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 »


Internal Frame
External Frame
Winter Packs
Hydration Packs
Front Packs
Lumbar/Hip Packs
Child Carriers
Dry Packs
Portage Packs
Rope Bags


Mile High Mountaineering
Nite Ize
ULA Equipment




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

Mile High Mountaineering Salute 34

rated 5 of 5 stars One of the very best packs I've used. Carries and distributes loads well, and is made with durable materials. I can use this pack for day hikes to overnight stays. I tend to pack pretty lightweight as far as my tent and other gear is concerned so this backpack is perfect for my needs. Highly recommended for just about anyone looking for a well thought out, useful pack. Fit - I am a little over 5'10" with a waist between 33" and 34". I have a medium length torso and the pack fits very well. Easy… Full review

Osprey Exos 58

rated 5 of 5 stars This is a great all-around backpack if you don't overload it. With less than 35lbs of well-chosen gear, it works for both weekend and long haul trips, and you can manage 40lbs for a couple of days. I'm a 5'7", 145 pound, 63-year-old woman who works in the backcountry in summer, usually for 6-8 days at a time. My pack has to be light enough to let me move quickly, but big enough to carry my personal and work gear. I can't carry the 55 pound loads that I did when I was younger. After a year of frequent… Full review

Nite Ize S-Biner MicroLock

rated 4 of 5 stars A locking mini S-biner that can secure items while providing a quick-release option. Great for adding a tool to your keychain or a lightweight light to a zipper pull. Well-made stainless steel construction with a clever design that will please those in search of a secure but easily releasable attachment device. Sometimes it's the little things in life that make the difference. This is the case with Night Ize's S-Biner MicroLock, a small item accurately identified by its name. I've used a range… Full review

ULA Equipment Ohm 2.0

rated 5 of 5 stars Lightweight, yet plenty of room for gear. Designed for comfort and durability. Unusual and useful ability to carry water bottles on shoulder straps. Exceptional hipbelt support and comfort. The ULA Ohm 2.0 is a smaller pack in the ULA line, yet has the hipbelt of some of the larger models allowing it to carry substantial weights.  The ULA hipbelts are top-of-the-line for comfort given their light weight. The Ohm 2.0 has provided plenty of space for 4-day backpacks for me with room to spare.  Its… Full review

REI New Star

rated 5 of 5 stars I highly recommend this pack if you can find one used in good shape. Big enough for a long trip, not so big it isn't practical for a weekend. Well made and long lasting (mine finally quit after 19 years and 800+ miles). I bought my New Star two years used in 1997. It had seen some trail time then. Over the next 18 years, I added over 700 miles of use to it from there. The hip strap finally broke (actually only the plastic insert broke, the nylon and padding was OK; I finished two days and 16 miles… Full review

REI Great Star

rated 4 of 5 stars Very large pack with lots of size adjustment and all the basic features you want. Well made and long lasting. Prone to being under filled and causing gear/load to shift or sit oddly, especially on shorter hikes. Great for big/tall persons or longer trips. Just inherited my Great Star from my father after my New Star finally gave up (19 years and over 800 miles on it).  My dad bought the pack new in 1998 and it has about 400 miles on it from him. I can and have comfortably carried about 80 lbs of… Full review

Osprey Atmos 65 AG

rated 3 of 5 stars The revised Osprey Atmos AG 65 is a well-made pack that fixes many of the problems with previous models; however, the new edition of the pack is much heavier than earlier models. If the increased weight does not concern you then you will like the changes. All in all this is a robust pack that may no longer fit the needs of lightweight backpackers. I tried a size large pack; I weighed it at the local REI, and it weighed 5 pounds 4 ounces. Last year's model weighed 3 pounds 12 ounces on the same scale… Full review

Dana Design Astralplane Overkill

rated 5 of 5 stars The Dana Astralplane Overkill is the most durable, comfortable, indestructible load-hauler ever created. Best loadhauler ever made. Indestructible. Bought mine in early '90's and have hiked with it on at least 50 trips and it looks almost brand new. Mine is the Astralplane Overkill, so it is pretty heavy, but I've packed 80 lbs in it and it still fits like a hug.   If you can find one on ebay, buy it — they are legendary. The guy who made them now builds for Mystery Ranch and his new version… Full review

GoLite Men's Jam2

rated 5 of 5 stars Back in May of 2010 was looking for a daypack and the clerk at the store told me about this pack. At the time this was a leftover from 2008 -2009. Didn't hesitate to grab this as I know a lot of people who have this brand of pack and of course the price! Pack was a Large version. The pack serves double duty as it's my padding with my 3/4 self-inflating sleeping pad, which is also part of the pack's frame! Fits great and works with all my lightweight gear as my Base is at 7 lb. Max load is… Full review

Top-Rated Backpacks

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

user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Mile High Mountaineering Salute 34 reviewed Mar 1, 2015
user rating: 4 of 5 (14)
Osprey Exos 58 reviewed Feb 27, 2015
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Nite Ize S-Biner MicroLock reviewed Feb 22, 2015
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
ULA Equipment Ohm 2.0 reviewed Feb 20, 2015
user rating: 4 of 5 (13)
REI New Star reviewed Feb 17, 2015
user rating: 4 of 5 (11)
REI Great Star reviewed Feb 17, 2015
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Osprey Atmos 65 AG reviewed Feb 17, 2015
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (6)
CamelBak Alpine Explorer reviewed Feb 10, 2015
$99 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
ZPacks Arc Blast reviewed Feb 9, 2015
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (7)
Gregory Triconi 60 reviewed Feb 9, 2015
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (5)
Kelty Trekker 65 reviewed Feb 7, 2015
$160 - $179
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (7)
Osprey Volt 60 reviewed Feb 6, 2015
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Goruck GR1 reviewed Feb 4, 2015
$295 MSRP
user rating: 4 of 5 (2)
OtterBox 1000 reviewed Feb 1, 2015
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (5)
CamelBak Fourteener reviewed Jan 30, 2015
$95 - $145
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (11)
REI Flash 18 Pack reviewed Jan 27, 2015
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Millet Radikal 32 reviewed Jan 23, 2015
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Sea to Summit Big River Dry Sack reviewed Jan 19, 2015
$20 - $56
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (12)
Lowe Alpine Contour IV reviewed Jan 15, 2015
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Osprey Poco reviewed Jan 15, 2015
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (2)
Deuter Futura 24 SL reviewed Jan 14, 2015
$129 MSRP
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (4)
REI Morning Star 75 reviewed Jan 13, 2015
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Swaygo Push Pack reviewed Jan 11, 2015
$109 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Mystery Ranch Terraplane Pack reviewed Jan 8, 2015
$485 MSRP
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (2)
Osprey Xenith 75 reviewed Jan 7, 2015
user rating: 4 of 5 (2)
Mystery Ranch 12-Bar reviewed Jan 5, 2015
user rating: 4 of 5 (2)
Kelty Red Cloud 90 reviewed Jan 3, 2015
user rating: 5 of 5 (7)
Dana Design Astralplane Overkill reviewed Feb 16, 2015
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Gregory Denali 100 reviewed Dec 29, 2014
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Gregory Alpinisto 35 reviewed Dec 28, 2014
$129 - $199
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Mountainsmith Tour TLS reviewed Dec 23, 2014
$60 - $74
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (2)
Cold Cold World Chernobyl reviewed Dec 22, 2014
$175 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
Kelty Continental Divide 5300 (External) reviewed Dec 22, 2014
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Porter reviewed Dec 10, 2014
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Cotopaxi Nepal 65 reviewed Nov 30, 2014
$229 MSRP
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Granite Rocx The Cascade reviewed Nov 29, 2014
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Deuter Pace 36 reviewed Nov 25, 2014
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
RailRiders Journey reviewed Nov 11, 2014
user rating: 4 of 5 (10)
Lowe Alpine Netherworld 90 reviewed Oct 29, 2014
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Osprey Tempest 30 reviewed Oct 28, 2014
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Osprey Ariel 55 reviewed Oct 28, 2014
$139 - $260
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Eberlestock FAC Track reviewed Oct 22, 2014
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Arc'teryx LEAF Khard 45 reviewed Oct 22, 2014
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Mountain Hardwear Scrambler 30 OutDry reviewed Oct 21, 2014
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
Deuter Futura 32 reviewed Oct 21, 2014
$145 - $149
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Mountain Hardwear Snowtastic 28 Backpack reviewed Oct 19, 2014
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (13)
Deuter Aircontact 75+10 reviewed Oct 19, 2014
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
REI Flash 45 Pack reviewed Oct 17, 2014
$90 - $129
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Columbia Vixen 22L reviewed Oct 16, 2014
user rating: 2 of 5 (1)
Salomon Trail 20 reviewed Oct 16, 2014
$60 - $69
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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.


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.