Model: Kajka 65
Suspension • 4.9
We may complain about heavy loads, but the Kajka never does. (We mean it: The eco-friendly canvas and birch-wood frame don’t squeak like plastic or metal.) Its sturdy-but-flexible parallel wooden stays mimic a spring-steel frame surprisingly well (caveat: they’re more expensive). They kept loads from wobbling, even with 60 pounds of cargo on Zion National Park’s steeper trails.
Comfort • 4.5
Perhaps the best part of the Kajka? A generous 6.7 inches of torso-length adjustability (the most in the test) make it easy to find a perfect fit. We were also able to adjust both the height and width of the shoulder harness. “I’m 6’ tall, and I have a hard time finding women’s packs that actually fit,” explains one guide tester. “But once I hit the sweet spot, this one rode well on my hips and never pulled on my shoulders.” Tradeoff: The Kajka is by far the heaviest pack in the test.
Features • 4.9
In canyon country, temps fluctuate wildly. That means near-constant adjustment of layers. “The vertical zipper access to the main packbag was super handy to shove stuff in there quickly,” reported one tester after a five-day trip in Arizona’s Paria Canyon. She also appreciated the cinchable side pockets, which each fit a Nalgene, and the separate wet and dry compartments in the bottom of the pack for isolating damp socks after river crossings. Bonus: The removable 8-liter toplid doubles as a fanny pack for side hikes.
Durability • 4.6
The Kajka withstood rough slot canyon squeezes thanks to its reinforced 600-denier polyester bottom and Vinylon F, a durable synthetic canvas, on the main packbag. Vinylon F’s fibers swell when they encounter water, tightening the weave and preventing seepage to the pack interior—something our Grand Canyon tester appreciated during overnights in damp canyon bottoms.