Kathmandu Litehaul Pack: Tested
Ah, travel. How we love it, in all its shapes and forms. Well, once we’ve packed everything we need, and then somehow hauled all of that to the bus/train/car/airport. And it is this component of the whole travel experience – the packing and luggage – that can be the absolute winner in terms of how a trip pans out. There’s nothing worse than having picked the wrong bag/case to load all your gear in, only to find that yes, it does fit, but no, it is by no means practical when you’re hopping on and off buses, trains and/or planes. For that, you need a load-lugger that caters for the different types of transfers you’ll undertake; a bag that can do duty as a duffel but be equally proficient (and comfortable) when you need to throw it over your shoulders, as a backpack. And it is this versatility of luggage-hauling that the Kathmandu Litehaul Pack is claimed to encompass. So, does it? Well, we’ve just spent a few weeks doing the “bus, plane, train and automobile” shuffle to find the answer…
It’d be easy to say designing an effective duffel or travel pack is simple but that could not be further from the truth. Add in the versatility to use said pack as a duffel and/or backpack in the one trip (or separate trips), and suddenly things like harness systems, straps, additional handles for either lifting or tying down on a roof-rack, and extra storage areas, for example, all come into play. It is here that Kathmandu’s product team has gone to town – and in an effective, no-nonsense way – to address all the needs of the various ways in which the Litehaul Pack can be carried and used.
The Litehaul Pack is made using a composite fabric (79% nylon/21% polyester), with poly lining and mesh. That outer fabric is actually certified as bluesign® approved in regard to meeting that certification’s strict criteria around its production’s impact on people and the environment. It measures 710mm in length, 360mm in width and is 340mm deep, for a total volume capacity of 65 litres and an impressively light weight of just 2kg. The Kathmandu designers have set the pack’s overall size and volume right at the most popular capacity for a pack or luggage needed for a week or two of travel, and it’s one that can be carried by anyone from around 10 years of age upwards.
Additional – and very welcome – design features include lockable YKK zips and that aforementioned RS2 harness that is, itself, stored in a zipped section of the bag. The shoulder strap is detachable and there is an excellent wide zipped front for easy access to the inner space to stow gear easily (and be able to see what’s in there, once it is all packed).
The Litehaul Pack borrows from backpack design with an easily accessed top compartment where you can store small gear and mobile phones (there’s also a Litehaul RFID Pod that fits in here, too). The top and side grab handles are beefy and, as we found in testing, are also handy if/when you may have to tie the Litehaul Pack down to a vehicle’s roof-rack. Add in an outer bottle pocket, an inner mesh pocket, and outer compression straps and you’ve got a comprehensive travel pack that should be up for all sorts of treatment, whether at the airport or in the back/on top of a vehicle.
In the field
The Litehaul Pack is a new resident in the AG Adventure gear shed, with only around a month of use at the time of writing. However, during this time, it’s been used for overnighters, weekend camping trips, and as a mountain bike gear bag for a day trip to some trails. During each of these, the bag has simply worked and been used, mainly, in its duffel bag format. The large strap (and padded shoulder section) is comfortable and easy to adjust and lifting the Litehaul in and out of a vehicle has been no problems, thanks to those hefty handles.
Interestingly, the top/side zipped compartment has been great; fishing around for a phone/driver’s licence/ATM cards, etc., has been very easy as they’ve all been stored in there, rather than floating around inside the large compartment. The larger compartment’s full-opening zip – and light-coloured interior – is also very much appreciated, both when packing and, again, when looking for something in its depths.
Using the bag’s RS2 harness is an easy process, with the cover quick to unzip and, once you’ve adjusted the harness to your height/shape, away you go. For something that may be viewed as an afterthought or gimmick, the RS2 harness is anything but – it functions exactly as it should, providing ample support (and comfort) when you’re loaded up; it’s a full-monty harness system with oodles of adjustment. Impressive.
There are few negatives to the Litehaul, with probably the only one of note being the slight bulk of the RS2 harness when it is packed. When the harness is packed away, it does intrude slightly on the bag’s main storage compartment. However, this is to be expected and, really, if you want a bag that has both a shoulder strap and a (very good) full harness system, that’s just how it is. Other than that minor point, there’s very little to think twice about with the Litehaul; as mentioned earlier, this load-lugger just does the job it’s designed to do.
The final word on the Kathmandu Litehaul Pack
The outdoor luggage market is crowded with different segments, whether it’s bare-bones duffel bags, travel packs, or the latest and greatest hybrid designs, where the Litehaul resides. For those looking for a versatile carry-all that offers a clever design, a fully featured and comfy harness system, light weight, eco-friendly (and tough) materials, and is built to last, the Litehaul Pack is well worth a look.
RRP: $450 See Kathmandu for more info on the Litehaul and other outdoor gear.