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

Brands

Black Diamond
Frost River
Granite Gear
Osprey
The North Face
Gregory
GoMotion
JanSport
Kifaru
Trigon

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

Black Diamond Hollowpoint

rated 3 of 5 stars Tough well made bag let down by 2 design flaws which in turn render the bag unusable I have had the bag for 4-5 years mainly for urban use, cycling to work etc and unfortunately it now has to be replaced. The bag is not at all worn out and is made of very resistant materials. Except the top zip at the corners is very exposed wear and tear. It has prematurely worn to the point where I can no longer close the bag properly .  I will avoid zips in any future purchases Full review

Frost River Isle Royale

rated 3.5 of 5 stars Just two words to descibe this pack,Bomb Proof. My new pack arrived yesterday and as of yet has not been tested in the field but the fit for me is perfect.At the age of 65 and a lifetime of backpacking all over the world from Artic excersises in Norway during my service in the Royal Navy to the Yukon in Canada using military packs either British pack systems during my service or my pefered Norweigan Army pack this pack is right up there amongst the best.It does feel comfortable to wear,not yet sure… Full review

Granite Gear Air Compressor

rated 4.5 of 5 stars The Granite Gear medium Air Compressor is a nice lightweight alternative to the slightly heavier duty "Rock Solid" compression sack. It holds its own and has added features that increase its durability. The sack allows you to compress down to the strap limit without the fear of ripping at the seams. I have the older model with 4 nylon webbing straps. The newer model uses 4 paracord strings. The sack is easy to use. You just stuff, cinch the hole, pull the lid over the top and wrench down on the… Full review

Osprey Volt 60

rated 5 of 5 stars A great pack for people that don't like the feel of the Antigravity line. I bought this pack because I really disliked the way the Aether and Atmos have the Antigravity feature. I found that those packs sit way too far off of my back and made me feel like I was going to fall over backwards. This pack is a simple, more affordable and traditional alternative to the newer, more expensive designs. It easily holds a two-man tent, sleeping bag, mattress pad and other camping equipment for weekend or overnight… Full review

The North Face Renegade

rated 5 of 5 stars Hiked 88 miles at Philmont Scout Ranch with this pack in 2016. It is simply an awesome pack, tons of room, very flexible and received many comments from hikers that recognized my "vintage" pack. Going back to Philmont with my son in 2017 and taking the Renegade with me. Buy one if you can find one on the web. They are hard to find and sell very quickly on eBay and gear trade. One of the best packs that North Face has ever made. Awesome design, plenty of room, "vintage" looks, and very comfortable… Full review

Gregory Paragon 58

rated 3 of 5 stars This newly released lightweight backpack is equipped with user-friendly features without adding unnecessary weight. Supreme comfort meets a lighter base pack weight! This backpack is ideal for both the casual overnight hiker, and the long distance backpacker covering ground day-in, and day-out. Gregory has entered the market with their new line of lightweight backpacks, the Men's Paragon & Women's Maven series. Recreational backpacking has become obsessed with becoming UL (ultralight) over the… Full review

GoMotion Orion

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Perfect companion to early morning runs! Disclosure: The author of this review is a brand ambassador for GoMotion. I have had the opportunity to use the Orion light belt for about 6 months now and I am super impressed with its performance. I run primarily in the early morning hours—and I like to be seen while crossing roads! I normally run with at least one doggie running companion, so I feel an extra responsibility to make sure we are all safe and visible.  The light has three brightness settings… Full review

JanSport D3

rated 5 of 5 stars Purchased my D3 from R.E.I. in 1979. I have used this pack on the Appalachian Trail, hiking in Wyoming, more camping trips than I can count, and for a season of wilderness guiding in Maine. Love this pack. I have had this pack for 38 years. I have replaced both front panel zippers, but otherwise the pack has held up well. It has always fit me well at 5'7". It is very comfortable even with a heavy load. I love most that it has a large capacity to haul multiple days of bulky food packages. The front… Full review

Granite Gear Men's Nimbus Trace Access 70

rated 5 of 5 stars I own a few backpacks...and this has become my go-to pack. Plenty of straps that can be used to attach your tent, poles, or a rain jacket outside. Front panel access lets you get inside without opening the top. The wood frame is top notch with well placed adjustments. I picked this pack up for $207 plus free shipping. I gave this pack a 5 out of 5 because I do own a few packs, and this one fits right @ 70 liters for trips that are more then 3 to 7 nights. I can take a few extra things like a chair… Full review

Top-Rated Backpacks

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

user rating: 2.5 of 5 (3)
Black Diamond Hollowpoint reviewed Apr 27, 2017
$65 MSRP
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (2)
Frost River Isle Royale reviewed Apr 27, 2017
user rating: 4 of 5 (2)
Granite Gear Air Compressor reviewed Apr 24, 2017
$28 - $35
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (11)
Osprey Volt 60 reviewed Apr 24, 2017
$180
 
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (19)
The North Face Renegade reviewed Apr 18, 2017
discontinued
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Gregory Paragon 58 reviewed Apr 13, 2017
$230
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
GoMotion Orion reviewed Apr 13, 2017
$70 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (19)
JanSport D3 reviewed Apr 12, 2017
discontinued
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Kifaru Cargo Panel reviewed Apr 5, 2017
$140 MSRP
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Trigon Deva reviewed Mar 17, 2017
discontinued
user rating: 5 of 5 (15)
Gregory Forester reviewed Mar 16, 2017
discontinued
 
user rating: 4 of 5 (4)
The North Face Snow Leopard Pack reviewed Mar 11, 2017
discontinued
 
user rating: 4 of 5 (8)
JanSport Alaska reviewed Mar 8, 2017
discontinued
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (5)
REI Flash 22 Pack reviewed Mar 4, 2017
$50 - $54
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (19)
Osprey Talon 44 reviewed Mar 3, 2017
$105 - $160
user rating: 4 of 5 (2)
REI Passage 65 reviewed Feb 26, 2017
$149 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Deuter ACT Lite 35+10 SL reviewed Feb 25, 2017
$143 - $179
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Deuter ACT Trail PRO 32 SL reviewed Feb 25, 2017
$159
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Karrimor Jaguar 65 reviewed Feb 25, 2017
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (4)
Osprey Kestrel 32 reviewed Feb 25, 2017
$80 - $150
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (8)
Dana Design Astralplane Overkill reviewed Feb 25, 2017
discontinued
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Gregory Citro 25 reviewed Feb 23, 2017
$130
user rating: 4 of 5 (15)
REI New Star reviewed Feb 21, 2017
discontinued
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (2)
Mammut Heron Light 65+15 reviewed Feb 19, 2017
$260 MSRP
user rating: 4 of 5 (12)
Gregory G Pack reviewed Feb 15, 2017
discontinued
user rating: 4 of 5 (10)
Lowe Alpine Contour IV 90+15 reviewed Feb 1, 2017
discontinued
user rating: 3 of 5 (2)
Gregory Denali 100 reviewed Jan 31, 2017
$350 - $399
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
LifeProof nüüd case for iPhone 5/5s/SE reviewed Jan 30, 2017
$90 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
ULA Equipment Ohm 2.0 reviewed Jan 29, 2017
$200
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Gregory Deva 70 GZ reviewed Jan 26, 2017
$329 - $449
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Geigerrig Rig 700 reviewed Jan 22, 2017
$76
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Deuter Flight Cover reviewed Jan 21, 2017
$39
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Deuter Fox 40 reviewed Jan 17, 2017
$109
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (1)
Rivendell Mountain Works Jensen reviewed Jan 6, 2017
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Bergans Skarstind 32 reviewed Jan 6, 2017
$90
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Karrimor SF Sabre 45 reviewed Jan 5, 2017
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Deuter Speed Lite 20 reviewed Jan 5, 2017
$71 - $89
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (1)
Granite Gear Lutsen 55 reviewed Dec 21, 2016
$220
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (47)
Osprey Aether 70 reviewed Dec 14, 2016
$180 - $231
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (3)
REI Gemini 50L Pack reviewed Dec 11, 2016
discontinued
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Mountainsmith Apex 100 reviewed Dec 8, 2016
$187 - $249
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Kelty Big Bend reviewed Dec 2, 2016
discontinued
user rating: 4 of 5 (11)
Kelty Tioga reviewed Dec 2, 2016
$180
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (16)
Deuter Aircontact 75+10 reviewed Dec 1, 2016
$289 - $299
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (6)
Gregory UM21 Backpack reviewed Nov 29, 2016
discontinued
user rating: 3 of 5 (2)
Macpac Cascade 65 reviewed Nov 24, 2016
user rating: 4 of 5 (17)
Osprey Stratos 24 reviewed Nov 24, 2016
$90 - $130
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
VauDe Asymmetric 42+8 reviewed Nov 19, 2016
$120
user rating: 4 of 5 (10)
Osprey Atmos AG 65 reviewed Nov 15, 2016
$260
 
user rating: 4 of 5 (7)
REI Trekker Wonderland reviewed Nov 15, 2016
discontinued
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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.