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

Deuter
Jack Wolfskin
ALPS Mountaineering
ZPacks
Kelty
Osprey
Mountainsmith
CamelBak
Sea to Summit
Aarn

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

Deuter Futura Pro 40 SL

rated 5 of 5 stars This is great backpack for overnight, but I also use it for day hiking too. It carries your gear comfortably and has lots of pockets and a rain cover. I would highly recommend this for anyone looking to invest in a hard wearing, great all-around backpack. I'm a 5'5" and 120 pounds woman and it fit like a glove. I started my Camino de Santiago with another backpack that was just awful. I replaced it early on in my two-month 575 mile hike across Spain with the Deuter Futura Pro 40. Wow, it was an… Full review

Jack Wolfskin Trail Head II

rated 4 of 5 stars Love the pack. A friend found it for me and I've been using it every day for many months. The two top zippers finally broke, but the rest is in top shape. I've been homeless for 2 years and this is the best pack yet. It is very comfortable, even when I have over 50 lbs. in it, which is quite often. Full review

ALPS Mountaineering Zion Pack

rated 3 of 5 stars This is a good first pack for a beginner. It is easy to adjust and holds plenty of gear for a week on the trail. I bought the ALPS Zion pack in 2015. I used it on a one-week trek of about 30 miles in 2016 and plan to use it on a two-week trek of over 50 miles in 2017, plus shorter work up treks. Since I bought it on sale for under $100 I consider it a good pack for the money. It holds plenty of gear and I like strapping my tent on top and my sleeping bag to the bottom. The external pouches work… Full review

ZPacks Zero

rated 4 of 5 stars The Zpacks Zero is a frameless, ultralight, customizable pack made of Cuben Fiber. Consisting of only a pack body and shoulder straps, to begin with, Zpacks allows you to add features, that you deem necessary, to make the pack as full featured (or minimalist) as you’d like. My favourite options available are the back pocket, the sleeping pad straps, and the key pocket. If I were looking to omit some features I would leave off the webbing belt and not have the seams taped. I’ve made a video to… Full review

Kelty Redwing 50 Reserve

rated 4 of 5 stars Kelty’s upscale Redwing 50 Reserve backpack has enough class for city travel and enough toughness to tackle the trail. From its large U-shaped zippered opening to its tough, but posh looking fabric, the Redwing 50 backpack blurs the lines between travel bag and wilderness backpack. Fitting a backpack is key for comfort. Kelty uses their Perfect Fit system on the Redwing 50 Reserve. This system allows the pack to be adjusted to a wide range of torso lengths. A sheet of high-density polyethylene… Full review

Osprey Finesse Pro

rated 5 of 5 stars Lightweight for its capacity. Very tough construction. Easy to adjust to a stocky frame on a short guy. Taken it hiking. mountaineering, and day hiking where I had to haul in lots of stuff for back country picnics. Very good for winter use with all the attachment points, side ski holders etc. Flexible. Easy to adjust. Fits well, comfortable, good built-in volume management. Easy to adjust on the go. Full review

Osprey Atmos AG 65

rated 2 of 5 stars Two packs, two failures of the Velcro on the waistband. I received a replacement pack after the velcro "on the fly" adjuster failed and was slipping, meaning I couldn't tighten the waistband. It happened on day 1 of a 14-day trek and the pack was brand new. I had the weight of the pack on my shoulders for the remainder of the walk killing my back. On returning home I was provided a second pack and another failure of the Velcro hip belt occurred after around 7 days use and only 6kg in the pack. Full review

Mountainsmith Strapettes

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Important stability for lumbar packs, especially the TLS Day. I've been using the TLS Day and Tour for 5 years or so for lightweight hiking and biking plus my daily commute to work. At 5 feet 10 I found the straps a good length. In practice I've removed the buckles and attached the straps using the sliders. This provided a more stable and less twisty saggy over strappy system where the plastic Y divider, sits. I started using the whole system as an alternative to a pack. Lumbar disc problems dictated… Full review

Deuter Aircontact 75+10

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Great expedition backpack. Works exceptionally well under heavy weight for long distances. Pack is very adjustable, giving me the confidence to carry a heavy load and navigate over tricky mountain terrain. Very good construction and materials, creating a durable and strong pack. Looks good. After research on the Deuter Aircontact 75+10 and discussion with others on the mountains. I made the purchase last fall and have come to love this backpack and give it monumental trust. I noticed a prevailing… Full review

Top-Rated Backpacks

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

user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Deuter Futura Pro 40 SL reviewed Jul 28, 2016
$169
 
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (3)
Jack Wolfskin Trail Head II reviewed Jul 26, 2016
user rating: 2.5 of 5 (2)
ALPS Mountaineering Zion Pack reviewed Jul 26, 2016
$117
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
ZPacks Zero reviewed Jul 25, 2016
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Kelty Redwing 50 Reserve reviewed Jul 25, 2016
$160
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (7)
Osprey Finesse Pro reviewed Jul 18, 2016
discontinued
user rating: 4 of 5 (9)
Osprey Atmos AG 65 reviewed Jul 17, 2016
$260
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (3)
Mountainsmith Strapettes reviewed Jul 16, 2016
$22 - $27
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (15)
Deuter Aircontact 75+10 reviewed Jul 16, 2016
$231 - $299
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
CamelBak Arete 18 reviewed Jul 15, 2016
$45 - $65
user rating: 4 of 5 (2)
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Compression Sack reviewed Jul 14, 2016
$6 - $39
user rating: 4 of 5 (2)
Aarn Sport Balance Pockets reviewed Jul 14, 2016
$60 MSRP
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Cerro Torre Kodiak reviewed Jul 11, 2016
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Tamrac Corona 14 reviewed Jul 10, 2016
$162 MSRP
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Granite Gear Rongbuk 28 reviewed Jul 9, 2016
$90 - $134
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Osprey Ultralight Dry Sack reviewed Jul 7, 2016
$13
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Gregory Baltoro 85 reviewed Jul 6, 2016
$349
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (2)
ALPS Mountaineering Red Tail 4900 reviewed Jul 6, 2016
$123 - $125
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (2)
Granite Gear eVent Sil Compression DrySack reviewed Jul 5, 2016
$31 - $32
user rating: 4 of 5 (6)
Osprey Talon 33 reviewed Jul 2, 2016
$130
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Deuter Pace 36 reviewed Jun 30, 2016
$129
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Osprey Aura AG 65 reviewed Jun 30, 2016
$260
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Osprey Aura AG 50 reviewed Jun 29, 2016
$172 - $230
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (44)
Osprey Aether 70 reviewed Jun 29, 2016
$290
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Southwest reviewed Jun 25, 2016
$320
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Gregory Amber 44 reviewed Jun 23, 2016
$120 - $169
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (21)
Osprey Aether 60 reviewed Jun 23, 2016
$260
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Deuter Guide Tour 35+ SL reviewed Jun 17, 2016
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Six Moon Designs Fusion 50 reviewed Jun 17, 2016
 
user rating: 4 of 5 (3)
The North Face Snow Leopard Pack reviewed Jun 16, 2016
discontinued
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
ALPS Mountaineering Quadrant 4900 reviewed Jun 15, 2016
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (1)
Granite Gear Ancho 18 reviewed Jun 13, 2016
$63 MSRP
user rating: 2.5 of 5 (1)
ALPS Mountaineering Sector 4200 reviewed Jun 12, 2016
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Deuter ACT Lite 45+10 SL reviewed Jun 12, 2016
$189
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Kelty Redcloud 110 reviewed Jun 11, 2016
$240
user rating: 1 of 5 (1)
ZPacks Arc Haul reviewed Jun 11, 2016
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (15)
Deuter ACT Lite 65+10 reviewed Jun 10, 2016
$167 - $209
user rating: 4 of 5 (2)
Teton Sports Mountain Adventurer 4000 reviewed Jun 9, 2016
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (18)
Osprey Talon 44 reviewed Jun 8, 2016
$150
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (20)
Osprey Exos 58 reviewed Jun 8, 2016
$165 - $219
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (4)
High Sierra Titan 65 reviewed Jun 7, 2016
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Kelty Redwing 32 reviewed Jun 7, 2016
$100
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Osprey Xena 85 reviewed Jun 3, 2016
$360
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Dyneema Summit Pack reviewed Jun 3, 2016
$300
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Deuter ACT Trail PRO 38 SL reviewed Jun 2, 2016
$135 - $169
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
5.11 Tactical All Hazards Prime reviewed Jun 2, 2016
$200 MSRP
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (7)
Osprey Ariel 65 reviewed Jun 1, 2016
$49 - $290
user rating: 4 of 5 (2)
Osprey Atmos AG 50 reviewed Jun 1, 2016
$172 - $229
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
MindShift UltraLight Dual 36L reviewed May 31, 2016
$200 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
The North Face Patrol 45 Duo reviewed May 25, 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.