Gear Review: Katabatic Gear Onni 65L

Basic Specs:

Katabatic Gear Onni 65L

MSRP: $265 (+$25 for optional hip belt pockets)
Weight: 1lb 11oz (27.9oz) for size medium
Recommended Load: up to 35lbs

With loads of comfortable padding, ​​massive pockets, and multiple ways to compress your load, the Onni 65L by Katabatic Gear​​ is a backpacker’s dream come true. The best part? This pack is incredibly lightweight coming in close to a pound and half. ​

Designed for multiple night excursions, this pack has enough room to easily carry all of the essentials, while still being compact and efficient enough to satisfy a more ultralight hiker. Supported by a removable aluminum stay and padded hip belts, the pack’s recommended load can go up to 35 pounds. This means you’ll be comfortably skipping down the trail and won’t have to feel guilty about throwing a few extra Snicker’s bars into your bag.


Circumstances of Review:

I used the Onni 65L on multiple backpacking trips along the Appalachian Trail, primarily in the states of North Carolina and New York. Although this pack and I went through a rain shower or two together, I had warm and mostly dry weather throughout each trip. Each trip varied in length, and therefor the weight of consumables I had for a hike was different each time. After all was said and done, the average total weight I was carrying in the pack was around 24 pounds.

Pros:

Pockets

My absolute favorite thing about this pack are the pockets. It features 2 huge, stretchy hip belt pockets that can very easily store an iPhone 6s (in a case), headphones, and a few energy bars. I even managed to fit a pouch of poptarts into a pocket on one trip. When empty, the pockets aren’t incredibly bulky, but once stretched they can hold a seemingly endless amount of stuff.

Wonderfully sized hip belt pockets

The back mesh pocket is also massive, and so far appears to be extremely durable. It’s perfect for wet gear, or the items you want easy access to throughout the day. I like to keep a good amount of stuff somewhat close by, and never even came close to running out of room in this pocket.

The side water bottle pockets are also shockingly big, and by that I mean they can fit TWO 1L Smartwater bottles in each pocket and still have significant room to spare. The pockets are so big that most hikers can easily fit all of their water on one side, and have the other side available for things like tent poles.

Side pocket #1

 

Side pocket #2. Also notice that beautiful compression cord.

 

Cord Compression

Located right above the side water bottle pockets on both sides, the compression cords not only help compress your load even further, but are handy to help hold side pocket items in place (example: tent poles, water bottles, etc). They also serve as a place to clip your carabiners, bear spray, or anything else you want hanging off your pack.

Magnetic Roll Top Closure

The roll top closure makes it easy to compress your load, and minimize the volume of the pack if not totally full. The added feature of tiny magnets in the roll top help make packing up seamless and quick. In addition to the roll top, the strap of the front mesh pocket wraps around and doubles as one more form of compression for your load, keeping everything in place and compact throughout the day.

Roll top with extra compression strap attached to outside mesh pocket.

 

Durability / Weight

The Onni 65L comes with two options for fabric depending on durability and weight preferences: the standard 70D fabric is the lightest option, which is plenty durable and ideal for people doing most of their hiking on maintained and established trails. Although slightly heavier, the V40 option is the most durable and was designed for people who are hard on gear, and who prefer bushwhacking or unmaintained trail adventures.

Although I personally have the “less durable” 70D fabric option, the pack has so far held up really well to abrasions, weather, and of course, being thrown on the ground after a long day. Even fresh out of the shipping box, everything about the bag feels tough: from the giant mesh pocket on the back, to the buckles and straps. This bag is definitely up to the challenge in a large variety of weather / terrain situations. And with even the largest size coming in at under 2 pounds, the weight of this pack is hard to beat.


Cons:

How Big Is Too Big?

More than once when bending over to retie my boots, or to get over a rock scramble, my water bottles fell out of the side pockets. I was able to eventually fix this issue by adding an extra item in the pocket to close up some of the extra space. However, for those using water bottles which are wider and shorter than Smartwater bottles, this problem may be nonexistent!

Ventilation

Although loaded with tons of fantastic padding and support, I found the “comfortable and airy” ventilated back panel to indeed be very comfortable, but also hot and sweaty. Although this isn’t the biggest disadvantage in the world, and if anything, normal in most packs, it’s never a great feeling to have a puddle of sweat forming in between your back and your pack.

View of the back padding / ventilation

Overall Value:

I am absolutely loving my Onni 65. Although incredibly lightweight, it’s loaded to the brim with special features that make this pack downright fun to use. Loads of padding make the pack exceptionally comfortable, even when getting close to recommended load maximums, and the multiple oversized pockets make organization a breeze. All in all, the pack is durable, lightweight, and efficient to use, which makes this backpacker very happy.

Final Overall Rating: 8.5/ 10

Additional view of mesh pocket

Shop the Onni Pack Here

Disclosure: this product was donated for the purpose of this review.

 

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Comments 3

  • Chris Guynn : Oct 5th

    Colleen,

    Great Review! That mesh pocket looks big which is one of the best things on backpacks in my opinion. I have heard lots of rumors about Katabatic Gear and it was good to see a review of one of their products on the trek. It just seems to me that the price tag is a little high for what you get. You can get a ~60L frame less pack made of Cuben Fiber for what you pay for that pack at around 15 oz. In their add for the pack the manufacturer says that the nylon the pack is made out of is laminated PET film to add to water resistance. Did you find that the pack did well in the rain?

    Reply
    • Colleen Goldhorn : Oct 6th

      Hey Chris! Thanks for reading. I agree that the mesh pocket is a big selling point. It’s incredibly durable and seems to fit an endless amount of gear – I love it! Although it’s definitely hard to shell out a few hundred dollars for a pack sometimes, I’ve found the price to be competitive with similar removable frame options from companies such as ULA, Z Packs, etc. When compared to similar models from these companies, the Onni is also very close to the top when it comes to weight (with the frame included).

      When I used the pack in the rain, it seemed to hold up pretty well. The pack is definitely water resistant, but not waterproof. So, in light rain I was able to keep hiking and the gear inside my back stayed nice and dry. However, the items you are storing in that beautiful outside mesh pocket, as well as the side pockets, will get wet without a rain cover.

      Reply
      • Chris Guynn : Oct 7th

        Ah. I always use a pack liner and never had any issues even without a rain cover on some hikes. I just dont see myself shelling out hundreds of dollars for a pack made out of waterproof material only to find that there was an issue with some seam somewhere. I ran into several on the at with top of the line cuben fiber packs that leaked and the manufacturer claimed that you still needed to seal the seams.

        I just put my tarp and other items that are already in zip lock in the mesh pocket and it works like a champ. Glad you enjoyed this pack. If I win the lottery Id like to try one of their sleeping quilts!

        Reply

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