This is a quick review of the Elemental Horizons Kalais pack. I purchased mine this past spring and it is the updated model currently shown on the web site. First, let me say that I’ve never posted a review of any gear I’ve owned, but I feel this pack warrants me getting my thoughts out there. I’ll also mention that I’ve been backpacking for nearly 30 years and have worn many different packs, so I feel as though I have good perspective. I don’t have hundreds of miles on this pack yet, but I’ve hiked with it enough to have a very good feel for its features and performance. The fit & finish and craftsmanship of the Kalais are outstanding. I had Matthew build my pack with the XPac material and I’m very glad I did. This material exceeded my expectations of durability, resistance to water and looks. Also, the inside layer is white so it makes it easy to see in the pack. I recommend the material, but it would be the same great pack if it were built with the other fabric choices. The Kalais is the most comfortable pack I’ve ever worn. My total pack weight doesn’t exceed 25-27 pounds (for a long trip), so I can’t vouch for heavy loads. The suspension transfers the load down to the hip belt and onto my hips. The hip belt is really the star of the show. It’s soft and well padded and the 4 strap adjustment system allows me to wrap it tightly around my hips without any discomfort. The back padding is also soft and comfortable and I’m glad I went with the lumbar pad. The shoulder straps are also top notch. I haven’t experienced any rubbing or hot spots anywhere. Regarding volume, the Kalais is larger than I expected. The main pack bag holds a ton of gear with room to spare. I have no doubt it will hold a week’s worth of food. The side pockets are huge, the largest I’ve seen, and will hold two 1-liter Platypus bottles (probably more). I can reach my water bottles while wearing the pack, which is something I typically can’t do with other packs. The front pocket is bigger than it looks and you can stuff quite a bit in there. There is cordage on the outside of the front pocket which is great for lashing wet clothes. I also really like the design of the pack which is more tall and narrow. That helps when I need to squeeze between large rocks or trees. I hike in the White Mountains, so there can be a lot of maneuvering. I also purchased the hip belt pockets and shoulder strap pocket. The hip belt pockets are also huge (I can fit all my snacks for the day), easy to reach and the two-way zipper pulls make them super convenient to open and close. I use the shoulder strap pocket for my camera and there’s a lot of room in it for whatever you want it for. Overall, given the build quality, suspension, comfort and well thought out design I highly recommend the Kalais. You won’t be disappointed. I’d also like to mention the superb customer service you will receive from Matthew.
- Direct connection of stay to shoulder straps and hip belt
Thick dual density hip belt
Adjustable torso length
5 External pockets
Bear can compatible
8 external lash loops
Made in the USA
- Weight (oz. / g)
- S - 37.8 / 1072, M - 39.8 / 1128L -43.8 / 1242, XL - 45.8 /1298
- Main Compartment Volume (cu in / L)
- S - 2816 / 46.1, M - 2816 / 46.1, L - 3192 / 52.3, XL - 3192 / 52.3
- Front Pocket Volume (cu in / L)
- S - 331 / 5.4, M - 331 / 5.4, L - 441 / 7.2, XL - 441 / 7.2
- Bottle Pocket Volume pr. (cu in / L)
- 442 / 7.2
- Hip Belt Pocket Volume pr. (cu in / L)
- 96 / 1.6
- Total Volume (cu in / L)
- S - 3685 / 60.4, M - 3685 / 60.4,L - 4171 / 68.4, XL - 4171 / 68.4
- Max. Load (lbs / kg)
- 45 / 20.4
- 300 / 400d diamond rip stop nylon with PU coating, poly-mesh on front pocket sides, spacer mesh on body contact areas
- Gray body w/ Navy Blue pockets or Purple body w/ Gray pockets
I am a 72 yr old long distance hiker, and this is my 7th pack. It is by far the best pack I've ever bought. It is lightweight, well designed and constructed. The side pockets are ample with a tightening cord. I like the big pocket on the back. I like this pack because it is a top loader & I can easily pack stuff, and then find it when I need it. The harness design is comfortable and easy to adjust the fit. The waist belt is the most comfortably designed, with cinches to fit it to my hips. The best part of buying from Elemental Horizons, was working with Matthew to get a personalized pack. Thanks, Matthew...I am looking forward to carrying my pack when I hike part of the AT this year in NH & ME
Initially I was skeptical about a no-frills backpack that didn't have a lot of pockets/zippers. But it hasn't been a problem at all (who knew you didn't need all those pockets), and I love the weight that is saved by not having the extra frills. I think this pack is actually easier to pack than my Dana Design pack that I had for years. I was also skeptical about buying a pack over the internet without trying it on. I was comparing this pack to a gorgeous new Osprey lightweight pack that was all the rage in the outdoor stores. The Kalasis blew the Osprey away in terms of comfort, and I'll trade comfort over pretty color any day. The Kalasis didn't have the fancy features of the Osprey pack that at first seemed very tempting, but I eventually realized that the "features" just added weight to the pack. I have taken this pack out for weekend trips as well as week long trips. I don't think that all the stuff I used to take on week long trips before I started doing lightweight backpacking would fit in this pack. But since being lightweight is the whole point of this pack, I think there is plenty of space if that's your goal. I have been thrilled with my Kalasis pack and am very glad that I didn't go for the name brand pack instead. I think the Kalasis is just as well constructed as the name brands, and the bare-bones approach just saves weight which is my highest priority. I highly recommend it!
I did a ton of research on packs in the 50L range in search of the right one for a 2016 PCT thru-hike, and ultimately chose the Kalais. I opted for 210d Dyneema on both the body and bottle pockets; as shipped, this brought the weight to 34.9 oz. Matthew shipped my pack within a week of ordering it in mid August, and I took it on its first trip in mid-September: four nights in Glacier NP. My base weight was 12 lbs; total pack weight at the start of the trip was just under 21 lbs. I'm 6' 2" with a 21" torso and average build, and the large fits like a glove. Overall, I absolutely love the pack and am totally satisfied with it. It's impeccably made - a work of art - and I'm sure the high build quality will equate to great durability. It also carries like a dream; the stay supports a load extremely well, the compression straps work as they should, and the double-pull hip belt and load lifters allow for a custom fit. The dimensions are also ideal for me; the body is perfectly sized to accept a stuffed 20-degree top quilt as a foundation, the back pocket is ideal for my tarp, and the bottle pockets are just right for 1.5 or 2.0 liter soft-sided water bladders. That said, I do have a couple minor critiques. First, I would like a second ice-ax loop; the pack is light and streamlined enough for technical alpine routes, but I'll have to figure out how to carry a second ice tool. Finally, I found that the ladder locks that hold the webbing joining the bottom of the body to the sides of the hip belt tend to slip because of the angle formed by the webbing. Despite these critiques, however, I love the pack and can't wait to use in on the PCT next season. Overall, I'd highly recommend it to lightweight backpackers looking for a pack in the 50L size range.
This pack is really light, lighter than any pack I've ever owned. However, if you want to take it out for more than a couple of days you can't put much weight in it. I found the waist belt and structure of the pack didn't really support well enough to keep the pack from falling down on your shoulders, if it had any weight in it over a period of time. I used pretty light gear, a neo air and a really light tent. It is too bad that what you save in weight compromises structure. So, if you want a light pack and don’t carry a lot of weight, this is the pack for you.