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

Osprey
Mountainsmith
Deuter
Big Agnes
Sea to Summit
The North Face
GoLite
Klymit
other
Gregory

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

Osprey Talon 44

rated 5 of 5 stars It is relatively light and versatile for a wide range of activities. The harness system is comfy and durable. Perfect for ultralight backpacking trips. Fit: ¬†This is the pack that we chose to do a 12 day JMT hike. We decided on this because of weight and most importantly fit. The harness system makes it easy to mold to your body and the hip belt was perfect for the load (36 lbs). ¬† Comfort: With the fit comes comfort due to its multiple adjustment points. This pack must be tried on first because… Full review

Mountainsmith Mountainlight Scream 25

rated 5 of 5 stars This pack is a great lightweight and minimalist choice for day hikes. It is easily packed down small to fit into a larger backpack. Durability exceeds anything else in its class. It is a frameless pack with minimal padding, so it has its limitations. If you take those considerations into account before buying this pack, you might just find that it's perfect for you. Fit: This is a one-size-fits-all pack. I'm about 5'10" and have a 19-ish inch torso, and it fits me really well. I'm a fairly normally… Full review

Deuter Futura 28

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Great daypack. Durable, comfortable, good storage features. Highly recommended! Comfortable pack, many pockets, I love extra storage options, the back ventilation is nice, minimal back perspiration! I am 5'4" with a longer torso and the s/m size works well for me. I have had this pack for three years and it is durable for all my crazy adventures! I also appreciate the lower sectioned zipper on bottom, great for shoes or wet items, can also be unzippered inside to make main upper larger. Great pack. Full review

Big Agnes Pumphouse

rated 3 of 5 stars The BA Pumphouse is too low-volume to be a good inflation device, and that property is the main feature that differentiates it from any other lightweight, waterproof, roll-top stuff sack. It does, however, have an unintended use -- it makes a good solar water heater. Although it is listed as just a stuff sack in the headline here on TS, it is really intended for use as a mattress inflater, with the suggested stuff sack and pillow as secondary uses. The bottom of sack has a little nozzle on it that… Full review

Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack

rated 4 of 5 stars A minimal day pack for short side trips on longer backpacking trips. No promises on comfort, and it is not very durable or waterproof, but that's reasonable given the small weight and size. I wouldn't recommend it for all-day hikes but it fills its niche well. We brought a pair of these along on our JMT through hike, and my daughter and I did several side trips to some of the nearer and easier summits using them. Short side trips when carrying larger pack are all I ever intend to use it for. When… Full review

The North Face Crestone 75

rated 5 of 5 stars Comfort is the one word I would use to describe this pack. Plenty of room and great support. Great pack with enough room for a thru hike. Love this pack, a bit on the heavy side though. Full review

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

Top-Rated Backpacks

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

Osprey Talon 44
user rating: 4 of 5 (12)
Osprey
Talon 44
reviewed Aug 27, 2014
$120 - $150
Mountainsmith Mountainlight Scream 25
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Mountainsmith
Mountainlight Scream 25
reviewed Aug 23, 2014
$56 - $69
Deuter Futura 28
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (4)
Deuter
Futura 28
reviewed Aug 22, 2014
$87 - $109
Big Agnes Pumphouse
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Big Agnes
Pumphouse
reviewed Aug 21, 2014
$15 - $19
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Sea to Summit
Ultra-Sil Day Pack
reviewed Aug 21, 2014
$33
The North Face Crestone 75
user rating: 4 of 5 (6)
The North Face
Crestone 75
reviewed Aug 21, 2014
$229 MSRP
GoLite Jam 70L
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (4)
GoLite
Jam 70L
reviewed Aug 20, 2014
$130
Klymit Motion 60
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Klymit
Motion 60
reviewed Aug 19, 2014
RE Factor Tactical Advanced Special Operations (ASO) Bag
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)

RE Factor Tactical Advanced Special Operations (ASO) Bag
reviewed Aug 17, 2014
$200 MSRP
Gregory Z55
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (21)
Gregory
Z55
reviewed Aug 17, 2014
$149 - $239
Osprey Viper 7
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Osprey
Viper 7
reviewed Aug 13, 2014
$74 MSRP
REI Mars 80
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (7)
REI
Mars 80
reviewed Aug 13, 2014
$199 MSRP
High Sierra Bobcat 65
user rating: 4 of 5 (3)
High Sierra
Bobcat 65
reviewed Aug 10, 2014
 
user rating: 4 of 5 (11)
ROKK
Flat Iron
reviewed Aug 9, 2014
Osprey Aether 70
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (35)
Osprey
Aether 70
reviewed Aug 7, 2014
$203 - $295
Mountainsmith Lookout 50
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Mountainsmith
Lookout 50
reviewed Aug 5, 2014
$144 - $161
Osprey Mira 26
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Osprey
Mira 26
reviewed Aug 5, 2014
$105 - $150
Outdoor Research Mesh Ditty Sacks
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Outdoor Research
Mesh Ditty Sacks
reviewed Aug 5, 2014
$20 - $25
Gregory Z65
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (9)
Gregory
Z65
reviewed Aug 5, 2014
$170 - $259
 
user rating: 3 of 5 (2)
Sea to Summit
Accessory Straps
reviewed Aug 2, 2014
$8 - $10
CamelBak Charge LR 70 Oz Hydration Pack
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
CamelBak
Charge LR 70 Oz Hydration Pack
reviewed Jul 24, 2014
$66 - $110
Osprey Aura 65
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (5)
Osprey
Aura 65
reviewed Jul 24, 2014
$129 - $250
Kelty Red Cloud
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (1)
Kelty
Red Cloud
reviewed Jul 24, 2014
$180 - $239
ALPS Mountaineering Cascade 5200
user rating: 4 of 5 (9)
ALPS Mountaineering
Cascade 5200
reviewed Jul 16, 2014
$130
Deuter Aircontact 75+10
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (12)
Deuter
Aircontact 75+10
reviewed Jul 14, 2014
$231 - $289
Osprey Mira 34
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Osprey
Mira 34
reviewed Jul 11, 2014
$111 - $160
 
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (9)
Gregory
Robson
reviewed Jul 9, 2014
discontinued
JanSport WatchTower
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
JanSport
WatchTower
reviewed Jul 7, 2014
$63 - $80
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
Kelty
Trekker 4300
reviewed Jul 6, 2014
discontinued
Osprey Farpoint 40
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Osprey
Farpoint 40
reviewed Jul 5, 2014
Kelty Mijo
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Kelty
Mijo
reviewed Jul 3, 2014
$112 - $139
REI Crestrail 70
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (3)
REI
Crestrail 70
reviewed Jul 3, 2014
$239
Gregory Contour 60 Pack
user rating: 4 of 5 (2)
Gregory
Contour 60 Pack
reviewed Jul 2, 2014
$206 - $279
Kelty Redwing 50
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
Kelty
Redwing 50
reviewed Jun 29, 2014
$100 - $124
Bergans Glittertind 55
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Bergans
Glittertind 55
reviewed Jun 27, 2014
$239
Black Diamond Innova 50
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Black Diamond
Innova 50
reviewed Jun 26, 2014
$157
Granite Gear Vapor Day
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Granite Gear
Vapor Day
reviewed Jun 26, 2014
$147 MSRP
Teton Sports Oasis 1100
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Teton Sports
Oasis 1100
reviewed Jun 25, 2014
$70 MSRP
Teton Sports Outfitter 4600
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (1)
Teton Sports
Outfitter 4600
reviewed Jun 25, 2014
$180 MSRP
Gregory Savant 48 Pack
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Gregory
Savant 48 Pack
reviewed Jun 25, 2014
$139 - $189
Osprey Volt 60
user rating: 4 of 5 (6)
Osprey
Volt 60
reviewed Jun 24, 2014
$144 - $179
Granite Gear Blaze AC 60
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Granite Gear
Blaze AC 60
reviewed Jun 24, 2014
$192 - $215
REI Flash 62 Pack
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (5)
REI
Flash 62 Pack
reviewed Jun 24, 2014
$130
The North Face Base Camp Duffel
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (3)
The North Face
Base Camp Duffel
reviewed Jun 23, 2014
$84 - $200
 
user rating: 3 of 5 (2)
Magellan (Academy Sports)
50L Backpack
reviewed Jun 23, 2014
Klymit Motion 35
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Klymit
Motion 35
reviewed Jun 22, 2014
$105
Dana Design Far Flung
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Dana Design
Far Flung
reviewed Jun 21, 2014
discontinued
 
user rating: 4 of 5 (5)
REI
Trekker Wonderland
reviewed Jun 20, 2014
discontinued
Nite Ize S-Biner
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (3)
Nite Ize
S-Biner
reviewed Jun 19, 2014
$2 - $7
Kavu Rope Bag
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Kavu
Rope Bag
reviewed Jun 19, 2014
$50
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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.