Mountain Moxie tests the Mutant 45L, a pack that supposidly adapts to all aspects of alpinism: from a quick ski tour to long mixed climbs. Find out if it lives up to the task!
Product Overview Kailas is a relatively unknown brand in North America, but has been winning ISPO awards for some of their innovative designs in recent years. The China-based brand makes apperel and hardwoods like packs and climbing equipment. Mountain Moxie received their Mutant 45L pack and tested it’s ability to adapt to a wide variety of activities, from ski touring to alpine ridge scrambles. The pack weighs in around 1300gr, which is pretty middle-of-the-road for a pack like this. Luckily, the hip belt and internal stays can be removed, reducing the weight to a very respectable 1090gr. Removing either of these would not be something I’d find myself doing at the base of a route. However, it certainly presents options when deciding on how to pack for your next objective. Personally, I removed the hip belt padding but kept the aluminum stays for awkward loads.
Neat design on the front pouch; the hook attaches in the same spot as the rope strap.
Significant Features Probably the most innovative design feature for the Mutant pack is it’s front “kangaroo” pouch. The front zipper expands the pocket enough to accommodate a pair of crampons or an average sized shovel blade (my K2 shovelblade barely fit). Zipping the pocket up when it is empty certainly streamlines the pack. A short piece of cord adjusts the metal hook, designed for a sown-in hook-in point. While it looks gimmicky at first, it actually works really well. The same hook-in point is used by the stowable rope strap, which actually stays stowed when you don’t want it.
Internal gear loops at the top of the pack are provided and our testers were divided on their usefulness. It feels very Euro to be clipping your draws to the inside of the pack, but some might find it useful. These are easily cut out for those that do not like them.
I’ve never been a big fan of zip-top packs, partially due to the fragility of a zipper holding all the contents of your pack. However, the Mutant 45L pack has changed my view on this: due to a well-designed top, the pack never felt hard to close, or have very much stress on the zippers for that matter.
Scrambling along a dry section of the SE Ridge of Mt. Lorette, Kananaskis Country.
Test Location & Conditions We tested the pack during a variety of activities, to see if it held up equally well in both skiing and climbing. While bootlicking a short section during a hut trip in the Purcells, the side ski straps made attaching the skis easy, but otherwise sit flush with the pack. We used the Mutant 45L on moderate alpine routes and mixed climbing on the Stanley Headwall in Kootenay National Park.
Bootpacking a short section up the Ptarmigan Arm, Boulder Hut tenure, Southern Purcells. Photo: Christian Schlumpf.
What we liked best The front pouch ended up being very versatile during a variety of trips, especially when trying to lower the profile of the pack.
The softshell-like fabric that covers the back panel proved durable and breathable. The 45L pack was comfortable to wear all day, both on the approach and leading climbing pitches. The panel shed snow well and stayed dry most of the day.
The side zipper is handy, if you’re into that sort of thing. Unfortunately it starts just underneath the upper compressions strap, which necessitates undoing the buckle before accessing the zippered pocket.
What we didn’t like If you’re looking for the absolute lightest climbing pack, this isn’t it. The Arc’teryx Alpha FL comes in at half the weight (though not nearly as spacious). However, the Mutant is a much more versatile pack for it’s weight than most other packs in this category.
(Fit) Notes & Recommended Use Though I was hesitant at the one-size-fits-all approach of the pack frame, it fit my tall person very well. The top load lifters make adjusting fit easy and it fit smaller-framed testers comfortable also.
Volume-wise, we felt the Mutant pack stayed pretty true to size. Comparable to similar sized Black Diamond packs.
Finding the goods in the Purcells. Photo: Christian Schlumpf.
Durability Since the Mutant 45L is not a dedicated ski packs, the side ski straps (and side panels) would wear out if packing your skis in A-frame often. If you don’t find yourself regularly boot-packing up steep couloirs or walking to your skiing objective (poor souls…), this is hardly a concern. The 420 denier Cordura fabric feels as it should, lightweight and tough. As usual, we doubt the “waterproof” claim on the website (most Cordura fabrics are laminated with a PU membrane, though in regular wear this usually wears out eventually).