Image of the February 2019 Wilderness Magazine Cover Read more from the
February 2019 Issue
Home / Gear reviews / Packs

Fjällräven Kaipak 38



Our Rating:

At a glace
The Good: 
Durable, stable and comfortable under heavy loads.
The Bad: The fabric can wet out, requires users to apply wax.

Features: The Kaipak 38 is a top loading pack devoid of the multiplicity of straps and zips, other than for the pockets and for adjusting the fit, found on many other packs. It has a fixed back-length and is made from Fjällräven’s G-1000 HeavyDuty Eco fabric – a combination of recycled polyester and organic cotton. It’s the kind of fabric that looks better as it ages.

The base of the pack is double-thickness nylon. An internal frame sheet gives the pack structure and shape. The lid can be raised to accommodate more gear in the main compartment and a storm throat keeps gear protected. A huge zippered front pocket holds everything from maps to quick-access gear like raincoats. There are attachment points for walking poles or an ice axe. The lid and hipbelt have two pockets each.

Fit: I found the fixed back length perfect, with the waist belt sitting squarely on my hips. The broad shoulder straps curved neatly over my shoulders.

Comfort: I packed for a weekend camping trip and the internal frame sheet protected my back from knobbly contents and the hip belt, though lightly padded, proved comfortable with the 13kg load. Weight was transferred to my hips, and the wider-than-usual shoulder straps helped spread the remaining weight across my shoulders without discomfort. Protruding padding around the shoulder blades allowed some airflow between my lower back and the pack.

In use: The pack has a narrow profile and with the frame sheet providing structure regardless of how much, or how little, gear is being carried, I found it stable and well-balanced. Even after several outings, packed to bursting with camping gear, the pack showed little sign of wear. The G1000 Eco fabric is as durable as advertised, but it hasn’t led to an excessively heavy pack – 700g is reasonable for a pack that can carry enough gear, in comfort, for a long-weekend camping trip and through rugged terrain.

One potential weakness of the fabric is that it can become waterlogged – i.e. heavier – when exposed to extended wet conditions. The included rain cover does limit exposure to this risk and Fjallraven’s Greenland wax can also be applied to the fabric to improve water resistance and long life of the fabric.

Value: This is a durable pack that will provide many years – a lifetime even – of frequent use. That durability outweighs the cost, which makes it as expensive as some larger-capacity multi-day packs.

Verdict: A streamlined comfortable pack with everything you need and nothing you don’t. It can carry a tonne of gear for overnight or longer trips and is worth the cost for those looking for a long-lasting, frequently-used pack.