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Reviews > Packs > Internal and External Framed Backpacks > Kelty Lakota 4000 Pack > Test Report by Jamie Lawrence

Kelty Lakota  4000 Pack


Image Courtesy Kelty

Test Series by Jamie Lawrence

Initial Report - 20th April 2010

Field Report - 6th July 2010

Long-Term Report - 31st August 2010

Tester Information


Jamie Lawrence


jlawrence286 (at)




Hobart Tasmania, AUSTRALIA




1.70 m (5' 7")


70 kg (154 lbs)

I was introduced to backpacking/tramping/hiking as a young child in Boy Scouts and through my school physical/adventure education. After leaving school, I mainly did short daywalks until recently when I started to re-walk some of Tasmania's key routes and try others I have yet to attempt. I mainly walk in the winter months, in Tasmania's central highlands area. I prefer light gear, extended walks (3-5 days) in a group of 3 people, or shorter walks (1-3 days) walking solo. I generally carry a base weight pack of around 8 kg - 10 kg (17 lbs - 22 lbs).

Initial Report

20th April 2010

Product Information & Specification



Year of Manufacture:


Manufacturer's Website:



Listed Weight:

1.9 kg (4 lb 4 oz)

Measured Weight:

1.86 kg (4 lb 1.6 oz)


4,000 in3 (65.6 L)


On their website Kelty describe the Lakota 4000 pack as 'Fully featured [pack] with handy front access and large storage pocket....'. The Lokota is a top-loading pack with a front access zipper located just above the front pocket. 2 colour options are available, Spice (yellow) and Woods Green. I am testing the Spice colour. Again on their website, Kelty list the features of the Lakota as:


Pack Features:
• Hydration compatible
• Front-panel access
• Top loading
• Sleeping bag compartment
• Large front pocket
• Reservoir sleeve
• Mesh water bottle pockets
• Side compression straps
• Load compression strap
• Spindrift collar
• Daisy chain
• Ice-axe loop
• Lash tabs
• Key fob
• Carry handle

Suspension Features:
• Single LightBeamaluminum stay
• HPDE frame sheet with occipital reinforcement
• Ventilating waist belt, back panel, and shoulder straps
• HDPE reinforced waist belt
• Dual density foam waist belt
• Removable waist belt
• Wicking back panel
• Padded back panel and shoulder straps
• Load-lifter/Stabilizer straps
• Sternum strap
• Belt stabilizers
• Scherer Cinch™


The basic design of the Lakota is consistent with most packs I've previously owned, a large main compartment, smaller sleeping bag compartment (with internal divide), a top pocket/lid and front pocket.

Initial Impressions

As soon as I removed the Lakota from the box I was immediately impressed by both the colour and general finish of the pack. Most of the compression straps and waist belt were compressed or wrapped around the pack to make it smaller in transit. As soon as I started to 'untangle' the pack and release all the straps and buckles, I could feel the quality construction and materials used to build the Lakota.

After I had the pack 'untangled' I stuffed in a couple 3 small couch cushions, 2 in the main compartment, 1 into the bottom/sleeping bag compartment. Whilst  this in no way filled the pack, I simply wanted to fill it out before trying the harness system. It was at this point I discovered the comprehensive instruction manual, which included step by step directions to ensure a correct fit. The instructions outline how to adjust the harness, waist belt but also the LightBeamaluminum stay, which has quite a pronounced curve shape. My first thought was that a single stay might not provide a lot of support but once on my back and a few easy adjustments, the Lakota was rather comfortable. Despite this I imagine it will take a few more adjustments to get the pack fit right. I doubt I will have to remove and adjust/bend the LightBeamaluminum stay to improve the fit. With very little load inside the pack, both the waist belt and shoulder straps felt comfortable, with the generous padding in the back leaving space for air to circulate around to hopefully assist with keeping me cool and dry.



LightBeamAluminum Stay

Wearing the Lakota

After playing with the harness for a few minutes, I then turned my attention to the features of the pack such as the various pockets, straps and zippered access points. I was greatly pleased by the ease at which all the zippers move and the addition of what appear to be aluminum toggles on the zipper pulls. I also like the design of the load compression straps which should not only allow me to compress the pack and secure a load but also give options to lash items to the side of the pack.



Zipper Toggles

Internal Compartment Divide

Within the front pocket are two features I like, the first being a small zippered pocket which would be ideal for storage of a wallet and the key hook, to prevent loosing car keys. The one design feature I already don't like is the divide between the main compartment and the sleeping bag compartment. In every other pack I have owned the divide is secured by a zipper, however the Lakota uses large toggles and loops, 3 in total around the front of the pack, to secure the divide in place. As can be seen in the image above this results in the divide moving significantly when gear is on top. I feel this would effectively make the divide some what useless but I will need to test this further.


Whilst it is difficult to judge the quality of the Lakota within my lounge room and only stuffing in a few light items, my initial impressions are that this is a pack that I will enjoy using. With a capacity of 4,000 cu in (65.6 L), this is smaller than my usual 4,577 cu in (70 L) pack I would take on 2-3 day trips and far smaller than the 5,492 cu in (90 L) I have used for more extended trips. Given the multiple compression straps I am keen to test if I can compress the Lakota to make it suitable for day trips. I am also interested to see just how much gear I need to leave at home on an outing of more than a few days given the smaller capacity of the Lakota. I am confident that the Lakota will be highly suitable for overnight or weekend trips, which I will test over the coming months!

This concludes my initial report of the Kelty Lakota 4000 pack. Please check back in June for the first results of my field testing. My thanks to Kelty and for the opportunity to test this product.

Field Report

6th July 2010

Field Locations and Conditions

I commenced my field testing of the Kelty Lakota 4000 pack during various day walks around Mt Wellington Park as an overnight walk to Mt Field East in the Mt Field National Park. I have been lucky in that all my walks have been in fine conditions with temps ranging from around -2 C (28 F)  to 11 C (52 F) with no rain or snow. There was snow on the ground during most of my outings.  I have also used the pack during a recent car camping trip to Cockle Creek as well as on various weekend trips to visit my family.



Skyline Traverse of Mt Wellington with Hobart the Distance


During the day hikes I mainly carried an extra layer of clothes (jacket, light jumper ect.) plus some snacks and water. Given the volume of this pack I would usually walk with a friend and combine all our gear into the 1 pack. Where possible I would also take my dog so would have a lead and extra water. I would estimate the weight of the gear including the pack would be around 6-8 kgs (13-18 lbs). During the overnight walk I obviously carried a bit more gear, including a small tent, sleeping bag and mat, plus stove and extra food. I forgot to weigh my pack prior to leaving but would estimate the total weight to be around 11 kg (24 lbs).


Performance in the Field

I have been quite surprised on a number of fronts about the quality and comfort of this pack. Whilst I would be happy to say that I have yet to test the load limit of this pack to the extremes, I always identified this pack as a larger day pack that would be suitable for overnight walks or lightweight multiday walks. Within my current testing, I have found the Lakota is a highly comfortable and adaptable pack.


There are several key features of the Lakota that I have found to be highly useful. The major feature I have found most beneficial is the front pocket. This pocket has multiple compartments and also contains a handy key holder clip. I have found this is a great spot to stash simple things like my car keys, wallet, camera, phone and glasses. I have found that this is handy when I return to the car I can simply grab my keys, wallet and phone quickly without having to riffle through my pack to find them. I also have found that the carry handle that forms part of the daisy chain looping on the outside of this front pocket is great for quickly grabbing and moving the pack around when loaded with gear.



Wearing the Kelty


The multitude of compression straps are also a big winner in my opinion. As previously stated I doubt I have yet to fill the Lakota to capacity, which has made the compression straps important to allow me to compact or restrict the load in the pack to ensure a comfortable fit. When combined with the harness system that is light yet padded and conforms to my spine and hips well, makes the Lakota comfortable to wear for several hours without any major issues.


My only gripes so far have been with the internal divide and the stiffness of the back panel of the pack. As outlined in my Initial Review, the internal divide of the Lakota is separated by an internal divide that is secured with 3 large toggles. I have found that this internal divide is pretty useless, as the large gaps between the toggles allow gear to slip through into the bottom compartment. On other packs I own I have used this bottom compartment to store my sleeping bag/mat or tent. I would usually try to force as much gear in here as possible then zip it up and use compression straps to squeeze the load down. This was not possible with the Lakota as the gear simply moves around into the gaps in the divide. At this point I don’t intent to use the internal divide to separate the main part of the pack from the lower compartment.


My only other small issue is the stiffness of the padding in the back panel of the Lakota, mainly around the waist belt. Whilst I have found the shoulder straps and waist belt to be really comfortable, soft and easy to conform to my shape, the lower part of the back panels always seem to feel quite firm into my lower back. This may mean I need to change the shape of the LightBeam aluminum stay but I am not entirely sure this is required. Having said this, the stiffness is in no way a major issue and I guess the only reason I have noticed it is because the rest of the pack is so comfortable and easy to use.


I have had no issues with any damage to the fabric and all zippers, clips and buckles work like as new. In general terms I can see next to no wear and tear on this pack since I received it and it still has a very new feel to it.



Overall I have been very happy with the Kelty Lakota 4000 pack. Whilst I have been disappointed with the toggle system used on the internal divide and a feeling of a stiff padding around my lower back, I am very much enjoying wearing this pack and find it is highly suitable for longer day hikes or shorter overnighters. As I have stated, I feel I am yet to reach the maximum capacity of this pack. I imagine that if I were to use this pack for an extended multiday walk I would need to be rather selective in what gear I take with me, but this would have the benefit of reducing my pack weight and the comfortable harness and waist belt would result in a pleasurable outing. As a daypack or overnighter, this is a great option for me.

This concludes my Field Report of the Kelty Lakota 4000 pack. Again I would like to thank Kelty and for the opportunity to test this quality product.

Long-Term Report

31st August 2010

Field Locations & Conditions

I have been very unfortunate since my Field Report, having sustained a major knee injury which not only saw me not able to walk for 6 weeks, basically prevented me from undertaking further testing in the field. I was still able to use the Lakota pack twice for brief overnight weekend trips where I was staying in bunkhouse style accommodation. In both of these occasions I had very little gear in my pack, basically a sleeping bag & mat, a few items of clothes, some bathroom gear and a few other odds and ends. I did not weight the back contents but I would estimate the weight would not be over 5 kg (11 lbs).

Overall Summary of Performance

As stated in my IR, I was immediately impressed with the Lakota pack from the time I first received it. On a number of occasions when I have been using the pack I have received my questions from people along the lines of' 'wow, that's a nice pack, where can I get one!' Throughout my time using the Lakota I have found it to be comfortable, practical and functional. Given that lately I have been carrying rather light loads, the array of compression straps have allowed me to really reduce the size of the pack to secure the contents. I did find that when really pulling the straps to compress the pack it can get a little confusing as the top pocket compression straps tuck in behind the side compression straps. This resulted in my getting them tangled a few times but not to any major consequence, more just a annoyance. Certainly without doubt the major feature I would modify on this pack is the internal divide. I found it to be so useless that I stopped using it as I found that it did very little to separate the gear in my pack and on regular occasions small items like my socks, and on one instance, my wallet, fell through the divide into the base compartment.

Final Remarks and Future Use

I have no doubt that I will get many years of future enjoyment from using the Lakota 4000 pack as my primary weekender and long day hike pack. It has the right combination of functional pockets, easy compression and a comfortable harness system. I am actually about to embark on a 2 week trip to East Timor, a small county north of Australia, to undertake volunteer work. This trip will see me moving around frequently between villages and as a result I need a comfortable pack to contain all my gear. As I am limited to a mere 13 kg (28.7 lbs) of baggage weight for the flight over, I intend to use the Lakota 4000 as I think it is the perfect size for this amount of gear.

This concludes my test series of the Kelty Lakota 4000 pack. My final thanks to Kelty and for the opportunity to test this quality product.

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