Searching for the best backpacking backpack? You've come to the right place! We carefully researched over 65 top products before buying our twelve favorites. We select a variety of models, from those that stand out for all-around comfort, minimal weight, or exceptional load-hauling prowess. Then our review team hits the trail, logging hundreds of individual user days in the mountains and coastlines of Patagonia, the High Sierra, and the Pacific Northwest. We focus on critical aspects that will help you get the most out of your time in the backcountry. We pull comfort ratings from a large test group to accurately compare each pack's performance across different body types. We load each pack with a wide range of gear to stress test the suspension system. We also weigh each and dissect each products' feature set, assessing the usefulness of pockets, access points, and adjustment systems. We hope this review helps you decipher which backpack best fits your needs. Whether you seek top-tier comfort, a lightweight and minimal pack, or a steal of a deal, we've got you covered. If you're looking for a women's specific pack, check out our women's backpacking backpacks review.
The Best Backpacking Packs of 2018
|Price||$269.95 at Amazon|
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|$299.95 at REI|
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|Pros||Exceptional comfort, especially the shoulder straps, full of useful features, many awesome pockets, excellent organization and ventilation, lightweight, adjustable hip belt||Comfortable padding, ergonomic shoulder strap design, robust suspension, extremely weather resistant||Comfortable, handles heavy loads, mega-burly suspension, dual zippered lid pockets for accessibility, large "U" zipper allows easy access, great travel pack||Packed full of features, great pockets, comfortable and solid ergonomic design||Lightweight, stout suspension, comfortable and nicely shaped shoulder straps, several features are removable to further reduce weight, handles heavier loads fantastically|
|Cons||Not as supportive for super heavy (45+ pounds) loads, snow can get in the back panel||Expensive, average weight, not as many places as other models to lash/strap oddly shaped items on externally||Average weight, supportive foam can feel stiff at first||Slightly on the heavier side, not the best for super heavy loads||On the more expensive side, poor access options, not many features|
|Bottom Line||The Atmos 65 AG is our favorite design and a mega comfortable pack as long as you aren't carrying too much weight.||A fantastic all-around pack that's comfortable, and has robust suspension, rad features, and top-notch weather resistance.||A excellent pack that handles loads well, while offering a respectable weight that even folks carrying modest loads can appreciate.||An extremely comfortable and feature-rich design that handles heavy loads, while only being marginally heavier than average.||An extremely robust suspension and simple design give this model the best ratio of pack-weight to load capabilities of any model we tested.|
|Rating Categories||Osprey Atmos 65 AG||Bora AR 63||Gregory Baltoro 65||Aether AG 60||Osprey Aether Pro 70|
|Features And Ease Of Use (18%)|
|Specs||Osprey Atmos 65 AG||Bora AR 63||Gregory Baltoro 65||Aether AG 60||Osprey Aether Pro 70|
|Measured Weight (pounds)||4.56||5 lbs||4.84||5.13 lbs||3.96 lbs|
|Volume (liters)||65 L||63 L||65 L||60 L||70 L|
|Access||Top + sleeping bag compartment||Top + side access zipper||Top + Front U-shaped access zipper + sleeping bag compartment||Top + side access zipper + sleeping bag compartment||Top|
The North Face updated their popular Banchee 65 and it's now our Top Pick for Travel thanks to its extensive feature set and solid suspension. It's also respectably lightweight, especially considering its generous pockets and stellar organizational features that usually incur a weight penalty. We also reexamine our past award winners. The Osprey Atmos 65 becomes the sole winner of our Editors' Choice award. It provides a host of sweet features and unique suspension that is pure backpacking bliss. Arc'teryx's new spin on their tried-and-true Bora line also lands very near the top of the pile for its exceptional comfort. It's by far the most weather resistant pack tested. At $180 the Osprey Volt 60 continues to dominate as the best value.
Editors Choice for the Best Overall Backpacking Pack
Osprey Atmos 65 AG
The Atmos 65 AG is the best all-around backpacking pack due to its stellar design and overall comfort. It's stacked with functional features, ventilates fantastically and still manages to be lighter than average, weighing in at a respectable 4 lbs 8 oz. What sets the Atmos apart is its luxurious AG suspension, which spreads the pack load evenly across your body. The pack seems light and the tapered foam shoulder straps are simply dreamy. For trips when you can keep your gear under 40 lbs, this is the most comfortable pack in our review. Every pocket is the right size and in the right place and the Atmos offers excellent fit, ergonomics, and adjustability.
While this is the best all-around pack, it doesn't handle loads above 45 pounds well. Consider a different model if you consistently carry that much or more. The Anti-Gravity suspension can also fill with snow during winter trips.
Read review: Osprey Atmos 65 AG
Best Bang for the Buck
Osprey Volt 60
If you want an affordable pack that doesn't skimp on performance, get the Volt 60. It is the least expensive in our review, yet is comparable in performance to many more expensive models. We are wholly impressed by how capable and comfortable this model is with loads under 45 lbs. While simple, the Volt includes all the essential features that most backpackers are looking for, such as two zipped lid pockets, dual entry water bottle pockets, a stretchy beavertail pocket, and a lower zippered access point (AKA sleeping bag compartment), among other common features. The Volt only comes in one frame size, but the vertical adjustment is greater than nearly any model we tested. The Volt also features an adjustable girth waist belt. All this, and it still weighs an impressive 3 lbs 14 oz on our scale. Aspects that propel this model over the rest are the ergonomic and plush shoulder straps, high-quality foam padding and waist belt, and comfortable fabrics.
The Volt doesn't have the pizazz that other packs offer, like extra pockets and pouches, nor does it have the burliest of suspensions, but it does excel in simple functionality. Unless you are regularly carrying overloads over 45 lbs, this pack will work for you. This is the best pack for the money, though the Deuter Air Lite 65 + 10 comes close, offering a larger volume and more robust suspension. But it is heavier overall (not to mention is $40 more).
Read review: Osprey Volt 60
Top Pick for Weather Resistace
Arc'teryx Bora AR 63
The re-release of Arc'teryx's iconic Bora series was highly anticipated and for good reason. Arc'teryx didn't pull any punches when it came to performance and this pack BARELY missed out on our Editors Choice award. The shoulder straps use a therapeutic-mattress-feeling foam that strikes a dreamy balance of cushy comfort and excellent support. The features are well thought-out and incredibly user-friendly. While the pivoting waist belt might appear gimmicky at first glance, it extremely efficient at transferring the weight from our back to our hips, especially in rougher or steeper terrain.
The primary drawback to this pack is its slightly above average weight (five pounds) and its review-high price tag. Still, the tradeoff is getting the most water resistant model reviewed. The Bora employs a proprietary AC² fabric that covers most of the pack, sealing some seams, and integrating some watertight zippers. This combination kept our gear dry during wet springtime hikes in the soggy rain forests of Olympic National Park.
Read review: Arc'teryx Bora AR 63
Top Pick for Heavy Loads
Gregory Baltoro 65
The new and improved Gregory Baltoro 65 is as comfortable as ever. It offers improved features and usability while somehow weighing eight ounces less than the previous model. The Baltoro carries monster loads (more than 60 lbs) as well as nearly any pack on the planet and offers a plethora of rad features. At 4 lbs 14 ounces, it's weight is now in line with many other models that offer a similar level of suspension and comfort. Its new pocket layout is also nearly perfect. Few, if any of our testers would change anything. Its lid is user-friendly, and this model even includes a rain cover. If we could give out several Editors' Choice awards, this model would surely get one.
While its weight is reasonable for the support it provides, it's not an impressively light pack, and its foam padding takes a minute to soften. But folks who are are constantly carrying heavy loads and are sick of sore shoulders and achy backs, this extremely well-designed pack deserves a look.
Read review: Gregory Baltoro 65
Best Lightweight Model
Osprey Exos 58
The Osprey Exos 58 is the lightest pack in this review by over a pound. Despite its low weight, it remains comfortable for moderate loads up to 35 or 40 pounds. This is what's special about the Exos — it blurs the line between traditional backpacking packs and ultralight models. It's nearly as light as many frameless, minimal, ultra-lightweight packs, yet the Exos still has most of the features you'd expect in a traditional backpacking pack, including a frame. Most ultralight packs are only 0.5-1 lbs lighter, and they rarely have more than one or two pockets, let alone a lid.
True to light-weight trends, it's not overly durable or adjustable, and it doesn't offer many features. Overall, it's a great stepping stone for people who want to get into "ultralight" backpacking who can't get their load down to the 20 to 30 lbs necessary to make a sub-2-pound frameless pack comfortable. Or, it's for people who already pack on the light end, but want a more suspension, comfort, and features that most frameless packs don't provide. If you like the idea of a lighter weight pack, but want a few more features and a slightly more substantial frame, consider the The North Face Banchee 65, Osprey Volt 60, or Gregory Paragon 68.
Read review: Osprey Exos 58
Best Features and Top Pick for Travel
The North Face Banchee 65
The North Face Banchee 65 is a high-performing and versatile pack that deserves recognition. It somehow manages to combine one of our testing team's favorite pocket designs and a solid suspension on one of the lighter models in our review. There are no other packs this light that can handle loads as comfortably or that have as many well-thought-out organizational features. These attributes make the Banchee 65 the best crossover model for people who want a pack they can take out onto the trail and traveling. It's the perfect model to take to far-flung destinations where having a pack that's WAY more comfortable to carry than traditional luggage is a significant advantage. This model's toughness will help it survive the journey, and its array of pockets will help you stay as organized as possible on your adventures.
This bag will do for travelers who are not tied to more traditional suitcase or duffle bag designs. Those who like the ability to unzip their bag and see everything at once should check out the Thule Versant. The Versant is still a very close contender for the best backpacking pack for travel.
Read the review: The North Face Banchee 65
Top Pick for Extended Trips
Osprey Xenith 105
If you frequently go on 5 to 25-day outings or trips that require you to carry a lot of gear, the Osprey Xenith 105 is the pack for you. It comes in 75, 85, and 105-liter options and the Xenith is tester Ian Nicholson's favorite pack for Denali expeditions, a 22-day mountaineering trip with arctic cold weather and HEAVY loads. The Xenith series also ranks as a favorite among many NOLS instructors and other expedition guides for month plus adventures. It hits the mega sweet spot of a robust suspension, above average padding and ergonomics and sweet features. It includes one of our review team's favorite assortments of pockets. The Xenith 105 is surprisingly lightweight for a pack that carries so fantastically, and that offers such a large volume. It is only marginally heavier than a majority of packs in our review.
While the Xenith is one of the best load hauling packs we have ever tested, it is an extremely close call as to which pack could carry monster loads better: the Baltoro or the Xenith. In the end, they are both impressive load hauling machines. But, the Xenith edged out the Baltoro 65 for long trips where you just plain need a lot of stuff. Love the idea of the Xenith 105 but think that it's too much volume? The Xenith 75 and 85 have a nearly identical set of features with only subtle differences in the frames and padding.
Read review: Osprey Xenith 105
Analysis and Test Results
There are several factors to consider when shopping for a new backpacking backpack, whether it's going to be your first pack, you're updating an older model, or you're simply adding to the quiver. The most important of which are where and how are you going to use the pack. The packs we selected are models meant for your typical backcountry camping trips. Most of them are versatile enough for general mountaineering and to a lesser extent light-to-heavy-duty expeditions. However, these packs aren't geared specifically for these activities.
Nearly all the contenders we reviewed can also be used for travel, particularly for wear-your-suitcase adventures like backpacking through Europe or Southeast Asia. Backpacking packs can be far easier to use than a more traditional suitcase in rough terrain or areas with few paved roads. So we consider both traveling and classic backpack applications in this review. While we select a best overall model for travel, we still demanded that it offers solid performance while out on the trail. In this review, we directly compare the best and most popular men's packs, breaking down their pros and cons to find the right one for you.
Some of these packs cost $550. That's pricey, but we also review a range of excellent wallet-friendly designs. Our fleet includes a decent number of packs that fall between the $180 and $240 range. At $180, the Osprey Volt offers a serious level of value for the price point and is the winner of our Best Buy Award. The Deuter Air Contact Lite is a close second place for our best budget buy award at $220. It gives you more volume and a heartier suspension than the Volt but is heavier and costs more. Our favorite pack, the Osprey Atmos 65 AG offers a well-above-average performance at an average price, and The North Face Banchee 65 boasts an excellent performance to price ratio.
We compared how comfortable, conforming, and supportive each models' shoulder straps are. We analyzed their shape, ergonomics, and the quality of their padding. We also studied each model's back panel and waist-belt.
The waist belt and shoulder straps are crucial factors. Those are the most common trouble zones after a long day on the trail or with monster loads. To test them, we used a 30-45 lb load, which is a pretty common weight for a 2-6 day trip. We also loaded each contender up with 55-60 lbs to simulate longer trips.
Each person is different, so we collected comfort experiences from a wide range of users, including other OutdoorGearLab Editors, their friends, and our climbing and backpacking partners. We used well over 300 user days worth of input to give us a broad perspective on what it takes to choose a comfortable pack across body types.
After extensive testing with "average" 30-40 lb loads, the Osprey Atmos 65 AG scored at the top for comfort, with the Arc'teryx Bora AR 63 close behind. All of our testers agreed, the Atmos provides a cozy ride with its trampoline-style suspension that spreads the load evenly across our body. We rarely got hot spots on our backs or hips, even after extended cross-country travel in warmer conditions. It has heavily-tapered padding, which provides the thickest cushioning where you want it the most, like on-top-of and near your shoulders, and less where you may not need it. Minimal padding zones allow your body to breath and minimize the chance of chafing. While the feeling of the Atmos 65 AG is our favorite on bare skin, the face fabric on the inside of the Osprey Aether Pro 70 is also incredible.
The Bora AR 63 is also notably comfortable, complete with dreamy foam that is soft yet supportive. It's like a therapeutic mattress for your shoulders. Because of this conforming foam, the load is well-distributed across the padding. But the straps aren't so soft that they bottom out. For lighter pack weights, we like the low profile and slimmer shoulder straps of the The North Face Banchee 65. Despite the Banchee being thinner than all the other models in our review, it proves to be exceptionally comfortable thanks to its impressive ergonomics.
At loads above 45 pounds, the Atmos loses a lot of its prowess and becomes less comfortable. The best performing contenders for big loads are the Gregory Baltoro 65, Osprey Aether Pro 70, Arc'teryx Bora AR, and the Osprey Xenith 105. These packs use high-quality foam that achieves a solid balance of support and comfort. All the shoulder straps on these packs offer top-notch ergonomics and slightly stiffer than average padding. This more rigid padding is marginally less cush but is unquestionably what you want when your pack is heavy. Each model offers subtle advantages. These include foam stiffness, shoulder strap shape, and waist belt shape, which allow them to fall into our load-hauler category. Check out their individual reviews for more detail.
Different body types are better suited to different designs, and we noted a more significant difference between waist belts than shoulder straps. We don't notice the distinctions with lighter weight loads of around 30-35 lbs. But, once we crest 40-45 pounds, the differences between models really stand out. Our favorite waist belts are on the Osprey Xenith, Aether Pro 70 and Gregory Baltoro. For the heaviest of loads (60+ lbs), we appreciate the Baltoro's robust and customizable lumbar pad, which makes a difference in providing the much-needed support for carrying weights of this magnitude.
A lot of people ask about the heat moldable waist belt featured on the Osprey Aether. After extensive side-by-side testing, we found little, if any, difference between molding it in a convection oven or just breaking it in the old fashion way (AKA using it).
A pack's suspension controls how effectively it supports your back and how well the frame transfers the load from the pack to the waist belt. We also noted how well each backpacking backpack shifts the load to the front of the shoulder straps rather than the top, so your shoulders don't feel crushed.
The Gregory Baltoro 65, Osprey Aether Pro 70, Osprey Xenith and Arc'teryx Bora AR all feature the most substantial suspensions in the test. These packs carry large loads well. While all these models are particularly close contenders, the Baltoro, Aether Pro, and Xenithbarely edge out the Bora because of how nicely their frames transfer weight to the waist belt and our hips.
As a result of their load hauling prowess, the Xenith and Baltoro, are our Top Picks for extended trips and monster loads. Osprey beefs up several aspects of the Xenith 105, including the diameter of this model's wireframe and padding with this pack — and it shows. If we know huge loads are in our future, we want the Xenith by our side. Thus, the Xenith is lead tester Ian Nicholson's go-to Denali pack.
While our Editors' Choice winner the Atmos 65 performs well when carrying loads below 40 pounds, it isn't as comfortable for loads above that weight. Its anti-gravity trampoline-style suspension feels mushy and less supportive. At these weights, it's not even close to as comfortable as the options noted above once we get over 50 pounds. The Osprey Aether AG 60 features a similar "AG" suspension, but it is noticeably more supportive.
The Thule Versant 70 and the Deuter Aircontact Lite 65 + 10 both feature robust suspensions and weigh only a little over four pounds — an impressive feat.
Trampoline or Suspended Suspension System
Trampoline-style or suspended suspension systems feature a mesh back panel that is tensioned (like a trampoline) over a more traditional frame single stay or "Y" shaped frame. These allow more air to flow, reducing back sweat. More importantly, they tend to produce fewer hot spots because the weight is more evenly distributed. This design is becoming increasingly common.
We like trampoline-style suspension systems for these reasons. But, when it comes to massive loads, having the weight closer to your back without a gap is more supportive and comfortable. All trampoline style systems come with a weight limit where the suspended mesh is pressed so tightly against the wearer that it either bottoms out or causes a hot spot. This happens because it's tensioned to a point where it can't evenly spread the weight out. In contrast, the Gregory Baltoro 65 doesn't feature a trampoline suspension system, which that's one reason it carries such massive loads efficiently.
Features and Ease of Use
This category delves into how easy it is to pack and retrieve items from these backpacks and examines the design features of the main compartment, pockets, lid, straps, and special additions. We compared the number and location of extra pockets and how useful our testers found them. We also carefully compared how helpful the lid (or brain) of the pack is at providing easy access to a handful of items and staying organized. Lastly, we assessed access points to the interior of these backpacking backpacks.
We looked at each pocket and asked ourselves, "Did that pocket make my life easier or help keep me more organized, or is it just adding weight to the pack?". We also looked at access points and evaluated whether they are handy at retrieving items or if they are just for show and impractical to zip shut when the pack is full.
We also broke down how useful any additional features are and evaluated them during real-world use in the field. We favor packs with a handful of straps for crampons, ice axes, sleeping pads, flip-flops, or other items because it adds to the pack's overall versatility. We give higher scores to models with better weather resistance, ice axe attachments, an included rain fly, and easy to use waist belt buckles.
Overall Organizational Ability
For folks who like a good assortment of compartments and pockets for organization, the Osprey Atmos 65 AG, Gregory Baltoro 65, and The North Face Banchee 65 have by far the best and most useful pockets designs. These models offer a similar set-up and have our favorite overall organizational and pocket layout. All four of these packs offer two vertical zippered pockets (big enough to at least fit a 1-liter Nalgene) and a stretchy, open "beavertail pocket" behind that, which is great for drying out clothes or carrying oddly shaped items like fuel bottles, camp-shoes, or a frisbee.
The Thule Versant 70 and the Baltoro have the best access of any pack in our review. These models all provide great options for folks who like a lot of organization or the ability to get inside easily without having to take much out. The Osprey Xenith offers good access via a zippered side panel, but not nearly as much as the two previously mentioned models. The models above paid a weight penalty for access. This is what sets the Banchee 65 apart — it offers excellent organization and is one of the lighter packs in our review at 3 lbs 10 oz. It's around a pound lighter than most of the other, similarly designed packs.
Top Lid Pocket
Almost every pack has a top lid with a zippered pocket (some folks call the lid the brain of the pack). This ubiquitous feature is one of the best places to store small items that need easy access — like sunglasses, sunblock, bug spray. A majority also have a separate smaller pocket on the underside of the lid, offering a secondary place to store small items that don't need to be accessed as frequently, like car keys.
Our favorite top lid design is the Gregory Baltoro 65. Second place goes to the Arc'teryx Bora AR 63. Both feature lid-pockets with zippered access on the top of the pack rather than the more common zipper on the side. This makes it easier to locate items and makes them less likely to fall out while we search. The Baltoro also has two lid pockets that are shaped to make searching easier. The Gregory Paragon 68 features a similar lid pocket that is nearly as easy to find items in. It is darn sweet, except we had to be a little more careful that our gear didn't fall out of it.
The rest of the packs have zippers on the front or back of the lid. None of these contenders are as easy to get into as the Bora, Paragon and the Baltoro. However, not all of the lid's side zippered pockets are created equal. The large zippered lid pockets of the Atmos 65 AG, Aether AG 60, Xenith, and Banchee 65 are the next top scorers. They have nearly the same volume as the Baltoro and have a longer than average zipper that wraps slightly around the sides. This makes access better, but not as great as the Baltoro or Bora.
How you access the primary compartment is part of our "Ease of Use" metric and measures easily we could grab a few items without unpacking the entire bag. Its importance depends dramatically on the user and the volume of the pack. As pack volume increases, access is more critical than ever.
For non-travel purposes, ease of access is not all that important. Don't select a pack solely for a huge zippered access panel. You will rarely use it and pay a weight penalty. (Zippers are heavy.) Note that many side access panels are nearly impossible to close when the pack is full.
All the backpacking backpacks in our review are top loading, nearly all have a sleeping bag compartment, and a little more than half have some side or panel access zippers. These openings allow access to a lower portion of the pack that are hard to access from the top. The Gregory Baltoro and the Thule Versant 70 offer the easiest access. Both of these models feature a huge U-shaped opening that travels nearly the entire length of the back of the pack. These models open almost as large as a suitcase and larger than many duffel bags. This makes them an excellent option for anyone "backpacking" through Europe or Southeast Asia.
While hardly essential, we appreciate when at least one zippered pocket is built into the hip-belt that's big enough for a small point-and-shoot camera, smartphone, or a few snacks. The Osprey models all have large zippered pockets that are easy to access while hiking. We also like the Gregory Paragon and The North Face Banchee 65 pockets, but they aren't as easy to use as those on the Osprey models. It's also worth noting that the Baltoro features a single weather-resistant pocket, which is particularly helpful for folks who want their smartphone close-at-hand for taking photos. This weather resistant is in addition to a secondary mesh zippered pocket.
All of the models are reasonably weather resistant, but the Arc'teryx Bora stands out. It consistently kept our gear drier during spring hikes in Washington's Olympic rainforest and some garden hose tests. The Bora uses Arc'teryx's AC² fabric, which is exceptionally weather resistant, bordering on waterproof. The Arc'teryx models even have taped seams near exposed areas like the back kangaroo-style pocket, which also sports a watertight zipper, because this location will likely see the most water while hiking or placing it on the ground.
All the packs in this review have a location to store a hydration bladder where it is held upright. All the models we tested should work with just about any brand's 2-3 liter hydration bladder model, and it should fit into most models hydration bladder sleeve.
Rather than use the same brand bladder as the pack, we recommend reading our Hydration Bladder Review and picking the best reservoir for your needs and budget. One super cool bonus feature among packs we tested was that the Gregory Baltoro comes with a removable hydration sleeve that doubles as a relatively functional hydration pack.
The lightest pack in our review, by a pretty significant margin, is the Osprey Exos 58. At 2 pounds 8 ounces, the Exos straddles the line between a backpacking backpack and an ultra-light minimalist pack. While heavier than most ultralight frameless backs, which typically weigh 1.5-2 lbs, it isn't WAY heavier. And it's certainly more comfortable for people who don't have their pack weight down below 20-25 pounds.
The Exos is also a great option for folks who want to go super light, but still want a comfortable and supportive pack with an actual frame and more robust padding. Despite being a little on the heavy side of ultralight packs, we know several people who have used the Exos (mostly in its smaller volumes) on the PCT and the AT.
For a lighter but still rugged and featured pack, our review team recommends The North Face Banchee 65 (3 lbs 10 oz) and would recommend considering the Aether Pro 70, Gregory Paragon 68, or both Osprey Volt 60 (3 lbs 14 oz).
Every model strikes a balance between weight and comfort. Having both is hard. That is one category where the new Osprey Aether Pro 70 climbs into a much-needed niche. The Aether Pro is relatively low weight (3.9 lbs) but still has one of the most robust suspensions systems we tested. It's also one of the most comfortable models in our review, thanks to its top-tier foam, heavily articulated shoulder straps, and top-notch feeling face fabrics. The Aether Pro strikes this balance by having minimal pockets and access.
Adjustability and Fit
To judge each pack's adjustability and fit, we consider its overall ergonomics in addition to how adjustable each model is. We also look at how many torso lengths are available. More sizes mean it could work for a wider range of users. Check out the chart below to see how each pack ranks in the adjustability metric.
The Deuter Aircontact Lite 65 + 10 and the Osprey Volt 60 have by far the most vertical adjustment of any pack in our review. Both of these models can move their yokes (shoulder straps) up or down nearly 10 inches. Not only does this help fit a wide range of people and let it truly tailor to its wearer, but it also makes them an excellent choice for quickly growing children or teenagers.
When it comes to straight-up vertical adjustment the Volt and Aircontact have the advantage, but when it comes to pure tailor fitting, the adjustment options of the Arc'teryx Bora reign supreme. While it doesn't have as much pure vertical adjustment range, we love that you can adjust the shoulder straps side to side (width-wise), as well as up and down. The North Face Banchee 65, Gregory Baltoro 65, Osprey Atmos, Xenith, and Osprey Aether 70 all have a respectable amount of adjustment. They feature approximately four inches of vertical adjustment and are available in a number of sizes. We also took into account each pack's overall ergonomics in our fit metric.
None of these backpacks are waterproof, though the Bora AR comes pretty dang close. Covering them with a garbage bag will get you through in a pinch on short trips. However, on an extended trip, a true rain cover is tough to beat, particularly if you are facing a long stint of bad weather. If you are planning on a lot of time in the rain or considering going somewhere with a wet reputation (Patagonia, New Zealand, Pacific Northwest, BC Coast ranges), consider a pack cover designed and fitted for your pack. It's worth noting that the Gregory Baltoro, Thule Versant 70, and the Gregory Paragon all come included with rain covers.
Here are a few options:
While traveling from points A to B on a backcountry trip might seem like simple enough goal, choosing the model that will work best for your needs and goals can be overwhelming. Figuring out which backpacking backpack is right, or better yet perfect for you, might seem hard. You might not even know the best place to start. We hope that our review and the findings from our testing will help you narrow down your options.
When selecting a model, first focus on the duration of trips you typically embark on as well as any goals or objectives you might have. It can also be helpful to come up with 2 to 3 features that you'd like your pack to have and prioritize specific designs like cushy shoulder straps or a sub-4-pound weight. If you are still not sure, we recommend taking a look at our buying advice article.
— Ian Nicholson