Recently on a backpacking trip through Forest Glen Preserve in central Illinois, I tried out the Arrowhead backpack from Outdoor Products. I was quite pleased with the performance, and you cannot beat the price point. For this reason I think it is a perfect backpack for a beginner.
Some people when they begin a new sport they go all out and want the best of everything. This is never a really good idea unless you are certain from day one that you are passionate and will remain so, but this is hard to predict if you have never done it before.
Many people who want to learn to backpack do the same thing and deck themselves out in best equipment from the most expensive companies. A top of the line backpack can cost $400.00 from certain companies. I have been hiking for over 30 years, and I still would not pony up for that price when one can find a quality backpack for less than half that price.
The Arrowhead backpack from Outdoor Products is a bargain at $45.00. I mention price first because this makes it the perfect backpack for someone interested in backpacking for the first time. I get a lot of messages and emails from people asking if they know of places that rent backpacking equipment. Before committing to buying a whole list of outdoor equipment they want to be sure they will like the sport first. Places to rent backpacking equipment are few and far between. It is best if you own your own equipment.
Here are a list of other pros and a few cons:
Arrowhead backpack pros
- I really liked the comfort level of the pack. The backpack rests high on your back with comfortable padded shoulder straps, padded belt and a strap that goes across the top of your sternum. This ensures the pack remains high on your back and shoulders and does not slump. There is no way to be 100% comfortable with a heavy pack on your shoulders, but the Arrowhead backpack has modifications to make it as painless as possible.
- There are a lot of outside pockets. I love this as when you are backpacking you want to put items that you want to leave handy in these pockets, so you do not have to open up the main opening each time you stop. I always put toilet paper, rain gear, and snacks in these convenient pockets.
- There is a water reservoir where you can stick a tube through and have easy access to precious water as you are hiking.
Arrowhead backpack cons
- The main compartment is a little small. If you are a lightweight backpacker, you will have no problem with the size, but if you are not or going on a longer hike, you may have problems stuffing everything in.
- Because I had so many things in my backpack, I created a tear near one of the zippers, but this was my fault because I had too much stuff and tried forcing it closed.
- There are not enough straps on the outside. It would help alleviate the size of the main compartment if there were straps on the outside that could strap a tent, sleeping bag, or ground pad to the outside. I was able to strap my ground pad outside, but nothing else. If I could have also strapped my sleeping bag outside I would have had plenty of room in the main compartment. This can be remedied with improvised external straps and bungee cords. I will look into that next time.
The main pro with the Arrowhead backpack is the price point. It makes it the perfect backpack for the beginner. It also makes for a perfect Christmas gift if you know someone who has expressed interest in learning to backpack. Even as a veteran, I enjoyed the backpack and will definitely use it again because the above pros outweigh the cons.
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I LOVED reading this review. Frugal equipment while having most of the finer points is certainly the way to go when first starting out backpacking or if backpacking is an occasional outing. Outdoor Products offers up some fine choices and I own two of their packs — one is my favorite go-to for day hikes or a quick overnight of Vespa scooter camping. This coming weekend is a case in point as I will pack my favorite backpack and head out to the trails at Kennesaw Mountain Battle Field for a day of hiking and photography. My pack is one of their hunter backpacks, lots of loops to hang stuff with I find perfect for my photography needs — I shoot photos, not animals 🙂 Yes, Outdoor Products offers up some great finds for little money and the quailty has never let me down for a day hike, a quick overnight or a two day trail. Good of you to review a great lower-to-mid-range product line. Thanks!
Thank you for all the comments. I will be canoeing Okefenokee Swamp in early November. I assume from the fact that you are going to Kennesaw Mountain that you must be in or near Atlanta.
I am a frequent flyer and I do travel a lot. Usually, I need a high capacity backpack for clothes and accessories.
If it comes in pink and good design, it will be awesome. Do you have any good recommendation on this?
Thanks for your tips and please keep it up.
Look no further, this is the backpack for you.
What size water bladder fits this pack?
Thanks for the review of the product. I was standing in the aisle at Walmart looking at this very pack and searched for reviews. Your review made me purchase. We do day hikes up to about 10 miles but are looking to venture further and do an over night. Thought this pack might be a great beginning one. Until we tackle more. Thanks