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Mountain Hardwear Koa 55 Backpack

Mountain Hardwear Koa 55 Backpack – Unique design for a backpack.
I recently saw the Mountain Hardwear Koa 55 Backpack on a website and was very intrigued by it. So intrigued in fact that I wanted to see it in person. Problem was, the closest store that had one in stock was about an hour and a half away. So, in the name of journalism I made the trek South. While there were a few small things I didn’t care for about the Mountain Hardwear Koa 55 Backpack, all things said and done it was a pretty neat backpack. And with a price tag of less than $200 it was a really sweet deal for such a well constructed pack.

Honestly, the only thing I didn’t really like about the Mountain Hardwear Koa 55 Backpack was the hip belt. There were a few things going on down there that just didn’t tickle my fancy. First off was the actual locking portion of the hipbelt. Rather than have a think section ob belt and a large clip, the Mountain Hardwear Koa 55 Backpack features smaller stars that meet at a smaller point and uses a small buckle. I found this to be a awkward and uncomfortable. The other thing I didn’t like about the hipbelt was that the areas behind the pockets weren’t padded. Instead they just opened to mesh into the pocket area. I guess this is good for ventilation, but I would rather have some serious padding on my hip belt over ventilation.

In the grand scheme of things, the above negatives are really just my personal preferences. They wouldn’t be enough for me to not suggest the pack to someone. So, on the plus side, there are some really cool things that I like about the Mountain Hardwear Koa 55 Backpack. One of them is probably the most notable feature on the pack and that is the large compression type pocket that runs the length of the pack. This huge area is great for compressing your pack and lashing on extra gear to the outside of your pack. I also appreciated that the pack used a dry bag style lid to help keep the elements out rather than just a simple draw string closer.

The quick & dirty:

Where you can get one: $190

Why they rock:

  • Dual-density padded and contoured shoulder straps accommodate a wide range of body sizes; dual-density foam hipbelt helps support heavy loads
  • HDPE framesheet features a perimeter alloy shaping rod that helps transfer load to the hips
  • Fit-lock hipbelt wraps around framesheet to create a solid, secure connection for effective load transfer
  • Smooth, tensioned mesh backpanel allows free circulation of air behind back, keeping your back cool on hot summer hikes
  • Weather-tight main compartment rolls down dry-bag style to seal contents from the elements
  • Full-access side zipper under a laminated flap makes it easy to reach gear buried deep inside
  • Two stretch mesh side pockets keep water bottles and small, often-used gear within easy reach
  • Stowable stretch mesh front compression panel adds versatility and capacity for overloads
  • Externally accessed hydration sleeve for on-the-go hydration (reservoir sold separately)
  • Full-length side pocket allows storage of longer items or a rain jacket, or use as an alternate location for hydration reservoir
  • Store sleeping bag in the bottom zippered compartment
  • Twin hipbelt pockets and an upper front pocket for stashing smaller essentials
  • Minimalist daisy chain on front panel for lashing on ice axe or trekking poles

Seat-of-the-pants rating: 9 out of 10

All and all I think the Mountain Hardwear Koa 55 Backpack is pretty cool. I’d like to see it with a different hipbelt design, but that’s just me. I appreciate the unique design of the Mountain Hardwear Koa 55 Backpack and think that it would come in handy, especially on gear heavy hikes or those that constantly cross a variety of temperature ranges.

Looking to Buy? Check out these sites: $190