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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.

The best backpacks, reviewed and curated by the Trailspace community. The latest review was added on June 8, 2021. Stores' prices and availability are updated daily.

user rating: 5 of 5 (7)
CamelBak Cloud Walker Hydration Pack
$85 - $90
user rating: 5 of 5 (6)
The North Face Terra 40 Overnight
$80 - $188
user rating: 5 of 5 (6)
Deuter Kid Comfort Child Carrier Frame
$300
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
Osprey Talon 11 Daypack
$74 - $120
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
CamelBak H.A.W.G. Hydration Pack
$188
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
Deuter Futura 32 Daypack
$170
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Granite Gear Round Rock Solid Compression Compression Sack
$25 - $40
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Pack Cover Pack Cover
$25 - $79
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Gregory Baltoro 85 Expedition
$350
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Patagonia Atom Sling 8L Daypack
$59
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Patagonia Black Hole Duffel Pack Duffel
$129 - $199
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Southwest Overnight
$320
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Deuter Trans Alpine 30 Daypack
$84 - $145
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Karrimor Jaguar 65 Weekend
$180
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Mystery Ranch Glacier Weekend
$350
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Gregory Miwok 18 Daypack
$70 - $99
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
SealLine Pro Dry Pack Dry Pack
$250
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Osprey Sirrus 24 Daypack
$140
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Mountainsmith Lariat 65 Weekend
$230
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Porter Weekend
$360
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Mountainsmith Scream 25 Daypack
$60 - $79
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Osprey Aura AG 50 Weekend
$240
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (24)
Osprey Aether 60 Weekend
$219
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (24)
Osprey Exos 58 Weekend
$220
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (19)
Osprey Talon 44 Overnight
$160 - $180
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (18)
CamelBak M.U.L.E. Hydration Pack
$110 - $149
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
$160 - $180
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (16)
Osprey Talon 22 Daypack
$120 - $130
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (16)
Gregory Baltoro 65 Weekend
$267 - $299
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (16)
Deuter Aircontact 75+10 Expedition
$279 - $320
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (15)
CamelBak Rim Runner Hydration Pack
$99 - $100
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 - $54
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
$80 - $129
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (8)
Kelty Trekker 65 External Frame
$140 - $199
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (8)
The North Face Terra 65 Weekend
$114 - $189
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Osprey UL Raincover Pack Cover
$30 - $40
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Windrider Weekend
$345 - $375
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
EMS Packable Pack Daypack
$32
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Deuter Futura Pro 34 SL Overnight
$111 - $190
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Gregory Alpaca Duffle Pack Duffel
$91 - $169
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Mystery Ranch Coulee 40 Overnight
$229
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Osprey Xena 85 Expedition
$209 - $380
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Fjallraven Kajka 75 Expedition
$400
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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.

Recent Backpack Reviews

rated 5 of 5 stars
Mystery Ranch Glacier

Designed For The Long Haul. Being a gear junkie you end up going through a lot of different backpacks. After owning and using many styles and brands, I found that the most durable and comfortable packs are typically in the hunting and tactical series. That being said, most of these companies do have an expedition line such as Eberlestock and Mystery Ranch. Kifaru, Kuiu, Exo, Badlands and others make some excellent packs, but in Canada, price and availability create a problem. Having owned six Eberlestock… Full review

rated 5 of 5 stars
Kelty External Frame Backpacks

I love the External Frame Backpack for the external frame... I don't get up sweaty back it has me walking in a more upright position ultimately it's more stable on the trail. . . ... I disliked your article about external frame backpacks, I can carry a Ultralight gear load or a 4 season gear load...an internal frame backpack will have you walking in a more bent-over position all day...a External Frame Backpack will have you hiking in a more upright position as you walk...My Kelty Trekker has a life… Full review

rated 5 of 5 stars
Osprey Exos 58

Light enough, big enough, comfy enough—SO durable. I've had this pack for years now. It's definitely not Ultralight, but it's close. It travels well on the trail, even with a heavy load. It's been a great urban travel pack, and also has been a great air travel pack (I hate suitcases). The tensioned mesh keeps my back cool and less sweaty. This pack fit me well, as designed. Lots of adjustment and tensioning options to settle the load well. I'm tall and lanky, and I have always been happy with… Full review

rated 3 of 5 stars
Hyperlite Mountain Gear 4400 Windrider

Impossibly light, too big for the limited weight capacity. The obvious: this bag is impossibly light for the volume. I personally love a bare bones pack that is essentially a stuff sack on straps. If I were to buy again, I would go with Hyperlite, but I would go smaller. I got this pack because you can roll down the excess space not being used. The fact of the matter: 70 liters of gear weighs too much for the straps and dyneema to handle. Unless you are stuffing feathers in here, go for the smaller… Full review

rated 5 of 5 stars
Vorn Lynx 12-20L

The Vorn Lynx is a high quality specialty backpack for hunters that enables you to carry a rifle in comfort with instant access to it when needed. Anyone who has carried a 10lb rifle mainly on their shoulder for a day knows how uncomfortable it can get after a while. There are many different slings and contraptions to try and make carrying a rifle comfortable while giving easy access and they all work to some degree, but all require some sort of compromise and all interfere with your backpack so… Full review

rated 4.5 of 5 stars
Gregory Alpaca Duffle

This is a review of the largest (120 liter) Alpaca, whose primary role will be long trips and transporting my big backpack and gear. Durable fabrics and features mean the bag will last a very long time. It has comfortable shoulder straps and multiple handles for getting around. Top opening is big, a plus for packing. If there is a downside, the removable shoulder straps lack a quick release—takes some work.   BASIC INFO Shows how the shoulder straps attach at the top. Dog and starfish not included. Full review

rated 5 of 5 stars
Osprey Exos 38

Best lightweight backpacking pack I've used. Definitely recommend for lightweight packing, for those who are not into ultralight backpacking and comfort is still important. Do not recommend for people packing heavier loads. I have definitely found that packing >30 lbs significantly and negatively affects comfort. Normally, my total pack weight is somewhere between 24-28 lbs, food and water included. Fit: 5/5 stars, excellent fit. I am a woman 5'7", 135 lbs. I bought the pack when it was "unisex"… Full review

rated 5 of 5 stars
Gregory Baltoro 65

Phenomenal pack, great for the thru hiker and more. At French Louie's fire pit along the Northville-Lake Placid Trail   West Canada Lakes lean-to along the NPT   Tirrell Pond area along the NPT This pack is rugged and very comfortable. My husband carried it on the Northville Placid Trail and many other thru hikes with no problems. I would highly recommend it for anyone who needs comfort and durability. We carried gear and food for 14 days. Repacking in the morning was a breeze and no issues with… Full review

rated 4.5 of 5 stars
Lowe Alpine Aeon 27

Nice size for day hikes or ultralight camping. Suitable also for climbing, running, or cycling. Bought last year and have used it for about 6 months. One of the Youtube reviews for this pack has it thrown off a mountain in Scotland and it survives with hardly a scar. Keeping that in mind you'll know it may be light, but it's rugged. I'm primarily a hiker, but I usually take a DSLR and 1-2 extra lens. With a few drybags, lens pouches, and drawstring pouches it's workable to divide all your kit. Not… Full review