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Head-Turning Crag Pack? Indeed. The Arc’teryx Konseal 40 Gets Comments

Climbers have long regarded Arc'teryx as a premium brand. The Canadian brand offers aesthetically pleasing performance apparel and gear that often ends up on pie-in-the-sky wishlists due to high pricing.

Arc'teryx Konseal 40 on Seiji Ishii(Photo/Seiji Ishii)
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The Arc’teryx Konseal 40 pack floored me visually. Its clean and minimalist form separated it from almost every crag pack I’d tested. It also felt and looked different. It held its shape, and nothing interrupted the eye or hand as they scanned the smooth surfaces. This is not your standard ballistic nylon crag pack with straps, buckles, and zippers all over. If Dyson made a pack, this might be it.

But how would it perform? Looks don’t matter if outdoor gear doesn’t do the intended job. But Arc’teryx has a stellar track record. Time would tell, and I’m not nice to gear.

I schlepped the Arc’teryx Konseal 40 for a year of sport cragging. It got dropped in silt-like dust under the local urban sport cliff and squeezed through razor-sharp limestone boulders to access remote routes along the Pecos River in South Texas. Finally, the Konseal 40 survived getting raked across sharp granite crystals in the Hill Country of Central Texas.

In short: The Arc’treyx Konseal 40 proved easy to pack and comfortable to carry while constantly receiving admiring comments. It was an ideal volume and form factor for sport climbing and emerged unscathed after a solid year of use. The Konseal 40 possesses the typical Arc’teryx build quality and clean aesthetics but at a surprisingly reasonable price.

Arc’teryx Konseal 40

Specs

  • Pack body material 690-D CORDURA nylon
  • Lid material Hadron liquid crystal polymer grid
  • Suspension HDPE sheet and aluminum stay
  • Internal volume 40 L
  • Compression straps 4 removable

Pros

  • Comfortable carry
  • Stands up and holds shape for easy filling
  • High-quality, durable construction
  • Clean, appealing aesthetics

Cons

  • Not as convenient at the cliff as a front-loader

Arc’teryx Konseal 40: Review

Konseal 40 Basics

Arc'teryx Konseal 40
So many climbers commented on the clean and pleasing visual aesthetics; (photo/Seiji Ishii)

Arc’teryx applied minimalism to the Konseal 40. The shape is a simple rectangle, and the interior is undivided and only accessible from the top. Stiff foam lines the bottom and sides of the 690-D CORDURA pack body, giving it shape.

Arc’teryx constructs the top lid out of Hadron Liquid Crystal Polymer (LCP), and it zips shut via a #10 YKK zipper. This large lid has a bottom and top zippered pocket, and the top of the back panel has a small zipped hanging pocket. An HDPE sheet, aluminum stay, and padded hip and shoulder pads perform suspension duties. Lastly, four minimalist and removable compression straps round out the pack. That’s it; the Arc’teryx Konseal 40 is pretty slim in features.

The minimalist feature set meshed well with the clean, unencumbered presentation — no bright, standout hues; nothing broke the clean exterior lines; and nothing was visually superfluous.

The Arc’teryx Konseal 40 in the regular size has a verified weight of 3 pounds, 8 ounces.

The Konseal 40 in the Field

Arc'teryx Konseal 40 and all the cragging gear that fit inside
All this fit inside, plus lunch and a few other items; (photo/Seiji Ishii)

Packing

The Arc’teryx Konseal 40 was so easy to pack. The simple rectangular shape made the most of the pack’s dimensions. It was no problem stuffing a day’s worth of cragging supplies into the inner void. I got a 70m rope, rope bag, 12 quickdraws, Petzl GriGri, rappel device, rock shoes, chalk bag, extra chalk, 2 L of water, and a few other pieces of hardware inside.

I always kept my helmet outside the pack or on my head to prevent ancillary damage. Also, the light color of the interior liner aided packing in low-light situations.

The top pocket of the lid is voluminous, and I packed my lunch, first-aid kit, headlamp, snacks, a guidebook if needed, and other sundries — and had room to spare. I saved the bottom lid pocket for brushes, belay glasses, nail clippers, skin files, and other smaller items.

I saved the zipped pocket on the back panel for “must not lose” items like my keys (clipped to a tether inside), satellite messenger, and wallet. The way that pocket is oriented, it was much more likely that items fell into the pack instead of on the ground if I forgot to close the zipper.

I found the four removable compression straps unnecessary. The Arc’teryx Konseal held its shape well, and with the amount of gear I stuffed inside, the load was stable without additional compression. At times, I used the straps to secure a stick clip.

Loaded in this standard day-cragging manner, the pack weighed almost 30 pounds and was exceptionally comfortable on approaches. Arc’teryx got the relatively simple suspension system right. The Konseal 40 directed most of the load to the widest points of the hip belt, and I could keep the load lifter straps on the shoulder harness loose.

I preferred this while scrambling to move my shoulder girdle freely without fighting the pack to use my hands. Some of the approaches involved Class 4 terrain and took over an hour, but I never felt hot spots nor had any fatigue in my upper back or shoulders.

When the going got rowdy, tightening the load lifter straps kept the pack glued to my back. Jumping down from boulder to boulder wasn’t an issue. But I liked leaving the load lifters loose outside of super-aggressive approaches.

At the Crag

Arc'teryx Konseal 40 back panel view
Arc’teryx uses a simple HDPE sheet and aluminum stay for suspension, and it worked well; (photo/Seiji Ishii)

Because the Arc’teryx Konseal 40 is a top-loader only, it wasn’t as convenient at the base of the route as a front-loader. I deliberately packed items in the reverse order I would need them. Rope and shoes in first, harness and hardware in last so I could get my harness on to rack my gear, etc., before flaking out my cord and pulling my shoes on. This was the only concession made to the simple top-loading design of the pack. It was minor and became automatic.

Moving the pack between routes was easy thanks to the full-width and comfortable grab handles on the front and rear of the pack. They also were handy clipping points for often-used items while at the base of the cliffs.

The good-looking pack didn’t get babied at all. I dropped it in the dust, threw it in the car or van, and never washed it. I quickly jammed my gear in at the end of the day and hoisted it on my back when I was dirty and sweaty. It was a little soiled at the end of the year-long test period, but nothing was even slightly damaged.

The Arc’teryx Konseal 40 consistently provided a comfortable carry, but what was even more consistent was the comments other climbers gave the pack. I have never heard so many positive statements about the aesthetics of any piece of rock climbing gear.

Arc’teryx Konseal 40: Conclusions

Arc'teryx Konseal 40 side view
I found the side compression straps unnecessary, but sometimes used them to secure a stick clip; (photo/Seiji Ishii)

The Arc’teryx Konseal 40 is a low-frills crag pack that carried well, withstood abusive treatment over a long period, and unanimously looked incredible. It has the usual impeccable Arc’teryx build quality. These attributes already make it a desirable pack for the fashion-conscious bolt-clipper.

But what seals the deal is the MSRP of $190. In the realm of Arc’teryx pricing, this seems like a great deal.

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