As the name suggests, active backpacks are the packs you carry to get moving and embrace adventure. And just as adventure differs, so do active backpacks. Some may provide reliable protection from the elements, whether you’re hitting the water or caught in downpours during hikes or active commutes. Perhaps their goal is to provide maximized comfort and load stability over day-long trips in the backcountry or multi-day treks. Or maybe they excel as cycling companions. Whatever it may be, these packs remain comfortable and carry your essentials with aplomb as you move.
Our Best Active Backpack finalists are the very best new releases for active pursuits. But which one has really reached the summit in their intended performance? Choose your top contender below.
Lundhags was founded in 1932 by Swedish shoemaker Jonas Lundhag who crafted boots that could handle demanding outdoor use. His commitment to quality, durability, comfort and functionality is still evident throughout all of the brand’s outdoor offerings, including the Gneik. Available in three sizes (54L, 42L and 34L), this is a streamlined and sturdy pack designed for comfort and dependability in outdoor hiking use across summer and winter. The pack comes in two choices of static back length, Regular Long (RL) and Regular Short (RS). It features a rigid and torsion stable aluminum rod frame system, with a well ventilated back panel, ergonomic shoulder straps, a wide hip belt and a sternum strap. Resulting in a pack honed for stable and comfortable load carrying for extended periods of time. Quick-access pockets and attachment points organize gear externally, while top and front access to the main compartment gives you flexibility for reaching gear inside. Made with a durable, DWR-coated polyester/organic cotton blend (LPC ECO Ripstop 65% Polyester, 35% Organic Cotton), it’s tough enough for active use across a wide variety of outdoor settings. All while keeping the load tidy and comfortable throughout your adventures.
Stone Glacier is a hunting and outdoor brand based in Bozeman, Montana, who strive for lightweight gear that performs when you need it to without having to haul unnecessary weight. Their Kiowa 3200 is a collaborative project with a Marine Sniper, Caylen Wojcik. Designed as a versatile range bag or hunting daypack, but with the ability to span a variety of outdoor and travel needs, the pack has a beefy and removable hip belt, adjustable shoulder straps to suit different torso sizes, and a well padded and ventilated back panel to comfortably carry light to medium loads over extended periods of time. And if you need to carry more, it’s also compatible with Stone Glacier’s external frames to comfortably carry loads of 150+ lbs. The pack offers quick-access storage for essentials, along with a lay-flat opening to the main compartment for easy access throughout, with a full hook back panel for customizable organization. Made in the USA with tough 500D Cordura and backed by a lifetime warranty, it’s a burly and multifunctional bag for diverse outdoor needs.
Outdoor/urban hybrids are a tricky niche to tackle. But Texas-based outdoor brand Kammok does a solid job with the Burro Roll 26. A versatile bag that’s day hiker but adaptable to urban settings too. It features an abrasion-resistant, weatherproof rolltop design made with Adamas™ waterproof fabric and YKK AquaGuard zippers. External stretch pockets provide useful storage for bulkier and wet items, while the main compartment has convenient side and top access. A webbing waist belt and sternum strap provide load stability on the go. And a nice innovation: the pack features a removable back pad that provides carry comfort on the go but also serves as a padded laptop sleeve and a waterproof camp seat.
Norwegian outdoor brand Bergans have been crafting innovative and dependable outdoor gear for over a century. And that extensive history and experience is well showcased in the Alpinist V6 Medium 110L. One of their toughest, largest packs, the latest edition of their Alpinist packs is designed to conquer extreme outdoor use with large loads. The bag features a QSS VI carrying system with shock absorbers to reduce strain and individual height adjustment for the left and right shoulder strap. Improved ventilation courtesy of the Bergans FlowPanel ™ back panel helps keep you cool and comfy, with padded shoulder straps, a hip belt and sternum strap stabilizing the load while you’re on the move. Bergans offers thoughtful gear access through a choice of exterior pockets and top and front access to the main compartment. And if you don’t need to carry a large load, the detachable lid doubles as a 10L hip bag for lightweight excursions. The Alpinist V6 is made with a durable yet lightweight blend of 305D Cordura Ripstop and 400D Cordura Velocity Dobby, more than tough enough for adventurous outdoor use.
Osprey’s extensive outdoor carry expertise is served up in a honed offering for outdoor adventurers and travel backpackers who want comfort, access and long-term durability. The pack is available in the men’s Farpoint Trek (55L and 75L) and women’s Fairview Trek (50L and 70L) options, all of which feature Osprey’s Airspeed™ trampoline suspended back system, an adjustable and ventilated back system designed to accommodate a variety of users. For added comfort the packs feature a padded hip belt and shoulder straps, along with interior and exterior compression straps to cinch the load for enhanced stability. The bags are hydration bladder compatible and provide panel access to the main compartment to easily pack and retrieve gear. And for added travel and adventure functionality, the bags have an integrated AirCover™ that doubles as a rain cover and a travel cover for storing the bags as checked luggage.
The ultralight carry experts at Hyperlite Mountain Gear have dished up a worthy companion for alpine enthusiasts looking to shed grams without sacrificing functionality. The Prism Pack is made in the USA with durable and weatherproof Dyneema Composite Hybrid fabrics and weighs a mere 29.1 oz (827g). The adaptable design suits a variety of outdoor pursuits such as skiing, climbing and hiking, with external attachment points for tools and A-frame carry for skis. Compression straps provide additional options for securing gear externally and cinching the load for stable carry. The top-loading pack has an extendable drawstring closure and an adjustable lid that can accommodate various gear beneath it or be removed for even greater weight savings. And speaking of reduced weight, the hip belt is also removable if you want to pare back the load. Honed for lightweight yet durable technical performance in the outdoors, the Prism Pack is a trusty go-to companion when active pursuits beckon.
Looking for alpine-ready functionality in a minimalist design? You’ve found it with British alpine pack brand Built To Send and their X0 Alpine. Handmade to exacting standards in the UK, the pack has a mono-shell design for maximized durability and is crafted with waterproof, expedition-grade composite VX42 X-Pac fabric and an almost seamless design. The contoured shoulder straps and back panel feature a proprietary 10mm thick physically cross-linked polyethylene foam inspired by foam used in fighter pilot seats. Custom-designed aerospace-grade aluminum hardware, triple stitched structural seams, and bartacked webbing enhance the rugged dependability of this hard-wearing pack. Customizable to accommodate a variety of loads through compression straps, tool loops, and shock cord, the X0 Alpine is an adaptable pack for diverse climbing and mountaineering expeditions.
AEVOR is a relatively young German brand founded in 2016. But they’ve carved out a reputation for bags that lend themselves to active urban lifestyles, nodding to city-ready aesthetics and saluting responsible manufacturing. The AEVOR Bike Pack is built for life on two wheels, with features such as reflective detailing, a light holder, and an AVR Ventilation back panel with minimal body contact for enhanced airflow, while maintaining a secure and stable load through side hip fins and a sternum strap. The rolltop expands from 18L to 24L and offers flexible top, side and back access along with multiple external pockets so gear is always within easy reach. The weatherproof build uses 100% PET recycled fabrics externally and includes a weatherproof quick-access 15″ laptop compartment. And while it may be designed for cycling, there’s no reason this versatile pack can’t accompany you when the bike stays home.
One of the foremost names in urban bike carry, Chrome Industries knows a thing or two about creating tough bags for demanding cycling use. The Barrage Pro gets the nod of approval from professional bike messengers thanks to its gear-hauling capabilities, with an adjustable exterior cargo net handling a variety of bulky loads. The pack has a removable PE stabilizer tray to keep items stable and upright in the bag, ergonomic shoulder straps, and an EVA foam back panel for all-day comfy hauling. Made with a burly 1050D nylon shell and a welded waterproof liner, this bag stands up to the scrapes and scuffs of bike life while keeping the contents well protected from the elements.
Multi-day adventures in the mountains can be tiring enough without being weighed down unnecessarily by your bag. So Klättermusen designed the Raido as a lightweight, unisex hiking backpack that keeps weight down while providing trek-ready functionality. The 55L pack weighs in at 1.5kg and is made with an aluminum frame and a TPU-coated blend of 65% polyamide, 22% polyester, and 13% Kevlar fiber. The pack keeps loads comfortable with a pivoting waist belt and an adjustable back length to suit different users. The cinch top opening adjusts to changing loads, while exterior elastic cord and external side pockets store bulkier and quick-access items close at hand. And it’s hydration bladder compatible so you can stay easily hydrated wherever the hike leads.
Lowe Alpine created the AirZone Z Duo 30 as a versatile backpack with a clean aesthetic that can move from outdoor trails to exploring city streets. All while enhancing ventilation courtesy of the AirZone Fixed back panel that features tensioned mesh and a large cut-out, maximizing airflow while reducing carry weight. The shoulder harness is turned to improve comfort, while the supportive hip belt includes quick-access pockets to easily reach essentials. Dual compartments with a zipped divider and a choice of top and bottom access makes it easy to get to gear throughout the bag. And the included rain cover provides welcome peace of mind in inclement weather.
If you’re looking for a well ventilated all-rounder daypack, Bergans has your back with the Vengetind 22. The pack features VentiLight™ technology, a lightweight carrying system with a tensioned mesh back panel for superior ventilation. The pared-back silhouette transitions from outdoor to urban pursuits, while useful features such as quick-access pockets, tool attachment points, compression straps, and hydration bladder compatibility enhance the pack’s versatile functionality. If you need a little extra carrying capacity, Bergans also offers the Vengetind in a choice of other sizes too.
Whether you’re taking to the water or tackling a rainy bike commute, the Lundhags Gero 35 WP is built to keep your gear safe and secure from the elements. The pack is crafted with waterproof polyamide, a rolltop opening, and welded construction, so you can breathe a sigh of relief if unexpected showers or sprays come your way. The pack keeps you comfy with a ventilated and padded back panel, sternum strap, and removable hip belt. Elastic mesh side pockets, an expandable front pocket, and a zippered security pocket provide useful quick-access storage. Plus with its reflective detailing the bag helps boost visibility in low-light conditions.
Mammut’s Ducan Spine backpack is a hiking backpack designed to move with you, providing unrestricted freedom of movement while keeping the load secure and stable. How does it do this? Through Mammut’s Active Spine Technology, designed to support a natural gait and distribute the load evenly. The bag includes an elasticated sternum strap, padded shoulder straps and hip belt for comfort, with unisex and women-specific fits. The pack also comes in two sizes (the Ducan Spine 28-35 and Ducan Spine 50-60) and adapts to a range of loads through the rolltop closure. Quick-access pockets and a range of options for securing gear externally gives you the freedom to tailor setups to different trips while keeping essentials easily accessible. The pack is also hydration bladder compatible and includes a rain cover for protection from the elements.
When it comes to ice and rock, Mystery Ranch’s Scepter 50 excels. A rugged and lightweight pack built to be ultra-versatile, it can pull duty in alpine climbing, ice climbing, ski mountaineering and more. Available in 35L and 50L (with the primary difference being bottom compression) and built with a 330D Robic fabric for high abrasion resistance, this pack is full of features: from a form-fitting lid that detaches to expose separate wet and dry compartments, and helps to fix rope or other items when needed. Multiple tool attachment points, composite framing and compression straps that cover the external body that are removable. And throw in a telescoping yoke for a custom fit, a removable waist belt, and compression-molded back panel, and you’ve got a pack that can ride all day and take serious abuse.