Top Backpacks Reviewed

When it comes to planning a backpacking trip, a hiking backpack is one of the most important items you’re going to buy.

If only the decision on which backpack to choose was so easy.

The fact is that with so many different styles of backpacks to choose from, figuring out the best one for your adventure could be an overwhelming task.

You have to pinpoint your needs.  Do you need a larger capacity, special storage compartments, more or less compression straps, and sleeping bag holding straps?

Or do you need something smaller like a daypack?

Comfort is one of the biggest deciding factors.  The best part about shopping for your perfect backpacking backpack nowadays is that you really can find a bag that fits your specific body type.

Between back length and shoulder straps there are quite a few options for finding your perfect fitting camping backpack.

See our picks for the best hiking and camping backpacks below.

For details on finding the best camping backpack check out “13 Best Overnight Hiking Backpacks For Men and Women

For those on shorter trips and who just need a simple daypack check out “Best Ultralight Packable Daypack For Hiking and Living

Top Backpacks Rankings

  1. Osprey Packs Exos 48 Backpack

  2. Editors Rating:
    (5 / 5)

    Best Overall Option

    Weight 5.1 lbs
    Capacity 48L
    Cubic Inches 4576"
    Torso Length 31.5"
    Current Price from $166.65
    Pros Lightweight/durable materials, Tough 6065 aluminum alloy peripheral frame, Breathes very easily, ,
    Cons Top loader allows essential items to get easily buried, Shoulder strap material chafes arms and elbows, , ,
    Our Take:

    Osprey Packs Exos 48 Backpack is a great pack for those making the transition to ultralight backpacking.

    Although this pack is a bit on the heavier side for a lightweight pack, it makes up for this weight with the 6065 aluminum alloy peripheral frame that helps the weight sit evenly on your back and helps to eliminate any muscle tightness or back soreness.

    The Exos is also very breathable on your back so you won’t have to worry about a drenched shirt and smelly gear as you trek through warmer temps.

    The material of the bag is very durable, so feel free to toss it around and not fear any serious bruising or tears.

    The extra lower straps are also helpful to carry a sleeping pad or smaller tent.

    This is a top loader bag so plan your packing accordingly, ie don’t bury the things you need more urgently where its hard to get to like food, flashlight, etc..

    Osprey also has one of the best warranties in the biz, so no need to baby this thing around.

    My only complaint is the external shoulder strap material often catches my arm when taking off and putting on causing some uncomfortable chafing.

    This is a very easy workaround and doesn’t diminish the bag’s overall performance.

    Read our full review of the Osprey Packs Exos 48 Backpack

  3. Osprey Men’s Atmos 65 AG Backpack

  4. Editors Rating:
    (4.8 / 5)

    Weight 4.6 lbs
    Capacity 65L
    Cubic Inches 3967"
    Torso Length 23"
    Current Price from $422.64
    Pros Just under 4 pounds, Anti-Gravity suspension system, Lots of pockets, Removable floating lid,
    Cons If not sized properly the water bottle side holder can be uncomfortable, The load lifters seem oddly placed, , ,
    Our Take:

    Osprey Men’s Atmos 65 AG Backpack is a good backpack for the thru-hiker who needs a sturdy pack that is made with high-quality materials inside and out that won’t tear in the first 1000 miles.

    The Atmos includes a whole encompassing Anti-Gravity suspension system that allows the bag to sit very comfortably on your back while providing ventilation from the shoulders all the way down your back allowing the bag to rest comfortably against your back, removing much of the strain that comes along with lugging a 65L bag.

    The suspension is distributed through the back into the hips aided by a very comfortable, larger hip belt while taking much of the weight off the shoulders.

    The internal compression system helps keep the everything inside snug and stable to help weight distribution inside the pack.

    There are also side straps to help carry any extra oddly shaped gear externally.

    Having an adjustable harness that lengthens the bag vertically to give extra support for different sized backpackers There’s plenty of pockets for little and immediate items including a giant (relatively speaking) pocket on the hip belt, while the mesh side bottle holder holds up to a 32oz water jug and sits at an angle to make grabbing your water much easier.

    The Osprey warranty is also one of the best in the business.

    Highly recommend this pack.

    Read our full review of the Osprey Men’s Atmos 65 AG Backpack

    Weight 1.4 lbs
    Capacity 20L
    Cubic Inches 1220"
    Torso Length 16"
    Current Price from $79.00
    Pros Lightweight bag that can handle a number of different scenarios for either day hiking or overnight adventures, Plenty of storage room inside, Airspace mesh stitching for ventilation, ,
    Cons Material can chafe a little, Color is kind of loud, , ,
    Our Take:

    The Osprey Packs Women’s Tempest 20 Backpack is a women’s specific bag that will work perfectly for day hikes or even for just getting around town.

    The Osprey Tempest has a ton of space in the main compartment including an external hydration sleeve, which also unzips all the way to easily locate everything inside.

    There’s plenty of room inside for a long day hike or even an overnight adventure.

    You could easily fit all of your essentials including clothes, food, and a sleeping bag and sleeping pad with the bottom straps.

    Osprey’s Airspace mesh stitching keeps the bag resting comfortably on your back while increasing the breathability of the bag and letting unwanted odors vent away.

    This helps not only the longevity of the bag but keeps you from carrying the stink of your day around with you.

    The Biostretch shoulder harness paired with the inside out compression straps really help the pack rest on your shoulders with a lightweight feel.

    The lid lock helmet attachment is a cool feature for those who are using this for their cycling pack.

    If you’re a female looking for a bag built specifically for you look no further than the Osprey Tempest!

    Read our full review of the Osprey Packs Women’s Tempest 20 Backpack

  5. ALPS OutdoorZ Commander + Pack Bag

  6. Editors Rating:
    (4.7 / 5)

    Weight 7.5 lbs
    Capacity 86L
    Cubic Inches 5250"
    Torso Length 15.4"
    Current Price $112.58
    Pros Great value bag for hunters, Rifle specific side pocket, Enough pockets to carry all of your essentials, Lashing straps give more external space for larger cargo,
    Cons Not waterproof, Shoulder straps were kind of uncomfortable, , ,
    Our Take:

    The ALPS OutdoorZ Commander + Pack Bag is a monster of a bag, built for hunters.

    The OutdoorZ Commander works best for longer outings, especially where you need to tote a lot of gear over the course of days or weeks.

    The bag is really 2 parts, between the pack and the frame which is 15″ wide and the height is adjustable to approximately 36″ – 42″.

    Detaching the frame is simply done by adjusting a pin system.

    Between the frame and the pack itself, the Commander can lug well over 100 pounds.

    There’s even a video on the internet showing a guy toting his buddy (which we don’t recommend).

    The lashing strap system is a bit of a trick to work with but once figured out will help bring out the old school backpacker in you that longs for the days of attaching a whole caravan to the outside of your pack.

    There are enough pockets and compartments to hold your extra essentials like knives, scopes, and water and a compartment specifically for your rifle.

    Although the Commander isn’t waterproof, it is water resistant to water and can handle most weather situations.

    This is a great bag, especially if you are on the taller/bigger side.

    Also great for lugging meat back to camp.

    Read our full review of the ALPS OutdoorZ Commander + Pack Bag

  7. Deuter ACT Lite 65+10 Hiking Backpack

  8. Editors Rating:
    (4.7 / 5)

    Weight 4.6 lbs
    Capacity 65L
    Cubic Inches 3967"
    Torso Length 33"
    Current Price from $166.95
    Pros 65L with extra 10L bottom storage, Aircontact lite back suspension system evenly distributes weight, Plenty of Straps for sleeping pad or poles, ,
    Cons Not waterproof, Straps a bit too long, , ,
    Our Take:

    The Deuter ACT Lite 65+10 Hiking Backpack is an extremely comfortable backpack.

    The Aircontact lite back suspension system of the pack really helps to evenly distribute weight so it doesn’t feel like your walking with 30 pounds of gear on your back.

    It mostly helps to keep the pack from sitting directly on your back to help reduce sweat and unwanted moldy smells this suspension system also helps keep the bag lighter than it is.

    Despite being the extra 10L it carries like a 65L.

    There’s plenty of room inside with 3900 cubic inches to work with while all of the pockets are easily reachable which helps you avoid stopping to take the pack off to look for stuff.

    There aren’t a lot of extra pockets which is preferable to some, while others need the extra organization.

    This is also a top loader with no inside access from the front so make sure you pack wisely.

    The shoulder straps are easily adjustable and padded enough for comfort.

    Along with the hip belt, when properly adjusted, this bag will rest comfortably without too much pressure on your shoulders.

    The outer material is made from durable ripstop denier nylon so its built to handle abuse on and off your back.

    Very comfortable, practical bag.

    Read our full review of the Deuter ACT Lite 65+10 Hiking Backpack

  9. Osprey Men’s Aether 60 Backpack

  10. Editors Rating:
    (4.7 / 5)

    Weight 4.45 lbs
    Capacity 60L
    Cubic Inches 3661"
    Torso Length 29"
    Current Price from $452.70
    Pros Excellent back and hip support through the LightWire™ peripheral frame weight distribution, Plenty of strong compression straps, Llots of space inside, ,
    Cons Shoulder straps feel a bit stiff to some, , , ,
    Our Take:

    The Osprey Men’s Aether 60 Backpack is a super durable 60L backpack made for the ultralight backpacker hitting the trail for a longer amount of time or for anyone who needs just needs a bigger bag that can take a beating.

    The Aether 60 offers great comfort through more even weight distribution, through the LightWire™ peripheral frame helping to take the burden off your shoulders with a stiffer, onto the stronger IsoForm⁴ CM™ hip belt.

    There’s plenty of good shoulder, back and lumbar support The front access J-shaped zipper is clutch so you can avoid digging through the top opening of your pack.

    Good side compression straps to keep the other steps orderly and helping to carry more externally.

    The hip belt offers pockets which are also great for storing more immediate items like phone, camera, GPS, etc.

    The external side mesh pockets make it so you can carry a good size water bottle or offer storage for any smaller more essential items.

    You should be able to get around 40 pounds easily in and on this bag including a 3L water reservoir.

    There’s plenty of organization inside including a separate sleeping bag compartment and bottom straps for a mat, poles, or tent. Hard to beat Osprey.

    Read our full review of the Osprey Men’s Aether 60 Backpack

  11. TERRA PEAK Adjustable Hiking Backpack

  12. Editors Rating:
    (4.7 / 5)

    Weight 4 lbs
    Capacity 65L
    Cubic Inches 5186"
    Torso Length 17"
    Current Price from $45.99
    Pros 85L of storage space still rides like a 65L bag, Easily adjustable weight distribution, Good For Longer Trips, Bag weight under 5 pounds, Integrated built in rain cover,
    Cons Shoulder strap can chafe if adjusted too tight, , , ,
    Our Take:

    The TERRA PEAK Adjustable Hiking Backpack is a great bargain backpack with a ton of storage space no matter which size you get.

    There are a number of well-placed pockets for easy to and go including side pockets which help get things in and out faster and more orderly.

    There are front pockets and a mesh side pocket to store a water bottle along with some very well placed handles to make it easier to grab when not on your back.

    There’s a dedicated sleeping bag compartment with extra side compression straps for any poles or mats and at the top of the pack, there’s an additional 20L of storage separate from the main body which is perfect for any extra clothes or tools. The bag is also fully adjustable so you can adjust according to your personalized torso length.

    We loved the extra mesh padding on the back and the hip belts which helped in comfort and avoiding sweat buildup.

    The hip belts also include removable PE boards to add some stiffness.

    This helps to strengthen their grip and makes carrying weight on your hips easier. The Terra Peak is one of the better bags for wetter weather as its externally treated with a water-repellent coating and includes a built-in rain cover.

    My only complaint is the lack of hip belt pockets.

    Otherwise a great pack at a great price.

    Read our full review of the TERRA PEAK Adjustable Hiking Backpack

    Weight 4.5 lbs
    Capacity 55 L
    Cubic Inches 3400
    Torso Length 19.5 in
    Hydration Pack No
    Current Price from $64.00
    Pros Lots of zippers and organized storage, Fully adjustable torso and straps, 55L for plenty of storage space, Made from 600D diamond ripstop and 600D Oxford canvas,
    Cons 4.5 pounds, kind of heavy, Top loader so a little harder to pack, , ,
    Our Take:

    The Teton Sports Scout 3400 Internal Frame Backpack is a high performance, robust backpacking backpack built for the backpacker looking for a large backpack that can hold lots of cargo without weighing them down.

    This is a 55L (3400 cubic inch) capacity backpack that weighs 4.5 pounds empty.

    The Teton Sports Scout 3400 also can be purchased in multiple colors to give you more selection.

    The shell of the bag is made from 600D diamond ripstop and 600D Oxford canvas that will help this bag withstand all the rigors of the trail.

    The torso is fully adjustable so this can be purchased by both shorter and taller campers.

    All of the shoulder, lumbar and waist straps are also fully adjustable for added balance and support, so finding the right fit in this backpack is quite easy to do no matter how big your load or body frame.

    The lumbar straps are also fully padded, along with a fully padded back pad for added comfort and stability.

    The lower part of the bag includes a full sleeping bag compartment and adjustable compression straps for any sleeping pads or miscellaneous gear you need to stow on the outside.

    There’s a water bottle holder on the side and plenty of strategically placed pockets for great organization. 

    There’s even an included rainfly at the top of the bag for weather protection.

    At the top, there is a carry handle and shock cords for any extra external storage.  The lid includes a zippered pocket which comes in handy for more pressing items like phone, camera, etc..

    This is a top loading backpack so just keep that in mind if you prefer side loaders or another style.  Otherwise, with all the included zippers and compartments you’ll have plenty of space to pack this up and enjoy the outdoors!

    Read our full review of the TETON Sports Scout 3400 Internal Frame Backpack

    Weight 2.45 lbs
    Capacity 22L
    Cubic Inches 1342"
    Torso Length 19.5"
    Hydration Pack Yes
    Current Price from $49.97
    Pros Lightweight bag, Enough room for a hydration pack and lightweight supplies or gear, Plenty of padding and added cushioning for comfort, ,
    Cons Included hydration pack can leak, With the hydration bladder in there's not a lot of space room, , ,
    Our Take:

    The TETON Sports Oasis 1200 3 Liter Hydration Backpack is perfect for a number of outdoors needs.

    Whether you hike, run, bike, ski, fish, etc you’re going to find this bag is perfect for you.

    It’s super lightweight at just over 2 pounds for a 20L backpack. On the back of the bag, there’s half-inch thick mesh-covered pads and “T” airflow channel that allows air to circulate, keeping you cooler and your back free from sweat.

    Along with a decent sized main compartment, there’s a larger front pocket and a smaller pocket for keys, phone, and earbuds. Inside there are enough separate compartments to keep your bag organized along with a 3L hydration pack and durable, kink-free sip tube and push-lock cushioned bite valve.

    There’s also a side pocket for a large canteen of water.

    You won’t get enough space for an overnight trip, but for those trips where you just need to hold phones, cameras, chapstick, a raincoat, etc, this bag will do wonders while also sitting comfortably on your back.

    There’s even a hip belt to help take pressure off your back and legs. For added versatility and toughness the Sports Oasis daypack is both water resistant and comes with a rain cover.

    The only downside is for some people the hydration pack tube can be problematic, but we didn’t have any problems with it.

    Read our full review of the TETON Sports Oasis 1200 3 Liter Hydration Backpack

    Weight 5.1 lbs
    Capacity 75L
    Cubic Inches 4580"
    Torso Length 31.5"
    Current Price from $199.95
    Pros 75L and lots of space, Easy access to the inside, Award Winning backpack, Lightweight at only 5 pounds,
    Cons The load lifter and shoulder straps come undone easily on some bags, Chest buckle can break easily, , ,
    Our Take:

    The Gregory Mountain Products Baltoro 75 Liter Men’s Multi-Day Hiking Backpack is a very durable lightweight pack capable of handling very heavy loads for long periods of time.

    Gregory backpacks are some of the best on the market and the Baltoro is no exception having been named Winner of Backpacker Magazine’s 2015 Editor’s Choice Gold Award and the winner of Outside Magazine’s Gear of the Year Award.

    At 75L this bag boasts plenty of space inside and out.

    Along with the ample room inside the main compartment, there’s also a separate sleeping bag storage space.

    The response A3 suspension really helps the pack stay light on your back even while carrying 50 lbs of gear.

    There’s good length given along your torso including LumbarTune which consists of two stages of contouring in the lumbar region for the perfect fit to customize lower back support.

    There are enough pockets and strap attachments to carry everything you need including poles, shoes, sleeping bag with some extra storage space in the lid.

    Organization is made easy thanks to the main front loading U-shape zipper for easy access to your inside contents.

    The bag is made from tough 210D Nylon materials and held up to some serious abuse including dropping on the ground, throwing in the back of a truck bed and some tree branch catches.

    The sidewinder side mounted bottle holster also makes grabbing your bottle a breeze on the go.

    Love this bag for multi-day treks.

    Read our full review of the Gregory Mountain Products Baltoro Men’s Hiking Backpack

Last update on 2019-11-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Backpacks Buying Guide 2019

How to Pick

Adjust the hip belt so it’s at the top of your hips and in control of the weight of the pack.

Tighten the shoulder straps of the bag so they fit snugly against your shoulders. Leave a little space so your shoulders don’t pick up any extra work.

Make sure the load lifter straps fit at a 45-degree angle at the top of the shoulder harness connecting to the top of the back panel of the pack. Don’t tighten too hard to avoid pinching at the shoulder blades.

Tighten the sternum strap enough to feel the extra security and equal weight distribution it provides, but leave a little room to avoid discomfort.

Stay Organized

When packing an internal frame hiking backpack keeping your stuff organized is key.

You can spend lots of time looking for the pocket knife that you swore you packed with your first aid kit, only to find it snuggled somewhere in between a shirt and underwear. You want to find a hiking backpack that provides plenty of pockets separate from your main compartment.

Here are some key pockets and storage compartments that we love:

  • Hip Belt Pocket: Use the pocket on your hip belt to store all of your most easily accessible goodies. Camera, phone, snacks, GPS.
  • Front pocket: Use this for emergency supplies and other small items.
  • Top lid pocket: Use this for sunscreen, toilet paper, and headlamps
  • Water Bottle Holster: This is non-negotiable as far as we’re concerned. Always carry water with you, and the easier the access to your water the better.
  • Sleeping Bag Compartment: This seems to be a new gimmick coming on a lot of new backpacks. It’s a nice addition but not necessary.
  • Hydration Pack: Another nice addition to backpacks but not necessary. I’m pretty old school and have no problem using a water bottle. Maybe for a light daypack, but in my opinion, this is something that if it pops a hole can wreak havoc on the rest of your bag.

Most internal frame packs are top loaders.

If you can, try and find a pack that also gives access to the main compartment via a front-loading zipper.

This will make your life one thousand times easier when looking for very specific things versus blindly feeling around.

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Nick P

Nick spent his mostly unsupervised youth raising hell in the woods and ponds of 16 Acres in Springfield, MA (AKA Hell's Acres). He currently lives in Brooklyn, NY and loves hitting the northeast trails when his schedule allows and camping on his roof deck when it doesn't.

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