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

Deuter
L.L.Bean
The North Face
Osprey
Ultimate Direction
Gregory
Sierra Designs
Marmot
Kelty
Cotopaxi

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

Deuter Futura 30 SL

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Excellent pack. I was looking for a good pack to hike with and wanted something that would take all the weight off my shoulders and this pack does just that! I tried on several of the top brands but could feel shoulder strap pressure, this one converted all the weight to my legs — perfect.   The construction is impeccable, with quality zippers, cord lock and adjustment straps. I constantly over stuff the side bellows with no problems. I have not experienced any problems with the hydration system… Full review

L.L.Bean Duffle Bag

rated 5 of 5 stars This bag is a great size for weekend trips and a perfect size for a carry-on. This duffle is made out of a great, strong material and is very dependable and reliable for any adventure. I have owned my L.L. Bean duffle bag for years and it has been the best travel I have ever used. It has been through a lot of stuffing and throwing around, but it has held up tough.  It is very reliable and dependable. Full review

The North Face Men's Recon

rated 5 of 5 stars I think you could, if you planned carefully, use this pack as a weekender. If you had one of those new crush-able mats, and a very small tent, bivy or tarp. The only limitation I see would be carrying enough water. Unless you hike near water and have a filter. I recommend this pack. If you run into one for sale, buy it. You won't be sorry. I have owned my Recon for about 6 years. It has been to 14k and slightly more. I've hiked in Colorado, New Mexico, California, Oregon, and Washington. Here in… Full review

Osprey Quantum

rated 5 of 5 stars This is a great backpack for school, carry-on luggage, or short camping trips. It had held up very well to all the abuse I have subjected it to over the last four years. I'm a 5"10' and 190 lbs guy and the Quantum fits me perfectly. I used it though college, several weeklong trips with air travel and camping. It didn't require any breaking-in to be comfortable. It's more than adequate to hold everything you could need for a week with room to spare. I highly recommend the Osprey Quantum.  Full review

Ultimate Direction PB Adventure Vest

rated 5 of 5 stars I rarely write a review where I don't have a con. I looked long and hard for one on this piece of gear, but really couldn't find it, at least in functionality. I'm a bigger runner, so I notice that you must get the bigger size with this product or it just will be too small. I love the amount of gear it can carry, very versatile if you don't want to put a bottle in you can use that pocket for a myriad of other uses.   Great gear for both road and trail. Highly recommend.   Full review

Gregory Z30

rated 4 of 5 stars As with other Gregory packs, this one is well-designed and offers every feature I could imagine one would need in a daypack. That said, it could be tougher. Skinny hikers that have a medium build may also have trouble cinching the chest and waist tight enough. Gregory makes great packs. That's why they are, by now, a household name within backpacking and hiking circles. For a daypack, this gear provides plenty of features and a comfortable fit. Just make sure that you don't play too rough! The shoulder… Full review

Sierra Designs Jubilee 50

rated 1.5 of 5 stars Sub-standard pack for women. I really wanted to like this pack. I thought about it for weeks before making the purchase, so I was very dejected when it came. I left the tags on it for another couple of weeks while I deliberated over returning it. In the end I kept it only because I got it on clearance. Where to begin, I've learned to drop my expectations when purchasing gear made especially for women (that's a whole other rant), but this one was disappointing more that usual. I had to ignore the… Full review

Marmot Long Hauler

rated 5 of 5 stars Excellent quality in an attractive bag for a fair price! The heavy duty construction of this bag impressed me immediately. I wanted a duffel bag I could use for travel as well as camping and this bag didn't disappoint. It's seen airline abuse, many a camping trip and still looks brand new. It has several zippered pouches to help organize my gear and is large enough for two on camping trips. I would recommend this for any type of travel if you are like me and prefer a duffel to a suitcase. Full review

Deuter ACT Lite 50+10

rated 3.5 of 5 stars Great pack. I have been on four week-long overseas trips with this pack and it performed above expectations. This pack is awesome. Super comfortable. The pack fit this mixture pretty well. NO complaints and I would recommend this pack to anyone in the market for a new pack. Full review

Top-Rated Backpacks

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

Deuter Futura 30 SL
user rating: 4 of 5 (3)
Deuter
Futura 30 SL
reviewed Sep 30, 2014
$97 - $145
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
L.L.Bean
Duffle Bag
reviewed Sep 29, 2014
The North Face Recon
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (3)
The North Face
Recon
reviewed Sep 29, 2014
$65 - $99
Osprey Quantum
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Osprey
Quantum
reviewed Sep 29, 2014
$90 - $98
Ultimate Direction PB Adventure Vest
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Ultimate Direction
PB Adventure Vest
reviewed Sep 29, 2014
$150 - $159
Gregory Z30
user rating: 4 of 5 (5)
Gregory
Z30
reviewed Sep 27, 2014
$97 - $139
Sierra Designs Jubilee 50
user rating: 1.5 of 5 (1)
Sierra Designs
Jubilee 50
reviewed Sep 26, 2014
$168
Marmot Long Hauler
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Marmot
Long Hauler
reviewed Sep 26, 2014
$59 - $148
Deuter ACT Lite 50+10
user rating: 4 of 5 (6)
Deuter
ACT Lite 50+10
reviewed Sep 25, 2014
$179 - $185
Osprey Aether 70
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (36)
Osprey
Aether 70
reviewed Sep 25, 2014
$279 - $290
The North Face Terra 45
user rating: 4 of 5 (6)
The North Face
Terra 45
reviewed Sep 24, 2014
$129
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
$150 - $199
Lowe Alpine Peak Attack 42
NEW!
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Lowe Alpine
Peak Attack 42
reviewed Sep 21, 2014
$95
available Fall 2014
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
$229
Montane Dragon 20
user rating: 4 of 5 (2)
Montane
Dragon 20
reviewed Sep 18, 2014
$154
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
$199 - $200
Osprey Talon 44
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (13)
Osprey
Talon 44
reviewed Sep 12, 2014
$149 - $150
Mountain Hardwear Fluid 32
user rating: 4 of 5 (3)
Mountain Hardwear
Fluid 32
reviewed Sep 11, 2014
$120 - $150
GoLite Jam 50L
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (6)
GoLite
Jam 50L
reviewed Sep 10, 2014
$110
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
$45 - $49
High Sierra Col 35
user rating: 4 of 5 (2)
High Sierra
Col 35
reviewed Sep 4, 2014
Osprey Talon 22
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (10)
Osprey
Talon 22
reviewed Sep 3, 2014
$99 - $100
Kelty Yukon 48
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Kelty
Yukon 48
reviewed Sep 3, 2014
$110 - $169
ALPS Mountaineering Shasta 3600
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
ALPS Mountaineering
Shasta 3600
reviewed Sep 1, 2014
$119
Mountainsmith Mountainlight Scream 25
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Mountainsmith
Mountainlight Scream 25
reviewed Aug 23, 2014
$70
Deuter Futura 28
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (4)
Deuter
Futura 28
reviewed Aug 22, 2014
$109
Big Agnes Pumphouse
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Big Agnes
Pumphouse
reviewed Aug 21, 2014
$20
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Sea to Summit
Ultra-Sil Day Pack
reviewed Aug 21, 2014
$33
The North Face Crestone 75
user rating: 4 of 5 (6)
The North Face
Crestone 75
reviewed Aug 21, 2014
$229 MSRP
GoLite Jam 70L
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (4)
GoLite
Jam 70L
reviewed Aug 20, 2014
$130
Klymit Motion 60
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Klymit
Motion 60
reviewed Aug 19, 2014
RE Factor Tactical Advanced Special Operations (ASO) Bag
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)

RE Factor Tactical Advanced Special Operations (ASO) Bag
reviewed Aug 17, 2014
$200 MSRP
Gregory Z55
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (21)
Gregory
Z55
reviewed Aug 17, 2014
$155 - $239
Osprey Viper 7
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Osprey
Viper 7
reviewed Aug 13, 2014
$74 MSRP
REI Mars 80
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (7)
REI
Mars 80
reviewed Aug 13, 2014
$199 MSRP
High Sierra Bobcat 65
user rating: 4 of 5 (3)
High Sierra
Bobcat 65
reviewed Aug 10, 2014
 
user rating: 4 of 5 (11)
ROKK
Flat Iron
reviewed Aug 9, 2014
Kelty PK 50
user rating: 4 of 5 (4)
Kelty
PK 50
reviewed Aug 7, 2014
$160 - $199
Mountainsmith Lookout 50
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Mountainsmith
Lookout 50
reviewed Aug 5, 2014
$144 - $179
Osprey Mira 26
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Osprey
Mira 26
reviewed Aug 5, 2014
$149 - $150
Outdoor Research Mesh Ditty Sacks
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Outdoor Research
Mesh Ditty Sacks
reviewed Aug 5, 2014
$22 - $25
Gregory Z65
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (9)
Gregory
Z65
reviewed Aug 5, 2014
$168 - $259
Sea to Summit Accessory Straps
user rating: 3 of 5 (2)
Sea to Summit
Accessory Straps
reviewed Aug 2, 2014
$8 - $10
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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.