PT, CSCS, FRCms, FRSC, Ready State L2 Coach
- Nov 17, 2015
Today we are reviewing the Kulkea Micro Pack, an item that is seriously overbuilt! Overbuilt in a fantastic way, kind of like the Dana Design packs of the mid-90s, the stuff that your kids will pass down to their kids. Now the whole family has bags from Kulkea, and before you go ahead and say, "Yeah I know what their bags are like," this is on a different level entirely. The bag is a super low profile, lightweight backpack designed specifically for action sports. It is made out of water-resistant polyurethane-coated 420D ripstop polyester and 330D ripstop polyester. The stuff is just bomber. The pack size is 17.5 in. tall and just shy of 9 in. wide, but it feels much smaller on your back.
My favorite part of the pack is the straps. They’re very beefy but supportively padded, and they contour perfectly against the chest wall and torso -- so much that while running or skinning or even dry tool ice climbing, the pack just fits perfectly against your torso and does nothing to restrict body motion. Kulkea really nailed the design to allow the scapula full range of motion. You will certainly notice this when you’re using it. If you’ve ever suffered from the dreaded “strap attack” or had excruciating chafing from a bag, the Micro Pack lets you experience a whole new level of motion.
Other killer features include the security pocket and key clip, innovative helmet loops that allow you to attach your favorite lid, “Tuck-Away“ waist belt, lip balm holder, emergency whistle, and daisy chain. It has a hydration holder for storing two water bottles, a big primary pocket that fits your extra gloves hats and lunch inside, some stash pockets, and "Vision Swap" for storing glasses and extra lenses. The big overlapping “Shed-a-Layer” closure allows you to very nicely compact an overlayer or down jacket to the pack.
Fully loaded for a day adventure.
I took the pack out today for a 10-mi run followed by some climbing up trees. No pressure points, no soreness, just a superb feel. Skinning was equally pleasurable when I tested the pack earlier out on the hill. One of the really nice features is that there’s some drainage to the lower pocket and also some compression closures. This allows you to toss your skins in without having to worry that they will get gunked up in the middle of your pack. The drainage is also key as your skins likely have some moisture on them. Skiing down was really surprising because the pack just disappears after the second or third turn; you don’t really notice it at all. It’s also skinny enough that if you need to ride the chairlift, it doesn’t push you forward or put your cervical spine in an awkward position. These are really well-thought-out design features.
So, if you want to boot up in the parking lot and ski opening bell to last chair, or if you are a fan of carrying all the items needed (or not, for that matter), this is a very streamlined option. If you are an instructor or coach and have to be on the hill all day, you will not find a better pack. I did play around with skiing with the pack both over and under my jacket, and unless it’s totally full, wearing the pack under the jacket works just fine. For myself, I found that I did not need the waist belt most of the time.
The greatest aspect of this bag is that you can literally beat the absolute snot out of it 100 days a year on the chairlift and never have to worry about durability. I was able to strap helmets, extra jackets, gloves, skins, ice tools, and even skis with a little ingenuity, and it did absolutely nothing to the texture of the material.
- Who it is not for? If you are a weight weenie, wear spandex proudly in public, use the term "rando," or have skis that disappear underneath your boots because they’re so skinny -- this is not your pack. Yes, you can spend the same amount of money on a bag that will last you half a day and weigh as much as a plastic grocery bag from Walmart. If this is you, please stop reading, your time is much better spent monitoring your body fat composition and hydration level after you’ve eaten three almonds for dinner.
- Who is it for? Well, everyone else. Do you like to ski all day and not go in? This is your bag. Do you like to not feel like you buy the same crap every year because it falls apart? This is your bag. Do you have children who need wipes, candy, extra gloves, and juice boxes with favorite cartoon characters on them? Yes, this is your bag.
- Insider tip 1: Get yourself one or two of those 18-in. plastic telemark ski straps to use on the daisy chain. This is the boogie-on-down-to-the-disco method of getting your skis and poles on the pack so you can make the bus.
- Insider tip 2: Put a bicycle light flasher on the daisy chain and just leave it there; you’ll always be ready for the commute on that bike.
- Insider tip 3: The Micro Pack also will strap onto Kulkea's traditional boot bags, which is pretty clutch if you carry a lot of gear or have children. Or attach it to the outside of your larger backpack and use it once you’re at base camp; it makes a great summit bag.
- Final insider tip: There’s a lot of stuff out there on the market, but not much that is built or thought out this well. Kulkea is also a Pugski sponsor, and if you’re concerned about sourcing merchants of sound ethical practice and consider socially responsible purchases, it’s an easy purchase!
Actual weight, 522 g