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
2XU
Aarn
ABS
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 Pace 36

rated 4.5 of 5 stars The Pace 36 is a weight-shaving daypack with a very light frame and wide mesh hip belt. I applaud Deuter for figuring out how to make a bag this light that is also quite comfortable. The pockets and features are things people can actually use; I would take this along as a winter day/summit bag. The Pace 36 can carry a surprising amount of weight comfortably, but it would not be my choice for consistently carrying more than 30 pounds on a regular basis. The simplicity that helps make this so easy… Full review

RailRiders Journey

rated 5 of 5 stars I am a member of Team RailRiders. I recently put into use the RailRiders Journey overnight pack. Now upfront I have access to lots and lots of packs that I have gathered over my twenty plus years of exploration. I was also quite skeptical as to whether or not the RailRiders brand who are most noted for being "the toughest clothes on the planet" could deliver an overnight pack. I am happy to report that the pack far exceeded my expectations. I do lots of overnight trips for speaking engagements that… Full review

Lowe Alpine Netherworld 90

rated 3.5 of 5 stars I've had this pack since the early '90s and it has served me well. I ended up getting Deuter's Act Lite 65+10 and shaved off about 3 pounds but that pack is already worn through in a few places. I have used the Lowe in the Sierras with 45-50 pounds and in the snow with snow shoes and it seems indestructible. The fit was adjustable with the help of the store personnel. The volume was wonderful. The separate compartment on the bottom served as another storage area without having to go into the main… Full review

Osprey Tempest 30

rated 5 of 5 stars Comfy, light day pack with all the features I could want. I just got this day pack after owning the Osprey Ariel 55 for ten years and loving it. I wanted a smaller day pack with the same wonderful women's shoulder harness. This little pack does not disappoint. It is just as comfortable and adjustable as the larger pack and carries more than you would think. Fit: Fits great. Designed for women's shoulders. I have a long torso and I like that the length can be adjusted easily with the Velcro inside… Full review

Osprey Ariel 55

rated 5 of 5 stars Great pack, super comfortable, rugged. I have used this pack since 2003 on the Long Trail for overnight hikes of 2-4 days, carrying 25-32 lbs. It will carry more but I try to limit the weight. Fit: This pack fits great. It is adjustable so many ways that despite layering on and off as I go. I can still feel comfortable with a pull or release on various straps. The women's shoulder harness is very well padded, but not bulky. Very comfortable, great range of motion for my arms with the pack on. Comfort:… Full review

Eberlestock FAC Track

rated 5 of 5 stars One of my favorite backpacks. Check out the review on Youtube. Nice for outdoor and military. Have fun. Here you can watch the review. Have fun. Full review

Arc'teryx LEAF Khard 45

rated 4.5 of 5 stars One of my favorite backpacks. Check out the review on Youtube. Have fun. Here you can watch the review. Have fun. Full review

Mountain Hardwear Scrambler 30 OutDry

rated 3 of 5 stars This backpack wasn't bad. It wasn't my favourite, but I also didn't hate it either. Great pack for wet hiking conditions, a winter snowshoe hike, or an all weather commuter. As I mentioned in the summary, I don't dislike this pack. But I was also happy to return to use my old faithful. Though the waterproofing is great, and I wish my other pack was waterproof. I took this bag on two solid day hikes of waterfalling and a canoe trip and one thing is for sure — the main compartment is definitely… Full review

Deuter Futura 32

rated 5 of 5 stars Great pack! Very comfortable and functional. My back stayed pretty dry, despite some warm conditions on long day hikes in the Grand Canyon, recently. Purchased this pack recently to use on some long day hikes, with a few overnighters on occasion. I just came back from a week of camping at the Grand Canyon, with some long day hikes taken every day. Each day I packed a full hydration bladder, a liter of Gatorade, snacks, first aid kit, and a light jacket. Everything fit perfectly, though when the… Full review

Top-Rated Backpacks

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

Eberlestock FAC Track
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Eberlestock FAC Track Internal Frame Backpack
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
2XU Transition Bag
2XU Transition Bag Daypack
Aarn Compact Balance Pockets
Aarn Compact Balance Pockets Front Pack
$49
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
$69
Aarn Featherlite Freedom
Aarn Featherlite Freedom Weekend Pack
$269
Aarn Guiding Light 60L
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Aarn Guiding Light 60L Weekend Pack
$189
Aarn Liquid Agility 31L
Aarn Liquid Agility 31L Daypack
$129
Aarn Load Limo 75+18L
Aarn Load Limo 75+18L Expedition Pack
$230
Aarn Marathon Magic 11L
Aarn Marathon Magic 11L Daypack
$79
 
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Aarn Marathon Magic 20L Daypack
Aarn Marathon Magic 22L
Aarn Marathon Magic 22L Daypack
$149
Aarn Marathon Magic 33L
Aarn Marathon Magic 33L Overnight Pack
$169
 
Aarn Mountain Magic 44L Overnight Pack
Aarn Mountain Magic 50L
Aarn Mountain Magic 50L Overnight Pack
$249
 
Aarn Mountain Magic 55L Weekend Pack
Aarn Natural Balance 65+18L
Aarn Natural Balance 65+18L Weekend Pack
$279
Aarn Natural Exhilaration 33L
Aarn Natural Exhilaration 33L Overnight Pack
$169
Aarn Peak Aspiration
Aarn Peak Aspiration Overnight Pack
$179
Aarn Photo Balance Pockets
Aarn Photo Balance Pockets Front Pack
Aarn Sport Balance Pockets
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Aarn Sport Balance Pockets Front Pack
$59
ABS Helmet Holder
ABS Helmet Holder Backpack Accessory
$15
ABS Powder 15 Backpack
ABS Powder 15 Backpack Avalanche Airbag Pack
ABS Powder 5 Backpack
ABS Powder 5 Backpack Avalanche Airbag Pack
ABS Powder Base Unit
ABS Powder Base Unit Avalanche Airbag Pack
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
$51
ABS Vario 15 Backpack
ABS Vario 15 Backpack Avalanche Airbag Pack
$96
ABS Vario 25 Backpack
ABS Vario 25 Backpack Avalanche Airbag Pack
$85
ABS Vario 30 Backpack
ABS Vario 30 Backpack Avalanche Airbag Pack
$82 - $109
ABS Vario 40 Backpack
ABS Vario 40 Backpack Avalanche Airbag Pack
ABS Vario Base Unit
ABS Vario Base Unit Avalanche Airbag Pack
$930 - $950
ABS Vario Ultralight 18
ABS Vario Ultralight 18 Avalanche Airbag Pack
$71 - $99
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
ABS Zip-On Vario 15
ABS Zip-On Vario 15 Avalanche Airbag Pack
$57
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
Advanced Base Camp Black Box Rope Bag
Advanced Base Camp Black Box Rope Bag Rope Bag
$11
 
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
$68
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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.