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Here is my selection of the best backpacks which I would consider taking on my next hiking and packrafting 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.
When I bought the HMG Porter 4400, it was one of the go-to backpacks in the packrafting scene. Nowadays, there are also other options available which do not cost that much but are also doing the task. Personally, I have only tested the HMG Porter 4400 from this list.
Weight comparison table
|ULA Epic||922 grams / 32.5 oz.|
|Hyperlite Mountain Gear Windrider 4400||922 grams / 32.5 oz.|
|Hyperlite Mountain Gear Porter 4400||1065 grams / 37.6 oz.|
|NRS Paragon Pack||1179 grams / 41.6 oz.|
|Sea to Summit Hydraulic Dry Pack||1319 grams / 46.5 oz.|
Features of a good packrafting backpack
From my point of view a good packrafting backpack should have the following features:
- 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)
- attachable to your packraft
HMG Porter 4400
Weight: 1065 grams / 37.6 oz.
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 it loses its main feature – being waterproof.
HMG Windrider 4400
Weight: 992 grams / 32.5 oz.
Fabric: 15D Cuben Fiber
The HMG Windrider is like the HMG Porter 4400 but comes already with three mesh pockets which I find 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 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.
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.
Weight: 922 grams / 32.5 oz. (without dry sack)
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.
My favorite backpack so far was the HMG Porter 4400 and I use it for 3 years as my packrafting backpack. I did not have any issues with it so far.
There are just a few small spots that are wearing off but it would have happened to any other backpack.
However, if I were to buy a new backpack for my packrafting trips then I would probably buy the HMG Windrider since I could store more gear in the outer mesh pockets.