Last Updated on 27/08/2023
In this guide to the best bushcraft backpacks, we share the toughest and most well-organized backpacks for bushcraft and survival. You will learn why smaller bushcraft backpacks with external attachment points are better for traveling and when you might need a load-hauling pack like the Sitka Mountain Hauler 4000.
What makes a backpack good for bushcraft? For me, it is durability, practicality, and being comfortable with a heavy load. A common theme among bushcraft backpacks is that they use incredibly tough material and have lots of external attachment points or outer pockets.
Bushcrafters might not carry a lot of technology, but they do use a lot of hand tools which are often made from metal and wood. Things like axes, knives, saws, scotch-eyed augers, carving chisels, and shovels would tear right through a thinner fabric you would find on a lightweight hiking backpack. So bushcraft bags use durable materials with reinforced constructions and also enable you to fasten a lot of that sharp gear to the outside of your bush pack.
This list of the best backpacks for bushcraft features the toughest, most practical, and most comfortable options this year. We also have a buyer’s guide further down the page.
7 Best Bushcraft Backpacks
Fjallraven Singi 48 Backpack
- WEIGHT: 74 oz / 2100 g
- VOLUME: 48+ Liters
- MATERIAL: G-1000 HeavyDuty Eco S: 65% polyester, 35% cotton, 100% polyamide 500D
The Fjallraven Singi 48 Backpack is my absolute favorite bushcrafting backpack. It is as rugged as they get and as comfortable too. One unusual feature that you don’t see every day is the wooden frame which provides lightweight and sustainable support for heavy loads.
DURABILITY: Made from Fjallravens G-1000 Heavy Duty S material, you don’t have to worry about ripping the fabric on mere thorns or damaging the base when you put it down on the ground. It’s good to know that your bushcraft backpack will last a long time as well as protect any valuables inside.
You can apply Greenland Wax to improve water repellency; however, it does come with a waterproof rain cover included. All the zips and buckles are above-average quality, as you might expect from Fjallraven. If you maintain this backpack, it will last a lifetime.
COMFORT: With heavy loads, you need a backpack like this with lots of cushion, support, and suspension. The upper and lower back padding feels comfortable over long distances, even without the hip straps. But once you tighten the hip straps, the whole bushcraft backpack feels perfectly balanced, and it becomes a part of you.
The shoulder and hip straps and nicely cushioned and stay rigid on long hikes, unlike some backpack straps, which seem to disintegrate. The straps are lined with mesh material for breathability and are all adjustable in more than one place.
You can get smaller capacities, but for the 48-liter model, there is only one size for men and women. That is because it has a widely adjustable back panel that can be moved up or down to suit your height.
STORAGE: The main compartment is 48 liters with an additional ten liters or so if you really need the space. You get hip belt pockets on each side as well as an external and internal hood pocket at the top. Then you can also get some Singi Gear holders, which attach to either side of the backpack for extra storage.
The reason this backpack works so well for bushcraft, even though it does suffer from a lack of outer pockets, is that it has attachment loops running all over. Two on the front, one on each side, and two on the hood of the bag. These loops can be used to attach anything you like to the outside of your bag for easy access or for other reasons.
If it is missing one thing, it would be some hiking pole loops at the bottom, but it’s not a big deal; there are plenty of other attachment points you can use.
VERDICT: The Singi 48 Backpack from Fjallraven is the best bushcraft backpack for camping and hiking. You can fit all the survival gear necessities you need either inside, strapped to the outside, or in the additional storage bags you can get for each side. My favorite backpack for bushcrafting overnight or even week-long trips; it’s hard to deny why it wins.
Karrimor SF Sabre 45 Backpack
- WEIGHT: 65 oz / 1850 g
- VOLUME: 45 Liters
- MATERIAL: KS100e 1000D Nylon with elastomeric polyurethane coating
The Karrimor SF Sabre 45 Backpack first started gaining popularity among bushcrafters in 2019, and here’s why. It is the perfect size for overnight or weekend bushcraft trips, It is practically bombproof in terms of durability and is designed to fit two large rocket pouches on either side for expanded storage. If I were to design my own bushcraft backpack, I would probably base the design on the Sabre but with the frame of an Osprey Exos.
DURABILITY: This is possibly the toughest bushcraft backpack money can buy, and it isn’t expensive either. The 1000D KS100e fabric is so durable it can withstand being thrown on the ground, sparks from a campfire, and brushing against thorn bushes, and it sheds rain like water off a duck’s back.
If we were rating this backpack out of ten, it would be a ten out of ten for durability. It doesn’t;t have reinforcements on the bottom because it doesn’t need them. All the buckles and webbing are heavy-duty and easy to replace if you ever need to.
STORAGE: The Karrimor SF Sabre comes without any side pouches as standard and features three pockets on the lid for your bag cover and a few valuables. Apart from the lid pockets, the main bag is just one large chamber which is perfect for fitting in bulky items like a tent or sleeping bag.
The lack of pockets isn’t a problem, though, because there are so many webbing attachment points to fasten things externally, and the pack is compatible with most rocket pouches. Two large pouches on either side can add up to 30 more liters of capacity, and I recommend you get a couple. They make it so easy to separate your camping gear from your tools and supplies.
There are axe and pole loops with bungees to secure them on the outside of your pack, and elasticated webbing on the top is great for drying socks or stashing waterproof. You can use the strong attachment points on the back with carabiners to attach your Kuksa cup, solar panel, or tools you want to hand.
COMFORT: As someone who is used to more ergonomically designed back panels, I was skeptical of the Sabre backpack at first. It is basically one large panel of padding with very minimal airflow and a lack of focus on where the bag sits on your back. It is surprisingly comfortable though. Although, I think it gets quite hot in summer.
The shoulder harness straps and waist belt are perfectly comfortable with quite a rigid padding which lends itself to long-term use.
VERDICT: The Karrimor SF Sabre 45 Backpack is built like a tank, and if you add two rocket pouches to either side, you have a lot of storage space for all your survival gear. The material is so durable that you may find yourself being unnecessarily harsh with it just to test its limits. If you need a reliable backpack for bushcraft and wild living, don’t overlook the trusty Karrimor Sabre.
Frost River Isle Royale Bushcraft Backpack
- WEIGHT: 112 oz / 3175 g
- VOLUME: 45 Liters
- MATERIAL: Waxed Canvas and Leather with Brass Fixtures
The Frost River Isle Royale Bushcraft Backpack is not the cheapest or the lightest option, but it is one of the most pleasing to use while out surviving off the land. The combination of classic materials and quality craftsmanship has made this one of the most highly regarded backpacks for survival and bushcraft.
DURABILITY: In case you are wondering why this backpack is so heavy, it is because it has been over-manufactured to be tougher than you’ll ever think you need. The material is seriously thick.
At the top of the bushcraft bag, there are two side flaps that tie in the middle that lay underneath the main lid. These help to secure any gear when your bag is full and also help to add water protection.
You can re-waterproof the canvas with wax, and if you ever need to make a repair decades down the line, leather and canvas are two of the easiest materials to stitch. There aren’t any zip either, which makes this a backpack you can own for life.
For extra protection on the base, you have four leather squares which also double as attachment points if you want to run any cord or bungee underneath.
COMFORT: While it is nice to have a truly authentic bushcraft bag, I am not a fan of the comfort of this bag. The shoulder straps, for example, are very skinny without much padding and minimal adjustment. If you wear the straps tight, then you can also feel the corners of the leather, which I would imagine will rub if doing any long-distance treks with it.
Then you have the waist belt, which is suspiciously similar to an actual trouser belt in that it is just a leather strap with a buckle – no padding. To top this off, there is practically no back support unless you use your sleeping pad as one inside.
STORAGE: This bushcraft backpack can fit way more than you might think. That includes a tent, sleeping mat, sleeping bag, food, water, and all your bushcraft tools. The only problem is that because it doesn’t have a rigid frame, you don’t really want to be hauling heavy loads.
Both outer pockets are all at least 1 liter to hold your water bottles or things like your waterproofs and snacks. My favorite feature is the ax holster in the middle which is perfect for keeping it handy – I recommend fastening it in as one time I bent over, and the axe slid out, which would have hurt if it hit my head.
On either side, there are pockets wide enough for a water bottle, hiking poles, sitting mat, umbrella, poncho, etc. Above the pockets are lashings of string so that whatever you put in the pockets is secured all the way up. Inside you have a small pouch on the lid but no zip, which would have been nice. Inside the main compartment, no pockets leave the bag nice and wide for any bulky gear.
VERDICT: The Frost River Isle Royale Bushcraft Backpack is heavy, expensive, and not very comfortable. But if you are anything like me and enjoy bushcraft to the core, then you will still want one. And it is arguably the best canvas bushcraft backpack with an axe holder, so you won’t be disappointed.
It’s about the craftsmanship and durability as well as the tactile nature of the leather buckles. This is a bag that only serious bushcrafters will truly appreciate.
Helikon-Tex Bushcraft Line Matilda Backpack
- WEIGHT: 58.9 oz / 1670 g
- VOLUME: 35 Liters
- MATERIAL: Cordura® 500D with Nylon 210D
The Helikon-Tex Matilda Backpack is from the Buscraft Line, so it is designed for survivalists, hunters, anglers, and people who live outdoors for days at a time. The pack itself is quite stout, which means it stays balanced and sits nicely on your back. Having three external pockets is ideal for bushcrafters who like to keep things organized and accessible at all times.
DURABILITY: The fabric on this bushcraft rucksack is what you might expect from a military/tactical backpack because it is all heavy-duty with high-density stitching and nylon-reinforced seams. On the base, there are four square patches to resist abrasions and this whole lower section is reinforced with the incredibly durable Cordura 500 D. Compared to some ultralightweight thru-hiking backpacks, the Helikon Tex Matilda is like a tank.
COMFORT: The padding on the shoulder straps and back panel is about average and nothing special. It feels comfortable enough, and the hip belt always helps to lighten the load on your back. A stiffened back panel provides some support. However, I find that as a tallish person, the bag sits a little bit awkwardly in the middle of my back.
I suspect that this bag will feel much better for a shorter person.
STORAGE: There is no shortage of external pockets to keep all your tools and valuables, as well as some larger items like a survival water flask or summer sleeping bag. Each of the three pockets will fit a metal bushcraft pot or canteen of at least 1 liter as well as many smaller items inside the same pouch. These pouches are where I keep things like my knife and multitool, waterproof clothing, water filter, binoculars, and snacks.
VERDICT: The Bushcraft Line Matilda Backpack from Helikon-Tex is excellent value for money and built to last. The design lends itself to carrying camping equipment and tools, while the materials and build quality make it a bushcraft backpack you can always rely on. One of the best budget bushcraft backpacks if you like bargains – you could pay much more and get far less.
Sitka Mountain Hauler 4000 Framed Expandable Hunting Pack
- WEIGHT: 92 oz / 2600 g
- VOLUME: 45 – 60 Liters
- MATERIAL: 220D Nylon with PU coating on the inside and outside, 450D Nylon Reinforcements, T-6 6061 Aircraft Grade Aluminum frame
The Sitka Mountain Hauler 4000 is designed for hunters and specifically for hauling meat, hides, and antlers over difficult terrain. No surprise that it works very well for bushcrafters too. With a 150 lb load capacity, you don’t have to use it for carrying large amounts of meat. You could use it for hauling food, water, wood, or all your bushcraft gadgets instead.
DURABILITY: The Sitka Mountain Hauler is built for carrying large loads through thick brush, making it more than qualified for carrying bushcraft gear. Because this backpack was developed for carrying massive stag antlers that can be very sharp, the material is incredibly durable and reinforced in all the necessary places.
COMFORT: The shoulder straps and waist strap have thick EVA padding and mesh lining, which make them as comfortable as they can be when carrying your own body weight on your back. They are both directly attached to the aluminum frame which means that all the weight is distributed evenly instead of all being on your shoulders.
STORAGE: Storage space and the ability to haul heavy loads is where this bushcraft backpack excels. Compared with all other options in this guide, this one can carry three times as much weight. Sometimes you need to be able to carry a lot of supplies and gear on bushcraft trips – if this sounds like you, then you will appreciate this strength.
There are two large vertical pockets on the back which will fit a multitude of gear or water bottles (hunters will often store their scope or tripod in here. Behind these is a large stuff pouch which is great for storing your waterproofs or layers as you add or remove them. There are also side pockets, a water reservoir pouch, and internal pockets in the lid to store valuables.
Inside the top section of the bag is a meat sling which is directly attached to the frame and is designed to suspend heavy haunches of meat. This can also be used for your heavy bushcraft gear and survival supplies.
VERDICT: The Sitka Mountain Hauler 4000 Framed Expandable Hunting Pack is not for everybody. But if you are someone who likes to take everything and the kitchen sink on a bushcraft trip and know your load is or will get, heavy, then you need more than an average backpacking backpack. You can almost carry your own body weight with this framed bushcraft backpack which is important for some.
Tasmanian Tiger TT Pathfinder MK II
- WEIGHT: 112 oz / 3200 g
- VOLUME: 80 Liters
- MATERIAL: 700D Cordura
The Tasmanian Tiger TT Pathfinder MK II is a beast of a tactical bushcraft backpack. It has a massive capacity of 80 liters and is made from the toughest materials available. It is like a hybrid cross between a hiking/backpacking backpack and a military/tactical backpack and provides the best of both worlds. Comfortable, practical, and built to last.
DURABILITY: The TT Pathfinder MK II is made from thick and durable 700D Cordura material, which is among the most abrasion-resistant materials you will find on any backpack. All the stitches are reinforced along with strips of webbing which are used to strengthen high-stress areas like the straps. I can’t fault the quality and durability.
There is one issue that I have with this pack, and it is the suggested load limit of 25 kg (55 lbs), which isn’t a lot for such a large backpack. The backpack feels like it could support a lot more, but maybe it has something to do with the velcro on the V2 suspension system. It would be great if someone from Tasmanian Tiger could confirm the weight load.
COMFORT: Absolutely no issues with the comfort of this backpack for bushcrafters. The padding is nice and deep, with plenty of cushioning on the lower back and on the hips. You can adapt the suspension so that your heavy gear sits just where you want it and increases support for your shoulders.
It is worth pointing out that this backpack works well for me (5′ 10″, 34-inch waist, medium build). But if you have wide hips or a large torso, then this bag might not sit well on you. This is because the fixed waist belt is quite narrow, and the sternum strap is almost too short for me.
STORAGE: As you might expect from a bushcrafting backpack of this size, there is an abundance of storage for all your camping gear, cooking equipment, clothing, and supplies. You get a lower section that will fit a big sleeping bag (or two) as well as your sleeping bag and a tarp. This can be kept separate from the upper chamber with a zip divider.
The lid is removable but has two pockets to organize easy-access items if you decide t keep it on. Each side has a generous pocket along with two compression straps and horizontal webbing all the way up. You can use this webbing to add extra storage pouches just like you can on the hip belts.
My favorite pocket on this bushcraft backpack, though, is the expandable front pouch which is perfect for a wet tarp, bivvy bag, towel, waterproofs, spare shoes, or whatever you like. It is even big enough to carry a climbing helmet.
VERDICT: The TT Pathfinder MK II Backpack from Tasmanian Tiger has lots of features that make it a great choice for bushcrafters. The only issue is the load capacity which for such a big backpack seems quite low. You can fit so much gear inside that you could always include a small day bag for daily excursions away from camp.
Sea to Summit Big River Dry Backpack
- WEIGHT: 26 oz / 737 g
- VOLUME: 50 Liters
- MATERIAL: Heavy-duty 420D Nylon fabric with up to triple-coated TPU laminate
The Sea to Summit Big River Dry Backpack has now replaced the previous Hydraulic backpack as S2S’s fully waterproof gear hauler. I won’t go on about it, but I really preferred the hip belt on the Hydraulic backpack because it was padded, whereas the new one isn’t. On the plus side, the closure system is much better on the Big River and enables you to attach more items to the outside of the pocketless backpack.
DURABILITY: This is probably the least durable backpack for bushcraft in this guide. Not because it is thin or weak, it isn’t. But because the flagship differentiator of this backpack for bushcraft is its waterproofing, this makes it vulnerable to lacerations and punctures.
When you need to keep your bushcrafting gear dry, this is the backpack that can do it.
The reason we rate this as one of the best bushcraft backpacks is that when you are living outdoors and it rains a lot, keeping your gear dry becomes a priority. Yes, you can use dry bags inside your backpack as well as external bag covers, but neither of those is as easy and effective as using the Sea to Summit Big River Dry Bag.
COMFORT: With no internal or external frame and no padding on the back panel, you wouldn’t be wrong in thinking this bag isn’t very comfortable. As with other frameless backpacks, you can use your sleeping pad inserted down the back section as padding and support, but this doesn’t justify the lack of cushioning.
If comfort is important to you, then the fact that this bag is waterproof will be of little consolation on a long hike. And because there are no places to store awkward items on the outside of the pack, you have to arrange things like your axe so that the handle doesn’t end up sticking in your back through the material.
STORAGE: There isn’t much to say about storage with this dry backpack because there are no pockets, just one big waterproof sack with shoulder straps and a waist belt. The good thing about the new design is that you can compress the bag down to match how much gear you have inside. To stay organized without any pockets, you are best off using small storage bags and dry sacks to separate your gear.
VERDICT: The Sea to Summit Big River Dry Backpack is not what you might expect in a guide to the best bushcraft backpacks, but it belongs here for certain types of trips. When you need to keep your gear dry in a rain storm or make a river crossing during a hike then a bag like this is invaluable. If you want a comfortable bag that could withstand being dragged behind a car, then there are more suitable options out there. Two thumbs up from me.VIEW ON SEA TO SUMMIT
Guide to the Best Backpacks for Bushcraft
You might be wondering how to choose a bushcraft backpack. Maybe you already have a good idea of the features you want. Here are some of the things you should consider before buying:
Durability is one of the most important factors with any bushcraft and survival gear because you generally want it to last at least a couple of decades. The materials, construction, and design all influence how rugged your backpack is for bushcraft and so here are three things you can look for:
- Strong Fabric – Look for material with a high dernier
- Stitching – Double and triple stitching along with reinforced seams are a sign of quality
- Fixtures – Look for YKK zips and durable buckles that won’t break or become brittle over time
If you look at our recommendations in this bushcraft backpack list, you will notice that all of them are made using extremely durable materials and solid construction. We prioritized durability because this is what makes them so reliable.
Comfort on the shoulders, back, and hips is also important when choosing a bushcraft rucksack and so here are three things you can look for:
- Thick padding on the shoulder straps, waist belt, and back panel
- Rigid panel or frame to protect your back and support heavy loads
- Breathability on your back makes a big difference in summer
The padding on the straps should be thick and cushioned. Two things to think about, though, are that denser foam padding lasts longer and is better for heavy loads, but lighter foam padding breathes better when hiking. The real wins in breathability come from lifting the back panel away from your back. If you can create just a small gap or even use channels, then airflow will keep you so much cooler in summer that it is worth stopping to think about.
You should try a few different backpacks on, if possible, to see which shape fits your body type the best. Most bushcraft bags are short and stout as opposed to tall and streamlined, so you need to be careful before ordering if you are taller than six feet.
Storage and Load Capacity
When deciding what size bushcraft backpack you need, there are a few considerations to make:
- How much gear do you have, and how big/heavy is it
- How many days or weeks of supplies do you need to carry
- Do you want easy-access pockets or lots of attachment points
Two things I would do right off the bat are to weigh all my gear and see how big it all is in volume. Once you know how much you have to carry in terms of weight and volume, you can start to look for a bushcraft backpack that matches your needs. If your gear is really big and heavy, then you will want a backpack with a strong frame and a large storage area.
Another consideration is how many supplies you need. This will be dictated by the length of your trip but can call for a bushcraft bag with a higher load limit. We talk about pockets, zips, and organization just a little bit further down.
While bushcraft backpacks are not designed with the same priorities as ultralight backpacks, weight is still an important factor. You want to minimize the amount of weight you are carrying without sacrificing durability or load capacity.
Having a suspension system with adjustable tensioners makes a big difference to your back with a heavily loaded pack. Sometimes just tweaking a shoulder strap or tightening the waist belt can have a dramatic impact on pressure points across your upper body. The more you can adjust, the better fit you can get; however, beware of the squeaks, which are more common with heavily adjustable backpacks.
Axe and Hiking Pole Loops
It doesn’t take much to add an axe loop or hiking pole holder on the back of a backpack. That is why we gave special credit to the bushcraft backpacks with axe holders and loops designed to carry some hiking poles. It’s always better to keep these pointy and sharp items outside your pack for quick access and to avoid damaging your pack from the inside.
Attachment points on the outside of a backpack are a good sign that it will work well for bushcraft. They can be used to strap wet gear, keep tools handy, attach external pouches, and for tying things that you don’t want inside your pack with your other gear – like small game or firewood.
Aftermarket pockets and pouches are a favorite for survivalists and military people because they are so useful for organizing gear as well as keeping it within easy reach. They can often be clipped to the waist belt, on the sides of your pack, or all the way down the front.
You can get bushcraft bags made from leather, waxed canvas, or synthetic materials like Nylon and Polyester. I have always found waxed cotton to be a good choice for bushcraft because it can be maintained and waterproofed easily in the wilderness. If you want the toughest man-made material on your pack, then look out for Cordura, which is a brand of exceptionally strong fabric.
Pretty much all the bags in this bushcraft backpack list have, at the very least, a DWR treatment on the outside. Most of them have PU laminates on the inside and outside of the bag for maximum protection. You can always use a backpack cover, but if you want total protection, then you want a roll-top bag like the Sea to Summit Big River Dry Backpack.
Pockets and Zips
One sign of a quality bushcraft bag is if it uses YKK zips which are considered to be the best in the business. If the brand that is making it spent the extra money on quality zips, then you know they care about the product. Some people like to have multiple access points in a big backpack, but others prefer a single top opening – which do you prefer?
Having at least one secure pocket to keep things like your wallet and keys is always nice, but after that, I’m good. If you use a variety of different storage pouches inside your backpack to separate your gear, then you don’t really need too many pockets.
Some beneficial pockets on a bushcraft backpack are:
- Outer pouch for storing wet gear and clothing so it can dry out and not soak everything else inside your bag
- Side pockets for water bottles, poles, or other camping gear that is too long to fit inside your bushcraft backpack
- Internal security pocket for valuables
- Lid pocket for easy access items and your backpack cover if you use one
Other than that, it is far handier to have multiple attachment loops to hang things from and secure external pouches.
What Size Backpack Do You Need For Bushcraft?
The size bushcraft backpack you need depends on how much gear you have, how big and heavy that gear is, and how many days’ worth of supplies you will be carrying. For a 1 – 3 night trip, you can often manage on qa smaller backpack of 35-45 liters if you are smart about your camping system. For extended bushcraft trips with lots of gear and supplies, you might need a 75-liter backpack with a load capacity of 100 lbs.
The best advice I can give is to get all your gear ready (like your tent, sleeping bag, and pad, stove, tools, clothes, etc) and see what size bag fits. Once you know this, you can plan for how much space you will need for food and fuel. You would be surprised how much space a few days’ worth of food can take up inside a bag, so it’s better to slightly overestimate unless you have some side pockets you can add.
We hope you have enjoyed this guide to the best bushcraft backpacks. Let us know your favorite if it wasn’t featured here.