Best High Sierra Backpacks Reviewed for Durability & Functionality
Backpacks can be a person’s best asset. We can use them for all sorts of purposes which includes traveling on an airplane, hiking, going to the gym, school, and work. Many backpacks are built for strength and durability because we expect them to handle the heaviest loads. A traveler may fill their backpack up with items including clothing, toiletries, and even laptop computers. Hikers may need to carry water bottles or bladders with them along with survival gear such as a fire starter. Even athletes find backpacks to be a convenient tool to carry an extra pair of shorts, water bottle, and shoes.
Carrying a heavy load isn’t a backpack’s only function. Many backpacks include lots of pockets so that people can better organize their gear. Organization of your items is a critical function because it helps protect our items and allows us to find items quickly when needed. For example, we most likely would not want to store a water bottle in the same compartment as our laptop because the water bottle might leak and ruin the laptop. This is why many backpacks have dedicated laptop sleeves and exterior water bottle pockets. By properly using the proper compartments, we can protect our items.
- High Sierra Curve
- Media Pocket
- High Sierra Tactic
- Full Padded Sleeve
- High Sierra Opie
- ID Pockets
Of course, our backpacks need to be comfortable also. Features such as extra wide and padded straps allow users to carry heavy loads on our backs. Without such a feature, the backpack straps would dig into our body and potentially leave bruises or abrasions. We also need our backpacks to be durable since it would be an issue if they split open and our items spilled out.
These reasons are why many people turn to High Sierra brand backpacks. The brand is known to be well designed and provide users with the features mentioned above. We can expect High Sierra backpacks to be rugged and durable. They also look great and are comfortable to wear.
15 Best High Sierra Backpacks
1. High Sierra Curve
The backpack has a specialized media pocket located in the front compartment. The pocket has a headphone port so that you can connect headphones to your device. This is the ideal place for items such as small tablets or your smartphone.
Front Load Main Compartment
The main compartment is front loaded and comes with different organizers. You can use this pocket for items such as books, notebooks, binders, or even a small laptop. The organizers allow you to separate the items so that you can find what you need quickly.
Cost and Value
You can expect to pay a price that is well below the average for this backpack. It gets its value by offering features such as large pockets that have organizers and media pockets. The backpack is also made from durable material.
- This backpack is constructed out of 600 deniers ripstop fabric so it will resist tearing and abrasions.
- There is a large main compartment that is front-loaded and includes compartment organizers for your stored items.
- It has a media pocket that includes a headphone port which is an ideal place for portable devices.
- The shoulder straps are extra padded so that they don't cut into your body under heavy loads.
- You can purchase this backpack in eighteen different colors and patterns to match your style.
- Some reviewers have experienced that zippers breaking after only a few uses.
- Other reviewers have mentioned that the interior compartment is smaller than they expected.
2. High Sierra Tactic
Laptops are both expensive and fragile. It is critically important that laptops are protected from impacts because they are easily damaged. This backpack protects your laptop device by having a specialized laptop pocket which is fully padded to protect your laptop.
Hanging the backpack up is a very common use and this backpack is prepared for the job thanks to its monster hook. The hook is designed to support the backpack even when it is completely full so that you don't have to put the backpack on the floor.
Cost and Value
The Tactic backpack has an average price when compared to other High Sierra backpacks. It gets its value by offering features such as laptop and tablet sleeve along with plenty of specialized storage pockets. The backpack is also durable and long-lasting.
- It has a computer sleeve that supports laptops up to seventeen inches and is fully padded.
- There is another sleeve in the backpack that is specifically designed for tablet devices and is padded.
- The exterior of the backpack has mesh pockets on the side which are designed for water bottles.
- The monster hood is strong enough to support the backpack even when it is completely full.
- The shoulder strap has a specialized media pocket for items such as a smartphone or mp3 player.
- Some reviewers have reported that the shoulder strap material is rough and uncomfortable on their shoulders.
- Other reviewers have mentioned that the backpack does not last as long as they expected.
3. High Sierra Loop
This backpack comes with lower adjustable straps which are used to attach extra gear to the backpack. You can use these straps to attach items such as a sleeping bag or a tent. This makes it an ideal backpack for outdoors.
It is not uncommon for people to bring small devices such as tablets with them, even if they are spending time outdoors. The backpack has a specialized sleeve that is specifically designed to carry and protect a tablet or other mobile devices.
Cost and Value
This backpack as a cost that is slightly less than average. It is an excellent value because it is made out of long-lasting 600D Duralite fabric and offers ways for you to attach additional gear to the exterior.
- The backpack has four interior pockets and six exterior pockets so that you can store all of your gear.
- You can use the lower adjustable straps to attach additional gear such as sleeping bags or tents.
- There is a tablet sleeve that is specifically designed to store and protect tablet devices.
- You can use the side compression straps as a way to lock your gear down and keep it in place.
- You can purchase this backpack in twenty different colors and patterns to match your look and style.
- This backpack does not have a dedicated laptop sleeve so it doesn't securely carry laptop computers.
- Other reviewers have mentioned that the shoulder sleeves started ripping at the seam after only six months.
4. High Sierra Opie
The exterior side of the backpack has daisy chain loops. These are highly durable loops that allow you to easily attach items to the outside of the backpack. It's the perfect spot to attach extra shoes or boots for the trail.
Another great feature offered by this backpack are pockets that are specifically designed for items such as ID cards, keys, and money. They securely store these critical items but do so in a way that also lets you access them quickly.
Cost and Value
This backpack has a low price which makes it into a bargain when you consider all of the features it has to offer. You won't pay a lot, but will still get a great backpack that is perfect for the outdoors.
- There are mesh side pockets which offer you a place to store a beverage or a water bottle.
- This backpack has pockets that are specially designed for items such as your ID and keys.
- It is made out of waffle weave ripstop fabric that is composed of 600D Duralite material.
- The back panel has lots of padding so that the backpack feels comfortable on your back.
- The shoulder straps are wide and are extra padded so that you can carry heavy loads.
- Some reviewers have said that the backpack is too small for their needs.
- Other reviewers have mentioned that the material is thin and developers holes easily.
5. High Sierra Swerve
This backpack comes with a laptop pocket that is specifically designed for large laptop computers. You can fit laptops into this pocket that are as large as seventeen inches. The pocket is fully padded so that your laptop is guarded against impacts.
Many people carry a tablet device with them so this backpack also offers a tablet sleeve. This helps keep your tablet separate from your laptop and allows you to easily access your tablet when you need it.
Cost and Value
You should expect to pay a price that is slightly above the average for this laptop. It is an excellent value because of its focus on technical users. The backpack is built to last and does an excellent job of protecting your electronics.
- You can carry large laptops in this backpack by using its fully padded laptop sleeve.
- There is a pocket that is specifically designed for storing and accessing a tablet easily.
- The backpack has a media pocket which fits most smartphones and mp3 players.
- You can purchase this backpack in thirty different colors and patterns.
- It is made out of 1000D Duralite fabric so it can carry heavy loads and is long lasting.
- Some reviewers have reported that the zippers on this backpack are of low quality and tear easily.
- Other reviewers have reported that the rain flaps get stuck in the zippers easily causing zipper jams.
6. High Sierra Access
If you are going out in the rain, then you will find that tuck away rain cover to be a worthwhile feature. The rain cover helps protect the contents of your backpack by keeping water out of the interior pockets.
Loop Daisy Chain
The front of the backpack has a series of loop daisy chains that are heavy duty. You can use these daisy chains to clip additional items onto the exterior of the backpack. This is a great feature for outdoor or gym users.
Cost and Value
This backpack has an average price. It is a great value because it offers many of the same features found in high priced backpacks without you having to sacrifice quality. The backpack is made of high-quality material so that its long lasting.
- There is a waist belt that tucks away which you can use when the backpack is loaded heavily.
- This backpack has a padded back panel which allows air to pass through and makes it more comfortable.
- There is a series of multi-looped daisy chains which allow you to clip extra gear onto the backpack.
- This backpack has a dedicated laptop sleeves which fit laptops up to seventeen inches wide.
- There is a monster hook which you can use the hang the backpack up on a wall hook.
- Some reviewers have experienced the zipper breaking easily on this backpack.
- Other reviewers have seen the stitching start to come loose in as soon as a year of use.
7. High Sierra Fat Boy
The shoulder straps have a special suspension system that helps with carrying heavy loads. The suspension system works by reducing the shock you feel when heavy items bounce up and down inside of the backpack. Reduced shock makes it easier on back muscles.
The interior of the backpack has a special organizer compartment that allows you to keep small items organized. It has places for keys, headphones, calculator, pens, and pencils. There is a special key fob which you can use for your keys.
Cost and Value
The Fat Boy has a price that is below the average. The price turns this backpack into an excellent value because you will receive many of the same features found in high priced backpacks without having to pay extra for them.
- The backpack has a sleeve that is specifically designed for storing and accessing tablet devices.
- You can easily store and find your keys by using the key fob located in the interior.
- The monster hook can be used to hang the backpack on the wall even when it's full.
- The piping is reflective so that you are more visible after dark.
- The bottom panel is padded so that shocked to your items is reduced when setting the backpack down.
- Some reviewers have said that the fabric is thinner than they expected which reduces the backpacks life.
- Other reviewers have reported that the zippers are weak and they break too easily.
8. High Sierra Freewheel
This backpack has a telescoping handle which can be stored away when it isn't needed. The handle is long enough so that you can pull the backpack behind you as if it were traditional travel luggage.
The bottom of the backpack has wheels that are mounted on the corner and are smooth rolling. The wheels allow you to easily pull this backpack behind you. This is a perfect feature for when the backpack starts to feel too heavy.
Cost and Value
You should expect to pay a high price for this backpack thanks to its blend of features. The price of this backpack is justified by the telescoping handle and wheels which allow you to pull the backpack when it gets too heavy.
- This backpack has a fully telescoping handle which can be pushed back into the backpack when it isn't needed.
- There are wheels that are mounted on the bottom corner and are smooth rolling.
- The backpack has a dedicated computer sleeve that allows you store up to 15-inch laptops.
- You can easily store and access your keys using the key fob found in the interior pocket.
- There is a dedicated media pocket that has a headphone port which is perfect for a smartphone.
- Some reviewers have had issues with the handle getting stuck and won't hide away like it should.
- Other reviewers have noticed that the wheels sag due to low-quality screws used to secure the wheels.
9. High Sierra Powerglide
The backpack has a highly durable telescoping handle that is doubled tubed for increased strength. The handle is long enough to allow you to easily pull the backpack behind you. You can also tuck it back into the backpack when needed.
Padded Shoulder Straps
You won't feel a heavy bag digging into your body thanks to the shoulder straps. These straps are extra wide and offer lots of padding. The width and padding distribute the weight across your body and provide comfort and relief.
Cost and Value
You should expect to pay a high price for this backpack. It comes fully loaded with features that make it durable and easy to carry heavy loads. This is the perfect bag for people who routinely carry heavy items.
- The double tubed handle is strong and extremely durable. Its long enough for you to easily pull the backpack.
- The wheels are inline skate wheels and they are mounted on the corner of the backpack.
- There is a large media pocket which you can use for items such as a smartphone.
- The bag has a dedicated laptop sleeve that lets you hold up to fifteen-inch laptops.
- This backpack has triangle clips which allow you to attach additional gear to the backpack.
- Some reviewers have had issues with the handle not telescoping properly or even breaking apart.
- Some users have experienced the zippers being low quality and breaking easily.
10. High Sierra Chaser
The backpack has a large main compartment that is font loaded. This allows you to store items such as notebooks, binders, or even textbooks easily in this backpack. The main compartment is even large enough for clothes or other supplies.
Wheels and Telescoping Handle
You can pull this bag behind you using the provided wheels and telescoping handle. The wheels are smooth rolling and are mounted on the corner of the bag. The handle is tucked away until its needed and then expands so that you can pull the bag.
Cost and Value
You can expect to pay a price that is below the average for this bag. It gets its value by having features such as wheels and a telescoping handle. The price comes from removing features such as laptop sleeves.
- This is a roller bag with a telescoping handle that allows you to pull heavy bags.
- It is made out of a durable 600D Duralite material so it can carry heavy loads.
- There is an accessory pocket that is easily accessible and closed with a zipper.
- You can purchase this backpack in ten different colors and styles to personalize your look.
- The main pocket is large enough for clothes and textbooks and is front loading.
- This bag only has basic organization pockets so you won't find specialized features like laptop sleeves.
- Some reviewers have found the durability of this bag to be questionable because of the handle and wheels.
11. High Sierra Elite
The High Sierra Elite backpack comes with a variety of interior compartments and pockets. There are pen pockets, mesh pockets, a lidded media pocket and even a key fob. These features give this backpack the versatility to be used for a number of activities, and the extra-large interior means more space for essentials.
The weight of this backpack is less than 4lbs so does not hinder the interior space capacity. It also has a handy sleeve on the back panel so it can be slid onto a wheeled travel bag, this adds to its overall versatility and its functional multi-use properties. The Elite benefits from being water resistant so less to worry about on trips out.
Cost and Value
This High Sierra Elite backpack is excellent value for money, it is versatile and multi-functional which make it useful for a variety of activities. The overall quality of the materials and construction of this backpack make it a worthy purchase that will endure most day to day activities.
- Large capacity
- Can hold laptops up to 17”
- Multi compartments
- Wide straps
- Lacks top padding
12. High Sierra Appalachian
The Appalachian has an adjustable aluminium frame bar that is contoured; and this can be made to fit around the shape of the back for more comfort and less chaffing. The single bar benefits from being light and increases stability of the backpack.
It has a comfortable foam back panel that is formed in a away that allows air movement whilst it is worn; and reduces heat and moisture retention for more arduous treks. The generous hip belt and shoulder straps are also padded for extra comfort where it is needed most.
Cost and Value
The cost and value of this backpack are equally matched, the confidence gained from using a quality product is priceless. The framework and large capacity are more than adequate for most trips – and that makes is excellent value for money.
- Top loader
- Light framework
- Airflow channels
- 75ltr capacity
- Excellent value
- Zippers and clips are delicate
- Weak stitching
13. High Sierra AT7
The AT7 is manufactured with 1680 ballistic nylon, which as the name suggests- means it is tough and hard wearing. If the purpose for the purchase is travel; the material is specifically designed to be strong and resistant to abrasion.
The interior has a main compartment which opens from the top; and has a great capacity for most requirements. The zippers allow for easy transformation from one style to another, and it has comfortable straps for when it is used as a backpack.
Cost and Value
For the fact that this product is multi-use, and the spacious capacity it offers; it is a great buy for the money. The hard-wearing exterior and the sturdiness help to make it long lasting, the wheels are an ideal feature for the heavier loads on longer trips.
- Tough exterior
- Large capacity
- Ideal carry-on size
- No interior dividers
- Flaky stitching
14. High Sierra Rev
The High Sierra Rev wheeled backpack has a hidden telescopic handle which is easy to access and articulate when rolling. It boasts smooth running, corner mounted wheels for maintaining balance and helps prevent listing and falling.
The backpack features a padded laptop sleeve that can accommodate sizes up to 17” with ease, it is fully and cohesively padded to ensure safety at all times. The book style top opening ensures ease of access for storing and removing personal belongings.
Cost and Value
This backpack is in the mid/high end, although the features and toughness of it make it excellent value for money. The protection offered with the storage is peace of mind on trips, and the padding expands the value of keeping tech safe.
- Tough exterior
- Telescopic handle
- Comfy to wear
- Flaky zippers
- Handle sticks
15. High Sierra XBT
A great bonus with this laptop backpack is that it is TSA friendly so it is appropriate for flying with, saving time and effort at the checkpoint. The zippered dividers in the backpack mean quick and easy access to any personal belonging; saving time and effort.
The shoulder straps have suspension and the sternum strap is fully adjustable; this aids comfort and means more ergonomic balance. The main handle is also reinforced with cable for greater peace of mind when carrying valuable tech and personal gear.
Cost and Value
This multi-use, adjustable and TSA friendly backpack has everything the discerning traveler may need, the extra features included mean that this product is very well balanced on both cost and value. The smart design and hard-wearing exterior make it an excellent buy.
- Reinforced handle
- Airflow back panel
- TSA friendly
- Padded tech storage
- Outer prone to rip
- Flaky zippers
High Sierra backpacks are known for the excellent features, design, and quality. All of their backpacks are highly versatile, but some of them have features that are geared towards specific use cases. For example, some of the backpacks are designed to carry heavy loads while you are outdoors while other backpacks are meant to carry heavy loads indoors.
The outdoor backpacks usually have features such as daisy chain loops or mesh water bottle pockets. These backpacks allow you to carry additional items that are attached to the backpack. For example, some of the backpacks allow you to easily carry a sleeping bag or a tent by attaching these items to the backpack. The water pockets allow you carry water, which is needed on the trail, by provided mesh water bottle pockets on the exterior of the backpack.
The interior backpacks, by contrast, offer features that make it easy to carry heavy loads while indoors. The roller backpacks are an excellent example. Those backpacks have specialized pockets for laptops and tablets. They also have wheels and telescoping handles so that you can easily pull the backpack behind you rather than having to carry it. Such as feature is ideal for students and office workers.
Regardless of your situation, High Sierra has a backpack just for you. Many of these backpacks are suited for general use and may be used in a wide variety of situations. They are great backpacks for the outdoors, indoors, or even traveling. When people need a durable and high-quality backpack, they trust High Sierra to come through for them.
Criteria Used in Evaluation
The first thing you need to decide when buying a backpack is what you are going to be using it for, and in what circumstances. The range of different designs is wide, and most have generic specific features for a variety of purposes. If you are looking for a day to day backpack, there will be less requirement for extra features such as extra ‘s’ clips for attaching trekking kit. And like-wise if the backpack you are looking for is for long haul hiking – the more features in the design for added kit will be a must. Another important pointer is the size and payload, there’s not much point buying a 5ltr backpack for a weekend away from basic amenities, you need to take into consideration the size that will be best suited to the amount of kit you need to take.
Supporting straps and full strap adjustability are a must have feature for any type of use, the straps need to be padded and comfortable so as not to cause chaffing and burrs on the skin. A supplementary chest strap and a hip strap are excellent for weight distribution; and will provide some support for travelling for long periods. Specific backpacks will vary in the strap supports depending on their overall size and weight capabilities, so it is important to have an idea of what you want to carry on your back.
The materials used to manufacture backpacks can vary, and some are specifically designed to be weather resistant, and for toughness to reduce the wear and tear that can lead to rips and weak spots. The last thing you need is to get to your destination to find your backpack has been ‘leaking’ your possessions on the way. In the earlier designs, wax coated cotton canvas was widely used because it is tough and hard-wearing. Downsides with this material include weight – and it has a tendency to absorb moisture which can lead to mould and mildew build up.
Contemporarily, textured nylon is more common in specialist manufacture due to its versatility and quality. The synthetic materials are popular today and often come combined with the use of Cordura and Kodra, these two man made fabrics are light-weight, are water resistant/proof and are tough at reducing tears from abrasions and scuffs. The advancement of technology used in modern backpack design mean they are more reliable and more suitable for longer periods and for the ability to carry more weight securely. Another cheaper fabric commonly used is polyester, this fabric is as versatile as nylon and is associated with the lower end of the overall backpack market.
Of course, with any requirements for a backpack – the consideration for extra features needs to be assessed before purchasing. For normal every day use the features required may be minimal but non-the less important, for example secure internal pockets for valuables. The straps should be fully adjustable and if the backpack is for more weightier trips, the support from the chest and/or hip belts are highly advantageous and beneficial for comfort. Many backpacks have stretch features incorporated into their manufacture, so it is easy to expand the capability of it to suit your needs.
For longer trips and hikes, the increased requirement for added features needs to be taken into account. Many backpacks which are designed for this purpose have ventilated backs, this is ideal for comfort, as is an adjustable length. A pocket for water, maps, valuables are all necessities when you are on a longer haul. And some backpacks have added ‘s’ clips so extra kit can be readily attached to the exterior for quick access. Extra pockets on hip belts are also very useful for storing high value belongings such as wallets, keys etc.
Design and Types
The type and design of backpacks are usually geared for particular purposes and they are varied over the market. Standard backpacks are usually straightforward and are designed with shoulder straps and a top carry handle for ease of use when you need access to the interior. They generally have an exterior front pocket and sometimes side mesh for storage, these basic designs are ideal for every day use and short trips out. However; designs vary quite substantially depending on the size, larger backpacks have the added support straps whilst the smaller only have basic, thinner straps.
Ideally, for a specialist backpack – you need to consider different use capabilities because of the rise in price. A side slung backpack is suitable for light weight carrying – but does not distribute weight evenly and so is not ergonomically supported. Hiking backpacks can have multi-use versatility because they have divided interiors for separating kit, and a variety of different sized exterior pockets for carrying more kit. They can have built in extensions which make them easy to expand when required, and Velcro straps for attaching items that do not need to be as protected.
When you are looking for your ideal backpack, the variety and choice can be mind boggling. Of course; you are going to be looking for not only the best value, but also the initial layout. At the lower end of the market you can find backpacks for occasional use, and basic every-day use – the price will often determine the overall quality of the product. If the backpack is for light use then the cheaper may be a better option, but this does mean a compromise on materials and versatility.
It could be a better option to spend a little more for a backpack to ensure it will give plenty of life for any use you want it for. The higher end of the backpack market often incorporates newer technological advantageous features and materials. Ease of use, comfort are only two reason to purchase a decent backpack, features like anti-abrasion and waterproofing are very important factors too. This is not to say that the backpacks at either end are superior; the reason for buying your backpack is something only you can decide on – and whatever the budget there is a backpack on the market for individual preference.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What material is best for a backpack?
A. This is defined by what you want the backpack for, if it’s for low-duty day to day use a canvas one may be suitable. However, if you are looking for a back pack for hiking, then a synthetic brand would be better. Often they are high tech, low maintenance and are water resistant and/or waterproof, the tougher nylon are recommended for frequent use as they are abrasion resistant.
Q. How can I make my backpack comfortable to wear?
A. First you need to make sure you get one the right size for your torso – especially if it is for hiking, this ensures a better fit giving less room for movement and sliding. If you are buying a larger type, make sure you measure your hips to get the correct sized hip belt. Another help is to make sure the weight of the backpack sits on your hips and not your shoulders – you can adjust the straps so they suit you individually.
Q. Why does my backpack have lots of straps on the outside?
A. Generally the straps are for attaching equipment that doesn’t need to be protected from the elements; or are too big to go inside your backpack. These are really useful for items you may want to gain access to quickly – rope, a light tent, outer shoes etc.
Q. How can I maximise space in my backpack?
A. Be regimental when deciding what you will need for your trip, a handy range of stuff sacks allow you to literarily stuff items into compressed shapes thus allowing more room.
Q. How do I know if my laptop will fit?
A. The best guide for this will be in the full product description, most laptop backpacks will give an estimate of an ‘…up to…’ size.
Q. Is a framed backpack better than one without?
A. This depends on what you want the backpack for and how much weight you will be expecting to carry. A backpack without a frame may be useful for every day light activities, but if you are regularly carrying heavy items, it may be better to get a framed one to ensure an even distribution of weight.