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

Brand

ULA Equipment
CamelBak
The North Face
Osprey
Deuter
Granite Gear
Patagonia
Equinox
Sea to Summit
Hyperlite Mountain Gear

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

Arc'teryx Bora 65

rated 4 of 5 stars Long range comfort and durability with one issue. Read that this pack is the shizzzz, but with one big issue. The pack's main body is made of two different nylon fabrics. There's rip-stop of the main color and plain weave nylon panels of the sides, back and bottom. Both were urethane coated for waterproofing, but only the rip-stop coating remains intact and looks clear and shiny as when new. The coating on the plain weave nylon that consists of half or more of the pack has yellowed and is sloughing… Full review

Klymit Motion 60

rated 5 of 5 stars I bought this pack about a year ago to replace another ultra light pack I had worn out. (Wild Things AT pack, which I still like, but it is basically just a bag with straps on it). I was hesitant to buy this Klymit Motion 60, without trying it on first, but I took a chance, and I must say I have been absolutely pleased in every way possible. This pack is very light, super comfortable, and carries everything I need for a few days of wilderness travel. Excellent design! Well made pack. The price I… Full review

Matador Daylite16

rated 5 of 5 stars Overall, I would highly recommend the Matador DL16 backpack to anyone. Not only is this a quality piece of gear for the avid camper and hiker, it has a multitude of other uses; from carrying around school books and laptops on campus, to holding souvenirs and passports while exploring a new country. This backpack is truly a great investment and is something that I look forward to using on a variety of future adventures. As a member of another website, I was given this product in exchange for a review. Full review

Renogy Solar Backpack

rated 3 of 5 stars As a backpack it is great, and the solar panels are an added bonus. Overall I'm very happy with the backpack and will definitely make use of it, though if I were to need a solar charging kit, I'd probably buy it separately from the backpack itself. I don't see the practicality of hiking with the solar panel charging…the pack would only be a daypack, but if you only need a daypack, your phone should be fine for just a day. You'd get better performance from a stationary panel, which is how I used… Full review

Granite Gear Nimbus Trace Access 85

rated 0.5 of 5 stars No home run... …but it could have been.  After receiving my new NTA 85 size Short today I was at first impressed with seeing its well done aspects, so after checking the torso adjustment recommended and finding it on the 16" setting (which is my measurement), I loaded it with 30 lbs to check the feel. That's when my disappointment set in. Several huge design flaws became very evident and makes this a pack that just doesn't work for anyone, PERIOD. I know this is going to hurt sales of this pack,… Full review

Camp Trails Explorer

rated 5 of 5 stars This pack is sturdy and roomy. Perfect for the average amateur hiker. Bought this pack in 2007 for a five-day hike of the Appalachian Trail (from Springer Mountain to Neels Gap—36 miles). A group of me, two adult brothers, and a teenage grandson each. I hauled all my gear—food, water, water filter, sleeping bag, etc., plus the tent for myself and my grandson—through the heat and thunderstorms of July. This pack was flawless. I don't have anything to compare it to. I've never had any other… Full review

Osprey Ace 38

rated 5 of 5 stars This is the scaled down pack I was in search of for my 7-year-old grandson to introduce him to THE JOYS. After a disappointing experience with a kid's Deuter Fox 30 I returned for refund, I was back hunting down the right one for Nyca when I ran into this online. Retail runs $140 and I bought the last one on closeout for $84 shipped. I'm a poor grandpa so I have to hunt the bargains. When it came in a week later I was blissed. This is the real thing and it fits his 11.5" torso now and should get… Full review

U.S. Military ILBE Pack

rated 5 of 5 stars By far the best pack at even double its price. It's an Arc'teryx Bora in disguise and Cadillac in comfort. This mama will carry a HEAVY load in comfort and last for lifetimes; that's plural. I bought the first one three years ago in "very good condition" from ammocanman on eBay for $135 shipped and liked it so much that when I recently saw a new one from a smaller vendor on eBay for $100 I jumped on it and gave the first to my 36-year-old son. FYI; they cost the military $700+ per unit. What a bargain… Full review

Granite Gear Nimbus Trace Access 85

rated 0.5 of 5 stars Farewell, Granite Gear. You won't be missed nor will the turds you call packs. They're by far the worst. As soon as I received the Nimbus Trace Access 85 Short I checked the torso adjust and it came at 16", which is my size. Loaded 30+ pounds correctly and cinched the side compression straps to stabilize the light load close to my back. Long story short; after several hours on, off, adjust, on and walking around the house it was impossible to keep; as it's the most dysfunctional backpack I've ever… Full review

Top-Rated Backpacks

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

user rating: 5 of 5 (10)
ULA Equipment Catalyst Expedition Pack
$250
user rating: 5 of 5 (7)
CamelBak Cloud Walker Hydration Pack
$64 - $85
user rating: 5 of 5 (6)
The North Face Terra 40 Overnight Pack
$149
user rating: 5 of 5 (6)
ULA Equipment Ohm 2.0 Weekend Pack
$200
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
Osprey Talon 11 Daypack
$100
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
Deuter Futura 32 Daypack
$112
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Granite Gear Round Rock Solid Compression Sack
$20 - $34
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Patagonia Atom Daypack
$59 - $79
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Equinox Katahdin Weekend Pack
$117
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Pack Cover Pack Cover
$25 - $29
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Deuter Kid Comfort II Child Carrier
$249 - $250
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Southwest Overnight Pack
$310
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Deuter Trans Alpine 30 Daypack
$130
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
SealLine Pro Portage Pack Dry Pack
$200
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Gregory Miwok 18 Daypack
$99
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Deuter ACT Trail 24 Daypack
$119 - $120
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Osprey Sirrus 24 Daypack
$130
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Mountainsmith Lariat 65 Weekend Pack
$184 - $229
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
REI Trail 40 Overnight Pack
$76 - $119
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Porter Weekend Pack
$345
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Ultimate Direction PB Adventure Vest Hydration Pack
$93 - $126
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Osprey Aura AG 50 Weekend Pack
$172 - $240
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (50)
Osprey Aether 70 Weekend Pack
$199
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (23)
Osprey Exos 58 Weekend Pack
$220
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (19)
Osprey Talon 44 Overnight Pack
$160
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (18)
CamelBak M.U.L.E. Hydration Pack
$108 - $110
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (17)
Deuter ACT Lite 65+10 Weekend Pack
$209
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (16)
Osprey Kestrel 48 Overnight Pack
$180
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (16)
Deuter Aircontact 75+10 Expedition Pack
$299 - $300
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (15)
CamelBak Rim Runner Hydration Pack
$99 - $104
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (14)
Osprey Talon 22 Daypack
$110
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (13)
ULA Equipment Circuit Weekend Pack
$225
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (13)
Gregory Baltoro 65 Weekend Pack
$190 - $299
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (13)
The North Face Big Shot Overnight Pack
$119
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (13)
REI Flash 18 Daypack
$40 - $44
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (12)
Mountainsmith Day Lumbar/Hip Pack
$67 - $89
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (11)
Osprey Volt 60 Weekend Pack
$180
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (11)
Sea to Summit eVent Compression Dry Sack Dry Bag / Compression Sack
$23 - $69
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (11)
Mountainsmith Tour Lumbar/Hip Pack
$60 - $79
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (10)
Osprey Kestrel 38 Overnight Pack
$160
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (8)
The North Face Terra 65 Weekend Pack
$179
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Patagonia Black Hole Duffel Pack Duffel
$104 - $169
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 Weekend Pack
$192 - $349
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Kelty Redwing 32 Daypack
$100
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Windrider Weekend Pack
$345
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Deuter Futura Pro 34 SL Overnight Pack
$159 - $170
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Osprey Xena 85 Expedition Pack
$380
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Matador Daylite16 Daypack
$50
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Fjallraven Kajka 75 Weekend Pack
$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.