When springtime hits the PNW, your normal backpack isn’t going to cut it. The rains come, the snow melts and water takes over the land. It’s the time of soggy shoes, damp shoulders and puddle jumping. You can take a step towards keeping your gear dry with the Topo Designs Klettersack X-PAC.

Topo Designs Klettersack X-PAC Features:

  • Natural leather lash tabs
  • Heavy-duty plastic hardware
  • Heavy-duty straps reinforced with seatbelt webbing
  • Inner drawstring closure
  • Internal sleeve fits most 15″ laptops
  • Zippered top pocket
  • Side pockets for water bottles or additional gear
  • MSRP: $189
Topo Designs Klettersack X-PAC

Joey shown here for scale

A pack of many charms:

Ladies and gents, I’m a fan of American-made gear. Not for weird nationalistic reasons, just because I know that gear that’s made in America comes from hands that are well-paid and well-treated. With a company like Topo Designs, I know that their Colorado-based manufacturing is going to be top-notch. I know that the folks who make the pack will care about quality, too, and so I expect the best quality. And, let’s be real, with the Klettersack’s $190 price tag, I expect nothing less.

From the outside, the Klettersack X-Pac certainly appears poised to impress. The name ‘X-Pac‘ comes from the backpack’s fabric, which is a multi-layer sandwich of strength and waterproofness. The fabric is milled in Connecticut and features an incredibly strong 210D Cordura face fabric, a waterproof layer and ripstop polyester. In some ways, the fabric barely needs talking about except to say that it’s incredibly strong and will last a lifetime. It’s definitely waterproof, come rain or sleet (both of which were part of the testing season here in the PNW). And let’s not forget, the back, pockets and bottom of the pack features a ridiculously strong 1050D Cordura nylon. That’s not going to fail anytime soon.

Topo Designs Klettersack X-PAC

Generous zippered pocket on the top flap

Any features that the pack have ride on the back of this high-quality foundation. The pack is really quite trim, with five carefully planned pockets, two zippers, four buckles and some leather lash tabs. Those five pockets go like this: there is one generous laptop sleeve that’ll accommodate a 15″ laptop. Crucially, the sleeve ends before the bottom of the backpack. This means that you won’t knock your laptop if you set the pack down hard. Inside there’s also a shallow zippered security pocket for pens, pencils, and other small objects.

On the outside of the pack, there are two small side pockets which are ostensibly for water bottles. In reality, they’re really only good for smaller-diameter¬†objects — a Nalgene absolutely will not fit, though a Hydroflask will fit in there if¬†the backpack isn’t too chock-full of stuff. Overall, I’d like to see more generous exterior pockets – though I wonder if Topo Designs is so aesthetically driven that they don’t want to clutter the Klettersack’s silhouette. There is also one last zippered pocket on the pack’s top flap. This flap, in turn, seals down to clip securely into the main pack body with burly plastic zippers. The top flap conceals the drawcord closure, which goes a long way in keeping moisture out of the pack.

Topo Designs Klettersack X-PAC

Love seeing that Made in USA tag

The pack straps are made out of a padded seatbelt material, which is extraordinarily comfortable. The padding is perfect — not too dense as to be uncomfortable, but not so soft that it packs down and digs into your skin. This pack isn’t strictly meant to be a load hauler (no sternum or waist belt) but the comfortable shoulder straps should let you carry loads in the high 20’s with a minimum of discomfort. The seat belt material feels very durable, and I expect that it’ll last just as well as the extraordinary X-Pac material.

Inside of the pack, there’s plenty of space. I easily fit my laptop, charger, a 1″ binder, various books or sheet music volumes, a jacket and a Nalgene. The Klettersack can fit it without blinking. The main compression straps do a great job of adapting to various loads. And, with those excellent straps, all of this carries quite nicely.

Topo Designs Klettersack X-PAC

Note the strong black Cordura fabric

The Good:

  • Truly class-leading materials and crafstmanship
  • X-Pac fabric deserves praise for waterproofness, durability
  • Colorado, USA-made product guarantees high standards of production
  • Interior space expands or contracts well to suit varying loads
  • Pack straps are durable and comfortable
  • Sleek, attractive aesthetic

The Bad:

  • Exterior pockets can’t fit anything bigger than a standard Hydroflask tumbler
  • Does anyone actually use lash tabs for anything except blinkers?

The Bottom Line: Klettersack X-PAC

Topo Designs’ products are for consumers who want exceptionally well-made gear that they can feel good about buying. It’s expensive to be sure, but nothing out-of-line with the sort of quality that it delivers day in and day out. The Klettersack carries well, and I fully expect it to be a functional backpack for years (maybe decades) to come.

Buy Now: Available from Topo Designs

About Author

Kevin Glover is an outdoorsman living, climbing and biking in Spokane, WA. Originally from the Nevada high desert, he moved to the PNW for its mild winters and allergen-free summers. He has guided throughout the Cascades and Enchantments for Peak 7 Adventures.

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