Greetings Woods Monkeys. Today we take a look at the Kelty Lakota 4000 backpack and we’ve done a write-up and we’ve included a short highlight video as well. So, jump in and enjoy!
Many, if not all, of us associated with Woods Monkey could be accused of being gear junkies to some degree or another. This goes for you the reader, as well as contributors. Seriously, you are reading a website dedicated to gear right now. You may ask yourself how that obvious nugget of knowledge relates to a review on a backpack. I answer with a question – how will you get all that gear out to the glory of nature to play with it? Sacks and packs have been a backwoodsman’s trail partner since sewing became a skill. The better designed the backpack, the more weight you can carry without putting undue strain on your back. In terms of how much weight you can carry, it is always best to stick with the rule of one third of your body weight as a maximum. This should be considered an extreme amount that you must condition yourself to carry. However, a good backpack with a hipbelt and proper suspension can make even a heavy load more manageable.
Kelty has been manufacturing packs since 1952. As the market changed Kelty has changed with it and led innovations along the way. Today their product line has a pack for almost any outdoor activity including kid carriers, waist packs, and even venturing into camouflage hunters packs in recent years. They also manufacture tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and camp furniture. It is their award winning line of backpacks that they are most famous for, though. The pack I had the opportunity to review is the Lakota 4000 cubic inch which is a new addition to the line of packs for 2010. At first glance out of the box, I appreciated the construction but I must admit it didn’t seem that much different than many other packs I have seen and used. Constructed of 600D ripstop polyester the pack is tough as nails but weighs in at only 4 lbs 4 ounces.
The hardware items on the pack are top quality with good zippers, strong retaining snap buckles, and aluminum reinforced cord zipper pulls. The 4000 cubic inch size is aptly suited to multi day use; this is 65.6 liters for those on the metric system. With all the cinch binders released I began loading it for the first time. The bottom compartment is where I keep my sleeping bag and whatever else I may be able to shove in. This pack can be used wide open or dual compartment, that is to say there is a separator panel that can be deployed. This panel doesn’t zip in as so many do, rather it has toggles and loops that allow it to give when fastened. This lets you have maximum efficiency of space when loading the dual compartments. The panel can shift slightly and allow material above and below to form into a tighter stuff. Also, if you had something that was taller than either compartment but you wanted it in the pack rather than lashed outside; the space at the edges of the panel could allow for this. Examples might include optics, a folding saw, coil of rope, or what have you. Fully loaded, I found the pack capable of handling equipment for a 3 day winter hike, with enough room for a few luxury items.
Many packs on the market have all the same features available; it is the additional features that usually sell me. Something will jump out at me and I feel like I know what the guy was thinking when he added that to the design. One of these little gem features on the Lakota 4000 is the mid-level entry. Most packs are top loaders, many have access to the bottom compartment as well, but this pack gives you an entry point between the two. This is very handy when you have the pack loaded to the gills and what you need is in the middle. This gives a much broader ability to decide how you pack it. The rapid need items like first aid kit, cell phone, dry socks, or snacks can be located nearly anywhere in the pack and you will have access to them. Once you have the pack loaded, or overloaded as the case may be, and bulging nicely (you know you’re guilty of it just like I am) you have a full frame compression system to draw the pack together and hold everything in a nice tight bundle. Outside the main pack compartment, just below the mid-level entry, there is yet another pocket. Inside you have a divider and key clasp so you don’t have to hike the trail again looking for your car keys. Below this pocket you will find another great feature, an easy carry handle like a duffle bag. Packs are made to be carried on your back and sometimes manufactures lose sight of the fact that most of us travel to and from the trail by vehicle. This handle makes it great for loading the pack in and out of the truck, backseat, or truck bed.
Along the exterior of the pack there is a series of daisy chain, just incase you couldn’t fit everything you need inside you can lash it on the outside. An ice axe loop is also on this area of the pack. Moving to the extreme top of the pack you will find the top pocket which also serves as the top compression system. This pocket is also designed to accept your standard sized hydration bladders. On each side of the bottom of the pack are mesh pockets for stowing even more stuff, they fit my 1 quart nalgene bottles perfectly. On the subject of water bottles, there is a sleeve on the waist belt which was found to hold a 16 or 20 ounce water bottle quite well. With the bottle stuffed through the sleeve it also provided you a comfortable arm rest. Under the bottom of the pack there are two sleeping pad straps. They are actually bigger than I needed for the “oh so not compact” closed cell foam mat I used to torture test. These straps are fully adjustable to cinch down your pad and have enough extra room to cinch a jacket or tarp in with your pad. That is about it for the sack or main body of the pack. With 4000 cubic inches of storage, rugged yet light construction, and well thought out storage options it isn’t hard to see that Kelty has stayed true to form with the main body of the pack.
Now that you have all that weight in the pack the second part of the problem is carrying it. Hipbelt packs are the work horses of backpacks. The dual density foam hipbelt should be worn above your hips at your true waist. This allows the belt to be cinched down and lets the load ride on your hips rather than just hanging off your shoulders. This to my mind is the finest feature of this pack. Kelty has engineered a system and patented it for use in many of their packs call the Scherer Cinch. This system uses extended waist belt webbing doubling back to a cam point that acts as a pulley giving you a mechanical advantage when cinching the waist belt. This system gives you a truly secure waist belt and makes donning the pack that much easier. As if this wasn’t enough of a treat in the suspension of the pack, the sternum strap has innovations of its own.
The sternum strap itself is standard enough, with an elastic suspender and buckle attachment. It is the point at which the straps connect to the padded shoulder straps that is impressive. There is a stitched rib line running up each side with a mated rider. This allows for smooth adjustment of sternum strap height while the strap is tight. This means you can adjust during the hike if you like without unhooking the strap. Standard features like shoulder strap adjustment and load compressors above the shoulder straps and at the pack to hipbelt attachment allow the pack to mold around you for a secure ride. All these things add up to a very well-suspended pack that is comfortable and easy to carry. Without question, though, the Scherer Cinch system is worth another mention as the shining star of the packs suspension.
The Kelty Lakota 4000 is an internal frame pack. This means that, unlike the external frame packs of old where the pack and the frame were separate, the frame is built “into” the pack. The frame of this pack is a polymer frame sheet with occipital reinforcement. A single aluminum stay down the spinal section forms the pack to your back and pulls weight into your lumbar for comfort. Kelty call this their Single LightBeam. The backpanels, hipbelt, and shoulder straps are ventilated dual density foam for comfort and support. The LightBeam also seemed to allow for air to circulate up my back eliminating hot spots and the backpanels are constructed of wicking materials. The Lakota 4000 is available in two colors, woodland green which is our test packs color and spice (which is mustard yellow).
The suggested price is a reasonable $144 but with a quick internet search I was able to find prices ranging down to $116 on sale. Dimensions are 34 inches tall x 14.5 inches wide x 15 inches deep. I believe this pack would be a great start for anyone to enter into backpacking with or a good way to work into a lighter pack if you have an older bulkier model. With Kelty’s lifetime guarantee, quality construction and engineering, plus an innovative suspension system this is a great pack with a lot to offer its user. Next time you get that oh so familiar soreness between your shoulder blades from your old Alice or external frame pack, think about taking the Kelty Lakota 4000 for a test ride. Your back will thank you for it!