Without delving into the often dangerous Tactical vs Hiking wars, we reviewed the Local Lion 38L hiking back. We were a bit surprised, here’s what we found.
A good backpack is essential to your survival preps, and if you’re an avid hiker or camper you’ll get use out of one now.
There are two major camps in the survival and prepping community when it comes to backpacks, which is better: Tactical vs Hiking.
Not only is it about a dead even split based on our own polling but the sentiments on both sides run hot.
There’s no better way to start a comment war than to declare one or the other better, heck we’ve received hate mail a few times because our Facebook page cover photo has a tactical backpack in it. :\
One side believes that a tactical backpack, with its military endorsement and detachable bags (known as the molle system) make it superior.
The other side of the community believes that a hiking backpack is the best, because they are built for long walks and have additional features to make carrying a load easier.
Local Lion 38L Climbing Backpack Review
Without taking a stance that’s sure to lead to some hate mail, nor touching on either side of this controversy with a 10 ft stick today, we will review the Local Lion 38L Climbing Backpack for exactly what it is and nothing more.
You can then decide which you like best.
Price, Colors, Specs
The Local Lion 38L’s current price is $30 and a little change, with free priority shipping. It’s hard to beat that in this size range.
It’s unisex design comes in red, yellow, orange, green, purple, dark blue, and light blue. Red is my personal favorite for this design. It holds 38L of internal storage, hence the name, and measures 21.65 x 13.78 x 7.09 inches and weighs in under the 3lb mark, at 2.6lbs.
Waterproof Outer Material
The Local Lion 38L Climbing Backpack is made out of waterproofed polyester canvas fabric, so your gear won’t get wet in the rain, snow, or accidental drop in a river.
Polyester canvas is tough and sheds water by itself, but the Local Lion 38L goes beyond this with its thick Oxford-215 material which has a tough waterproof weave, and is then coated with a special polyurethane sealant for additional waterproofing.
Oxford-215 (aka 600D) is a heavyweight polyester fabric. It is exceptionally durable and hard-wearing. Its superior abrasion resistance makes is perfect for heavy duty bags, work boots and as a inserts for extremely tough parts of work wear.
Water literally beads off this backpack, just like stain-proof clothing. This also means your backpack will stay cleaner and shed mud and snow easier.
You can hike through heavy rain and melting snow, drop it in a river, or test it yourself by pouring some water over it and the water beads up and rolls off while the internal bag remains dry.
Like all things waterproof, if you decide to do something out of the ordinary with it, like go swimming with it or toss it in a mud hole for hours, a little water might seep in but it’s not an actual issue for any normal use. Generally, don’t be silly with it and it’ll stay nice and dry inside with normal and heavy duty use.
The zippers are not meant to be submerged in water, but even if you get into a heavy rain they work well enough to keep things inside dry.
Under normal use, the zippers are waterproof enough and the small nylon pulls are a nice touch too. Like every other backpack in this price range it’s not meant to go for a dunk in a river, you’ll have to wrap it in a waterproof bag or even a garbage bag for that.
Many people like to go on hikes around the country and take their bags to the airport, and while the main compartment of the Local Lion 38L has two zippers for fastening a TSA-approved lock, the rest do not.
Compartments everywhere! The Local Lion 38L has multiple compartments, seven total with separate inner layers for even more separation, and includes zippered compartments on the padded side wings too. There is plenty of room to store big things and to separate your gear, so it’s very easy to get to everything.
You can place your food and extra clothes in the main compartment of your bag, your fire tools and flashlight and cooking gear in the top, your water filters in the front, smaller gear in the side wings, and still have more compartments available. This way your things don’t get mixed-up, stay clean, don’t get broken, and are very easy to access.
It has a built in smart phone compartment for modern living, and it’s easy enough to stash a flashlight or water filter or other smaller gear in there too for more primitive camping.
Overall it’s full of compartments with multiple uses, it feels very roomy for a backpack in the 35-40L range.
The 38L is single and double stitched. It seems strong enough however and the seams are also glued and sealed together, but we prefer triple stitched for durability so this is the only real complaint so far.
For the price, size, and other features it’s not actually a deal breaker, and there’s nothing inherently bad with double stitching, it’s just that triple stitching is the gold standard and that is what we look for.
Inner Frame Support
Most hiking backpacks today use interior edge supports, which means the bolster bars and edge are incorporated with the backpack and are not visible from the outside.
While you can find some backpacks with outer aluminum frames, where the bars are separate from the pack (think about those backpacks you find in old climbing films or documentaries about individuals backpacking Europe in the 1970’s) it looks and feels like a big metal cage. I get that some prefer this style for it’s rigidity and ability to carry a bigger load, but it’s a lot of bulk.
Luckily, the Local Lion 38L Climbing Backpack has interior edge support. Personally, I think it looks better, and the poles can’t hang on anything. More importantly, it also makes the backpack slimmer and lightweight, and less demanding to haul around in my opinion.
Inner edge supports are light because they are made out of a carbon fiber in very high end and expensive bags, or strong and flexible plastic for backpacks in this price range, instead of aluminum like on outer frame backpacks.
Padded Straps And Belts
The majority of the weight you will bear will push down on your hips, so you’ll need a cushioned belt to make supporting the weight more agreeable. The Local Lion 38L does not have a fully padded chest strap or hip belt, but it takes care of this problem with thickly padded side wings and shoulder straps.
We still prefer a fully padded lower belt (a padded chest strap isn’t common or needed), but many find this to be an undesirable feature because it is hot and chafing around the torso so we won’t take off any points for it.
With padded side wings like this you get a compromise between the two. The belt will help balance the load more equally on your back, creating less strain and letting you walk longer, and the padded wings will keep it from squeezing and rubbing your skin.
Both belts are adjustable, so you can set it for various stomach sizes. If you have a small or big belly you’ll be ok, but you may have trouble getting it around a really (really) big belly. If so, hardly any hiking pack belts will fit unless you get something custom so you’ll have to leave them unhooked until all this hiking reduces the beer belly a bit.
Padded Shoulder Straps
The Local Lion 38L Climbing Backpack has thickly padded shoulder straps. The cushioning is thick and comfortable.
These padded shoulder straps make your bag’s overall weight much easier to carry and keep the heaviness of your pack from eating into your shoulders.
These cushions will help spread the weight on your shoulders out and also take some of the weight off your lower back.
Padded And Vented Back
A lumbar-formed cushion built into the pack makes carrying the 38L more agreeable. It fits your back nice and has an overall comfortable, padded back to make your hike easier.
The mesh design also gives some breathing room between your back and the bag, permitting air to travel through and keep you cooler. Nothing sucks more than a sweat soaked back on a hot day! The side wings are also mesh and breath well.
Behind the mesh is the soft and sponge-like lumbar padding. You can literally stuff your bag full with all your outdoor equipment and carry them along without having stuff poke or jar into your back because of the padding.
Overall Review – 4.6 / 5.0
While the stitching and non-waterproof zippers could be better, particularly the internal stitching on the inside pockets, they’re not major deal breakers. The stitching quality is there and it is more than acceptable, and the zippers aren’t going to be a problem for anyone using it in a normal way.
Some may want a fully padded belt instead of just wings, but this is personal because too much padding here can make you sweat and chafe. Since some like and some don’t, we’ll leave this point neutral and not deduct for it.
The price is outstanding, the waterproof materials are outstanding, and the multiple compartments are laid out well.
The internal edge support of the Local Lion 38L Climbing Backpack is great, and the overall padding is great. The mesh backing could be more open and cool you somewhat better, but again, it gets the job done well enough and at this price point it’s very acceptable compared to everything else on the market.
This is a sponsored post that uses affiliate links, which means we received compensation in exchange for writing this post and it contains affiliate links to the sponsor. Although this post is sponsored, we only recommend products or services that we believe will be good for our readers. To learn more about our ethics and how we work, check out our about us page. The opinions herein are ours.