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Carrying Rocks: recommendation for a durable backpack

I have a weighted vest that has about 40  pounds of weight in it, but I carry all the load on my shoulders, which is painful. I'm thinking that a backpack loaded with rocks would be better because I could carry the weight on my hips. I'm just walking around the block in it, so the theoretically better load distribution of the vest isn't an issue.

Can you recommend a backpack that might serve this purpose? I'd like to carry about 40 pounds of rock, so the pack doesn't need to be large, but it should be tough. I'm guessing an internal frame is best.



18 Replies

@Scott_Draper Thanks for reaching out!

We'd love to know: Are you training for something in particular? Or are you building something? We are very curious about these 40 pounds of rocks! We have some suggestions for backpacks, however, in order for that amount of weight to be comfortable (as comfortable as 40 pounds can ever be!) the backpacks are going to be pretty big. You may need to supplement the space in your backpack with some pillows or blankets to get it packed the right way, making sure that all the rocks aren't at the bottom of the pack, as an example. Here are some suggestions of durable backpacks built to carry heavier weight:

Hope this helps!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

Thanks for your quick reply, John. I'm just looking to burn calories. The weighted vest does that pretty well, but it's just so painful.

Those backpacks seem pretty huge; I'm thinking that the bag of drainage rock I buy at Home Depot is probably in the 50 pound range and I figured I'd just drop one of those bags into the backpack, not actually pour the rock in. I figure there are various ways I could keep the bag from sagging...maybe wrap a belt around the middle? Those bags are about 1/2 cubic ft. Or I could just drop my weighted vest into the pack, lol. Does that change your recommendation any? I really have no idea what's considered a lot of weight in the back pack field. When I last looked into this, I seem recall that backpacks talked most about volume, not weight.


@Scott_Draper yes, we would change our recommendations knowing that you're carrying a bag of drainage rock! John was thinking you were carrying a bunch of bulky individual rocks that would add up in weight to ~50lbs, which would require much more space!

Probably the most important feature for carrying that much weight is a substantial hipbelt, so you can shift much of the weight from your shoulders to your hips/leg muscles (which are bigger and stronger than your shoulders alone). The hipbelt also gives you some flexibility to shift the weight between your shoulders and your hips as needed, giving each set of muscles a break. So, for a 50-lb bag of drainage rock, here's a curated search to give you some options and within that list, you might look at the following packs:

The numbers you see refer to the volume capacity of the pack, so the bigger the number, the more room you'll have in the pack. Tighten down those cinch straps if you find the bag of rocks doesn't take up all of the space in the pack; and if there's still a little room, you could consider @REI-JohnJ's advice around adding a light blanket around the rock bag to ensure the rocks stay in place while you work out!

Hope this helps!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

Thanks, Jen! Those sizes are more what I had in mind.

FYI, I just ordered the Osprey Stratos 24. Thanks!


@Scott_Draper excellent news! We'd love to hear how it works out, once you've had some time with it!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

Hey @Scott_Draper instead of using hydration bladders full of water or drainage rock, you can pick up sand at your local home depot and put it in heavy duty trash compactor bags.The density of sand is ~ 90 pounds/foot^3, while water is ~ 60 pounds/foot^3. 


For that matter, if you want high density and cheap, probably plain old dirt will have ahigher desnity than water, although you can drink water. Consuming dirt, rocks, gravel, etc. is not advised.

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I'll consider it, Patrick, but people who've used sand in the past said it has a strong tendency to leak. The rock seems to weigh about 50 pounds per 1/2 cu ft, which makes it on par with the sand. Pea gravel might be better, since it doesn't have sharp edges. I really don't need more than about 40 pounds, because that's all my feet can stand.