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Arc'teryx Khard 30 Review

Discussion in 'EDC Bags' started by yugotprblms, Jul 21, 2015.

  1. yugotprblms

    yugotprblms Loaded Pockets

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    Hey all, I've had my Khard 30 for a few months now and figured I would contribute to the small number of reviews on them in case it helps anyone out. But first, a bit of background as to why I went with this.

    I had a GR1 before, and it worked well for a long time, but it just started to feel "boring". It wasn't doing it for me, and I wanted something else. I liked that it was simple, but it almost felt too simple at times. It felt like something was lacking. Here is a short list of the standout pros and cons FOR THE GR1!!:

    Pros
    · Simple looking/not flashy
    · Strong/durable
    · Laptop sleeve on the back was nice for separating papers. I never used it for a laptop.
    · Full opening

    Cons
    · Maybe too simple, not enough build in pockets
    · No compression to speak of
    · Water bladders always felt awkward to me in it

    The GR1 reminds me of a crescent wrench. It is sort of a Jack of All Trades, but a Master of None. So I wanted something different.

    I had always had my eyes on the TAD Litespeed. After doing research though, neither the first generation, nor the current generation seemed to hit the mark for me. The first gen had the awesome contoured shoulder straps, but the absolutely retarded buckles over the top of the bag. The second generation has no contoured straps, and it’s obviously still only 22 liters. I think the bag would work really well with a few more liters to it. That being said, I will still likely own one some day. It’s also obviously covered in molle, which I just wasn’t looking for at this moment.

    The TAD EDC was too big for my taste, or at least looked it, and still carries a super duper mall ninja vibe for me. Even it still has the retarded top buckles though. So no dice on that one.

    I had seen mention of some Direct Action bags. Their stuff looks really well done and innovative in some areas. The Dust was too small. The Dragon Egg was a contender for a while, but it just had too much of that “sagging egg” look. The Ghost pack really looked to be the one for me, but the separate admin pouch thing just really threw it off for me. Even if I have to add some organization on the inside of the pack (a la Goruck or the Khard), I wouldn’t want something that large as a detachable thing on the outside of it. So that was out.

    That being said, I think they are going in a great direction with their packs and could hit the nail on the head for me if they keep up their designs. The closing water bottle pockets are awesome, and that white kryptek with brown webbing combo just looks awesome to me. Their laser cut “molle” is awesome too. Doesn’t carry such a strong military type look.

    The whole time I was looking for new stuff, I had known about the Khard 30. I had heard about it when it first debuted at Shot Show ’13 (I think it was that one), and thought it was just a cool concept. Since I still had not been able to find a new pack, I decided to think about this one some more. I did some more research, asked some forum members some stuff, and ended up finding a good price on a new one. It was just under $300, new. Good deal. I love Arc’teryx stuff too, I have plenty of their clothing, hats, and jackets. Their quality is top notch. So here are a bunch of my talking/reviewing points, in no particular order.

    Size:

    I was a bit hesitant on the size of the pack at first, but I’m fairly okay with it now. It is listed on their site as being a 30L pack, and the side pockets can carry 3L bladders, so I assume those 6L were taken into the math for the 30L total. With that logic, the inside is roughly 24L, including the top pocket as well. That’s just about 2L smaller than the entire volume of the GR1. That’s fairly reasonable for the inside of a pack, if you don’t use the side pockets too much. Let me get into that a bit.

    Also, even though it is a 30L pack, I was able to use it as a carry on when flying. It works fine under the seat.

    Shape/look:

    If you’ve ever used the pack yourself, you will quickly notice how the side pockets really change the shape/look of the pack when they have most anything in them. When they are empty, they stick to the side of the pack and it looks streamlined and “nice”. When they have something in them, such as a water bottle or jacket, they tend to balloon out and drastically change the way the pack looks.

    The pictures I have to describe this are in two different settings, but they should suffice.

    Empty Pockets:

    [​IMG]

    Not Empty Pockets: (1 liter nalgene in one and rolled up jacket in the other)

    [​IMG]
    As you can see, it makes quite a difference. The Khard has a really great shape, but I don’t necessarily care for the look with stuff in the pockets. The streamlined shape looks nicer to me, so I have been carrying everything in the main pocket for a while to see how I like it. The side pockets are obviously still there if I need them, and I won’t be a stickler about putting stuff in there. It’s a pack, it’s designed for carrying stuff.

    Also, while the side pockets do make the pack much wider, the thickness off the back is still pretty thin:

    [​IMG]

    Compression straps:

    They work fine, but I don’t normally have much tension on them. The bag has a structure to it and keeps a shape well enough that it doesn’t necessarily need it. They do work plenty well for attaching stuff to the side. I often times carry around my muscle roller on the side. Here is what it looks like:

    [​IMG]

    Attachment points:

    The pack has two rows of what one might consider molle on the front, and then daisy chains all over. There are two rows on the top pocket, and two vertical rows on the edges of the outside side pockets. The daisy chain is fairly inconspicuous, yet useful enough. You can see what it looks like in my other pictures. There is also a single row going down the shoulder straps.

    I’ve never used the two lashing loops on the bottom, but they seem like they could be useful for something.

    I don’t use the outside bungee system much either. It has it uses, like any other bungee system. Nothing too special, but nice to have at times.

    Belt system:

    Kind of stupid and almost useless on this pack. I don’t necessarily mind it having a belt, but I would prefer it being removable. As it is, people have come up with various ways of tucking the belt away. This is how I did it:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I essentially just rolled them up (it took a few tries to make the length correct), wrapped them in some Velcro One-Wrap I bought that matched the stock sand color perfectly, and then kind of tuck them up under the bottom compression strap. Keeps them out of the way, but I have quick access if I decide I want them. Still not the cleanest look, but I was not about to cut them off.

    Shoulder Straps:

    I think they are set up pretty well and the lack of padding doesn’t bother me too much. Even coming from a GR1, which had ample padding, these feel fine to me. The contouring works well, and that aides in them being useful and feeling comfortable with no padding. It probably works better on some people than others, so it’ll probably be a subjective thing. They also do tend to hold a structure, and almost stick out of the pack when not in use.

    This picture sort of shows what I mean, as well as some of the side angle ones I have posted.

    [​IMG]

    The sternum strap is like most any other sternum strap. Simple webbing, no elastic. Nothing special. Easy enough to move to different points on the straps.

    Pockets:

    I’ve already mentioned the two side pockets, but I will take about them again briefly. I like them, just not the way they make the pack look. They are nice for water bottles, jackets, gloves, or anything else you might want faster access too. I think the standard measurement is about two 1L Nalgenes in each side or a 3L bladder. I have not tested the bladder.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Aside from the two side pockets, the pack has the top outside pocket and one inside pocket on the top of the main “lip”. The top outside pocket works well as a throw type pocket, putting whatever stuff you need quick access to in there. It does have a key hook dangle thing, but I never use it. I’ll throw in keys, chapstick, my phone, maybe a novel if I feel like reading, snacks, etc…, pretty much anything I want to get at without opening the pack, in there. I’d say it’s about 1L of space. In this picture, this part of the pack is laid flat to stick my hand in there. My finger is right at the Arc’teryx logo.

    [​IMG]

    The inside top pocket is more of a flat document type pocket. That’s actually where I have my two Cliff bars right now, and I will put my wallet in there. When I was in Mexico this summer, it was a great place for my passport. What I thought was odd though was that it did not come with a zipper pull, just the standard metallic dongle that every zipper has. So I actually asked Arc’teryx if they could send me some, and they did. Here is what it looks like:

    [​IMG]

    It certainly makes it easier to open. It should have come with the pull, but it was not hard to ask, and I could have made my own.

    Inside mounting Velcro:

    This is obviously one of the main selling points of the Khard, but I’ll say it is kind of it and miss. As most reviewers have already said, it needs to be all over the inside. Some heavier stuff, mounted towards the top of the pack, will tend to fall off due to lack of surface area contact. For stuff that does stick to it, I think it works well.

    My current set up is a Condor VA3 utility pouch just under the inside top pocket. I use it for carious pills or medication I may carry around. It fits snugly inside the top of the pack when I close it up. The Velcro on it is surprisingly sticky. You can kind of see it in this picture.

    [​IMG]

    I have a Condor VA4 Elastic Keeper on the top right part for pens and a small Streamlight. I wanted to get the Milspec Monkey ones, but these ones work fine. Their Velcro holds strong.

    [​IMG]

    I have my Leatherman in a molle pouch, weaved through pieces of a Vertx Molle Adapter Panel, on the top left side. It kind of likes to sag and want to fall off a bit, but that’s because I pieced together leftovers from that MAP. It stays on thought. I had purchased the Quad MAP to mount my admin pouch to the top center part of the Velcro, but I think the rigidity of the back panel does not lend itself well to holding heavier pouches. It fell off real quick. My Leatherman doesn’t even want to stick there.

    [​IMG]

    My other pouches are not molle. I have a small E&E kit, my small medical kit, and my admin kit kind of sits towards the bottom with no molle.


    Aesthetics:

    It’s a very good looking pack. The shape is nice, and not too standard. Arc’teryx was originally a mountaineering/climbing company, and it shows in the bag. It has more of a minimalist look to it, yet still very functional. And even though it is a LEAF product, it does not look the part. It does not look like a military pack at all. With more and more people having molle covered packs, it is nice to find one that doesn’t look like that. The only thing that may stand out a bit is the color, but that’s just barely.

    Color:

    Mine is the Wolf Color, and it works out really well. It does not look too tacti-cool, and it does kind of blend it with a lot of urban type surroundings. I got a free BAC cap with the pack, I went with the non-Velcro version, and they match pretty well.

    [​IMG]

    For anyone who is interested, the color code for the Velcro One-Wrap things they use for strap management is the Tan color. Matches the color exactly, just not the width. No big deal.

    Quality:

    It’s Arc’teryx. If anyone has ever owned any of their packs/jackets, you know what kind of quality it is. The fabric is awesome, though I haven’t tried abusing it or anything. It’s gotten a bit of dirt on it, but it pretty much rubs off. I haven’t tried washing it yet. The attention to detail is great, though I have had to singe a bunch of small loose threads, which I learned from Goruck. I don’t necessarily take that as a huge knock on the quality though, I almost just see it as something that happens with stitching on packs. Stick a lighter to it super quickly and all is good.

    Zipper configuration/opening style:

    This is obviously another unique thing about this pack, and I do this it works pretty well. I use it as a standard backpack type opening in most day-to-day life, but if I need to pack something, I open it all the way up. If it is full and I need to get to something towards the bottom, I use the side openings. The zippers move pretty easily, though they sometimes get caught up on the compression straps, but it’s kind of obvious that would happen. Speaking of the compression straps, the way they work with the zippers to form the side openings is really cool. They kind of “isolate” the opening to whatever part you want to work with.

    Here are some general pictures of it in the various states:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Handles:

    The pack has 3 handles, one on top, and one on each side, which I think is awesome. It makes handling the pack so much nicer. And since the back is rigid, it always feels solid from wherever you pick it up. More companies should think about this. One thing I am not super fond of is how stiff the handles are. I’m sure they’d loosen up with time, but I don’t necessarily care to carry the pack around by the handles or try to loosen them by hand. The only time I really notice it is when I am riding my bike to work and I can feel the handle on the back of my head. Not a huge deal though.

    Comfort:

    For reference, I am about 70 inches tall, ~155Lbs. Maybe I am like the perfect height/build for this, but I feel it wears really nicely. It sits on my back well, the shoulder straps flow over my shoulders nicely, and it just feels comfortable, even with considerable weight. I think it looks pretty nice as well. Here are some shots of me in front of a mirror.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    And here are some my girlfriend took of me in Mexico:

    [​IMG]
    I like being weird for photos.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I did have stuff in the side pockets, but it still doesn’t look too huge on me or anything. I think it looks pretty good. Maybe a bit tall, but I don’t think it’s too big of a deal.


    Conclusion:

    All in all, I think it is a pretty solid pack. Is it my perfect pack? No, but I will keep it for a while because I like it and it’s extremely functional. Here are my pros and cons:

    Pros:
    · Good color
    · Nice shape
    · Opening style is extremely useful
    · Velcro is useful (but needs to be redone)
    · Comfortable
    · Looks nice on back
    · Durable (I have to assume)
    · Quality construction
    · Useful

    Cons:
    · Retarded belt
    · Shoulder straps may not be comfortable for everyone
    · Side pockets make it look fat with stuff in them
    · Velcro isn’t used to its potential
    · Lots of straps (which is easily remedied with the included Velcro, or stuff you can purchase)

    When initially researching this pack, people started mentioning the Vanquest Ibex 30. I decided against it because it’s ugly as sin with all the unnecessary molle, Velcro, and bungee :censored:. It has no aluminum stays. The glaring lack of originality, and simply that it was not Arc’teryx, bothers me. I know the Bird is quality. I know Vanquest ripped them off, and I did not like that. It looks like a toddler got ahold of the Khard and puked “tactical” molle and Velcro all over the place.

    Hopefully this helps someone, as I did not see anything this descriptive or in depth when I was looking, and I know I always appreciate it.

    Let me know if you have any questions!
     
    Rainy, ruudr, Myrddraal and 2 others like this.
  2. bigfoot

    bigfoot Loaded Pockets

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    Thanks for the awesome review and many photos! :cool:

    I really, really wish that waist belt was removable. That, and I wish they offered a slightly smaller pack in this design. That wolf color is downright awesome. It was sooo tempting when SKD Tac had a sale recently, but somehow my wallet resisted. :)
     
  3. yugotprblms

    yugotprblms Loaded Pockets

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    I wouldn't mind it being slightly smaller either. Like, the exact same proportions, just a few liters smaller. Wolf is a great color.
     
  4. 343KD

    343KD Loaded Pockets

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    Great review.
    I'd love to see a similar review of the Vanquest pack that's similar
     
  5. yugotprblms

    yugotprblms Loaded Pockets

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    There are some youtube comparisons of the two. Even though this was quite a bit more, I couldn't justify that stupid Ibex.
     
  6. EZDog

    EZDog EDC Junkie!!!!!

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    Great Review,thanks!

    I think my favorite part of this pack is the side pockets of course!
    I can hardly see the difference that bugs you too?

    I am just glad there are none of these around here for me to see or I can imagine I would have one too.
     
  7. yugotprblms

    yugotprblms Loaded Pockets

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    Yeah, it's hard to put into words how the side pockets make it look. It ends up looking fatter, whereas without anything in them, it looks sleek and slim.
     
  8. calebklyne

    calebklyne Loaded Pockets

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    Great review! I absolutely love mine and I've done a 4hour hike with 30 lbs in it and was very surprised to find it fatiguing me very little. On thing I am a little frustrated with though is the lack of well thought out, quality pouches available for it

    Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk
     
  9. yugotprblms

    yugotprblms Loaded Pockets

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    There are plenty of velcro pouches out there, you just have to find them. I have a few from Red Rock's Mavrik line. I also just had Tactical Tailor make me a Nalgene holder with velcro backing for like $15 + shipping. They'll make most anything you can come up with I bet.
     
  10. ruudr

    ruudr Loaded Pockets

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    Nice review! I like my Khard 30 too. I even have almost the same setup as you. Works great for me. Use it for my way to work and back and on small hiking trips.
     
  11. yugotprblms

    yugotprblms Loaded Pockets

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    Nice. I'm always looking for new, useful ideas/pouches for it. I wish I could find some of the hip pods that were supposedly sold, just to have on hand.