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

Kelty
Deuter
Lowe Alpine
Gregory
Macpac
Osprey
VauDe
REI
Black Diamond
other

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

Kelty Big Bend

rated 5 of 5 stars Great pack, durable and flexible. I think I got this pack when the model was discontinued. At least  I think it was discontinued,, but the lack of offerings in the current catalogs supports this theory. I have owned a pile of packs in my life and have retired all but three.  This is probably the one I now use the most for actual hiking. It is rated for 75 liters with a ten liter extension sleeve. The maker classifies it as an "expedition" pack. What they mean by that I cannot say. The pack carries… Full review

Kelty Tioga

rated 4 of 5 stars Proven design I owned and carried one of these for years as did a college roommate. It was quite a number of years ago but the new models seem essentially the same. It was basically the first aluminum external readily available anywhere. Other makers quickly followed when the market became obvious, but Kelty was there first and for many, including me the proven and well reviewed design sold me.  It cost an impoverished college student a pile of money for those days. I probably ate less for a semester… Full review

Deuter Aircontact 75+10

rated 5 of 5 stars Awesome pack! This shares with my Kelty 75 the honor of being the best pack I have ever carried. Now I have not carried loads north of maybe 35 pounds but this pack is designed for much more. The maker designates this as a "expedition" pack, whatever they may mean by that. The sleeve gives another 10 liters and both measurements seem accurate. The design is sophisticated and can hardly be improved upon. Great belt and harness. Incredibly versatile adjustability that allows a big (5' 11" man with… Full review

Lowe Alpine Contour IV 90+15

rated 4 of 5 stars Great price, tough pack. I am a big guy and long waisted to boot. I wanted a big pack when I got back into backpacking and this is the one I bought new (I picked up a second at Goodwill for less than $4). My older three season sleeping bag is a synthetic fill and it is bulky, as is much of my older gear. The suspension is well designed, the waist belt is wide and comfortable, it rides about as well as any pack this size could. But...this is more pack than I need and more pack than almost anyone… Full review

Gregory UM21 Backpack

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Still relevant. Do you abuse gear? Do you hike off-trail, through brush, over rocks and don't want to worry about a branch tearing a hole in the latest, lightest and most expensive nano-fabric? Have you passed through the ultralight gear stage and want a pack (or in addition to UL) that lasts longer than two seasons (wasteful) and doesn't require kid gloves treatment? Are you patriotic? Do you want to reduce your visual footprint with badass three-color desert or woodland camo options? Do you need… Full review

Kelty Tioga

rated 4.5 of 5 stars This is a great pack for 10 days in the mountains. I like the 3 L water side pouch that you can fill up with the Playtpus 3 L bag. Frame pack makes it easier to get on over your head. Holds a lot of weight. I used this pack while hiking Philmont Scout Reservation. It did the job for 10 days on the trail. External frame held up in the rugged environment. Easier to get on than the internal framed. Lot less bulk when empty to carry restock supplies at camp then repack. The zippers seemed to stick but… Full review

Macpac Cascade 65

rated 1.5 of 5 stars Disappointing necessity. Thought we would buy a well known quality pack to do the Milford and Kepler tracks back to back. Selling point was the fact they were supposedly waterproof. That means the pack is slightly heavier to start with, but is then not affected by rain. Bad mistake. Packs suck water like a wet and dry vacuum. Sleeping bags and clothing got wet. Packs became heavier. Between tramps had to purchase a pack cover each (pain in the arse) and some dry bags. My wife's fitted OK, but my… Full review

Osprey Stratos 24

rated 4.5 of 5 stars I'm really happy with this purchase, and it has made my day hikes far more pleasant. Fit When I bought this pack, I was over 300 pounds with a 54" waist. This pack juuust fit comfortably. Now that my weight has come down quite a lot (thanks to all that hiking), it fits even better. Comfort This pack is really adjustable and it took just a minute or two to get it really dialed in nicely. It just feels like part of my body when I'm hiking now. And I really love the ventilation. I don't arrive with… Full review

VauDe Asymmetric 42+8

rated 4 of 5 stars The pack fits wonderfully well and is well adjustable the straps are comfortable but thin and could use more padding. They work, but they could use some improvement. I am 5'5" and 130 pounds and it fits me comfortably and can carry 35-pound loads, but not more without being uncomfortable. I bought this pack because I was sizing down from my 65 liter Osprey and its worked out well. It holds all my gear enough for three days (minus sleeping bag, I don't use one). After a fifteen-mile day on the PCT… Full review

Top-Rated Backpacks

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

 
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Kelty Big Bend reviewed Dec 2, 2016
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 of 5 (9)
Lowe Alpine Contour IV 90+15 reviewed Nov 29, 2016
discontinued
 
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
$90 - $119
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
VauDe Asymmetric 42+8 reviewed Nov 19, 2016
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (46)
Osprey Aether 70 reviewed Nov 16, 2016
$217 - $290
user rating: 4 of 5 (10)
Osprey Atmos AG 65 reviewed Nov 15, 2016
$208 - $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
$170
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
$17 - $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
$180 - $239
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Granite Gear Air Zippsack reviewed Oct 29, 2016
$16 - $17
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
$224 - $299
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (2)
Wild Things Guide Pack reviewed Oct 12, 2016
$195 MSRP
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (22)
Osprey Exos 58 reviewed Oct 12, 2016
$165 - $219
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
Dana Design ArcFlex Terraplane reviewed Oct 4, 2016
discontinued
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler Duffel 90L reviewed Oct 3, 2016
$109 MSRP
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (1)
Thule Stir 35L reviewed Oct 3, 2016
$140
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (4)
Arc'teryx Cierzo 18 reviewed Oct 3, 2016
$59 - $114
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (13)
Kelty Red Cloud 5400 reviewed Oct 2, 2016
discontinued
user rating: 5 of 5 (7)
Osprey Aura 65 reviewed Sep 29, 2016
$100
user rating: 2 of 5 (2)
ALPS Mountaineering Commander reviewed Sep 29, 2016
$130 MSRP
user rating: 4 of 5 (10)
Osprey Volt 60 reviewed Sep 28, 2016
$144 - $179
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (2)
Granite Gear Leopard V.C. 46 reviewed Sep 27, 2016
$115 - $169
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Salomon S-Lab Adv Skin 12Set reviewed Sep 25, 2016
$148 - $184
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (23)
Osprey Aether 60 reviewed Sep 24, 2016
$207 - $259
user rating: 4 of 5 (15)
Osprey Daylite reviewed Sep 22, 2016
$34 - $50
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Eberlestock V90 Battleship reviewed Sep 22, 2016
$429 MSRP
user rating: 4 of 5 (10)
Kelty Coyote 80 reviewed Sep 21, 2016
$165 - $219
user rating: 4 of 5 (8)
Arc'teryx Bora 65 reviewed Sep 21, 2016
discontinued
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Lowe Alpine Peak Attack ND 38 reviewed Sep 20, 2016
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (13)
REI Flash 18 Pack reviewed Sep 19, 2016
$40
user rating: 4 of 5 (2)
Osprey Xenith 105 reviewed Sep 16, 2016
$292 - $389
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Windrider reviewed Sep 16, 2016
$285 - $290
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Gregory Stout 75 reviewed Sep 16, 2016
$164 - $219
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Mystery Ranch T-100 reviewed Sep 16, 2016
$450
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (6)
Kelty Redwing 50 reviewed Sep 16, 2016
$105 - $139
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Osprey Radial 34 reviewed Sep 13, 2016
$119 - $179
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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.