Sep 17, 2013 at 11:25 am #1307738
nmSep 21, 2013 at 3:54 pm #2026782
Well I don't currently own either, but I am looking at ordering and Aquilo in the next few days:). Just waiting for them to get back to me on a few questions.
I am looking for a large pack for loads of 30lb. Packs I have compared it to are:
1. Porter 4400 and 3400 – I prefer a wrap around hipbelt and am not sure how well the shoulder straps will work for me, as I am slightly built. I think they maybe too widely placed.
2. GG Mariposa – I love my GG Gorila and I ordered a new style Mariposa, but the redesigned shoulder straps don't work for me. I am considering getting an old style one from Gear Swap, but am not convinced it will work well at 30lbs.
3. Exped Lightning – Unproven.
4. Osprey Exos 58 -The one pack I can actually try on in New Zealand. However, I really want a simpler tougher pack than this.
4. ULA Circuit- Not sure if the non shaped frame will work well for me.
I think the Aquilo will work well for me. Only concern is the wide hipbelt and as ever what torso length to go for.
Basically buying packs by mail when you live at the end of the earth is a real nightmare. I am resigned to it costing me a lot, as a well fitting pack is so important to an enjoyable hike. If I get and Aquilo I will be using it for 4-5 days at end October and will write a first impressions review after that.Sep 21, 2013 at 4:52 pm #2026789
The Kalais is pretty big – will carry a lot of stuff. I just did a weekend hike where we hiked about 24/5 miles on Saturday and about 13/4 miles on Sunday, starting weight Friday night (hiked in after dark for about 3 miles) was about 25 pounds, and it didn't really even seem like it was there. Carried it exceptionally well. I don't doubt it would do 30 pounds with ease.Sep 21, 2013 at 6:17 pm #2026816
Dave, I waited to reply because I am like Jason in that I don't have my Kalais yet, Matthew is sewing it up as I write. If I remember correctly you have been through both the McHale process and own an HMG Porter so I am equally interested in why you are now looking at one of these two packs and maybe you will give us your details too.
I think like my earlier thread asking for some feed back, which got a few replies, the issue with the Kalais is that according to Matthew there are barely over 100 of them out there, so not a lot of collective experience yet.
My own personal needs are maybe a bit different than most in that I either go out in the fall and winter in the Southeast so need some more volume for colder conditions or I am doing longer trips in the desert and need water load carrying capability (35 # plus). I also need more durability for the harsher desert conditions or the occasional bushwack in the forests of the east (having both torn ripstop packs on thorns and worn holes in every mesh side pocket I own).
Most recently I have used a Mountainsmith Auspex with a great frame/suspension that can carry loads very well, a SMD Starlite and Swift '10 with the sewn own hip belt. After many trips I wanted a combo of the three. I contacted Ron Moak and said I liked the suspension (stays, pad pocket and wrap around hipbelt of the Starlite, the volume of the Swift and the DriGlide back panel of both but would like the Dyneema pockets of their Feather pack. He replied they didn't do custom work.
I looked at the HMG Windrider SW but didn't want a white pack and didn't like the lower compression strap going over the side pockets but liked the look of the suspension.
I looked at the ULA Circuit/Ohm but didn't think it would carry the loads I needed it to, don't like the zig zag side compression but did like the pocket materials and hip belt.
I looked at the Gorilla and liked the material and pockets but wasn't sure about the compression, top pocket or the frame length.
I considered the Borah Stealth as it had the material and pockets I liked but not the suspension.
I thought about the Zpacks Arc Blast but was not keen on the material, hip belt and the suspension seems to be still evolving.
I was just about to contact Zimmerbuilt but was not sure I could get him to sew exactly what I wanted when I read Will Reitveld's review and looked closer at the Kalais. It turned out, with some custom upgrades, that Matthew had put together all the features I wanted: Dyneema X grid material especially in the side pockets, an excellent wrap around hipbelt, a removeable and longer aluminium stay (26.5" long), well designed load lifters (working with the longer stay), spacer mesh back panel, a real internal sleeping pad pocket, well designed compression and back pocket, a well done roll top and a volume that I need (maybe just a bit too much but with good compression…), all at 32 oz. or so.
So we will see, I will let you know after it arrives and I test it out some.
This is the pack he is making for meSep 21, 2013 at 7:07 pm #2026833
Hi Doug and Alex. Thanks for adding to this thread. My main question with the Aquilo is what size to order. I have a 19 inch torso which puts me at the far end of the medium size. According to Will R (in a gear swap ad he posted) the back length of a medium Aquilo is 19.5 inch from bottom of the hip belt to where the shoulder straps attach. This seems a bit short to me for a 19 inch torso and pack makers do tend to exaggerate back length a bit. My medium gorilla fits me well and measures 21 inchs from bottom of the hip belt where the shoulder straps attach. However I expect there will be less torso collapse with the Aquilo. Also depending on how well the load lifters work it may well work better with a little bit of shoulder strap wrap. Generaly with a pack with no load lifters or with the std type of load lifters found on ul packs (i.e not attach to a frame that extends above the shoulder strap attachment points) I find the best fit when there is no shoulder strap wrapping at all.
Doug -how have you found the fit compared to other packs?
Alex – what factors did you take into account when deciding on pack size?
Any help greatly appreciated as I hate buying packs almost as much as buying shoes. A first world problem admittedly but a well fitting pack and shoes make for a happy hiker.Sep 21, 2013 at 8:04 pm #2026847
Jason, my torso length is 21.5-22" right at the top of the large size range and so I specifically asked Matthew what the measurement was from the middle of the hip belt to the should strap attachment on a large and he said 21", so I felt that it would fit me correctly with maybe just a bit of shoulder strap wrap.
He has been really good at responding to my exact questions.Sep 21, 2013 at 10:39 pm #2026877
Dave and Alex – thanks. That's very useful to know and is one of the questions I was waiting to hear back from Matthew on. The measurements on the medium look very similar to my Gorilla which fits me well. Just need to decide if I need to go for all dyneema now:).Sep 25, 2013 at 8:48 am #2028054
"Medium 18" from mid belt to where the shoulder harness attaches to the main bag."
I measured my Kalais last night. 17.5" from mid belt to shoulder harness attachment. I have a medium.
FWIW.Sep 25, 2013 at 2:09 pm #2028225
matthew told me 18 inch medium aquilo. Centre hipbelt to shoulder strap attachment. This is about the same as my gorilla which fits well. So I am hopefull. Postage was not cheap for me so fingers crossed. I think the half inch diff is explainable but not sure where Will got his fig from.
basically he gave me the same figures as he gave Dave U.Sep 25, 2013 at 2:47 pm #2028237
@johnnyh88Locale: The SouthWest
I tried out an Aquilo and was not overly impressed. It felt great with 20-25 lbs in it but was uncomfortable with 30-35 lbs. Part of this may have been due to the fit of the pack on me (shoulder straps did not seem to be at the correct angle/width for me), but I think most of it was due to the hipbelt-to-pack connection which allowed the pack to sag when loaded; this affect was exaggerated when full 1.5L water bottles were placed in the side mesh pockets (which ride quite low). For reference, I also felt the same way about my ULA Circuit's hipbelt-to-pack connection. I will say the Aquilo was solidly constructed and had many nice features; I found its volume (size Medium) to be almost identical to my Circuit.
I currently use an HMG 4400 SW and am very happy with it. It's easy to live out of and I've recently used it on two separate 6-day trips where it carried about 35 lbs starting off.Sep 25, 2013 at 6:20 pm #2028318Sep 27, 2013 at 6:44 pm #2029012
Thank you – great video!
I've been looking into a Kalais and this video was for me the most clear so far on what the pack looks or feels like (especially because you cut between the two cameras).
How do you feel about carry comfort, or the suspension / hipbelt pack connection?
cheersSep 28, 2013 at 9:14 pm #2029250
@jdegraafLocale: Bay Area
The carry comfort is great, it has a very "sturdy" suspension system. It's all well integrated, well thought out, and well designed. The frame works as an integral part of the system and it's clearly not an after thought. The hip belt carries upwards of 80% of the load for me. With a frameless pack I'm good for a weekend, but my shoulders will feel it. Whereas the Kalais carries superbly and I feel no discomfort in my shoulders. On up hill stretches I sometimes loosen the load lifters and loosen the shoulder straps to let some air circulate through. The one downside I would quibble about is because it offers so much, it takes an extra minute or two to get the pack on and situated before I start hiking. Not a problem for me but it adds a little "fiddle factor" that not all may appreciate. Ymmv.
And thanks for the kind words Ito and Dave. There weren't many good pics and even fewer good videos that showed the pack so I thought I might try my hand at filling the void, so to speak.
-JamesSep 29, 2013 at 5:26 am #2029285
"How do you feel about carry comfort, or the suspension / hipbelt pack connection?"
So my Kalais just came yesterday and all I have had time to do is load it up with 25# and walk around the farm a bit. Very comfortable, adjustable harness, the hipbelt is pretty amazing. I am a bit surprised and a little concerned? that the hipbelt is only attached by a very narrow strip of velcro (1.5" X 5"). That is not much area to carry all the weight. It does allow a bit of a pivot point if the snugging straps on the side of the hipbelt are loose, could be a good feature hard to say yet. It is a tall and narrow pack which does make it more prone to moving side to side if you have the load lifters loosened.
Again just very preliminary observations. Doug, James, others on the hipbelt attachment/connection?Sep 29, 2013 at 6:00 am #2029289
@rinconLocale: Desert Southwest
I have been using the Kalais for almost all of my walking this year including a 5-day loop in the Grand Canyon and 10-days on the JMT. Altogether, I have carried it for about 350 miles and with loads up to 36 pounds. I have used the pack with a BV-450 and BV-500 and much more happily without either of the BV's. I have had no problems with the hip belt attachment or any other part of the suspension. My Kalais has had hard use and, other than a few minor scuffs and stains, shows little sign of wear. I have never used it without the stay so can't comment on using it without: frankly, I don't think the minor weight savings would be worth the reduced performance. So far, my only quibble with the pack is that I would like a stiffer grosgrain on the opening of the dry bag seal; the one that comes with the pack is a bit limp and hard to deal with with cold arthritic fingers. The pack is tall and narrow but rides with most of the weight on ones hips and the hip belt is far and away the most comfortable I have used in a pack this light. Using it with a bear can, especially the larger BV-500, calls for creative packing. The canisters will only fit vertically with modest space around them for stuffing loose, compressible items like clothing. If you plan to use this pack with a bear can, plan on spending a few days working out the best way to load it.Sep 29, 2013 at 7:30 am #2029300
Thank you James and Alex, and Charles – great to get some more user comments.
Good to hear it carries so well and also that it is a bit narrow and tall. I looked for a long time at the Circuit, but wanted a pack that was a bit smaller, and less wide, your comments make me feel the Kalais might be exactly what I was looking for.
One last question if I may – do you feel the pack stays or moves with you well? I realise this might be a bit subtle or subjective to answer but with some packs I find that when you move and turn quick your pack lags a bit, or just moves and shifts a bit more than you'd like. Feels less like one with your back (because I often do long distance days I tend to focus on going fast and have ended up rejecting packs that don't stay with you as well).Sep 29, 2013 at 8:23 am #2029308
@rinconLocale: Desert Southwest
In my experience, the Kalais moves as if it were part of you as long as you keep the shoulder straps fairly snug and the load lifter and hip belt control straps properly adjusted. For me, late in the day, I would start feeling a little fatigue in my shoulders so I would loosen the shoulder straps and let the hip belt carry all the load (you can do that with this pack). With the shoulder straps loosened, the top of the pack will sway back and forth noticeably but not uncomfortably. The Kalais has a thin profile from front to back which brings the center of gravity closer to yours: I think that this, the well planned stay and the excellent hip belt design are the reasons this pack rides so well.Oct 1, 2013 at 9:41 am #2029893
@jimfitz12000Locale: Southern California
I purchased a size large Kalais late last year; I am quite pleased with the pack. It holds a Wild Ideas Bearikade Weekender canister upright (vertical); this was a purchase requirement. Although roughly twice the weight of my other currently used pack (Zpacks Exo with Arc Blast frame support), I like both packs equally. The Kalais carries well and there is no hip belt/pack connection issue.
Over the decades, I have used numerous packs; the Kalais is as a comfortable as any pack I have used.Dec 1, 2013 at 7:27 pm #2049808
Tried out an Aquilo at home. Good points were the fantastic hipbelt, customer service from Matthew and the packs all round construction and design. However for me the pack just didn't carry as well as I hoped it would at 30lbs. I was expecting the frame to be integrated into the hipbelt, but it isn't (at least it isn't in the way I expected it to be). I returned the sack and got an Exped Lightning 60, which carries well at 30lbs.Dec 2, 2013 at 5:38 am #2049881
So I just got back from my first trip with the Kalais. Hadn't had a chance to test it out until now (other than carrying it around the farm with about 25#). Cold weather gear filled it well. At one point had 30# in it with water for a dry camp and it was much more comfortable than my Swift at 30#. Waist belt is really good. Still need to test it more but so far it carries really well.
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