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

REI
Mountain Hardwear
Osprey
Ozark Trail
The North Face
Marmot
L.L.Bean
Gregory
Kelty
Fuel Belt

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

REI Flash 45 Pack

rated 4 of 5 stars Nicely balanced pack designed with comfortable features for a fast weekend trip or ultralight getaway. While designed for overnighters, could easily be used for longer trips with careful gear selection. Flash 45 is a fast, lightweight, overnight bag designed to carry your gear and get you there quickly and lightly. I call it fast because of the way it feels on your back. I tried a few other packs on my back before getting this one. None of them had this shape that seemed to hug you and pull the… Full review

Mountain Hardwear Scrambler 30 OutDry

rated 4.5 of 5 stars The Mountain Hardwear Scrambler 30 OutDry is great little backpack that is 100% waterproof. I do a lot of canoeing and try to keep the number of packs to a minimum, so I usually take one large canoe pack and a food barrel. However I also like to take a smaller 'day-pack' along for side hikes and so I can access smaller items without opening up the big canoe pack. Up until now I have not been able to find a good waterproof daypack, but recently I came across the Mountain Hardwear SCRAMBLER 30 (for… Full review

Osprey Atmos 65 AG

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Most comfortable pack ever. I was a little leery about purchasing the Osprey AG 65 because it was so new to the market, but once I tried it on at the store I instantly knew that it was designed for me. I have a small case of arthritis in my lower back and my old pack was killing me. I was about to give up backpacking altogether until this product came to market. I have done four trips with it so far and the comfort is superb. The fit is exact with the easy adjustable features it has. The compartments… Full review

Osprey Aether 70

rated 5 of 5 stars This pack is very durable, and can carry a large amount of gear/weight evenly, so it is very comfortable to haul over long distances. From multi-day rock climbing trips to backpacking in the wilderness, the storage on this pack has kept me organized, and held together while beating it up and abusing it. The fit of the pack is true to size. The chest strap sits in a great position, which also allows the waist belt to hold the weight like it is supposed to. This allows heavy loads to be carried comfortably… Full review

Osprey Kestrel 48

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Multiple pockets to stow equipment. Lightweight. Outside water compartment. Excellent design. Lightweight. Full review

Osprey Aether 85

rated 4.5 of 5 stars A great pack for any trip. The pack is big enough for 5-7 days and useful enough for 2-3 day trips. I have used this pack for three seasons and I have been nothing but pleased with it. I am also comforted by Osprey's Lifetime Warranty and have used it once on a previous pack and was impressed with the work they were able to do! This pack can easily let you carry 50 lbs, but why would you? It fits me like a glove and I have never had any rubs or bruises. It has a webbed outside pocket that keeps… Full review

Osprey Daylite

rated 4 of 5 stars This is a very lightweight pack, easily adjustable for either of the two us of, who are of very different sizes! Best used for short day hikes or winter activities in which a large capacity pack is not required. This little day pack weighs barely a pound, yet has served us well as a second pack for day hikes. It is very durable, comes in a variety of colors, and has nice features that project it a bit past other basic "sack" day packs I have had. The capacity is a bit small for me to use it as my… Full review

Ozark Trail Waterproof Cell Phone Dry Bag

rated 0.5 of 5 stars Bought this product at a local WalMart and it was supposed to be waterproof...put the receipt inside and dunked it in a glass of water and it was NOT waterproof!!! Extremely disappointed in this product! I purchased this product because I am going on a cruise and there will be several excursions that I go on that are in the water. This product was supposed to be a cell phone dry bag that I was to carry a cell phone and money and important documents in to keep with me during these water events. I… Full review

The North Face Men's Recon

rated 5 of 5 stars This is a versatile high quality pack that will take all the abuse you can throw at it. I don't have enough good things to say about this pack. I use this primarily for my everyday carry needs, but I do intend to test it out on the trail as well. Let's start with the quality of the pack. This pack is very solidly built. All of the zippers are very functional and solid. I wouldn't ask for better clips for the compression straps. They are sturdy and strong.   The pack has a very solid back panel. Full review

Top-Rated Backpacks

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

user rating: 4 of 5 (2)
REI Flash 45 Pack reviewed Sep 3, 2015
$90 - $95
user rating: 4 of 5 (2)
Mountain Hardwear Scrambler 30 OutDry reviewed Sep 3, 2015
$97 - $130
user rating: 4 of 5 (6)
Osprey Atmos 65 AG reviewed Aug 26, 2015
$195 - $259
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (41)
Osprey Aether 70 reviewed Aug 25, 2015
$217 - $289
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (13)
Osprey Kestrel 48 reviewed Aug 25, 2015
$126 - $179
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (12)
Osprey Aether 85 reviewed Aug 24, 2015
$232 - $309
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (11)
Osprey Daylite reviewed Aug 23, 2015
$37 - $49
user rating: 0.5 of 5 (1)
Ozark Trail Waterproof Cell Phone Dry Bag reviewed Aug 22, 2015
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (4)
The North Face Recon reviewed Aug 20, 2015
$69 - $99
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Marmot Flux 24 reviewed Aug 20, 2015
$64 - $99
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (4)
REI Flash 22 Pack reviewed Aug 20, 2015
$50
user rating: 4 of 5 (2)
L.L.Bean Escape 20 Day Pack reviewed Aug 20, 2015
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Gregory Deva 80 reviewed Aug 17, 2015
$192 - $349
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Osprey Rev 1.5 reviewed Aug 16, 2015
$52 - $70
user rating: 3 of 5 (3)
Kelty Red Cloud 90 reviewed Aug 15, 2015
$180 - $224
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Osprey Xenith 88 reviewed Aug 13, 2015
$270 - $359
user rating: 3 of 5 (4)
Gregory Deva 70 reviewed Aug 13, 2015
$176 - $349
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (11)
Osprey Talon 22 reviewed Aug 13, 2015
$75 - $99
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Fuel Belt Crush reviewed Aug 13, 2015
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
E-Case eSeries 9.5 reviewed Aug 13, 2015
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (12)
REI Flash 18 Pack reviewed Aug 11, 2015
$35
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
Dana Design ArcFlex Alpine reviewed Aug 10, 2015
discontinued
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (15)
Osprey Talon 44 reviewed Aug 10, 2015
$150
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (4)
Kelty 50th Anniversary Pack reviewed Aug 9, 2015
discontinued
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Marmot Garmsal reviewed Aug 9, 2015
discontinued
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (4)
Osprey FlapJack reviewed Aug 7, 2015
$67 - $109
 
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (12)
Dana Design Astralplane reviewed Aug 6, 2015
discontinued
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (7)
Sea to Summit eVent Compression Dry Sack reviewed Aug 6, 2015
$19 - $47
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (30)
Osprey Atmos 65 reviewed Aug 6, 2015
$239 - $259
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Mountain Laurel Designs Core 28 reviewed Aug 5, 2015
$85 MSRP
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (6)
The North Face Terra 50 reviewed Aug 5, 2015
$127 - $159
user rating: 4 of 5 (2)
Deuter Fox 30 reviewed Jul 30, 2015
$79 - $99
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (14)
Deuter ACT Lite 65+10 reviewed Jul 30, 2015
$167 - $209
user rating: 4 of 5 (2)
Granite Gear Virga 2 reviewed Jul 30, 2015
$140
 
user rating: 4 of 5 (6)
REI Trekker Wonderland reviewed Jul 30, 2015
discontinued
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Osprey Poco Premium reviewed Jul 29, 2015
$225 - $299
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Ozark Trail 28L Atka reviewed Jul 27, 2015
$11 MSRP
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 (7)
High Sierra Appalachian 75 reviewed Jul 18, 2015
user rating: 2.5 of 5 (3)
Travelon Clear View Waterproof Pouch reviewed Jul 16, 2015
$13 MSRP
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
REI Trail 30 Pack reviewed Jul 14, 2015
$75
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
$60 - $79
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
SealLine Baja Dry Bag reviewed Jul 8, 2015
$16 - $39
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (6)
CamelBak Fourteener reviewed Jul 8, 2015
$93 - $145
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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.