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

ALPS Mountaineering
Deuter
Osprey
Gregory
JanSport
Kelty
REI
Bergans
Black Diamond
Granite Gear

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

ALPS Mountaineering Cascade 5200

rated 3.5 of 5 stars Nice pack for the price, roomy. Good for long term backpacking. Held all my gear for a 10-day trip plus 5 days food. In preparation for a 10-day trek to Philmont, the Boy Scout backpacking paradise in NE New Mexico, I purchased a Cascade 5200. We did two long weekend training trips in Kansas and finally our big trip in New Mexico. The pack was roomy, held all my gear and at one time 5 days worth of food. The zippers were large and sturdy. The zippers held up well and didn’t catch on the material. Full review

Deuter Aircontact 75+10

rated 5 of 5 stars The Deuter Aircontact 75+10 pack is a great pack. It is a very comfortable pack with tons of features. The suspension is great and can carry a very heavy load comfortably. Best used for week+ trips or family backpacking trips. I love this pack and highly recommend it. One thing that really sold me on this pack is the adjustable torso length. I love this feature. If you have family members who like to borrow your gear, this pack is great because it can be adjusted to just about any length. This makes… Full review

Osprey Mira 34

rated 4.5 of 5 stars I love the mesh back panel, which is like the one on my Osprey Aura 65, for keeping me cool on the long day hikes in town. This is a great pack designed for women that feels great. The first thing that surprised me on this pack was the size I needed. I got this pack before I got my Aura and was unsure of my Osprey sizing. I got some help at my local store in getting fitted. I ended up with the XS/S. Once all of the straps were adjusted and hooked together, this pack felt great. I'm heavy chested… Full review

Gregory Robson

rated 5 of 5 stars Owned it for 20 years. To be clear Mr Weatherbottom.... The did make a Robson with carbon fiber stays, early/mid '90s before the "Pro". The Robson Pro, in my opinion, was nothing like the previous pack. And, I would offer Gregory packs don't make anything like they did then. Lighter, maybe, but not as tough. Full review

JanSport WatchTower

rated 3 of 5 stars It's a nice looking bag that falls short in its design. By adding too many compartments, they've lost valuable space. I liked the construction, but not the layout. Full review

Kelty Trekker 4300

rated 5 of 5 stars I got my first Kelty in 1968, and still use it for day hikes. In addition to the 'orginal' Kelty, I have the Trekker 4300 and the Tioga 5500.  Use depending on the length of the hike. Love all three.  Most of my hiking is in the desert SW and Grand Canyon. The externals allow greater airflow. Load is balanced over the hips—the long hike up from the bottom of Grand Canyon goes much easier with the 'over-the-hips' weight distribution. I still do an annual Rim-2-Rim at the Canyon—and of course… Full review

Osprey Farpoint 40

rated 5 of 5 stars Capacious enough for the essentials and even a few luxuries for extended travel, so long as one is willing to wash clothes every few days, and bring along only what is necessary. It is sturdily constructed, opens all the way for easy packing and finding things, and with Osprey's famous warranty, I have no worries about it lasting into the future. Only complaint...the outside water bottle pockets are under the lower compression strap, making it difficult to use them for their intended purpose. On… Full review

Kelty Mijo

rated 3 of 5 stars Good for short distance hikes. Seems a little rickety for lack of a better word. When on long hikes becomes very uncomfortable. I don't know, maybe it's because I'm such a large person (6'2" 280 lbs) but this thing is rough on a back. When we hike I normally carry a fairly heavy pack, so I know it's not the forty pounds my son weighs. If only hiking a few miles it's great. I certainly wouldn't go more than that. Absolutely couldn't beat the price as it was a baby shower gift. Full review

REI Crestrail 70

rated 4 of 5 stars Very nice pack for the price, good adjustment on the internal frame. This a very nice pack. It has logged some miles. I like the adjustments the pack has and ability to enter the pack on either side without having to pull all top loaded items. Has a nice cool fit on the back. Full review

Top-Rated Backpacks

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

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
$150
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
Osprey Talon 44
user rating: 4 of 5 (11)
Osprey
Talon 44
reviewed Jul 2, 2014
$149 - $150
Gregory Contour 60 Pack
user rating: 4 of 5 (2)
Gregory
Contour 60 Pack
reviewed Jul 2, 2014
$237 - $279
Kelty Redwing 50
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
Kelty
Redwing 50
reviewed Jun 29, 2014
$125
Bergans Glittertind 55
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Bergans
Glittertind 55
reviewed Jun 27, 2014
$239
Black Diamond Innova 50
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Black Diamond
Innova 50
reviewed Jun 26, 2014
$157
Granite Gear Vapor Day
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Granite Gear
Vapor Day
reviewed Jun 26, 2014
$147 MSRP
Teton Sports Oasis 1100
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Teton Sports
Oasis 1100
reviewed Jun 25, 2014
$70 MSRP
Teton Sports Outfitter 4600
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (1)
Teton Sports
Outfitter 4600
reviewed Jun 25, 2014
$180 MSRP
Gregory Savant 48 Pack
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Gregory
Savant 48 Pack
reviewed Jun 25, 2014
$132 - $189
Osprey Volt 60
user rating: 4 of 5 (6)
Osprey
Volt 60
reviewed Jun 24, 2014
$180
Granite Gear Blaze AC 60
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Granite Gear
Blaze AC 60
reviewed Jun 24, 2014
$192 - $239
REI Flash 62 Pack
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (5)
REI
Flash 62 Pack
reviewed Jun 24, 2014
$189
The North Face Base Camp Duffel
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (3)
The North Face
Base Camp Duffel
reviewed Jun 23, 2014
$84 - $200
 
user rating: 3 of 5 (2)
Magellan (Academy Sports)
50L Backpack
reviewed Jun 23, 2014
Klymit Motion 35
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Klymit
Motion 35
reviewed Jun 22, 2014
$112
Dana Design Far Flung
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Dana Design
Far Flung
reviewed Jun 21, 2014
discontinued
 
user rating: 4 of 5 (5)
REI
Trekker Wonderland
reviewed Jun 20, 2014
discontinued
Nite Ize S-Biner
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (3)
Nite Ize
S-Biner
reviewed Jun 19, 2014
$1 - $7
Kavu Rope Bag
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Kavu
Rope Bag
reviewed Jun 19, 2014
GoLite Jam 35L
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
GoLite
Jam 35L
reviewed Jun 19, 2014
$100
Osprey Raptor 10
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Osprey
Raptor 10
reviewed Jun 15, 2014
$120
Osprey Talon 22
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (9)
Osprey
Talon 22
reviewed Jun 14, 2014
$99 - $100
Osprey Kestrel 48
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (11)
Osprey
Kestrel 48
reviewed Jun 10, 2014
$169 - $180
Teton Sports Scout 3400
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Teton Sports
Scout 3400
reviewed Jun 10, 2014
REI Mars 80
user rating: 4 of 5 (6)
REI
Mars 80
reviewed Jun 9, 2014
$199 MSRP
Gregory Whitney 95
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (17)
Gregory
Whitney 95
reviewed Jun 6, 2014
$439
Kelty Lakota 60
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Kelty
Lakota 60
reviewed Jun 5, 2014
$180
Duluth Rutstrum Gear Cruiser Pack
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Duluth
Rutstrum Gear Cruiser Pack
reviewed Jun 5, 2014
$385 MSRP
Mountainsmith Haze 50
user rating: 4 of 5 (4)
Mountainsmith
Haze 50
reviewed Jun 5, 2014
$90 - $103
 
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (5)
Gregory
UM21 Backpack
reviewed Jun 4, 2014
discontinued
Kelty Coyote 80
user rating: 4 of 5 (9)
Kelty
Coyote 80
reviewed Jun 3, 2014
$210
RIBZ Front Pack
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (3)
RIBZ
Front Pack
reviewed Jun 3, 2014
$60
Mountainsmith Circuit 3.0
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (9)
Mountainsmith
Circuit 3.0
reviewed Jun 3, 2014
discontinued
 
user rating: 4 of 5 (38)
U.S. Armed Forces
ALICE Pack
reviewed Jun 3, 2014
Gregory Z35
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (6)
Gregory
Z35
reviewed Jun 1, 2014
$119 - $159
Arc'teryx Fly 13
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Arc'teryx
Fly 13
reviewed Jun 1, 2014
$79 MSRP
Jandd Goliath Expedition Pack
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Jandd
Goliath Expedition Pack
reviewed May 30, 2014
Outdoor Products Mist
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Outdoor Products
Mist
reviewed May 30, 2014
Deuter Futura 30 SL
user rating: 4 of 5 (2)
Deuter
Futura 30 SL
reviewed May 29, 2014
$104 - $145
Osprey Stratos 24
user rating: 4 of 5 (14)
Osprey
Stratos 24
reviewed May 29, 2014
$98 - $120
Granite Gear Crown V.C. 60 Ki
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Granite Gear
Crown V.C. 60 Ki
reviewed May 29, 2014
$200
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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.