OWNER REVIEW: K-WAY ADVANCE 85 BACKPACK
BY JACO-CHRIS KOORTS
July 17, 2013
Cape Town, South Africa
5' 9" (1.75 m)
172 lb (78.00 kg)
Backpacking background: Adventure-junky, I have been back-packing from around the age of 9 or 10. I frequently hike over weekends and I try to go on 5-day hikes at least three times per year. I aim for an efficiently packed backpack, but I don't sacrifice gear for a lighter backpack. I normally hike in mountainous terrain, and I have hiked in circumstances varying from knee-deep snow to semi-arid desert. On top of hiking, I am also an avid mountain-biker and trail-runner.
Manufacturer: Cape Union Mart (K-Way)
Year of manufacture: 2012
URL to website of manufacturer: http://www.capeunionmart.co.za
Product: K-Way Advance 85
Listed weight: 3 kg (6.61 lb)
Weight as delivered: 3.1 kg (6.83 lb)
Colour: Blue and grey
Capacity: 85 l (5 200 cu in)
Classification of backpack: K-Way Expedition Series
Handy features of the backpack:
• Hiking pole loops
• A large zipper that provides instant access to the backpack’s main compartment
• A huge splash cover that’s big enough to cover the whole pack, even if it is filled to the brim
• K-Way’s Air-vantage back system, which promotes a flow of air and prevents the hiker’s back from sweating profusely where the backpack and my back meet
• Waterproof design (material and all of the external zippers).
This sleek 85-litre (5 200 cu in) backpack is the ideal tool when planning to be out in the mountains for at least a week, or to go on that epic backpacking tour that’s on my bucket list. In the words of Cape Union Mart: “the Advance 85 is the perfect companion for that extra-ordinary expedition”.
The backpack is a top-/panel-loading pack, with a heavy-duty, waterproofed zipper running down the face of the main compartment. The pack does not appear to have any external side pockets. However, these are neatly tucked away to form part of the body of the pack, which is useful because in narrow spaces there’s nothing sticking out from the sides of the pack, but if the pack is fully loaded, these “side pockets” become difficult to access. The pack is made of durable, waterproof material.
The pack has extra pockets at its top and the bottom. The top pocket is adjustable and accessed by means of a waterproof zipper and underneath the lid is a mesh pocket that is handy for storing items that I want to access quickly, even in the dark (top tip: this is a good place to keep an emergency roll of toilet paper). The bottom pocket is big enough to hold a sleeping bag and an inflatable mattress.
The main compartment of the pack contains no organisational pockets, which is a bit of a problem, since the immense size of the pack means it is easy to lose something small, like a pair of socks. Its enormity, however, also means that I can practically always fit something in there – which of course means no more excuses to not buy all of my friends souvenirs from my backpacking adventures.
|Front view of the backpack|
|Rear view of the backpack, showing the Airvantage system|
|All of the zippers of the pack has been made waterproof|
|The big front zipper gives you easy access to the pack|
|The pocket underneath the lid of the pack|
I have had this pack from June 2011 and have used it on five backpacking trips. Temperatures ranged from around 40 C (104 F) in the semi-arid desert of Namibia, to -5 C (23 F) high in the mighty Drakensberg Mountains. I have met rain on about 6 days, with the pack’s splash cover and waterproof design never letting me down.
A memorable trip, that tested the backpack’s toughness and versatility, was South Africa’s most popular hiking route, the Otter Trail.
Field location and conditions
The 5-day Otter Trail is situated in the Garden Route, a beautiful piece of coastline along South Africa’s Southern Coast known for its majestic beaches, big waves and lush indigenous forests.
The trail brings the hiker into contact with all of these (and some sea otters, if lucky) and is a tricky route because of the dramatic changes in scenery and sudden gains and losses in altitude. Regarding the weather, we went in early spring, so temperatures reached a high of around 28 C (80 F) with a low of around 13 C (55 F) at night.
I set out with my pack weighing in at around 25 kg (55 lb), and even with such a heavy load the pack remained comfortable – even on steep uphill and downhill walking. I am not the most organized packer so the lack of small compartments inside the main bag did not bother me all that much.
The most exciting (and most tricky) part of the route is on the fourth day, when I had to cross the mouth of the Bloukrans (an Afrikaans word for: Blue Cliff) River. This is a dangerous crossing, which can only be attempted at low tide. It entails me having to waterproof my pack, by means of a waterproof survival bag, and swimming to a little sandy shore on the other side of the mouth, which is surrounded by sheer rock face, fighting a current that’s trying to pull me into the sea, all the while praying that the sharks for which the mouth is renowned for are either sleeping or have just had lunch. Doesn’t seem safe? Believe me it isn’t… but TIA (this is Africa)!
The pack behaved extremely well, and its waterproof exterior stopped the little bit of water that managed to creep into the bag from ruining the contents of the backpack.
All in all I was very impressed with the performance of the pack. The large capacity of the backpack and its sturdy build makes it ideal for a hike like this.
I would recommend the K-Way Advance 85 to the serious hiker.
THINGS I LIKE
1. The hip belt is very comfortable and built to take a heavy load
2. The bag, overall, performs very well under heavy loads
3. Its enormity - throw in the kitchen sink!
4. Its durability, although one should be careful when putting it onto his or her back, as putting too much strain on the area where the shoulder straps connect to the pack have caused little tears in mine.
THINGS I DON'T LIKE
1. The side pockets are difficult to access when the pack is fully loaded
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.
2. There are no pockets on the hip belt to put small things in, like a notebook or energy bars
3. There is a sleeve for a hydration pack but no hole in the pack for the bladder's pipe to go through (note: this has been fixed in the new version of the pack)
4. There are no internal organisational pockets in the main pack, which could cause me to lose my toothbrush if it gets mixed up with the rest of my gear (or even myself, if I'm not careful).
Read more reviews of Cape Union Mart gear
Read more gear reviews by Jaco-Chris Koorts