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ULA Ohm 2.0 Backpack on Kongma La Pass, Nepal

The 5 Best American Made Backpacks

By Matt Mullins   updated May 23, 2024

These backpacks don’t peddle in gimmicks and BS marketing claims, they’re simply excellent backpacks. In fact I believe they’re among the best backpacks available and they’re crafted with pride in the USA by people who love and support the outdoors. My above photo shows one of my favorite ultralight packs while trekking over Kongma La Pass, Nepal, the ULA Ohm.

Why Trust Me?

I know how hard it is to find honest recommendations and to narrow down American made gear. This is why I started American Gear Guide. I take my recommendations seriously and only recommend the best of the best. Here are a few reasons to trust me.

  • I make independent recommendations based on personal experience (not paid to endorse a product).
  • I’ve hunted, fished, gathered, and gardened since childhood. I fill my freezer with meat via bow, rifle, and rod.
  • As an avid outdoorsman that reviews gear for a living, I also actually own and use all American made gear.
  • My background includes 10 yrs working with the Forest Service as a Wildland Firefighter, Ranger, Wildlife Crew-leader, and Forest Ecologist. I certified as a Wilderness First Responder (WFR) and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). I’ve backpacked extensively throughout the USA and 45 countries including in the Middle East, Central & South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. See About page for more.
  • I attend industry trade shows like Hunting Expos & Outdoor Retailer to stay informed on the latest innovative equipment.
  • This guide receives regular updates with the newest gear.
  • Continuous learning & self improvement are encouraged, so I welcome your criticism. If you think I missed anything then please leave some helpful suggestions.

Best USA Made Backpacks at a Glance

  1. ULA Ohm 2.0: Best Buy Ultralight Backpack
  2. CiloGear 45L MOB WorkSack: Best Ultralight Climbing/Mountaineering Pack
  3. Exo Mtn Gear K4 5000: Best Hunting Backpack & All-around Pack for Heavy Loads
  4. Topo Designs Klettersack: Best Commuter Backpack
  5. Equinox Parula Ultralite: Best Collapsible Daypack

Top Recommended Backpacks

Best Buy Ultralight Backpack

ULA Ohm 2.0

Ultra Light Adventure’s well thought out design, comfortable suspension, durable materials, and ultra light weight make the Ohm a favorite on long distance thru-hikes like the Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails, and earns it our Editor’s Choice Award for backpacking. This is the most comfortable ultralight pack around and happens to be my personal go-to backpacking pack. I’ve happily carried my Ohm all over the Rocky Mountains and deserts of home and also through Nepal, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand rain or shine. 

ULA provides a variety of sizes and colors (including multicam) to suit your preference. The Ohm is the right size for me with my compact ultralight gear but may be on the small side for most people starting out with ultralight backpacking. Many folks will prefer the larger Circuit or Catalyst packs depending on the compactness of your gear. Note there are two versions of these packs, one made with Robic and one with Ultra 400X and 200X material. Both versions are fantastic with the Ultra being slightly lighter, more abrasion resistant as well as water resistant, and of course more expensive.

Weight: 33.1 oz

Volume: 63 L

Last observed price: $279.99 – 359.99


More Info/Current Pricing at ULA

Best Climbing & Mountaineering Pack

CiloGear 45L MOB WorkSack

The 45L WorkSack is an incredibly versatile and light mountaineering backpack which earns our Editors’ Choice Award for Climbing and Mountaineering. The burly MOB packs are made of lightweight UHMWPE fiber composed of reclaimed ocean waste which is an incredible 5 times more abrasion resistant than 1000D cordura. I also like CiloGear’s lighter and smaller 30L WorkSack for backcountry skiing and climbing.

Weight: 60 oz max, down to 22.4 oz stripped  

Volume: 45 L normal, 75 L expanded

Last observed price: $539


More Info/Current Pricing at Cilogear

Best Hunting Backpack

Exo Mtn Gear K4 5000

The K4 5000 is a no compromise carbon fiber frame hunting pack capable of carrying the heaviest loads with the highest comfort possible. The new K4 has replaced my previous K3 4800 as my go-to pack when loads get truly heavy like carrying out elk quarters. The excellent design makes this pack highly adjustable for carrying awkward loads. The bag removes from the frame to strap meat directly to the frame or can wedge in between the bag and frame. The lid or brain of the pack can also adjust to carry an unwieldy bull elk skull. Outside straps comfortably carry a rifle or bow. Laser cut molle straps on the belt accommodate accessories like hip pouches and perfectly fit my favorite kydex pack holster made by Ivory Holsters. The main K4 bag opens from the roll top or from a convenient easy access face zipper. Tough 500d and 1000d laminated cordura fabrics and quality stitching make this pack extremely durable. I expect this pack to remain with me for decades. 

Weight: 93 oz total (55 oz without bag attached)

Volume: 5,658 ci or 93 L

Last observed price: $699


More Info/Current Pricing at

Best Commuter Backpack

Topo Designs Klettersack

Do you just want a simple day pack that’s well made, affordable, and good looking both on hikes and in town? The Topo Designs Klettersack fulfills those needs. Importantly for your daily commute pack, the Klettersack includes a protective internal sleeve for your laptop and plenty of room for daily essentials.

Weight: 30 oz

Volume: 25 L

Last observed price: $127


More Info/Current Pricing at Outland USA

Best Collapsible Daypack

Equinox Parula Ultralite

This ultralight daypack (7.4 oz) stuffs down to a tiny size making it a useful addition to your main backpacking pack. Sometimes you want to leave your bigger pack behind and summit or day-trip with a minimalist pack. I like that this super light pack still has padded shoulder straps, a hip belt, and water bottle pouches that fit 1L Nalgenes. I took the Parula along for the 3 Passes Everest Trek in Nepal, and loved having it for single day side trips. I also found this pack ideal for international travel while motorbiking around Thailand. I’d leave my bigger backpack (Ohm 2.0) in the hostel while I roamed around with just the Parula. One criticism is that the the fabric is thin so don’t expect it to take too much abuse.

Weight: 7.4 oz

Volume: 17.2 L

Last observed price: $55


More Info/Current Pricing at Equinox

Matt Mullins of American Gear Guide and Exo Mtn Gear K3 4800

Taking it in with my Exo Mtn Gear K3 4800.

Equinox Parula Backpack in Nepal

My Equinox Parula backpack on Gokyo Ri, Nepal.

My ULA Ohm 2.0 in Canyonlands National Park, UT.

Matt Mullins on Mt. Adams with CiloGear 45L

Me with the CiloGear 45L Worksack on Mt. Adams, WA.

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