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Repost: MacPac Kauri Daypack - André

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  • André Corterier
    I left in a few commas marked edit (one was EDIT even, I think) and a colon on which I d request that you consider the style defense . Should you find
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 28, 2005
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      I left in a few commas marked "edit" (one was "EDIT" even, I think)
      and a colon on which I'd request that you consider the "style
      defense". Should you find them not covered by the style defence, I
      will, of course, make the changes as you requested. Thanks for the
      kind words and quick edits.



      MacPac "Kauri" Daypack
      Owner Review by André Corterier
      DATE: 2005-APR-25

      Year of manufacture: 2002
      Year of purchase: 2003
      Manufacturer: Macpac Ltd.
      URL: http://www.macpac.co.nz
      MSRP: none given

      Weight Comparisons - scale accurate to 5 g (0.2 oz)
      listed weight: 900 g (31.75 oz)
      measured weight: 930 g (32.8 oz)
      listed volume: 30 l (1830 cu in)


      Product Description:
      At the time of this writing you can see a picture by following the
      manufacturer's link above, clicking on "Products" and then
      selecting "Alpine/Trek" from the drop-down menu entitled "Packs". The
      Kauri I bought is black, with grey compression straps. It's a
      teardrop-shaped, panel-loading (meaning that a zipper runs from the
      bottom all the way up the side, across the top and down the other
      side) daypack. It has a plastic frame sheet, an additional
      zippered "organizer" compartment on the front, two small fabric side
      pouches with cut out drain holes, padded shoulder straps, an
      elasticized sternum strap, an unpadded hip strap, a slim fabric
      sleeve inside and an interior, zippered pocket. The main compartment
      is accessed through a large, two-way YKK zipper. The back of the pack
      is thickly padded with an open mesh. This padding features a canal of
      sorts (an area not quite 2 cm – about .5 in – across, extending
      vertically through the middle of the padded back) where there is no
      padding along the spine, which supposedly increases ventilation to
      the back. The pack has a haul strap on the top, two compression
      straps across the front and two very small compression straps on the
      sides. The latter do not reach across the main zipper, but only cover
      about 3.5 cm (1.5 in) and seem mainly designed to hold longer items
      placed into the side pouches.

      To summarize, never mind the fact that MacPac lists it
      under "Alpine/Trek", whoever actually designed this pack clearly had
      commuter use in mind. This appears evident from the flat front pocket
      and flat side pouches. Commuting to work has, in fact, been my main
      use of this pack. However, I have also taken the pack on short and
      long dayhikes and even on overnighters (which the pack clearly wasn't
      designed for, though it worked out okay).

      In Use:
      I bought this pack to replace my old one. The old no-name pack bought
      for sale somewhere had held out for about 10 years of rough treatment
      nearly every day to the point where the (heavy) fabric was wearing
      through. This was the pack I wore to the university and generally
      around town, grocery shopping, on bicycle trips etc – effectively,
      whenever I needed to carry anything. It had turned from black to
      brown through UV exposure. So what I wanted was a pack with adequate
      volume, simple in style (especially to save weight), yet tough
      enough. And, of course, it should look civilian enough that I could
      use it for work.
      In addition, in trying to get the most bang for the buck, I wanted to
      make sure that I could use my new pack for much of my dayhiking,
      possibly beyond. In fact, I have ended up using this pack *way*
      beyond what it appears to have been designed for (though not even
      approaching what it is now marketed as).
      This pack has turned out to be everything I wanted. Thus, I have used
      the Kauri extensively – nearly every day for well over a year now.
      Most of this use has been on the way to work and back, or shopping
      for small amounts of groceries, etc. I've taken it on a (very) few
      long jogs only to carry water in a water bladder. It has also been on
      every trip I've undertaken since I bought it.

      To Work:
      To work and back I usually carry my survival packet (I try to carry
      it always, everywhere), bicycling rain pants and a rain poncho for my
      daughter in the front compartment and my rolled up rain jacket
      stuffed into the bottom of the main compartment. The survival packet
      (with a small first aid kit, assorted things you'd expect in a
      survival packet and a few convenience items for staying somewhere
      overnight like a bit of toothpaste and shower gel, a small
      toothbrush, etc.) has the bulk of about a 1 L bottle (1 qt). The
      other two items add up to about the same volume once again, which
      pretty much fills up the entirety of the front compartment (which,
      being flat, doesn't seem designed to hold much). The front
      compartment's back panel is also the main compartment's front panel.
      This means that filling either one to a degree which causes it to
      bulge infringes on the available volume in the other compartment. I
      find this to be (slightly) negative even in what I take to be the
      pack's design intent: for commuting purposes. I feel that a food
      container and a bottle should fit in here. That is what in a purely
      commuting environment I sometimes carry with me and wish to keep out
      of my main compartment. The way it is, it seems meant to accept -
      without bulging - only a few pens and maybe a folded city map. As the
      front compartment extends neither all the way to the top nor all the
      way to the bottom of the main compartment, stuffing the front
      compartment creates a section of the main compartment which curves
      inward. I have sometimes found that the main compartment seemed
      filled up even though I had added only very few things. This was
      because I was using only part of the available volume in the main
      compartment located underneath the front compartment. If, with the
      front compartment stuffed, I was carelessly (my own fault!) shoving
      things down into the main compartment, they would add up on top of
      one another in the space restricted by the inwards bulging front
      compartment, without entirely filling up the space underneath it.
      This is easily remedied by either stuffing fewer things into the
      front compartment or by opening the double zipper all the way on both
      sides, which makes the Kauri gape open.
      With the zippers opened all the way, I can fill the bottom section to
      its fullest. However, I find this difficult to do without putting the
      pack down somewhere (I am liable to have things fall out of the
      opened area). So I would not store something there I need to have
      ready access to (but I guess that's obvious). Also, the panel loading
      seems advantageous only when and where I find a more or less clean,
      level area to put it down on.
      Going to or from work, I easily have enough space in the main
      compartment for a notepad, my big Kryptonite bike lock, some
      additional paperwork et al. Even a big file folder has fit inside.

      What this means is that it works wonderfully as a commuting pack. I
      can fit everything inside I need (and a little more), it's stayed dry
      inside even riding my bicycle to work through heavy rains and shows
      no appreciable wear after what is now about a year and a half of
      regular use.

      For sports activities, I put a 3l platypus bag into the sleeve
      located against the back of the pack. The pack is not marketed
      expressly as a "hydration" pack, and does not feature a dedicated
      access port for this. Having a dual zipper extending all the way
      around it makes this superfluous, however. I can have the hose exit
      the pack anywhere I want by simply arranging the zippers to meet in
      that spot, with the hose going through in between them. The bladder
      fits into the sleeve well – this seems to be the standard bladder
      size, anyway. I have not encountered any problems with this setup,
      While the compression straps on the pack do not compress much, that
      isn't needed. With all the straps pulled tight, the pack does not
      move around on my back while I jog. I also use the hip strap in this
      circumstance (the only reason I haven't cut it off). While the
      bladder is not held against my back by an unbroken line of force from
      one side of the pack to the other, with the pack cinched so it rides
      high on my back, the bladder is kept in place well enough by the
      sleeve not to feel anything moving around. Of course, the filled
      bladder in the sleeve robs the pack's main compartment of space,

      For hiking I pack my rain jacket, my goretex rain overpants, sun/rain
      hat, Buff and gloves into the front compartment (thereby turning it
      into the "inclement weather section" of my pack). (A " Buff" is a
      polyester sleeve which one can employ as a very lightweight,
      versatile head covering.) This again pretty much fills the front
      compartment to the max. The filled platypus bladder goes into the
      sleeve against the back of the pack, as described above. The rest
      depends on the situation:

      For general dayhiking, I push cook gear (if any) and food down into
      the bottom of the pack and add convenience items like binoculars or a
      book, plus an insulation layer. This fills up the pack without
      stressing the zippers or needing the compression straps. Often, I
      also (or, instead) pack extra clothing for my daughter (an extra
      diaper used to fit in as well, as I recall, though she's beyond that
      This means that the pack has served all my dayhiking needs well. With
      short hikes (aka "strolls") of maybe four hours or so, I just drop
      whatever I feel like taking with me into it and go. In such a
      situation, I might take a small "sport's nipple"-type bottle and
      stuff it into a side pouch instead of my drinking bladder. I find
      this very difficult (though not impossible) to access (and returning
      the bottle even more so), so I prefer the setup with the hydration
      system. Plus, my daughter is inordinately impressed by the latter.

      For longer dayhikes (around 15 km/10 mi or so - way beyond the kind
      of commuting the original designer probably had in mind) the addition
      of cook gear and an insulation layer for a rest break fills up the
      pack so it requires some care in packing. The way I pack (and I
      realize this probably already goes beyond what the manufacturer
      originally had in mind for this pack) there results a chimney of
      sorts between the filled up front compartment and the bladder in the
      sleeve, which leads down to a somewhat larger "cave" at the bottom of
      the pack, below the point at which the front compartment ends. For
      longer hikes early or late in the season, colder temperatures make me
      prefer a hot meal in the middle of the day, along with adequate food
      and a thick fleece jacket. All this does fit into the pack, but not
      by simply dropping it in. Resorting to a pile vest for warmth has
      recently freed up some space. I can now take a book or a heavy set of
      binoculars along, as well.

      I find the pack very comfortable – this seems largely due to its
      generous padding and the plastic frame sheet. Packing my bike lock or
      my cook set right against the back still does not allow me to feel
      them when wearing the pack (and then on longer hikes I have a water-
      filled drinking bladder interposed, as well). The sternum strap is
      nice. The elastic part of it allows me to breathe freely – the
      sternum strap flexes enough to facilitate this, yet still does allow
      me to move the contact area of the shoulder straps around as I like.
      Yet I never seem to have to adjust it. That a manufacturer finds
      components so perfectly matched to one another that such a simple
      construction achieves so much with so little trouble seems nothing
      short of miraculous to me.
      The effective max (comfortable) weight for me with this pack would
      seem to be about 10 kg (22 lbs) total. (For Your Information, MacPac
      describes the harness of this pack, which it calls "AirSupply",
      thus: "Enables you to carry a light load (up to 10kg) in comfort".)
      For my back at least, this is probably overloading the pack. While
      the hip strap can achieve some weight transfer, I find that I have to
      cinch it down harder than I like for this, as it is only a one inch
      (2.5 cm) wide, entirely unpadded webbing strap. So while I can carry
      heavier loads for a while, it means I choose (or switch) between sore
      shoulders and sore hips. I prefer to keep my (carried!) weight below
      8 kg (17.5 lbs). I feel that this must be the spectrum for which the
      pack was designed, for if and when I do, I hardly notice the pack
      after a while. And of course, packing any more weight into this
      rather small pack isn't easy – additional water and/or heavy
      binoculars are required to make it happen. So it appears to me that
      the weight carrying comfort of the pack is well designed for its
      size. Given standard packing, it allows me to comfortably carry what
      fits inside. I do not fault the pack for not carrying even greater
      weights in comfort - but having pushed it to its limits, this is
      where I found the limit to be.

      The pack is made from "AzTec HP": According to the manufacturer's
      website, this is a fabric containing long-staple cotton and polyester
      yarns, soaked in "resins and waxes" to make it "weatherproof". In the
      store where I bought it, I was told that the cotton content will
      absorb just a bit of water and expand with it, thereby making it
      almost waterproof. On some days this makes sense to me, on others it
      seems nonsensical. In actual life, I haven't had water in the pack
      yet. I have hiked and biked through rain in it often enough, but
      never for longer than an hour of light rain or a downpour of mere
      minutes. The zippers are somewhat covered, so water hasn't come in
      that way, either. It seems water-resistant enough for my taste,
      though I pack my sleeping bag into a trash bag for safety. I won't
      guess at the pack's waterproofness in more extended rains (and am
      unwilling to waste enough water to simulate).
      As far as wear is concerned, little is noticeable on the pack. There
      is a hint of fuzziness to the fabric on the bottom panel. For a pack
      that has been picked up and put down on that spot several times every
      day for over a year now, I find that less wear than expected. At this
      rate, the pack should last for years.

      Nothing much I haven't mentioned yet. But this seems to be the right
      heading to address the little zippered extra compartment inside the
      main compartment. It's located near the top, small (about the size of
      a paperback book), and made of rather thin material. Yet I love it.
      In here is where I put my wallet and my cell phone, the hardshell
      case for my glasses, my keys. Thus they are out of the way, kept to
      the top of the pack where other items won't press on them too hard,
      and they cannot hide in the nooks and crannies created by other stuff
      in my pack. My old daypack did not have such a fabulous feature, and
      I now cannot imagine buying a pack without it. I guess the large
      floating top box lids of larger packs are meant to serve the same
      purpose, but seem to provide too much volume, so that my things get
      tossed around in it (at least that was my impression with my big
      I should also mention here that after an enquiry with MacPac, I was
      told that the little sleeve against the back of the pack inside the
      main compartment is meant to help re-insert the plastic frame sheet
      after it's been taken out as a sit pad. I hadn't tried this before.
      Pulling it out showed that the back panel does make for a serviceable
      (closed-cell foam) sit pad. Putting it back in proved to be a massive
      bother with a few things in the pack - I won't even contemplate doing
      it with a full pack.

      In continuing to try to maximise my use of available resources, I
      have used this pack for overnighters, as well. If I were to evaluate
      this pack as the "Alpine/Trekking" kind of pack it is now marketed
      as, I'd probably have a rather dim view of it. As pointed out before,
      however, the design of this pack says that it was meant for
      commuting, so I realize that this use goes beyond its orginal
      intentions. For all that, it has worked better than could have been

      My down sleeping bag, compressed as far as possible, barely fits into
      the somewhat larger main compartment space underneath the area
      infringed upon by the front compartment (what I called the "cave"
      earlier). Some food and the Clikstand cook set go on top of this
      (into the "chimney"), followed by little else – with both the front
      compartment and the hydration bladder taking up rooom, the remaining
      space in the "main" compartment fills up awfully fast. A thick fleece
      jacket can be crammed in on top, though this exerts a lot of stress
      on the zippers. (My survival packet is (in) a fanny bag, which I
      carry outside of the pack to avoid the possibility of losing it with
      my pack.)

      I then slide my Hennessy hammock, in its snakeskins, through the haul
      loop so that it is centered. I then slide the ends down through the
      little "compression" straps on the side, around the bottom, back up
      through the "compression" straps on the other side and back through
      the haul loop. Then, I stuff the rolled up end coils of the hammock
      suspension rope into the haul loop along with the "treehugger" straps
      and pull the straps on the side tight. This fixes the hammock quite
      nicely. What's more, this does not seem to affect the pack's balance
      in a negative way. I am quite happy about this.

      I have not yet found a satisfactory way to attach my sleeping pad. As
      I must attach this to the outside as well, this setup quickly begins
      to look ridiculous. I guess I may really need a pack which is
      designed for overnighters. Or maybe my pad is just too big and fat
      (1.5 cm – ¾ in – thick evazote pad, 180 by 59 cm – 6 ft by 23 in).

      In any event, in most cases the main compartment (as reduced by
      filled front compartment and bladder) ends up filled nearly to
      bursting (the zippers are large and tough, though, so I do not
      envision difficulties from that end). This infringes on the
      usefulness of the little side pouches. They are made from the same
      fabric as the pack, not elasticized nor with a box-shape cut. This
      means that putting a water bottle in there takes space from the main
      compartment – or, the way I pack my pack, it means that with the main
      compartment maxed out, a water bottle will not fit into a side pouch.
      This does not make them entirely useless – three snack bars on one
      side, a snack bar and a map on the other still fit. I don't need the
      pockets for water bottles – the bladder provides more readily
      accessible water than I need (from a position where it's never
      frozen, too), so this does not concern me overly. MacPac, on their
      website, says the side pouches are meant "to carry your umbrella or
      walking pole". I carry neither, but they should suffice for this.

      An excellent day-to-day pack which doubles as a good sports and field
      pack for day hikes. When I feel like pushing beyond limits, I can
      even, with a really serious view to reducing pack weight and bulk,
      use it for overnighters. This pack has all the features I need while
      being rugged enough and yet lighter than most of the competing
      daypacks that I found, in what I consider to be this market segment.
      I am very happy with this pack and continue to use it daily, for
      casual use and most of my dayhiking.

      PROS: Well padded, light, tough. No hassles.
      CONS: Seems smaller in use than the rated volume suggests. Side
      pouches are of limited use.

      Possible Improvements:
      I'd like to see the kind of elasticized side pockets on this pack
      which MacPac uses on some of its current "Urban/Travel" packs. To my
      mind, this would enhance its usefulness without adding undue weight
      or complexity.


      Personal Biographical Information:
      Name: André Corterier
      Gender: M
      Age: 33
      Height: 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)
      Weight: 80 kg (175 lb)
      Email: andreDOTcorterierATfreenetDOTde
      Home: Bonn, Germany

      Backpacking Background:
      I began backpacking in my late teens using Europe's "InterRail"-
      System – weight hardly mattered, as we were on trains a lot. I
      recently rediscovered backpacking and have started out slowly –
      single-day 15 mile (24 km) jaunts by myself or even shorter hikes in
      the company of my little daughter. I am getting started on longer
      hikes, as a lightweight packer and hammock-camper. I've begun
      upgrading my old gear and am now shooting for a dry FSO weight
      (everything carried From the Skin Out except food, fuel and water) of
      about 10 kg (22 lb) for three-season camping. Not quite there yet.
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