ULA Ohm 2.0 Backpack on Kongma La Pass, Nepal

The 5 Best American Made Backpacks

By Matt Mullins   updated August 20, 2020

These cottage industry backpacks don’t peddle in gimmicks and BS marketing, they’re simply great lightweight 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. I’m an ultralight evangelist singing the praises of going lighter. When you could achieve a full gear pack weight below 25 or even 15 pounds, why wouldn’t you? My above photo shows one of my favorite ultralight packs while trekking over Kongma La Pass, Nepal, the ULA Ohm 2.0.

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).
  • 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 34 countries including in the Middle East, Central & South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. See About page for more.
  • I attend industry trade shows like 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.
Our Editor's Choice Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Southwest Backpacks on the Teton Crest Trail.

Best USA Made Backpacks at a Glance

  1. HMG 3400 Southwest: Editor’s Choice Best Overall Ultralight Backpacking Pack
  2. ULA Ohm 2.0: Best Buy Ultralight Backpack
  3. CiloGear 45L WorkSack: Best Ultralight Climbing/Mountaineering Pack
  4. Topo Designs Klettersack: Best Commuter Backpack
  5. Equinox Parula Ultralite: Best Collapsible Daypack
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Top 5 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 2.0 a favorite on long distance thru-hikes like the Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails, and earns it our Best Buy Award for backpacking. This is the most comfortable ultralight pack around and happens to be my personal go-to backpacking pack. It’s a very close contest for Editor’s Choice between the HMG 2400 and this pack. I ultimately believe the ULA is the better value but you will need to cover it up in wet weather unlike the HMG. I’ve happily carried my Ohm 2.0 all over the Rocky Mountains and deserts of home and also through Nepal and Thailand rain or shine. ULA provides a variety of sizes and colors (including multicam) to suit your preference. While the Ohm 2.0 is my top choice, I believe most folks will prefer the slightly larger Circuit or Catalyst packs depending on the compactness of your gear. My gear tends to be as light and compact as it gets.
Last observed price: $225

Editor's Choice Best Ultralight Backpacking Pack

Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Southwest

Hyperlite Mountain Gear packs are constructed of Dyneema (formerly known as cuben fiber) fabric. Along with fully taped seams, this translates into HMG packs being impressively weatherproof, more abrasion resistant, ultra lightweight, and earning our Editor’s Choice Award. HMG packs come in a wide variety of volumes and configurations, with some geared towards ultralight backpacking and some towards climbing with external attachment points for crampons, and ice axes. I find that their 3400 size with 55 L capacity hits the sweet spot for ultralight trips. For those wanting a different volume size, take a look at the smaller 2400 and larger 4400 packs. HMG packs are specialized ultralight minimalist packs using latest tech fabrics and with that comes a higher price tag.
Last observed prices: ~ $310-500 depending on model

Best Climbing & Mountaineering Pack

CiloGear 45L WorkSack

The 45L WorkSack is an incredibly versatile and light mountaineering backpack which earns our Editors’ Choice Award for Climbing and Mountaineering. Check out my in depth review. The one downside, if you’re impatient, is the waiting list since it’s made to order from the Portland factory. I also like CiloGear’s 30L Guide Service WorkSack for backcountry skiing and climbing. Of course they offer many other sizes, and also optional W/NWD Dyneema construction in their top of the line (priciest) packs.
Last observed base price: $289

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. You can find these packs in a bright variety of colors and materials.
Last observed price range: ~ $135-189

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 an extra day pack 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. I found my Parula backpack new on eBay for under $50.

Equinox Parula Backpack in Nepal

My Equinox Parula backpack on Gokyo Ri, Nepal.

HMG 3400 Ice Pack

My friend Bobby rocking the HMG 3400 Ice Pack while backcountry skiing in the Tetons, WY.

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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