As the lightest and cheapest of the rucksacks in our test, compromises have had to be made. In the case of the Kathmandu Voltai it’s that there’s only one back length available and it isn’t adjustable – so it will either fit you or it won’t! Also there is only one main compartment, rather than two found on others, and no real lid, but a ziparound opening instead (though there’s a lid pocket for small items). This system is great for easy access, but bear in mind that using a waterproof liner will be necessary as rain can come through the zip – and if the zip breaks the pack will be unusable.
This is something of a ‘Tardis’ though, fitting in a lot – including a tent – which is impressive for the price. Putting it on, you notice how light it is, and the straps are easy to adjust. I found it sat a little high on my hips (my back length is usually medium) so it might be better for those with a shorter back. It sits quite flush with your body, which is good for stability but not for reducing sweat. To help is an Air LT padded and vented panel; but the bumpy design was uncomfy, particularly on the shoulder blades.
The wand and front pockets are a good size, though quick-release compression straps would have been more useful, and hipbelt pockets are handy extras. The Kathmandu Voltai would suit scramblers or lightweight fans.
Capacity 40 litres
External pockets 4
Wand pockets yes
Hydration pocket yes
Back lengths 1
Floating lid no
Men’s option yes
The Kathmandu Voltai is a light, streamlined and great-value pack that takes all the gear you need for multi-day walks, if the back system doesn’t dig in.
Review by Phoebe Smith
First published in Trail magazine Spring 2012