Beta Testing the Klymit Splash 25
Over a 30-mile, two-night backpacking trip on the western coast of Vancouver Island, the Splash 25 survived just about every test it encountered. It is a great and rugged ultralight pack that delivers on its promises. It is waterproof enough to withstand a temperate rainforest and heavy perspiration, it is big and adaptable enough to carry the gear required for the trip, but it could benefit from additional features for comfort. The Splash 25 is a perfect pack for day-long excursions where water abounds and the utility of a backpack is necessary.
Durability and Water Resistance
The Klymit Splash 25 claims to be a waterproof pack, and at no point on the trail did it indicate otherwise. The summer on Vancouver Island has been especially dry this year, and at no point was I tested by rains. That made it difficult to test the Splash 25 against that claim.
Nevertheless, the Juan de Fuca Trail winds its 30 miles through temperate rainforest on the coast of the Pacific Ocean. There are strenuous sections that require moderate elevation gains, and difficult trail conditions in places where tree roots are overgrown and passage is physically demanding. Between the sweat and the ocean, there were several occasions when the pack got wet without any water penetrating the pack itself. The most consistent wetness came along the spine of the pack, which resisted all of my perspiration during the hike’s most strenuous sections, including several wasp encounters in which I sprinted for safety. (F*$# those little buggers.)
Missing from this test was a complete and long-term submergence of the pack in water. The Splash 25 could be extremely useful in waterborne expeditions, especially when a day pack can help a kayaker get off the beach and onto higher ground. In fact, that might be one of its most useful applications. Still, given what I experienced with the pack, I have no reason to believe it will falter underwater, as it features a tested roll top that most dry bags use to keep contents dry. With a similar roll-and-clip method, the top of the bag never unfurled, secured tightly in every situation.
At 25 liters, the Klymit bills itself as an ultralight day pack. I took that definition and ran with it (sometimes literally), stuffing the pack with enough gear and food for two days and nights on the Juan de Fuca Trail. Internally, the pack was more than adequate to fit more than I needed—minus my stove’s fuel, which I had so cleverly convinced myself I included. Nylon straps that affix to a chain of attachments along the pack’s face extend the pack’s capacity, and it is only for this reason that I was able to use the Splash 25 as an ultralight overnight backpack. With the straps, I could safely and reliably attach my sleeping pad and tent to the outside of the pack. Fully packed, the adjustable nylon straps—which might be more useful with an additional 6 inches—tightly secured my sleeping pad and tent even in dense and difficult foliage.
Take a look at my packing list at the bottom of the post for the nitty-gritty.
The pack also features an inflatable spine, meant to improve comfort while hiking. Inflated, the feature prevents sharp edges from poking into your back while hiking. Polyurethane is a thin material, and an inflatable feature allows backpackers to limit weight (padding would be heavier) and still get the adjustable comfort that makes the pack more wearable. While the discomfort is manageable, the pack might benefit from extra padding, especially around the waist straps.
When the pack is full, it becomes difficult to use the hand pump that is attached to the shoulder strap. Easy enough to work around—simply inflate before packing. But that limits the ability to adjust later on. In older models, it seems that the pump was positioned between the shoulder blades; Klymit has made a great adjustment by placing the pump on the shoulder strap, where it is easily accessible regardless of whether you’re wearing the pack.
The pack’s long-term wearability is its biggest drawback. That makes sense for a day pack. Over long distances and under more vigorous hiking, the pack tends to drop lower on the body, like many packs do. This is a normal adjustment to make: just lift the pack higher and tighten the waist. Unfortunately, the pack features waist pockets that slide up and down the straps. These make it difficult to adjust the straps accordingly. As the pack drops, it forces the shoulders to endure a greater burden, made more so because the pack does not feature adjustable shoulder straps (presumably for weight reasons). The shoulders become weight bearing and the pack quickly becomes uncomfortable over time and mileage. During my 17-mile day, this was a frustrating and time-consuming problem, but certainly manageable over a shorter distance and slower pace.
The waist pockets are too useful to dispense with. The pack has very little external storage, and the pockets are really useful in those short orienteering moments when I don’t have any interest in stopping. I’d sacrifice the weight in exchange for shoulder straps and some limited padding around the waist.
- Rain jacket
- Cold activewear: compression pants, compression shorts, compression shirt, two long sleeve athletic shirts
- Mid-weight quilted long sleeve shirt
- Athletic shorts
- 3 pairs of athletic socks
- Down vest
- Lightweight, quick-drying hat
- 20-degree sleeping bag (Cat’s Meow)
- First aid kit
- Essentials kit (my blend of compass, lighters, tent stakes, tape, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, eating utensil and other essentials)
- 8oz. Fuel canister (whoops)
- Aluminum saucepan with lid
- Sawyer Squeeze water filtration system
- 2L Nalgene
- Flask with bourbon
- AA rechargeable battery pack and associated cord
- iPhone and associated cord
- A copy of What Love Is: And What It Could Be by Carrie Jenkins (it’s a sham and we’ve all been deceived, but there is hope)
- Inflatable sleeping pad
- Big Agnes Copper Spur
- 2c. oatmeal/chia seed blend
- 1/2 pint almond butter
- 3 8oz. Packages of soba noodles
- 5 Stroopwafels
- 2 cups of almonds
- 2 cups of walnuts
- 2 cups of dried sour cherries
- 8oz. Package of smoked salmon
- Spice kit:
- 1/2 c. Sunflower seeds
- 1/4 c. Dehydrated onions
- 8oz. vinegar/soy sauce blend
- 8oz. Sesame oil
- Pinch of garlic powder
- 4 packets of miso powder
- 1c. Dissolving vegetable-based supplement
- 4oz. Honey
- Pinch of sugar
- Pinch of salt
The Klymit is a great pack, and we’d love to hear more feedback. Have you used it? Love it or hate it, what did you think?