Outdoor Products Amphibian 20L

An Inexpensive Waterproof Backpack

Outdoor Products got in touch with me earlier this year and sent me out a couple of packs to check out. The company name is somewhat ambiguous but everyone I showed the packs to almost immediately recognized their logo… “oh I’ve seen those in [insert big box store here]”. Yep, they sell at most major outdoor retailers, and they’re a very economical line of products, although not what most of us would consider lightweight. That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to check out the Amphibian; waterproof rucks are not usually lightweight packs to begin with, so this pack could be a viable option for anyone poking around that market segment. Let’s have a look…

Specs at a Glance

All specsc as claimed unless *noted otherwise…

  • Volume: 20 L (mostly in the main compartment)
  • Weight: 24.5 oz (.69 kg) on our scale
  • Max Load: not stated, but probably 20 lbs or less for most people
  • Fits torso: “one size fits all”
  • Pockets: (3) 2 side, 1 front
  • Frame: frameless (semi-rigid back panel)
  • Closure: Dry Bag Roll-top
  • Primary Material: 420D Cordura-like, TPU coated fabric
  • MSRP: $59
The Amphibian 20L

The Amphibian 20L

Impressions

This is a good sized pack for day use, and maybe a quick overnight trip – particularly where you’d expect to get wet. Worth noting that Outdoor Products also offers a 30L waterproof pack with similar features; it’s called the Shasta. In fact that pack may improve upon a couple of my nit picks, but let’s move along with the Amphibian for now…

The fabric is very bomber and can clearly take some abuse which bodes well for those who may consider it for canyoneering and such. The pack lacks a frame as do most packs in this class. The back panel contains a small, semi-rigid plastic (I assume) sheet giving it a little bit of rigidity. 3D foam is overlaid on this area to create a channel for air flow against the back, and of course to provide some comfort while wearing the pack. It’s a decent design.

Front

Front

Back Panel & Harness

Back Panel & Harness

Side

Side

The harness also features 3D foam and is comfortable on the shoulders. It features an adjustable sternum strap, but no waist belt. There is a compression strap (which almost looks like it could be a waistbelt) that sits right at the center of the backpanel and is apparently made to wrap around the pack to provide some compression. I had the pack fully loaded when I used it and could just barely get the straps to reach eachother. I would probably just cut them off and forego having any compression.

As far as other features go, the front pocket is mesh (not waterproof) and fairly small… only useful for small items that don’t need to be protected from the elements. The side pockets are even smaller, and the zippers are NOT waterproof (despite looking like they are). The side pockets are worthless, only some very small and flat things could possibly fit in there, and the zippers leak, so… yeah. The trekking pole holder is nothing more than a piece of shock cord and a toggle… pretty generic, but it works I suppose. If I was designing this pack I would nix all the outside pockets in favor of adding 4 symmetrically placed daisy chains near the top sides of the pack. It’s the right size, price, and bomber enough to be used as a haul bag… but lacks any attachment points for that. The haul loop is sturdy enough, but who would trust their gear to a piece of 1/2″ webbing? While we’re at it, lets put a shock cord loop at each side of the bag for securing trekking poles, or simply a shock cord daisy chain where the front pocket currently resides. These couple of simple changes would take this pack from being a glorified rucksack into the realm of more functional packs.

Out for a Weekend of Paddling

Out for a Weekend of Paddling

Most importantly is whether or not the pack is actually waterproof. After some light canyon/creek exploration and some kayaking trips this summer I can say YES! It keeps the water out to a substantial degree and is worthy of the “waterproof” monikers it sports. All the seams are welded and the fabric is coated on the inside to prevent wear on the coating. I had to forcefully submerge the pack under water while squeezing it to get a few drops of water in through the dry bag closure. Even then it was only a few drops, so it works as intended in that department – just remember the side pockets are not to be trusted.

Floating in the Bay

Floating in the Bay

Liked…

  • Bomber construction
  • Waterproof
  • Good value for the money

Not So Much…

  • Several of the features are not well thought out and could have just as easily been left off.

Famous Last Words

Need a small pack for canyons, paddling, or even bushwhacking? The Amphibian is a good value for a sturdy waterproof ruck sack. It’s tough enough to take some abuse, easy enough to find at your favorite major retailer, and the price isn’t going to break the bank. Dry gear makes for a happy hiker. Hike It. Like It.


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