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 »

Category

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

REI
Deuter
Karrimor
Osprey
Dana Design
Gregory
Mammut
Lowe Alpine
LifeProof
ULA Equipment

User

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

REI 65L REI youth backpack

rated 4 of 5 stars Great youth pack with lots of room. My daughter lives it. I bought this pack for my youngest daughter. The sales staff at REI was spot on as usual. They fitted her took the time to show her all the balls and whisles. The pack has great external pockets. And the hood converts into a day pack. Easy to adjust sholder straps and hip belt. We went to south mountain state park with my boy scout troop. The pack served her very well. And we can't wait to do it again. Full review

Deuter ACT Lite 35+10 SL

rated 5 of 5 stars Never used it on an overnighter OMG I love this one. i need a lot of extra layers during winter, I don't regulate my body temp very well.  This allows me to take all the extras I could possibly need and still be compact enough for a day hike.   The hip fins are to die for:  angled for baby loving hips, well padded, contoured just right. Shoulder straps are also angled and well padded with no seams to irritate anywhere. i probably could do a summer overnighter with this, I haven't tried yet, I… Full review

Deuter ACT Trail PRO 32 SL

rated 3 of 5 stars I'm returning it urgh I so wanted to love this one!   The pack is superb, beautifully made, top materials, they really thought of everything.   Why am I returning it?  Because it does not fit me at all: even though this is from the SL line, meaning "slim line", women specific, I swear it actually fits like a man's pack.  The hip fins are not nearly as angled as they need to be and neither are the shoulder straps, I got nasty rub spots on my neck, collarbone and hip.   Its a real shame because… Full review

Karrimor Jaguar 65

rated 5 of 5 stars Bought mine in 1981 when I lived in Todmorden just over the hill from where they were made. Only issue is my side pockets are buckle closed rather than zipped but anything I put in there goes in a zip lock bag Bought mine in 1981 when I lived in Todmorden just over the hill from where they were made. Only issue is my side pockets are buckle closed rather than zipped but anything I put in there goes in a zip lock bag. Full review

Osprey Kestrel 32

rated 5 of 5 stars The little engine that could This pack is superb! I carry a 2 L bladder, extra layers, rain layers, food for the day, map, compass, first aid kit, extra mini Sawyer squeeze, trowel and tp, sunblock, buff, socks, hat, and the pack feels wonderful. The adjustability is off the charts, I can tweak the harness, shoulder straps, hip belt every which way easily, the rain cover is easy to pull out and stays put, and the reversible straps allow me to either compress the load or carry my snowshoes. Sometimes… Full review

Dana Design Astralplane Overkill

rated 5 of 5 stars can haul heavy loads great, fits well and lots of adjustment side and top access i have had 130 pounds in mine still looks new love this pack i have a few other but this is my go to pack and it will hauls heavy loads well hadi it on 5 trips in at 68 pounds and out at 110-130 pounds most pack dont hold up to this kind of used mine still looks brand new. Full review

Gregory Citro 25

rated 4.5 of 5 stars The Citro 25 is a good-sized and reasonably lightweight day pack with a surprisingly strong spring steel frame. The Citro's multiple pockets should appeal to organized hikers. The included '3D Hydro' 3 liter reservoir is excellent, and the hydration solution is unusually flexible. A small pack that can swing above its weight, depending on your needs and gear. BACKGROUND/DETAILS The Citro 25 falls into a popular niche of large day packs that can carry a decent amount of gear for a variety of conditions. Full review

REI New Star

rated 4.5 of 5 stars The performance of this pack has been unbelievable. Durable, comfortable, versatile...it was a great. I bought this pack in 1994.  Anyone have an older one?  Mine, I must say, is worn out.  It has been a great friend and I am a little sad that I need to replace it.  I believe that I easily put 2000 miles on it. Full review

Mammut Heron Light 65+15

rated 2.5 of 5 stars Not bad, but lacking ice axe loop. A sad oversight. Lacking a few simple but essential bits, like an ice axe loop. Full review

Top-Rated Backpacks

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

 
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
REI 65L REI youth backpack reviewed Feb 26, 2017
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Deuter ACT Lite 35+10 SL reviewed Feb 25, 2017
$143 - $179
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Deuter ACT Trail PRO 32 SL reviewed Feb 25, 2017
$159
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Karrimor Jaguar 65 reviewed Feb 25, 2017
discontinued
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (4)
Osprey Kestrel 32 reviewed Feb 25, 2017
$139 - $150
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (8)
Dana Design Astralplane Overkill reviewed Feb 25, 2017
discontinued
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Gregory Citro 25 reviewed Feb 23, 2017
$130
user rating: 4 of 5 (15)
REI New Star reviewed Feb 21, 2017
discontinued
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (2)
Mammut Heron Light 65+15 reviewed Feb 19, 2017
$260 MSRP
user rating: 4 of 5 (12)
Gregory G Pack reviewed Feb 15, 2017
discontinued
user rating: 4 of 5 (10)
Lowe Alpine Contour IV 90+15 reviewed Feb 1, 2017
discontinued
user rating: 3 of 5 (2)
Gregory Denali 100 reviewed Jan 31, 2017
$399
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
LifeProof nüüd case for iPhone 5/5s/SE reviewed Jan 30, 2017
$90 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
ULA Equipment Ohm 2.0 reviewed Jan 29, 2017
$200
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Gregory Deva 70 GZ reviewed Jan 26, 2017
$329 - $449
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Geigerrig Rig 700 reviewed Jan 22, 2017
$95
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Deuter Flight Cover reviewed Jan 21, 2017
$39
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Deuter Fox 40 reviewed Jan 17, 2017
$87 - $109
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (1)
Rivendell Mountain Works Jensen reviewed Jan 6, 2017
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Bergans Skarstind 32 reviewed Jan 6, 2017
$60 - $90
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Karrimor SF Sabre 45 reviewed Jan 5, 2017
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Deuter Speed Lite 20 reviewed Jan 5, 2017
$71 - $89
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (1)
Granite Gear Lutsen 55 reviewed Dec 21, 2016
$220
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (47)
Osprey Aether 70 reviewed Dec 14, 2016
$180 - $290
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (3)
REI Gemini 50L Pack reviewed Dec 11, 2016
discontinued
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Mountainsmith Apex 100 reviewed Dec 8, 2016
$200 - $249
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Kelty Big Bend reviewed Dec 2, 2016
discontinued
user rating: 4 of 5 (11)
Kelty Tioga reviewed Dec 2, 2016
$180
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (16)
Deuter Aircontact 75+10 reviewed Dec 1, 2016
$231 - $299
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (6)
Gregory UM21 Backpack reviewed Nov 29, 2016
discontinued
user rating: 3 of 5 (2)
Macpac Cascade 65 reviewed Nov 24, 2016
user rating: 4 of 5 (17)
Osprey Stratos 24 reviewed Nov 24, 2016
$84 - $130
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
VauDe Asymmetric 42+8 reviewed Nov 19, 2016
$120
user rating: 4 of 5 (10)
Osprey Atmos AG 65 reviewed Nov 15, 2016
$260
 
user rating: 4 of 5 (7)
REI Trekker Wonderland reviewed Nov 15, 2016
discontinued
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (3)
Black Diamond Speed 40 reviewed Nov 13, 2016
$127 - $169
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Rothco MOLLE Compatible Water Bottle Pouch reviewed Nov 10, 2016
$23 MSRP
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Red Rock Outdoor Gear Engagement Pack reviewed Nov 10, 2016
$65 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (9)
ULA Equipment Catalyst reviewed Nov 10, 2016
$250
user rating: 4 of 5 (39)
U.S. Armed Forces ALICE Pack reviewed Nov 7, 2016
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Granite Gear Air Zippditty reviewed Nov 5, 2016
$15 - $20
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Modern Warrior 18.5" Tactical Military Style Backpack reviewed Nov 4, 2016
$35 MSRP
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
3V Gear Outlaw Gear Slinger reviewed Nov 3, 2016
$40 MSRP
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (2)
Granite Gear Blaze AC 60 reviewed Oct 29, 2016
$240
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Granite Gear Air Zippsack reviewed Oct 29, 2016
$18 - $19
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (8)
Sea to Summit eVent Compression Dry Sack reviewed Oct 27, 2016
$22 - $49
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Nimrod Pack Systems Haul Frame Pack reviewed Oct 21, 2016
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
High Sierra Wheeled Double Adjustable Ski Bag reviewed Oct 21, 2016
$300 MSRP
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (11)
Gregory Baltoro 65 reviewed Oct 21, 2016
$299
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (2)
Wild Things Guide Pack reviewed Oct 12, 2016
$195 MSRP
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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.