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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 December 2, 2021. Stores' prices and availability are updated daily.

user rating: 5 of 5 (7)
CamelBak Cloud Walker Hydration Pack
$68 - $90
user rating: 5 of 5 (6)
The North Face Terra 40 Overnight
$149
user rating: 5 of 5 (6)
Deuter Kid Comfort Child Carrier Frame
$260 - $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
$20 - $26
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
$262 - $349
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 - $144
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 - $279
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
$85 - $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
$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
$225 - $299
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (16)
Deuter Aircontact 75+10 Expedition
$310 - $320
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (15)
CamelBak Rim Runner Hydration Pack
$75 - $100
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (12)
Mountainsmith Day Lumbar/Hip Pack
$90
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 - $79
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
$230
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 - $355
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
EMS Packable Pack Daypack
$32
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Deuter Futura Pro 34 SL Overnight
$170 - $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
$225 - $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 2 of 5 stars
Field & Stream Mountain Scout 65L

While initially a comfortable, huge pack, the Mountain Scout failed in short order. Padding breakdown, broken components, failed stitching...we had it all. Dick's Sporting Goods had these packs on sale for Father's Day 7 or 8 years ago. I bought them for my son and I. These 65L packs offer lots of storage options, and include a generously-sized "brain" and a rain cover. The pack has a separate bottom pocket accessible from the front and main cargo area accessible from the top. Initial impressions… Full review

rated 4 of 5 stars
Six Moon Designs Minimalist V2

Six Moon Designs updated their 2018 Minimalist pack last year with an entirely new version that kept the good parts of the original while resolving some of that pack's issues. Still configurable with removable hip belt and internal stay and sold with optional shoulder harness or vest the V2 is best for light/UL packers looking for day after day comfort carrying lighter loads. If you've read my review of the 2018 Minimalist you know that I really liked that pack, especially for distance hiking. After… Full review

rated 5 of 5 stars
Mystery Ranch Coulee 25

Indestructible, adjustable, and crazy comfortable daypack that falls under Buy Once - Cry Once. I'd heard of Mystery Ranch packs, which are manufactured in Bozeman, Montana, but always thought they were way too heavy for backpacking and maybe a little more geared to the hunting/survivalist/outdoors work market. But I wanted a daypack that would handle heavier loads for winter, some lash options, and could maybe work for a super light overnight with minimal  gear. In doing a search I ran across… Full review

rated 5 of 5 stars
ULA Circuit

Very comfortable pack with up to 35 pounds. Easy to modify to make the pack lighter Bought last year before an AT section hike. I took the shock cord off and the water hydration pocket  and wallet pocket to reduce weight. It holds all my winter gear comfortably. Love the stretch pocket. It holds all my essentials plus any wet gear I might have. You can really dial in the comfort with all the adjustments. This year I bought the shoulder water bottle pocket because I had trouble putting my water… Full review

rated 4.5 of 5 stars
L.L.Bean Approach Travel Pack 30L

I recently added this 30L backpack to the assortment of other backpacks I own. I initially purchased as added carrying space from a return airline trip, but I found I also liked it as a daypack for local hiking. I can fit all my extra weather gear into this roomy backpack and the compartment type structure makes it easy to access my most needed gear quickly without rummaging through the entire bag in search of what I need.   Front view of the 30L pack   Inside and top have easy to reach compartments… Full review

rated 5 of 5 stars
Teton Sports Scout 3400

Great backpack for anyone. Have been using for years. I have had this pack for a number of years and used it on hiking trips and backpacking trips of up to seven days. It carries gear comfortably and is easy to organize and pack—lots of loops and straps to attach things to the outside and an ample included rainfly keeps everything dry. Full review

rated 4 of 5 stars
Lowe Alpine Mesa 6

A comfortable, well designed pack, which can carry the essentials for a day hike, dog walk, or mountain run, in a stable and unobtrusive way. I chose this pack to replace a very old Pod Sac, from my climbing days. That was a minimal nylon bag, with a thin attachment strap. By contrast, 30 years later, this is a clever and complex design, which offers the potential for all-day comfort, fully or partially laden, during strenuous activity or a gentle stroll. The bag is a roomy 6 litres in capacity,… Full review

rated 4 of 5 stars
Black Diamond Distance 15 Pack

A spacious 15L running vest style pack that is great for all sorts of adventures.     I saw this pack at a trade show and immediately knew that I needed it for my collection. The running vest style straps and pockets combined with a minimal main body creates a very useful, durable, and comfortable pack. I have used this pack for hiking, alpine scrambles, excursions into the Flatirons (carrying climbing gear), and on occasion riding my bike for transportation. Six pockets on the straps carry all… Full review

rated 4 of 5 stars
Helikon-Tex Foxtrot Mk2

A well designed and high quality product that was designed for the bushcraft crew and may have application for the hiking crowd. This is an early review with on going experimentation.   Helikon-Tex Foxtrot Mk2 This is a well built, robust product for carrying a day's worth of gear for quick exploration and day hike applications. It is well thought out with all kind of organizing pockets found internally. The waist belt is adjustable and comes with PALS webbing also called MOLLE commonly. The PALS… Full review