Active backpacks need to perform a variety of different duties well. Perhaps protecting your gear from water during a boat excursion. Perhaps prioritizing rapid on-the-go access or excellent load-bearing comfort for long days with larger loads. Or maybe keeping you cool and comfy while you eat up the miles on two wheels. But whatever their intended purpose, they should tick off a few common elements. Activity-appropriate durability and water resistance. Suitable wearer comfort and breathability. And a little adaptability is a welcome feature too, helping you do and see more with one versatile carry companion.

Our Best Active Backpack finalists below may be tailored towards different carry needs and environments, but they all do their jobs well. Although, which one strives just that little bit harder, really exceling in its role? Cast your vote for your top choice.

Voting closes: 22nd June

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Ortlieb Atrack BP

The Atrack BP (an evolution of the existing Atrack) is designed to not only excel in bikepacking (thus the ‘BP’) but outdoor adventures like packrafting and snow escapades too, in environments where protection from the elements is paramount. The waterproof pack has an IP67 rating, with a waterproof TIZIP zipper situated on the back panel. And with its wide opening you can easily access gear throughout the main compartment. The pack’s slim shape, pared-back hipbelt and helmet attachment feature add to its cycling-friendly design. And with its breathable back pads and adjustable torso length you can carry comfortably in a wide range of active-use scenarios.

Ortlieb Atrack BP

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Blue Lug Chimney 35

Blue Lug’s Chimney is a versatile, good-looking cycing pack that easily glides from active work commutes to short trips, with a durable, made-in-Japan build. The third generation of the bag includes a side-access 15″ laptop sleeve, partnered with quick-access front and side pockets. The pack covers inclement weather concerns with a waterproof lining, separated from the exterior fabric, as well as bottom drainage holes. The padded shoulder straps and back panel enhance carrying comfort, while the sternum strap helps secure the load on the move. And with its expandable rolltop design it conveniently adapts to smaller and larger loads alike.

Blue Lug Chimney 35

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PaaGo WORKS Cargo 40

Some outdoor trips involve hauling a lot of cargo. But others require smaller loads. Why not have one bag that caters to both needs? PaaGo WORKS took on the challenge and created the Cargo 40, which features a FLEX PACKING structure, that works like an opening and closing hand, to easily accommodate changing loads. The compression system allows the bag to adapt to volumes of around 20L to 45L, while the suspension system is designed to comfortably carry up to around 15kg. The aluminum frame distributes the weight across the back, with a padded, ventilated back panel, hipbelt, sternum strap and cushioned shoulder straps providing load stability and user comfort on the go.

PaaGo-WORKS-Cargo-40

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Alpin Mountain Company Ascent Pack

Small-batch manufacturing out of Truckee, CA, Alpin starts every design with the goal of building rugged alpine-ready packs. And then they distil down, again and again, resulting in lean and stealthy offerings that can roll off the mountain and into everyday. And the Ascent Pack is a fine example. Tough yet lightweight, the pack is made with 600D Cordura and a waterproof super-pop liner, and zips open vertically for killer access. And it doesn’t forget about comfort either, with a padded waist belt, ergonomic shoulder straps and a sternum strap rounding off the sleek, adaptable design.

Alpin Mountain Company Ascent Pack

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Arc’teryx Alpha AR 35

Arc’teryx are obsessive about honing designs for top-level performance. Obsessive to the point where they’ll even develop new materials to meet their exacting needs. Case in point, the Alpha AR 35. A pack built to be lightweight yet tough enough to endure demanding climbing and alpine environments. Arc’teryx developed their N315r HT nylon 6,6 LCP material by combining a liquid crystal polymer ripstop grid with a high tenacity nylon for enhanced abrasion and tear resistance. The pack also lends itself to a variety of trip needs, with a removable framesheet and removable lid if you need to shed weight (or pack it down compactly for easy storage), as well as gear loops and webbing daisy chains to secure items externally. All brought together in a weather-resistant, comfortable design ready for active day trips.

Arc’teryx Alpha AR 35

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Racing Atelier Rucksack#1

Exceptionally eye-catching, the Racing Atelier Rucksack#1 blends classic alpine and modern design cues to create a super premium pack that’s an undeniable statement piece. The pack is made by hand in the brand’s workshop based in the Bavarian Alps. Top-notch components including Dyneema Composite Fabric, vegetable-tanned leather and custom aluminum hardware are brought together for their functional performance qualities as well as their enticing visual contrasts. The result? A pack designed to adapt to your body shape and develop a unique aesthetic over time, all whilst turning every head that it passes.

Racing Atelier Rucksack#1

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Chrome Industries Avail Backpack

Chrome Industries is a name linked inextricably with bombproof cycling backpacks and messengers toted by those who rely on their bags day in, day out. But the Avail Backpack represents a new focus for Chrome: enhanced comfort. The Avail was designed with a highly considered harness system that incorporates ergonomic, knit-woven shoulder straps developed to reduce surface area and torsional twisting for improved comfort and stability. Partnering the straps is a WindGrid back panel engineered to reduce surface area while enhancing airflow between the bag and the user’s back. And with its sleek, urban-friendly style and useful pocketing for work or EDC essentials, you’ve got an active-ready pack that still delivers slick looks for work and play alike.

Chrome Industries Avail Backpack

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Bellroy X MAAP Shift Backpack

Plenty of cycling packs provide commute-ready functionality but fall down when it comes to work-friendly style. But the Bellroy x MAAP Shift Backpack caters to both needs in a considered, stylish design for active cycle commutes. The bag’s breathable, ergonomic harness, weather-resistant build, reflective detailing and light loop keep you moving confidently on two wheels. And when it’s time to transition to a work environment, the clean aesthetics slide gracefully into professional mode. Mix in additional useful features such as the Slide Hook closure for adaptable volume, quick-access and interior pockets for organization, and side zip for flexible entry to the main compartment, and you’ve got a worthy work companion that moves smoothly with you when it’s time to go.

Bellroy X MAAP Shift Backpack

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Mustang Survival 30L Bluewater Gear Hauler

Separate wet and dry storage is invaluable when embracing wet environments during water-based activities or inclement weather. And the Bluewater Gear Hauler provides both in a functional, adaptable design built for demanding use. The pack combines a waterproof rolltop compartment with exterior storage for wet items, so you can keep important items such as tech, documents, a change of clothes and more safe and protected from the elements. The exterior storage stores items separately, while also providing the opportunity for wet items to air-dry. Additionally, the pack also includes a front Hypalon MOLLE panel for handy modular organization.

Mustang Survival 30L Bluewater Gear Hauler

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Mammut Lithium Speed

The Mammut Lithium Speed is all about keeping you moving nimbly, carrying comfortably and adapting to a range of outdoor pursuits, all while keeping weight to a minimum. The bag weighs just 590 grams, with a versatile design that can transition between a range of activities such as hiking, trail running or climbing pursuits. The panel-loading design and choice of quick-access pockets provide ready access to gear. And the breathable, padded shoulder straps and back panel partner with an adjustable sternum strap and waist belt for comfort and stability.

Mammut Lithium Speed

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The North Face Griffin Backpack

Looking for the pinnacle of comfort and adjustably for long trails? Then look no further than the Griffin. The 65L/75L hiking pack dons The North Face’s newest innovation: the DynoCarry System™. A three-tiered harness experience that features self-equalizing load-lifters, on-the-fly torso adjustment and a pivoting hipbelt, that pivots separately from the bag’s main body to create a more natural walking experience. Add in TNF’s hard-earned insight into access and organization and you have one special pack.

The North Face Griffin Backpack

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Mystery Ranch Terraframe 3-Zip

Mystery Ranch create some of the burliest packs around. But they’ve also shaped the industry with game-changing features such as their 3-ZIP and their OVERLOAD™ feature, previously restricted to hunting and military packs. Now you can enjoy both features in a bag tailored to general outdoor and mountaineering use. Designed to comfortably support loads up to 150 lbs, the Terraframe 3-Zip 50 not only supports heavy loads but bulky, awkwardly-shaped items too. And with its iconic 3-ZIP access, you can easily reach items throughout the main compartment without undoing your careful packing. Add in the carbon fiber stays that flex with the body, compression straps, load lifters, Redirect waist belt and telescoping yoke, and you’ve got an incredibly comfortable and straightforward means of hauling heavy, tricky loads in the outdoors.

Mystery Ranch Terraframe 3-Zip

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Granite Gear Blaze 60

The Blaze 60 does a great job of delivering dialed-in comfort, convenient access, and flexible carry options to cater to a range of outdoor needs and settings. The pack introduces new additions including a side-access zipper on the front panel that enables easy access to the main compartment. Additionally, the pack includes a removable top lid so you can increase the volume or shed weight as desired. Even better? The lid can be reattached to the bag as a chest pack, so you can enjoy convenient, quick access to trail essentials and balance your carry load too. The pack dishes up a super-comfy suspension system, with a height-adjustable frame to suit different torso lengths, an adjustable and removable Re-Fit hipbelt and a molded foam back panel. Want even more carry flexibility? You can pair the removable lid with the hipbelt to create a lumbar pack for times when you just need a minimalist load in tow.

Granite Gear Blaze 60

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EVERGOODS Mountain Quick Draw 24L

The EVERGOODS MQD24 may be inspired by classic alpine packs, but it delivers a smart design that caters to the modern-day adventurer. Key to the design is an innovative quick-draw opening that features a custom cord lock for fast opening and closing. The quick-draw opening accommodates larger loads and bulky items like helmets, while a side zipper provides easy access to the main compartment without needing to open the top of the bag. The contoured harness, removable sternum strap and removable waist belt provide flexible, comfortable and stable load carry, with front and side grab handles for added functionality. Smart. Simple. Built to take a beating. Signature EVERGOODS.

EVERGOODS Mountain Quick Draw 24L

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