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

Brands

Gregory
REI
Mammut
Lowe Alpine
LifeProof
ULA Equipment
Geigerrig
Deuter
Rivendell Mountain Works
Bergans

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

Gregory Citro 25

rated 4.5 of 5 stars The Citro 25 is a good-sized and reasonably lightweight day pack with a surprisingly strong spring steel frame. The Citro's multiple pockets should appeal to organized hikers. The included '3D Hydro' 3 liter reservoir is excellent, and the hydration solution is unusually flexible. A small pack that can swing above its weight, depending on your needs and gear. BACKGROUND/DETAILS The Citro 25 falls into a popular niche of large day packs that can carry a decent amount of gear for a variety of conditions. Full review

REI New Star

rated 4.5 of 5 stars The performance of this pack has been unbelievable. Durable, comfortable, versatile...it was a great. I bought this pack in 1994.  Anyone have an older one?  Mine, I must say, is worn out.  It has been a great friend and I am a little sad that I need to replace it.  I believe that I easily put 2000 miles on it. Full review

Mammut Heron Light 65+15

rated 2.5 of 5 stars Not bad, but lacking ice axe loop. A sad oversight. Lacking a few simple but essential bits, like an ice axe loop. Full review

Gregory G Pack

rated 2.5 of 5 stars I used this pack for day hikes in Utah canyons. After a couple of trips, I had holes worn in the fabric where it had scraped against the sandstone. This pack might be useful for someone who never gets off the trail, but the unreinforced fabric means that you need to be careful with it. The pack fit fine and it is the best lightweight daypack I have used. The durability of the pack is the issue. In only a couple of trips to Utah, there were holes worn through the fabric so that I was dropping gear… Full review

Lowe Alpine Contour IV 90+15

rated 4 of 5 stars Solid VERY large pack. Great for extended use or winter camping/hiking. I picked my pack up from a buddy for 25 bucks used about 10 years ago. GREAT deal. I'm a bigger guy and was looking for a large pack for extended trips and winter camping/packing. This pack is very well made and is constructed of a heavier nylon Cordura. Great in that it is tear-proof and holds up, but it makes it a little heavy by today's standards. The pack is designed for a larger person. I'm 6'1" 250# and I have no trouble… Full review

Gregory Denali 100

rated 2.5 of 5 stars OK pack, but not for the heaviest loads and longer trips due to some weak parts of the carrying system (described below) and too small volume, narrow bottom, and side pockets. In wintertime when carrying a bigger sleeping bag and generally more equipment this pack will, in my opinion, be too small for more than a couple of days outdoors. I bought this pack summer 2015. Used it on some weekend trips in forest regions and one 17-day trip tenting in the mountains. What I don't like is the narrow bottom… Full review

LifeProof nüüd case for iPhone 5/5s/SE

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Plain and simple: this thing works. My phone survived days-long exposure to heavy rain with no damage whatsoever. Very simply, it seems to work as advertised. For two years or so, my general impression was that it was simply functional and practical. It provides solid protection from drops, dust, and moisture with a less bulky profile than either LifeProof's larger cases or waterproof cases from some competitors because instead of covering the screen, it seals the rest of the case around it with… Full review

ULA Equipment Ohm 2.0

rated 4.5 of 5 stars This is now my favorite pack after a year of solid testing in all range of temperatures and trail conditions. A lightweight pack with a suspension frame that helps it carry loads up to 30 pounds comfortably. Except for full winter or over a week long trips, this pack can handle everything I need it to do. The other reviews prior to mine do an excellent job of summarizing the qualities of this pack, and helped me choose the Ohm. I felt after a year that I would add to and support those reviews with… Full review

Gregory Deva 70 GZ

rated 5 of 5 stars The Gregory Deva/Baltoro series is great for anyone from the weekend hiker who likes to bring everything but the kitchen sink to the long trail thru-hiker. The Deva is a very comfortable, durable, stable load hauler that comes packed full of removable features that allow you to have a custom and perfect fit. From the integrated solar panel to the water-resistant zippers and hip belt pouch, Gregory included almost every imaginable bell and whistle when they designed this highly detailed pack.  … Full review

Top-Rated Backpacks

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

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Gregory Citro 25 reviewed Feb 23, 2017
$130
user rating: 4 of 5 (15)
REI New Star reviewed Feb 21, 2017
discontinued
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (2)
Mammut Heron Light 65+15 reviewed Feb 19, 2017
$260 MSRP
user rating: 4 of 5 (12)
Gregory G Pack reviewed Feb 15, 2017
discontinued
user rating: 4 of 5 (10)
Lowe Alpine Contour IV 90+15 reviewed Feb 1, 2017
discontinued
user rating: 3 of 5 (2)
Gregory Denali 100 reviewed Jan 31, 2017
$399
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
LifeProof nüüd case for iPhone 5/5s/SE reviewed Jan 30, 2017
$90 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
ULA Equipment Ohm 2.0 reviewed Jan 29, 2017
$200
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Gregory Deva 70 GZ reviewed Jan 26, 2017
$329 - $449
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Geigerrig Rig 700 reviewed Jan 22, 2017
$95
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Deuter Flight Cover reviewed Jan 21, 2017
$39
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Deuter Fox 40 reviewed Jan 17, 2017
$87 - $109
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (1)
Rivendell Mountain Works Jensen reviewed Jan 6, 2017
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Bergans Skarstind 32 reviewed Jan 6, 2017
$70 - $90
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Karrimor SF Sabre 45 reviewed Jan 5, 2017
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Deuter Speed Lite 20 reviewed Jan 5, 2017
$71 - $89
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (1)
Granite Gear Lutsen 55 reviewed Dec 21, 2016
$220
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (47)
Osprey Aether 70 reviewed Dec 14, 2016
$180 - $290
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (3)
REI Gemini 50L Pack reviewed Dec 11, 2016
discontinued
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Mountainsmith Apex 100 reviewed Dec 8, 2016
$200 - $249
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Kelty Big Bend reviewed Dec 2, 2016
discontinued
user rating: 4 of 5 (11)
Kelty Tioga reviewed Dec 2, 2016
$180
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (16)
Deuter Aircontact 75+10 reviewed Dec 1, 2016
$231 - $299
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (6)
Gregory UM21 Backpack reviewed Nov 29, 2016
discontinued
user rating: 3 of 5 (2)
Macpac Cascade 65 reviewed Nov 24, 2016
user rating: 4 of 5 (17)
Osprey Stratos 24 reviewed Nov 24, 2016
$84 - $130
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
VauDe Asymmetric 42+8 reviewed Nov 19, 2016
$120
user rating: 4 of 5 (10)
Osprey Atmos AG 65 reviewed Nov 15, 2016
$260
 
user rating: 4 of 5 (7)
REI Trekker Wonderland reviewed Nov 15, 2016
discontinued
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (3)
Black Diamond Speed 40 reviewed Nov 13, 2016
$170
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Rothco MOLLE Compatible Water Bottle Pouch reviewed Nov 10, 2016
$23 MSRP
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Red Rock Outdoor Gear Engagement Pack reviewed Nov 10, 2016
$65 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (9)
ULA Equipment Catalyst reviewed Nov 10, 2016
$250
user rating: 4 of 5 (39)
U.S. Armed Forces ALICE Pack reviewed Nov 7, 2016
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Granite Gear Air Zippditty reviewed Nov 5, 2016
$15 - $29
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Modern Warrior 18.5" Tactical Military Style Backpack reviewed Nov 4, 2016
$35 MSRP
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
3V Gear Outlaw Gear Slinger reviewed Nov 3, 2016
$40 MSRP
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (2)
Granite Gear Blaze AC 60 reviewed Oct 29, 2016
$240
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Granite Gear Air Zippsack reviewed Oct 29, 2016
$18 - $19
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (8)
Sea to Summit eVent Compression Dry Sack reviewed Oct 27, 2016
$22 - $49
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Nimrod Pack Systems Haul Frame Pack reviewed Oct 21, 2016
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
High Sierra Wheeled Double Adjustable Ski Bag reviewed Oct 21, 2016
$300 MSRP
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (11)
Gregory Baltoro 65 reviewed Oct 21, 2016
$299
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (2)
Wild Things Guide Pack reviewed Oct 12, 2016
$195 MSRP
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (22)
Osprey Exos 58 reviewed Oct 12, 2016
$165 - $220
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
Dana Design ArcFlex Terraplane reviewed Oct 4, 2016
discontinued
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler Duffel 90L reviewed Oct 3, 2016
$109 MSRP
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (1)
Thule Stir 35L reviewed Oct 3, 2016
$140
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (4)
Arc'teryx Cierzo 18 reviewed Oct 3, 2016
$59 - $114
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (13)
Kelty Red Cloud 5400 reviewed Oct 2, 2016
discontinued
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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.