Review: EXO K2 Frame with Horn Hunter Attachment
By Ross Russell, Rokslide Staff
I had the opportunity to use the EXO Horn Hauler shed hunting in 2016, which was based around a skeleton frame. This pack rocked the mountains for many miles in comfort. The design was one that moved with your body, carried awkward loads very comfortably and was extremely light. My experience was so good shed hunting with it, I decided to use it when packing my two Idaho bulls out of the backcountry and once again I was pleased with how comfortable the pack was during the trek out!
So how do you improve on a design that was a huge success and created many happy customers? EXO listened to the voices of its customers, making subtle adjustments to a very successful design to increase comfort and functionality and introduced the new K2 Titanium frame.
When you first look at the K2 frame you notice how sleek, light and tapered the design is. The frame is constructed with a solid piece of 1/2 inch titanium tubing and there are three horizontal carbon stays. The stays, along with the one-piece framing, allow you to cinch your load tightly, while keeping the frame's integrity in place. This means that you will have no concerns when stressing the compression straps to secure your load. Elk sheds come in varying sizes and shapes, providing the opportunity to test under stress the pack's lateral movement. When I tightened the compression straps all the way to secure various sized loads to approximately 40 pounds, let's just say there were no issues.
The design of the frame has a neutral curve to fit nicely into your lower back along with a recessed area around the head and neck, so that you are not going to be banging your head into the pack. When you're hunting and packing loads in heavily forested country, you are often bending under deadfall and brush, so this keeps you from knocking your head with sheds or whatever you may be packing.
The K2 frame provides vertical rigidity in its design and lateral movement. This means the pack moves with your body when traversing through the mountains, not against your movement, conserving energy and ultimately creating a more positive experience. While shed hunting in Idaho I am frequently going through heavy stands of brush and downfall. Having a pack that is sleek, follows my movement and seldom hangs up on brush, saves aggravation, limits the potential for falls, and ultimately gives me a better experience when packing loads or simply going cross-country.
We are not all created equal in the amount of sweat we leave on the mountain, but I know that I leave plenty. The K2 provides a larger lumbar pad of dual density foam along with an air strip going up the shoulder harness. The combination of the two create further comfort by creating additional airflow and breathability that help to limit the amount of sweat created on your back, thus limiting the chance for hot spots. After many 8-10 hour days, in varying conditions and temperatures, I was pleased to find my 53-year old back felt fresh and with no hot spots.
Further enhancements to the new design include a wider hip belt with a cupped shape, thicker padding for the shoulder harness and belt, and 1-inch webbing for the shoulder harness. These changes once again contribute to further comfort and the packs ability to create the feel of being one with your movements.
Between the two EXO packs, I have hundreds of miles in the mountains shed hunting and two bull elk packed out. Both of these packs have shined to the fullest, with the only failure being one YKK zipper that I overstressed on the Horn Hunter attachment. The pack design and features allow for easy customization for your individual fit and the ability to add your selected pack and accessories as desired.
If you're looking for a comfortable pack that is extremely light, sleek, and moves with you, plus can handle all that the mountains throw at it, the K2 frame system is up to the challenge. As with the 2016 frame after shed season, I know I will be using the EXO K2 this fall to pack out my elk.
To see a quick video on the K2, click here
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