Backpacks have become an integral part of any type of hiking and camping activity because of the convenience and utility they provide. Today, with camping trips becoming more adventurous, there is a need to have backpacks that can brave the elements. This is where heavy-duty backpacks come in.
Heavy-duty backpacks are backpacks that can endure and experience harsher environments and rough usage. Their main difference with regular backpacks is that their durability and construction are more robust and stronger.
A regular backpack may tear or come apart when being dragged through the backcountry. Other times, the ordinary fabric may lose shape when undergoing severe weather conditions such as rain or snow. Heavy-duty backpacks can endure these conditions better because of their construction, core materials, and design.
However, these backpacks often have to sacrifice one element to accommodate these heavy-duty features. This may mean a higher price, lower aesthetic value, fewer fancy features, etc. But the trade-off is usually worth it if you want a backpack that will last.
List of the Best Heavy-Duty Backpacks
The Fjallraven Kaipak 38 is about as reliable as it is difficult to pronounce. Which means it’s really reliable. The Swedish brand is famous for making quality and high-end outdoor gear and equipment. And with the Kaipak 38, it stays true to its quality and name. The backpack is made with an efficient combination of cotton fibers and polyester from recycled sources. This means you not only get an incredibly durable product, but you’re also helping the environment by using this product.
The overall design is simple and has a rugged look. It doesn’t have a lot of excess straps and loops on the body. This gives it a minimalist design and a modern look to go with it. The Kaipak 38 is available in two variants of color – Navy blue and Stone grey.
The Kaipak 38, as the name suggests, brings you 38 L of capacity. 38 L may not be enough for those hikes where you have to spend multiple days in the backcountry. But for single-day hikes, it’s more than enough if you’re sticking to the essentials.
The main compartment is accessible from the top lid. In addition to this, the Kaipak 38 has a zippered pocket placed in the front, and two mesh pockets on the sides which are stretchable. The hip belt also has two small pockets with zippers. These pockets are good places to hold small items such as a compass, knife, or instant snacks because they’re readily accessible. You’ll also find loops on the exterior if you want to hang equipment such as trekking poles or ice picks for easy access.
Fjallraven is famous for its G-1000, which is a burly and sturdy material, made from eco-fabric. The eco-friendly factor comes from the fact that it’s made from recycled polyester and other fibers. The compression straps on the sides make it easy to hold its shape even under harsh conditions.
Although a little short on space, the Kaipak is unmatched in terms of quality construction, eco-friendly material, and durable fabric. With a warranty of 1 year from Fjallraven, it’s a reliable purchase. For heavy-duty backpacking, the Kaipak 38 is an ideal choice if you have single-day or half-day hikes in mind.
If you thought a heavy-duty backpack could not come in a lightweight design, think again. The Granite Gear brand gives you the best of both worlds with its Crown 38 L backpack. It’s a backpack that can endure the elements while still keeping your belongings and tools in an easy-to-carry and lightweight bag.
With a sturdy design and superior engineering, the Crown 38 L proves to be a beast when it comes to braving the elements. Granite Gear is well-known for making tactical and outdoor gear that is built to outlast its competitors. And with the Crown 38 L, it delivers a heavy-duty backpack that does not compromise on excess weight and comfort.
Granite Gear put one of its best features in the Crown 38 L – the Robic nylon 100D. This high-tenacity nylon makes the Crown 38 one of the most resilient and sturdy backpacks in the market today.
The shoulder straps are reinforced with dual-density harnesses. And with the waist belt fastened, you can comfortably carry the Crown 38 L to any single-day hiking trip. The top lid can be rolled down and attached to compression straps on the body so that your load is made more compact. It comes with a single buckle that is placed in the center, which makes it easy to open.
Another great additional feature of the Crown 38 L is the dual pockets in the hip belt. The zippers are water-repellant. So, even if you have a map or small snacks tucked inside, they won’t get wet in moderate rain.
You also get a compartment that works as a hydration sleeve. The port is also attached to the mouth. So, all you have to do is buy a separate reservoir if it fits your budget, and you’ll have a built-in hydration pack.
The side pockets on the Crown 38 are large enough to fit regular water bottles or other similarly shaped gear.
If the Crown 38 L seems inadequate in capacity, you should go for the Crown 60 L. The Crown 60 L gives most of the benefits you get in the previous product, but with an increased capacity. Backpacks of this size are more useful when you have a longer trail and need to carry more gear. The medium-to-large capacity of the Crown 60 L makes it ideal for trails that take 2-3 days. Of course, this doesn’t mean that everything you possibly want can fit into this single backpack. We’re talking about the essential components of food, clothing, equipment, and gear.
The Crown 60 is superior to other 60 L backpacks because of its lighter weight and easier handling. One of the common issues we face with medium-to-large backpacks is that they come with an increased weight. Many times, this weight can go up to 5 pounds or even higher. This means you have to carry around an additional 4-5 pounds on top of the gear and equipment in your bag. Now, if you’re hiking and camping for more than a day, this additional weight makes a lot of difference. You don’t want to be in the backcountry carrying around any extra pounds, for which you don’t get any additional benefit. The Crown 60 by Granite Gears weighs in at only 2.3 Pounds. This makes it one of the lightest backpacks in this category.
The Crown 60 also has the Re-Fit design in the hip belt. Re-Fit design is awaiting patent but promises to be a game-changer in the backpack and equipment market. It allows you to conveniently adjust your hip straps while on the move. Also, if adjusted properly, the backpack can fit any body size and torso length.
The buckle on the top lid comes with a roll-top design making it easy to access. Also, it has a current vapor system which provides additional cooling and ventilation to your back while hiking. This model also has an internal hydration sleeve for carrying hydration packs.
Arguably the best thing about the Granite Gears Crown 60 is the fact that it comes with a lifetime warranty. No manufacturer can promise a lifetime warranty if they aren’t truly confident in the durability of their product. It’s one of the many reasons why the Crown 60 is one of the best heavy-duty backpacks.
Heavy-Duty Backpack Buying Guide
Heavy-duty backpacks come with a variety of components and features. However, some core elements are common over all the different designs. Knowing how to identify and pick these features will be crucial in making a good choice.
The backpack material is arguably the most crucial part of a heavy-duty backpack. It’s what determines the backpack’s capacity to endure and undergo harsh surroundings. If a backpack’s material is flimsy, it won’t last long, even if it looks really good. You want a backpack that is made from time-tested raw materials and equipment.
We’ve found that backpacks made from nylon cloth, rip-stop, canvas, duck fabric, and polyester gave the most durability and endurance. There are other materials from which heavy-duty backpacks are made. But generally, these materials give the best results. Sometimes it may be a combination of these materials in certain proportions that give the bag a strong bearing. Either way, these are some of the core materials to look for when shopping for a heavy-duty backpack.
The next important feature to consider in strong backpacks is the functionality. You may need a durable backpack for a variety of reasons. The design and construction of the bag should be in line with where you plan to use the bag. A very common mistake people make with backpacks is to put appearance over utility. Don’t be deceived by external design and aesthetics. Sift through the backpack to see if it will serve your purpose. Imagine using it in your destination and think of the ways it can help or get in the way.
For example, if your backpacking involves a lot of river-crossings and frequent rainfalls, you should invest in a waterproof backpack. If not entirely waterproof, you’ll need at least a water-resistant material or a rain-cover. If you plan to bring a lot of mini-tools and equipment, you’ll want organized slots and compartments in the backpack.
Once you’ve covered the materials and the purpose of your backpack, you need to check the finer details of the product. Regardless of how durable the materials are, the backpack won’t last if they’re not put together in a robust manner.
Check the stress points and pressure areas of the backpack. The most crucial parts here are the stitching and joints at the straps and belts. With heavy loads, more pressure is put on the straps and the part where they attach to the backpack. These areas should have sturdy stitches reinforcing them. A good way to ensure this is to see if they have double stitches running over. Normally, these are the areas where the seams come apart in heavy backpacks. You should also check any additional pockets that have zippers on them. The zippers and the surrounding stitch-work should be sturdy and properly held in place.
The last but arguably most important factor to consider with heavy-duty backpacks is the warranty. Reliable backpack manufacturers usually back up their products with at least a year of guaranteed servicing or problem-free usage. Look for backpacks that have some duration of warranty that comes with the purchase. It’s also a sign that manufacturers have faith in their products and trust their craft.