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 »

Category

Daypacks
Overnight
Weekend
Expedition
External Frame
Winter Packs
Hydration Packs
Front Packs
Lumbar/Hip Packs
Child Carriers
Dry Packs
Portage Packs
Rope Bags
Accessories

Brand

Lowe Alpine
Kelty
ALPS Mountaineering
Mountain Hardwear
Sea to Summit
Gregory
Black Diamond
GoLite
My Trail
Osprey

User

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

Lowe Alpine TFX Summit 65+15

rated 3.5 of 5 stars A solid, comfortable pack that is easy to adjust. I won this Lowe Alpine TFX Summit 65+15 (lime green and black version) from a photo contest on Trailspace, way back in 2008. What an awesome prize! At the time, I had purchased just two years prior a Kelty 6700 (110 liters). So the size difference was pretty significant! The weight is pretty comparable to the Kelty, so I have always found myself reaching for the Kelty, which offers more pockets, more capacity, and about the same level of comfort… Full review

Kelty Red Cloud 6650

rated 4.5 of 5 stars A comfortable pack that never seems to run out of space! I would recommend this pack (or one of its smaller sibling packs) for backpackers who prefer comfort over light weight (both in the pack itself and with the gear they take). The Kelty 6650 is a high-capacity loader and allows me to take anything and everything! I've been using it for more than 10 years now. While I don't generally have the opportunity to go on more than one backpacking trip per year, the trip is normally for 3-4 days, and… Full review

ALPS Mountaineering Cascade 4200

rated 2 of 5 stars I loved this pack from the start. It is several years old now, but I've only used it 5 or 6 times for weekend trips. I have noticed the material beginning to come apart where the stitching is. This is taking place at nearly all stress points. Very disappointed with the build materials of this pack!!!! I would give it a 5 except for it falling apart. I would upload a photo if I had that option. Full review

Mountain Hardwear Scrambler RT 35 OutDry

rated 4.5 of 5 stars A versatile lightweight backpack. First off this my first MH product (yay) and I got this backpack as a lighter and more "fun", so to speak, alternative to my more serious BD Speed Zip 33L.The Scrambler RT 35 (RT stands for Roll-Top) is basically a more featured drybag that can be used for hiking, canyoning, and is praised by climbers for its outstanding durability and lightness making this a really versatile backpack for a wide range of people. The weight-to-liter ratio is amazing and further enhanced… Full review

Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Dry Daypack 22 L

rated 5 of 5 stars UltraLightweight at 2.3 ounces; fits in your palm! Just purchased from Backcountry Edge: regularly $32.95 but on sale $28.95. Half-moon or U-shaped zipper makes loading easy. Super lightweight and appears durable enough for summit pulls and this will be my go-to pack for section hiking and thru-hikes when I explore around base camp or head to town. Disclaimer: have not yet field tested, so will update review.  Full review

Sea to Summit eVent Compression Dry Sack

rated 5 of 5 stars A necessary accessory for any down sleeping bag, combining water resistance with good compression. A bit heavyweight, but it’s definitely lighter than a pound of water inside your sleeping bag. Quite durable and very convenient to use. Fully compressed XS bag with 3-season sleeping bag inside (compared to 450ml Toaks mug) Before purchasing a pair of such bags in 2013 I traveled a lot with synthetic sleeping bag packed into a regular fabric compression sack. In bicycle trips sometimes we have to… Full review

Gregory Alpinisto 50

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Mountaineers, alpine climbers, and one-backpack-to-do-it-all types should seriously consider the updated Gregory Alpinisto 50 pack. Short Answer:  This pack will do so many things so well that it may cause some of the other packs in your gear cave to shed tears of loneliness. Its durability and versatility make it a fantastic choice for backpackers and alpinists alike. I'd easily take this pack up Mt. Rainier. Trips it is NOT suited for would be single-day, smash and grab alpine climbs and UL backpacking… Full review

Black Diamond Saga 40 Jetforce Avalanche Airbag Pack

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Great high end avalanche backpack that can be deployed multiple times. Best for single to multi-day backcountry expeditions and ski tours in alpine, medium to high risk conditions. If you only do a few days a year in these conditions, renting may be a more rational option. Excellent fit and carrying system for an avalanche pack. I'm a longer dude and got the M/L version. The hip belt has a metal buckle and is comfortable during longer ski tours. The volume is not accurate. It can probably hold around… Full review

GoLite Jam 50L

rated 3 of 5 stars I have the original GoLite 50. Like all GoLite lite products they look great but have some design flaws. The 50 pack is not at all stiff, unless it is almost loaded to capacity. I improved mine by making AL stays in the back to stiffen it. Otherwise it is just an empty sack. The front pockets intrude on the interior space. Full review

Top-Rated Backpacks

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

user rating: 4 of 5 (3)
Lowe Alpine TFX Summit 65+15 reviewed Feb 18, 2018
discontinued
user rating: 4 of 5 (9)
Kelty Red Cloud 6650 reviewed Feb 16, 2018
discontinued
user rating: 4 of 5 (5)
ALPS Mountaineering Cascade 4200 reviewed Feb 12, 2018
$170 MSRP
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Mountain Hardwear Scrambler RT 35 OutDry reviewed Feb 6, 2018
$112 - $150
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Dry Daypack 22 L reviewed Feb 2, 2018
$55
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (10)
Sea to Summit eVent Compression Dry Sack reviewed Jan 23, 2018
$23 - $85
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (2)
Gregory Alpinisto 50 reviewed Jan 21, 2018
$165 - $219
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Black Diamond Saga 40 Jetforce Avalanche Airbag Pack reviewed Jan 17, 2018
$862 - $1,149
user rating: 4 of 5 (8)
GoLite Jam 50L reviewed Dec 27, 2017
$110 MSRP
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (1)
My Trail Backpack Light 50L reviewed Dec 27, 2017
$149 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Osprey Mira 34 reviewed Dec 26, 2017
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (23)
Osprey Exos 58 reviewed Dec 25, 2017
$154 - $220
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
3F Gear 56L Backpack reviewed Dec 21, 2017
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Simond Alpinism 55+10 reviewed Dec 18, 2017
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Eureka! Sleeping Bag Carry Duffel reviewed Dec 6, 2017
$30 MSRP
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (4)
Deuter ACT Lite 45+10 SL reviewed Dec 2, 2017
$113 - $200
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (12)
ULA Equipment Circuit reviewed Dec 1, 2017
$225
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
REI Traverse 65 reviewed Nov 28, 2017
$249
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Gregory Stout 65 reviewed Nov 27, 2017
$180
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (5)
Kelty Red Cloud 110 reviewed Nov 27, 2017
$230
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Osprey Ace 50 reviewed Nov 24, 2017
$160
user rating: 4 of 5 (2)
Kelty Cache Hauler (Frame Only) reviewed Nov 22, 2017
$120 MSRP
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (2)
Gregory Amber 44 reviewed Nov 20, 2017
$127 - $159
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (2)
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack reviewed Nov 18, 2017
$33
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (2)
U.S. Military CFP 90 reviewed Nov 16, 2017
 
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (3)
The North Face Fusion reviewed Nov 15, 2017
discontinued
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
CamelBak Sequoia 22 reviewed Nov 8, 2017
$101 - $150
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (14)
Osprey Talon 22 reviewed Nov 5, 2017
$75 - $110
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (50)
Osprey Aether 70 reviewed Nov 5, 2017
$199 - $216
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Camp Trails Ponderosa reviewed Oct 25, 2017
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (3)
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Dyneema Summit Pack reviewed Oct 22, 2017
$280
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Geigerrig Tactical 1600 reviewed Oct 15, 2017
$180 - $200
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
MEC Brio 40 reviewed Oct 11, 2017
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Patagonia Ascensionist 35L reviewed Oct 2, 2017
$104
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (17)
Deuter ACT Lite 65+10 reviewed Sep 30, 2017
$125 - $209
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Deuter AC Lite 22 reviewed Sep 29, 2017
$99 MSRP
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (3)
Gregory Baltoro 85 reviewed Sep 29, 2017
$209 - $349
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Deuter ACT Trail 28 SL reviewed Sep 29, 2017
$90 - $130
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
The North Face Banchee 50 reviewed Sep 29, 2017
$130 - $199
user rating: 4 of 5 (2)
Six Moon Designs Fusion 65 reviewed Sep 28, 2017
$250 MSRP
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
HackedPack v.1.1 reviewed Sep 28, 2017
$170 MSRP
user rating: 4 of 5 (4)
Osprey Kestrel 28 reviewed Sep 28, 2017
$140
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Gregory Zulu 40 reviewed Sep 27, 2017
$134 - $179
user rating: 1.5 of 5 (1)
CiloGear 75L WorkSack reviewed Sep 26, 2017
$375 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Deuter Futura 26 reviewed Sep 22, 2017
$129 MSRP
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
CamelBak Scout reviewed Sep 21, 2017
$42 - $58
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (24)
Osprey Aether 60 reviewed Sep 21, 2017
$195
user rating: 2.5 of 5 (1)
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Summit Pack reviewed Sep 21, 2017
$175 - $185
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Gregory Cirque 30 reviewed Sep 20, 2017
user rating: 0.5 of 5 (1)
CiloGear 75L W/NWD WorkSack reviewed Sep 20, 2017
$1500 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.