Here is my selection of the best backpacks which I would consider to take on my next pack rafting adventure.

Having used the HMG Porter 4400 for the last 3 years on my packrafting trips I was interested to see which alternatives would be available on the market.

Gernerally speaking I was not able to find any alternative to the HMG Porter 4400 which is that light and feels like a proper backpack when I bought it.

Best Backpack for Packrafting

Weight comparison table

BackpackWeight
ULA Epic922 grams / 32.5 oz.
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Windrider 4400922 grams / 32.5 oz.
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Porter 44001065 grams / 37.6 oz.
NRS Paragon Pack1179 grams / 41.6 oz.
Sea to Summit Hydraulic Dry Pack1319 grams / 46.5 oz.

Features of a good packrafting backpack

From my point of view a good packrafting backpack should have the following features:

  • waterproof
  • durable
  • proper carrying system with a hip belt
  • fast drying and comfortable shoulder straps
  • offers the possibility to attach your paddles
  • pockets (e.g. for your water bottle)
  • lightweight
  • attachable to your packraft

HMG Porter 4400

Weight: 1065 grams / 37.6 oz.
Volume: 70l
Fabric: 15D Cuben Fiber

This is my current backpack with a volume of 70l. It felt comfortable to carry also on longer distances but after 2 years it shows some wear and has a couple of punctures. The HMG Porter is made of Cuben Fiber but I am not sure if I should get another one since I found the fabric not that durable and with punctures on my backpack the backpack loses it’s main feature - being waterproof.


HMG Windrider 4400

Weight: 992 grams / 32.5 oz.
Volume: 70l
Fabric: 15D Cuben Fiber

The HMG Windrider is similar as the HMG Porter 4400 but comes already with three mesh pockets which I find quite useful if you want to quickly store some gear.

This is probably the best lightweight packrafting backpack you can buy at the moment.


NRS Paragon Pack

Weight: 1179 grams / 41.6 oz. (without dry sack)

The NRS Paragon Pack is quite versatile like the ULA Epic and you can use smaller and bigger dry bags with it as well as you can read in the Q&A section. The straps on the back of the NRS Paragon Pack also look like you can attach your paddles to the backpack.


Sea to Summit Hydraulic Dry Pack

Weight: 1319 grams / 46.5 oz.
Volume: 90l
Fabric: 600D TPU laminated fabric

The Sea to Summit Hydraulic Dry Packs looked to me as an interesting alternative to my HMG backpack until I realized that the carrying system could be a problem.

The backpack does not have a proper back panel which might be an issue when carrying your backpack over longer distances.


ULA Epic

Weight: 922 grams / 32.5 oz. (without dry sack)
Volume: 30-75l

The ULA Epic seems to be the best choice beside the NRS Paragon Pack if I want to have a backpack where I can exchange the dry bag.

The ULA Epic is quite flexible and you can attach a 30-75l dry back on it.

Having had a 70l pack before the additional 5l on a 75l dry back would come quite handy on an extended trip where I have to carry loads of food and my camera with me. The additional pockets on the ULA Epic also add another 9l of volume to the pack.


Conclusion

My favorite backpack so far was the HMG Porter 4400 and I use it since 3 years as my packrafting backpack. I did not have any issues with it so far.

There are just a few small spots which are wearing off but it would have happen to any other backpack as well.

However, if I were to buy a new backpack for my packrafting trips then I would probably buy the HMG Windrider since I would be able to store more gear in the outer mash pockets.

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