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 »


External Frame
Winter Packs
Hydration Packs
Front Packs
Lumbar/Hip Packs
Child Carriers
Dry Packs
Portage Packs
Rope Bags


ULA Equipment
The North Face
Granite Gear
Sea to Summit
Hyperlite Mountain Gear




less than $25
$25 - $49.99
$50 - $99.99
$100 - $199.99
$200 - $299.99
$300 - $399.99
$400 - $499.99
$500 and above

Top-Rated Backpacks

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

user rating: 3.5 of 5 (1)
Metolius Speedster Rope Bag
$35 - $46
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (1)
Thule Stir 35L Overnight Pack
$92 - $139
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (1)
Kelty Redwing 40 Overnight Pack
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (1)
JanSport Helios Overnight Pack
$89 - $90
user rating: 3 of 5 (4)
Gregory Deva 70 Weekend Pack
$192 - $349
user rating: 3 of 5 (2)
Sea to Summit Accessory Straps Sling/Strap
$8 - $9
user rating: 3 of 5 (2)
Granite Gear Nimbus Trace Access 85 Expedition Pack
$222 - $225
user rating: 3 of 5 (2)
Mountainsmith Rain Cover Pack Cover
$15 - $21
user rating: 3 of 5 (2)
Gregory Denali 100 Expedition Pack
$350 - $399
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
CamelBak Arete 18 Hydration Pack
$52 - $65
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Nathan Mirage Pak Lumbar/Hip Pack
$14 - $20
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Gregory Alpinisto 35 Overnight Pack
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Deuter ACT Trail PRO 32 SL Daypack
$159 - $160
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
JanSport WatchTower Daypack
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Gregory Border 35 Overnight Pack
$112 - $149
user rating: 2.5 of 5 (1)
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Summit Pack Daypack
user rating: 2.5 of 5 (2)
ALPS Mountaineering Zion Pack External Frame Backpack
user rating: 2.5 of 5 (2)
Black Diamond Saga 40 Jetforce Avalanche Airbag Pack Avalanche Airbag Pack
$862 - $1,149
user rating: 2 of 5 (1)
Osprey DigiStow Pack Pocket
user rating: 0.5 of 5 (1)
SealLine Urban Backpack Dry Pack
$150 - $169
user rating: 0 of 5 (1)
Osprey MapWrap Pack Pocket
$14 - $18
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
CamelBak Skeeter Hydration Pack
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (4)
Kelty Yukon 48 External Frame Backpack
$119 - $179
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (2)
CamelBak Mini M.U.L.E. Hydration Pack
$49 - $50
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Deuter Climber Daypack
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Osprey Ace 38 Overnight Pack
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Gregory Sucia 28 Daypack
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Osprey Ace 50 Weekend Pack
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Deuter Fox 40 Overnight Pack
user rating: 4 of 5 (2)
Deuter Fox 30 Daypack
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
The North Face Youth Terra 55 Weekend Pack
$100 - $159
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
CamelBak Scout Hydration Pack
$59 - $60
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
REI Tarn 18 Daypack
Lowe Alpine Baggage Handler Pack Cover
Deuter Futura Vario Pro 45+10 SL Overnight Pack
Thule Versant 50L Weekend Pack
$192 - $239
Marmot Kompressor Meteor Daypack
The North Face Alpine 50 Weekend Pack
Gregory Amber 34 Overnight Pack
$112 - $139
Phil & Teds Escape Child Carrier
Fjallraven Abisko 55 Weekend Pack
Gregory Avenues Millcreek Daypack
Ultimate Direction Mountain Belt 4.0 Lumbar/Hip Pack
Ultimate Direction Fury Lumbar/Hip Pack
UltrAspire Momentum Race Vest Hydration Pack
Mountainsmith Mayhem 35 Overnight Pack
$112 - $139
Gregory Zulu 55 Weekend Pack
$149 - $199
Mystery Ranch Flip Top Box Pack Pocket
$36 - $44
Gregory Salvo 18 Daypack
$75 - $99
Black Diamond Element 60 Weekend Pack
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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.


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.