A backpack is the signature accessory for a lot of outdoor lovers. But does this always have to be the case? Of course not.

There is a backpack alternative – more than one, actually – that will serve you just as well.

What you go for depends on how long you will be out. For longer backpacking trips which extend to several days or more, a backpack should still be a strong consideration, as well as roller packs. For shorter backpacking trips, backpack alternatives include tote bags, daypacks, shoulder bags, tactical vests, and fanny/lumber packs.

With that, take a look at the breakdown of the best backpack alternatives below.

Canvas Tote Bag

Canvas Tote Bag

Well, this might not sound like a worthwhile backpack alternative to most people, but it can’t be ruled out entirely.

You can still string along a few essentials when you’re out. But as mentioned, your stay better be short. Squeezing several days’ supplies in such a small space is not exactly possible.

Packable Daypack


A packable daypack is quite an ideal backpack alternative if you’re looking to keep things light. It’s more like a backpack, but smaller and lightweight.

It is handy for those few essentials you’ll need for that short trip out, just like the canvas tote bag above. The only difference between the two is that a packable daypack frees your hands to do whatever you want with the essentials.

Hiking Shoulder bag

The Osprey Packs and others are similar to your everyday sling bag. The sizes vary widely, so it’s all about your preference.

Need to keep your trip lean as far as packing is concerned? Fine, go for smaller options. On the other hand, if you want to pack more, there are big ones ideal for just that.

As a backpack alternative, we would say it scores averagely compared to other options here – except the Dixon Roller Pack covered later on.

For one, there is a bit of variety in terms of size, as mentioned, unlike the other backpack alternatives that are mostly the same size in general. Also, you can shift between shoulders for some hiking shoulder bags.

Tactical Vest

Tactical Outdoors Vest

Instead of a different pack, you can just throw on a tactical or load-bearing vest and get going. That way, you can carry what you need as well as be a bit dapper while at it.

The numerous pockets here give you some room to carry a little more as compared to, say, a regular vest. Of course, you won’t carry as much as you would have with a backpack, but there is no doubt that you will find it appropriate in some instances.

So yeah, it can serve quite well as a backpack alternative.

Fanny/Lumber Pack

A fanny pack will be the best backpack alternative if you’re hanging out in the woods for a short time – like, say, a few hours. Naturally, you’re not going to pack much – owing to the limited space, so it’s unrealistic to consider an overnight stay out.

Fanny packs are also your best bet if you want to keep it a bit trendy while enjoying what nature has to offer.

Dixon Roller Pack

Dixon Rollerpack

Unlike our previous options, the Dixon Rollerpack perfectly fits the “best backpack alternative” tag. It doesn’t force you to scale down on your supplies, nor does it limit your outdoor duration to just a couple of days.

In essence, it’s just like your everyday backpack in terms of capacity.

But unlike the backpack, the Dixon roller pack takes the strain off your shoulders, which is a big saver if you’re particularly bothered by the effort you have to use in supporting the weight of a backpack.

It splits the weight of whatever you’re carrying between you and the wheel. That means you’ll only be supporting a part of your luggage instead of the whole of it, like in the case of a backpack. This allows you to even pack more as you won’t be spending as much effort in tagging along with your luggage. Who wouldn’t want that?

The only downside is that you’ll have to pay top dollar for one – that’s compared to an average backpack.


In case you were wondering whether there is a backpack alternative, well, you just found out that there are several. But most of them are far limited in capacity. So you’ll have to go for them if you don’t expect to be out for an extended period.

The Dixon roller pack is your best bet so far if you want to maintain the same amount of essentials, while a fanny pack is a great alternative for half-day hikes or small backpacking adventures.

John Anderson
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