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 May 31, 2020. Stores' prices and availability are updated daily.

Recent Backpack Reviews

rated 1 of 5 stars
Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60

I would not be shopping at Gossamer. Customer service alone is a deterrent. There are much better companies to deal that are worthy of our support. The company may have good bags, but unfortunately the service is horrible. They don’t take responsibility for their products. I spend a long time trying to figure out what bag to get, and decided on the Mariposa. Tired it on via a couple of friends and did extensive research. When I received it the web strap on the belt was 1″ which is not what I… Full review

rated 4 of 5 stars
Mystery Ranch In and Out

A 19-liter lightweight packable day pack with sternum strap, three outside pockets, an internal hydration sleeve, compression straps, and half-clamshell zippered opening. Good design for minimalist everyday carry, day hiking, and accessory travel backpack and personal carry-on bag. I bought this backpack as an accessory day pack for "onebag" style travel. My main carry-on travel backpack is a Gregory Compass 30 liter and is too big for day trips.  I have a 46" chest and the shoulder straps wrap… Full review

rated 5 of 5 stars
Gossamer Gear Vagabond Packable

Excellent ultralight and packable 23-liter backpack for EDC, travel, and day hiking. I have owned the Gossamer Gear Type II Summit Pack and the original Vagabond backpack and was happy to see this new update on the Vagabond. There are now three versions of the Vagabond packs in production with the Packable version being the lightest and lowest priced. I do a lot of "onebag" style travel and this version stows easily in my larger carry on pack or can be used as a "personal" carry on flight bag.  … Full review

rated 5 of 5 stars
The North Face Cobra 52

Lightweight, bombproof, and well thought out. A keeper for my uses in winter and summer as well. Been through a few nice ski/board packs. All were beautiful for winter sports. The Cobra is all that and then some. Very light comparatively. Has all the bells and whistles I find necessary without the weight. I was amazed at how it hugged my body while descending some steep trails in the thick of winter. That incorporated design impressed me greatly. I wasn't psyched with the bright red color, but… Full review

rated 5 of 5 stars
Outdoor Research Dry Summit Pack LT

Great minimalist waterproof day pack. Simple and light, very underrated! I have many pieces of Outdoor Research gear, and I have been pleased with all of them. The Outdoor Research Dry Summit Pack LT does not disappoint! Might be light on features, but it checks all of the boxes if you are looking for a minimalist pack. What I like... I have been using it for a week, both as a daypack for work and used on a 5-mile day hike, and the pack performed admirably. Even though it has no internal frame or… Full review

rated 5 of 5 stars
Ozark Trail Atka 28L

A bag for all adventures. I have used this bag all over the world. It's kind of a standing joke with me and my blue bag in Peru, Europe etc... I love it and for $17 at Walmart it is still my go-to bag for the last 10 years. I want another, but they are sold out...I'll keep looking.  Full review

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
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Prism Pack

The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Prism is a 40-liter alpine-focused pack with attachments designed to carry your axes, pickets, tools, crampons, screws, skis, etc. It carries heavy loads well, boasts a woven dyneema face fabric on high wear areas so it's incredibly durable, and can be stripped down to be an ultralight climber's dream. Mountaineers, ski tourers, ice and rock climbers will all appreciate the level of design put into this pack. My one criticism is I am not a huge fan of the G hooks (not… Full review

user rating: 5 of 5 (7)
CamelBak Cloud Walker Hydration Pack
$84 - $90
user rating: 5 of 5 (6)
The North Face Terra 40 Overnight
$90 - $169
user rating: 5 of 5 (6)
Deuter Kid Comfort Child Carrier
$240 - $290
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
$59 - $79
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Granite Gear Round Rock Solid Compression Compression Sack
$20 - $40
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
$350
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
$310 - $500
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Deuter Trans Alpine 30 Daypack
$111 - $130
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Karrimor Jaguar 65 Weekend
$180
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
SealLine Pro Portage Pack Dry Pack
$42 - $249
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Gregory Miwok 18 Daypack
$100
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Osprey Sirrus 24 Daypack
$130 - $140
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Mountainsmith Lariat 65 Weekend
$70 - $229
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Porter Weekend
$300 - $550
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
$82 - $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
$310
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (15)
CamelBak Rim Runner Hydration Pack
$84 - $100
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (14)
Gregory Baltoro 65 Weekend
$300
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (13)
Osprey Aether 85 Expedition
$330
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (13)
REI Flash 18 Daypack
$25 - $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
$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
$49 - $79
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (10)
Mountainsmith Bugaboo Daypack
$104 - $129
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (8)
Kelty Trekker 65 External Frame
$135
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (8)
The North Face Terra 65 Weekend
$135 - $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 - $232
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Kelty Redwing 32 Daypack
$60 - $93
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
$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
$40 - $49
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Fjallraven Kajka 75 Expedition
$300 - $400
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Mystery Ranch Glacier Weekend
$245 - $350
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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.