Kakwa 40

Sale price$250.00 USD

The Kakwa 40 is our premium ultralight, multi-day pack design. Its design is informed by Dan’s thousands of miles of backpacking experience to give the Kakwa 40 excellent load carrying, materials, pocket design, and quality – all while weighing a mere 27 oz / 775 g.


The load carrying and comfort of the Kakwa 40 is unprecedented for a pack weighing under 2 lbs.

Other packs in this niche commonly sacrifice comfort and load transfer by omitting load lifters, possessing only vertical frame components (no horizontal structure), and relying on rudimentary shoulder strap and hipbelt designs.

The Kakwa 40 is a stark contrast to this. It uses an inverted U shaped frame built of hollow aluminum that is a more efficient use of structural weight than the commonly flat frame stays, and provides a rigid core with both vertical and horizontal structure.

This frame connects directly to the hipbelt for optimal load transfer and directly to the load lifters, which are rare on packs this light yet essential for shifting more of the weight off your shoulders. A robust structure is nothing without an ergonomic connection to your body, which is why the shoulder straps have a carefully developed S shape to contour around your upper body, while the hipbelt uses a dual strap design to cup your hips and with reverse pull leverage for easy tightening. The result is a pack that comfortably and effectively manages loads up to 45 lbs.


With an ultralight pack, efficient access to your gear while on the move is a hallmark of good pack design. For this, the Kakwa 40 has four types of pockets to optimize on-the-go access to a wide range of your gear so you can keep covering miles instead of digging through your pack.

That starts with the hipbelt pockets, where a large shape easily accommodates numerous medium sided items such as snacks, sunscreen, and headlamps. That storage is augmented by dual top opening shoulder strap pockets which provide an optimized place for your phone for quick photos and navigation. These shoulder strap pockets also work excellently for bear spray and provide a safe place for fragile items like sunglasses.

Additionally there is the innovative QuickPocket which consists of an easily reached hidden compartment in the side pocket where you can stow items that are too large to be quickly accessed on other packs, such as hats, mitts, large cameras and plus sized phones. Finally, a mesh style front pocket quickly swallows the largest items like jackets and cookwear so you can hike all day without opening your pack.

Collectively, the Kakwa’s suite of pockets is carefully thought out and refined to enable rapid and efficient access to everything you need on the move.


Favorite Carry

"A sleek, pleasing aesthetic....The only backpack in the sub 2 lbs weight class that was capable of carrying more than 50 lbs without torso collapse. This pack has my favorite carry feel".

Section Hiker


"The low weight is impressive for a framed pack....and it provides excellent weight transfer to the hips. The pocketing is fantastic for accessing what you need during the day without stopping."

The Trek

I Could Not Be Happier

"I’ve become a huge fan. It has smart places to put all the stuff, and carries all that stuff comfortably. I could not be happier to have it for the remaining 2,000 miles of the Eastern Continental Trail this winter."

Adventure Alan

Incredibly Well Designed

"The Kakwa has a famously excellent load carry. The whole setup is just so dang comfortable and user-friendly. It is in contention for best ultralight backpack on the market."


In our background in the Canadian Rockies we often spend more time off trail than on, so durability in the materials and construction is a top design priority.

With the Kakwa 40 we are using the innovative Ultra 200 fabric from Challenge Outdoor, where the face fabric is dominantly woven UHMWPE fibers which is several times stronger and more abrasion resistant than traditional nylon pack fabrics. This material is laminated with an eco-friendly adhesive to their revolutionary Challenge RUV™ film to give a textile that is incredibly strong, lightweight, and waterproof to 200 psi.

Simply using a tough fabric is not enough if the pack has weak points in the stitching or supporting materials. That why the Kakwa 40 is fully double stitched with heavyweight thread by the same factory that builds packs for Arcteryx. We’ve also used the same tough Ultra 200 material for the shoulder straps, hipbelt pockets, and side pockets so these exposed areas also have maximum durability. The front pocket is generally less exposed to the brush, but still we’ve sourced a very durable knit mesh for this pocket that won’t stretch out.

Ultra 200 Fabric

This fabric is dominantly woven UHMWPE fibers (more commonly known by the brand name Dyneema®) which is several times stronger and more abrasion resistant than traditional nylon pack fabrics. This material is laminated to a film backing to make the material waterproof.

Hollow Aluminum U Frame

The hollow aluminum inverted U frame provides vertical and horizontal structure at less weight than frame stay systems for more effective load transfer and comfort at loads up to 45 lbs / 20 kg.

Dual Strap Reverse Pull Hipbelt

This hipbelt design cups your hips, and makes tightening the belt much easier with 2:1 tightening leverage and an ergonomic direction of pull.

Shoulder Strap Pockets

These pockets provide an ideal place for your phone, bear spray, sunglasses, small water bottles and more. We attach them permanently for a more solid and user friendly connection.

Quick Pocket

The Kakwa's unique Quick Pocket is easily opened while on the move and provides quick access to larger items like hats, mitts, oversized phones, maps, and snacks.




Complete Pack (oz)

26.5 oz (S), 27.3 oz (M), 28.2 oz (L)


Complete Pack (g)

750 g (S), 775 g (M), 800 g (L)


Removable Items

Frame (3oz / 90 g) and backpad (0.5oz / 15 g) are included but removable.


Main Fabric

Ultra 200



Ultra 200 Fabric

This fabric is dominantly woven UHMWPE fibers (known by the brand name Dyneema®) which is several times stronger and more abrasion resistant than traditional nylon pack fabrics. This material is laminated to a film backing to make the material waterproof.

Hollow Aluminum Frame

The inverted U frame provides both vertical and horizontal structure while the hollow aluminum tubing makes it lighter than flat frame stays.

Load Lifters

Load lifters are often omitted on lightweight packs but are a key component of the Kakwa's exceptional load carrying ability.



The Kakwa 40 provides best-in-class load carrying, usability, and durability for a sub 2-lbs pack. To illustrate this, the table below compares the Kakwa 40 to what is typically seen in this niche (40L packs under the 2 lbs mark with premium fabrics).


Kakwa 40

Main Competitors

Frame structure

Inverted U frame provides vertical and horizontal support

Flat bars provide only vertical support (prone to barrelling)

Load lifters





Browse the FAQ to learn more or get in touch if you have further questions.

Contact Support

Customer Reviews

Based on 17 reviews
Justin Pfaff

Take this as you may as this is my first “real” backpack.

This pack has everything you need and, more importantly, nothing you don’t need.

My son and I recently backpacked through the Grand Canyon which was my testing ground for this pack. I was completely loaded out with multiple fly fishing rods and barely noticed the pack. While slogging through the GC I thought to myself “Is this Dan Durston guy a magician”? Probably because there is something magical about this pack that I cannot put into words.

Pack is simple, elegant and tough. What else do you need?

Thanks Justin! Glad you're enjoying the pack :)
- Dan

Could use a few improvements

This is my 2nd Durstan backpack. The first was an early one from 2018 or 19 and it didn't fit a female body well. I had a small and it was still too big to adjust and the shoulder straps weren't right for a female. I thought I'd try this one, I read reviews by females. It's a little better. The shoulder straps could still be made more to accommodate a female like my REI Flash 55 female. Apparently, I got sent an older version of this Kakwa because the back net pouch isn't nearly as large and stretchy as I saw in the examples of others after it arrived here. Another point of concern is the cheat strap on a female, it tends to ride over the top of my breasts, which is uncomfortable with no way to move it upwards, and this happened on the earlier Durstan pack that I mentioned above. This company would much benefit from leaving their unisex design behind and engineering for male and female bodies.

Hi June,

Thanks for sharing your feedback. For the sternum strap, it is adjustable up and down. It unclips from the daisy chains at both ends and can move higher as you prefer. We are getting good reports about our shoulder strap shape, but that is helpful to hear that you prefer the REI Flash 55 female ones. I will have a look at those to better understand the differences.

For the design, the Kakwa 55 got updates a few months ago but we haven't updated the Kakwa 40 yet, so it doesn't have the larger front pocket yet. So yours is different from the 55L but still the current version for the 40L.


Sherilyn Smith
Nowhere do I see the dimensions of this pack.


Hi. At the bottom of the page we have a 'specifications' tab that provides this information. You will have to expand it to see all the dimensions.

Olga King
Additional information on my review

Hi again. While I'm still yet to do a proper throughhike with Kakwa 40 (it's winter in Colorado), I've been training, and I wanted to add, the fit of the pack is amazing. I mean, I still struggle a bit with one thing - that chest strap (it seems to be too short/tight whether over or under the breast), but the ability of it to distribute weight, and not bounce even asI jog for a few miles with it loaded up to 35 lbs is top notch.
On another not so hot note, that side pocket with the zipper is still not easily reachable and has little ability to put thing in on the fly if the main pocket has anything in it.
Yet, again, the way it fits and sits - perfection. Which in the end, is what I, personally, was looking for. Can't wait for summer.

An exceptional product

I have used this pack on several 2-3 day trips, as well as a couple longer 5-6 day trips. Love it. I especially like that Dan reached out to me to answer some fit questions. The bag is super tough, the pockets are so exceptionally functional, and the carry is good. I find I still have trouble getting a comfortable carry, but I think that I maybe an outlier for which few packs are comfortable. I would recommend the larger version for people going out a week or longer. I found that it is tough to fill a week's worth of food and ultralight gear in the pack and it starts to barrel up when stuffed. Thanks for creating such a great product with such good service Dan!