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

Brands

Granite Gear
Osprey
Salomon
Eberlestock
Kelty
Arc'teryx
Lowe Alpine
REI
Hyperlite Mountain Gear
Gregory

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

Granite Gear Leopard V.C. 46

rated 5 of 5 stars This bag is light weight, customizable and really great at fitting in everything you need without sacrifice in quality. I use this bag mostly for 2 night backpacking trips with roughly a 25-30lb load in the Northeast where there's lots of water around. I've used this bag a handful of times after buying it when looking for a smaller and lighter bag (Deuter Act lite 60+10).  It is a lot smaller than my other pack so it took some playing around to get everything to fit, but otherwise carried everything… Full review

Osprey Aether 70

rated 5 of 5 stars Great backpack. Handled load great, added bear proof container and tent on outside of pack and it remained very stable. We did a 12-mile hike for first trip with pack and the hip belt was fantastic. I was told you should get the belt formed before hiking, but it performed great. I had plenty of room for a two-day hike / bear canister and / large sleeping bag and food for group of four. Full review

Salomon S-Lab Adv Skin 12Set

rated 5 of 5 stars Amazing fit, so many features, and it is variable allowing a lot of flexibility. You'll forget you're wearing it. I definitely don't run much further than 30km at a time, so I was hesitant to pick up a pack designed more for long ultras. But with the variable conditions I run through this has ended up being a fantastic running vest/pack. Despite looking a little silly, I actually take it hiking too just because it is so comfortable. And when I need it just for holding a can of bear spray comfortably… Full review

Osprey Aether 60

rated 4 of 5 stars Great pack for work and recreation. Adjustable torso length, comfortably carries big loads, mostly good features, pretty durable so far. The way it feels on my back is most important to me and it does pretty well overall. The adjustability of and subsequent comfort are great. I usually fall right between small and medium and I was able to get this pack to fit perfectly. I occasionally put 40+ pounds in it and it rides pretty well with a load. I sometimes use it as a day pack, especially if I need… Full review

Osprey Daylite

rated 4 of 5 stars Great lightweight daypack. I bought this from the REI Outlet. I wanted a lightweight day pack that I could carry with me while canoe camping and backpacking in case I stayed at a campsite for multiple days. Very lightweight. Great for carrying water, food, a shell, and any other smaller gear you want to carry. My Gregory Triconi 60 has a lid fanny pack, but I don't like taking the pack apart to use it. Set up at Dutch Doctor Shelter in Harriman State Park, and had to hike to a lake to pump water. Full review

Eberlestock V90 Battleship

rated 5 of 5 stars This is an improvement over my old internal frame pack (a Mystery Ranch NICE 6500) and it is bigger than the Kelty Super Tioga external frame. It comes with a large tethered rain cover in a compartment in the bottom. The rain cover won't get lost in the winds from the approaching storm. If you have tried to attach a rain cover and had the wind parachute the cover and see the cover soar away you know what I'm talking about. I also sprayed the pack with weatherproofing so it keeps dry in light snow. Full review

Osprey Daylite

rated 5 of 5 stars Great all-around day pack for many uses from outdoor active to around town travel. I got this pack last year and I've used it on several outings, from day hikes, snowshoe trips, cross country skiing, and even just shopping around town while travelling. The pack is comfortable and has enough pockets to stow everything I need while not being too busy with excessive pockets. The integrated hydration pocket holds a water bladder securely, but sometimes I simply tuck a water bottle in the side pocket. Full review

Kelty Men's Coyote 4900

rated 4 of 5 stars A bomb proof pack that does it a little on the heavy side. This product is best for 2+ day expeditions in any terrain. I would recommend this to a friend with a larger waist. The pack fits excellent and true to size. I however have a smaller waist and even with the straps fully tightened it is a little too big around the belt. I have hiked with this pack on multi-day treks and it is very comfortable. Everything is adjustable. The torso adjustment came in very handy seeing I have a longer torso. Full review

Arc'teryx Bora 65

rated 5 of 5 stars The Bomb — indestructible, comfortable, and capable. Awesome multiday backpack can carry it all anywhere almost effortlessly due to the suspension system which transfers the load to where it should be. Originally bought a lower quality pack, but it was so uncomfortable because it was not really designed to carry loads. I'm glad I had that bad experience because it made me spend a little more so I wouldn't have to suffer again. Great accessibility through side zip and zippered pouch, has all the… Full review

Top-Rated Backpacks

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

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (2)
Granite Gear Leopard V.C. 46 reviewed Sep 27, 2016
$115 - $169
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (45)
Osprey Aether 70 reviewed Sep 26, 2016
$217 - $290
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Salomon S-Lab Adv Skin 12Set reviewed Sep 25, 2016
$185
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (23)
Osprey Aether 60 reviewed Sep 24, 2016
$195 - $259
user rating: 4 of 5 (15)
Osprey Daylite reviewed Sep 22, 2016
$34 - $50
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Eberlestock V90 Battleship reviewed Sep 22, 2016
$429 MSRP
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (4)
Kelty Coyote 4900 reviewed Sep 21, 2016
discontinued
user rating: 4 of 5 (8)
Arc'teryx Bora 65 reviewed Sep 21, 2016
discontinued
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Lowe Alpine Peak Attack ND 38 reviewed Sep 20, 2016
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (13)
REI Flash 18 Pack reviewed Sep 19, 2016
$40
user rating: 4 of 5 (2)
Osprey Xenith 105 reviewed Sep 16, 2016
$390
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Windrider reviewed Sep 16, 2016
$285
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Gregory Stout 75 reviewed Sep 16, 2016
$219
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Mystery Ranch T-100 reviewed Sep 16, 2016
$450
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (6)
Kelty Redwing 50 reviewed Sep 16, 2016
$100 - $139
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Osprey Radial 34 reviewed Sep 13, 2016
$119 - $169
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (10)
Gregory Baltoro 65 reviewed Sep 7, 2016
$215 - $299
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Mystery Ranch Booty Bag reviewed Sep 5, 2016
$45 MSRP
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (12)
Kelty Super Tioga reviewed Sep 4, 2016
$180
user rating: 4 of 5 (8)
Lowe Alpine Contour IV 90+15 reviewed Sep 4, 2016
discontinued
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Black Diamond Element 45 reviewed Sep 3, 2016
$150 - $200
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (7)
The North Face Terra 65 reviewed Sep 1, 2016
$134 - $179
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Six Moon Designs Fusion 65 reviewed Aug 31, 2016
$250 MSRP
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (21)
Osprey Exos 58 reviewed Aug 28, 2016
$165 - $219
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Arc'teryx Alpha FL 30 reviewed Aug 22, 2016
$129 - $749
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (14)
Granite Gear Vapor Trail reviewed Aug 20, 2016
discontinued
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Mountainsmith Lariat 65 reviewed Aug 9, 2016
$184 - $229
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (1)
Berghaus Expedition Light 40 reviewed Jul 30, 2016
$180
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (6)
Dana Design Shadow Peak reviewed Jul 30, 2016
discontinued
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
REI Traverse 85 reviewed Jul 30, 2016
$279
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Deuter Futura Pro 40 SL reviewed Jul 28, 2016
$169
 
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (3)
Jack Wolfskin Trail Head II reviewed Jul 26, 2016
user rating: 2.5 of 5 (2)
ALPS Mountaineering Zion Pack reviewed Jul 26, 2016
$117
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
ZPacks Zero reviewed Jul 25, 2016
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Kelty Redwing 50 Reserve reviewed Jul 25, 2016
$160
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (7)
Osprey Finesse Pro reviewed Jul 18, 2016
discontinued
user rating: 4 of 5 (9)
Osprey Atmos AG 65 reviewed Jul 17, 2016
$234 - $260
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (3)
Mountainsmith Strapettes reviewed Jul 16, 2016
$22 - $27
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (15)
Deuter Aircontact 75+10 reviewed Jul 16, 2016
$231 - $299
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
CamelBak Arete 18 reviewed Jul 15, 2016
$49 - $65
user rating: 4 of 5 (2)
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Compression Sack reviewed Jul 14, 2016
$23 - $59
user rating: 4 of 5 (2)
Aarn Sport Balance Pockets reviewed Jul 14, 2016
$60 MSRP
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Cerro Torre Kodiak reviewed Jul 11, 2016
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Tamrac Corona 14 reviewed Jul 10, 2016
$162 MSRP
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Granite Gear Rongbuk 28 reviewed Jul 9, 2016
$78 - $134
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Osprey Ultralight Dry Sack reviewed Jul 7, 2016
$13
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Gregory Baltoro 85 reviewed Jul 6, 2016
$349
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (2)
ALPS Mountaineering Red Tail 4900 reviewed Jul 6, 2016
$123
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (2)
Granite Gear eVent Sil Compression DrySack reviewed Jul 5, 2016
$30 - $39
user rating: 4 of 5 (6)
Osprey Talon 33 reviewed Jul 2, 2016
$97 - $129
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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.