Kakwa 55

Sale price$220.00 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).


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 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.


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."


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.




Complete Pack (oz)

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

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


Complete Pack (g)

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

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


Removable items

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


Main Fabric

Ultra 200X or UltraGrid



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.



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).


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





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

Contact Support

Customer Reviews

Based on 185 reviews
Daniel Little
Size Small Restock

Any insight on restock date for size small Kakwa 55??

We are aiming for late June (2024) but it might be July. Hard to say right now as we are just starting production.

Tammy Shorb
Durston Kakwa 55

I took my new pack on it's first backpacking trip a few weeks ago. LOVE IT. As I get older, I am looking for everything to be lighter. This pack is perfect. Sespe Wilderness was beautiful too :)

Update after more use

Not a lot of need for the map pocket. I think a waterproof zipper at or near the bottom of the pack to make more items readily available without having to remove other items to get to them would be more useful.

You Can Pay More But Why Would You?

You can pay more for an ultralight backpack, but you won’t find a better backpack, made with better materials, with a better fit, that carries more weight.

Rachel S.
Very Comfortable!

I bought this pack for my AT thru hike and have carried it a little over 100 miles so far. Out of all the packs I tried, I chose the Kakwa because it was the most comfortable fit and it supported the weight of my gear the best. I’m not ultralight, I carry probably around 25 lbs after resupply with food and water. This pack supports that weight very well, maybe better than some of the traditional style packs I tried.

After using it on trail, I also came to really appreciate the design features. I can easily grab my water bottle from the side pocket without removing my pack. I like all of the pockets, especially that the shoulder straps come with them already built in. It feels like there was a lot of thought put into every little detail.

I didn’t seam seal my pack, I use a liner instead. The inside does get wet, but not a lot. I do wish that the QuickPocket was mesh on the outside instead of fabric because it doesn’t air out that well after getting wet. But overall, I LOVE this pack.

For reference, I’m a 5’3 woman. I think my torso was around 16” or 17” and I got the small. It fits me well, but I would be curious to know how the medium fits. One of the downsides of online shopping.