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

RailRiders
Lowe Alpine
Osprey
other
Arc'teryx
Mountain Hardwear
Deuter
REI
Columbia
Salomon

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

RailRiders Journey

rated 5 of 5 stars I am a member of Team RailRiders. I recently put into use the RailRiders Journey overnight pack. Now upfront I have access to lots and lots of packs that I have gathered over my twenty plus years of exploration. I was also quite skeptical as to whether or not the RailRiders brand who are most noted for being "the toughest clothes on the planet" could deliver an overnight pack. I am happy to report that the pack far exceeded my expectations. I do lots of overnight trips for speaking engagements that… Full review

Lowe Alpine Netherworld 90

rated 3.5 of 5 stars I've had this pack since the early '90s and it has served me well. I ended up getting Deuter's Act Lite 65+10 and shaved off about 3 pounds but that pack is already worn through in a few places. I have used the Lowe in the Sierras with 45-50 pounds and in the snow with snow shoes and it seems indestructible. The fit was adjustable with the help of the store personnel. The volume was wonderful. The separate compartment on the bottom served as another storage area without having to go into the main… Full review

Osprey Tempest 30

rated 5 of 5 stars Comfy, light day pack with all the features I could want. I just got this day pack after owning the Osprey Ariel 55 for ten years and loving it. I wanted a smaller day pack with the same wonderful women's shoulder harness. This little pack does not disappoint. It is just as comfortable and adjustable as the larger pack and carries more than you would think. Fit: Fits great. Designed for women's shoulders. I have a long torso and I like that the length can be adjusted easily with the Velcro inside… Full review

Osprey Ariel 55

rated 5 of 5 stars Great pack, super comfortable, rugged. I have used this pack since 2003 on the Long Trail for overnight hikes of 2-4 days, carrying 25-32 lbs. It will carry more but I try to limit the weight. Fit: This pack fits great. It is adjustable so many ways that despite layering on and off as I go. I can still feel comfortable with a pull or release on various straps. The women's shoulder harness is very well padded, but not bulky. Very comfortable, great range of motion for my arms with the pack on. Comfort:… Full review

Eberlestock FAC Track

rated 5 of 5 stars One of my favorite backpacks. Check out the review on Youtube. Nice for outdoor and military. Have fun. Here you can watch the review. Have fun. Full review

Arc'teryx LEAF Khard 45

rated 4.5 of 5 stars One of my favorite backpacks. Check out the review on Youtube. Have fun. Here you can watch the review. Have fun. Full review

Mountain Hardwear Scrambler 30 OutDry

rated 3 of 5 stars This backpack wasn't bad. It wasn't my favourite, but I also didn't hate it either. Great pack for wet hiking conditions, a winter snowshoe hike, or an all weather commuter. As I mentioned in the summary, I don't dislike this pack. But I was also happy to return to use my old faithful. Though the waterproofing is great, and I wish my other pack was waterproof. I took this bag on two solid day hikes of waterfalling and a canoe trip and one thing is for sure — the main compartment is definitely… Full review

Deuter Futura 32

rated 5 of 5 stars Great pack! Very comfortable and functional. My back stayed pretty dry, despite some warm conditions on long day hikes in the Grand Canyon, recently. Purchased this pack recently to use on some long day hikes, with a few overnighters on occasion. I just came back from a week of camping at the Grand Canyon, with some long day hikes taken every day. Each day I packed a full hydration bladder, a liter of Gatorade, snacks, first aid kit, and a light jacket. Everything fit perfectly, though when the… Full review

Mountain Hardwear Snowtastic 28 Backpack

rated 3 of 5 stars The Mountain Hardwear Snowtastic 28 pack is a good idea that just wasn't executed very well. Some of the flaws can be fixed with very little time and money, others leave me scratching my head and asking "why did they choose to do it that way?" As far as carrying capacity, I'd say it's great for day trips, but accessing your stuff isn't the easiest. I bought the MH Snowtastic 28 because I want to get a little more adventurous in my snowshoeing this year, and my Camelbak pack doesn't hold much more… Full review

Top-Rated Backpacks

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

RailRiders Journey
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
RailRiders Journey reviewed Nov 11, 2014
$75
Lowe Alpine Netherworld 90
user rating: 4 of 5 (10)
Lowe Alpine Netherworld 90 reviewed Oct 29, 2014
discontinued
Osprey Tempest 30
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Osprey Tempest 30 reviewed Oct 28, 2014
$97 - $130
Osprey Ariel 55
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Osprey Ariel 55 reviewed Oct 28, 2014
$139 - $259
Eberlestock FAC Track
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Eberlestock FAC Track reviewed Oct 22, 2014
Arc'teryx LEAF Khard 45
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Arc'teryx LEAF Khard 45 reviewed Oct 22, 2014
Mountain Hardwear Scrambler 30 OutDry
NEW!
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Mountain Hardwear Scrambler 30 OutDry reviewed Oct 21, 2014
$130
available Spring 2015
Deuter Futura 32
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
Deuter Futura 32 reviewed Oct 21, 2014
$104 - $145
Mountain Hardwear Snowtastic 28 Backpack
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Mountain Hardwear Snowtastic 28 Backpack reviewed Oct 19, 2014
$96 - $120
Deuter Aircontact 75+10
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (13)
Deuter Aircontact 75+10 reviewed Oct 19, 2014
$231 - $289
REI Flash 45 Pack
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
REI Flash 45 Pack reviewed Oct 17, 2014
$129
Columbia Vixen 22L
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Columbia Vixen 22L reviewed Oct 16, 2014
$83
Salomon Trail 20
user rating: 2 of 5 (1)
Salomon Trail 20 reviewed Oct 16, 2014
$60 - $99
Nathan Intensity
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Nathan Intensity reviewed Oct 15, 2014
$75 - $100
GoLite Jam 50L
user rating: 4 of 5 (7)
GoLite Jam 50L reviewed Oct 13, 2014
$110 MSRP
The North Face Base Camp Duffel
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (4)
The North Face Base Camp Duffel reviewed Oct 12, 2014
$100 - $200
Lowe Alpine Appalachian 60+15
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Lowe Alpine Appalachian 60+15 reviewed Oct 10, 2014
discontinued
Mystery Ranch Sweetpea
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Mystery Ranch Sweetpea reviewed Oct 9, 2014
Gregory Makalu Pro 70
user rating: 4 of 5 (8)
Gregory Makalu Pro 70 reviewed Oct 9, 2014
Gregory Border 35 L Pack
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Gregory Border 35 L Pack reviewed Oct 8, 2014
$179
Montane Dragon 20
user rating: 4 of 5 (3)
Montane Dragon 20 reviewed Oct 8, 2014
$123
Gregory Jade 70
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Gregory Jade 70 reviewed Oct 7, 2014
$126 - $194
Hanchor PIPE-T1
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Hanchor PIPE-T1 reviewed Oct 6, 2014
CamelBak Day Star
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (4)
CamelBak Day Star reviewed Oct 3, 2014
$60 - $80
Osprey Atmos 65
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (28)
Osprey Atmos 65 reviewed Oct 2, 2014
$174 - $255
Gregory Baltoro 65
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (9)
Gregory Baltoro 65 reviewed Oct 2, 2014
$247 - $329
Deuter Futura 30 SL
user rating: 4 of 5 (3)
Deuter Futura 30 SL reviewed Sep 30, 2014
$116 - $145
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
L.L.Bean Duffle Bag reviewed Sep 29, 2014
Osprey Quantum
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Osprey Quantum reviewed Sep 29, 2014
$99
Ultimate Direction PB Adventure Vest
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Ultimate Direction PB Adventure Vest reviewed Sep 29, 2014
$111 - $159
Gregory Z30
user rating: 4 of 5 (5)
Gregory Z30 reviewed Sep 27, 2014
$82 - $139
Sierra Designs Jubilee 50
user rating: 1.5 of 5 (1)
Sierra Designs Jubilee 50 reviewed Sep 26, 2014
$200 MSRP
Marmot Long Hauler
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Marmot Long Hauler reviewed Sep 26, 2014
$65 - $148
Deuter ACT Lite 50+10
user rating: 4 of 5 (6)
Deuter ACT Lite 50+10 reviewed Sep 25, 2014
$143 - $185
Osprey Aether 70
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (36)
Osprey Aether 70 reviewed Sep 25, 2014
$202 - $289
The North Face Terra 45
user rating: 4 of 5 (6)
The North Face Terra 45 reviewed Sep 24, 2014
$129 - $148
Kelty Yukon 50
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (5)
Kelty Yukon 50 reviewed Sep 24, 2014
$140 - $169
Cotopaxi Inca 26
NEW!
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Cotopaxi Inca 26 reviewed Sep 23, 2014
$109
available 2014
Mammut Trion Guide 45+7
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Mammut Trion Guide 45+7 reviewed Sep 22, 2014
$200
Lowe Alpine Peak Attack 42
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Lowe Alpine Peak Attack 42 reviewed Sep 21, 2014
$67
Equinox Gila Ultralite Horizontal Pack Pocket
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Equinox Gila Ultralite Horizontal Pack Pocket reviewed Sep 20, 2014
$15
Deuter ACT Lite 75+10
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Deuter ACT Lite 75+10 reviewed Sep 20, 2014
$183 - $229
Blackhawk! Barrage Hydration Pack
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Blackhawk! Barrage Hydration Pack reviewed Sep 14, 2014
$200 MSRP
Osprey Volt 75
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Osprey Volt 75 reviewed Sep 13, 2014
$139 - $199
Osprey Talon 44
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (13)
Osprey Talon 44 reviewed Sep 12, 2014
$112 - $150
Mountain Hardwear Fluid 32
user rating: 4 of 5 (3)
Mountain Hardwear Fluid 32 reviewed Sep 11, 2014
$96 - $127
Teton Sports Scout 3400
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (2)
Teton Sports Scout 3400 reviewed Sep 8, 2014
Berghaus Expedition Light 80
NEW!
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Berghaus Expedition Light 80 reviewed Sep 7, 2014

available 2014
Lowe Alpine Vision 40
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Lowe Alpine Vision 40 reviewed Sep 4, 2014
discontinued
Patagonia Atom
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Patagonia Atom reviewed Sep 4, 2014
$34 - $49
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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.