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Under Review: Katabatic Gear Helios 55 Backpack

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Under Review: Katabatic Gear Helios 55 Backpack

Postby HikingGeek.com » Tue Feb 02, 2016 1:37 pm

Under Review: Katabatic Gear Helios 55 Backpack  

I've been working on reducing my pack for the last few years and I've finally gotten to the point that using a UL pack for overnight trips makes sense. When researching backpacks, I had some criteria in mind, based on what I thought my max weight would be, as well as the volume gear I would want to carry:

- Weight: A pack that weighs around 3 lbs.
-Capacity: ~4000+ CI of volume, bear canister compatible, and the ability to carry up to 40 lbs if needed.
-Multi-use: A backpacking pack that can be compressed enough (or is light enough) to be used for dayhikes (or is modular with something that be used as a summit pack), as well as winter hiking trips where more gear is needed.

One of the few packs that met all of the criteria I set was the   Katabatic Gear Helios 55.

After a few weeks of use, I am impressed with the pack overall.

I've posted more details of the pack (photos and info) on my blog(click here for the review), but here are a few photos:

 

Baden-Powell Hike
Image  

Register Ridge Snowshoe
Image  

Bighorn Peak Snow Climb
 Image  

San Jacinto Snowshoe
 Image  

Backpack Gear Test (carried about 40 lbs of gear)
 Image



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Re: Under Review: Katabatic Gear Helios 55 Backpack

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue Feb 02, 2016 2:09 pm

From the photos the pack does not LOOK very comfortable! So I am surprised. I am not fond of the flat board-like support next to one's back. And it seems really wide. Let us know how it feels carrying 40 pounds for several long days.

I am not convinced myself that the extra $$ to loose one pound is worth it. I have had several 55-L packs weighing 3 pounds or a few ounces under. If the pack fits well and is comfortable, one pound is not a big factor for me. If you are carrying 40 pounds of weight, that one pound is minimal. But if you are talking real UL gear and plan to carry 15 pounds, a pack weighing one more pound IS significant.

I am seriously looking for a new pack myself. Biggest problem is that few of those specialized packs have a Woman's small size and if they do the capacity is so reduced that I cannot get the bear can inside with everything else. The last pack I bought was almost a total failure. It is a fine weekend pack, and although it states that the suspension system can carry 50 pounds, no matter how I pack it is off-balance. The flaws did not show up until I actually loaded it up and did a trip. Packs and shoes :( They are so individual that reviews do not even help much. It is all about fit, fit and fit and everyone is different. It is always a big mystery.
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Re: Under Review: Katabatic Gear Helios 55 Backpack

Postby markskor » Tue Feb 02, 2016 3:00 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote:I am not convinced myself that the extra $$ to loose one pound is worth it. I have had several 55-L packs weighing 3 pounds or a few ounces under. If the pack fits well and is comfortable, one pound is not a big factor for me.
... It is a fine weekend pack, and although it states that the suspension system can carry 50 pounds, no matter how I pack it is off-balance ...(Backpacks) are so individual that reviews do not even help much. It is all about fit, fit and fit and everyone is different.


Could not agree more...fit is everything.
I too would rather carry a backpack that rides well, all day, at 4 pounds, than hoist a Cuban fiber pack at 3 pounds that hurts every step of the way when full. BTW, I do like/also carry a backpack in the 50 - 60 liter range...anything larger seems quite excessive.

For whatever reason, most backpack manufacturers still do not get it. Why cannot somebody/anybody make a bombproof, 55 - 60 size pack that can handle 35 - 40 pounds, last more than one season without tearing, have a decent suspension, weigh in around 4 pounds (less would better, but $$), and can handle a bear can comfortably? All I see are disposable, "25 pounds max" packs, or heavy "whistles and bells" ginormous packs that don't work for me. Sure, you strive to go the UL route, but 10 days out still means 20 pounds food, plus 15 pounds gear = 35 pounds+.

Hopefully this Helios 55 works out for you...IMHO, seems a bit light/small...but thanks for the review... will give it a good look in person.
Mountainman who swims with trout
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Re: Under Review: Katabatic Gear Helios 55 Backpack

Postby SweetSierra » Thu Feb 04, 2016 5:12 am

I still have my Kelty Cloud 6500 pack (link below), bought around 2000. I love this backpack. It's no longer manufactured, and if it was, I would have to give it much more thought due to the cost. The seams at the bottom tore in 2011 when I jammed an Expedition bear canister in lengthwise, but I stitched it up and it's held just fine. I'm 5'7 so the pack was huge for me, but it didn't come in a smaller size. Just after I bought it, the topmost straps were configured so that the pack would fit me comfortably. I haven't needed to alter them since. I wear it without all the bells and whistles at 1.4 pounds. In the last year or so the fabric on the inner side of the straps has begun to tear but that's the only part of the pack that's worn (other than the top zipper breaking and the pack being a dingy white now). I'm going to have to replace it at some point but not looking forward to it as nothing beats this pack for me. It's been on many off trail trips and some bushwacks. It feels like a feather on my back. I've been asked about the lightweight straps, belt, and back support, but I've always felt I had all the support I needed, even with my pack weight at the usual 35 to 40 pounds.
I'll have to take a look at the Helios 55, though it would be much smaller.

http://sectionhiker.com/keltys-ultralig ... the-cloud/
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Re: Under Review: Katabatic Gear Helios 55 Backpack

Postby FeetFirst » Sat Feb 06, 2016 10:19 am

Thanks for the pictures and impressions. I've had my eye on Katabatic's packs since they were released. Now, I'm waiting for reviews to roll out before I decide to pull the trigger. I'm also waiting to see Sierra Designs' soon to be released pack which is supposed to be just under 3 lbs, 55 liters, with minimal fuss and a stout frame that should be good up to 40 lbs.
I'm still rather convinced that you can achieve more than you've ever dreamed of if you just lower your standards.
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