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Spending the day out in the backcountry hunting for minerals requires a lot of gear. You will need to carry a heavy load comfortably for long periods at a time. You will need to find yourself a hard-wearing backpack to dedicate to rockhounding. But with so many different packs on the market, it can be challenging to choose the best one for you.
When picking out a backpack for your rockhounding adventures, consider comfort, size, and durability. Choose one that is the right size, with adjustable straps, enough space for all your gear, and lots of pockets and compartments for your finds. The material must be tough and water-resistant.
This article suggests four different backpacks that are excellent options for carrying all your rockhounding gear. We discuss what makes an ideal backpack for rockhounding and what factors one should consider when buying a new pack.
If you are looking for buying a perfect waterproof backpack for rockhounding I recommend buying this multi-day backpack (Amazon link) or this one-day backpack (Amazon link). Both backpacks are made by Ortovox company.
Best Rockhounding Backpacks for Adults & Kids
Choosing the right backpack is very important, so I recommend paying a lot of attention to choosing it. Based on my own experience, I have selected a few backpacks that will definitely not disappoint you under any circumstances.
The backpacks listed below are suitable for various long walks not only for rockhounding but also just for nature or for various trips or hikes.
Below you will find my pick for a classic backpack, a backpack for multi-day trips, a backpack for short one-day trips, and also a backpack for children. I hope I can help you choose the right backpack for you, so let’s take a look!
The Classic Rucksack
This classic durable rucksack (Amazon link) will last for decades. It is crafted from thick canvas and genuine leather. The canvas is waxed so that it is waterproof, keeping your gear dry.
This backpack is designed to last. The metal hardware is rust-resistant, and the stitching is of high quality for extra strength. One can choose from 4 different neutral colors.
The main interior compartment is cotton lined. It has a padded sleeve for fragile finds (or for a laptop or camera).
The bag is secured by a drawstring and a flap with a metal closure, allowing you to pack it full without worrying about stuff falling out. It has three smaller external compartments with metal closures for smaller bits of gear and rocks.
The shoulder straps are thick and padded for maximum comfort. They are also adjustable, so one can ensure a proper fit. One downside of this backpack is that it does not have chest and waist straps. This limits the amount of weight one can comfortably carry.
An advantage of this backpack is that it can be used for more than just rockhounding because it does not look like a hiking backpack.
It is the perfect size to use as a traveling pack, school bag, or weekend bag. This backpack is the perfect option to choose if you regularly embark on rockhounding day trips.
It can fit all your gear, waterproof clothing, snacks, and water. You can comfortably carry this pack for hours on end. It is the perfect pack to take on rugged adventures.
Check out the latest prices for this classic backpack here (Amazon link).
Multi-day Rockhounding Backpack
The Ortovox Peak 35 (Amazon link) is a proper multi-day hiking backpack. With 35 liters of space, it has more than enough room to carry all your rock hunting gear, and weighing in at 2.7 pounds, it is lightweight yet strong.
This backpack is durable and waterproof, constructed from tough nylon Rip-stop fabric with a polyurethane coating. No matter the season, your rockhounding gear will stay dry, and sharp equipment and rocks will not damage the backpack.
It is designed to keep you comfortable and cool. The backpack has adjustable shoulder, waist, and chest straps for a better fit so that the weight is distributed optimally.
The pack has an internal aluminum frame that provides your back and shoulders with extra support when fully loaded with all your gear.
The back panel is made from pressed wool, making it super moisture-absorbent compared to regular foam. This will keep your back sweat-free and cool.
Customize the way you use this backpack and make it work for you. It has rope and crampon attachments that can carry larger pieces of gear that do not fit into the main compartment.
This backpack also has safety features, like an easily accessible safety compartment that gives you access to tools you may need in the event of an emergency.
It even has illustrations of emergency signals printed onto the fabric, should you get lost or stranded in the backcountry.
Check out the latest prices for this amazing multi-day backpack here (Amazon link).
Rockhounding Daypack (Women Version Included)
The Ortovox Traverse 28 S (Amazon link) hiking backpack was designed with snow sports enthusiasts in mind. It has ample volume to carry snowshoes, skis, and a helmet, so you will definitely be able to fit all your rockhounding gear. Weighing only 1.35 pounds, the backpack itself does not add to your heavy load.
The “S” in the name is for “short”. It refers to the fact that this backpack is designed specifically for people with a more petite frame. It is perfect for women or shorter men.
This backpack is strong enough to survive even the roughest terrain, constructed from lightweight but durable Duramax Rip-stop fabric.
The shoulder straps are ergonomically designed for maximum comfort. A wide, adjustable hip strap helps distribute the weight of the pack optimally.
It also has a chest strap to ensure a proper fit. This backpack does not have an internal frame for extra support, like the Ortovox Peak 35.
It has elasticated side pockets that allow you to keep your water bottle within arm’s reach at all times, helping you stay hydrated out in the field. It is also compatible for use with a hydration bladder system.
Internally, the pockets are well organized, and there are many places to safely keep the specimens you find. The main compartment is large enough to hold 28 liters of gear and rocks.
There are also pockets on the hip strap and the shoulder straps for keeping smaller bits of equipment that you often use.
Externally, the backpack features attachments for hiking poles. These can be used to hold larger bits of gear. The pack comes with a waterproof rain cover to keep your gear dry in any weather.
The pack has a separate compartment for emergency situations. It provides easy access to rescue tools and emergency signals.
Check out the latest prices for this one-day backpack here (Amazon link).
Small Rockhounding Backpack
The Ortovox Traverse 18 S (Amazon link) has a compact design but with 18 liters of volume, there is more than enough space to fit all your equipment and gear for a day out in the field.
Weighing only 1.9 pounds the pack itself will not add to your load. The backpack is designed specifically for people with a more petite frame, making it perfect for women or men who have short torsos.
Constructed from thick Duramax Rip-stop fabric, the Ortovox Traverse 18 S will not rip or tear. It has many external pockets and compartments that are easy to access while wearing the pack. There are also points to attach hiking poles or tools.
Adjustable shoulder, sternum, and hip straps ensure the perfect fit and comfortable weight distribution. The back system is designed to promote air circulation between you and the pack, keeping you cool and sweat-free.
One downside of this pack is that is it not fully waterproof, so one will need to buy a separate rain cover.
Check out the latest prices for this small rockhounding backpack here (Amazon link).
Perfect Rock Hunting Backpack for Kids
The Osprey Daylite Kid’s Backpack (Amazon link) is durable, super lightweight, and can fold up to the size of a sandwich! It has a volume of 10 liters, so you will have ample space to fit your gear, water, and a few mineral specimens.
It is the perfect backpack for junior rockhounds because it only weighs 10 ounces. It comes in three exciting colors and it is suitable for 4-12 years old kids.
It features one large main compartment with a multi-functional interior sleeve for hydration, a second pocket with a zip on the front, and two easily accessible elasticated mesh pockets on the sides. This provides more than enough places to keep your rock finds.
The Ventur Osprey Daylite Kid’s Backpack is made to last. It is constructed from highly durable tear-resistant and water-resistant fabric.
Stress points on the pack are reinforced with bar tacks for added strength when it is fully loaded. The bottom of the backpack is double-layered for extra strength.
The shoulder straps are thickly padded for your comfort, and they are adjustable. The backpack also has an adjustable chest strap to ensure a good fit. One can quite happily spend a day carrying this backpack, even with a full load.
Check out the latest prices for this perfect rockhounding backpack for kids here (Amazon link).
TIP: Are you just starting with rockhounding? If so or if you want to know more about rockhounding basics like where to start and how to find amazing rocks and minerals, check out the ultimate guide in the article below:
How to Start Rockhounding: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide
What Makes a Good Rockhounding Backpack?
Shopping for a new rockhounding backpack can be intimidating because there are so many different options available. One must start by understanding what to look for in a rockhounding backpack.
What size is the best? What features are most useful? What factors should one consider when buying a pack for rockhounding?
A good rockhounding backpack is:
You will be wearing it, fully loaded, for hours on end. Make sure the backpack fits you properly and is designed to be comfortable to wear.
- Durable and waterproof
The backpack needs to be hard-wearing enough not to rip when packed with sharp rocks or pointy tools. It also needs to keep all your gear dry.
- Spacious with pockets and compartments for your gear
Look for one with 25 to 35 liters of space, but the size you require will depend on how many days you plan on spending out in the field.
Comfort is Key
You need to be able to wear the backpack, fully loaded, for extended periods. Adjustable straps are an important feature to look for.
Good daypacks should have chest straps and shoulder straps, and backpacks for multi-day trips should have hip straps. These enable you to fit the pack to your body and optimize the weight distribution for maximum comfort. Your back and shoulders will thank you!
Look for a backpack that has accessible external pockets and compartments. They allow you to quickly grab some water, your camera, or a hammer on the go without having to stop and take off your pack.
A backpack must also have good ventilation between your back and the pack to avoid excessive sweating and discomfort due to friction. Look for backpacks that have mesh or another type of breathable fabric on the back.
Tough and Waterproof
Backpacks need to have a waterproof cover that can easily wrap around the bag in case of rain. Even better is a backpack made of waterproof fabric.
This will ensure that all your gear stays dry. It also needs to be hard-wearing. You will be demanding a lot from your backpack – carrying heavy loads of hard, pointy, angular objects. The fabric needs to be high-quality and tear-resistant.
Fit Everything You Need
Consider the nature of your rockhounding trips. Do you go out into the field for a day, or for overnight, or multi-day adventures? You need space for all your rock collecting gear, drinking water, food, safety equipment, and all the rocks you find.
A good size for a day pack is around 30 liters. One can fit everything you need for a day outdoors. If you plan trips of two days or longer, consider a 40 to 50-liter backpack, as you will need to fit a sleeping bag, tent, and clothing.
TIP: It is always important to stay safe when rockhounding. Wear protective gloves every time you work with rocks. I wrote a guide about three recommended safety gloves so feel free to read it here:
3 Best Gloves for Rockhounding: Protect Your Hands
What Needs to Fit in Your Rockhounding Backpack
Try to limit your gear to 10 pounds so that you have plenty of space to carry your finds.
The equipment you take with you will largely depend on your style of rockhounding, but when heading out for a day, you will need to have the following essential things with you:
- Cellphone – this has a GPS, compass, camera, and alarm.
- Geological tools – rock hammer, chisel, wedges, hand trowel, foldable shovel, magnet, paintbrush, toothbrush.
- Newspaper and paper towels to wrap around rocks.
- Ziplock bags in a range of sizes. Pill bottles or old film containers are also handy for smaller finds.
- Hat and sunscreen.
- Drinking water. At least 2 liters per day, more if the weather is hot.
- A small bottle of water to wash rocks (if you are not near water).
- Insect repellent.
- Bear repellent spray.
- Work gloves (at least 2 pairs)
- Safety glasses.
- First Aid Kit.
- Waterproof poncho.
- A noise-making device, like a bell, is tied to your backpack to alert people to your presence.
BTW: Do you want to know more about rock and mineral identification? The books listed below are the best ones you can find on the internet (Amazon links):
- Smithsonian Handbooks: Rocks & Minerals
- Gemstone & Crystal Properties (Quick Study Home)
- Ultimate Explorer Field Guide: Rocks and Minerals (National Geographic Kids)
Your dedicated rockhounding backpack needs to be hard-wearing, comfortable to carry when fully loaded, and large enough to fit everything that you need to carry with you on a day out in the field.
You will generally be carrying around 10 pounds of gear, plus as many rocks, as you can fit, so the backpack needs to be designed tough. Go for a good quality backpack that has strong stitching, is reinforced at stress points, and has a good lining.
Rip-stop and Duramax fabrics are resistant to tearing. If you prefer natural materials, opt for canvas and leather. These can be waxed so that they are waterproof. Technical fabrics are waterproofed with a polyurethane coating.
A sensible size for a day pack is 20 to 30 liters, but for longer rockhounding missions, you will need 40 to 50 liters of space to fit more food, clothing, and camping equipment.
Look for backpacks with a number of external pockets and compartments that are easily accessible. This improves the functionality of the backpack, as you do not need to take it off your back each time you want to get something out or put a find away.
TIP: Although the gold rushes of the nineteenth century seem to be long gone, there are still many places where gold can be found. Check out the complete guide on how to start gold prospecting in the article below:
Ultimate Beginner’s Guide: How To Start Gold Prospecting