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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 September 3, 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
$149 - $188
user rating: 5 of 5 (6)
Deuter Kid Comfort Child Carrier Frame
$300 - $315
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
Osprey Talon 11 Daypack
$85 - $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 - $44
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 - $179
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Southwest Overnight
$320
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Deuter Trans Alpine 30 Daypack
$130 - $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
$280
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
$80
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Osprey Aura AG 50 Weekend
$240
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 - $700
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (16)
Osprey Kestrel 48 Overnight
$117 - $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
$300
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
$36 - $89
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (10)
Osprey Kestrel 38 Overnight
$104 - $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
$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
$153 - $190
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Gregory Alpaca Duffle Pack Duffel
$116 - $169
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Mystery Ranch Coulee 40 Overnight
$229
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Osprey Xena 85 Expedition
$247 - $380
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Fjallraven Kajka 75 Expedition
$400
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Marmot Kompressor Daypack
$55 - $60
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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 4.5 of 5 stars
Deuter Futura 30 SL

Easily the best backpack I've ever had, lots of compartments, spacious enough for an all-day hike, and extremely comfortable as well. This review is based on the 2015 version I purchased at REI that year (the review itself is the one I wrote for REI's website a month or so after purchasing). This bag is much bigger than I thought it would be, and that's a good thing. It's more versatile than I expected.  Deuter's website states the two side bellow pockets add a combined 3L to the size of the pack. Additionally,… Full review

rated 4 of 5 stars
Helikon-Tex Chest Pack Numbat

A product from European outdoor gear manufacturer Helikon Tex; from their bushcraft line. An excellent pouch to carry immediate necessities for bush, trail, or even around town. Light, of excellent quality, and very affordable. This is an affordable, lightweight chest pack that can carry some immediate necessities where they can be reached easily. The Helikon Tex Numbat is a well designed, well built rig.  Front view of the Numbat.There are two stuff pouches ion the front here.There is also MOLLE… Full review

rated 4.5 of 5 stars
Osprey Talon Pro 20

A highly-responsive daypack from Osprey that incorporates some nice features for those with technical needs, but perhaps a little overkill for the average weekend hiker. As a long-time user of the non-Pro version of the Talon pack, I found the Pro version to be mostly the same, with some slight upgrades here and there, with the most noticeable being an improved ride (fits closer and doesn't jostle around). Personal Experience with Osprey Daypacks:I’ve used the Osprey Talon 22 as my primary daypack… Full review

rated 3.5 of 5 stars
M48 OPS Canvas Two-Pocket Ammo Pouch with Belt Loop

The M48 Ops Ammo Pouch, a knockoff of the military ammo pouches used by our armed forces, is a two-pocket pouch with waterproof linings inside the pockets. Great to store all of your smaller camping gear, can be used as a fanny pack, or a designated pack for first aid. Multiply pouches can be placed on thee same belt, or could be attached to an existing backpack for additional storage.   The M48 Ops Two-Pocket Ammo Bag    Dimensions:  8" High  6 1/2" Wide  2" Deep Weight: 5.8 oz. Material:… Full review

rated 4.5 of 5 stars
Major Surplus & Survival TSVB Survival Vest

In short, this is a deconstructed backpack situated into a vest. I call it my Bug Out Vest. Great to use on solo adventure days or weekend trips, to have in your car or truck in case of an emergency, or just as a wearable bug out bag. I have owned mine for over 20 years and it still is in great shape (although a little faded) and have traveled everywhere with it, including on my solo trek overseas traveling across Europe. It has 18 external pockets, including a large pocket located at the lower… Full review

rated 3.5 of 5 stars
Eagle Creek ORV Wheeled Duffel International Carry On

This is a great International Carry On sized piece of luggage for the serious traveler. Mine had a minor failure, hence the three stars. If you get one with no issues, the design and function of this little pack could be excellent for business and pleasure. I’m a backpack man. From my first overnight at my grandparents to more recent adventures in Panama and Iceland, I packed a pack that went on my back, no wheeled luggage for me. One of the contributing reasons for my pack preference is a wildly… Full review

rated 1 of 5 stars
Klymit Motion 60

Very poor durabiltiy I bought this pack and used it on 4 overnight trips. After the last trip, there are three straps that have come apart from the pack and one of the main shoulder straps is about to come apart completely. When contacted Klymit declined to cover it under their lifetime warranty, and said it was normal wear and tear, after only four trips and less than 60 miles. I give it 1 star for durability and poor customer relations. Full review

rated 4.5 of 5 stars
Gregory Juno 30 H2O

The Gregory Juno 30 H20 is a women's fit daypack with integrated 3L hydration reservoir (hence the H20 designation). It is excellent for long day hikes or when you need to carry several liters of water. The shape and moisture-wicking fabric on the back make the pack very comfortable, even with heavy loads. With many compartments and storage areas, the Gregory Juno 30 H20 will keep your essentials, valuables, and extras secure while you climb trails. Gregory also offers this pack in Plus Size, as… Full review

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