Backpacks

The best backpacks, reviewed and curated by the Trailspace community. The latest review was added on May 19, 2019. Stores' prices and availability are updated daily.

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 »

Recent Backpack Reviews

Marmot Calistoga

rated 4.5 of 5 stars A very well-made and designed pack for day-to-day utility, cycling, or day-trips such as bird-watching on even trails. With the cost of back-packs these days, it is a great relief to see a well-respected brand such as Marmot offer inexpensive packs such as the Calistoga. It is thirty-two dollars, and free shipping from Marmot direct. The quality is evident when you receive this pack, the main zipper being the heavy-duty type that will not pull apart if the pack is over-stuffed (easy to do at 30L). Full review

Osprey Talon 22

rated 5 of 5 stars Light weight, super comfortable, quality day pack. I would buy it again. My wife and I both have versions of this pack.  We both love them.  Hers is a blue and green color combo and mine is the black and grey.  I am much harder on gear and use packs more extensively.  My wife uses hers for the occasional day hike and on all of our traveling adventures. These Ospreys are light and comfortable, but very durable.  They are quality packs and we both feel like they are enjoyable, convenient and… Full review

Gregory Matia 28

rated 2 of 5 stars Not for any serious outdoor use. Limited by poorly designed zippers and compartments. Straps are not comfortable and it isn't a piece of kit that I enjoy using. I didn't see many reviews on this pack when I was considering it but what I did see were pretty decent. The sale price I paid was $29 and I figured it would be good to try it out for that cheap. I was hesitant but took the leap and was really surprised at some of the reviews after I began using this pack. They seemed to be unrealistic. I… Full review

Gregory Triconi 60

rated 5 of 5 stars Terrific backpack! Bought it eight years ago for 360$ CAD. Best pack I've ever had. Sixteen days a years in the AT and he is in really good shape in date of today. Packed ultra light—day clothes, night clothes, rain coat, water pump, nafta stove, headlamp, tent, sleeping bag etc. Full review

Fjallraven Men's Kajka 65

rated 4 of 5 stars This pack is what I use as a Wilderness Guide in Tasmania. It is durable, adjustable, and holds more gear than it rightly should; all while transferring the load to the large hip belt in a comfortable way. Great for heavy loads. The Fjallraven Kaja 65l is a pack built with old-school workmanship and new-school features. I chose this for my work as a Wilderness Guide due to the adjustability and durability; although it is quite heavy compared to most packs. This pack is designed as a load hauler. Full review

UltrAspire Speedgoat 2.0 Hydration Belt

rated 5 of 5 stars This cool lightweight waist pack has ended my vest wearing days! It is comfortable and stable with no bouncing or rubbing. As a long time ultra-runner I have been wearing a hydration vest since they came out as I didn't like the bouncing of the water bottle on my lower back. The vest felt heavy on my back and the bottles always seemed like they would fall out—and it was a such pain to get stuff out of the back of the pack.  I wanted to rid myself of the monkey on my back so I ordered the UltrAspire… Full review

Osprey Atmos AG 65

rated 4 of 5 stars Comfortable. Adjustable. Durable. Convenient. Affordable. This pack is very durable and comfortable. It is not anti-gravity, despite its name. Tends toward the heavy end but is a great compromise where ruggedness outweighs the need for speed. I have the 65 which has the roominess of my old favorite Kelty frame pack. If I miss something it’s the well defined compartments. I find it challenging to organize and access all my junk. But that inconvenience is moot in consideration of its comfort. If… Full review

Ozark Trail Atka 28L

rated 5 of 5 stars This is an incredible deal, but it has been discontinued! Still available online, clearanced! I am a 6-foot tall male, weighing 185 lbs and it fits just as well as other day packs I've tried. This is almost a copy of the famed REI Flash 18 or 20L packs that cost three times this much This pack fits me fine and is very comfortable for lightweight loads. I use it as a day pack when doing multi-day hikes. It's light enough that I don't mind putting it in my backpack and it takes up almost no space… Full review

The North Face Men's Surge

rated 4.5 of 5 stars Very good functional and well organized laptop and overnight pack for short and extended trips. Features multiple dedicated fleece-lined compartments including laptop, tablet, and documents sleeves, pockets for sunglasses, and phone and a padded top handle. I recently purchased this pack and took it on a business trip to Japan. There was enough storage area to pack my 15-inch laptop, accessories, sunglasses, phone, wallet, notebook, toiletries, hat, and one set of clothes. The shoulder straps are… Full review

user rating: 5 of 5 (7)
CamelBak Cloud Walker Hydration Pack
$63 - $85
user rating: 5 of 5 (6)
The North Face Terra 40 Overnight
$112 - $149
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
Osprey Talon 11 Daypack
$75 - $100
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Patagonia Atom Daypack
$44 - $79
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Granite Gear Round Rock Solid Compression Compression Sack
$24 - $29
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Equinox Katahdin Weekend
$117
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Pack Cover Pack Cover
$23 - $41
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
REI Trail 40 Overnight
$119
user rating: 5 of 5 (4)
Deuter Kid Comfort II Child Carrier
$188 - $199
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Patagonia Black Hole Duffel Pack Duffel
$77 - $169
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Southwest Overnight
$310
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Deuter Trans Alpine 30 Daypack
$98
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Karrimor Jaguar 65 Weekend
$180
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
SealLine Pro Portage Pack Dry Pack
$150 - $249
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Gregory Miwok 18 Daypack
$55 - $99
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Deuter ACT Trail 24 Daypack
$78 - $89
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Osprey Sirrus 24 Daypack
$130
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Mountainsmith Lariat 65 Weekend
$172 - $229
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Porter Weekend
$345
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Ultimate Direction PB Adventure Vest Hydration Pack
$92 - $169
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Osprey Aura AG 50 Weekend
$180 - $240
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (23)
Osprey Exos 58 Weekend
$165 - $220
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (19)
Osprey Talon 44 Overnight
$120 - $160
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (18)
CamelBak M.U.L.E. Hydration Pack
$77 - $110
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (17)
Deuter ACT Lite 65+10 Weekend
$136 - $209
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (16)
Osprey Kestrel 48 Overnight
$126 - $180
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (16)
Deuter Aircontact 75+10 Expedition
$225 - $310
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (15)
CamelBak Rim Runner Hydration Pack
$75 - $104
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (15)
Osprey Talon 22 Daypack
$82 - $110
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (14)
Granite Gear Vapor Trail Weekend
$100
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (14)
Gregory Baltoro 65 Weekend
$225 - $299
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (13)
REI Flash 18 Daypack
$40
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
$150 - $180
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (11)
Sea to Summit eVent Compression Dry Sack Dry Bag / Compression Sack
$22 - $49
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (11)
Mountainsmith Tour Lumbar/Hip Pack
$56 - $79
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (10)
Osprey Kestrel 38 Overnight
$120 - $160
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (10)
Mountainsmith Bugaboo Daypack
$104 - $129
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (8)
The North Face Terra 65 Weekend
$120 - $189
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Osprey UL Raincover Pack Cover
$23 - $40
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Granite Gear Nimbus Trace Access 70 Weekend
$217
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Kelty Redwing 32 Daypack
$73 - $99
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Windrider Weekend
$345
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Deuter Futura Pro 34 SL Overnight
$128 - $170
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Osprey Xena 85 Expedition
$285 - $380
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Matador Daylite16 Daypack
$50
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Fjallraven Kajka 75 Weekend
$400
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Mystery Ranch Glacier Weekend
$227 - $350
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Marmot Kompressor Daypack
$33 - $50
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Osprey Tempest 30 Daypack
$103 - $140
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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.