The Elemental Horizons Kalais XT Pack (42.8 oz / 1213 g, $360) is a 60.4-liter pack (total capacity) meant to handle the harshest and most rugged conditions. The quality of the build and the durability of the construction make it conducive for backpacking with a heavy load and in variable environments. The hip belt and back padding along with the sturdy internal frame allow the pack to comfortably carry substantial weight.

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Elemental Horizons Kalais XT photo by Elemental Horizons

About This Review

This Limited Review is based on my initial testing of this pack on a wide range of trails in Montana in April of 2020. I carried a variety of weights on this backpack at faster hiking speeds as well as a more casual pace to assess the stability of the components and efficacy of the suspension.

Garmire Kalais 7
Testing the Kalais XT on the Continental Divide in Montana spring weather.

Features and Specifications

  • MSRP:  $360
  • Capacity: Total: 60.4 liters (3685 cu in).
    • Main compartment: 46.1 L  (2816 cu in)
    • Front Pocket: 5.4 L (331 cu in)
    • Bottle Pocket: 7.2 L (442 cu in)
    • Hip Belt Pockets: 1.6 L (96 cu in)
    • Weight: 42.8 ounces (1213 grams)
  • Materials
    • X-Pac VX21
    • Dyneema X
  • Stays are directly connected to hip-belt and shoulder-strap
  • Dual-density hip belt
  • Adjustable torso length
  • Bear canister compatible
  • Five pockets
  • Made in the USA
Garmire KalaisXT 2
Testing the Kalais XT pack at a Montana alpine lake

Performance Assessment

CriteriaObservations and Issues
AdjustabilityThe dual independent straps on the hip belt allow easy adjustments while hiking. They squarely rest on the hips and don’t move even with large amounts of weight. The multiple connection points, roll-top, and dual cinch point can compress the bag when carrying less gear.
Load-bearing/comfortThe load lifters, wide hip belt, and three compression straps per side hold the weight close to the body. The dual strap adjustability on the hip belt limits excess movement and keeps the pack resting comfortably.
Organizational capacityThe breadth of external storage sets this pack apart. The back contains a stuff pocket, elastic cordage, and three compression straps. Gear and accessories can be strapped to the outside of the pack for drying or additional capacity.
DurabilityThe X-Pac material holds up well, and shows little sign of wearing out after the testing period. The backpack frame maintains its integrity and even the bathtub bottom is unscathed after multiple drops on the ground.


What makes the Elemental Horizons Kalais XT Pack Unique?

The Elemental Horizons Kalais XT Pack is unique in terms of durability, storage options, adjustability, and versatility. The numerous straps, buckles, elastic, clasps, and loops allow both large amounts of gear and weight to be carried, both inside and outside the pack. The roll-top and multiple compression straps allow it to be snugly cinched to the body and constricted when carrying a smaller load. The Kalais XT is rated for up to 45 pounds (20.5 kg).

Garmire KalaisXT 3
The Kalais XT has multiple straps, back mesh pocket, and cordage to aid in external storage of gear such as a fishing rod.

This pack uses several durable fabrics and comes with different adjustment options and organization features. Here are a few that stand out:

  • X-Pac fabric construction
  • Multiple external storage options
  • Compression and adjustability
  • Versatility with multiple weights

X-Pac Fabric Construction

X-Pac is a composite fabric. Multiple sheets are laminated to form a single sturdy layer. X-Pac is heavier but more durable than Dyneema composite fabrics and aids in the heartiness of the Kalais XT. The fabric showed few signs of wear despite many hours and miles of testing.

Multiple External Storage Options

The stuff pocket, elastic-topped water bottle pockets, elastic webbing, and multiple compression straps give the ability to carry gear externally. Outside of the waterproof compartment, wet items and soiled articles can easily be separated from the more protected interior. The ease of use and independence of each buckle and strap offers multiple creative alternatives to separate gear and stow it inside or outside of the pack. The dual water bottle pockets on each side are large and can fit multiple bottles. The pockets are secured with elastic cordage.

Compression and Adjustability

The adjustability of the hip belt and the variable and customizable length of the torso section aid in the perfect fit and carry for loads both big and small. The compression and roll-top style allow the main pocket to be compressed for any size carry.

Garmire KalaisXT 5
The roll-top, large side pockets, and compression straps aid in carrying large loads.

Versatility with Multiple Weights

The removable hip belt, numerous loops, and options to fasten gear to the pack, and the adjustable torso length lend this pack to a variety of uses. A bear canister fits within the main compartment along with all the necessities for trips into bear territory. The rigid frame and pack construction are designed to carry heavy loads. The versatility means the Kalais XT can be used for long distances with heavy carries, as well as shorter sections once the pack is compressed. It could seemingly be used for both long-distance hiking and day hikes while maintaining integrity as a versatile backpack.

Compared To…

The Elemental Horizons Kalais XT and the Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60L have removable hip belts, internal frames and are nearly identical in terms of capacity.

WeightMariposa is 10 ounces lighter when both hip belts are included.Mariposa
PriceMariposa is $90 less expensive with the hip belt includedMariposa
Load LimitKalais XT is rated for 45 pounds and the Mariposa sits at 35Kalais XT
AdjustabilityKalais has 4 torso size options, five hip belt sizes and mens and women’s harness stylesKalais XT
CustomizabilityEach Kalais XT Pack is custom made with a modular approach of adding or omitting accessories based on each orderKalais XT
DurabilityKalais XT Pack containing the X-Pac material holds up betterKalais XT


  • The adjustability of the torso length along with the compression options.
    • Multiple compression straps help customize the pack for each individual and also specific trips. For shorter trips with less gear, the internal compartment can be cinched tighter and hold the smaller amount of gear closer to the body, while on longer expeditions the compression straps can either be neglected or loosened.
  • The durability of the pack is aided by the numerous points of contact, a sturdy harness system, and X-Pac fabric. Despite long trips and the rugged Montana terrain, my Kalais XT looks nearly new.
  • The load-carrying ability makes the pack unique. The pack is rated for up to 45 pounds (20.5 kg) and the hip belt is designed to distribute this much weight throughout the body. The width and dual strap style of the belt spread the weight over a larger surface area than comparable packs with a narrower hip belt.
Garmire KalaisXT 4
The dual strap padded hip belt is fully adjustable to find the perfect fit.


  • Price: The durability, adjustability, and the multitude of features come at a price. At $360, this pack is priced moderately higher than other comparable packs.
  • Weight: In conjunction with the heavier frame and adjustability of the backpack, it could exceed the weight range for hikers on shorter sections.
  • Excess cordage and straps: While the adjustability and the ability to hang gear and clothing on the outside of the pack can aid in specific situations such as rapidly changing weather, there are enough loops and cords that I cannot see myself using all of them at any one time. While not necessarily a limitation, I do not see a use for some of the straps and cordage.
Garmire KalaisXT 1
The Kalais XT pack sitting on the edge of the Madison River in Montana

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