5 Best High Sierra Backpacks: Reviewed, Rated & Compared

High Sierra is one of the best known backpack brands among avid hikers, campers and outdoor sports enthusiasts. Read on to see five of the most popular High Sierra backpack models reviewed in detail.

We'll also be comparing the models against each other in order to create the most comprehensive High Sierra backpack reviews available.

Image

Model

Size

No. of Compartments

Check Price

High Sierra Swerve Laptop Backpack, Black, 19...

High Sierra Swerve Laptop Backpack

Medium/Large

Nine

High Sierra Fatboy Backpack, Black, 19.5 x 13...

High Sierra Fatboy Backpack

Small/Medium

Seven

High Sierra Karadon Frame Pack,...

High Sierra Karadon 45L Frame Pack

Medium/Large, Large/Oversized (Two Sizes Available)

Ten

High Sierra Lightning Internal Frame Pack,...

Lightning 30 Frame Backpack

Large, 30 L Capacity

Eight

High Sierra Loop Backpack, Island Ikat/True...

High Sierra Loop Backpack

Small/Medium

Six

What Makes the High Sierra Brand Popular?

High Sierra backpacks are popular for a wide variety of reasons. The versatility and functionality of the backpacks is one of their biggest assets. The price point also makes the backpacks appealing, as they're affordable for all budgets.

High Sierra backpacks are fashionably designed as well, making them attractive for those looking for a combination of style and functionality. The combination of durability, functionality, style and affordable price point has culminated into an extremely popular and well-received brand of backpacks.

While they may not be the highest end luxury brand of backpacks, High Sierra offers something for everyone.


Who are High Sierra backpacks made for?

One of the reasons High Sierra is such a popular brand is due to the large selection of backpacks the company offers. While the backpacks are certainly marketed and directed towards outdoor sports enthusiasts first and foremost, there are many other products available for other purposes.

High Sierra has an entire line of laptop bags, for example, for professionals on-the-go. They also offers messenger bags, wheeled bags, lunch bags and more. High Sierra offers styles that will appeal to almost anyone, from avid trail hikers to white collar commuters

Of course, High Sierra naturally draws in a demographic that consists primarily of young outdoor sports enthusiasts, but anyone can find a High Sierra product to love.


high sierra backpack

What did we Look At? High Sierra Backpack Buying Guide

Materials

For the materials category, we looked at the make-up of each bag. This included the durability of the materials used to make the bag as well as any zippers, latches, straps or other parts of the bag, and whether the zippers had protective flaps for waterproofing, which is highlighted as being an important feature by Consumer Reports. Finally, we looked at whether the bags were waterproof in general or otherwise extra durable.

Straps

We evaluated the straps based on several factors. These included comfort (how comfortable are the straps for long-term use?) adjustability (can the straps be adjusted, and if so, by how much?) and finally extra features (do the straps have any other features or functionality beyond their general use to hold up the bag?).

Size

As far as size goes, we looked at this category both in general terms (the dimensions of the bag overall) as well as by compartment. We measured what each bag is able to carry in liters, as well as what each compartment is able to hold. We combined these to get an overall idea of the size of each bag.

Compartments

We evaluated each High Sierra backpack based on the number and functionality of its compartments. This specifically included whether each bag has a laptop sleeve, as this can be an important feature that either makes or breaks the bag, depending on what its intended use is to be once you've purchased it.

Style Options

As far as reviewing style options, we mainly focused on the variety of color and style options available for each High Sierra backpack model. Having a wide variety of color and style options available can be an important factor in choosing between two similar product options, even if it may not have bearing on the functionality of the backpack.

Warranty

Not every High Sierra backpack has a warranty, so we first had to determine whether each High Sierra backpack we reviewed had a warranty at all. For bags that do have a warranty, we gave bags with longer warranties higher ratings, and those with short or limited warranties got lesser ratings.


5 Best High Sierra Backpacks Reviewed

1. High Sierra Swerve Laptop Backpack

Quick Look - Bag Features
  • Waterproof = No
  • Number of Compartments = Nine
  • Laptop Sleeve = Yes
  • Colors Available = 30 Colors Available
  • Size = Medium/Large
  • Warranty = Yes, 5-Year Limited

The High Sierra Swerve Laptop Backpack is a wonderful choice for students or commuting professionals. The bag has a somewhat compact size at only 13” in length, but has many compartments that are perfect for holding books, folders, organizers, and more.

The backpack has a cushioned laptop sleeve, which works well to keep a personal computer safe and secure - this is great for any 17-inch laptop model. The bottom panel is also padded to protect all of your belongings. Moreover, the bag features a zippered pocket with a USB port, so it's practical if you need to charge your devices.

One con of the High Sierra Swerve Laptop Backpack is that it isn't waterproof, so it may not be best for hiking or camping with valuable tech items.

The bag is also on the small side to be considered a camping or hiking bag. However, for school or work, this backpack is a great choice.


2. High Sierra Fatboy Backpack

Quick Look - Bag Features
  • Waterproof = No
  • Number of Compartments = Seven
  • Laptop Sleeve = No, But Does Have A Tablet Sleeve
  • Colors Available = 19 Colors Available
  • Size = Small/Medium
  • Warranty = No (Manufacturer’s Warranty Available On Request)

The High Sierra Fatboy Backpack is the perfect compact bag for commuting to work or school. While it's not large enough for most camping, hiking, or other outdoor activities, it's perfect for commuting and office or classroom purposes. There are 19 colors available, so there's an option available for everyone as far as style goes.

There are two major cons with the High Sierra Fatboy Backpack that are important to note. The first is the lack of a warranty. While a manufacturer’s warranty is available on request, High Sierra doesn't provide a specific warranty for the Fatboy Backpack. Also, the bag isn't waterproof, so if this is an important factor for you when choosing a bag, it might be best to look elsewhere.

It does feature a tablet-designed sleeve, but keep in mind it could get wet if you stumble upon a storm or a spillover incident. However, for a simple, cost-effective commuter bag, the High Sierra Fatboy Backpack is an ideal choice.


3. High Sierra Karadon 45L Frame Pack

Quick Look - Bag Features
  • Waterproof = Water-Resistant
  • Number of Compartments = Ten
  • Laptop Sleeve = No
  • Colors Available = Red, Blue, Purple, Kelly Green, Emerald Green
  • Size = Medium/Large, Large/Oversized (Two Sizes Available)
  • Warranty = Yes

The High Sierra Karadon (10L to 45L) Frame Pack is a perfect choice for hiking or camping. It is made of light, durable, water-resistant material and has numerous compartments in order to store everything from water bottles (on the outer side-pockets) to hiking gear on the main compartment - which features double laces and a removable lid with a zippered accessory pocket.

The bag also comes in a variety of sizes. The smaller sizes are perfect for day trips or short hikes, while the larger sizes work well for longer trips and carrying around lots of items. One con of this backpack is that, if you choose a large size, it may not be suitable for commuting or carrying onto an airplane.

The bottom zippered compartment with a divider for sleep-system is another plus of the bag, that is ready for you to take it to your next big mountain adventure.


4. High Sierra Lightning 30 Frame Backpack

Quick Look - Bag Features
  • Waterproof = No
  • Number of Compartments = Eight
  • Laptop Sleeve = No, But Does Have A Media Sleeve
  • Colors Available = Black
  • Size = Large, 30 L Capacity
  • Warranty = No

The High Sierra Lightning 30 Frame Backpack is an average choice for both traveling and outdoor sports activities. While the backpack’s size makes it perfect for a carry-on bag, it’s good to be aware that the multiple small pockets may cause thorough searching by airport staff.

It is built with a durable nylon type, which will make your backpack more durable and less prone to wear and tear.

This bag only comes in one color, black, so if having a brightly-colored backpack is an important feature for you, it may be best to look elsewhere. It’s also important to be aware that this bag isn't waterproof, so it may not be best for outdoor sports in inclement weather. It does include a water-resistant cover, but the bag itself doesn't protect your stuff from getting wet.

The bag also doesn't come with a warranty and is quite expensive compared with other similar models.


5. High Sierra Loop Backpack

Quick Look - Bag Features
  • Waterproof = No
  • Number Of Compartments = Six
  • Laptop Sleeve = No
  • Colors Available = 25 Colors And Patterns
  • Size = Small/Medium
  • Warranty = No (Manufacturer’s Warranty Available On Request)

The High Sierra Loop backpack is a great choice for work or school, especially if you need to carry lots of books or bulky items. This bag offers a compact size with multiple large compartments that are ideal to organize all of your stuff, from pencils and keys to electronic devices. There are over 25 colors and patterns available, so there's a style for everyone to choose from.

The bag isn't waterproof and doesn't have a designated warranty, so it may not be best suited for outdoor sports. If you choose to use the backpack for such activities, we do not recommend carrying your laptop or tablet inside it. However, there are several hooks on the bag in order to hold water bottles, lanterns, or other supplies if it's needed for outdoor use. It is also quite comfy due to the cushioned back panel and shoulder straps.

The bag comes in at a very economical price and is a solid bag for those looking for something smaller.


How do these models compare?

Size

The size of each backpack in order from smallest to largest is as follows: The High Sierra Loop Backpack is the smallest, followed by the High Sierra Fatboy Backpack, followed by the High Sierra Swerve Laptop Backpack.

The second largest backpack is the Lightning 30 Frame Backpack followed by the High Sierra 45L Karadon Backpack as the largest of the five backpacks reviewed.

Price

Due to their small size, the High Sierra Fatboy Backpack, High Sierra Loop Backpack and High Sierra Swerve Laptop Backpack all come in at lower price points. The High Sierra Karadon 45L Backpack has a moderate price point, while the High Sierra Lightning 30 Frame Backpack is the most expensive.

Functionality

All of these backpacks would make excellent choices for travel or commuting, depending on the length of the trip. Both the High Sierra 45L Kradaon Backpack and the High Sierra Lightning 30 would be best suited to camping or long hikes, however, while the other three models would be best for short commutes or plane trips.


high sierra backpack reviews

People Also Ask (FAQs)

Are High Sierra backpacks good quality and durable?

High Sierra backpacks are known for their quality. If durability is an important factor in choosing a bag, it may be best to choose one of the backpacks with an extended warranty to best ensure prolonged use of the backpack.

Are High Sierra backpacks good for school?

Several of the reviewed High Sierra backpack models are good for commuting to school and carrying school supplies. The best models we reviewed that would make a good choice for school include the High Sierra Swerve Laptop backpack, the High Sierra Fatboy backpack, and the High Sierra Loop backpack. These models have the size and functionality to make them perfect for use at school.

Alternatively, if you're looking for a great school backpack then Youtuber Kiara Nelson recommends the stylish Emmett 2 backpack

I need a large backpack. Will this brand be good for me?

Two of the reviewed High Sierra backpack models would be great choices for those needing a large-sized backpack. Both the High Sierra Lightning 30 backpack as well as the High Sierra 45L Karadon backpack are great choices for this purpose.

Can you take these backpacks as a carry-on bag on airplanes?

Several of the reviewed backpacks would be great choices to use for as carry-on when travelling by plane. The best choices for these would be the High Sierra Loop Backpack, the High Sierra Swerve Laptop Backpack and the High Sierra Fatboy Backpack.

Be sure to check with your airline before you fly to make sure you're fully aware of the permitted dimensions for carry-on items and extra items, as these can vary significantly. 

How do you wash or clean a High Sierra backpack?

High Sierra backpacks can have various cleaning instructions depending on the model. It's best to consult the directions with each individual bag to ensure proper cleaning instructions.

Where can you buy backpacks at cheap prices?

The best place to find all of these bags is Amazon. All of these backpacks can be viewed as well as more specific lists of features, user reviews and several photos of each model.


Conclusion

The five High Sierra backpacks we reviewed all serve as great examples of functional, durable and price-conscious bags.

Depending on the intended use of the backpack, there's something in the selected reviewed bags for everyone, whether the bag is needed for a weeklong hike or for a simple school commute. Happy shopping!

Images via https://shop.highsierra.com/home

  • Updated October 19, 2020
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