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July 2020 Issue
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Review: Fjallraven Kaipak 38

Fjallraven Kaipak 38 $399
Used by:
Sentimental editor Alistair Hall
Used for:
Occasionally over 18 months

During the lockdown, I re-visited my gear cupboard and gave my various packs a clean. Scrubbing the Kaipak 38 brought back fond memories of my last winter’s trip on the Tongariro Northern Circuit.

Made from G-1000 HeavyDuty Eco fabric – an indestructible canvas – it easily handled the sharp points of my crampons which I somewhat carelessly strapped to the pack, handled being dumped in snow, scree and mud, and bush-bashing down Taranaki Stream.

When I first reviewed this pack, I noted that even though it weighed 700g, that weight was reasonable for a pack that can carry enough gear for a long-weekend camping trip and through rugged terrain.

I’ve given it some tough treatment since and the only addition to that comment I would make is that it would be more comfortable with firmer hip and shoulder strap padding. I carried a load of around 11kg on the TNC and by trip’s end (it’s 43km and I walked it in two long days) the padding felt too compressed and I was eager to throw it off.

But it was super stable during my off-track excursions which required down-climbing waterfalls and bashing through scrub.

Despite its drawbacks, I find myself drawn to it for a couple of reasons: the capacity is perfect for two or three-day trips, and it’s a pack that will last my lifetime – which is why it costs so much money – and these days when everything seems so fragile and uncertain, there’s something to be said for that.

Verdict: A hard-wearing overnight pack for sentimental types