The LAUFBURSCHE huckePACK evolved steadily to reach its current design. Comparing the prototype pack and the commercial pack side by side, and looking at the early designs, I see that they have come a long way. The initial design was drawn up to suit the needs of Mateusz Szultk, the owner of LAUFBURSCHE, one of the early adopters of ultralight backpacking in Germany. As usual in UL circles, after using commercial lightweight packs but wanting to decrease his load further, Mateusz sat down to design and sew his own pack. He posted the original design on the BPL MYOG forum and the German Trekking Ultraleicht forum, and soon received a number of requests for his packs.
At that point Mateusz, an architect by education, decided to design the pack further and offer them in a limited series to interested people. The design went through four major evolution steps, which each had a dozen sub-steps, resulting in about fifty prototype packs until the final design was deemed good enough for retail. Every pack design was tested by friends and UL aficionados to gather feedback and further improve the design. The innovative lid of the pack, which makes water leaking in through the lid nearly impossible and is the characteristic feature of the pack, was developed during the third major step. It was hailed by those who used it as a breakthrough in pack design, and the interest in the packs started to further climb. At this point, Mateusz decided to make LAUFBURSCHE his main business - alas, establishing a cottage business is very difficult in the bureaucratic environment of Germany, so it took a while until his business was ready to hang its shingle.
The LAUFBURSCHE huckePACK is designed for ultralight backpacking trips, able to comfortably carry gear and food ranging from an overnighter to trips of two or more weeks. It comes in two sizes – Small and Big – and four different back length sizes - S, M, L and XL - allowing people of all heights to find a suitable pack. The hipbelt is a one-size-fits-all design, which can be shortened to the appropriate personal length of the individual; caps to close the cut-off ends are included so that they can't get frayed.
The internal volume ranges from 28 liters on the small pack in a S Torso Length to 57 liters on the big pack in a XL Torso Length, and both have the possibility of carrying an additional 9 to 11 liters with the extension collar fully extended. The lid has an elastic rim which stretches out when the extension collar is fully loaded, and will also then cover and protect the entry to the pack from rain, snow, and dust entering it.
The outside pockets and optional hipbelt pockets give additional space for the likes of camera, Platypus, rain gear, and tarp. Volumes range from 1.5 liters for the hipbelt pockets, 5.0 liters for the big rear pocket, 2.0 liters for the diagonal side pocket, and 3.0 liters for the high cut side pocket. The lid pocket is spacious, and I guesstimate that it has a conservative 1.0 liter of volume. Total maximum volume on my tested L Torso Length pack is 67 liters.
The huckePACK has a simple side compression system which helps to flatten the pack in the top part, and it works together with the lid, which also helps to compress the pack from the front and keeps the load close to the back. Having used an ULA Ohm and its excellent side-compression system, I found the huckePACK's side compression slightly lacking when loaded with little gear. However, this is only of concern when one is not using a closed cell foam (CCF) pad as a burrito frame in the pack - the CCF pad helps to compress the pack more evenly. There are still plenty of gear loops on the pack which, in combination with the provided Dyneema or elastic cord, help with compressing the pack when lightly loaded.
The suspension system of the huckePACK consists of the hipbelt and the shoulder straps, including load lifters. The core element to transfer the load between shoulders and hips will be whatever pad you add as an internal form or an external backpad. The S-Shaped shoulder straps and the hipbelt are made of a 3D padded mesh.
The pack is completely modular with its extras, and users can modify them for their needs appropriately. This means sternum strap, trekking pole holders, bungie cord and backpad cord can be removed or attached as needed, making it versatile for the trip at hand. If you cut off straps to the “appropriate for you” length, it is possible to save another 20 to 30 grams (0.7 to 1.1 oz), pushing the pack close to the 400-gram (14.1-oz) line.
The huckePACK comes standard in Dyneema X Grid, the same currently used by Mountain Laurel Designs and ZPacks. Other materials, like X-Pac, Cuben and 70 denier silynlon, are available as a special option and make the pack up to 90 grams (3.2 oz) lighter with the same features. The mesh pockets are made from a light yet durable mesh.
Views on the LAUFBURSCHE huckePACK: Top left shows the front of the huckePACK, featuring the front pocket made of durable and stretchy mesh fabric. The trail pole/ice axe holders are on the side of the front mesh pocket, two on each side with a top and bottom one. Top right shows the back of the huckePACK, with a Therm-a-Rest Z Lite (four segments) as a backpad, the contoured shoulder straps, and the hipbelt cinched completely closed. Bottom right shows the right side of the pack, with the diagonal side pocket, while bottom left shows the left side of the pack with the high-cut side pocket. In these photos, the pack is packed without any kind of frame except the Z Lite as a backpad.
- Lid pocket with covered zipper
- Mesh pockets on both sides and front
- Hipbelt pockets (optional)
- Contoured shoulder straps
- Side compression straps
- Waterproof lid design
- Detachable sternum strap
- Load lifters
- Left and right hydration ports
- Internal hang clip for hydration system or keys and valuables
- Attachment system for back pad - fits up to six segments of a Therm-a-Rest Z Lite
- Three elastic bands on each shoulder strap for hydration hose, compass, or other gear that needs to be kept handy
- Trail pole/ice axe holders
- Haul loop
Left: the bottom of the back, showing where the front mesh pocket starts. Right: the open lid pocket, which has enough space for a notebook and pen, a book, documents, money, and a compass.
With and without back pad. A back pad can be used to increase comfort and ventilation, but is not mandatory for a satisfying carrying experience. A foldable or square-shaped mat works best as a back pad.
A look at the shoulder straps. Left: the outside with two of the three elastic bands for a hydration tube or other gear which needs to be close at hand, and the removable sternum strap. Right: the backside of the shoulder strap, where we see the 3D mesh, which is highly breathable and allows for great ventilation - another unique feature of the pack.
The innovative lid of the huckePACK is a waterproof design. Top left: the open pack. Top right: how the front of the neck is folded inside. Bottom left: the closing mechanism; here the front of the pack gets hooked into an elastic loop at the inside back of the pack, to stay in place. Bottom right: the closed lid - the backside is moved forward and closed with a buckle on the left and right, while the elasticized rim snuggles up to the main pack.
Hydration ports can be found on both sides of the pack.
Full look at the optional hipbelt pockets. They come with dual YKK water resistant zippers and in different sizes: on the left is the 1-liter model, on the right is the 1.5 liter model.
The 1-liter pocket easily holds a Micro-Four Thirds camera like the Panasonic Lumix GF2, with spare room for extra lenses and batteries.
The hipbelt pockets are secured to the hipbelt via an elastic band and secured to the pack via a small clip.
I tested the huckePACK on various trips, ranging from a nine-day trip in Russian Karelia to a three-day trip in the Swedish Fjells as well as countless trips in the Finnish forests and fjells. Weight carried was between 5 kg (11 lbs) for a weekend trip to 17 kg (37.5 lbs) for the nine-day expedition in Russia.
My initial impressions, which fortified themselves over continuous use, are as follows:
- Impeccable craftsmanship: no loose threads, the right stitches for different areas, and well made.
- Dyneema X Gridstop is used as the main fabric, ensuring a bombproof pack which also survives bushwhacking and off-trail walking for nine days straight.
- The shoulder straps are ideal, one barely feels them as they snuggle up comfortably against the body, never in the way and carrying the weight comfortably.
- The net pockets are an appropriate size and durable; they can comfortably carry a tarp, kuksa, sunglasses, and various other small stuff in the front pocket, while the side pockets hold a 1-liter Platypus and snacks which are easy to reach when wearing the pack.
- The hipbelt transfers and carries the weight satisfactorily, and like the shoulder straps, adapts well to the carrier's body.
- Rectangular shape, which in combination with a Z Lite pad as a back padding, is comfortable against the body.
- Functions well as a summit or daypack.
- The lid pocket is nearly 100% waterproof and is big enough for map, compass, and book, as well as pen and paper with some room to spare.
- The lid itself is a true innovation, and is an improvement over the common roll-top and cinch lids of other frameless packs.
- It is easy to remove and re-attach the sternum strap and other modular parts one might not need for a particular trip.
- Trail pole holders are placed well. It's easy to remove or attach poles, even with full front and side mesh pockets.
- Attachment for the back pad is convenient, making a pad easy and quick to insert/remove.
- Roomy enough for a UL base load and food, fuel, and water for up to twelve days.
- Different possibilities to pack/reinforce the rucksack: burrito style with a CCF pad; without any frame; a Therm-a-Rest Z Lite as a half frame inside; with a Z Lite as a backpad and nothing else; both a CCF pad and a Z Lite.
The heaviest load I carried with the huckePACK was 17 kg (37.5 lbs), which included food for ten days, water, and gear for an unsupported trip through Russian Karelia. Even with such a load, the huckePACK carried surprisingly well and comfortably despite the lack of stays; at no point did it feel as though the pack or material were overburdened. However, the recommended upper limit which should be carried with the huckePACK is 12 kg (26.5 lbs), which is in line with what other manufacturers recommend as a maximum load for their frameless packs.
As a summit pack, the huckePACK performs well. It can be compressed sufficiently to not have too much loose material and empty space, though I recommend to keep a CCF pad as a burrito frame in it to have the best load transfer and comfort. With a sub 4-kg (8.8-lb) load, it feels like one isn't carrying anything, and with a normal load of around 8 kg (17.6 lb), mobility and comfort remained excellent, thanks to the more Alpine style of not being a deep pack.
For packrafting (anything longer than a day trip), I would recommend using another pack. Keep in mind that despite DXG being fairly water resistant, it is not waterproof - pack your gear in dry bags. I prefer to carry the rolled up packraft inside the pack, as this gives the best carry comfort - the weight being down in the pack and close to my back - with the minus that all other gear needs to go on top and needs to come out when you want to get the packraft out.
I also used the huckePACK for two weeks while ski and snowshoe guiding as a daypack, and I found it coped well with the extreme cold while granting me complete freedom of movement. It worked best in this case without using the hipbelt and relying on the shoulder straps and sternum strap to keep the sub-4-kg (8.8-lb) load in place. This allowed the most freedom of movement, and also ensured that I could take the pack quickly off when needed.
For the majority of users, a frameless pack still needs a frame of sorts. In the ultralight community, we tend to use our sleeping pads for this purpose, making them serve double duty. I use a Multimat Adventure CCF pad in a burrito style, and usually combine this with four to six sections of a Therm-a-Rest Z Lite for the back panel padding - the Z Lite also serves double duty and functions as a sit pad in breaks and at camp.
The following table lists comparable frameless backpacks which are similar in volume and weight to the LAUFBURSCHE huckePACK. All weights are as stated by the manufacturer and, as far as possible, represent a “naked” weight of an Medium sized pack. Torso length of the huckePACK is M, the volume is without the extension collar.
|Model||Weight (g/oz)||Internal Volume (L)||Cost||Fabric|
|ZPacks Blast 26||210 / 7.4||43||$185||Cuben Fibre|
|ZPacks Dyneema X 26||335 / 11.8||43||$185||Dyneema X|
|MLD Prophet||411 / 14.5||33||$180||Dyneema X|
|Six Moon Designs Swift 2011||425/ 15.0||38||$110||210 denier Dyneema|
|MLD Exodus||425 / 15.0||39||$185||Dyneema X|
|LAUFBURSCHE huckePACK||432 / 15.2||38||€195*||Dyneema X|
|ULA CDT||481 / 17.0||34||$135||Dyneema Gridstop|
|MLD Ark||496 / 17.5||52||$195||Dyneema X|
|Gossamer Gear Mariposa (without aluminum stay)||536 / 18.9||46||$170||Ripstop nylon|
|*The price is given in Euros (€) - as the Dollar and Euro exchange rate fluctuates constantly, we recommend you check the current rate at XE.com. While the price might seem high for U.S. customers, I'd like to point out that European customers pay similar prices for packs made in the USA after shipping, VAT, and import taxes are added, which means ultimately prices are similar on both sides of the Atlantic.|
Closest in this comparison, when looking at volume and weight, are the MLD Exodus and the Six Moon Designs Swift 2011, with the latter also being the most affordable one. The ZPacks Blast pack is the lightest option in this comparison, but is made of Cuben fibre - which might not be as durable as the Dyneema used by most others.
I tested a finished product made of Dyneema X Grid, though I also have used a prototype silynlon pack before purchasing this pack. Besides the different material and the addition of the lid pocket in the DXG pack, and the silnylon being a size large, they are similar in construction. Both packs are of a quality I haven’t yet seen in comparison to other cottage manufacturers and bigger companies.
The LAUFBURSCHE huckePACK, like other frameless backpacks, can be packed in a variety of ways. My personal favourite is the burrito style frame, in which a Closed Cell Foam (CCF) pad or inflatable mat is used as a rolled frame in the backpack, with the pad giving the pack more structure and transferring the weight to the hipbelt. Together with a Z Lite backpad, this packing style makes the huckePACK a comfortable pack, carrying lightweight loads with ease. But even without any sort of frame, I used the pack to carry 17 kg (37.5 lbs) on an expedition in Russia, and it performed well. I have spoken and hiked with other huckePACK users who never use any kind of frame, packing the pack in a way which allows them to carry their load comfortably nevertheless. While this is possible, I do recommend using a burrito style frame in the huckePACK, as this gives the pack a good shape for packing and helps with optimal load transfer.
The use of Dyneema X Gridstop works well for this pack and follows the trend of other cottage manufacturers who also use the lightweight yet durable material. I agree with what Will said in a recent review, "Dyneema X is a superb fabric for backpacks, so purchasing a backpack made with this fabric is an investment in longevity." However, it is not the lightest option available, and while some might claim that Cuben fibre is not very durable I yet have to see this being a problem in practice - there are plenty of thru-hikers which use Cuben fibre packs on the PCT and CDT, for example.
To get the best carry experience is it paramount that you choose the right size for your pack. Ryan Jordan's Quantitative Analysis of Backpack Suspension Performance article still is the word to go by, and his recommendation of taking a pack with a slightly longer back is what you should keep in mind when you choose a pack. "The effective user torso length is the user torso length plus one inch" sums it up very well.
|Year/Model||2010 LAUFBURSCHE huckePACK|
|Fabric||Dyneema X Gridstop|
|Pack Volume||Total Volume: 67 liters
Main Body: 42 - 53 liters
Front Mesh Pocket: 5 liters
Diagonal Side Pocket: 2 liters
High-cut Side Pocket: 3 liters
Lid Pocket: 1 liter
Hipbelt Pockets: 1.5 liters each
|Recommended Loads||Base Load: 5 kg or less
Maximum Recommended Load: 12 kg
|Pack Weight||Torso length M, Size Big, in Dyneema X Gridstop
Measured Weight: 428 grams
Manufacturer Specification: 432 grams
|Frame Sizing||S - 38-43 cm torso length
M - 43- 49 cm torso length
L - 49-54 cm torso length
XL - 54-60 cm torso length
|Hipbelt Sizing||One size fits all to a maximum girth of 150 cm|
|Included||Dyneema cord and bungie cord for back pad panel and additional compression,
caps to protect user-shortened hipbelt from getting frayed, sternum strap,
two ice axe/trail pole holders, haul loop, two hydration hose ports
|Options||Cuben fibre pack liner, hipbelt pockets in different materials|
- Excellent craftsmanship.
- Four different torso lengths and two sizes, as well as customization options allow for individual, customized packs.
- Durable, lightweight, and high-quality materials used.
- Comfortably carries loads between 5 and 12 kg.
- If a Z Lite is used as a back pad: comfy to carry and adds a bit of ventilation.
- Comfortable shoulder straps and hipbelt.
- Durable mesh pockets offer lots of space.
What's Not So Good
- Hipbelt pockets not included.
- Users in humid and hot environments might lack good back ventilation.
- The side compression system could be improved to allow the pack to become flatter when loaded with minimal gear.