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

Brand

Eureka!
Deuter
ULA Equipment
REI
Gregory
Kelty
Osprey
Sea to Summit
U.S. Military
The North Face

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

Eureka! Sleeping Bag Carry Duffel

rated 4 of 5 stars A great bag. It holds everything very well. I have heard stories of some areas breaking, but not sure if it was taken care of properly. Full review

Deuter ACT Lite 45+10 SL

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Well organized, makes weight balancing a breeze. I love the easy of getting stuff into and out of this pack, including myself. I wore this thing while hiking the W in Patagonia over six days with zero hotspots. I was fitted for this pack at a big retailer—and I was most impressed with all of the points of adjustment that this pack offers. It is designed for women, but even then, I'm very short torso'd. Most packs gave me sore hips due to length, but this one cinched up great.  The pack is also… Full review

ULA Equipment Circuit

rated 5 of 5 stars This is a well-made pack that rides very comfortably for the whole day. At 2 lbs empty, it is in the "ultralight" class, and it is well suited to 2-4 night outings. The pack and suspension system can handle up to 30 lbs. I bought my ULA Circuit new, direct from the company, and have used it for two seasons now. I have certainly logged enough miles to know this pack. It is advertised to carry up to 30 pounds comfortably, and I would say that is fairly accurate. Anything over 30, I go to another pack… Full review

REI Traverse 65

rated 4.5 of 5 stars This backpack has amazing comfort and adjustability, with a price that cannot be beat. I appreciate the level of organization that is capable with this pack, but wish that some of the pockets were slightly bigger. I have put in about a hundred miles in with this pack through some pretty tough terrain, and I have never had a backpack with the kind of comfort and support that this pack offers. I have mild back pain and most backpacks make me miserable within a couple days of hiking, but this backpack… Full review

Gregory Stout 65

rated 5 of 5 stars Extremely comfortable and well built backpack. Flew several times with this bag as checked luggage and went on many several day hiking trips ranging from three to 10 days each and this bag has held up beautifully and still looks brand new. This is a great pack for multiple day hikes and backpacking trips through Europe. This backpack is highly adjustable and able to fit people of many sizes. I am relatively short (5' 6") and I was able to adjust the height of this pack so that it fit me perfectly. Full review

Kelty Red Cloud 110

rated 4.5 of 5 stars The only fault I find is that the extra daypack's strap is not removable. Otherwise, we were very happy to take two of these into the Boundary Waters for a week this summer. There is plenty of room for all of our lightweight gear and the pass-through sides were great for our rods to be kept safe during portage. Fit both of our frames very well with the adjustable straps. I'm 5'7" and the husband is 6'3". Full review

Osprey Ace 50

rated 5 of 5 stars From the minute she put it on, we knew it was the right bag for our 12-year-old. Our upcoming through hike will be so much easier with her packing her own extras! We looked at a number of other options, price not a factor. This won by far.  Full review

Kelty Cache Hauler (Frame Only)

rated 5 of 5 stars Absolute best pack for hauling out elk from deep in the back country. Carry 120-150 pounds, no problems other than being tired. This is the absolute best pack you will ever need to haul out a whole deer, elk halves or quarters, moose, caribou, bear, you name it! I have had 150 pounds on this pack numerous times and this pack is still very comfortable!  It fits perfectly. When loaned to my buddies they rave about the pack and most have bought one themselves. If you like hunting in the deep backcountry,… Full review

Gregory Amber 44

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Suitable for two days overnight mountain climbing or river tracing. Hip belts and shoulder and sternum straps are adjustable and comfortable. Fits a lot of stuff if you pack it correctly.  Full review

Top-Rated Backpacks

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

user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Eureka! Sleeping Bag Carry Duffel reviewed Dec 6, 2017
$30 MSRP
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (4)
Deuter ACT Lite 45+10 SL reviewed Dec 2, 2017
$141 - $200
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (12)
ULA Equipment Circuit reviewed Dec 1, 2017
$225
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
REI Traverse 65 reviewed Nov 28, 2017
$119
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Gregory Stout 65 reviewed Nov 27, 2017
$149 - $198
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (5)
Kelty Red Cloud 110 reviewed Nov 27, 2017
$172 - $229
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Osprey Ace 50 reviewed Nov 24, 2017
$160
user rating: 4 of 5 (2)
Kelty Cache Hauler (Frame Only) reviewed Nov 22, 2017
$120 MSRP
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (2)
Gregory Amber 44 reviewed Nov 20, 2017
$127 - $168
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (2)
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack reviewed Nov 18, 2017
$33
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (2)
U.S. Military CFP 90 reviewed Nov 16, 2017
 
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (3)
The North Face Fusion reviewed Nov 15, 2017
discontinued
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
CamelBak Sequoia 22 reviewed Nov 8, 2017
$145
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (9)
Sea to Summit eVent Compression Dry Sack reviewed Nov 5, 2017
$23 - $85
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (14)
Osprey Talon 22 reviewed Nov 5, 2017
$75 - $110
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (50)
Osprey Aether 70 reviewed Nov 5, 2017
$199 - $289
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (6)
REI Flash 65 reviewed Nov 1, 2017
$199
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Camp Trails Ponderosa reviewed Oct 25, 2017
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (3)
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Dyneema Summit Pack reviewed Oct 22, 2017
$280
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Geigerrig Tactical 1600 reviewed Oct 15, 2017
$200
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
MEC Brio 40 reviewed Oct 11, 2017
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Patagonia Ascensionist 35L reviewed Oct 2, 2017
$149
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (17)
Deuter ACT Lite 65+10 reviewed Sep 30, 2017
$156 - $209
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Deuter AC Lite 22 reviewed Sep 29, 2017
$99 MSRP
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (3)
Gregory Baltoro 85 reviewed Sep 29, 2017
$209 - $349
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Deuter ACT Trail 28 SL reviewed Sep 29, 2017
$129
user rating: 4 of 5 (2)
Six Moon Designs Fusion 65 reviewed Sep 28, 2017
$250 MSRP
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
HackedPack v.1.1 reviewed Sep 28, 2017
$170 MSRP
user rating: 4 of 5 (4)
Osprey Kestrel 28 reviewed Sep 28, 2017
$140
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Gregory Zulu 40 reviewed Sep 27, 2017
$134 - $179
user rating: 1.5 of 5 (1)
CiloGear 75L WorkSack reviewed Sep 26, 2017
$375 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Deuter Futura 26 reviewed Sep 22, 2017
$129 MSRP
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
CamelBak Scout reviewed Sep 21, 2017
$45 - $60
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (24)
Osprey Aether 60 reviewed Sep 21, 2017
$195 - $259
user rating: 2.5 of 5 (1)
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Summit Pack reviewed Sep 21, 2017
$175 - $185
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Gregory Cirque 30 reviewed Sep 20, 2017
user rating: 0.5 of 5 (1)
CiloGear 75L W/NWD WorkSack reviewed Sep 20, 2017
$1500 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
JanSport Polaris 33 reviewed Sep 20, 2017
discontinued
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (2)
Granite Rocx The Cascade reviewed Sep 19, 2017
$81 MSRP
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Gregory Baltoro 75 GZ reviewed Sep 16, 2017
$269 - $449
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (12)
Gregory Baltoro 65 reviewed Sep 15, 2017
$179 - $299
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (2)
Gregory Jade 40 reviewed Sep 14, 2017
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (5)
Deuter Aircontact 65+10 reviewed Sep 12, 2017
$269 - $279
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (14)
CamelBak Rim Runner reviewed Sep 12, 2017
$99 - $104
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Deuter Aircontact Pro 70+15 reviewed Sep 11, 2017
$349
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Mountaintop Traveling 40L reviewed Sep 11, 2017
$35 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (40)
Arc'teryx Bora 80 reviewed Sep 10, 2017
$399 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Geigerrig Rig 700M reviewed Sep 9, 2017
$140 MSRP
user rating: 4 of 5 (9)
Deuter Guide 45+ reviewed Sep 9, 2017
$179
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Thule Capstone 50L reviewed Sep 8, 2017
$142 - $199
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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.