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

Mammut
Lowe Alpine
Equinox
Deuter
Montane
Blackhawk!
Osprey
Mountain Hardwear
GoLite
Teton Sports

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

Mammut Trion Guide 45+7

rated 5 of 5 stars Great all round alpine pack with large front pocket great for easy access gear like layers or ski touring safety equipment. The Trion Guide is a well sized pack perfect for mountaineering, ski touring, and general hiking.  The fit is one size fits all, and its very similar to Deuters Guide series of packs. The padding isn't anything special, and the straps seem to fit well to my 5'10 narrow shouldered frame.  I can get just about anything I need for a weekend in the alpine. I have been able to… Full review

Lowe Alpine Peak Attack 42

rated 4 of 5 stars The Lowe Alpine Peak Attack is a 42L classic, single compartment mountaineering inspired pack. With those uses in mind the pack boasts added durability without a weight penalty, weighs 950 grams, and includes glove-friendly features (zipper pulls, buckles and grab loops) and a unique ice tool attachment system. This pack would be best for winter mountaineering, summer backpacking or as a large day pack for hiking or cragging. Specs (from Lowe Alpine): Volume: 42lt / 2565cu.in Weight: 0.95kg / 2lb… Full review

Equinox Gila Ultralite Horizontal Pack Pocket

rated 3 of 5 stars I used this add-on pocket as a second hip belt pocket for my Deuter Act Lite 75+10 Backpack. It took a bit of fiddling to get it securely in place but then it was a handy addition. This review is for the large size horizontal add-on pocket. My backpack only had one hip belt pocket so I added this to the other side. First I needed a pocket large enough to easily store my Samsung Note 3 cell phone along with a few other small items I wanted to keep handy. I also wanted a pocket large enough to store… Full review

Deuter ACT Lite 75+10

rated 5 of 5 stars Comfortable adjustable pack that can adapt to haul a lot or a little. Quality construction with some thoughtful details. Weighs in at 4 lbs 5 oz, a good compromise between weight and haul-ability. Age and prior back injuries has made finding a backpack I could wear a difficult task. With the Deuter Act Lite 75+10, I finally found a pack that I could not only carry but was comfortable also. For me, the key was to find a pack that did not put any pressure directly on my spine. The "air contact" system… Full review

Montane Dragon 20

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Finally a nice pack that allows for multi-day runs. It's not perfect, but in the most important aspect — carry while running — it's great. I was able to get this pack out for a two day trip into the Crazy Mtns. I had to load a little more kit as we received a big dump of snow and cooler temps. Kit consisted of a 30°F down quilt, inflatable pad (had to add a thin ccf pad due to temps), eVENT bivy, small pot/esbit stove, Steripen, down jacket, hooded midlayer, tights, spare socks and the usual… Full review

Montane Dragon 20

rated 3.5 of 5 stars A well-built and lightweight pack for ultrarunning and fast packing, big enough to carry layers, emergency gear, and food for long mountain runs in mixed weather, or for a UL weekender. Recommended for those kinds of activities, but not as a general purpose day pack. I received the Montane Dragon 20 from Trailspace a little too late to try it out in the 60 km Birkebeiner Ultra, but have put it to the test on some of my longer training runs and on a few day hikes. It is very well-designed and -built,… Full review

Blackhawk! Barrage Hydration Pack

rated 4 of 5 stars A heavy-duty "military style" 3-day pack that is designed to last forever, no matter what you do with it. Although BlackHawk! categorizes it as a hydration pack, I believe the hydration bladder is a small portion of this pack. I purchased this pack prior to a deployment overseas in 2008 and it still looks brand new today. In between being an every day carry item thru Kuwait and Afghanistan, it has also been used as a day pack for hikes and hunting. As well as a great commuter bag and travel bag. … Full review

Osprey Volt 75

rated 5 of 5 stars Great fit without a lot of weight. I would definitely recommend this backpack for anyone doing a 3-4 night outing. Just purchased this pack in July 2014. Have used it 4 times in the Adirondacks of NY and AT in NJ and Maine. I bought it for the lesser pack weight of 3lbs 12oz vs my other, older Osprey pack. This is a one-size-fits-all pack with an adjustable stay system that I really liked, especially if you're an in-between size like me. It carries 4,700 cu, so I did have to choose my gear wisely… Full review

Osprey Talon 44

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Great transitional bag! I'm 5'11" with a slender build @ 162 lbs. I bought the bag at the beginning of the 2014 spring season with the intent of doing lightweight trips up to 5 nights. On a 1-2 night cool-weather trip, I carry 27 lbs of gear (including a full 3 liter hydration bladder and 1 change of clothes), minus food. For longer cool weather trips, an additional change of clothes and larger fuel bottle brings it to 30 lbs of gear, minus food. The bag handles this very well, is light, quite… Full review

Top-Rated Backpacks

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

Mammut Trion Guide 45+7
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Mammut
Trion Guide 45+7
reviewed Sep 22, 2014
$150 - $199
Lowe Alpine Peak Attack 42
NEW!
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Lowe Alpine
Peak Attack 42
reviewed Sep 21, 2014
$95
available Fall 2014
Equinox Gila Ultralite Horizontal Pack Pocket
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Equinox
Gila Ultralite Horizontal Pack Pocket
reviewed Sep 20, 2014
$15
Deuter ACT Lite 75+10
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Deuter
ACT Lite 75+10
reviewed Sep 20, 2014
$229
Montane Dragon 20
user rating: 4 of 5 (2)
Montane
Dragon 20
reviewed Sep 18, 2014
$154
Blackhawk! Barrage Hydration Pack
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Blackhawk!
Barrage Hydration Pack
reviewed Sep 14, 2014
$200 MSRP
Osprey Volt 75
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Osprey
Volt 75
reviewed Sep 13, 2014
$199 - $200
Osprey Talon 44
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (13)
Osprey
Talon 44
reviewed Sep 12, 2014
$150
Mountain Hardwear Fluid 32
user rating: 4 of 5 (3)
Mountain Hardwear
Fluid 32
reviewed Sep 11, 2014
$120 - $150
GoLite Jam 50L
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (6)
GoLite
Jam 50L
reviewed Sep 10, 2014
$110
Teton Sports Scout 3400
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (2)
Teton Sports
Scout 3400
reviewed Sep 8, 2014
Berghaus Expedition Light 80
NEW!
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Berghaus
Expedition Light 80
reviewed Sep 7, 2014

available 2014
Lowe Alpine Vision 40
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Lowe Alpine
Vision 40
reviewed Sep 4, 2014
discontinued
Patagonia Atom
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Patagonia
Atom
reviewed Sep 4, 2014
$31 - $49
High Sierra Col 35
user rating: 4 of 5 (2)
High Sierra
Col 35
reviewed Sep 4, 2014
$47
Osprey Talon 22
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (10)
Osprey
Talon 22
reviewed Sep 3, 2014
$99 - $100
Kelty Yukon 48
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Kelty
Yukon 48
reviewed Sep 3, 2014
$110 - $169
ALPS Mountaineering Shasta 3600
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
ALPS Mountaineering
Shasta 3600
reviewed Sep 1, 2014
$119
Mountainsmith Mountainlight Scream 25
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Mountainsmith
Mountainlight Scream 25
reviewed Aug 23, 2014
$70
Deuter Futura 28
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (4)
Deuter
Futura 28
reviewed Aug 22, 2014
$109
Big Agnes Pumphouse
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Big Agnes
Pumphouse
reviewed Aug 21, 2014
$16 - $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
$159 - $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
$160 - $290
Mountainsmith Lookout 50
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Mountainsmith
Lookout 50
reviewed Aug 5, 2014
$144 - $179
Osprey Mira 26
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Osprey
Mira 26
reviewed Aug 5, 2014
$149 - $150
Outdoor Research Mesh Ditty Sacks
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Outdoor Research
Mesh Ditty Sacks
reviewed Aug 5, 2014
$21 - $25
Gregory Z65
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (9)
Gregory
Z65
reviewed Aug 5, 2014
$181 - $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 - $224
ALPS Mountaineering Cascade 5200
user rating: 4 of 5 (9)
ALPS Mountaineering
Cascade 5200
reviewed Jul 16, 2014
$190 MSRP
Deuter Aircontact 75+10
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (12)
Deuter
Aircontact 75+10
reviewed Jul 14, 2014
$289
Osprey Mira 34
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Osprey
Mira 34
reviewed Jul 11, 2014
$159 - $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
$90 - $110
 
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
$140
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
$209 - $279
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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.