Adventure Travelogues

Best Canyoneering Backpack

Canyoneering and canyoning (and yes, there is a difference) are both activities that demand a lot of our equipment. When you consider that whatever you carry with you is going to be dragged through bushes, bashed and rubbed up against rocks, subject to full submersion in water, and just generally beaten up, you are going to hope that it is as durable as you are to make it out alive.

Additionally, a range of equipment can be required, like canyoneering shoes, and it is always best to carry a few extra pieces for those extreme circumstances when you might just need something. The problem is, you will need something to carry these extra pieces in.

Enter the dedicated canyoneering (and canyoning) backpack! Outdoor equipment specialists have, over time, been developing streamlined backs which protect and provide quick access to all of the bits and pieces you need to safely traverse a river gorge. Today, we are going to be looking at and discussing which brands have created such products, which ones are our favorites, what to look out for when buying, and what makes these backpacks so damn useful.

What You Should Know Before Buying Canyoneering Backpack

Canyoneering Backpack Materials

Before we dive into our product comparisons, it is worth iterating over a few points so that we can fully understand what a canyoneering backpack is when we might want to have one, and the different qualities these products tend to have that assist you in your outdoor adventures.

Capacity

The majority of canyoneering backpacksare built to be as waterproof as possible and are often rated and compared by their waterproofing capabilities. As a result, canyoneering backpacks tend to be made from durable, resistant material that fully repels water, stitched together with specialist seams to ensure that not a single drop of moisture makes its way inside. A common outer material is PVC; a synthetic plastic polymer that is commonly used in making plastic pipes, but can also be made into a flexible membrane to protect your gear.

Weight

While you cannot carry safety equipment for every single possible scenario, and part of the joy of the sport is the ability to play MacGyver, you do need to ensure that your pack is both big enough to carry the essentials and small and portable enough to squeeze through tight gaps with comfort and ease. The common sizes you will find range from 30L to 55L. If you are a seasoned canyoneering enthusiast, you may well be able to squeeze all you need to into the 30L without a problem, but when you are starting out and want to ensure you have enough space for all your safety equipment (and all-important go-pro), a medium-sized bag of around 40 – 45L is probably a better option.

Waterproofing in Backpack for Canyoneering

Hardcore waterproofing certainly takes up valuable weight, and as a result, canyoneering backpacks can be a little heavier than standard daypacks and rucksacks. You can expect most packs to weigh somewhere between 2 and 3 lbs (0.9 – 1.4 kg) which, while not much, can still be noticeable while doing extreme sports.

What’s the Best Canyoneering Backpack?

After a thorough search through the current online marketplace, we have put together this comprehensive list of our favorite canyoning and canyoneering backpacks based on user reviews, price, features, and technical specifications. While each user prioritizes different features, we hope this breakdown will help you to figure out which backpack would suit you and your needs best.

1. Earth Pak Waterproof Backpack

PROS

Completely waterproof design,

Simple and intuitive,

Comes with free waterproof phone case,

Available in a variety of colors

CONS

Heavy bag with uneven weight distribution

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The Earth Pak Waterproof Backpack is a simple and stylish product that can withstand a beating in the wilderness and protect your canyoning gear as well as all of your essentials. The roll-down top, when set up correctly, ensures that water stays out of the bag, and protective pockets inside the main compartment guarantee that your phone will survive a rough trip through a river canyon. Not only is it very protective, but it also looks fantastic.

Often the main aim of canyoning and canyoneering backpacks is to protect their contents from vast amounts of water, which often comes at the price of a little comfort. While there is a waist strap on the Earth Pak, it could benefit from a bit of extra padding, and you will have to be careful when organizing your gear to ensure that the overall weight is evenly distributed. The product is best used when canyoneering, and for longer backpacking trips, we would recommend something with a more refined framework to protect your back better.

2. Skog Å Kust BackSåk Waterproof Floating Backpack

PROS

2 different closing methods,

Extra small size available,

A range of stylish design options,

Protective interior pockets

CONS

Some attachments have broken under extreme circumstances

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The Skog A Kust Floating Backpack is very comparable to the aforementioned EarthPak, both in terms of design and functionality. It also features a roll-down and clip opening design, with protective inner pockets to ensure your smartphone lives to die another day. An extra feature of their roll-down top is that you can clip it on the side, which helps to keep the backpack more compressed and condensed. The clean and simple design is available in a range of styles and colors, making it a more personal product.

The product is available in a very compact 25L size, which is great for portability, however, enthusiastic canyoners may well struggle to fit all they need inside. The 35L size should be sufficient, but again, for those more extreme routes that require more equipment, it could be a bit snug. Furthermore, some users have reported some straps and zips breaking with use, although the main compartment has always retained its waterproofing abilities and protected the contents inside.

3. FE Active Dry Bag Waterproof Backpack

PROS

Budget-friendly option,

Fully waterproof design,

Bungee cord and external pockets for additional storage,

Lightweight design- only 2lbs

CONS

Waist strap is quite tight

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The FE Active Dry Bag is a great, compact backpack with many uses, for both outdoor adventures and daily life. It has an IPX8 rating which means it is a fully waterproof submersible backpack and can be used, even for scuba diving. The design is fully waterproof and comes with plenty of external storage through an elasticated bungee cord and some external mesh pockets.

The design of the product is not as clean and simplistic as the previously listed backpacks, which may appeal to some people but may be a little too much for others. Additionally, some users have reported that the strap is simply not big enough, so while the strap would otherwise provide better weight distribution and comfort, it is often rendered useless.

4. PETZL – ALCANADRE, 45L Pack for Canyoning Equipment

PROS

High quality, premium product,

Extra durable aluminum buckles,

Quick draining,

Loopholes for attaching the ends of a rope to

CONS

Not a waterproof product

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The PETZL Alcanadre backpack is for more serious canyoners out there. With streamlined features for a climbing rope, this extremely durable and lightweight backpack is great for holding your essential canyoneering gear, and nothing more. The bag itself is not waterproof, so you will only be able to take gear that you can get wet unless you pair it with a dry-sack. With that being said, the bag does quickly drain when filled up with water, and so you will not be carrying around the extra weight of half of the river with you.

5. IDRYBAG Waterproof Dry Bag

PROS

Constructed from heavy-duty, scratch-proof, waterproof PVC,

Available in a range of colors and sizes,

External splash-proof pocket and protective inner pockets

CONS

Stitching has been found to be a weak point

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The IDRYBAG is a beautifully designed, compact, waterproof backpack with plenty of features aimed at outdoor adventurers. The bright and eye-catching external layer attracts attention (both in Instagram photos, and in emergencies that require a professional rescue team to locate you), and the range of sizes available means that you can refine your choice of bag to what is best for you. There is an external splash-proof pocket which, while not waterproof, is perfect for storing items you may need quickly such as a compass or a knife, and the protective inner pockets keep your smartphone safe. The bag is constructed from heavy-duty, waterproof PVC, engineered to keep the water out.

On the surface, it is very hard to fault this product, however, multiple users have reported weaknesses in the stitching that hold the seams together. When this comes loose, it can let the water in, which renders all of the heavy-duty waterproof PVC useless. The company has been quick to replace products in such cases, so do ensure that you thoroughly check your bag before putting the life of your precious smartphone at risk.

6. Vitchelo 30L Floating Storage Bag

PROS

Plenty of external storage,

Complimentary waterproof phone case,

Completely waterproof design

CONS

Would benefit from some extra padding and a waist strap

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The Vitchelo Floating Storage Bag is a reasonably priced and completely waterproof backpack. The eye-catching and functional design comes complete with plenty of external storage using a similar bungee cord and mesh pocket setup to the FE Active Drypack.

The backpack is highly functional, however, it is lacking in comfort and could benefit from some additional padding on the shoulder straps and back and a robust waist strap instead of the flimsy sternum strap provided. Furthermore, the bold design may be a little too bold for some users.

7. Oak Creek Canyon Falls 30L Dry Bag Backpack

PROS

Huge amounts of external storage,

Compact and intuitive to use,

Only weighs 2lbs

CONS

Weak glue and seams render its waterproofing useless in some cases

See it in your local store:

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United Kingdom
Canada
Australia
Singapore

The Oak Creek Canyon Falls Backpack is a stylish and lightweight product that can be adapted to a variety of different uses. The abundance of external storage is great for access to items such as your water-bottle or waterproof shell. The product is budget-friendly and fully waterproof.

There are a couple of small problems with the design. Firstly, the pack has a plethora of external straps, cords, and pockets, which are great for attaching gear but can easily snag on branches and rocks when canyoning. Additionally, the glue used to reinforce the seams has been reported to not be as strong as intended, and as a result, it is quite possible that water can leak inside. As with the IDRYBAG, we recommend completing a thorough inspection of the stitching and seams before putting this product to the test.

We think the Earth Pak Waterproof Backpack is a fantastic all-around waterproof backpack, which is simple and intuitive and still packed with features specific to outdoor sports. We like the durable design and fully waterproof exterior and think that it is very high quality for the price. Some of the cheaper products do not benefit from the same strength and durability, and we believe that using the Earth Pak Backpack will save you considerably in the long run.

For those minimalist canyoners out there, the PETZL Alcanadre is a great product for carrying everything you absolutely need to complete your canyoning adventure and nothing more. The one feature that you may feel lets this product down is the lack of waterproofing.

Questions and Answers About Canyoneering Backpack

Buying equipment for outdoor adventures can be a little daunting, and although a backpack is seldom the difference between life and death, it is best to be able to rely on the articles we take with us so that we can confidently stride into the unknown. To help you understand canyoneering backpacks a little more, we have answered some commonly asked questions below.

Is Canyoneering Backpack essential?

If you are joining an organized canyoneering tour, it is likely that the tour leaders will have everything that the group requires to make it from one end of the trail to the other, and so a backpack would not be essential. If you are going out on your own, you won’t want to carry everything with you on a harness at all times, and if you consider that your backpack is going to get as wet as you are, a waterproof backpack to protect your safety equipment and daily essentials is probably worth the investment. It doesn’t have to be a streamlined canyoneering backpack, however, these come packed with helpful features and quick and easy access to your equipment, so will make your tour that little bit easier.

What’s the difference between Waterproof Backpack and Canyoneering Backpack?

Not all waterproof duffel bags or backpacks are canyoneering backpacks, but most canyoneering backpacks are waterproof. You will find that many “waterproof” backpacks are certainly waterproof when worn in a downpour, but may not function as expected when literally held underwater. Additionally, they are often not as robust or durable as canyoneering backpacks, which are engineered to survive under the most difficult of circumstances.

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