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
Ozark Trail
Gossamer Gear
Outdoor Products
GoLite
The North Face
Arc'teryx
ZPacks
Granite Gear
High Sierra

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 Atmos 65 AG

rated 2.5 of 5 stars Overall, the pack is very comfortable, however, I am not sure the designers ever thought about anyone carrying more than 30 lbs in it or they would have NEVER made the hip belt pads lock in place with sub-standard hook-and-loop closure system. This failaed on my 5 day wearing the pack, with only 40 lbs loaded in the pack. I had to shoulder 90% of the weight of my pack for a week after this, ruining my trip. I purchased this pack new and took it on a quick weekend trip with about 32 lbs in it, and… Full review

Ozark Trail 28L Atka Daypack

rated 3 of 5 stars Handy in town on trails and for short hikes away from basecamp. It is ultra light weight daypack made from durable nylon fabric. Hydration-compatible, it is versatile and rugged. This backpack is ready for your next outdoor adventure. I bought this pack recently on a whim while shopping Walmart. I needed a day pack and didn't really have lots of time to search at REI for the various styles provided having to only gone to one store. This daypack ended up being the cheapest after a quick perusal. Full review

Gossamer Gear Mariposa Ultralight

rated 5 of 5 stars Semi-ultralight pack with lots of pockets. First, I'm not going to give you the specs. If you're interested in the pack you probably know all that. Thus my story. Long long ago in a far off national park I had my ass leveled backpacking. I had been packing with some guys on our level southern trails and was carrying over 50 lbs for a weekend, not a problem. You ask why the weight? 8 lb packs, 8 lb tents, propane stoves, you get the picture. Then we hit the mountains, what hell it was. I'm sure some… Full review

Outdoor Products Vortex 8.0

rated 2 of 5 stars Not for long term use. My husband uses this for taking his lunch and a few other things into the plant he works in. Before it was in use for a year, the middle zipper is broken and even after leaving voice messages and emails with the company, I have gotten no response to a warranty repair. The company has a lifetime warranty and does not seem to want to honor it. By the way, the middle zipper is the one he uses least. Full review

GoLite Peak Pack

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Buy one (if you can). I got it used for $30. This is the pack I take with me on short hikes. It is easy to convert so I mostly use this as a daypack, would not work for longer trips but works for an overnight camping. No problem on fishing trips with the family, takes all the gear without a problem. I got it used so I have no idea how much it had been used before I got it. I only had it for a few months but I hike quite a bit so it has seen some use. It seems durable. Backing a frameless pack… Full review

The North Face Terra 65

rated 4 of 5 stars Just a great back. It is a simple and comfortable. Just the perfect size for a week or two of the trail. I got it as a reserve pack, but I ended up using it more that my main pack. Well organized  Simple "not a lot of stuff that can go wrong" Easy to adjust  Comfortable. I had issues with shoulder straps but after a little getting used to and modification it works great.  It is a cheap pack that might surprise you. Full review

Arc'teryx Bora 95

rated 5 of 5 stars A tough, durable backpack designed to last forever! You can fit a vast volume of things in this backpack, so it's perfect for longer trips, i.e. not for ultralight backpacking. Conditions: I'm living in Ecuador, and have been working a couple of years in the jungle, making maps. The humidity is constantly high and the vegetation is pretty much always wet, there are thorns and sharp rocks everywhere, and the elevations differences lead to quite high falls. I routinely fall into mud and every now… Full review

Osprey Atmos 65 AG

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Combined with Osprey’s modern features like the removable lid, the “Stow-On-The-Go” trekking pole system, and the “Fit-On-The-Fly” hip belt, this pack can satisfy both the seasoned veteran and the beginning backpacker! Ridge-runners, weekend hikers, and lightweight thru-hikers can all make the most of the versatile Atmos 65 AG backpack. With a truly revolutionary “anti-gravity” (hence the “AG”) design, this ventilated backpack conforms to the wearer’s back, successfully transferring… Full review

ZPacks Arc Zip 54L

rated 4.5 of 5 stars On your way to being an ultralight hiker? Try the ZPacks Arc Zip Ultralight Backpack. A versatile and tough ultralight backpack that weighs only 20 ounces! About Me I have been on a mission to lighten the overall load of my gear. Figured the best place for me to start was with my pack. Before trying to shave weight I used an Osprey Atmos 50. I liked having all of the different places to store gear, the hip belt pockets, and most of all the fit was great! There were several other things that I really… Full review

Top-Rated Backpacks

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

user rating: 4 of 5 (4)
Osprey Atmos 65 AG reviewed Jul 28, 2015
$260
 
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Ozark Trail 28L Atka Daypack reviewed Jul 27, 2015
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Gossamer Gear Mariposa Ultralight reviewed Jul 27, 2015
$200
user rating: 3 of 5 (2)
Outdoor Products Vortex 8.0 reviewed Jul 27, 2015
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
GoLite Peak Pack reviewed Jul 24, 2015
$125 MSRP
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (5)
The North Face Terra 65 reviewed Jul 24, 2015
$143 - $179
user rating: 5 of 5 (12)
Arc'teryx Bora 95 reviewed Jul 23, 2015
$435 MSRP
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
ZPacks Arc Zip 54L reviewed Jul 19, 2015
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Granite Gear Virga 2 reviewed Jul 19, 2015
$140
user rating: 4 of 5 (7)
High Sierra Appalachian 75 reviewed Jul 18, 2015
$130
user rating: 2.5 of 5 (3)
Travelon Clear View Waterproof Pouch reviewed Jul 16, 2015
$13 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (12)
Osprey Kestrel 48 reviewed Jul 15, 2015
$169 - $179
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
REI Trail 30 Pack reviewed Jul 14, 2015
$100
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Mile High Mountaineering Flatiron 42 reviewed Jul 12, 2015
$249 MSRP
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (1)
Kelty Capture 25 reviewed Jul 12, 2015
$80
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (3)
REI Flash 22 Pack reviewed Jul 9, 2015
$50
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
SealLine Baja Dry Bag reviewed Jul 8, 2015
$20 - $39
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (6)
CamelBak Fourteener reviewed Jul 8, 2015
$124 - $145
user rating: 5 of 5 (12)
CamelBak Rim Runner reviewed Jul 8, 2015
$27 - $100
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Salomon Park Hydro Handset reviewed Jul 8, 2015
$36 - $42
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Mountainsmith Lariat 65 reviewed Jul 7, 2015
$169 - $199
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (10)
Mountainsmith Circuit 3.0 reviewed Jul 6, 2015
discontinued
user rating: 4 of 5 (2)
High Sierra Tangent 45 reviewed Jul 4, 2015
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
JanSport Katahdin 70L reviewed Jul 2, 2015
$130
OneCoolBackpack EcoPack-1 reviewed Jun 23, 2015
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (39)
Osprey Aether 70 reviewed Jun 21, 2015
$232 - $289
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
Lowe Alpine Vision 40 reviewed Jun 18, 2015
discontinued
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Gregory Deva 85 reviewed Jun 13, 2015
$255 - $321
 
user rating: 4 of 5 (4)
Lowe Alpine Ophir reviewed Jun 11, 2015
discontinued
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Pacific Outdoor Equipment Gobi 60 reviewed Jun 7, 2015
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus FS reviewed Jun 4, 2015
$269 MSRP
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (6)
Osprey Finesse Pro reviewed May 29, 2015
discontinued
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
MindShift Rotation180° Professional 38L reviewed May 28, 2015
$390 MSRP
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (22)
Gregory Z55 reviewed May 23, 2015
$199
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Gossamer Gear G4 reviewed May 21, 2015
$120
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Arc'teryx Axios 50 reviewed May 8, 2015
$199 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (39)
Arc'teryx Bora 80 reviewed Apr 24, 2015
$399 MSRP
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Mammut Lithium Z 8 Pack reviewed Apr 19, 2015
$47 - $55
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Lowe Alpine Morning Star 75L+ reviewed Apr 19, 2015
discontinued
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 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
$238 - $318
 
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: 4.5 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
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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.