The Best Backpacks for Tree Planting: A Veteran’s Opinion

Best Backpack for Tree Planting (2)

Whether you are just starting to tree plant or you’re a veteran, at this time, you might be looking for the best backpacks for tree planting.

It’s not too complicated, it comes down to a few key points:

You gotta think of these three things if you want the best tree-planting backpack.

Let’s get right into it:

Waterproof Backpacks for Tree Planting

When it comes down to it, a backpack you take on the patch with you will endure all the elements you go through.

That means it’ll really be roughed up during transport and eventually also get rained on all day during storms.

With this much abuse, you want something that will last, and keep your stuff dry. So there’s pretty much a go-to style in the tree planting world: dry bags.

Dry bags are exactly what they’re called, a bag that keeps your stuff dry, and keep it dry it will.

They are usually made of tough nylon that’s coated in polyethylene which makes them flexible, and impermeable to water.

Dry Bags for Tree Planting

The only weakness is that they usually don’t come with many pockets.

Of course, there are ways to deal with that but you still don’t have to limit yourself to a dry bag if you come prepared with a regular bag.

How to Waterproof Your Regular Backpack

If you rather not spend money to buy a new dry bag, just use your old one, that’s also fine. There are a couple of ways to deal with rainy days.

  1. Bring a garbage bag with you: When you see the rain coming, just run over to the cache and cover your backpack with the garbage bag.
  2. Use a backpack cover: It’s still a purchase, but cheaper, it’s a cover you put over your backpack to waterproof it.

The Best Backpack Color

In my opinion, flashy colors are the best for tree-planting backpacks. Please avoid black, green, or gray backpacks.

Seriously, sometimes you are just in the zone and lose track of where you are. Usually, when you have a flashy backpack, a quick look around will be enough to find your cache.

But when you have a backpack that blends with the environment… good luck.

Additionally, it makes it easier for the crew boss to spot what cache you’re at when you left your bright orange backpack there.

Another example, a black backpack in the sun all day will cook whatever you have in there.

But wait, there’s more! Bears can actually steal your backpack, I have seen it happen before. Good luck trying to find it later if it’s the same color as the forest.

I hope that’s enough reasons.

Pros vs. Cons of a Dry Bag


  • 100% Impermeable
  • Light
  • Easy to clean


  • No pockets
  • Hard to keep things organized
  • Quality bags are very expensive

My two cents:

Get a dry bag if you don’t have many things, and get a backpack if you bring many things you like to keep organized.

Keep in mind with dry bags, you can always make your own pockets inside. How? Duct Tape.

What’s the best size for a tree-planting backpack?

There’s a fine line when it comes to choosing the right size of backpack for tree planting. You want enough space to bring what you need, but you want it to stay compact enough so that it’s not a burden to carry around.

Again, it comes down to what you want to bring with you on the block.

Here’s what I normally bring, apart from my harness, shovel, hat, and water:

  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray/cream
  • Spare gloves
  • Electrolytes
  • Lunchbox
  • Repair kit
  • Sharpie
  • Phone/Watch
  • Toilet paper/Wipes
  • Epipen/Bandages

35L, 50L, 70L?

If you visualize all this, it actually doesn’t take much space. I’ve been going with 35L backpacks my whole planting career and wouldn’t change it.

For me, that’s a perfect size, and it’s never been a burden to carry around.

But, this may not be enough for you. For example, if you want to bring extra clothes, 35L is not going to be enough, unless it’s really thin layers.

At this point, I recommend at least 50L up to 60L or 70L if you really want to bring the camp with you.

If you’re not sure about the size, read the tag carefully, it should mention it, usually in liters.

Just to give you an idea, a regular school backpack is about 20-25L.

Here are other things you may want to bring with you:

  • Extra socks
  • Extra pants, shirt, sweater
  • Extra hat
  • Thermos for coffee, tea, etc.
  • Heating pads
  • Hygiene supplies
  • Bear spray

Pro tip: To me, drybag is king because you can customize it how you want. Make an exterior duct tape pocket for your sunscreen, your bug spray, your flag, or your sharpie. Attach your watch to the strap of the bag.

Avoid constantly going in and out of your bag for stuff, make the stuff that doesn’t mind being wet easily accessible.

TLDR: So what’s the best size bag for tree planting? In my opinion, the best-size bag for tree planting is a 35L dry bag.

The Best Tree Planting Backpacks

My top picks for backpacks that will do well for tree planting:

Keep in mind the prices don’t include taxes and shipping, if you end up ordering online.

1. MEC

This is the one I have, and I have nothing but good things to say.

  • The straps are comfortable
  • The handles are useful to hook stuff on
  • The material is thick, as opposed to the thin ones I’ve had before

Mountain Equipment Company (MEC) is pretty easy to find, if you live in a big city, chances are there is one there.

2. Seal Line

Seal Line is the deluxe brand you want to go with if you want to bring anything you’d possibly need with you on the block.

It has a beautiful padded back that’s unseen in other drybags.

I’ve planted with a guy who had it, and he looked pretty satisfied with it.

Seal Line 70L Dry Bag

Padded back with added support

MEC also sells them, alternatively, you can order them online on Amazon.


Cooler Backpackv

Backpack Cooler – $90

If you prefer a backpack, then these are your best bet, the bottom zipper compartment is a cooler that also serves as your lunchbox.

It also has a top utility compartment for gloves, sunscreen, and a side pocket for a coffee/tea mug.

A backpack like this has the edge over the dry bags in practicality since you can find all your things easily without having to dig for them.


There a many brands that make drybags, but in my opinion, these are the best. You get what you pay for!

Remember that there’s nothing wrong with just bringing your old backpack and a few garbage bags if you don’t feel like spending dollars.

It’ll still work!

Although if you’re at the point where you want a backpack specifically for tree planting, I would say MEC and Seal Line make the best backpacks for tree planting.

Keep your things dry my friends.


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