You know me, back in the war I was on the side of Karrimor. Well sort of, I didn’t go down south and throw grenades over the Pennines at Berghaus, but Karrimor hit all the buttons when it came to packs. By the end of the 90’s that was all done and dusted of course, with takeovers and buyouts on both sides.
Then Karrimor story took a wrong turn after the last takeover where the name was greatly devalued by it being plastered all over cheap tat from high street sports shops.
But that’s not the whole story. There’s still a Karrimor that’s designing and producing real packs, but the profile has been low and information hard to come by.
So it’s with no little interest that I’m revisting my roots. In for test are two new Karrimor packs, the X-Lite 45+10 and the X-Lite 35.
The X-Lite 35 is a clean lined little pack, with features leaning towrads a climbing sack or a winter day-pack. The harness is low profile with a smooth foam material on the contact surface. There’s a chest strap, top tensioners and a grab loop.
The lid has outer and inner pockets, the outer with a water resistant zip. There’s an inner hydration pocket and an exit point.
The back system is based around a trimmed down version of the old Fformat foam and wire pad, with the back contact area having a non-absorbent mesh with sculpted channels behind for some ventilation.
There’s twin axe attachments, side compression straps and a big external stuff pocket with stretch gussets.
I can’t help but immediately compare this to the old Karrimor Hot Ice.
The X-Lite 45+10 feels like an update of the old Hot Route. It was bigger than the Alpiniste, and sometimes had features like the zipped base compartment that we see here. The X-Lite 45+10 is a hybrid between a mountaineering pack and a backpacking one, so we have ice axe attachments and a rope strap, along side that zipped base compartment and expanding zipped side pockets.
The lid has two pockets, and as before the outer has a water resistent zip, as indeed does the base and the two expanding side pockets.
The harness is again low profile with a foam contact surface, but here there’s a back length adjust system, and the attachment points are now not unlike my 1965 Whillans Alpiniste, with a flexible join between shoulder strap and pack. The only other similar arrangement I’ve got is on the Gregory z35r, and I think it’s a good feature, the pack will sit better on a variety of body shapes.
The hipbelt had an exposed plastic section that gives it form without bulk or weight. There’s side compression, chest strap, external “roll mat” attachment, and another version of the lightweight Fformat back system.
The bottom section has an internal zipped divider, and I haven’t used a pack with these features in ten years at least.
Why? I have no idea, and that’s going to be part of what I’m going to be discovering. Are such apparently practical features suffering from be “uncool” in these days of smooth alpine packs for all?
I’ve kept the descriptions brief here, because I already know I’m going to have much more to say on these packs and I don’t want to repeat myself and/or give the game away.
I’ve been picking over these packs and I’ve seen moments of design inspiration and glaringly obvious omissions.
This is going to be very interesting testing these. Updates and more as we go.