Best bushcraft backpack?

The other day I read a post on another blog listing “The 10 Best Bushcraft Backpacks for 2018.” There were some nice packs on the list (and they all had convenient links to buy them on Amazon) but none of them are what I consider to be the best bushcraft backpack. Day hiking? Sure. Backpacking? At least one good one. But a good backpack for buschcraft? I didn’t see one on the list.

What makes a good bushcraft backpack?

The things that make a good pack for anything are pretty basic. A good pack will do a good job of distributing the weight. It should give good ventilation for your pack. Obviously it needs enough room to haul water, food, and all your gear. To be good for bushcraft though, that’s not enough IMO. A good bushcraft backpack should also be rugged and easy to reconfigure as your load changes. So what’s wrong with the packs on the list?

Every one of them is an internal frame pack. That means you’re pretty much stuck with the out of the box configuration. There’s no frame to tie stuff to (or use stand-alone). One of the packs has MOLLE webbing for attaching accessories, but the rest have no easy way to attach stuff if you need to. Some of the packs on the list don’t have a decent paddied waist strap, so forget about transferring some of that weight to your hips. Most of the packs on the list seem light for their size, which probably means material was selected for weight over strength.

What makes a good bushcraft backpack?

It has to be rugged and flexible. If it’s going to fall apart, it’s not going to be a good pack. You should be able to configure it, not just pack all your stuff in it. IMO there are only a few packs that are decent for bushcrafting. A good backpack for a bushcrafter, especially “the best bushcraft backpack,” should be able to hold up to hard use and even abuse. It should be easy to modify. It would be nice if it was cheap. Is there such a thing? Yep.

And the Best Bushcraft Backpack is…

In my opinion, the best bushcraft backpack is the USGI ALICE pack. I don’t think you can find a more rugged pack for anywhere near the price of a surplus ALICE pack. You can get a brand new one for $130 – $150 and used are much cheaper. Right now you can get a used ALICE pack and frame with a Hellcat upgrade for less than $100, including shipping.

The ALICE pack can survive air drops while heavily loaded, so it probably can take anything you use it for. It has an external frame so it’s easy to strap things on that won’t fit inside. You can use the frame with just the shoulder straps and belt for packing things with sharp corners that would tear up an ordinary pack You can use the pack and shoulder straps without the frame if you have a light load. It has lots of attachment loops on the pack (not as many as a MOLLE pack though).

It’s not the most comfortable pack in the world, but it’s probably the most bomb-proof and flexible pack you’re going to find anywhere, at least at an affordable price. I can’t think of any pack that would be better for bushcrafting. In fact, I’ll go so far as to call the ALICE pack the best bushcraft backpack you can get. It might not be the best pack for camping, general backpacking, or day tripping. For a bushcraft pack though it’s the best, at least IMNSHO.

Peace out,