Backpack Hero – General Guide to Good Items

This is a general guide to what items I think are particularly good. Having beaten most of the game’s challenges, and with over 200 hours in the game, I have a pretty good idea of what helps you win, and what is just not useful.


General advice:

  • Cleavers: Cleavers are generally not worth using. They can grow extremely powerful, but without one or two of the rare ones, their damage output just isn’t worth it. Plus, even if you acquire one of the rare cleavers, you still need to find enough other cleavers to support it, which is very RNG reliant.
  • Bows: Bows are mostly interchangeable. They all fire arrows, and have minor bonuses which are all fairly comparable. The only two that feel unique are the crossbow and composite bow. The crossbow is quite good with arrow that apply status, while the composite bow is good for free damage, though it struggles as a primary weapon.
  • Arrows: While arrows gain extra damage from open spaces, they are most efficient when getting bonus damage from other objects. A bow with three arrows can get triple the benefit from a gem compared to a single sword. The explosive arrow and short arrow are particularly good for this. Other than those two, the fire arrow, poison arrow, and electric arrow are all quite good.
  • Wands: Mana is easy to get, and it is usually worth trying to use it unless space is tight. The fire wand, electric wand, and metallic wand are all great damage for mana, though the dark wand works if you can’t find something better. The fire staff and wizard staff are good secondary weapons, but mana and energy are generally more efficient when used separately.
  • Daggers/Hatchets/Hammers: These free damage dealers are generally worth taking if you have the space. They work especially well with gems and other boosters, often doubling or even tripling their low base damage.

Specific weapons to watch out for:

  • Club: This is an incredible early weapon. While not efficient to use more than once per turn, the weak debuff is excellent defensive utility. It works especially well on Voles and Sables, who are quite dangerous in the early game. Plus, by using it every turn on a boss, you cancel out their damage scaling, allowing low dps builds to more safely draw out the fight.
  • Doru: This legendary spear isn’t always useful, but if you are mostly focusing on defense, this is quite viable as your only weapon.
  • Flame Axe/Needler: Some of the best generic weapons. On a single turn basis they out damage a wooden blade, and over time their dpt builds up.
  • Fox Rapier: One of the best weapons overall, this rapier has good damage and insane defense, both boosting your shield and giving block on attack. Works especially well if you have a source of Haste. The only downside is that it can only be acquired by defeating a Travelling Warrior, who can be a deadly foe if your build isn’t already pretty good.
  • Glove of Knives: The best scratch support item, since it can be boosted by gems like a normal weapon. Still usually requires at least one other scratch support to be worth it.
  • Vorpal Blade: A very powerful and efficient weapon. It essentially gives two attacks for 1 energy, and four attacks for 3 energy. Can be quite strong, but if you have a lot of extra energy, other weapons will be more efficient.
  • Wooden Blade: Not amazing, but almost always worth grabbing to replace your Wooden Sword.

Shields and Armor


  • Knight’s Shield/Slats Shield: The gold standards. Upgrade your massive rough buckler asap. Slats shield is more efficient, but knight’s shield breaks even if you have at least three pieces of armor.
  • King’s shield: Generates less block, but the passives are nice, and it has the most smithing slots of any shield.
  • Lil Buckler: If you have good haste or a strong armor setup, this shield is good for economizing space. The amethyst buckler is also a superior version of this shield.
  • Soldier’s Buckler: A potentially powerful option, it mostly suffers from large size, and the fact that other boosting items are better.
  • Swamp Buckler: The best defense against poison. Take it if you can.
  • Bashing Shield: Can give a powerful defensive build a powerful attack.


  • Archangel Armor: My personal favorite item, this armor provides slowly rising haste, allowing small armor pieces to grow quickly, and negating enemy damage growth as a battle drags on.
  • Knight’s Armor: Extremely strong for a common item, it boosts your shield, it boosts your armor, and it even has two smithing slots.
  • Left/Right Gauntlet: If you set up your bag correctly, these provide a lot of block for such a small item.
  • Rogue’s Mask: Not reliable defense, but is good insurance for bad situations.
  • Spiked Helmet: For just one space, you get one block and three spike per turn. Just a really nice item.
  • Steel Boots: Lots of block and some damage boosting. Another very efficient item. Since boots work best at the bottom, heavy isn’t even a downside.
  • Wizard Robe: If you have a good mana sink, then this is quite good.
  • Wizard Cap: If you have a good mana sink, and your defense is strong enough to not worry about the lowered energy, then its a good pickup. Notably, CR-8 can grab it for no downside.


  • My First Wand: Not technically an accessory but functions as one. Only needs a few mana stones to become a reliable source of healing. It can’t outpace damage, but is good for healing off chip damage, and damage accumulated from poison and curses.
  • Gems: Almost every gem is great, though the sapphire, electric gem, and peridot are low impact for their space.
  • Bandages: Another good source of healing, perfect for dealing with damage accumulated from poison and curses.
  • Books: Books are extremely powerful. With a good wand and a book, you can attack twice per energy, which quickly outpaces most swords. The Necronomicon is particularly nice, being a powerful weapon in addition to the extra mana.
  • Battle Ring: A very nice way to spend mana in the early game.
  • Broken Ring: With a book, can be a good shield replacement, though it suffers from only being boosted by haste.
  • Charmed Bracelet: Not as good as you’d think, since many of the nastier curses disable adjacent items. Still worth grabbing though.
  • Cleansing Rag: Good defense against poison, though it can have trouble fully erasing poison on later floors.
  • Crab Cactus: Very efficient, can very quickly build up spikes against sables or large groups.
  • Energy: Always worth taking. Once acquired, try to shape the backpack to minimize wasted space. Violet energy is the best, while the token of energy is the worst.
  • Dice: Good to hold on to. Is best for re-rolling relics. The Spare Dice can also be used on relics.
  • Dark Headband: If you have a good wand, this can let you plow through groups of smaller enemies with ease, especially in the arctic area.
  • Golden Whetstone: Extremely good. Make sure you have a weapon you will keep for the rest of the run.
  • Guardian Ring: A nice small boost to any shield which doubles the effect of haste.
  • Lucky Ring: Always take. Always. Even on harder difficulties with large luck debuffs, these can really boost the quality of drops.
  • Piggy Bank: Easy money. Like the Lucky Ring, this just makes the run easier.
  • Poison Whetstone: If you have chip healing, this can really lay on the damage with arrows or daggers.
  • Pouch: Usually worth having one to hold on to keys and dice. Can also help carry large legendary items to sell later.
  • Ring of Doom: The strongest mana sink in the game. Surround it with daggers or just use it on your main weapon. If I can get this, I usually win.
  • Ring of Rage: Discount ring of doom. Still pretty good.
  • Robot Toy: Do you have several mana stones? Then this is just free damage.
  • Speedy Leaf: Generally an auto-pick. Great to put in a pouch for boss battles.
  • Whetstone: Pairs really well with a bunch of daggers for powerful scaling damage.


  • Belt of Knives: Can rack up a lot of damage if using daggers, though it is easily at its best in bow setups.
  • Cleansing Flame: No longer as necessary as it once was, this is still a strong relic if you are not using debuffs.
  • Coral: Simple and effective, this can get you a lot of spikes. Note that it does not work properly with the king’s shield.
  • Ember Shard: Pretty build dependent, it can still get good value if you often spend a full turn defending.
  • Frog Totem: Free mana with no downside. A very safe pick.
  • Gem of Anna: Not amazing, but is good insurance if the other relics are not great.
  • Glass Bottle: A very strong relic with a fairly minimal downside.
  • Hourglass: Very powerful, but can be risky with the wrong build. If you don’t have any damage scaling, you have to hope you don’t run out of damage.
  • Ore: Do you have gems? Then this is quite good.
  • Shield Spirit: Can be tricky to build around, but can be quite strong. Works best with weapons like the club and mace which give debuffs.
  • Stopwatch: Do you have reliable healing? Then this is pretty good. Otherwise the chip damage over time will grind you down.
  • Windmill: Not as space efficient as the energy tokens, but extra energy is always really nice.


  1. I think everyone needs to try a cleaver run. It takes a little luck to get into but once you get a lucky cleaver you are more likely to keep getting cleavers (helps with the RNG). I have a cleaver build that does 15k + per turn. It took a few hours but is a lot of fun to organize.

  2. The pouch is also great to transport cursed items, since they won’t do their cursy thing in there.

    Talking about cursed items, they don’t absolutely need to be taken. They will just replace one of the items you find with themselves, which might cost you items, but it’s generally not so much a problem as long as there are not too many. Also they will never affect boss drops.

    The whetstone is great to power your machetes (together with some other powerful items, that e.g. increase the damage) . I did like 300 damage per turn to each enemy once (until I picked the glass bottle, that deactivates all weapons next to or shields, then my run was over incredibly quickly)…

  3. This is a great list, although a little bit incomplete.
    Here are some things you could have considered to mention:
    Machetes: now, imagine a shiv (like you said, they are great), but one that does AoE damage. That’s exactly what the machetes are. If you manage to obtain 2 coals you will become unstoppable.
    Halberd: AoE of the best kind, it has no major downsides (looking at the Lance) and it is tall, so it benefits heavily from the letter accessory. Even without the letter, gemstones do improve it tremendously.
    Pickaxe: It gains + 1 damage for each adjacent gem on a turn-by-turn basis. So, not only will it gain the effects of adjacent gems, but it will also become stronger on its own. To top it off, killing an enemy with it creates even more gems!
    Cactus: If you need tons of spikes then pick the cactus. Each time the player gets hurt for any reason, each Cactus generates 7 spikes individually! Synergizes well with a Tooth Necklace, Guarding Band or a Stopwatch.

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