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 choosing backpacks below »

The best backpacks, reviewed and curated by the Trailspace community. The latest review was added on January 16, 2020. Stores' prices and availability are updated daily.

Recent Backpack Reviews

rated 5 of 5 stars
Osprey Aether AG 70

Very comfortable 73-liter backpack with advanced harness, which basically helps you carrying up to 50 lbs/25 kg with comfort. Lots of pockets, compartments, and external attachment points for better load distribution. It's made to last long. Background  I’m not an avid backpacker, I was never interested in multi-day trips on foot. Though a dozen times per year I do short backpacking trips, mostly in winter, with heavy load (up to 25 kg / 50 lbs). After a season of using Simond Alpinism 55+10… Full review

rated 4.5 of 5 stars
Mystery Ranch 2 Day Assault

The Mystery Ranch 2 Day Assault is a multi-functional, durable pack that is big enough (27L) for day hikes and daylong hunting trips, yet hosts additional features, like a laptop sleeve with rear-facing zipper, that allow it to serve as an everyday carry pack (EDC) or a travel/carry-on bag too. A true Swiss Army knife of a pack. Conditions:  This initial review is based on testing the 2 Day Assault pack over a six-week period during the late fall and early winter in the eastern US in mostly cool… Full review

rated 4.5 of 5 stars
REI Traverse 85

Beyond the actual pack, I’m reporting on a fabulous experience trying on packs at REI Store. With so many options and a family with different body types I’ve had two great experiences trying on and playing with packs in the store. I ended up with the Deuter. But, close second was the REI pack. I loved the zipper setup. Looked like I could get into pack even with gear and snowshoes lashed to pack. If my hips where bigger I would have grabbed this pack.  Full review

rated 5 of 5 stars
Camp Trails Ponderosa

I bought my Ponderosa while in the army in Germany and later did my first PCT hike back in 1978 with it and held on to that pack until the very early '90s when the waterproofing started breaking down inside. It was a great pack and I beat the heck out of that thing in the Sierras for over 10 years after the big trip. It was a different time back then and you needed a big pack to carry the load between the too few resupply points. Heavy boots to deal with the load too. That's all ancient history… Full review

rated 1.5 of 5 stars
LifeProof FRĒ Series Waterproof Phone Case

When new, the case offers admirable protection. Unfortunately, the case suffers from premature wear and allows debris/dust to collect between the screen and screen protector. I purchased this case at clearance for about $50 for my iPhone6+ around the time the iPhone 7 was released after previously using a LifeProof NÜD case with the same phone. The Nud did not adequately prevent bending of the phone resulting in "touch disease" (search it) and also blocked touch access to the edges of the screen. Full review

rated 3 of 5 stars
LifeProof FRĒ Series Waterproof Phone Case

This slim profile case protected my phone admirably, the waterproofing especially held up well, even while kayaking. Regrettably, after one year the case "bowed" and the control buttons for volume, on/off and Bixby no longer work as they don't match up with the phone's buttons. For this reason, I don't recommend buying this case. For the first year I've owned this case, it's performed admirably for my activities: daily work commute, hiking and kayaking. And the sound quality for the speaker and… Full review

rated 4 of 5 stars
National Geographic Lake 65

Large but not that bulky. Material seems durable. Average price for South American market. If you are around in either Chile or Peru, check this model out online in Ripley, Falabella, or any other online retailer. Size: 65.5 x 31.5 x 24 cm Weight: 1.74 kg Material: polyester 420D Ripstop and Nylon 600D Capacity: 65 liters Full review

rated 3.5 of 5 stars
Geigerrig Rig 500

Small, portable, capacity, maybe the air and water hoses are a bit "too cumbersome". Notice: Too small for day hikes, too big carry along a full mult-iday backpack (~45 Liters or more) That plastic taste (and at the beginning, even odor) that comes with the water out of the hose. I have washed the bag, but most probably I will have to use food grade detergent to clean it once and for all. The manufacturer recommends to wash it thoroughly and to store for an entire night water with a whole lemon… Full review

rated 4.5 of 5 stars
Gregory Jade 28

Size of the hip belt makes it easy to manipulate to ether tighten or loosen quickly if needed. The adjustable torso has proven to be a good feature. I wasn't sure about this at first but with use it has settled in. I was a diehard Osprey pack user. Then they changed the design of the model I liked. So the hunt was on for another pack. The industry still hasn't kept up with the needs of women when selecting a pack. There are a few women's specific packs, but only a few. And then it seems the industry… Full review

user rating: 5 of 5 (7)
CamelBak Cloud Walker Hydration Pack
$55 - $85
user rating: 5 of 5 (6)
The North Face Terra 40 Overnight
$90 - $149
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
Osprey Talon 11 Daypack
$100
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
CamelBak H.A.W.G. Hydration Pack
$182
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Patagonia Atom Daypack
$55 - $79
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Granite Gear Round Rock Solid Compression Compression Sack
$17 - $26
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Pack Cover Pack Cover
$25 - $41
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
REI Trail 40 Overnight
$129
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Gregory Baltoro 85 Expedition
$350
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Patagonia Black Hole Duffel Pack Duffel
$90 - $179
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Southwest Overnight
$310 - $500
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Deuter Trans Alpine 30 Daypack
$111 - $130
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Karrimor Jaguar 65 Weekend
$180
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
SealLine Pro Portage Pack Dry Pack
$40 - $249
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Gregory Miwok 18 Daypack
$70 - $99
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Osprey Sirrus 24 Daypack
$130 - $140
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Mountainsmith Lariat 65 Weekend
$172 - $229
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Porter Weekend
$345 - $550
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Ultimate Direction PB Adventure Vest Hydration Pack
$170
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Osprey Aura AG 50 Weekend
$37 - $240
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (51)
Osprey Aether 70 Expedition
$310
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (31)
Osprey Atmos 65 Weekend
$260
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (24)
Osprey Aether 60 Weekend
$290
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (23)
Osprey Exos 58 Weekend
$220
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (19)
Osprey Talon 44 Overnight
$160
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (18)
CamelBak M.U.L.E. Hydration Pack
$70 - $144
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (17)
Deuter ACT Lite 65+10 Weekend
$220
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (16)
Osprey Kestrel 48 Overnight
$180
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (16)
Osprey Talon 22 Daypack
$110 - $120
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (16)
Deuter Aircontact 75+10 Expedition
$310
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (15)
CamelBak Rim Runner Hydration Pack
$79 - $100
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (14)
Granite Gear Vapor Trail Weekend
$93
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (14)
Gregory Baltoro 65 Weekend
$225 - $299
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (13)
Osprey Aether 85 Expedition
$330
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (13)
The North Face Big Shot Overnight
$119
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (13)
REI Flash 18 Daypack
$40
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (12)
Mountainsmith Day Lumbar/Hip Pack
$60 - $89
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (11)
Osprey Volt 60 Weekend
$200
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (11)
Sea to Summit eVent Compression Dry Sack Dry Bag / Compression Sack
$25 - $52
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (11)
Mountainsmith Tour Lumbar/Hip Pack
$50 - $89
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (10)
Osprey Kestrel 38 Overnight
$160
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (10)
Mountainsmith Bugaboo Daypack
$104 - $129
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (8)
Kelty Trekker 65 External Frame
$95 - $199
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (8)
The North Face Terra 65 Weekend
$133 - $189
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Osprey UL Raincover Pack Cover
$30 - $40
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Granite Gear Nimbus Trace Access 70 Expedition
$194 - $226
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Kelty Redwing 32 Daypack
$60 - $99
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Windrider Weekend
$345 - $550
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Deuter Futura Pro 34 SL Overnight
$119 - $170
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Mystery Ranch Coulee 40 Overnight
$229
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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.