Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Hiking Backpack: Outdoor Products Arrowhead

UPDATE: Walmart seems to no longer carry the Outdoor Products Arrowhead backpack, but the Arrowhead backpack is available on

The local Walmarts have been renovating their outdoor products aisle. They now feature backpacks and accessories by Outdoor Products. The Arrowhead backpack caught my eye. The price is shown as just $29.98. Increadibly inexpensive for a backpack. The tag says backpack dimensions are 21.5 X 15 X 8.5 inches. My math produces about 3,900 cu. inches. Outdoor Products describes the backpack at 3,096 cubic inches, just under the 3,500-4,000 range I'm looking for.

I was curious as to the packs weight, so I tromped over to the grocery section and weighed it on a fruit scale. It weighed in at about 2.25 pounds. I removed the two aluminum stays and reweighed the pack. About 2 pounds. Back in sporting goods I opened the pack up and dropped in a blue foam pad. It fit right up to the top. It seems there's enought room to expand the pad and stuff clothes, food, and maybe a hammock inside.

The outside of the backpack sports gear loops down the middle and a compression strap above each of the two side pockets. So, a sleeping bag, tent, or other gear could be lashed onto the outside of the pack, if needed.

The pack is also hydration capable. Walmart carries Outdoor Products 2-quart bladder for just $9. Spare bite valves are available.

I think I'm going to buy one of these for use by family on weekend backpacking trips. If it works out that it carries enough gear, then I may consider using the Outdoor Products Arrowhead backpack for my multi-day Appalachian Trail section hikes.


Bought the Arrowhead backpack and took it on a weekend trip of about 12 miles. It easily held dry clothes, 3-days food, and a sleeping bag in the main compartment.

We tried lining the interior with a standard foam pad. Everything fit inside: pad, clothes, food, bag. However, we couldn't close the top flipover pocket due to the bag being just a few inches shorter that the width of the pad. We attached the foam pad to the daisy chain of gear loops on the pack exterior with a set of nylon straps.

After packing the interior with the foam pad, we discovered the zippers on the two side pockets are sewn too close to the pack to slide in water bottles. After removing the pad and thumping the clothes and food a bit, we could slide water bottles into the side pockets. Really recommend buying the optional 2-liter water bag for use with this pack.

The top pocket is a little small. After stuffing a poncho inside there was room for some flat maps and very little else. Consider adding a belt pouch or two to the nylon waist belt to carry sunblock, lip balm, iodine tablets, etc.

If we substitute an emergency bivy sack for the the 3lb sleeping bag, we probably can squeeze a hammock system or a small single person tent inside. If that's the case, we'll likely pick up another 1 or 2 before the price increases or they're discontinued.

Overall, this seems a very good warm weather pack for May through August. If you don't need to carry anything bulky, this pack is a good way to go fairly ultralight for very little cash.


  1. If you do a little trimming (get rid of the useless lid pocket and pocket down the back, turn the pack inside out and cut out the suspension) and trim your pad a little on the edges and use it inside as the suspension, I find that it's actually a pretty great ultralight setup, particularly for the cost. Necessitates tight packing, though.

  2. While I have thought about trimming my pad down to fit inside, I don't find the lid pocket and back pocket useless. I found the lid pocket convenient for holding my TP, maps, first aid, and hygiene kits. I use the back pocket for storage of my stakes, tarp ridge line, and camera.

    I also like the sewn handle and gear loops as I travel by bus and the back pocket and handle provides a "safe" method for the baggage handlers to grab my bag and not rip off a needed shoulder strap.

    Granted they are extra weight, but at 2.25 lbs compared to my previous 5 lbs, I've saved enough weight by using this pack.

    In fact I like this bag so much I just bought a second Arrowhead backpack this past weekend and may add third.

  3. Nowadays, you can get a Coleman Exponent Absoraka Backpack with a capacity less than half of the old backpacks. Despite the smaller size, you can still carry enough clothes, sleeping bag, food, a stove, a tent and still have room for a book. With the smaller modern versions, you are forced to really think about what you put into the hiking pack and end up with a lighter load.

  4. you can get these at our walmart still. They had three today. I was deciding between that and the Gama. I chose this because it was lighter. I really hope I will like it. I don't mind spending more on a pack than I did, but I just don't want the weight.

  5. Anonymous, I've spotted just one or two at our area Walmarts, but not in the large levels they once were stocked at. Even the black motorcycle variant that slides over a back rest has disappeared from the auto departments.

    I hope you do like the pack. It is fairly light, but short on space for most people. Its easy to fill quickly with standard "backpacking" gear.

    Let us know you're experiences when you get back from your adventures.

  6. Would this backpack work for a month long trip across multiple countries? I will be packing very light but also needed something durable. It'll be a week worth of clothing. How rugged is this backpack? Don't want to spend too much money on a backpack

  7. For a month, it will probably hold up. I've only used mine on the 2010 2-week backpacking trip of MD and PA. The packed held up to be rough handled by Greyhound and the two weeks of trail wear.

    The nylon is not the thicker and heavier cordura nylon of the 1980's, but a lighter weight nylon. One thing I do to reduce wear and tear is to use a pack cover that I wrap around the straps and back leaving the handle protruding. Most folks then grab the handle, which puts the pack cover on the "bottom" to take the abrasion. The manufacturer sells a backpack cover through Walmart for about $10.

    BTW, unless you're traveling someplace cold, you just need two sets of clothes. One on yourself and the second in the pack. Light nylon pants and shirts are easy to wash and fast to dry using most overseas sinks.

    Also, pickpocketing of backpacks is rife overseas. I'd use a backpack cover with maybe two or three web straps to keep busy hands and fingers out of outside pockets. Anything you don't want to lose should be in the main compartment. Also, never ever let your pack out of your control. While eating, I often put one chair leg inside one shoulder strap to thwart snatch and grabs.

  8. I hope my local store still has some. Going to check them out today. Thanks for all the comments!

    I am also going to EU for some backpacking this summer. I totally agree with Timothy on all points. Synthetic is the best way to go on clothes - lightweight, easy to wash, and quick to dry. If it gets cool, which it can, even in the summer, in the mountains, you can layer.

    I love wearing shorts. Basically, I'm going to carry:

    2 shorts,
    2 short sleeve shirts,
    4 pair socks,
    4 underwear,
    1 set long underwear,
    1 long sleeve shirt,
    1 long pants,
    1 pair hiking shoes,
    1 pair sandals.

    All of these are lightweight synthetics. With these items, I can dress for any occasion I intend to encounter.

    Also, regarding shoes/boots, consider using non-waterproof. Waterproofing keeps water in as well as out. If rain gets in, or you step in water that goes over the top, your feet will stay wet until you can dry your shoes out, which can take a very long time. For warm weather, I prefer shoes that will dry quickly over waterproof. On other occasions, waterproof may be preferred, such as cold, wet weather, in which case I take additional precautions to keep water from getting in.

    I will post how the backpack holds these things and holds up to wear and tear. Any comments appreciated.

  9. I clicked on the Amazon link above, but it says out of stock. I went to the Wal-mart store near where I live and they have quite a few. They are still $29.98. They also have lots of other gear from OP.

    Anonymous, you might also look into getting a compression bag. If you're not that great at tightly rolling up your clothes, for example, it can help you get them down to a smaller size. Works same for sleeping bags, which I recommend on such a trip as the one you describe, i.e., if you are going to be sleeping in hostiles, or even some hotels. This way, you can just sleep in your sleeping bag on top of the bed and not have to worry much about when the last time the linen was changed!

    Timothy,I didn't really get it when you were talking about the handle until I saw the backpack. I thought you were talking about a small nylon loop for hand carrying many backpacks have at the top. This backpack has a really heavy duty handle on the back as can be seen in the first pic above, and which I didn't notice before.

    I am curious about the cover you mentioned. Is it the one OP sells as a universal/"one size fits all" rain cover? I looked at it and wasn't sure it would stay on the pack while being by tossed around by baggage handlers. I was considering putting on a couple of small grommets so I could strap it on, or just wrap a couple of nylon straps around. How did you attached it to the bag so it would stay on, other than just using the elastic around the opening of the cover?

    With a long torso and at just under 6' and 220 lbs, I think the pack is a little small for me. I am going to get it for my 16 year old daughter, though, who is coming to Europe with me (or is it me that's going with her? hehe). She is about 5'5" and I think it will serve her well. I'll just carry one of my other framed packs that is slightly larger and weighs just under 5 lbs. Besides, I will probably end up carrying most everything other than her clothes and personal hygiene stuff, but that's what dad's are for. Right?

  10. Hey Tim!!! Thanks for your prompt response and detailed one too!! Keyword "probably" had me concerned coupled with other things I've read on message boards so I'll be returning the backpack back to walmart.

    I bought this one at a sporting goods store:

    Had any luck with that?

    Thanks for the safety tips too!!! I'll be buying a backpack cover and web straps (what's that? *covers face*). I am a female and don't think I can do 2 sets of outfits. I did a test pack and I packed 4 dresses, 1 pair of jeans, 1 pair of shorts and I believe 7 tops.I'll be doing a second round of is to eliminate what won't dry quickly and those that i can't pair easily, and i should be down even further!

    More tips please!!!!!

  11. I just picked one of these up, our Walmart had 3 of them.

  12. Doug, I used an overly large blaze orange pack cover I bought from Cabela's for about $15. See my review on this blog.

    I placed my pack with the straps inside and cinched it tight, with just the handle sticking out. The cover stayed on, but stress caused some of the seam around the drawstring to tear. I patched that with duct tape. In fact, I recommend reinforcing pack cover seams with duct tape before they tear.

    I haven't bought the OP pack cover yet, but my plan is to use it the same, except to add one or two nylon straps around the pack and thread them through the gear loops above and below the handle. This should keep the cover on.

    Also, I'm concerned about pickpockets "bumping" me in NYC, so the pack cover and straps should prove useful in defending the four zippered pockets. (I had a daypack riffled by pickpockets on the Milan, Italy subway. They mistook me for a tourist and grabbed all the brochures I had just gathered from an agricultural fair. I suspect the back zipper pocket is where most tourists keep cash, passports, and other valuables.) Ain't happening during my walk from the Port Authority bus terminal to Grand Central station.

  13. Just noticed Doug's recommendations on shoes. I would add that Europeans commonly look down at your shoes and then relate to you by what they see on your feet. Have a nice looking pair of comfortable shoes.

  14. This is the cheapest backpack at this size here in Guam the rest are priced way up too high as $250.00 and up. There's a place for hydation pack inside pocket that has also a hole for the hose that goes to one of the shoulder harness with a hose clip that hold the hose in place. after filling the backpack with clothes the three exterior pockets with zipper became useless for other stuff like camera, shoes or even a pair of can use it though for passport or some reading materials such as newspaper or a readingglass.but for a price of less than $30.00,thats hard to beat compared to other brand that price like a DSLR camera.