Mountain Hardwear Koa 35
Price Paid: ~$100
This is a great mid-size rucksack. I took a medium (35 L) on a 10 day trip to China recently and used it to haul all my clothes and gear everywhere we went (even over several miles of polished "trail" up and down Huangshan mountain). It did great, no exceptions.
1) The hip padding is perfect - for a skinny guy like me with bony hips, the pads actually have an unpadded section that fits right over where my hip bones jut out. Overall, it feels like a custom fit right out of the box.
2) The pair of meshed zippered pouches on the hip belt are absolutely ideal for Clif bars, cameras, passports, etc.
3) The hidden stowable helmet pouch which comes out of the base of the back is a cool little feature. I didn't use it for fear of losing something, but I think it would work great for stashing a jacket, etc. in a hurry.
4) The removable light weight frame (aluminum rimmed plastic sheet) is very easy to take out/reinstall. I took it out and was able to meet the 9 x 14 x 22 inch external size requirements for airline carry on baggage. Rides great on the back with or without the frame, but I recommend leaving the frame in it to keep your back cool.
5) Dual access to main compartment (roll-top main entry plus side zipper entry).
6) Separate hydration bladder storage pocket and tubing routing loops on right and left shoulder straps.
7) The central strap that goes from just between the shoulders, over the top, and down the back has several strong anchor points and allows for several lashing/strapping options.
7) Overall quality is excellent - no items to nitpick upon close inspection.
8) Sorry, I have to say it: it just looks cool.
1) A bit pricey for a cheapo like me.
2) It may be just my particular body shape, but the sternum strap seems to ride a bit high. Even with it slid down to its lowest position it is still a bit too close to my chin (rides across just below where my collar bones come together).
3) The side compression straps seem like they're not exactly mounted in the best location - the compressive effect seems odd, but that may be just because I was using it without the frame installed.
This is really designed to be a true cragbag/rucksack, so if you can't handle using a single top loading entry point for all your gear (including your sleeping bag), then maybe you should look for some other pack.
Also, although this is a small bag, I am tempted to say it is actually larger than the stated 35 L for the medium. I have a couple other packs, including an 80 L and a massive 7000 ci (~110+ L) pack, and honestly this 35 L bag doesn't seem all that small in comparison to them.
I highly recommend this bag to those serious hikers/backpackers interested in packing light and being able to move freely. It can be carried on to any airplane as carry on (international, too), and rides close enough to you that even in questionable big city environments like crowds in Shanghai you don't feel like you stuff is too exposed to thieves.
Price Paid: $100
Bought this pack for long day hikes and maybe to be used for minimalist overnights. Took it on 2 quick hits (4-6 miles) and then on a long day hike (12 miles). As cool as it is, there are some things that I can not overlook.
On the quick hikes it was fine, loaded with next to nothing it rode fine. It was on the longer hike were problems arose. I loaded the pack with everything I would need for an overnight trip (roughly 25 lbs.) and took off down the trail.
Shoulder straps dead end creating a lump on each shoulder; didn't realize this was an issue with pack loaded lightly.
Both collar bones had bruises from padding rolling and plastic rubbing on the bones.
The pockets are not integrated into the bag, they are sacks that flop around inside of the main compartment. After loading the main compartment they are useless. If you want to fill your bladder from inside the special pocket than you better not have much in the main compartment.
The vertical hem line were the mesh backing meets is felt as 2 distinct lines going down your back. While this was not a terrible problem, it was annoying.
Where to Buy
The Mountain Hardwear Koa 35 is not available from the stores we monitor.
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Here's what other sites are saying:
Get away for the weekend with Mountain Hardwear's Koa 35, a simple, lightweight yet super-durable design. Make your weekend treks more manageable with the increased support and load distribution offered by an enhanced hipbelt and trapezoid lumbar pad design while you get more ventilation with the mesh backpanel that promotes air circulation.
- Mountain Gear
Ventilation and airy comfort plus comfortable load transfer: the Mountain Hardwear Koa 35 backpack combines a mesh trampoline backpanel with a traditional lumbar pad to transfer loads effectively and comfortably. Above the lumbar zone, the framesheet is bowed away from the body and tensions the mesh backpanel to enhance breathability and coolness. With a clean design and options for carrying extra gear, these ventilated packs balance carrying comfort with durability and weight savings.
The durable Mountain Hardware Koa 35 pack pares down the weight without sacrificing load-carrying comfort. Dual-density padded and contoured shoulder straps accommodate a wide range of body sizes; dual-density foam hipbelt helps support heavy loads. HDPE framesheet features a perimeter alloy shaping rod that helps transfer load to the hips. Fit-lock hipbelt wraps around framesheet to create a solid, secure connection for effective load transfer. Smooth, tensioned mesh back panel allows free circulation of air behind back, keeping your back cool on hot summer hikes. Weather-tight main compartment rolls down dry-bag style to seal contents from the elements. Full-access side zipper under a laminated flap makes it easy to reach gear buried deep inside. 2 stretch mesh side pockets keep water bottles and small, often-used gear within easy reach. Externally accessed hydration sleeve for on-the-go hydration; reservoir not included. Full-length side pocket allows storage of long items or a rain jacket, or use it as an alternate location for hydration reservoir. Minimalist daisy chain on front panel lets you lash on ice axe or trekking poles. Closeout.
Mountain Hardwear KOA 35Ventilation and airy comfort plus comfortable load transfer: the Koa packs combine a mesh, trampoline backpanel with a traditional lumbar pad to transfer loads effectively and comfortably. Above the lumbar zone, the framesheet is bowed away from the body and tensions the mesh backpanel to enhance breathability and coolness. With a clean design and options for carrying extra gear, these ventilated packs balance carrying comfort with durability and weight savings. Features * Body Fabric: 210D HexNut Ripstop Nylon * FL suspension combines tensioned mesh for Flow-through ventilation with highly effective Load transfer * Low-profile airspace in upper backpanel provides excellent ventilation * Padded hipbelt with ventilated mesh panels and two zippered stash pockets * Contoured dual density, soft-edge shoulder straps are light and supportive * Weather tight roll-t
- River Sports Outfitters