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

Osprey Flux

rated 4 of 5 stars This has been a great day pack. The multiple compartments allow separation of gear, clothes and food. Very comfortable and well made. Full review

RōM Outdoors RōM Pack

rated 4 of 5 stars A backpack that has a few specific applications and performs very well for those situations. Perfect for picnic adventures or a backup car poncho/blanket. The pack is very comfortable and quick to take apart and put back together. I received a sample of this product from the brand or its representatives in exchange for a review.  I recently tried out the RoM pack on a day trip in Cheaha State Park where we packed in food for the day and planned to stop mid-hike for a nice break and to check out… Full review

Kelty Redwing

rated 5 of 5 stars I love this pack. I'm 6'1" and my wife is 5'4" and we both use it. I just finished hiking at Acadia National Park hiking just under 40 miles in four days from Sand Beach to Cadillac Mountain. I used it as a daypack carrying a soft side cooler with cold drinks and lunch for two, Swiss Army Knife, Garmin 60CSx, raincoats. I will never part with it. Full review

Eureka! Barrel StormShield Universal Harness

rated 3.5 of 5 stars Add backpack straps to almost any container or object, so long as it fits within the straps. For use with a gear barrel, Pelican case, duffel bag, small kayak, etc... use your imagination!! Grey front handle and back pad, LESS padding, and yellow shoulder adjustment straps distinguish this harness from the more expensive "Expedition" model. This is the cheaper of the two barrel harnesses that Eureka! has made. (Harness only! Container reviewed separately) Fit (10/10): Unisex, Universal fit. The… Full review

REI Men's Lookout 40 Pack

rated 4 of 5 stars Comfortable and enough volume for a winter day hike or snowshoe trip. Excellent design and arrangement. Durable, but therefore a bit heavy. Other than weight I find this product one of the best of many daypacks I have owned. I need this much volume in winter or on a climb where there is a possibility of spending an unexpected night out. Any bladder can be hung in the pack if you use a little ingenuity and paracord to attach the key clip to the bladder suspension system. My sternum straps DO move… Full review

Eureka! Terra Cotta Canoe Barrel

rated 5 of 5 stars Gear barrel, barrel pack, canoe barrel * NOT A BEAR-PROOF BARREL * This is a 64L food-grade (HDPE) "total-opening" cylindrical plastic drum with screw-on gasketted lid. Manufactured by CURTEC, and originally used for transporting pharmaceuticals. When they are retired, EUREKA! takes these barrels, cleans them, and gives them a second life as a canoeist's gear barrel. The size and weight of gear barrels make them less than ideal for long-distance backpacking on dry land. But being waterproof gives… Full review

RōM Outdoors RōM Pack

rated 1.5 of 5 stars The RōM Pack is a convertible backpack that can unfold into a poncho or a blanket....but ultimately it is this idea that is the reason the product fails. This isn't something that solves a need and even if it did, the execution was poor. The RōM Pack is a convertible backpack that can unfold into a poncho or a blanket.  As a backpack… What I like: It is stylish The material quality is heavy duty What I didn't like: It is very heavy…when empty The main pocket isn't very large due to the excess… Full review

Osprey Aether 85

rated 5 of 5 stars When it comes to packs, you want something comfortable. It needs to be well made, rugged, and have useful features. I’ve owned the Osprey Aether 85 for some time now and wouldn’t change it for anything else. Intro: When it comes to packs, you want something comfortable. It needs to be well made, rugged, and have useful features. I’ve owned the Osprey Aether 85 for some time now and wouldn’t change it for anything else. Here is my break down review of the pack: Comfort: -       I find… Full review

Osprey Transporter 95

rated 4 of 5 stars Great convertible duffle/backpack. Rain resistant and bomb-proof. TSA friendly. Check it in! As an active Scouter with a Pack AND Troop, I camp a lot. I've purchased different bags over the years in an effort to find the perfect bag. Is the Transporter the go-to bag? Not exactly, but pretty close. When my Troop went to Hawaii at Camp Pupukea, I looked around for a duffle bag that the Scouts could use regularly and was TSA friendly (i.e., lockable). After several trips to REI and beyond, I settled… Full review

Top-Rated Backpacks

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

user rating: 5 of 5 (10)
ULA Equipment Catalyst Expedition Pack
$250
user rating: 5 of 5 (7)
CamelBak Cloud Walker Hydration Pack
$84 - $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
$70 - $100
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
Deuter Futura 32 Daypack
$74
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
$23 - $41
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Deuter Kid Comfort II Child Carrier
$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
$150 - $199
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Gregory Miwok 18 Daypack
$100
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Deuter ACT Trail 24 Daypack
$120
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Osprey Sirrus 24 Daypack
$130
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Mountainsmith Lariat 65 Weekend Pack
$126 - $183
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
$85 - $169
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
$88 - $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
$300
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (15)
CamelBak Rim Runner Hydration Pack
$91 - $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
$199 - $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
$31 - $39
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
$119 - $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
$157 - $206
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.