If you’re a regular reader of Gear Institute you’ve no doubt seen us mention the Splash 25 Drypack from Klymit before. We first told you about it after the backpack was unveiled at the Outdoor Retailer show this past summer, and a few weeks back we covered the launch of a Kickstarter campaign designed to help get this product off the drawing board, and into the hands of consumers too. Now, we’eve managed to get our hands on an early model of this innovative pack, and while it doesn’t offer a lot of frills, it does provide bulletproof protection from the elements for those who need to keep their gear completely dry in the worst of conditions.
Built from extremely tough 210 denier nylon fabrics, the Splash feels very durable in your hands. It is clear that Klymit went to great lengths to ensure that this pack can be taken out into the most remote and demanding places, and still come back little worse for wear. My test model was put through its paces, in all kinds of conditions, over the past few weeks, and yet it still looks like it did when I first took it out of the box. Judging from what I’ve seen so far, I would expect this to be the type of pack that will stand up to the rigors of the outdoors and continue to accompany you on many adventures for years to come.
The Splash 25 is surprisingly comfortable to wear, so long as you don’t overload it. I use the word “surprisingly” because when you first look at the thinly padded shoulder straps, and narrow waist belt, on this pack you could be a bit skeptical of its comfort over the long term. But thanks to Klymit’s proprietary Air Frame technology, the Splash performs better than you might expect, even when carrying a decent sized load. But be advised, the specs for the pack say that it is capable of carrying as much as 35 pounds, but anyting more than 25 pounds or so will probably start to push the limits of comfort.
The Air Frame is definitely one of the killer features of this bag, and it performs as advertised. For those who aren’t quite as familiar with this product, the Splash 25 foregoes the use of traditional frames employed in most daypacks in favor of one that uses air to add tension and stability to pack instead. In this case, the “frame” is actually a series of chambers integrated into the pack’s design, which when inflated become rigid, creating a reasonable facsimile of a traditional frame that you’re probably more accustomed to.
While wearing the Splash, you’ll find a small, hand-operated pump located on your right shoulder. This pump, along with an accompanying valve, allows you to add or release air from the frame as needed. This gives you the ability to dial in exactly the right fit, which can change somewhat based on how much gear you are carrying, the terrain you’re crossing through, or even the activity that you are taking part in.
The use of the Air Frame also allows the Splash 25 to be lighter than similar bags that use a more traditional type of frame. Klymit’s pack weighs in at a mere 21 ounces, which is extremely light for a fully waterproof backpack. In fact, it is even light enough that it can be rolled up, and stuffed into a larger backpack for longer excursions to places where a drybag may be necessary, but won’t be your primary means of hauling gear.
In terms of storage options, the Splash only has one compartment, although that is completely by design. If you add lots of pockets, pouches, and stash points to a drybag it gets much harder to keep it waterproof, which is the ultimate goal with this pack to begin with. So, to that end, Klymit has only given the Splash a single large, very spacious, interior compartment that offers 25 liters of capacity. A rolltop lid ensures that no moisture can get inside, keeping everything that you put into it safe from harm. By keeping the design simple, the bag becomes highly functional, without having to sacrifice protection from the elements in any way. On the other hand, there isn’t much in the way of organizational options, so you’re left to your own devices for keeping everything sorted out inside the bag.
To make up for its lack of storage options, Klymit has added a few additional features to the outside of the bag. For instance, there is a daisy chain along the front for lashing gear, and an adjustable top handle can safely hold additional gear such as climbing rope.
Since this is a technical pack, it has been designed for use in some very specific circumstances. For instance, paddlers will likely love the waterproof protection that it affords, and with the Air Frame inflated, the pack will even float. Anyone who has ever had their daypack slip out of their kayak can appreciate what that means in terms of protecting and retrieving your gear. But the drypack is also great for hiking in wet environments, or canyoneering through gorges where fording rivers is a common experience too. Even climbers will appreciate what the Splash brings to the table when they venture into alpine environments where heavy snow and rain are common. If those types of activities are part of your outdoor repertoire, chances are you’ll find the Splash to be a great addition to your gear closet. But if you’re more likely to hike in fair weather conditions only, you’ll be better suited with a more traditional daypack.
Right now, the Kickstarter campaign to fund the Splash 25 is only about a third of the way towards its goal, with about a week and a half left to go. At this point, it is unclear if it’ll be able to reach its target, which could put the future of this pack in jeopardy. Hopefully Klymit will find some way to bring this drypack to market, because it not only performs well and is very durable, but it is also a great option for those foul-weather adventures we tend to find ourselves in all too often.
For more information on the Splash 25, visit Klymit.com.