak Attack ND 38

rated 4 of 5 stars Very convenient, suitable for hiking and the climb after (say I hike in the Alps until I can climb, for both it's fine). Feel nothing when I need my arms. Very light, one does not feel it. No rain cover, but astonishingly no water comes in. Sufficiently spacious for multi-day hiking. It's designed for women, so am I. It fit well to my back, even though the length is not adjustable (I am a small woman, 1.67cm). Hip-belt is fine, sufficient, other straps are easy to wear also (do not cut into my arms… Full review

REI Flash 18 Pack

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Super light for the price and very durable. This pack is a convenient day and travel pack, which is obvious to most. That's why I'm going to talk about how it unexpectedly performed. What sets this pack apart for me is that it can be used for heavier loads. That's why I've used it for several winter hikes (with snowshoes and Microspikes strapped to it, and even once for a three-day/two-night stay at Zealand Falls hut (with a multi pack on my waist and a Zpacks multi pack on the daisy chain). Between… 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
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: 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
$85
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 5 Backpack Avalanche Airbag Pack
ABS Powder Base Unit Avalanche Airbag Pack
ABS Powder Zip-On 5 Avalanche Airbag Pack
$34
ABS Vario 15 Backpack Avalanche Airbag Pack
$46
ABS Vario 25 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 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
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 Big Oak Pack Overnight Pack
 
Alite Hatcher Backpack External Frame Backpack
$131
Alite Shifter Pack Daypack
 
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
$27 - $29
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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.