Taking the Guesswork Out of Picking a Backpack

The Best Backpacks for Any Outdoor Adventure. For weekend warriors, there’s nothing like the REI Co-op Flash 45, which comes in both women’s and men’s styles. The Flash 45 stabilizes the load better than most and offers an incredibly breathable back panel, useful anytime you’re working up a sweat. A backpacking pack is one piece of gear that actually does make a difference based on body type. Read more: Backpacks: Sizing and fit. This rugged pack works for all of your done-in-a-day climbs or hikes. It’s water resistant to protect your gear, while you’re roaming the city or country. The Osprey Raven 14 Hydration Pack for women and Osprey Raptor 14 Hydration Pack for men crushes it on any ride. This pack does what others don’t. This versatile bag is a must for any adventure traveler.

Joyful journeys start with the perfect pack.

But the best backpack can be so elusive. How big should it be? What are the organization options? Is there really a difference between men’s and women’s styles? And do you need more than one? Getting outside is fun and picking a backpack can be too. Here are our top backpacks for nearly any outdoor activity in your future.

Pro tip: The fit is the most important part of any pack. Our experts say the right fit is one that offers:

  • A size appropriate for your torso length (not your overall height).
  • A comfortably snug grip on your hips.

So head to your local store to try out a pack before buying. (Or utilize our awesome return policy if the pack you buy online isn’t the right one for you.)

Flash Pack

For weekend warriors, there’s nothing like the REI Co-op Flash 45, which comes in both women’s and men’s styles. Built with our Cooperative Design process—where we design a product not just for our members but with them—this pack is made for you. When heading out on a weekend trip, we recommend a 35- to 50-liter pack, which has less weight and space, so you’re not as likely to bring everything you own. The Flash 45 stabilizes the load better than most and offers an incredibly breathable back panel, useful anytime you’re working up a sweat. Even better? It was recognized as the “Best Women’s Fit” by Backpacker Magazine (April 2017 Gear Guide). You can also read more about the design process here.

Oprey Packs

If you are going on an extended adventure, you’ll likely need something a little larger than the Flash 45. We’d suggest the women’s Osprey Ariel 65 AG and men’s Osprey Aether 70 AG for a longer trip. A backpacking pack is one piece of gear that actually does make a difference based on body type. Women’s packs usually have shorter torsos, curved shoulder straps to accommodate a chest, a smaller hipbelt and extra padding. When lugging a high volume of gear for a long trip or gear-intensive weekend, you’re going to be happy with the suspended mesh back panel and the heat-moldable hipbelt and harness, which contours specifically to your body. It’s pretty magical to have a pack that fits perfectly.

Read more: Backpacks: Sizing and fit.

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