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

other
Teton Sports
REI
Platypus
Gregory
High Sierra
Outdoor Products
Kelty
EMS
Ozark Trail

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

Manasalu Adventure 50+5

rated 4.5 of 5 stars A well made and versatile pack for every day or for the longer trek. Very well made and designed, definitely user friendly. For some time I have been trawling through the web looking for a new 55 L pack which had all the features that I wanted in a pack; This one I had seen and it fitted all the points that was on my list. When a New Zealand supplier decided after a year plus of stocking this pack they had a silly clearance price offer which I couldn't refuse. The pack is very well designed and… Full review

Teton Sports Mountain Adventurer 4000

rated 5 of 5 stars A fantastic pack for a great price! This pack is designed for Ultra Light backpacking. It weighs only 4lbs. I would definitely recommend this pack for those who are heading out for a few days, and want to keep the weight of their gear, including pack, to a minimum. I'm very impressed with this pack and I love using it. This is one of Teton Sports' newest packs, part of their Black-Out Line. It is a really smart-looking piece of gear, that I am happy to take on the trail.  It's a modern, innovative,… Full review

REI New Star

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Great pack. Rides well and very comfortable. Large size with plenty of compartments and straps to store and adjust load. Well made with beautiful colors—scarlet red and forest green. I'm 6'1" and this fit me great, was very comfortable, with a huge capacity. Compression straps allow for various size loads and kept the pack riding well. Padded shoulder straps and hip belt stayed in place and were comfortable. Three main compartments and a small one inside held items securely with easy access. The… Full review

Platypus Sprinter XT 35

rated 4 of 5 stars This is a great pack. Well-constructed, waterproof, comfortable (probably more comfortable for men), but it may not fit everyone’s hiking needs niche perfectly. I didn’t really like this pack to start. I had taken it on several day hikes and field work, but I couldn’t figure out its niche. It holds far more than I would take on a day trip, but not enough for my typical overnight. In an attempt to think about what other people would like to know and in reading reviews is when I really started… Full review

Gregory Athena

Great pockets, good space, but small straps (meant for a shorter/smaller person). First...I read a review that said this fits small (meant for a smaller woman or larger child) and that is true! That said, it fits me perfectly because I'm small. So...I haven't actually filled/tried it yet, but it's exactly what I wanted style wise/pocket wise. Hard to find a daypack/travel pack with external pockets like I needed, but this has it at a great price! (Moosejaw has a killer deal on it as of 5/10/16)… Full review

High Sierra Karadon 55

rated 3.5 of 5 stars High Sierra’s Karadon 55-liter backpack features an innovative, fully adjustable torso and waist belt. This design seems ideal for growing adolescent hikers, families with multiple children, or anyone on the market for a pack that is likely to fit a variety of body shapes and sizes. However, if you’re an experienced backpacker looking for a high-end pack designed for your specific body type, move on; this is likely not the pack for you. Testing Conditions I tested the Karadon 55-liter pack from… Full review

Outdoor Products Fieldline Alpha OPS Daypack

rated 4 of 5 stars Good, basic bag. Comfortable to carry, roomy interior. Good for EDC, day hikes, or Get Home Bag in car or office. Good for a beginner who doesn't want to spend a lot of money on a starter bag. I picked up this bag last year from Amazon. I was looking for a black tactical-looking daypack to replace one I had worn out. This Fieldline Alpha Ops Daypack was a decent replacement for the price. It's not my every day bag but it's getting decent use. As soon as I got it last year, I loaded it up and took… Full review

Kelty Yukon 48

rated 3 of 5 stars Great, durable backpack, used from Cub Scouts to present (I'm 30). I've had this pack since I was 12, and save for a couple squirrel holes internally (my bad. [cub scout]), it's held up amazingly. I've recently gotten into lightening my load (considerably), and took a seam ripper to it (it's from 1997, and I couldn't stand getting rid of it) to fit my new lightweight approach. It now sits just over 3 lbs, and functions as an extremely comfortable (and rugged...(can't do the Cuben/sil-nylon, as I… Full review

EMS Packable Pack

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Best for summer and ultralight hiking, this pack is a bargain, even at EMS list price of $40. Can hold a maximum of 25 lbs, although you will be happier at 15 to 19 lbs. The material is tougher than it looks, the seams are properly stitched, and the value is awesome, for a 25L (1500 cu in) 9 ounce pack. I used it in March for a two-day /one-night 30-mile R/T on the Appalachian Trail, the weekend that many NB thru-hikers were starting. It held up well and I even had a 20-degree down bag / 2 pound… Full review

Top-Rated Backpacks

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

 
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Manasalu Adventure 50+5 reviewed May 21, 2016
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Teton Sports Mountain Adventurer 4000 reviewed May 19, 2016
user rating: 4 of 5 (14)
REI New Star reviewed May 15, 2016
discontinued
user rating: 4 of 5 (2)
Platypus Sprinter XT 35 reviewed May 12, 2016
$103
Gregory Athena reviewed May 11, 2016
$43
NEW!
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (1)
High Sierra Karadon 55 reviewed May 8, 2016
$200
available Spring 2016
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Outdoor Products Fieldline Alpha OPS Daypack reviewed May 5, 2016
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (3)
Kelty Yukon 48 reviewed Apr 25, 2016
$127 - $169
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
EMS Packable Pack reviewed Apr 22, 2016
user rating: 4 of 5 (4)
Ozark Trail Atka 28L reviewed Apr 22, 2016
$19 MSRP
 
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (8)
Mountainsmith Frostfire III reviewed Apr 20, 2016
discontinued
user rating: 3 of 5 (2)
Vargo Ti-Arc Pack reviewed Apr 17, 2016
$300
user rating: 3 of 5 (3)
Lowe Alpine Sirocco Classic reviewed Apr 8, 2016
discontinued
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Mystery Ranch Wet Rib reviewed Apr 7, 2016
$40
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Granite Gear Leopard A.C. 58 reviewed Apr 7, 2016
$160 - $189
user rating: 4 of 5 (14)
JanSport Carson 80 reviewed Mar 30, 2016
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Berghaus Wilderness 65+15 reviewed Mar 27, 2016
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (2)
Osprey Imp reviewed Mar 24, 2016
discontinued
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Osprey Kyte 46 reviewed Mar 22, 2016
$138 - $179
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Marmot Ultra Kompressor reviewed Mar 20, 2016
$71 - $88
NEW!
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Mystery Ranch Sphinx reviewed Mar 18, 2016
$299
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Black Diamond Halo 28 JetForce Avalanche Airbag Pack reviewed Mar 18, 2016
$1,450
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Arc'teryx Altra 65 reviewed Mar 17, 2016
$449
user rating: 5 of 5 (6)
Osprey Aura 65 reviewed Mar 15, 2016
$100 - $259
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Jones Snowboards Higher 30 Backpack reviewed Mar 14, 2016
$149
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (11)
ULA Equipment Circuit reviewed Mar 14, 2016
$225
user rating: 4 of 5 (7)
The North Face Terra 50 reviewed Mar 12, 2016
$119 - $159
user rating: 3 of 5 (2)
Marmot Aspen 35 reviewed Mar 11, 2016
$77
user rating: 4 of 5 (2)
Savotta 906 reviewed Mar 10, 2016
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Deuter ACT Zero 45+15 SL reviewed Mar 9, 2016
$142 - $189
user rating: 4 of 5 (3)
High Sierra Tangent 45 reviewed Mar 7, 2016
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Dyneema 2400 Ice Pack reviewed Mar 6, 2016
$500
user rating: 4 of 5 (5)
Kelty Yukon 3200 reviewed Mar 3, 2016
discontinued
user rating: 4 of 5 (9)
Osprey Volt 60 reviewed Feb 29, 2016
$144 - $179
NEW!
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Montane Grand Tour 50 reviewed Feb 28, 2016
$198
available Spring 2016
 
user rating: 4 of 5 (16)
Camp Trails Wilderness (Internal) reviewed Feb 28, 2016
discontinued
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Pelican 1040 Micro Case reviewed Feb 27, 2016
$29
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Osprey Sirrus 24 reviewed Feb 26, 2016
$120
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (14)
Osprey Kestrel 48 reviewed Feb 25, 2016
$138 - $179
user rating: 4 of 5 (3)
Lafuma Nanga 40 reviewed Feb 23, 2016
discontinued
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (1)
Gossamer Gear Spinnaker G-Storage Sacks reviewed Feb 22, 2016
$12 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Orange Mud HydraQuiver Vest Pack 2 reviewed Feb 20, 2016
$150 MSRP
user rating: 4 of 5 (8)
High Sierra Appalachian 75 reviewed Feb 18, 2016
user rating: 4 of 5 (7)
Osprey Atmos AG 65 reviewed Feb 17, 2016
$190 - $259
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
DIY: My Own Trash Bag Solution reviewed Feb 17, 2016
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Windrider reviewed Feb 16, 2016
$320
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (6)
Osprey Ariel 65 reviewed Feb 14, 2016
$49 - $289
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Granite Gear Leopard V.C. 46 reviewed Feb 14, 2016
$140 - $169
user rating: 4 of 5 (6)
Gregory Z 30 reviewed Feb 14, 2016
$97 - $110
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
JanSport Big Bear 78 reviewed Feb 13, 2016
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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.