AKEK Review, Initial Impressions

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Bubblehide

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Thanks for the review and excellent writeup. I really like the design features of that pack. Many of the other pack mfgs seem to have forgotten what pockets are. I don't want to be digging in the bottom of my pack, especially my daypack, everytime I want something. The price is pretty steep though, especially for a pack made in China.
Yes there are some features that appear really nice.
 

AKEK

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I can tell you that you should change out the material on the inside of the waist belt and shoulder straps. Using mesh lining (easier to manufacture) sucks because it doesn't last as long as other materials and debris can constantly get in there.

Look at the older versions of the EXO and you'll see they used to use a mesh and don't any longer. Kifaru has never used mesh as far as I know. Look closely at how they construct their packs since they and a couple of other companies are your competition in this market.
Love the feedback! We will definitely look into this option moving forward!
 

roosiebull

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I can tell you that you should change out the material on the inside of the waist belt and shoulder straps. Using mesh lining (easier to manufacture) sucks because it doesn't last as long as other materials and debris can constantly get in there.

Look at the older versions of the EXO and you'll see they used to use a mesh and don't any longer. Kifaru has never used mesh as far as I know. Look closely at how they construct their packs since they and a couple of other companies are your competition in this market.
pine needles love that mesh...

good point, you are absolutely right
 
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Bubblehide

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I can tell you that you should change out the material on the inside of the waist belt and shoulder straps. Using mesh lining (easier to manufacture) sucks because it doesn't last as long as other materials and debris can constantly get in there.

Look at the older versions of the EXO and you'll see they used to use a mesh and don't any longer. Kifaru has never used mesh as far as I know. Look closely at how they construct their packs since they and a couple of other companies are your competition in this market.
I have to fully agree with this. I was going to wait until I actually get out this coming weekend, as we have foxtails that would have filled these areas up. For those that don't know, they have barbs, so they go in, and you need to push them through, or take a ton of time getting them out. Now I am going try to avoid the foxtails as much as I can, since AKEK is so responsive to accepting feedback and willing to make improvements.
 
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Bubblehide

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I hauled out last years Elk in two trips. It took all my strength to get that pack off the ground, lifting it by one shoulder strap and somehow getting an arm thru it. It weighed enough that the stays pushed thru the top of the pack on the trip out.
Do you think this pack will stay together with a load like that?
Sorry @wapitibob, I missed your post. My initial impression, without actually using the pack yet, is that I do expect this pack to work. However, I will be using this pack several times in the very near future and loading it up and seeing how it holds up and performs. I will be comparing it to my Kafiru and Stone Glacier packs. I have had over 100 pounds (total pack weight) in both my Stone Glacier and Kifaru packs numerous times. I plan on testing the AKEK with about 100 pounds total pack weight, and giving it an honest review on how it compares. So in short, I prefer telling you how it actually performs with a significant load, rather than you, or anyone else here, basing any decisions on my initial impressions. If the pack does not handle 100 pounds well, I will work the weight down in increments to see at what weight I find it reasonably comfortable, with the overall weight considered. What I mean is that IMNSHO, a pack can carry a 100 pound load as comfortably as possible, but lugging 100 pounds around at altitude just is not comfortable, no matter how much the pack makes it a comfortable load. So that will be factored in.
 
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Voyageur

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I can tell you that you should change out the material on the inside of the waist belt and shoulder straps. Using mesh lining (easier to manufacture) sucks because it doesn't last as long as other materials and debris can constantly get in there.
I've never seen an AKEK pack, but I have had packs with the mesh on the inside of the hip belt and shoulder straps. I agree that it is a constant source of irritation with the debris it collects...particularly pine needles.
 

Where's Bruce?

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Pics are slow to load, some never do. Maybe edit those posts and select the full size option?
 
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Bubblehide

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Okay, next step in the evaluation process.

I loaded the pack up for a day hike tomorrow. The side pockets will hold an 82mm spotter with the objective lens facing down; I could not get it zipper with the objective lens facing up. My tripod fit no problem. However I was correct, if your pack is full, it will take volume from the side pockets. So the spotter and tripod were the first things to go in after my water bladder. I would like to see the side pockets as wing pockets like my Kifaru Fulcrum so side pocket volume is not lost. I would also like to see those side pockets with more volume. The water bottle pockets are also affected. It would be nice to be able to fit a Nalgene bottle on each side easily.

The straps all have a sewn in loop on the ends and the Velcro keepers slip through them, they help to not lose the Velcro keepers. However, when you pull the straps and roll up the length, the Velcro is barely long enough. It would be nice to have a bit more length there (this does not apply to a full pack where you have less strap hanging out to roll up).

I loaded the pack up; slipped the pack off the frame. Then I shoveled some dirt into trash bags (3) and slid them into a dry sack, and proceeded to load it on the pack. The load shelf works well, but I would like to see the top straps easily removable, and easy to reassemble, as this would make it easier to load the load shelf. But it works the way it is designed, so this is really a preference of mine. I did put the pack on loaded and carried it to my car (I don't need to drive my gas sucking truck to the spot I am heading). The pack currently weighs just over 70 pounds. I will likely add a few pounds in the morning. I do need to take a few minutes and adjust my dirt load a bit better than it currently is; but that can wait until the morning.

I will report back on how the pack carries the load, but maybe not tomorrow.
 
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Bubblehide

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From the field;
Pack weight with scoped rifle is about 80 pounds. I went up a very steep uphill, traversed across a slope the uphill again. The pack is handling the 80 pound load exceptionally comfortably. I am very happily surprised at just how comfortable it is. However, I do not have much for gear in the pack since this is just a day trip.

I am doing a little trail work while I am here, so the down hill handling will come after a bit.
 
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Bubblehide

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The pack packed the 80 pounds great. The rifle holder, I need to play with more to figure out if I like it or not. I found myself having to remove my rifle when I wanted to sit down on the ground. The bucket is farther back that where I have my gun bearer on my other packs, so it is very different and may take some getting used to.

My overall impression is that some may have preferences, like me, but overall, the pack works well. I am of course going to continue to use the hell out of it, as it is about perfect for day trips, yet I could make it work for 2 to 3 day trips, but room would be tight.
 

wmr89

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I was also one of the fortunate few who was given an @AKEK pack for review. I asked @Bubblehide if I could piggyback on his thread to keep the conversation in one place instead of several separate conversations and he agreed with the caveat that this thread is for initial impressions and he will start another one for field testing.

Bubblehide did a great job breaking down the pack so I will try not to re-hash too many details. The pack seems well made with good materials and stitching. At $399 with the ROK promo code, it fills a price point that doesn’t have a lot of packs out there.

Fit and comfort

For some background, I currently use a Gen 2 Exo 5500 (the one just before K2) and have packed out several mule deer and cow elk using that pack. I am a bigger guy with a 40” waist and a longer torso measuring 21” from C7 to the hip bone. My brother-in-law has tried on the pack and will do more testing later. He is pretty average size with a 32” waits and 18” torso. My wife also tried the pack and she has a 15” torso.

There are four adjustments for height and using the highest and second highest adjustments for myself and my BIL the pack fit well and was comfortable. My BIL actually liked the fit better than his MR Metcalf but we still need to test it more with him. My wife had to use the lowest setting and the frame still did not fit her very well, the curve of the frame was not in the right place on her back and the top of the frame bumped her head as she walked. So the pack probably isn’t the best fit for shorter torsos.

I really liked the feel of the suspension system. My biggest gripe with my Exo is that the shoulder straps are narrow and short so they have a tendency to dig into me, especially since I am a bigger guy. The straps on the Akek are long, wide, and very comfortable. The lumbar pad and belt fit well and I didn’t have any problem with the belt with a 40” waist.

Pack Layout and Loading Gear

The pack has a lot of pockets. It has a main pocket/compartment, a large secondary compartment with 2 interior pockets, the quick release pack with two interior pockets, two long side pockets on the main bag, and a water bottle holder style pocket on each side. I like the set up for a day hunt. It is nice to have your gear sorted and easy to get to when you need it.

When I loaded the pack like I would for a 2-3 day backpack hunt there was not enough space in the pack to fit everything for me. If I used the space between the main pack and the quick release back to pack my sleeping bag, everything fit well with space for food. So a 2-4 day hunting trip would be possible for me with this bag, just not ideal. It would be a great pack for summer scouting trips where my gear could be a bit lighter and I could ditch some hunting necessities like game bags. I don’t have the top end light weight/compact gear so some more dialed in sleep systems might fit in just fine. Personally, I would prefer the two main pockets merged together to allow for the user to put in larger and odd shaped items and then have room to pack around them.

I like the pockets in the quick release pack. For me, it functions the same as a lid pocket on most packs where I can put first-aid and other things I would need to get to quickly.

I was not a fan of the long side pockets. I was able to squeeze my Sirui T024SK with the VA-5 head into the pocket but my vortex razor 20-60x85 scope was too big. Without the carrying case the scope almost fit but zipper could not close around the objective lens. So any smaller scope would probably fit just fine. But regardless of fit, the way the pockets are designed, anything you put in them is taking space from the main pocket which is a major drawback.

Sirui tripod in pocket.jpg Vortex scope in pocket.jpg Main pocket.jpg
The tripod fits in the pocket but the Vortex Razor 85mm is just barley too big. Any use of the side pockets takes away from space in the main pocket.

I feel like I hit on a lot of the negatives with the layout but overall, I like the layout of the bag for a day pack or scouting. It isn’t my ideal bag for backpacking but I don’t do that too often and if you have a more compact sleep system it might work just fine for you. I would change some of the design if I was making the pack but the pockets I did not like do not prevent me from using how I want as a daypack.

Carrying Weight

My biggest disappointment with the pack is that the load lifters are attached to the bag and not the top of the frame. When the bag is not attached to the top of the frame, like you would use it when carrying out bone-in quarters, there is another buckle that can be used as a load lifter. That buckle is 1-2 inches below the top of the frame, essentially turning it into a 23” frame instead of a 25” frame. For me and my 21” torso, this meant the load lifters did not work when carrying weight (50 lb sand bag) and I could not adjust the weight to sit properly on my hips and my chest/shoulders. In contrast, the Exo, with a 25” frame is very easy to adjust the weight so it sits properly. If I strapped the bag around the sand bag, like I would when carrying out boned-out meat, I could use the load lifters that were attached to the bag. This improved the weight distribution and made the load much more comfortable. Still, the weight did not sit as comfortable as it does in my Exo. I need to play around with it some more to make a fair comparison since I have a lot of experience with the Exo. Maybe one of y’all know the physics behind it, but having the load lifters attached to the bag did not seem to adjust the weight as well as packs where they are attached to the frame. I looked and could not find any other major pack that attaches load lifters to the bag instead of the frame.

I want to try the pack with weight on a few friends with a more average build and see how the weight works for them. I also want to see if I can work on adjusting the pack to make a heavy load more comfortable for me. I will update as I work with the pack some more.

Load lifter on pack bag.jpg Load lifter with straps at full height.jpg
Load lifters attached to the bag and load lifters attached to the frame.
Video screen shot.jpg
This screen shot from Akek's YouTube video shows the load lifters attached to the frame being used the way I described. It is hard to see in the screen shot but if you watch for this part towards the end of the video it is clear how they are used.


Features and accessories

One of the major positives with the Akek pack is that it comes equipped with all the amenities that other companies charge you for as add-ons. The belt pockets are attached instead of modular. It is nice to not get charged an extra $20-40 to have belt pockets but I do prefer the option on removing the belt pockets and attaching a holster or bear spray. The meat shelf does its job and held my 50 lb sand bag in place. My only issue with the meat shelf is that it is set in place and the only adjustment is just cinching it down. I like heavy loads to sit just a little higher and there are not any straps on the frame that could help hold the meat in a different position. There are additional spots on the frame where straps could be added so I may just add a strap myself to hold the weight a little higher.

I really like the weapons holder. It is simple, intuitive, easy to use, and innovative. There are a few issues with it. It doesn’t adjust small enough to hold a rifle stock tightly. As a result, the rifle moves and bumps into my shoulder. The plastic mechanism rubs on the stock and barrel, creates some noise, and could scratch wood stocks. I may try to attach some fabric to the release mechanism so it is quieter. Still, the noise isn’t too bad and if I was on a stalk I would have the weapon in my hand anyway. Overall, I would prefer the weapon holder to a rifle sling. It is much more comfortable to carry than a sling and much easier to access than a rifle that is strapped down to a pack.

20220315_100442.jpg
Weapon holder.jpg
This is as small as the weapons holder will go and there is still a lot of space between the strap and the rifle.

Initial Conclusions*

I am interested to see how the Akek pack holds up to further testing. So far, I have just worn it around the house and I am looking forward to get it on the mountain this weekend. I don’t think this pack has a “one size fits all” frame, but it will probably work well if you have an average torso length. The pack is very comfortable with a moderate load but I need to do further testing with heavier loads and with some friends who the pack fits better before I make any conclusions on how well it will pack an animal. The pack is probably better suited as a day pack but could be used for a 2-4 day trip if you are willing to strap some gear to the pack or have a really dialed in system. The pack is well priced and doesn’t charge you for all the accessories. I will add to the reviews as I do more field testing.

*Subject to change upon further field testing :)
 

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AKEK

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Appreciate the well written and detailed overview! As you pointed out the load lifters on the frame are slightly lower when the pack is separated from the frame. For many people this should still work fine with proper adjusting, but on our USA made frame (coming in a few months) the load lifter buckles will be mounted closer to the top of the frame to help with this.

Also just for info purposes, KUIU and a few other big brands have the load lifters attached to the top of the bag in a similar way like our pack design.

We are Looking forward to hearing more tips and suggestions on how we can improve our packs!

Thanks!
 

ram94

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I feel like when the bag is separated from the frame is when you would want additional lift rather than having to give up 2"+/- of lifter height. I know the Kuiu frame has the lifters off the top of the carbon sheet but I have heard rumors of those breaking, so not sure it is a better design...
 

AKEK

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I feel like when the bag is separated from the frame is when you would want additional lift rather than having to give up 2"+/- of lifter height. I know the Kuiu frame has the lifters off the top of the carbon sheet but I have heard rumors of those breaking, so not sure it is a better design...
Good point to bring up! And yes you are correct and every point! The top of KUIU's frame points are really long and skinny... since ours are shorter and a little wider they should hold more weight and abuse without breaking!
 
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FishDaddy10

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Appreciate the well written and detailed overview! As you pointed out the load lifters on the frame are slightly lower when the pack is separated from the frame. For many people this should still work fine with proper adjusting, but on our USA made frame (coming in a few months) the load lifter buckles will be mounted closer to the top of the frame to help with this.

Also just for info purposes, KUIU and a few other big brands have the load lifters attached to the top of the bag in a similar way like our pack design.

We are Looking forward to hearing more tips and suggestions on how we can improve our packs!

Thanks!

I appreciate everybody's honest and well thought out reviews. They are very helpful, especially if AKEK becomes an emerging pack manufacturer.

@AKEK can you provide a better timeline for your US made frame?
 

roosiebull

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Appreciate the well written and detailed overview! As you pointed out the load lifters on the frame are slightly lower when the pack is separated from the frame. For many people this should still work fine with proper adjusting, but on our USA made frame (coming in a few months) the load lifter buckles will be mounted closer to the top of the frame to help with this.

Also just for info purposes, KUIU and a few other big brands have the load lifters attached to the top of the bag in a similar way like our pack design.

We are Looking forward to hearing more tips and suggestions on how we can improve our packs!

Thanks!
Glad to hear you are serious about building here, and also glad to hear your improved load lifter design. I’m rooting for you guys… sounds like you are on a good trajectory
 

AKEK

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I appreciate everybody's honest and well thought out reviews. They are very helpful, especially if AKEK becomes an emerging pack manufacturer.

@AKEK can you provide a better timeline for your US made frame?
Our USA frame is done being designed and all materials have been ordered! We are hoping to have our first sample in hand in 2-3 weeks. If we like the results we'll start mass production a few weeks after that.
We couldn't be more excited!
 
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