Initial Report: Item Receipt & First Impressions:
1 April 2009
I received the High Sierra Kahuna 70 with slimmed down packaging to save a pound on shipping weight. The
pack had a number of cardboard attachments, the largest
shown over on the front as shown nearby. These were attached by plastic cables, which I then removed using
scissors. The cardboard attachment shown was a retail point of sale card detailing the benefits of the Kahuna.
Other attachments had cleaning instructions for the reservoir, details about High Sierra's limited lifetime
warranty, and High Sierra's support of the US Ski and Snowboarding teams.
My first impressions of the Kahuna is that this is a nice versatile day pack. It actually took a little bit of time exploring
to work out all the features as some are hidden initially. The pack lives up to it's rated volumetric size, which is nice.
The pack consists of a main compartment which contains the hydration reservoir, a bike gear compartment and
a media compartment at the front. The harness system consists of adjustable shoulder straps which are secured
by a sternum strap. There is a waist strap to secure the lower part of the pack to the body. This waist strap can
be tucked away into the pack when not in use.
The pictures above show the main compartment open revealing the open inlet of the hydration reservoir. This
reservoir is rated for 2 L (122 cu in) but I have not yet had an opportunity to see how much I can fit in there. I will be
doing that during the field test. The reservoir contents are made available by a tube which runs out through the
top of the pack on one of the shoulder straps. Holes are provided on both straps, so the tube can be run on the
left or right strap as desired. It was supplied with the tube running out on the left. There are two little straps on
the shoulder strap to hold the tube in place. These are also provided on both shoulder straps. The hose is covered
by a foam material with another synthetic layer on top. This appears to be fine for use on the bike. I may not
have the opportunity to test it in real scrub bash territory. The insulation is to help prevent the fluid in the tube freezing.
As I do not expect sub zero (below 0 C or below 32 F) temperatures, I will not be able to test this claim.
The tube outlet is also pictured above (blue). The blue rubber is pulled out to release a valve, and then the
rubber is squeezed by the teeth to release fluid. This seems easy enough to do while walking. I will report how
this goes on the bike. Sealing the valve also seems sufficiently easy.
There is a bicycle pump sleeve located in the main compartment. This is obscured by the lid of the inlet in the picture
above. The pump can be held tight in the sleve by a small piece of Velcro. I do not intend to use this feature as
I carry a small hand pump on the bike itself. My floor pump is too big to fit in the Kahuna.
The main compartment of the Kahuna can be expanded as shown in the above left picture. Expansion is required
to meet the measured size of the compartment (9.5 L or 580 cu in). Without expansion, the compartment
would be around 60% of this volume. There is a zipper expansion gusset provided for the expansion feature.
This runs down one side, along the bottom and up the other side. Most of the expansion space is down the bottom
of the compartment.
At the base of the Kahuna is a zipper which gives access to the gear loft. This can be pulled out and attached
to two clips near the top of the bike gear compartment. This is shown in the above right picture.
Objects as large as 35 cm (14 in) by 30 cm (12 in) by
25cm (10 in) could be carried secured by the gear loft. It would need to be near this size, otherwise they are
likely to fall out. High Sierra have shown a bike helmet secured by the gear loft. Of course where I live, a
bike rider is required to wear their helmet when riding.
The very front of the Kahuna features a large hook which could be used to attach other gear. If using the
gear loft, this hook would be inaccessible. Located near this hook is a reflective loop which could be used to
hold a LED light. This is also obscured by use of the gear loft.
Shown above are the bike gear and media compartments. The bike gear compartment is the larger compartment
to the right. This compartment has three sleeves for storing various stuff, a hook and some elastic for securing items.
I am used to carrying a small multitool, bike leavers, spare tube and puncher repair equipment in a small pocket under my
bike seat. There would be heaps of room to store all of this stuff in this compartment plus more. I estimate the
size of this compartment around 1 L (58 cu in).
At the very front is the media compartment. This compartment is just under half the size of the bike gear
compartment. There is enough room here for a phone, an mp3 player and a wallet. These days phones are
often the mp3 players, cameras, GPS and basically mini computers to boot. There does appear enough room
for three or so such items in here depending on size. I often go riding with a Nokia N95 8gb. The hands free
can be threaded through a small discrete headphone hole into the media compartment. The cable can reach for
the cable button control to be clamped onto the water tube strap on the shoulder, leaving plenty of room for the
earphones to reach my ears.
Shown in the two pictures above is the harness system of the Kahuna. The sternum strap is adjustable both
in length and in vertical position. The vertical position on the chest can be adjusted up and down by about 5 cm
(2 in). There is a clamp on a rail on each shoulder strap for this purpose. I have used other High Sierra packs
before and have found that if the sternum strap is quite tight, these clamps can be pulled off the rail. As I will
not be putting too much weight in the Kahuna (this is not a pack suitable for a week's walk after all), this
should not be a problem. The sternum strap also features a small band of elastic which provides some shock
absorbing capacity. This allows 1.2 cm (0.5 in) freeplay in the strap.
The main shoulder straps are adjustable in length in a similar manner to a normal pack. Tightening these straps
pulls the pack closer to the back, and higher up towards the back of the neck. There is also a waist strap. This is
packed away behind the media pocket, however is shown in the above right picture.
The back features Vapel mesh Airflow cells, five on each side for a total of 10. This appears to provide air
space between the pack and the wearers back. It feels comfortable enough with some brief testing. It is going
out on the bike for a good ride in a few days time from this report. Watch for my field report to see how wet
my back gets using the Kahuna.
The Kahuna materials look robust enough to me. The rogaining I have planned will expose the materials to
some rough treatment as rogaining does involve much hiking off track and exposure to rough bush. I don't think
that my bike riding will present much of a robustness challenge to the Kahuna however. The materials do not
appear to be water proof. I would imagine that any sustained rain would get the contents inside wet.
Overall I think I like the Kahuna, and are keen to get on the bike with it. It should also be good for a good 12 or
24-hour rogaine, or my 100 km (62 mi) in 24-hours walk in May. I think that the materials should be strong enough for
the use I have planned, but only time will tell. At this stage in summary my likes and dislikes:
- Compact size but still roomy - the expansion gusset is nice.
- The gear and media pockets appear well thought out.
- The gear loft gives extra carrying capacity - but would be no good in scrub/thick bush.
- To early to tell at this stage of the test.
Check back in about two months for my field report. Thanks to BackpackGearTest and High Sierra for the
opportunity to test the Kahuna 70.