Top 10 Best Heavy Duty Backpacks in 2018

Group of people with heavy duty backpacksSometimes a normal backpack just isn’t good enough. It might be that some pack brands are great quality for everyday use, but depending on where you are going, you might need something stronger than that.

If you need a really strong backpack, it’s wise to look at the different heavy duty backpack options.

Unfortunately there no requirements that must be fulfilled for a backpack to be called heavy duty. As usual, it is therefore super important that you check the different brands and models, so you can make sure you choose a quality backpack that matches your needs.

Having checked thousands of heavy duty backpack reviews, we can say that the Gregory Denali 100 is the best choice for most people.


Gregory Denali 100

Gregory Denali 100

The best reviewed heavy duty backpack
Rated 4.87 out of 5

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PS: We have checked 3,122 reviews to make this top 10 list!
RankModelRating
1Gregory Denali 100Gregory Denali 1004.87Check Price
2Osprey Xenith 88Osprey Xenith 884.82Check Price
3Osprey Aether AG 70Osprey Aether AG 704.75Check Price
4Osprey Aether AG 70Osprey Aether AG 704.75Check Price
5Osprey Xena 70Osprey Xena 704.74Check Price
6Lowe Alpine Cerro Torre 65:85Lowe Alpine Cerro Torre 65:854.68Check Price
7Thule Guidepost 75Thule Guidepost 754.48Check Price
8Black Diamond Mission 75Black Diamond Mission 754.42Check Price
9SealLine Boundary 70SealLine Boundary 704.41Check Price
10Mountain Hardwear Ozonic 50Mountain Hardwear Ozonic 504.36Check Price

How we rate the bags

We have checked 3,122 heavy duty backpack reviews, so we can show you the weighted average rating of all the bags.

Using the average ratings, you can check what all the reviewers think instead of just viewing the subjective opinion of one specific reviewer.

It’s much simplier to find the best bags that way.


Not sure what heavy duty backpacks to choose? Read on as we are going to take a closer look at each bag!


1 – Gregory Denali 100

5 review stars Rating 4.87 based on 39 reviews

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Gregory Denali 100


Here’s what the reviewers think about the Gregory Denali 100:

Reviewers like these things about the Gregory Denali 100

  • A lot of users have mentioned that the Gregory Denali can be used for hiking and travel.
  • Others thought that it the pack is durable due to its 210D Nylon and 420D High-Density Nylon material.
  • Several reviewers thought that the bag could be scaled down due to its removable frame stays and bivy pad.
  • Users found it comfortable to use even with heavy loads.
  • According to some users, its loops and daisy secure gears in place.
  • A user mentioned that it has excellent load stability.
  • Another reviewer thought that it has sufficient pockets which provide make it easy to organize things.
  • Testers found that the bag is large enough to carry a heavy load.
  • Other testers noted that it is lightweight.
  • Many wrote that it is comfortable to carry the bag due to its padded shoulder pads.
  • They also said that its suspension system helps carry more weight.
  • Several of those who have tried the bag thought that it works best when used in rough terrain.
  • A lot of testers felt that the bag is stable and did not move or sway around.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A reviewer thought that the bag might be cumbersome.
  • Another user found that it does not include an integrated rain cover.


2 – Osprey Xenith 88

5 review stars Rating 4.82 based on 200 reviews

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Osprey Xenith 88


Here’s what the reviewers think about the Osprey Xenith 88:

Reviewers like these things about the Osprey Xenith 88

  • Reviewers agree that the Osprey Xenith backpack provides comfort to the user of the pack.
  • Reviewers noted that it has enough pockets to secure and store essential items and equipment.
  • Other reviewers thought that it has designated loops for ice ax tools.
  • Users noted that the harness could be adjusted to suit the body structure of the user.
  • Testers thought that it is compatible with hydration systems.
  • Reviewers found that the pack is equipped with a lot of adjustment straps to balance the load evenly.
  • Reviewers noted that its compartments are easy to access.
  • Other reviewers said that it is equipped with a padded panel to protect and support heavy loads.
  • Users thought that the bag is large enough to carry necessary equipment.
  • They have also mentioned that the bag may be used for climbing and hiking.
  • According to those who have used the backpack, the pack is equipped with a peripheral frame which efficiently transfers weight to the hip belt.
  • Reviewers pointed out that its anatomically contoured shoulder straps provide support and comfort to the user.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A user thought that the backpack looks too bulky.
  • Another user noted that zippers might snag when used for opening compartments.
  • A reviewer said that the pack did not fit him at all.


3 – Osprey Aether AG 70

5 review stars Rating 4.75 based on 952 reviews

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Osprey Aether AG 70


Here’s what the reviewers think about the Osprey Aether AG 70:

Reviewers like these things about the Osprey Aether AG 70

  • Most of the reviewers said that it is a do-everything pack that is perfect for vacations.
  • Many of them said that the pack is light weight and stable to carry.
  • They also said that the pack is well designed and is much durable for long vacations.
  • Some buyers said that the pack has great capacity to carry all stuffs for hiking and travelling.
  • Many of the buyers agreed that the pack has the most advanced suspension system for comfortable carry.
  • Numerous reviewers are happy to have a rain cover with the pack.
  • Many of the users said that the good padding provided a comfortable wear and helped them to carry the pack for longer hours with ease.
  • Some travellers are also happy with the interchangeable harness and hip belt.
  • A user also said that the adjustable torso lenght helped to carry the pack comfortably for hiking.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A few buyers said that the pack is very expensive to buy.
  • A user said that the pack is no good without a hydration bladder.
  • Another user said that the pack could have come with some more pockets and could have been lighter.


4 – Osprey Aether AG 70

5 review stars Rating 4.75 based on 952 reviews

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Osprey Aether AG 70


Here’s what the reviewers think about the Osprey Aether AG 70:

Reviewers like these things about the Osprey Aether AG 70

  • Most of the buyers felt that the access points of the bag are evenly distributed on top, front and back, thus making access to bag contents easier.
  • Reviewers found the bag sturdy and easier to carry with heavy loads.
  • Some reviews felt that bagpack is big enough to hold items for entire vacation/hiking trip.
  • Some users admitted that the bagpack allowed freedom of movement.
  • Other reviewers felt that the ventilation system that is provided in the bagpack is top notch.
  • Many of those who have used the products found the strap adjustment mechanism of the bagpack quite efficient and easy to use.
  • A user mentioned that the washing the bag is quite easy and do not have any adverse impact on the bagpack.
  • Reviewers claimed that the shoulder straps and waist belt of the bagpack is cushioned and is very comfortable for the user.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • Some users felt that the bottle pockets could be enlarged.
  • A user mentioned that a couple daisy chains on the back would have been better for quick access.
  • The side pockets of the bag are not open mesh and tend to tear easily as per a reviewer.
  • A buyer highlighted that the hip belt provided in the bagpack is not comfortable.


5 – Osprey Xena 70

5 review stars Rating 4.74 based on 58 reviews

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Osprey Xena 70


Here’s what the reviewers think about the Osprey Xena 70:

Reviewers like these things about the Osprey Xena 70

  • A lot of users thought that the Osprey Xena backpack has ample storage for necessary equipment and personal belongings.
  • Other users noted that its hip belt and shoulder straps are moldable and are anatomically contoured.
  • Many of those who have tried the backpack thought that it is comfortable and firm.
  • Several users observed that its shoulder straps also provide support to the users.
  • They also mentioned that the bag is durable due to its 210D High Tenacity Nylon material.
  • Reviewers have found that it has sufficient pockets making it easy to store and secure things in place.
  • Users found it easy to store their ice ax tools due to specific loops dedicated for such gears.
  • Testers found it easy to access its top-loading main compartment through its curved side zippers.
  • Many testers noted that its external hydration sleeve feature simplifies refilling.
  • They also thought that its hydration sleeve protects the pack from spills.
  • Other reviewers said that it is designed for women’s use.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A user remarked that it is not for petite women.
  • Another user thought that it does not come with a cover to protect the pack.


6 – Lowe Alpine Cerro Torre 65:85

4.5 review stars Rating 4.68 based on 23 reviews

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Lowe Alpine Cerro Torre 65:85


Here’s what the reviewers think about the Lowe Alpine Cerro Torre 65:85:

Reviewers like these things about the Lowe Alpine Cerro Torre 65:85

  • One user described it as a fantastic and most comfortable backpack that is made to fit perfectly.
  • Many owners thought the size and durability of this pack is awesome.
  • A lot of users said the colouring and fitting is perfect for a woman traveller.
  • Tough, practical and comfortable are cited as the main reasons for choosing this pack.
  • Many users find its adjustment mechanism simple, effective and easy to adjust while on the move.
  • Others find the hip belt pockets an effective addition.
  • Some users find the trekking pole holders a clever design.
  • On-back length adjustment technology, bellow pockets and hip pockets are also cited as some of the favorite features of thebag.
  • Many users agree that it does everything they want and expect from a hiking pack with some cool features.
  • A lot of users love how the padded, adjustable straps help to keep shoulders comfortable and strain free.
  • Many reviewers appreciate the presence of a raincover.
  • Some owners particularly like the extendable top lid which allows them to pack a few extra items.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • Some users thought it’s a bit heavier than expected.
  • One user said that the chest and hip straps might be too long for super skinny people.


7 – Thule Guidepost 75

4.5 review stars Rating 4.48 based on 31 reviews

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Thule Guidepost 75


Here’s what the reviewers think about the Thule Guidepost 75:

Reviewers like these things about the Thule Guidepost 75

  • Most of the testers said that the bag is durable enough for great outdoor travels and vacations.
  • They said that the pack was very comfortable on their back.
  • Reviewers said that the adjustable torso and shoulder harness was helpful to carry it comfortably for long hours.
  • Many users are happy to have removable lid which helped themt to convert is as a daypack for travelling.
  • A user said that the pack has great capacity with good number of organizational pockets to carry all stuffs for travelling.
  • Another user said that removable waist belt helped him to adjust the load properly over his back.
  • Most of the buyers are happy with the water resistant quality of the backpack.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A user said that the sternum strap is only adjustable on one side which made it a bit uncomfortable to carry.
  • Few buyers said that the external side pockets are smaller in size.
  • Some buyers also complained that the pack is very expensive in comparison to the features it has offered.


8 – Black Diamond Mission 75

4.5 review stars Rating 4.42 based on 14 reviews

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Black Diamond Mission 75


Here’s what the reviewers think about the Black Diamond Mission 75:

Reviewers like these things about the Black Diamond Mission 75

  • Reviewers recommend the durable yet lightweight Black Diamond Mission backpack for high-intensity activities including hiking and mountain climbing.
  • A reviewer thought that the drawcord skirt of the backpack gives a secondary defense against light precipitation and spindrift.
  • Users felt that the pack is efficient for having enough pouches and pockets where they can place several gears.
  • Testers have thought that the backpack is stable and balanced.
  • A lot of users have observed that the backpack allowed their waist to move in different directions naturally.
  • Some reviewers thought that the presence of a drawcord skirt gives the backpack a secondary defense against precipitation.
  • Some testers commented on the versatility of the backpack in terms of its removable parts.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A reviewer thought that the frame of the backpack is missing a curvature from the lower back, directing the weight to the hips.
  • Another reviewer felt that the backpack is not waterproof, making it susceptible to being wet especially when it is exposed in a rainy or misty environment.
  • A user thought that the backpack has ridged shoulder straps which made it uneasy for him to use the pack if he is just wearing a thick shirt.


9 – SealLine Boundary 70

4.5 review stars Rating 4.41 based on 674 reviews

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SealLine Boundary 70


Here’s what the reviewers think about the SealLine Boundary 70:

Reviewers like these things about the SealLine Boundary 70

  • A lot of users thought that the SealLine Boundary pack has ample storage for necessary equipment and personal belongings.
  • Many of those who have tried the pack felt that it is comfortable and firm.
  • Users lauded the presence of continuous double sealing strips.
  • They also mentioned that the bag is ideal for canoeing and canyoneering.
  • Several reviewers observed that its roll-top closure is waterproof.
  • Other users praised its improved suspension system.
  • Reviewers have found that its shoulder straps are both breathable and waterproof.
  • Users noted that the bag comes with a waist belt.
  • Testers found that it is able to protect gear well.
  • Many testers said that it could come in three sizes, depending on personal preference.
  • They also thought that it is equipped with side-cinch buckles.
  • Other reviewers praised its simple yet striking design.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A user remarked that it is not quite comfortable.
  • Another user thought that the straps need constant readjustment if things shift inside the pack.
  • A reviewer indicated that the folding top is too short to provide a secure seal.


10 – Mountain Hardwear Ozonic 50

4.5 review stars Rating 4.36 based on 11 reviews

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Mountain Hardwear Ozonic 50


Here’s what the reviewers think about the Mountain Hardwear Ozonic 50:

Reviewers like these things about the Mountain Hardwear Ozonic 50

  • Almost all reviewers said that it is a lightweight and versatile pack for weekend travelling and camping.
  • They have also complimented about the excellent water resistant quality of the pack.
  • Few of them said the bag is simple in design and highly durable for carrying over the years.
  • Some travellers said that the shoulder straps and waist straps are well padded and are very comfortable to wear.
  • A buyer said that the outside pockets are deep enough to carry water bottles wihout fear of falling out.
  • Another user said that the stretchy mesh pockets on the waist belt easily holds an Iphone 6 with a case.
  • A few of the buyers said that the pack has great adjustability which makes it to carry very comfortable on the back.
  • A reviewer also complimented the good ventilation system of the pack.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A few of the buyers complained that the top lid pocket is smaller than expected.
  • A user said that the external pockets are far away and is not easily accessible when the pack is on the back.
  • Another user said that the shoulder straps are stiched wider and kept pulling off his shoulder while travelling.

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Buyer’s guide to heavy duty backpacks


Expedition and heavy duty backpacks are precisely what they sound like. These backpacks are used by individuals who are not only travelling for several days but doing so on rough terrain such as mountains. This means that they need to have a larger internal capacity, must be easy to carry, and should be able to withstand the elements. If you are looking to purchase these types of backpacks, below are some tips to getting it right.

What is a Good Size for an Expedition or Heavy Duty Backpack?

Few people actually agree on just what capacity range an external or heavy duty backpack falls under. Of course, since you will require it hold clothes and gear for at least a week, it is going to need to be large as possible. The best way to decide which size backpack would be good for you is to determine how much time you will be camping or hiking for.

For those who are camping for about three to five days may find that a backpack that can hold over 4500 cubic inches (more than 75 liters) is a good option. However, if you will be in the wilderness for about a week and will not have the opportunity to resupply, you are going to need a larger bag. Ideally, once that is exceeding 7000 cubic inches will be adequate for you.

One of the reasons that people choose expedition backpacks over other options is for its suitability in winter as well. This means that you should not just focus on how many days you will be camping for. In the winter, you are going to need more space even if you will only be camping for a couple of days. This is because you will require more equipment and the clothes that you carry will be thicker as well.

You will need to look into more than just how much an expedition bag can hold, however. It is also important to determine how much the backpack weighs when it is empty. While expedition backpacks need to hold a lot of items, they themselves need to weigh a limited amount. This will allow you to carry more gear and things with you on your trip. If you are looking to balance out internal capacity and weight, Lowe Alpine TFX Appalachian toes this line. The larger version allowing for 5200 cu weighs a little over five pounds.

Internal Frames vs. External Frames

Expedition and heavy duty bags are meant to carry heavier loads. To counteract the added weight, the bags need to be equipped with frames. The two types of frames are internal and external, and are typically found on bags that need to carry over 15 pounds at one time.

With internal frames, as the name suggests, the frame resides inside of the backpack. It can either consist of plastic, aluminum, Delrin rods, or even a combination of these materials. This type of frame brings the load close to you, directing the majority of it towards your hips. Internal frames are lighter than external versions. This type of bag is best suited to hikers who do a lot of climbing. While these bags offer a lot of support, they can be quite uncomfortable during the hot seasons as they don’t really allow for ventilation.

External frames are somewhat of a lost art although they do remain a favorite among the older hikers. While external frames can be a bit heavier, they do have a higher center of gravity. As a result, they do ensure that your hips carry most of the weight of your backpack. Also, it does help to improve your posture as you don’t have to worry about counterbalancing the loads. These are also great accompaniments in warmer weather. The external frames are not all that good for climbing and are best suited to the trails.

While external frame backpacks undoubtedly have their place, you will be hard pressed to find a bag. If this is a frame that you are interested in, the Kelty Yukon is one of the better-graded options.

Durability

Heavy duty backpacks and expedition backpacks need to withstand a lot. This is particularly important if you plan on doing some climbing or will be hiking in places with a lot of brush. The backpack will have to be resistant to most abrasive surfaces and be able to prevent minor tears. As it is quite possible that you will encounter at least some rain or moisture, you should look for backpacks that are water resistant as well.

A word of warning: the more durable or heavy duty a bag is, the heavier it will be. This is because it will require thicker material and will also be reinforced. It is important to strike a middle ground with this particular feature.

Perhaps the best example of this is the Deuter Expedition 90+1. It is made from 1000D Duratex and 330D Micro Rip Pro 6.6 fabric. This makes the construction of this bag of some of the highest quality possible. The best part of it, however, is that the bag weighs just 6lbs.

The Gregory Whitney 95 has bottom panels that are made from water resistant materials. This will help to protect your belongings from the rain at least a little. For an all-rounder, the Mountain Hardwear South Col 70 is both hardwearing as well as water resistant.

Padding on the Belt

As mentioned above, most bags are designed to allow you to carry most of the weight of the bag on your hips. This is because this is the best way for the weight to be distributed. It makes the backpack a lot more comfortable for you to carry and also prevents the possibility of back pain.

While your hips are capable of maintaining this weight, there still needs to be some protection. This is available in the form of padding around the belts that you fasten around your waist. Some people don’t like this additional padding as it does add some weight to the bag. The amount of padding should be determined by how much you are carrying. If your pack weighs less than 40lbs, you should be able to only have minimal padding. However, if you are planning on hiking for days, this extra support could be useful. If your pack weighs more than 40lbs, you should not risk it, you should certainly have extra padding.

The padding is not just for the hips, nonetheless. You should ensure that the straps that are on your shoulders are well padded as well. This helps with the weight distribution and comfort as well. This way, you will not have straps digging into your shoulders.

Sizing of the Backpack

This part of the guide refers to just how adjustable your backpack is in terms of straps and length. This is important as you need to ensure that the backpack fits you well. The proper fit relies on the suspension system of the backpack. The suspension system consists of the frame, shoulder straps, hip belt, lumbar area, and the back padding. These features carry the load and then place it on your body.

There are three different types of suspension systems – fixed suspension, adjustable suspension, and interchangeable suspension. With fixed suspension, there are no adjustable features on the backpack. There are all set to one height or length. Within that one series, however, there are numerous backpacks that should fit you. With these types of systems, it is imperative to find the right fit if you want the backpack to be wearable. While there isn’t any versatility, these backpacks offer an incredible amount of stability as the pack is flush against your back.

With the adjustable suspension systems, you can adjust the shoulders straps as well as the hip belt. This means that you have to be less concerned with the fit of the bag as you can choose to adjust the size according to your torso length. This suspension system is good for really long expeditions. This way, if the backpack causes soreness in one spot, you can simply adjust it.

Interchangeable suspension systems allow you to tailor the backpack according to your size. You can buy different shoulder straps and hip belts to mix and match them on your backpack. This option comes in handy for individuals who are either very tall, very short, or have distinct body proportions.

Additional Features

There are a few other things to consider when getting an expedition bag or a heavy duty style. The first would be the external components. This doesn’t refer to just the pockets. Instead, you will need to consider lashes, loops, and bungees. This will allow you to carry a greater number of items by fixing them to the outside of your bag. It is also a great feature for tools or gear that you may need at a moment’s notice. If you are headed towards icy terrain, you should think about getting the Osprey Xena or Xenith. Both models come equipped with ice axe loops on the outside.

At the same time, make sure that there are enough of pockets and compartments to store items that you really need. A good example is a water bottle. Since most pockets are meant to hold water bottles, make sure that there is a deep mesh pocket in which you can store it. It would be ideal if there are small compartments on the hip belt. This will make it much easier for you to reach everything that you need without having to make pit stops along your journey.

Another thing to look for would be how many access points there are on the bag. Expedition packs are not only large, they also hold an incredible amount of items. Since these are used for long trips, you are going to need to find a way to organize the backpack. This is where access points become useful. Typically, if you want to find something at the bottom of a backpack, you would have to remove all of the items to reach it. With multiple access points, you will not need to do this. Instead, it is simply a matter of opening up the part of the bag that you wish to access.

Following in the vein of multiple access points are detachable lids. These are parts of the expedition bag that can be removed and carried as a separate bag. This can be useful for several reasons. First, it is a great way to take away some of the weight or load off from your shoulders and back. It is also good if you are planning on setting up camp in a particular spot for a while. This way, you can detach that compartment and take it with you on shorter hikes.

Ventilation is especially vital if you are carrying an internal frame backpack as it will push the bag against your spine. This means that you sweat in this region, resulting in a wet and uncomfortable back. To prevent this from happening, you need to look for ventilation features. First, look for backpacks that contain mesh in this part. This material is more breathable, allowing air to pass through. Also, consider light, foam panels that push the backpack away from your back.

It is important to keep all of this in mind when purchasing a heavy duty or expedition backpack. The most imperative thing to remember, however, is to look for a backpack that is right for what you need. This means finding one with the right internal capacity for your trips and gear. You should also get one that has the right length straps and belts to fit your torso. Last but not least, look for additional features that you are actually going to use rather than flashy add-ons that only weigh you down. As long as you focus on this, you will have no issue in finding backpacks that are a good fit for you and your activities.


Selected reviews


Backpack Gear Test reviewed the Gregory Whitney

I have been very pleased with the Whitney 95 backpack. I find it is a product that has grown on me. The more I use it the better I become at using it. The comfort amazes me even in hot humid weather. Getting at the items I need quickly and easily is very convenient. I have used it a lot and it still looks like it did when I first got it.

Posted 25 June 2008 by Arnold Peterson – Read full review



Notes about this top 10 list


The list was last updated 19/09/2018.

The list shows the best reviewed heavy duty backpacks from a much bigger list of selected products. The list should not be considered a complete list of all available, excellent heavy duty backpacks

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.


About MightyGoods

Here at our site MightyGoods, we have checked thousands of reviews in order to build the biggest directory of backpacks, luggage, handbags and lots of other bags.

So far we have checked more than 2,1 million reviews!

Using our bag review summaries, we aim to help you find the perfect bag without having to spend a lot of time reading an endless list of reviews.


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