Kakwa 55

Sale price$199.00 USD

Size: Medium
Fabric: UltraGrid

The Kakwa 55 has been updated for 2024 with a larger front pocket, drain holes, and now comes in two new fabric options (Ultra 200X, Ultra Grid). Due to very high interest, there will be gaps in availability as we increase production. Currently the Ultra 200X packs are sold out while the newly released UltraGrid packs are available in M and L sizes. All other sizes and fabrics will be re-stocked mid-summer. Sign up to be notified when the other versions are back in stock:

The Kakwa 55 is our premium ultralight, multi-day pack designed from the first principles of load carrying and ergonomics to provide the greatest function, comfort and usability for an ultralight pack. Developed from Dan Durston’s attention to detail and thousands of miles of backpacking experience, the Kakwa 55 has class leading load carrying, materials, and pocket design while weighing under 2 lbs (900 g).

LOAD CARRYING

The Kakwa 55 brings genuine load carrying capability into the sub 2 lbs weight class. 

Other packs this light generally sacrifice load carrying ability by omitting load lifters, lacking horizontal structure, and relying on less ergonomic shoulder strap and hipbelt shapes.

The Kakwa 55 solves this tradeoff through more efficient design and advanced materials including UHMWPE fabric and hollow aluminum tubing. Hollow aluminum tubing is a more efficient use of structural weight than the solid metal bars found in competing packs. We use this material to create a rigid frame with both vertical and horizontal structure at the same or less weight than competing packs that only have vertical structure.

This frame connects directly to the hipbelt for maximum load transfer and directly to the load lifters, which are rare on packs this light yet highly functional for shifting more of the weight off your shoulders and onto the hips. A capable 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 which cups your hips and has reverse pull 2:1 leverage for easy tightening. The result is a pack that comfortably and effectively manages loads up to 45 lbs.

EFFICIENT ACCESS

Efficient access to your gear is a hallmark of ultralight pack design as it allows you to spend more time covering miles instead of digging through your pack.

What is needed is not a high quantity of pockets but rather a pocket layout that has been carefully considered to compliment and allow for a diverse range of storage possibilities while remaining simple enough to be easily organized.

For this, the Kakwa 55 has four types of pockets to optimize on-the-go access to your gear. First are the hipbelt pockets, which are designed to reliably operate one handed and easily accommodate medium sized items such as snacks, sunscreen, phones, and headlamps. That storage is augmented by dual top opening shoulder strap pockets which provide an ideal place for your phone for quick photos and navigation. These pockets also work well for small water bottles, sunglasses, and bear spray.

Additionally there is the innovative QuickPocket which consists of an easily reached compartment in the sidewall of the left side pocket. This allows you to stow and quickly access even larger items than normally possible, such as hats, mitts, maps and bulky snacks. Finally, a mesh style front pocket has been substantially increased in size for 2024 and quickly swallows the largest items like rain gear, tents, and cook sets.

Collectively, the Kakwa’s pockets are carefully considered so you can hike with maximum efficiency.

BackpackingLight

Most Comfortable

"The Kakwa is one of the most versatile and comfortable packs I've ever used for loads exceeding 35 lbs....this pack has my favorite carry feel".

Section Hiker

10 Best Ultralight Backpacks

"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."

MATERIALS & QUALITY

In our backyard in the Canadian Rockies we often spend more time off trail than on, so durability in materials and construction is a top priority. With the Kakwa 55 we are using Ultra 200X and UltraGrid fabrics from Challenge Outdoor, where the face fabric is partly (UltraGrid) or dominantly (Ultra 200X) woven UHMWPE fibers which are several times stronger and more abrasion resistant than traditional nylon pack fabrics. The Ultra 200X material is laminated with an eco-friendly adhesive to a film to create a waterproof fabric, while UltraGrid uses a PU coating for waterproofing.

Simply using a tough fabric is not enough if the pack has weak points in the stitching or supporting materials. That's why the Kakwa 55 is fully double stitched with heavyweight thread by the same factory that builds packs for Arcteryx, and uses stronger folded seams. We’ve also used the same tough fabrics for the 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 durable knit mesh for this pocket that is much tougher than typical lycra mesh.

Ultra Fabrics

The Ultra 200X fabric option 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.

The Kakwa 55 is also available in a more affordable UltraGrid version which uses a 200D nylon fabric interlaced with a UHMWPE ripstop. While not as tough as Ultra 200X, it is still quite a tough fabric.

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.

Specifications

SPECIFICATIONS

WEIGHT

Complete Pack (oz)

Ultra 200X: 30 oz (S), 31 oz (M), 32 oz (L)

UltraGrid: 31 oz (S), 32 oz (M), 33 oz (L)

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Complete Pack (g)

Ultra 200X: 845g (S), 880g (M), 915g (L)

UltraGrid: 870 g (S), 910g (M), 950g (L)

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Removable items

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

MATERIALS

Main Fabric

Ultra 200X or UltraGrid

Features

FEATURES

Ultra Fabrics

The Kakwa is available in two fabrics: Ultra 200X and UltraGrid.

Ultra 200X 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. This pack uses the new 'X' version which adds a tougher inner film.

UltraGrid is a nylon based pack fabric that is not as tough as it's Ultra 200X sibling, but still is a very durable pack fabric with a ripstop grid of UHMWPE fibers and a waterproof PU coating. It offers a smoother feel, tighter weave, and more affordable price.

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.

Compare

COMPARE

The Kakwa 55 provides best-in-class load carrying, usability, and durability for a sub 2 lbs pack. To illustrate, the table below compares the Kakwa 55 to what is typically seen in this niche (50-60L packs under the 2 lbs mark with premium fabrics).

LOAD CARRYING

Kakwa 55

Main Competitors

Frame structure

Inverted U frame provides vertical and horizontal support

Flat bars provide only vertical support (prone to rounding into a cylinder)

Load lifters

Yes

Sometimes

FAQ

FAQ

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

Contact Support

Customer Reviews

Based on 262 reviews
90%
(235)
8%
(20)
2%
(5)
1%
(2)
0%
(0)
D
Dave Collins
Kakwa 55 - it's all in the carry

I've only had my Kakwa 55 for a few weeks, but so far it's been a great pack and a great value. I've been taking training hikes of 2 to 3 hours carrying 25 pounds. What's impressed me most of all is how well it carries. The hip belt curves around the ilia crest bones, keeping the belt where it can best carry its share of the weight. I've used packs with much beefier and padded hip belts but those end up impeding my breath. The Kakwa has it just right - plenty of support, but not too bulky.
I got the UltraGrid version, which is plenty abrasion resistant and tough while costing a fair amount less.
This pack has all the features you'd expect on an ultralight pack, and a couple that you wouldn't. The shoulder strap pockets are something you usually have to buy as an aftermarket item, and the configuration of the side pockets is unique.
Kudos to Dan for designing a great pack!

Thanks for the kind words Dave! Glad you're liking the pack.

B
Bill Cole
Kakwa 55 first hike

and thoughtfulness of its pouches. All three zippered storage were easily accessed with one hand as well as the water bottle pouch on the side. Nice and light and the medium fit me perfectly. I'm 6ft tall and about 190lb.
The new trekking poles are amazing too!

R
Reuben Chock
yosemite trip

Kakwa 55 ultragrid, medium. I’m hobbitty, 5’6”, 175lbs, 34” waist. Fit was good. Price was great for the quality and weight, though I was hoping to get the sexy ultra version (sold out. Maybe pawn off on one of my sons heh). Though the ultragrid worked great.

Yosemite trip, June 3-9, 6 days, about 42 miles and 9100 total vertical. (before that fairly novice hikes in books, longest was a 3 nighter at Haleakalā) We climbed over quite a few downed trees, pack was solid and not shifty. Pack (with pack and water) started at about 38lbs, and ended at about 33lbs. Pretty comfortable the entire time; shoulder strap and waist belt easy to adjust and fit. Temperature went up on 90s at times, but pack didn’t feel hot against back. Shoulder strap pockets are a little tight for 500ml flasks but they stay with the adjustable bungie loops (I think it was more about the tapered shape of the water flask) (photo shows an orange bungie that I used in the beginning, until finally remembered the ones already on the pack). Just enough loops on straps to hold devices. Back pocket is huge and fits a lot, but nothing ever fell out. I’m still learning how to load/stay items in the side pockets. 1.5L Water bottle on larger pocket worked well. Though it did tighten up the side zip pocket. Used slashed pocket to hold chair and 1.0L bottle, but used a bungie to stay items. I just need more time to play with configs to find the right cord setup on the sides. Winner pack! (Glacier Point-Illilouette Creek-Bunnell Cascade-Merced Lake-Sunrise Creek-Cloud’s Rest summit (sunrise day hike)-Little Yosemite Valley-Glacier Point)

R
Rob Eckert
Kakwa 55

This is a terrific backpack! Very light. I haven't been on trail with it yet but I have used it bike commuting to work several times and truly enjoy how comfortable it is, while carrying weight. I look forward to taking it out on trail this summer. Three hikes planned so far.

C
C.M.
Great UL pack! Few caveats.

Fit: I have 17.5" torso, 31" waist, and 35" "high hip" measurements. I originally ordered a small pack, a good but not great fit. I returned it and bought the medium pack which fits MUCH better around my neck and shoulders (very little wrap, load lifters properly above the shoulder) as well as hugging more comfortably and broadly around my hips with the slightly longer length of hipbelt padding.

Comfort: The pack is very comfortable for me carrying up to 20% of my body weight (or 25#.) It barrels a bit when stuffed and I can feel pressure from my bear can even with a foam mat folded inside against my back which isn't terrible if I pack it right. I did add a PBD lumbar pad and shoulder pads which make my carry much more comfortable, but I'm kind of a bony person and this is an UL pack so I don't really mind having to do that.

Usage: This pack is easy to adjust while wearing, though I don't have to adjust much since it carries so well. It doesn't squeak with motion. I can easily reach into the side pockets while wearing the pack. I can put my water bottles back into the pack without taking it off. It's also fairly easy to pack, though the tapered main pocket limits storage of a bear can to the top half of the pack. I can store a Bear Vault 450 horizontally in about the middle of the pack, but it's tight depth-wise, and the 475 sits higher still which isn't ideal weight distribution for me. The main compartment is just a bit too narrow to stow either can vertically in the center and also stuff equipment on either side for compression and balance. If you have spare loose soft items you could probably get away with that but it isn't doable for me at this point. I very much wish this pack was just a couple inches wider and deeper in the main compartment so I could carry the 475 lower horizontally without it bulging into my back or straining the pack fabric. I also wish the hip belt pockets were slightly deeper as the curve around my hips sort of limits the volume/shape of the pocket, ie my phone is a bit tight and pressing against my hip bone without leaving room for much else in there. I also find the shoulder strap pockets aren't great placement for me and wish I could move them up so half of it wasn't in my armpit!

Value: The UltraGrid pack fabric seems fairly durable, and of course very well-constructed as is standard for Durston gear. At $200 I feel like I got an excellent deal for a quality pack that I expect to last a long time, and is currently my lead choice for my AT attempt next year. Overall I'm very happy with this pack and I'm looking forward to seeing what gear innovations come next!

Glad you're liking the pack and thanks for the feedback. The shoulder strap pocket position is affected by the fit of the pack. The pockets will be higher if someone has larger shoulders and/or the pack is a smaller fit (so the straps have a longer distance to wrap around the shoulders) and lower if someone has the pack a bit on the large side and/or the person has smaller shoulders. I try to place them at a good average height, but it wil vary. If you don't like them, you can leave them collapsed and put aftermarket shoulder strap pockets on top/higher up.

Good luck on your AT hike!
- Dan