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 choosing backpacks below »

The best backpacks, reviewed and curated by the Trailspace community. The latest review was added on April 1, 2020. Stores' prices and availability are updated daily.

Recent Backpack Reviews

rated 5 of 5 stars
Mt. Katahdin Hydration Belt

Mine was equipped for tequila shots and fits four travel size bottles of Cuervo Gold and one shot glass. Works great, lightweight and I really can’t add anything else as Goose nailed the efficiency and value of this product. Wear it responsibly!!! Full review

rated 5 of 5 stars
Mt. Katahdin Hydration Belt

Forget brands like Platypus and Nalgene. The most efficient way to carry your beverages on the Appalachian Trail is the Mt Katahdin Hydration Belt. It’s the first of April, and the thru-hiking season is underway. Across the country, myriads of twenty-somethings are leaving their parents’ basements and setting out on the long trails to find the true meaning of life. And while thousands will start at Springer Mountain, Georgia, only a dedicated few will fight through the hangovers and public intoxication… Full review

rated 4.5 of 5 stars
Lowe Alpine TT Bottle Pocket

They never should have discontinued these. These were the perfect way to carry water bottles on your hip belt. Lowe Alpine had three color offerings—all black, black/teal, and the grey model shown here. Why they were discontinued is beyond me. Perfect design...the new owners of Lowe Alpine products NEED to reintroduce these. Full review

rated 4 of 5 stars
Bison Bushcraft Garron Pack

A bespoke, no-fuss sturdy bag ideal for forest work, bushcraft, day walks, and weekend trips for those looking for something with a more traditional appearance and lifetime of use. Bison Bushcraft are based on the South Downs, in Southern England. They specialise in bespoke apparel and gear designed primarily for bush crafting and forest work. It is all handmade in England using the highest quality locally sourced materials. In the past, they outsourced the manufacture of their bags to Frost River,… Full review

rated 5 of 5 stars
Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60

This is a great lightweight pack for loads up to 30 pounds. First of all, this is my favorite backpack. I bought this pack because it weighs in at about 2 pounds and carries loads up to 30 pounds comfortably. One of the best features is the long "quiver" pocket on the side. It is a great way to carry longer items like a rolled up tarp, 2-liter water bag, camp saws, or survival knife. The stretchable mesh front pocket just continues to swallow gear. To keep weight down, the side and front pockets… Full review

rated 5 of 5 stars
CamelBak TransAlp

CamelBak TransAlp was the best ever—no other product had these features. I would buy it immediately if I could. Unfortunately I used my CamelBak TransAlp so often over 10 years, that I had to buy a new one—but there are no packs which are similar to that prefect pack. Hopefully CamelBak makes a revival TransAlp!! The best backpack for all kinds of sports and in the mountains. Full review

rated 5 of 5 stars
Deuter Speed Lite 24

Lightweight, durable comfort. A nice set of features with an easy to like price tag. If you're in the market for a new hiking, alpine, or even knocking around pack, as most of us always are, I want to share my stoke about this one. The Deuter Speed Lite 24 (also available in 12L, 16L, 20L, 22L SL, 26L, 30L SL, and 32L) is my first Deuter pack and has far exceeded my expectations. Despite being frameless, there's enough rigidity to handle loads up to 20 lbs and, given its V-shape cut, it becomes… Full review

rated 3 of 5 stars
Mountain Equipment Kaniq 33

The Kaniq 33 is a lightweight, 33-liter day pack with a full suite of features for ski alpinism or just plain backcountry skiing. Solidly built and snow and water resistant, with some well-thought-out lightweight fittings to keep weight down, but doesn’t ride well when full and not everything functions optimally. As the days get longer in Norway, the summits start calling. They come in many shapes and sizes: everything from broad, avalanche-safe slopes that are still steep enough to cut powder… Full review

rated 4 of 5 stars
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Versa

Versatility is implied in the name for good reason. HMG refers to the Versa as a Fanny Pack and Pack Accessory with suggested uses far beyond just strapping it around your waist. Wearing it around the chest, like a bandolier, or attached to your pack are just a few of the options. Light at just over 4 ounces with strap and under 3 ounces with strap removed, it makes a nice addition to a pack or great standalone space for shorter adventures. Perfect for carrying items you want easy access to like… Full review

user rating: 5 of 5 (7)
CamelBak Cloud Walker Hydration Pack
$56 - $90
user rating: 5 of 5 (6)
The North Face Terra 40 Overnight
$80 - $149
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
Osprey Talon 11 Daypack
$100
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
CamelBak H.A.W.G. Hydration Pack
$182
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Patagonia Atom Daypack
$41 - $55
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 - $41
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
REI Trail 40 Overnight
$129
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Gregory Baltoro 85 Expedition
$262 - $349
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Patagonia Black Hole Duffel Pack Duffel
$90 - $125
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Southwest Overnight
$310 - $500
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Deuter Trans Alpine 30 Daypack
$98 - $130
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Karrimor Jaguar 65 Weekend
$180
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
SealLine Pro Portage Pack Dry Pack
$32 - $249
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Gregory Miwok 18 Daypack
$70 - $99
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Osprey Sirrus 24 Daypack
$130 - $140
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Mountainsmith Lariat 65 Weekend
$52 - $229
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Porter Weekend
$345 - $550
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Ultimate Direction PB Adventure Vest Hydration Pack
$170
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Osprey Aura AG 50 Weekend
$240
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (51)
Osprey Aether 70 Expedition
$310
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (24)
Osprey Aether 60 Weekend
$290
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (23)
Osprey Exos 58 Weekend
$220
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (19)
Osprey Talon 44 Overnight
$160
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (18)
CamelBak M.U.L.E. Hydration Pack
$56 - $144
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
$110 - $120
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (16)
Deuter Aircontact 75+10 Expedition
$233 - $310
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (15)
CamelBak Rim Runner Hydration Pack
$65 - $100
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (14)
Granite Gear Vapor Trail Weekend
$93
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (14)
Gregory Baltoro 65 Weekend
$225 - $299
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (13)
Osprey Aether 85 Expedition
$330
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (13)
REI Flash 18 Daypack
$40
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 - $52
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (11)
Mountainsmith Tour Lumbar/Hip Pack
$45 - $79
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (10)
Mountainsmith Bugaboo Daypack
$84 - $103
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (8)
Kelty Trekker 65 External Frame
$135 - $179
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (8)
The North Face Terra 65 Weekend
$97 - $189
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Osprey UL Raincover Pack Cover
$34 - $40
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Granite Gear Nimbus Trace Access 70 Expedition
$192 - $230
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Kelty Redwing 32 Daypack
$60 - $99
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Windrider Weekend
$345 - $550
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Deuter Futura Pro 34 SL Overnight
$128 - $170
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Mystery Ranch Coulee 40 Overnight
$229
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Osprey Xena 85 Expedition
$380
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Matador Daylite16 Daypack
$37 - $49
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Fjallraven Kajka 75 Expedition
$268 - $299
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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.