Being an avid hiker as well as a writer for The Loadout Room, I’ve had the opportunity to test out a variety of unique backpacks. Rockagator brings another one to the table with their Rockagator Hydric Series Original Waterproof Backpack. The premier feature and ultimate sales pitch behind this bag is its waterproofness, warranting an in-depth breakdown in this review.
- 40 Liters Storage
- Roll-Top Closure (to see how this works, click here)
- Daisy Chain anchor point straps
- Splash Resistant external zipper pouch
- 2 Hypalon tether points
- Quick-Submersion Waterproof
- Reflective Strips on back Daisy Chain as well as Shoulder Straps
- Mesh side pockets for quick and convenient external storage
- Padded shoulder straps with adjustable sternum strap
- Waist straps with UTX Clips
- Black with Rockagator Green Print/Accents
- Detachable internal padded laptop sleeve
- Internal Zipper pocket for stowing quick access items.
- MSRP: $129.99
Specifications courtesy of Rockagator
Getting straight into the nitty-gritty, the Rockagator is not entirely waterproof. Its official product specifications instead state the bag is “quick-submersion waterproof,” meaning water will eventually steep into the main compartment if submerged for a long enough amount of time. The exact amount of time is arbitrary as it comes down to a myriad of factors (proper closure, depth of water, the position of the bag while submerged, etc). This is still a major perk as there is seldom ever going to be a time when you will submerge your backpack underwater for an extended period of time. Speaking for the average adventurer, most people would only have to deal with a submerged bag when accidentally dropping it or oneself into a body of water.
Aside from being quick-submersion waterproof, this bag performs exceptionally well in inclement weather as well. However, it would be remiss of me if I didn’t mention that many nylon fabrics used in a myriad of technical packs today (Ex. Osprey) are also highly water-resistant. (What makes the Rockagator a step above in water-resistance is the implementation of a roll-top closure instead of a zipper.) With that being said, the innovation behind the Rockagator is effective, but it does present a solution to a problem most adventurers wouldn’t face, possibly at a cost. Upgrading from a nylon backpack may provide more waterproofness, but the Rockagator will have a slightly weaker fabric. To be fair though, even though the Rockagator is less abrasion-resistant than its high-denier nylon counterparts, it will still hold up to your adventuring if handled with good care.
Other features on the bag are also highly appreciated. A 40-liter capacity makes the Rockagator a perfectly sized pack for an overnight or short weekend excursion. There are two heavily stitched daisy-chain straps and multiple tether points on the bag which offer a satisfying amount of modularity that competitors surprisingly lack. The padded straps and back panel add a good amount of cushion as well.
My sole gripe with the Rockagator would be it’s less than ergonomic design. While the Rockagator does have a padded back panel, it lacks an internal or external frame to help situate the pack more comfortably and distribute the brunt of the load from the harness; this can lead to discomfort when trekking long distances with a heavy load. Adding some padding to the waist strap to make it a contoured hip-belt would have also provided some much-welcomed support and comfort.
Your decision to opt for a Rockagator backpack instead of another pack ultimately comes down to a couple of questions. Will the slight tradeoff of durability for increased waterproofness benefit you? Are you planning on using this pack frequently to carry a heavy load over a long distance? If you think you’ll find yourself operating in a particularly wet environment like when rafting or frequently wading through bodies of water, the Rockagator is worth some consideration. If you’re the avid backpacker who covers a lot of distance, a technical pack that is more ergonomically sound might suit you better. The best advice I can give is to try on your packs in-person whenever possible before committing to a purchase.
*All photos courtesy of the author, Matt Jin