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

Osprey
Gregory
Outgear
Inov-8
Mountainsmith
The North Face
Lowe Alpine
Luke's Ultralite
Kelty
Nathan

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

Osprey Crescent 85

rated 5 of 5 stars Great pack for extended trips. Places majority of weight on the hips. Very comfortable and very durable. It is my current go to pack. Fit: Form fitted foam for the hips. Shoulder straps are very comfortable. I bought the pack used and did not get it re-fitted but the pack is still fantastic. I think the pack distributes a bit too much to the hips and my hips were sore for the first 2 days of a week long trip. If I get the hips re-molded, I think it will solve the problem.  Comfort: Minus the hip… Full review

Gregory Stout 35

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Great hiking, climbing, overnight or travel pack. Beautiful design and color scheme. Nice fit and larger than expected. This is for the large size.  First, the pack is larger that I expected, and probably holds more than the stated 35L.  Not a bad thing, but remember this is the smallest in the line-up.  Second, the color of the bag blew me away - such a nice design...the orange is a little darker, more of a rusty orange, with beautiful blue-green trim including under the lid and the rain cover. … Full review

Outgear rucksack

rated 4.5 of 5 stars I have had my rucksack for nearly 18 years. It still looks new! It has outlasted many others on the market which friends have purchased and is still going strong. Zip quality is exceptional. Purchased this rucksack and shell case 18 years ago — have travelled extensively since. Straps and locks still functioning as new. Zips working perfectly with the lager tags on end much easier to open and close in all weather conditions. Tough canvas cover worn extremely well; tolerates water/snow/heat without… Full review

Inov-8 Race Pro 4

rated 5 of 5 stars My go-to short distance, sub 2 hour, trail runner pack. This has been a great purchase. I have a variety of running packs I use dependent on where and how long I intend to run. This pack is great for sub 2 hour runs.  The fit is superb. It cinches tight and does not jiggle nor loosen during my runs. It is very comfortable to wear. The capacity is as advertised. Internally the bag fits my first aid kit, spare socks, tissues, and waterproof jacket.  The external bungee straps I put my ultralight… Full review

Osprey Aether 70

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Comfortable, rugged, reliable brand. This pack has fit like a glove since day one. I'm a big fella and able to carry some big loads. This pack ensures the weight is firmly driven into the hips and not carried on the shoulders. The hip belt is the strength of this pack. It is nicely padded and carries the load perfectly. I do long tramps for tens of kilometres a day and this bag makes that all the more doable. This is all the more so given the type of county The organisation of the pack is also great. Full review

Mountainsmith Kinetic II

rated 4.5 of 5 stars My go-to hip pack. Napolean Dynamite would be proud. For bumming around outside of town, I love this pack. Big enough to hold snacks, camera, and drinks. It's comfortable, easy to work with and holds up. Overall it's great. Fit: Snug and ergonomic Comfort: Padded, good Capacity: Just enough for what you need for a day Organization and accessibility: I wish the drink pockets were just a tad deeper so it could hold store bought water bottles a bit more secure. If I transfer my drinks into the classic… Full review

The North Face Terra 60

rated 1 of 5 stars I guess I am just and old school type. This pack does not transfer weight to hips. I will be using it for a luggage bag and will go back to my old Jansport external. Full review

Gregory Palisade 80

rated 4 of 5 stars Finally used this for something beyond car camping. Went on a 4-day backpacking trip with son and a few others from his Boy Scout Troop. Pack was comfortable and a bottomless pit. Four-day backpacking trip with son's Boy Scout Troop and the Gregory Palisade 80 took everything I had ... even when I fell on it. It carried my gear and a good bit of the Troop gear with room to spare. The articulating hip belt made the pack feel like it wasn't even there at times even though it weighed in well over 45… Full review

The North Face Renegade

rated 5 of 5 stars I really really love this pack!!! Bought it in the mid '90s and I still have it and use it.  Has traveled with me through Europe, Middle East, and exploring the Annapurna Range in Nepal's Himalayas — has never let me down yet.  Now using it hiking, camping, backpacking with my sons and with their scout troop. It outperforms many of the new packs being used.  Have looked at other packs but none match up to this one. Its like your first love or car, you love them forever!!! Full review

Top-Rated Backpacks

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

user rating: 5 of 5 (6)
Osprey Crescent 85 reviewed Apr 17, 2015
discontinued
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Gregory Stout 35 reviewed Apr 16, 2015
$149
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Outgear rucksack reviewed Apr 12, 2015
discontinued
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Inov-8 Race Pro 4 reviewed Apr 11, 2015
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (37)
Osprey Aether 70 reviewed Apr 11, 2015
$279 - $290
user rating: 4 of 5 (2)
Mountainsmith Kinetic II reviewed Apr 10, 2015
$40 MSRP
user rating: 4 of 5 (8)
The North Face Terra 60 reviewed Apr 7, 2015
discontinued
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (31)
Gregory Palisade 80 reviewed Apr 2, 2015
$279 - $399
 
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (17)
The North Face Renegade reviewed Mar 29, 2015
discontinued
user rating: 4 of 5 (11)
Lowe Alpine Netherworld 90 reviewed Mar 28, 2015
discontinued
user rating: 4 of 5 (2)
Osprey Atmos 65 AG reviewed Mar 26, 2015
$260
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Luke's Ultralite Accessory Pouch #2 reviewed Mar 26, 2015
$25 MSRP
user rating: 4 of 5 (9)
Kelty Trekker 3950 reviewed Mar 25, 2015
discontinued
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Nathan Mirage Pak reviewed Mar 25, 2015
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Kelty Flyway 43 reviewed Mar 10, 2015
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Patagonia Black Hole Pack 25 reviewed Mar 5, 2015
$107 - $129
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (2)
Osprey Porter 46 reviewed Mar 5, 2015
$130
user rating: 4 of 5 (15)
Osprey Exos 58 reviewed Mar 5, 2015
$220
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Mile High Mountaineering Salute 34 reviewed Mar 1, 2015
$229
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Nite Ize S-Biner MicroLock reviewed Feb 22, 2015
$4
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
ULA Equipment Ohm 2.0 reviewed Feb 20, 2015
$200
user rating: 4 of 5 (13)
REI New Star reviewed Feb 17, 2015
discontinued
user rating: 4 of 5 (11)
REI Great Star reviewed Feb 17, 2015
discontinued
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (6)
CamelBak Alpine Explorer reviewed Feb 10, 2015
$99 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
ZPacks Arc Blast reviewed Feb 9, 2015
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (7)
Gregory Triconi 60 reviewed Feb 9, 2015
$195 - $224
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (5)
Kelty Trekker 65 reviewed Feb 7, 2015
$160 - $179
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (7)
Osprey Volt 60 reviewed Feb 6, 2015
$180
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Goruck GR1 reviewed Feb 4, 2015
$295 MSRP
user rating: 4 of 5 (2)
OtterBox 1000 reviewed Feb 1, 2015
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (5)
CamelBak Fourteener reviewed Jan 30, 2015
$90 - $145
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (11)
REI Flash 18 Pack reviewed Jan 27, 2015
$35
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Millet Radikal 32 reviewed Jan 23, 2015
discontinued
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Sea to Summit Big River Dry Sack reviewed Jan 19, 2015
$20 - $56
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (12)
Lowe Alpine Contour IV reviewed Jan 15, 2015
discontinued
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Osprey Poco reviewed Jan 15, 2015
$200 - $299
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (2)
Deuter Futura 24 SL reviewed Jan 14, 2015
$129 MSRP
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (4)
REI Morning Star 75 reviewed Jan 13, 2015
discontinued
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Swaygo Push Pack reviewed Jan 11, 2015
$109 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Mystery Ranch Terraplane Pack reviewed Jan 8, 2015
$485 MSRP
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (2)
Osprey Xenith 75 reviewed Jan 7, 2015
$330
user rating: 4 of 5 (2)
Mystery Ranch 12-Bar reviewed Jan 5, 2015
discontinued
user rating: 4 of 5 (2)
Kelty Red Cloud 90 reviewed Jan 3, 2015
$200 - $224
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (7)
Dana Design Astralplane Overkill reviewed Feb 16, 2015
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Gregory Denali 100 reviewed Dec 29, 2014
$399
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Gregory Alpinisto 35 reviewed Dec 28, 2014
$129 - $199
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Mountainsmith Tour TLS reviewed Dec 23, 2014
$60 - $74
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (2)
Cold Cold World Chernobyl reviewed Dec 22, 2014
$175 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
Kelty Continental Divide 5300 (External) reviewed Dec 22, 2014
discontinued
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Porter reviewed Dec 10, 2014
$275 MSRP
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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.