Best and worst backpack brands

Best: yet to be found

Worst: I’ve been blindly faithful to Jansport, which always wears and tears faster than you can say, “…”

I’ve owned a messenger bag made by Traeger for 3 years now. Any other backpack I’ve had has fallen apart within a year. Usually the straps get ripped out because I carry around a lot of heavy books, but this one is still great.

What kind of backpacks are you talking about here? Daypacks or full-size packs?

I don’t know about best and worst, but if I may, I’d like to share this observation about a certain backpack brand…

I may? Thanks!

I think I noticed this in junior high, about 20 years ago. The logo for the brand Eastpak has a compass with the name coming out of the E. Like so (bad ASCII art to follow)…

W + Eastpak

I noticed that you could rearrange those letters to spell “sweat spank.”:smiley:

I have had a L.L. Bean back pack for 5 years now and it still looks new. (I use it every day)

My father has had a L.L Bean quasi-rucksack sort of thing for over thirty years and it looks slightly used. He got it at the same time as this L.L Bean winter coat that he only stopped wearing on principle (he’d been wearing the same coat to damn long) a few years ago.

I don’t work for them or anything, I’m just saying.

My high school backpacks
Jansport: August 1998-November 1998
LL Bean: November 1998-present
It’s so tough I’ll probably take it to college. I didn’t get the type that everyone has the monogrammed initials on, it’s the “alpine” model or whatever. Slightly less space but very durable, the only sign of falling apart it has is the broken waist buckle, which is due to a brick being dropped on it, and a chipped zipper tab thingy, and only one of eight has done that. There aren’t even any holes in it. That Jansport backpack was so bad one of the arm straps literally tore off only in three months. Go LL Bean!

I love my backpack. MacPac, the brand, is available in Australia & New Zealand. Not sure about the rest of the world. Anyway, these packs were abused from Sydney, to Manila, from the UK to Poland, and from the Maldives’ to Wagga Wagga, and not a stitch has come loose.

I can’t recommend them highly enough. They’ve been through a fair bit of abuse (thrown from the tops of buses to the ground, packed tight with lots of heavy gear, squashed into some tight places - not to mention what baggage handlers at airports are like) and though they’re a little dusty looking, the seams are still in perfect condition, and they are one of the most comfortable packs I’ve ever carried.

Among my many jobs I worked as the sales manager for a sporting goods store. The chain went under and I worked through the liquidation. I bought TONS of gear at 80 - 90% off and can say without hesitation, the best brand of sleeping bags, tents, and backpacks is Kelty. I use and abuse my stuff and the other brands just haven’t held up or been as functional. It’s a little pricey ( I would never have been able to afford all the stuff I now own at regular price) but if you’re looking for quality it’s worth it.

Best: Eddie Bauer backpacks. My first one lasted from 7th grade through the end of freshman year of college. I’m on my second one now, and I will probably be no more when it finally wears out.

Worst: A red Jordache one I had in elementary school. Was really plasticky and got a hole in it pretty quick–my pencils were always gone. The fact that it was bright red and had a picture of a horse on it almost made up for it, though…

The North Face. Lots of functionality and durability there.

MacPacs are made in New Zealand and are not sold in the US, but you can buy them online:

  • I bought a Cerro Torre II hiking backpack in 1984 and I’ve used and abused the crap out of it - flying, hiking, interrailing, military exercises (it’s WAY more comfortable than anything the Gvt. issues) - it does show sign of wear, but there are no tears in the fabric, the zippers and buckles feel as rock solid as they did on the day it left the store. Comfortable, straps and buckles and D-rings out the wossname - I love it. I’m not planning on buying another pack in the foreseeable future. It was horribly expensive back then, and I do not regret it.

For smaller packs, I like Haglöf’s Tight Pack - I dunno if they’re marketed in the states ?

Just bought an AWOL GO backpack, and it’s fantastic. It’s really light and has a capacity of 60L, but is short and thick, meaning you can put it on your lap when on transport, or take it on a plane as carry-on luggage even when full. Detatchable day-pack, removable wash-kit holder, and a mass of compression straps. It has a detatchable shoulder strap, and the backpack straps zip away to make it into a suitcase-shaped object for putting in a plane’s hold. It’s designed for backpacking rather than trekking though. Oh, and it also has a detatchable cellphone holder. Sweet.

jansport generally sux the big one

I had a eddie bower backpak that stood up to serious abuse for 5-6 yrs and the zipper is finnally going. just got 2 more - one ems brand and the other mountainsmith - both look good but only time will tell

I’ve had great luck with Kelty packs.

I must have some bizarre mutant JanSport. I’ve had it since sophmore year of high school (6 years). It’s taken my abuse rather well…

Kelty, Lowe, Karrimor are all rugged, and I’ve used different sized ones for various trips. I wouldn’t take a JanSport or any of those yuppie type backpacks anywhere my life depended on it. You don’t want to be two weeks hike from civilization and have your backpack blowout.

worst: just about every one that i’ve tried. :wink:

best: my coleman backpack. i bought it in august of 96 and it stayed with me until last spring. ::: sniff :::. i put that bag through so much abuse (regularly having to stuff all schoolbooks in there, resulting in about 70 lbs to carry and the bag being, literally, the shape of a box. you could see the zippers straining to keep the load in). i would have bought another coleman, but there weren’t any when i went shopping (and i needed to get it before the next day).

I have two backpacks: A Coleman nylon-frame that I bought in 1982, and a surplus “ALICE” pack and frame. I’ve been thinking of getting a new one (since I have a couple-hundred dollar REI Dividend, why not?).

I like North Face equipment, but I want to try other brands. Between REI and Kelty, which is the better external-frame pack? I’m thinking of something in the 3,500 - 4,000 cu. in. range.

Lots of excellent backpack and rucksack brands out there. We have been using Jandd Mountaineering small pack and convertable luggage pack for years with zero problems. I have a faithful Kelty external frame; I also have used a newer K2 Loadmaster high-tech external frame. REI is a great house brand.

Many of the retailer brands, like Eddie Bauer and LL Bean, have their designs executed by contract sewing operations–many of which also produce products by non-retailer brands.