It has been interesting to watch the evolution of the backpack over the past couple of years. Outdoor gear manufacturers have managed to continue to add excellent –and often surprising – new features, without compromising on the size, storage capacity, or overall design of their bags. Take for example the Kahiltna 29 pack from Granite Gear, a versatile technical daypack that feels larger than it actually is, while still managing to deliver on the promise of a comfortable fit that can see you through a full day of adventure in the backcountry, around town, and beyond.
Granite Gear has a legacy of creating excellent technical packs designed for a variety of outdoor activities. The company has sent their gear to some of the most remote places on the planet, including Everest, and the North and South Pole. Over the years, they’ve continued to refine those products, improving on their designs after every generation. The Kahiltna is a culmination of those efforts, combining years of experience with technical know, to create a pack that is versatile enough to take with you anywhere.
What struck me first when putting on the Kahiltna pack was how well padded the shoulder straps, hip belt, and back panel actually are. For a small daypack, Granite Gear has certainly gone to great lengths to ensure the comfort of the wearer. The thick, plyable padding allows you to carry a heavier load than you would think possible with a 29-liter pack, without straining or struggling in anyway. The back panel does lack a frame system that would allow for better ventilation however, although a series of contours etched into the panel does provide some relief in that area.
In terms of storage, the pack features a large main pocket that can hold a surprising amount of gear, especially when the side compression straps are released to provide extra space. A front pocket includes several nice features for organizing smaller items, with the internal zip pocket proving especially useful. A handy key clip and a variety of other organizational pocket, show that this pack can pull double-duty in the backcountry or urban environments. Two large pockets on the hip belt make for perfect storage for a cell phone, digital camera, or trail snacks, while small mesh pockets on each shoulder straps are good for stowing small items that you want to keep close at hand. The Kahiltna also features twin water bottle holders, one on each side of the pack as well.
The pack includes a few extra features that will come in handy in certain situations. For instance, the Kahiltna is hydration ready, supporting up to a 2-liter water bladder. Customers will have to purchase a bladder separately however, as Granite Gear doesn’t include one. For those looking to shave a few extra ounces off the weight of the pack, the hip belt can be removed. Considering the Kahiltna tips the scales at 2 pounds, 1 oz (.93kg) this may be a welcome option for some, although it does comes at the expense of some stability.
A built-in rainfly, located in a zip-pocket at the bottom of the bag, is another welcome addition. It can be deployed in a matter of seconds, keeping the contents of the pack safe from excess moisture from an unexpected rainstorm. In recent years I have really come to appreciate a pack that includes this feature, as it has saved my gear on more than one occasion. I was happy to find that Granite Gear has included one on this pack as well. It may seem like a minor feature, but it is really good to know that it is there when you need it.
Considering the price, the Kahiltna truly delivers a lot of value for the money. Granite Gear sells this pack for just $139.95, which is a solid bargain for everything that it delivers. It is a versatile, comfortable, and durable daypack that will fit the needs of most people. With a capacity of just 29-liters, it is a bit on the small side for some bigger adventures, but the bags ability to handle larger loads makes it a solid performer on most active outings. The Kahiltna’s capacity to serve as a good travel pack, as well as for lugging gear around town, makes it an even better bargain, as it truly can be a bag for all occasions. If the outdoor enthusiast on your list has requested a new pack this holiday season, this just might be the perfect choice.
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