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
Dry Packs
Portage Packs
Rope Bags
Accessories

Brands

Mountain Hardwear
The North Face
UltrAspire
Lost Creek
Mountainsmith
Marmot
Gregory
Gossamer Gear
other
Eagle Creek

Genders

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

Mountain Hardwear Fluid 18

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Very light weight and sleek pack perfect for day hikes, especially in tight bush. I bought this pack to replace my old Asolo light day pack. I use two different day packs depending on the circumstances, my other is a NorthFace Terra 40. This pack is the first one I have tried that is made of the newer, thinner nylon, altough it is still thicker than the thinnest stuff they use. I have been using this pack weekly for close to 6 months now, although it was bought about A year ago. My first impression… Full review

Mountain Hardwear Scrambler 30 OutDry

rated 4.5 of 5 stars This backpack is a great day hike bag, for use in wet or dry climates, keeping your stuff dry. No frills design looks clean and is super functional. I got this bag a few weeks ago and have taken it sea kayaking, hiking, running, and climbing.  The waterproofness worked great while it was stowed in my sea kayak and kept all my stuff dry. My dry bags that I normally use for kayaking were back in the States, but I didn't need them with this backpack!  Taking this bag hiking is a nice no-frills, cleanly… Full review

The North Face Diad Pro 22

rated 4 of 5 stars The North Face Diad Pro 22 is a handy little pack that's perfect for day hikes, or even a minimalist overnight trip. Its list of features make it seem a lot bigger than it is. I'm somewhat lacking in small backpacks for three-season day hiking, my MH Snowtastic 28 is really pretty heavy for its capacity and my next larger pack is way too big, so when I saw the TNF Diad Pro 22 for $24 on S&C I scooped it up. When it arrived I unwrapped it and was really surprised by how light it was. TNF says… Full review

UltrAspire Kinetic Bottle Vest

rated 4 of 5 stars Versatile, comfortable, flexible, usable. Skeptical at first, but this pack has become a fave! Normally I don't think I would have picked this pack for myself, I thought I was a bladder guy. After trying it out a few times I was pretty happy with it. I remember a few people asking me about the pack at the time and commenting how my elbows would hit the bottles. That has been no problem at all. The location is in a great spot I think. Lower on the back creates a nice low center of gravity, feels… Full review

Lost Creek Flint Ridge

rated 5 of 5 stars Lost Creek's Flint Ridge is an 8L, durable cave pack for those needing to travel fast and light through tight passages. While this pack is limited in size, it is ideal for shorter trips. Having used this pack for 15 years, I have no doubt about its durability. Lost Creek is a cottage manufacture of caving gear that has seen three different owners since the 1970's. Each generation of owners seems to have improved upon the original Lost Creek pack. The current owners at Seven Bends continue the tradition… Full review

Lost Creek Monster TAG

rated 5 of 5 stars Lost Creek's Monster TAG pack is a 22L, virtually indestructible cave pack that has stood the test of time. This is an exceptionally large cave pack for those carrying vertical gear, camera equipment, or group gear. Lost Creek is a cottage manufacture of caving gear that has seen three different owners since the 1970s. Each generation of owners seems to have improved upon the original Lost Creek pack. The current owners at Seven Bends continue the tradition of building nearly indestructible cave… Full review

Mountainsmith Scream 55

rated 4 of 5 stars A well-built frameless weekender, the Scream 55 can be a year-round performer if the rest of your gear allows it. Keep your total weight under 30 pounds and head for the hills. Best For: Weekend warriors with lightweight gear still looking for that 90%-of-the-time backpack. Ultralighters that want a measure of waterproofness. Design The Scream 55 is a mid-size, frameless backpack constructed mostly of Robic, one of the newest, most promising fabrics to come along since the Dimension Polyant's X-Pac… Full review

Marmot Eiger 42

rated 4 of 5 stars Very solid. Backpacks' weights claimed and real: Berghaus Arete 3: 1110g vs 1140g The North Face Prophet 40: 1290 vs 1360 Marmot Eiger 42: 1220 vs 1470 Berghaus Expedition 40: 1290 vs 1330 Looks very solid and durable, good stitches. Full review

Gregory Salvo 28

rated 4.5 of 5 stars The Gregory Salvo 28 liter backpack is, quite simply, an awesome, well designed backpack, featuring great suspension and a ventilation system that actually works. It's perfect for long day hikes with room for all the gear you'd need for pretty much any adventure. I have to admit, when I look at daypacks, one of my top priorities is lots of pockets, cubby holes, and other ways to sort and store my gear. Perhaps it's because I carry lots of stuff—even when out on day hikes—and I like to be able… Full review

Top-Rated Backpacks

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

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Mountain Hardwear Fluid 18 reviewed Feb 4, 2016
$67 - $90
user rating: 4 of 5 (4)
Mountain Hardwear Scrambler 30 OutDry reviewed Feb 4, 2016
$97 - $130
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
The North Face Diad Pro 22 reviewed Feb 2, 2016
$32 - $54
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
UltrAspire Kinetic Bottle Vest reviewed Feb 1, 2016
$130
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Lost Creek Flint Ridge reviewed Feb 1, 2016
$74 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Lost Creek Monster TAG reviewed Feb 1, 2016
$78 MSRP
NEW!
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Mountainsmith Scream 55 reviewed Jan 30, 2016
$150
available Spring 2016
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Marmot Eiger 42 reviewed Jan 29, 2016
NEW!
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Gregory Salvo 28 reviewed Jan 29, 2016
$129
available Spring 2016
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Gossamer Gear Rukus reviewed Jan 28, 2016
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
MFH German Winter Tarn Rucksack reviewed Jan 24, 2016
 
user rating: 2.5 of 5 (2)
Eagle Creek Matrix Krypton reviewed Jan 23, 2016
discontinued
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (2)
Deuter ACT Lite 75+10 reviewed Jan 15, 2016
$229
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Dyneema Summit Pack reviewed Jan 13, 2016
$300
Advanced Elements CargoPak reviewed Jan 11, 2016
$70 MSRP
 
user rating: 4 of 5 (4)
Dana Design Stillwater reviewed Jan 9, 2016
discontinued
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (2)
Kelty Compression Stuff Sacks reviewed Jan 6, 2016
$19
user rating: 4 of 5 (25)
Osprey Atmos 50 reviewed Jan 6, 2016
discontinued
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Nathan VaporCloud reviewed Dec 30, 2015
$100 - $139
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Osprey Raptor 10 reviewed Dec 30, 2015
$15 - $119
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (1)
Boreas Gear Bootlegger reviewed Dec 30, 2015
$149
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Mountain Hardwear Drifter Pack reviewed Dec 29, 2015
discontinued
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (11)
Coleman Max 65 reviewed Dec 26, 2015
discontinued
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (17)
Osprey Exos 58 reviewed Dec 24, 2015
$165 - $219
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
London Bridge Light Infantry Patrol Pack reviewed Dec 21, 2015
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Tika Cardrona reviewed Dec 20, 2015
discontinued
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (18)
CamelBak M.U.L.E. reviewed Dec 19, 2015
$87 - $109
user rating: 4 of 5 (2)
Outdoor Products Mist reviewed Dec 18, 2015
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (7)
The North Face Terra 30 reviewed Dec 15, 2015
discontinued
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
ALPS Mountaineering Bryce reviewed Dec 14, 2015
$149 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
No Limits Fire Walker 50 reviewed Dec 12, 2015
$80 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (10)
Lowe Alpine Contour Mountain 40 reviewed Dec 12, 2015
discontinued
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Gregory Z40 reviewed Dec 11, 2015
$125 - $178
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Seattle Sports Omni Dry Backpack reviewed Dec 10, 2015
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Ortlieb Back-Roller Plus QL2.1 reviewed Dec 10, 2015
$225 MSRP
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (13)
CamelBak Rim Runner reviewed Dec 9, 2015
$27 - $100
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Mystery Ranch NICE 6500 reviewed Dec 9, 2015
$675 MSRP
user rating: 4 of 5 (8)
Deuter Guide 45+ reviewed Dec 8, 2015
$179
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (1)
Frost River Isle Royale reviewed Dec 7, 2015
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Arc'teryx Altra 65 reviewed Dec 7, 2015
$449
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (2)
Arc'teryx Naos 85 reviewed Dec 6, 2015
$650 MSRP
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (10)
ULA Equipment Circuit reviewed Dec 6, 2015
$225
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (13)
Osprey Talon 22 reviewed Dec 5, 2015
$75 - $99
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (1)
Osprey Xenith 105 reviewed Dec 5, 2015
$390
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (6)
Gregory Baltoro 75 reviewed Dec 4, 2015
$319 - $348
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
VauDe Hyper Air 14+3 reviewed Dec 3, 2015
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (3)
REI Trail 25 Pack reviewed Dec 2, 2015
$70
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (6)
Deuter ACT Lite 40+10 reviewed Nov 26, 2015
$118 - $179
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Osprey Comet reviewed Nov 26, 2015
$82 - $100
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (31)
Osprey Atmos 65 reviewed Nov 25, 2015
$239 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.