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The best backpack brands have greatly advanced the technology behind their designs over the last decade. Today’s modern packs are lighter, offer more storage, and are more comfortable than our grandfathers could have dreamed when they camped or hunted with a bulky frame pack. Most manufacturers are now making packs designed for specific case uses such as overnights in the backcountry, hiking, and hunting. There are a bevy of backpack brands out there, so finding one that best suits your outdoor needs can be a real challenge.

We are here to help. Fortunately, we have a ton of experience with many of the most popular brands for outdoor packs. We put together this list of the best backpack brands to help you find the right pack for your upcoming adventures.

How We Picked the Best Backpack Brands

We have spent a fair amount of time in the field testing a variety of backpack brands and have narrowed down what designs work and which do not. Besides our personal experiences with these brands, we also considered some of the following factors when picking a pack for each category:

  • Intended use: Is this a backpack meant for a two-week hunt in the wilderness or a simple trip through the airport? Alternatively, is it appropriate for a thru-hike of a major trail?
  • Weight and capacity: How much does the pack itself weigh? How does that affect the intended use and storage capacity?
  • Durability: What is the main material used in the pack? How resistant is the pack to abrasion?
  • Comfort: How padded are the shoulder straps? Are the straps adjustable? Is the pack comfortable for longer hikes?

The brands on this list are all subject to updates and changes as more testing is conducted or new products are released.

Best Backpack Brands: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Overall: Osprey

Best Overall

Key Features

  • Best Seller: Atmos AG 65
  • Our Favorite: Aether 55
  • Price Range: $50 – 700 
  • Best Use: day hikes, backpacking, thru-hiking, survival, ultralight hiking, every day, running, biking, travel, snow sports
  • Warranty: Lifetime Warranty 


  • Excellent warranty and repair program
  • Wide range of products to choose from
  • High quality designs and materials 
  • Released a new line that fits bigger bodies better
  • Sizes are easy to understand and packs are adjustable 


  • Price

Osprey is a catch-all brand for backpacks with a stellar reputation surrounding comfort, functionality, and durability. Their product line is all-inclusive, not only in activity, but they recently released a new line of products to be more inclusive to bigger bodies. Most people won’t have an issue finding an Osprey pack that fits their needs or their body, and because of the fantastic product quality and construction, these packs can last a lifetime to use. 

I’ve had the same Osprey backpacking backpack for close to a decade and use it regularly. While it has needed some repairs here and there, with proper care and attention, these packs are among the most durable. Plus, Osprey has one of the best customer service and product warranties. The Osprey guarantee ensures that for the life of the product, no matter when you purchased it, they repair or exchange any damages or defects without charge. What primarily makes this guarantee so unique is that you don’t even need to be the bag’s original owner. So, if you’ve purchased a used Osprey bag and need a repair, it is still covered under their warranty. 

Regarding price, the Osprey backpacks offer a standard price for all of their products. Overall, their prices seem fair and reasonable, but they still may be out of some customers’ price ranges. However, knowing about the lifetime warranty is helpful because that means you can get all the benefits even when buying a used backpack. Whether you need a day hiking pack, a backpacking backpack, or a daily computer backpack, Osprey likely has the perfect fit for your outdoor needs. 

Best for Big Game Hunting: Sitka

Best for Big Game Hunting

Key Features


  • Specialty designed for hunting applications
  • Highly durable construction 
  • Comfortable for carrying heavy loads 
  • Travel and duffle bags also available 


  • Only a few options to choose from
  • Price

Sitka is a name that many readers will be familiar with, and it is a favorite among many Filed and Stream staff. Their hunting backpacks range from big game, white-tail deer, and waterfowl specifications to ensure that each product design best fits your needs as a hunter. Along with backpacks, they also offer waist belts and hunting vests with storage for activity-specific gear. That’s why if you search “backpacks” on their website, you’ll notice their turkey vest pops up. They’ve combined the benefits of a pack chassis with a vest so you have the comfortable feeling and space of a backpack with the accessibility of a vest that can fit five styles of calls.  

Since all of their packs are all specifically designed for in-use purists, it’s easy for a hunter to find the right pack for their specific hunting needs. For big game hunting, they’re designed to still be comfortable under a heavy load and have features like internal load-hauling selves and antler straps. One of their best-selling packs, the Mountain Hauler 4000, allows you to carry loads upwards of 150 lbs. Not only that but the overall storage organization is optimized for hunting. Two vertical exterior pockets can hold most spotting scopes, and the triple-density foam waist belt has velcro with attachments that carry most pistol holsters and bear spray. 

Beyond their hunting-specific packs, Sitka offers a travel pack and duffel bags for leisure and travel use. Regardless of the application, Sitka has remained a favorite among the Field and Stream staff during hunting expeditions because of its functionality and durability. Sitka designs packs with the idea that they should last at least a decade in the field if you’re treating them well, and they also offer a decent warranty. If, for some reason, your pack is damaged, reach out to their customer service team directly to see if they have a repair center near you.

So, if you’re in the market for the best hunting backpacks that fit specific seasons and have features that suit all the backcountry and hunting gear you need, look no further than Sitka hunting backpacks. 

Best for Deer Hunting: Kuiu

Best for Deer Hunting

Key Features


  • Extremely durable materials
  • Lightweight
  • Lots of zippers and pockets
  • Highly adjustable fit


  • Price tag
  • Not quite big enough for multi-day backcountry hunts

Kuiu is probably best known for their high-quality hunting apparel, but they make some solid hunting-specific backpacks too. Kuiu has a good reputation for using quality components like YKK zippers and 330-denier Cordura fabrics that can take a tremendous beating after being slammed on trees, rocks, and more. Many hunters gravitate toward their backcountry Pro Hunting Pack series for serious big game expeditions. But they also create multiple sizes that fit a variety of hunting styles.

For deer hunters, Kuiu makes a few different styles of pack. For minimalist hunters who pack light, they have the simple Stalker 500 PRO. Although our favorite for deer hunting is the 4 pound, 11-ounce Venture Divide 3000. This pack is light enough for hunters who have a lot of gear to tote to the treestand. However, extra features like divided storage for hauling a rifle or spotting scope, and a pocket for a hydration bladder add to the versatility.

This pack can transition quickly from treestand hunting in Illinois to an open terrain spot-and-stalk rather efficiently. It’s a good choice for anyone filming a hunt because of the bevy of storage pockets and compartments for camera gear.

Best for Fishing: Wild River

Best for Fishing

Key Features


  • Specialized design to organize fishing gear
  • Several options to fit individual needs 
  • Excellent organization 
  • Tek series has integrated light 
  • Good value for the price


  • Unsure about durability and longevity 

Wild River is a relatively new brand design created by CLC, a company well-known for developing work gear for construction. Wild River backpacks are specifically designed for various fishing applications and integrate many designs that reflect the functionality and durability of bags necessary on construction sites. The two primary series available from Wild River include a Tackle Tek Series and Multi-Tackle Series.

The Tackle Tek Series incorporates some classic tackle bag designs with some new twists like LED lights, and for some of the packs (Nomad X2), there’s an integrated USB charging system. For the packs that include a charging system, there’s the option to purchase a solar panel separately to extend the battery life for longer trips. Beyond backpacks, the Tackle Tek series offers a classic tackle bag design and a 5-gallon bucket organizer. 

The Multi-Tackle Series is the newest installment of backpacks by Wild River. While these backpacks do not feature things like LED lights, they have a much more complex storage configuration. The largest bag in the Multi-Tackle Series fits up to six #3500 style trays in the top compartment and four #3600 style trays in the main compartment. The smaller bag in the series fits up to two #3600 style trays in the top compartment with a divider down and four #3500 style trays in the main compartment. 

Since these are newer pack options, we have some questions about the durability and longevity of the bags, especially with all of the zippers and compartments. Overall, the bags offer a range of options to fit different fishing needs, along with some innovative features to extend the fishing experience from day to night. 

Best for Day Hikes: Gregory

Best for Day Hikes

Key Features

  • Best Seller: Miwok 24
  • Our Favorite: Inertia 24 H20
  • Price Range: $40 – 200
  • Best Use: day hiking, endurance hiking
  • Warranty: Lifetime Warranty


  • Offer day hiking packs and backpacking backpacks
  • Variety of pack designs to fit individual needs
  • Durable materials and construction 
  • Suitable for day trips of all caliber
  • Ergonomic and comfortable fit 


  • Price
  • Warranty is slightly less inclusive than Osprey’s 

Gregory is a popular brand for a variety of bags and backpacks. While they offer an excellent array of backpacking packs, we chose them as the best day hiking bags because of the high level of comfort, innovative designs, and warranty policy. While the warranty isn’t quite as inclusive as Osprey packs, Gregory still provides the necessary option to repair the packs if there is a malfunction outside of normal wear and tear. 

We’ve found all of the Gregory packs we’ve tried to provide an ergonomic and comfortable fit with a high level of adjustability. One of their best-selling day packs, the Miwok 24, is form-fitting and versatile. The design of this pack and many others offers features suitable for the trail, commuting, and travel. For longer day hikes, the hip belt and weight distribution are ideal. For avid day hikers, a Gregory pack is a comfortable option and one of the most durable designs out there. While the price isn’t within a budget pack range, the overall longevity of the bags is worth it. 

Best for Backpacking: Deuter

Best for Backpacking

Key Features

  • Best Seller: Futura Pro 40
  • Our Favorite: Aircontact Core 50+10
  • Price Range: $175 – 410
  • Best Use: backpacking, ultralight hiking, endurance packing
  • Warranty: Limited Lifetime Warranty


  • Several backpack redesigns in the last few years
  • Uses recyclable and recycled materials often 
  • Uses PFC-free materials 
  • Pack styles come in a variety of capacities 
  • Many packs have additional carrying and capacity  
  • Also offer packs for travel, day hiking, and beyond


  • Limited lifetime warranty 
  • Price

Deuter is another long-trusted backpack brand in the outdoor industry. While they used to make a more comprehensive array of bags for other lifestyle purposes, they’ve narrowed their focus to outdoor recreation, such as backpacking, hiking, and backpacking. All their bags, no matter their intended purpose, are well-designed and come with offerings that fit both male and female anatomy well. Like many of the other top brands on our list, Deuter specifically focuses on a more sustainable production model and makes all its products PFC-free, primarily recycled materials. 

The warranty on the Deuter packs is not quite as inclusive as Osprey, but overall it is an excellent warranty and repair program. The Deuter packs are constantly improving, and various redesigns have been done in the last few years. All of the redesigns have focused on functionality, comfort, and weight. Several lightweight and ultralight pack options are available, so it is easy to find one that fits individual backpacking needs. Another feature we enjoy with many Deuter packs is the additional storage capacity in the pack lid. So if you see a pack labeled “50+10,” that means the pack’s body has a 50-liter capacity, and the extendable lid offers ten more liters. 

If you can get past the price tag on these packs, you’ll enjoy superior comfort and durability on the trail. 

Best for Ultralight Backpacking: ULA Equipment

Best for Ultralight Backpacking

Key Features

  • Best Seller: ULA Circuit
  • Our Favorite: ULA Catalyst
  • Price Range: $200 – 300
  • Best Use: long-distance hiking, ultralight hiking, backpacking 
  • Warranty: Limited Warranty 


  • Durable long-lasting design 
  • Lightweight 
  • Highly adjustable fit 
  • Sewn in the USA
  • Customizable upon request 


  • Uncomfortable if over the suggested weight rating 
  • Warranty is quite limited 

ULA Equipment is well-known among the long-distance hiking community for its thoughtfully designed ultralight backpacks. One of their packs, the ULA Circuit, is a fan favorite among Pacific Crest Trail hikers and has won awards for the overall value and functionality of the trail. As a brand, they offer a handful of backpack options, all falling into either a lightweight or ultralight category. While the backpack designs are somewhat simple, the materials and construction are highly durable, which is desirable and sometimes uncommon among ultralight gear. 

All of their backpacks have a frame that essentially bends to fit your body, making each design suitable for men and women of various body shapes and sizes. Additionally, they offer two backpacks designed for children. Since these are lightweight backpack designs, it is important to stick to the manufacturer’s guidelines for weight. The pack becomes rather uncomfortable when loaded beyond the maximum weight capacity, so the versatility of the pack may be limited depending on your application. ULA Equipment is an excellent choice if you’re an avid hiker looking to get into ultralight or long-distance hikes. 

Best for Survival: 5.11

Best for Survival

Key Features

  • Best Seller: Rush 24 2.0
  • Our Favorite: Rush 100 60L
  • Price Range: $80 – 280
  • Best Use: survival backpack, backpacking, travel, military 
  • Warranty: General Warranty


  • Variety of backpack sizes and options
  • Excellent organization 
  • Durable materials and construction 
  • Weatherproof designs available 
  • Versatile applications


  • Price
  • May be overkill for the average user 

5.11 Tactical is a brand that offers purpose-built equipment and apparel for men and women. All of their products are intentionally built with durability and functionality in mind, specifically with a military or survival application. They offer many backpack and bag options, from small organizational bags suitable for travel to larger backpacking bags for survival and longer backcountry ventures. 

All their backpacks are made from highly durable materials (usually nylon) with a quality denier count to ensure the pack has a long life. What sets these packs apart from traditional backpacking brands is their level of organization and the stellar option to attach equipment to the pack’s exterior as needed. 

The 5.11 Rush 100 backpack is a favorite of staff writer Travis Smola, and he claims that the Rush 100 pack is “the most comfortable large backpack I’ve ever worn because of the generously padded shoulder straps and waist belt. This pack evenly distributes the load and hugs my back like a glove. I regularly use the Rush 100 for rucking while holding 30 to 40 pounds. My only real complaints are the expensive price tag and the small buckle that tends to dig into the waist belt.”

Best for Adventure Travel: Exped

Best for Adventure Travel

Key Features

  • Best Seller: Exped Couloir 30
  • Our Favorite: Exped Radical 45
  • Price Range: $60 – 250
  • Best Use: adventure travel, backpacking, general travel 
  • Warranty: 5-Year Warranty 


  • Packs are made from recycled fabrics 
  • PFC Free
  • Simple, minimalist designs 
  • Multi-functional 
  • Versatile application for travel and adventure
  • Several options can be used as carry-on bags during air travel


  • No exterior pockets or water bottle holders in some designs 
  • Questions about durability for certain bag options (climbing/alpine bags)

The Exped Radical 45 was our top pick for the best travel backpacks, and travelers of all pursuits can find a bag that fits their needs in the Exped backpack lineup. From alpine backpacks to a standard travel pack that works as a carry-on bag, Exped offers intuitive and versatile design options. Packs like the Radical offer a multi-functional design for a backpack or a duffel bag, allowing you to have one bag that works for various trips or even as a gym bag during an average work week. 

Expeds other backpack designs fit many needs in terms of outdoor adventure travel with highly compressible main compartments to help minimize gear and provide a snugger fit while walking or hiking. Although we enjoy the minimalist design of these bags and feel it simplifies the setup, some users may want a bag with more exterior pockets or, at the very least, a water bottle holder. Some backpacks come with side pockets for water bottles, but not all. So, browse all of their options to get a suitable adventure travel back for your needs. 

Most Versatile: Matador

Most Versatile

Key Features


  • Many fully waterproof pack options
  • Several sizes and applications
  • Thoughtful designs for travel and outdoor use
  • Recently released new more sustainable backpacks 
  • Excellent value for the price


  • Limited warranty coverage
  • Packs don’t balance well if overloaded 

Matador backpacks are a unique and functional option that can fit a range of applications. Having a versatile backpack is ideal. That way, you can purchase just one bag for commuting to work, travel, ultralight trips, and outdoor adventures. What sets the Matador backpacks apart from the many other brands is that several pack designs are fully waterproof. That way, there is no need to carry an additional rain cover for the backpack, and they can be used for activities like paddling or even bicycle commuting year-round. 

Although Matador is committed to sustainability in all their designs, one of its newest backpacks, the GlobeRider45 Travel Backpack, stands out. It is suitable for daily use and world travel (carry-on compliant sizing). The recycled materials of this pack are durable and meet all of the Bluesign criteria. The clamshell architecture of the bag makes it more functional as a travel bag since it opens up like a suitcase, but it is easier to transport because it still works well as a backpack. If you are traveling, the Freerain22 and some of Matador’s other packs are packable. That means you can pack them down in your luggage if you want to bring a daypack without needing to take up much space in your luggage.

Across all of the Matador backpack designs, they have options that fit everyone’s needs. Whether you want a bag for the next international trip, a day hiking backpack, or one that can be used year-round for bicycle commuting to and from work, there’s a durable backpack in their line-up just for you. 

Best Budget: Kelty

Best Budget

Key Features

  • Best Seller: Redwing 44 Tactical
  • Our Favorite: Outskirt 50
  • Price Range: $55 – 700
  • Best Use: hiking, travel, backpacking, survival 
  • Warranty: Limited Warranty


  • Excellent value for the price
  • Range of pack options to choose from
  • Design features suitable for outdoor use
  • Great organization on all packs
  • Tactical bags are built to military specifications 


  • Not as durable as other brands
  • No lightweight or ultralight options

Kelty is a brand we trust to provide affordable yet durable outdoor products. Also ranked on our best tent brands overview for having the best budget options, Kelty offers highly functional and durable backpacks that fit various outdoor and daily use applications. Whether you are looking for a tactical survival pack, a school backpack, or a child-carrying pack, Kelty has a design that fits all those needs. The overall design of Kelty bags varies from product to product. Still, across the board, all of their bags have excellent organizational layouts making it easy to pack items and find gear on the go. 

Although they may not be the cheapest backpack available, we’ve found that their price range is a bit lower than other outdoor brands without compromising durability and functionality. That way, even if you are on a budget, you can afford a pack that is longer lasting than one season and is relatively comfortable. The main downside to Kelty backpacks is, like with their tents; they do not offer any lightweight or ultralight options. Their backpacking packs are an excellent choice for backpackers of all experience levels. 

Things to Consider When Buying a Backpack

When picking a backpack, it’s best to think about how you are planning to use it because not every pack is made for the same tasks. For instance, if you are planning a multi-day backcountry hike, you will need a pack with an increased capacity designed for hauling not only your equipment, but also the meat from a quartered-up big game animal back to civilization.

Markedly, thru-hikers should focus more on food storage and a rain fly to keep the pack, bedding, and extra clothing dry over an extended period, especially on more remote trails. Here are a few other factors to consider when choosing a pack:

  • Straps: The best packs will have back and waist straps that help evenly distribute the weight of the pack over your shoulders and back. The pack shouldn’t feel like its slipping off, but it also shouldn’t dig into your shoulders. It can take a lot of adjusting to figure out the sweet spot to make that happen, and the best packs feature not just padded straps, but many ways to adjust them too.
  • Storage Compartments: A large main storage area is nice, but a pack is even more versatile if it comes with additional zippered pockets on the front for smaller items like a cell phone, eyeglasses, or small tools. An external web Molle system is great for hanging camp axes, water bottles, and other small items that you want within easy reach while you’re hiking. Hip belts are especially helpful for things like bug spray or sunglasses, keeping them within easy reach when you need them.
  • Hydration Bladders: Almost every outdoor-specific pack is designed to hold a hydration pouch these days. It’s just nice to have a hose where you can get a quick drink of water without totally removing your pack.
  • Frames: Not every pack has a frame, and the internal style has arguably become more popular today than the external style of old. A frame isn’t necessary for every outdoor scenario, but they do help increase the amount of weight you can carry. We like frame-style packs best for hunters planning to bring a lot of meat back to civilization with them.


Q: What are the most important backpack features?

The most important feature of any backpack is the shoulder and waist straps. A backpack can have a lot of storage, but if it isn’t comfortable to wear, you aren’t going to want to use it. Nothing ruins a long hike faster than a pack that hurts your shoulders and ankles due to an unbalanced load. Comparatively, it is just as important to consider the cushioning of the back panel when finding the best fit.

Q: Should a backpack be tight or loose?

Ideally, your pack will be snug rather than too tight or too loose. Generally, a pack that is too tight can dig into your shoulders or waist, and one that is too loose will cause the contents of the pack to shift. A pack that has a shifting load can be dangerous on treacherous or more challenging trails.

Q: How do I choose a backpack?

It is best to consider the different scenarios for your pack before you buy one. Generally, the larger the capacity, the longer you can spend in the wilderness with it. However, capacity isn’t everything. As I’ve noted earlier in this piece, the comfort factor is often something newer outdoor enthusiasts overlook with packs. Remember, for a backcountry camping trip, you will be carrying all your gear on your back, and an uncomfortable pack will quickly get relegated to the closet or basement, gathering dust.

Best Backpack Brands: Final Thoughts

Choosing the best backpack brand often depends on knowing exactly how you plan to use it and sticking to a budget. Many of the top brands we overviewed on this list tend to have a relatively high price tag. For brands like Osprey and Gregory, that is because they offer a lifetime warranty with in-house repair policies and are made from highly durable materials. Regardless of your backpack needs, we are confident you’ll find a brand on our list that suits your life. There is something for everyone, from survival packs designed to military standards to a pack that works for a daily bicycle commute.

Why Trust Us

For more than 125 years, Field & Stream has been providing readers with honest and authentic coverage of outdoor gear. Our writers and editors eat, sleep, and breathe the outdoors, and that passion comes through in our product reviews. You can count on F&S to keep you up to date on the best new gear. And when we write about a product—whether it’s a bass lure or a backpack—we cover the good and the bad, so you know exactly what to expect before you decide to make a purchase.