Photo 1: Camelbak Kronos
The Camelbak Kronos is designed as a hybrid between traditional and ultralight packs. The Kronos features a ventilating Exo-Air™ Soft Frame and a 3-liter hydration reservoir. It weighs in at 50.9 ounces (1,443 g) and is intended for large volume day hikes and multi-day outings. We found the frame and suspension comfortable when carrying loads up to 35 pounds (16 kg). The frame and suspension provided excellent comfort and ventilation. At 2,240 cubic inches (37 L), the limited pack volume provided a bit of a challenge on three-season solo outings. Nevertheless, the combination of ventilation, hydration, and suspension has made this my pack of choice for short duration outings suited to its overall volume.
• Backpack Style
|Internal frame, top loading pack.|
• Fabric Description
|3.9 oz/yd2 (132 g/m2), 70d x 100d silnylon ripstop with polyurethane coating.|
|One size. Manufacturer does not provide recommended torso size ranges.|
• Volume to Weight Ratio
|48 ci/oz including volume of hydration pocket (based on 2,240 ci and Backpacking Light measured weight of 50.9 oz).|
• Load Carrying Capacity
|35 lbs (16 kg) as estimated by Backpacking Light. Manufacturer states 30 lbs (14 kg).|
• Carry Load to Pack Weight Performance Ratio
|11 (based on 35 lbs and Backpacking Light measured weight of 50.9 oz (1,443 g))|
Ratings follow subtitles on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the best, and are relative to other Backpacking Light tested framed packs.
Frame and Suspension – 3.5
The Kronos pack uses the Camelbak Exo-Air™ Soft Frame. It includes padded shoulder straps and lumbar pad with ventilating Brock® foam, a removable padded waistbelt, padded upper back support with highly breathable mesh, and a molded stiff plastic frame support. Also included are a removable sternum strap, hipbelt stabilizers, and load compression straps. I found all straps to be easily adjustable. I was initially skeptical that this pack, which comes in only one size, would be adjustable enough for my long frame (almost 21 in (53 cm)). However, I found that it easily adjusted to fit torsos from 21 inches down to less than 16 inches (41 cm).
Usable Features and Ease of Use – 4.0
The Camelbak Kronos comes with a 3-liter hydration reservoir (would it be a "Camelbak" without?), accessible via a full zip back panel pocket. There is a zippered main compartment with top access. Because it is zippered, this compartment cannot be extended and packing larger items, such as sleeping bags, can be a bit challenging. An external zippered accessory pocket sits atop the main packbag opening, and includes a key holder and mesh internal organizers. I found the top accessory pocket to be well designed and useful; I used the internal organizers habitually for organizing small items.
Two mesh pockets are located on each lower side panel. These small pockets are suitable for 1-liter water bottles, snacks, and other small items. We could reach back to remove and replace water bottles without removing the pack. There are two daisy chains on the rear of the main compartment that are very useful for overnight outings when lashing on a tent or sleeping pad. The daisy chains are well placed to reduce interference with side pocket access. The internal frame kept the pack rigid and made it easy to access features even when the pack was nearly empty.
Load Volume Flexibility (Compression) – 3.5
I used this pack for short overnights and also for numerous day hikes. The frame and compression straps made it easy to adjust between low volume and maximum volume outings. Lack of an extension collar was the only drawback when additional volume was desired, though some excess gear could be attached to the exterior daisy chains.
Pack Load Carrying – 4.5
Photo 2: The Camelbak Kronos frame. Note how the shape of the frame reduces contact points and increases ventilation. Also evident from this view, the zippered compartment behind the back panel stores the hydration bladder.
I found the suspension system, which includes the internal frame and large well-padded hip belt, allowed me to carry 35 pounds (16 kg) quite comfortably; five pounds (2.3 kg) more than the manufacturer’s suggested maximum load. It is difficult to carry this much weight without exceeding the volume of this pack, so I feel the pack can generally carry with comfort whatever you can fit into it. The frame transferred weight very efficiently to the hip belt under all conditions (uphill, downhill, heavy, and light loads). I used the pack on overnight spring trips into the southern Arizona mountains and found it very functional and comfortable for lightweight, short duration trips. As a desert dweller, I am very conscious of breathability when carrying heavy loads and here the Kronos performed very well. The Exo-Air™ frame offers superb airflow (Photo 2) that I could feel whenever I was in even a slight cross breeze. The mesh panels on the upper back also performed very well. Even after a long hike in 90 °F (32 °C) temperatures, my back was comfortable and almost totally dry.
Durability – 2.5
Camelbak’s Kronos shows no sign of significant wear or tear after many day trips and several overnights. The pack is reinforced with extra stitching and bar tacks in some critical areas such as frame to fabric junctions. The daisy chains show slight signs of fraying at their edges, probably because the fabric was not heat sealed when cut. This problem is cosmetic only and should not pose a significant durability problem over the long term. The Kronos is designed as a lightweight pack, and the external fabrics are not suited for serious bushwhacking or climbing that might involve hauling or dragging the pack. With reasonable care however, it could serve well as an off-trail pack short of those extremes.
Value – 3.5
The flexibility of this pack as either a daypack or a pack for short overnight trips adds to its overall value. The large hydration system and capable suspension system, along with a good combination of features and weight of just over 3 pounds ( 1.4 kg), make the Kronos a good value at $130. Durability is a concern, thus reducing the overall score.
Recommendations for Improvement
- Increasing the Camelbak Kronos’s total volume would broaden its use to include longer trips or short winter excursions. A traditional extension collar and top accessory compartment could achieve this with very little added weight.
- Our pack showed some minor cosmetic fraying along the edges of the two daisy chains. Perhaps the daisy chain edges could be heat seared to prevent this.