A trend I’ve noticed with gear is that while the overall gear is light, the gear is getting to be overly complicated in my humble opinion. Especially as a company grows in size.
Snaps, buckles, extra doodads and so on to make closing a pack, getting gear outside of it or packing a little more complicated than it should be.
Part of the reason why I enjoy lightweight backpacking is the KISS principle. If I am thinking less about my gear, I am enjoying being outside more.
Not that buckles and such are bad. But it seems they are getting more and more in the way of simple designs. My day pack of choice opens and closes quickly and is a simple and elegant design. I love simplicity and functionality in my gear.
And much new gear does not reflect what I enjoy in the gear I use.
I’ve been reviewing a new garment for a magazine. This garment retails for $150 and is a mix of soft-shell like material and grid fleece. Lots of zippers and “technical features” yet it performs less well than my $10 fleece pullover.
In a similar vein, I won a pack recently at a raffle. I don’t need it, so I am probably donating the pack to charity. But it struck me how needlessly complicated it was just to open and close the darn pack versus my older gear.
The last pack I purchased (as opposed to be given for testing) was a ULA CDT . The CDT is “heavy” at 19 oz stripped down vs the 14 oz pack I was using for a while (pack review at bottom of link) But, you know what? The slightly larger size, the durability, and (this is important) the SIMPLICITY of the ULA CDT pack makes it more conducive to my style and why I went back to it. The ULA CDT has become my default pack again starting in the fall of last year. It fit my shoulder season gear easier and was just more of a natural fit for me overall. And it is now my day ski pack of choice, too. I can fish gear easily in and out of the pack, the mesh pocket in front is a generous fit, the pack takes a beating and my overall base pack weight is still at or below 8 lbs depending on what I am doing. Well worth the “heavy” extra 5 extra ounces for more versatility and simplicity versus previously used packs.
Currently sold as a climbing pack, not sure it fills this role necessarily. Climbing gear, esp if a rope is hauled, is darn heavy. But it will work.
Truthfully, the Rukus does not fit any particularly outdoor role well. The Gossamer Gear Type 2 Utility pack makes a better day pack. My ULA Catalyst is a wonderful workhorse pack. And I’ve mentioned why I started using the ULA CDT again for most solo 3+ season backpacking. Which is why I don’t think the Rukus sold well. What is the Rukus best used for????
What the Rukus ends up being is a fairly inexpensive “Jack of All Trades” day pack. It can be used for climbing if need be, it can be used for trail work or day hikes since it is reasonably durable and when traveling with bunk-house type accommodations, I could not only shove in my quilt, heavier down coat , toiletries, etc, it was also small enough that it worked as carry-on luggage. It hauls groceries in town rather well and makes a suitable gym bag. And it is comfortable. As a bonus, the pack stores rather nicely because it does not take up much space when empty.
Which is how I use this pack: For a little of everything.
Part of the reason for this versatility is the somewhat odd, pear-like shape. Not the most efficient shape for trail use, but the shapes does make it easy to fish things in and out of the Rukus. More so versus a pack that is more cylindrical in shape. The draw string closure is easy to open and close. The front storage mesh pocket is very generous and durable. I can easily shove a tablet, perhaps a book, a ziplock bag full of toiletries when going through security and other items in this pocket. Very handy. Overall, the Rukus is a durable pack that can be used a lot without getting wrecked.
The Rukus, at the end, is not quite suited for outdoor use overall versus other packs. And people who just want a simple book-bag type pack for every day use will probably look elsewhere.
The Rukus is a niche item. A niche item most people probably don’t think about. And one, frankly, I would not use if I was not given this pack on a whim to use almost two years ago.
But the Rukus has become a favorite of mine. I don’t think of it as outdoor gear, but just an everyday item that works well.
I don’t know how much longer this pack will be available, but if you want a versatile Jack of All Trades item for everyday use, the Rukus is a good addition.
At least it has been for me for almost the past two years.
Note: I was given this pack almost two years ago with no expectation of a review.. I figure two years is a decent amount of time for a review…