OUTDOOR BASICS

Best Backpack Brand: A Low-Down on Some of Most Popular Backpack Companies

Two hiking backpacks in the woods
Jerry Mueller
Written by Jerry Mueller

If you consider yourself to be a travel or adventure junkie, then you should know that securing the best gear is imperative. If you’re into outdoor activities like backpacking, hiking and camping, one of the first few pieces of gear that you should invest in is, of course, a backpack. However, you can’t just walk into an outdoor gear shop, buy one and call it a day.

If you want to make the most out of your backpacking trips, you need a pack that will fit your needs and requirements. A poor backpack choice can easily ruin your trip. When shopping for a backpack, one of the first things to consider is the brand. Today, we will be highlighting some of the best backpack manufacturers out there. Thus, this will help you answer the questions: what is the best backpack brand for me?

Store full of backpacks

What it means to choose a backpack based on brands?

Buying a backpack from the best backpack companies doesn’t mean that you’re guaranteed to love it. After all, we all have different needs and this doesn’t imply that a well-known brand will have you singing the praises of your purchased backpack. However, there are certain guarantees that you can should you choose to invest in a backpack from a reputable company.

They understand the value of superior comfort

The best types of backpack are those that will not weigh you down and provide the best kind of comfort during the haul. The best companies understand this so they see to it that their packs will have the necessary features in terms of comfort. For example, a padded hip belt is almost a necessity because most of the weight while carrying around the bag will be pushed down your hips.

Girl with backpack hiking

The padded belt will make it more comfortable by supporting the weight around the hips and distributing the load evenly on your back. Padded shoulder straps are also worth considering so there will be less pressure on your shoulders. Ventilation is also another comfort factor that the best backpacks have so you don’t have the “sweaty-back syndrome.” The best backpack manufacturers understand that comfort is paramount.

They understand that their products should be made to last

Most reputable backpack companies make sure that their products will not only stand the test of time but of outside elements as well. That’s why you can find many backpacks that are made of high quality materials and thoughtful design to ensure superior durability and resistance to most outdoor elements. For example, the best kinds of packs will be made from high quality water-resistant material.

Girl with backpack riding on a camel

Although your backpack doesn’t need to be 100% waterproof, it should be resistant enough in order to not get wet in a drizzle. This should also mean that the pack will be quick to dry. Basically, you don’t want the contents of your bag to get wet. 

They understand the importance of useful backpack features

For the purposes of outdoor adventures, you need a backpack that will have the necessary features that will allow you to make the most out of your trips. For example, you could certainly use a backpack with numerous pockets and compartments.

Multiple features on backpack

This way, you can easily break down your belongings into smaller portions which allows easier access and retrieval. Compartments can also be used to store camping necessities like a sleeping bag. Obviously, the more features, the better. With these diverse set of features, more needs and requirements will be met.

They know the importance of good customer satisfaction and service

Popular companies have become popular because they are good at what they do. With that, they were able to build a name for themselves by providing quality products and services to the customers. This is especially applicable with backpack companies. It is their mission to provide quality.

With that said, they will also make sure that they provide top-notch customer service and generous product guarantees.

You will have many people say that the “best brands” don’t exactly matter when it comes to outdoor gear. That may be well true because there are many quality gear and equipment coming from lesser-known brands.

Guy holding a backpack in hand

However, there are times when people just go for brands that gave them a good experience and value for their money. If you like a certain brand, we say that you go for it. These top companies are committed to bringing you gear and equipment that are designed to satisfy and meet your needs.

Which are the top backpack companies?

So which brands are widely considered to be the “top dogs” when it comes to making the best outdoor backpacks? Well, there are no shortage of great backpack brands that you can find in the market but we consider the companies below to be the standouts.

Osprey

When it comes to backpacks, there is no doubt that one of the more popular ones are made by the company Osprey. Founded in 1974, Osprey has been on a lifetime mission of designing innovative gear with intuitive features. Mike is an avid backpacker himself as a young boy in his home in Oregon and has learned how to sew with the help of his mother.

At the age of 16, Mike was able to sew his very first backpack. At a young age, Mike entered the world of entrepreneurship and opened his very first retail shop which garnered quite the attention of backpackers and travelers through word of mouth. The backpacks are all handmade and made-to-order which means that it will be custom-fitted to the requirements of the buyers.

Osprey backpacks

By the year 1987, Osprey went into the wholesale business and delegated the making of the packs to about 7 to 8 employees. More women sewers were recruited into the team and was personally trained by Mike in the art and science of constructing Osprey Packs. By the year 1994, operations were expanded to more states. Eventually in the year 2000, Osprey has been manufacturing all over the States and even expanded the operations overseas.

Most popular Osprey backpacks:

  • Osprey Waypoint 80 Travel-Trekking Pack
  • Osprey Packs Nebula Daypack, 34 Liters
  • Osprey Men’s Waypoint 65 Travel Backpack

The North Face

The North Face is another widely popular brand not just with outdoor enthusiasts but for those who have experienced shopping for a simple coat or outdoor gear. Founded in 1966, the little shop known as The North Face has surfaced –  a retail store that’s specializing in high-performance climbing and backpacking equipment.

In 1968, The North Face moved its operations to San Francisco Bay where the company has began designing and manufacturing mountaineering apparel and equipment. Throughout the years, the brand has gained a massive following amongst outdoor athletes and enthusiasts.

North face backpack

By the 1980s, The North Face has dipped its toes in the ski world which means that the company has started manufacturing extreme ski apparel and equipment. Since then, The North Face has expanded its product line to meet the needs of hikers, trail runners, rock climbers, backpackers, and just about any outdoor enthusiasts. It’s safe to say that The North Face has become a household name in the outdoor apparel and equipment industry.

Most popular The North Face backpacks:

  • The North Face Unisex Iron Peak Backpack
  • The North Face Unisex Recon
  • The North Face Unisex Borealis
  • The North Face Unisex Vault Backpack

Fjällräven

Fjällräven is a company that took place because one visionary thought that backpacks back then are far from comfortable and someone has to do something about it. That visionary is Ake Nordin of Örnsköldsvik, Sweden. Ake is an outdoor lover at a young age and he came into this epiphany when he was out on a trek with a good friend. He noticed that while carrying his provisions that his backpack doesn’t exactly provide the best comfort which is quite a common complaint with packs from the 50s.

Ake has done his homework and found out that carrying anything heavy, the weight should be distributed high up and close to the back. So he created his own frame and sewed a bag using a strong cotton cotton material which was then fastened to the frame. The end result was a pack that’s a lot better than existing models.

Fjällräven backpack next to photographer

In 1960, Åke Nordin registered his very own company called Fjällräven – the company responsible for the very first backpacks with aluminum frames which is widely used in modern backpacks. It didn’t take long for Fjällräven to expand to other products like sleeping bags and tents.

Most popular Fjällräven backpacks:

  • Fjallraven Kanken Backpack
  • Fjallraven Kajka Backpack
  • Fjallraven Raven 28 Daypack

Herschel Supply Co.

Herschel Supply Co. is yet another company that is known for their backpacks and accessories. Based in Vancouver, Canada, Herschel Supply Co. is founded by brothers Jamie and Lyndon Cormack in 2009 which is named from the town they grew up in. Although it’s a fairly new company, Herschel Supply’s design-driven products and accessories was quick to expand. Slate magazine said it best about the brand: “a global phenomenon, glimpsed wherever hipsters dare to tread.”

Herschel Backpack

Aimed at the 18-to-35-year-old demographic, Herschel Supply Co. offers a wide range of duffel bags, luggage bags, hats and of course, backpacks. The company’s design on their products is aimed to evoke a sense of American nostalgia with design elements like old-timey logo and synthetic leather straps.

Most popular Herschel Supply Co. backpacks:

  • Herschel Supply Co. Little America Backpack
  • Herschel Supply Co. Heritage Backpack
  • Herschel Supply Co. Retreat City Mid-Volume Multipurpose Backpack

Gregory

As you might have observed from the history of these companies, there always this one guy that is not happy with the then status quo when it comes to conventional backpacks. This is pretty much the case with Gregory Packs and its owner and founder Wayne Gregory. At the age of 14, Wayne has designed his very first backpack as a part of his Boy Scout project.

Shortly after designing his first backpack, Wayne crossed paths with San Diego California Adventure 16 founder Andy Drollinger. Drollinger was impressed with Wayne’s backpack design, and with that, young Wayne could be seen hanging around the Adventure 16 factory, purchasing raw materials and coming up with different backpack design ideas.

Gregory backpack

In 1970, Wayne started his first company Sunbird which produces advanced external frame backpacks. However, it was short-lived as the company was dissolved only after three years. He went on to design other outdoor gear and apparel such as tents, sleeping bags and more as a freelance designer for many companies. However, he just decided to return to his first love: designing backpacks. And in 1977, Wayne founded Gregory Mountain Products.

Most popular Gregory backpacks:

  • Gregory Mountain Products Men’s Baltoro 65 Backpack
  • Gregory Mountain Products Men’s Baltoro 75 Backpack
  • Gregory Mountain Products Men’s Stout 65 Backpack

And there you go, some of the best manufacturers of backpacks the industry has to offer. In terms of quality, features and value for the money, you can’t go wrong with choosing the products from these brands.

Final thoughts

As we have mentioned, purchasing a backpack from a prominent brand doesn’t guarantee that you will like the product or meet your needs. Even the most popular brands will not be able to please everyone. After all, choosing a backpack means you will largely take your personal preferences into account so that you can buy a model that will serve you well on your outdoor trips.

Three men with backpacks walking in the woods

However, a good brand is a good brand. If there are many people that’s talking about a certain brand, there is always a chance that you will have a good experience with them as well. With that said, it’s still largely up to you to do your research before deciding if a backpack brand is right for you or not.

Do you have a favorite backpack brand that you swear by? Be sure to let us know in the comments!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jerry Mueller
Jerry Mueller

Jerry ‘Boy Scout’ Mueller spends 99% of his time camping or teaching others how to live in the wild. He became an Eagle Scout which is the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouting division when he was 17 and after that he still lives the scout life. Jerry always plans neatly every trip, takes leadership very seriously and if you listen to his tips and stories, you can learn tons of useful things.

  • Josh Barnes

    Out of all the brands you have listed, I have always been loyal to Herschel. I totally love the designs that they have. My favorite is their Little America Backpack because it is spacious and stylish. You will also know right away that the material the manufacturer used is really high quality. This bag is an investment.

  • Jamie Howard

    If you are looking for a very durable backpack that will last for a long time, I think the best is North Face. I have the Unisex Iron Peak backpack and so far, it is amazing. The built in slots and zipper are great. It keeps all my things organized and is spacious too.

  • Jerry Mueller

    We love this brand!

  • Jerry Mueller

    We love Herschel and The North Face the best. Great choice!

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