Outdoor Products 20L Amphibian Weather Defense Daypack Review
May 27, 2015
In my opinion Outdoor Products is one of the most underrated outdoor brands out there. I use several 10 year old dry bags they don’t make anymore on all of my kayak and whitewater adventures. I expect them to keep going strong for another 10 years. So when Outdoor Products reached out and asked me to review their 20L Amphibian Weather Defense backpack I was excited to give it a try. At its core the Amphibian is a small day pack with a roll top closure and welded seams to fully waterproof the main pocket. It seems perfect for kayaking, rocking a SUP, fishing, bike commuting, or any other activity that requires keeping things dry no matter what.
While a roll top, waterproof pack isn’t a unique idea, what is unique is the $59.99 price tag. To compare, one of my favorite day packs that I use literally all the time – the Sea to Summit Rapid 26L DryPack – fits into this same category, has a similar feature set, but it costs $169.99. Besides being waterproof and super cheap the 20L Amphibian Weather Defense backpack has three outside pockets for storing small gear, a couple attachment loops, a trekking pole/ice axe holder and some reflective patches for bike commuting. A solid set of features for a small day pack.
To try it out I packed up a bunch of fly fishing equipment and headed out to the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River to test my wits against some trout. The large main compartment was just big enough to hold my waders, an extra jacket and a few other small odds and ends. The roll top closure allows you to overstuff the bag a bit if you need to by only rolling it over once or twice rather than three or four times allowing this small-ish pack to hold more than you might think. The outside mesh pocket worked well for holding small items I needed to access while fishing. I stashed my keys, phone, wallet and a couple snickers bars into the two side pockets. The trekking pole/ice axe holder I repurposed to hold my fly rod. Overall the pack held the things I needed without issue.
While I was able to fit everything I needed into the pack I did run into some issues while packing it up. The first is the size of the two small outside pockets. When I say they are small I mean they are super small. I couldn’t fit both my wallet and phone into a single pocket at the same time. I ended up putting my wallet, keys and one snickers bar into one pocket and my phone and the second snickers bar into the other. If I wanted to bring along a small point and shoot camera I would have been forced to pack it into the mesh pocket. The other big issue I ran into while packing the Amphibian up was the lack of a water bottle pocket. I love using a water bladder but on roll top packs I understand the reasons as to why hydration pouches aren’t included. But, in the absence of that I require a water bottle pocket somewhere on the outside of the pack – this pack was lacking. It is very tough to fully endorse a day pack that doesn’t make it easy to carry and access a water bottle on the trail.
The pack, even overstuffed, was surprisingly comfortable. The shoulder straps have a perfect amount of padding to be nice and squishy but not bulky. One thing I wished for was a waist strap. I found that, even with the chest strap cinched down tight, the pack bounced around a lot if I tried a light jog. I also wish Outdoor Products had decided to include a chest strap buckle with an integrated emergency whistle – I think these are lifesavers and should be required on all packs.
The final feature, the trekking pole/ice axe holder was very convenient. I attached my fly fishing rod to it while hiking and tested it out with my trekking poles. Both were held in place without issue. Unfortunately, during the very first pull on the end of the bungee cord the pull tab broke off. It was easy enough to tie a knot in the end of the cord to replace the pull tab but it was a tad unsettling. I wouldn’t discount this pack’s durability though. The material it’s made out of is sturdy and seems to be very abrasive resistant. I imagine it will stand up to a pretty decent amount of abuse.
Overall this is a good but maybe not great pack. The lack of an external water bottle pocket is really what keeps the Amphibian from earning a full recommendation. With that being said, this pack costs $59.99… That is SO CHEAP! As someone who generally spends more than I should on outdoor gear I was honestly surprised to be as pleased with this pack as I was considering the price tag.
For the price ($59.99) this is an excellent pack. If you need something that is waterproof but don’t have a lot of money to spend I’d recommend the Outdoor Products 20L Amphibian Weather Defense backpack to anyone.