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Backpacker Magazine – April 2009

Gear Guide 2009: Mountain Hardwear Koa 55 Review

Reach for snacks and extra layers with ease while wearing Mountain Hardware's Koa 55 backpack.

by: Steve Howe

Mountain Hardware Koa 55 (www.sethhughes.com)
Mountain Hardware Koa 55 (www.sethhughes.com)

Gear Guide 2009: More Weekend Packs
Search through our extensive library for more reviews.

Easy Loader
Both male and female testers liked the comfort, stability, and practicality of these roll-top packs, which admirably hauled bulky ropes, climbing helmets, and camping gear up big Sierra peaks. The roll-top was well-liked for its easy access, weatherproofing, and crammable space. Thickly padded shoulder straps and a lightly reinforced hipbelt with dual pockets handled 40-plus pounds, while a mesh trampoline backpanel, stretched tightly between aluminum rods running around the pack's perimeter, kept testers' backs air-conditioned.

Two unique hidden zipper pockets sit on either side of the roll-top closure, offering quick access to small items–as long as you don't squeeze the packbag down too hard. A stretch helmet pocket sits on the front, and bottom straps hold bulky sleeping pads. The huge wand/bottle pockets are easy to reach on the go, making this a good pack for folks who snack and layer frequently and on the move. Bonus: Testers could refill the hydration pocket with the pack closed, using a separate zipper compartment in the backpanel. Napali 50 is the women's version. $190; 3,350 cu. in.; 3 lbs. 10 oz. Mountainhardwear.com

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READERS COMMENTS

D. Williams
Jun 30, 2009

Being a Mountain Hardwear, I may have expected more than what I got. The pack was way comfortable, but in the material category lacked the quality that should come from MH. The first trip out, a cinch strap buckle on the bottom of the pack self destructed, the zip out external pocket ripped, and I found one of my zipper tassles was sewn into a seam which had to be cut so the pocked would open. On the plus side, with it's super wide roll top you can really stuff gear, and I really enjoyed the botton and side access points. Maybe, MH could add another lb of material back into the manufacturing so the pack could actually handle the weight.

Bobby S
May 06, 2009

I wonder how this would compare to the Z55. When I tried on the Koa, the straps tended to put a lot of pressure on my neck. How do I adjust that?

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