Light, Strong, Simple: the Oryx Backpack

By Alpkit

You just never cease to surpriseus!

It's one of the wonderful things aboutchattingtoourAlpkiteersand customers.Nomatter how much thoughtweputinto a piece of kit –norhowniche thatkitis–youtendtochoose something that's innowaybuilt-for-purpose foryourexploits, forreasons we don't always expect! That's whykeeping an open dialogue with you – the peopleusingour products – iscrucialtoourdesign process.

Incidentally, it was a conversation with one of the UK’sgnarliestclimbersthatinspired us to make this pack. The Oryx backpack was to be extremely lightweight,simple, and strong - with a decentcapacity to boot. Perfect for fast, minimalist alpinism.

You set us a challenge, so wesetourselves some targets:

  • Price: £75
  • Weight: 500 g
  • Capacity: minimum 30 litres

Youmay nowbewondering:'howcanAlpkitmakea500g Alpineclimbing pack for £75 whenother brandsare releasing packs that retailatnearly 3 times that?Are we missing something?'

Turns out we missed out a lot,butby doing sohave created a pack that does exactly what you need it to.

Simplify, then add lightness – Colin Chapman (design guru at Lotus Racing)

Making a product complicated is easy. Add a buckle here, a compartment there, adorn with all sorts of bells and whistles: the world of features is your oyster!As the Alpinists among you know,thechallenge is keeping'stuff' to a minimum. Nowthat'sinnovative.

When youlook at the Oryx, you'll notice that there's no structures back system.Unlike the Ibex and the Chamois which have sculpted back panels, the Oryx back system features fabric and foam(...removable foam at that!).We know that a well-fitting back support isn’t worth scrimping on, but we also know that sensible packing will give you all the support you need for a lighter, faster adventure.

Unclutteredfeature set

Bells and whistlescan be key to designing an excellentproduct,butknowing whennot to includethemisequally, if not even more, important to makingsomethingtruly functional.Eachfeaturesadda few grams of extra weight, weight thatyou don’t want to carry.

To make the Oryxlight and simpleyet stillreally usable, weput our ears to the ground and asked all the right questions so that we could find out what you reallyneedfrom this product. This involved some tough calls, but left us with the following features:

  • A front pocket for your guidebook
  • Ice axe/pole loops
  • Handles that you can use for hauling
  • Compression straps
  • Roll top closure that you can over stuff
  • A top compression strap for strapping on a rope
  • Valuables pocket and key hooks (even mountain folk need somewhere to put their keys)

That’s it. Nothing more and nothing less than you need.

Ingenious construction

By making the backpack less complicated, we could put more emphasis onthe materials, on how we put it together. Wemakethe Oryx pack in our UK factory, which meansthat:

A) we get to produce areallyspecialist climbing pack here in Nottingham,

B) you can askus tocustomiseyour pack for you,and

C) throughout the design process wecouldexploredifferent constructions,tweakingandtestingthe packuntil we got it exactly how we thought you'd want it.

To make Oryx lightweight yet durable, we decided to use VX07 – a lightweight laminated fabric with excellent abrasion-resistance and durability that is slightly more expensive than the other options available.The puzzle: how could we use VX07 without the price of the pack skyrocketing?

To keep the Oryx affordable without compromising on strength and capacity, we created an innovative pattern to reduce seams and sewing time for the bag. All seams are double-stitched and we’ve bar-tacked stress points. This has made the Oryx incredibly sturdy and lightweight, with a price-tag 3 times less than our competitors (and a25 yearAlpine Bond warranty).

Mission accomplished?

When it comes to the numbers, we’ve met our target price of £75 for a 35 L capacity bag. at 535 g we didn’t quite make our 500 g target.We camepretty close– but sometimes youhave tomake a call between reaching a number and compromising on other details, and for us the compromise just wasn’t worth it!

What we’ve ended up with is an incrediblyhardwearingyet lightweight backpack.It fitsin exactly what you need for fast and light alpine ascentsand its features aretailored to a day out in the mountains. It’s simple, and therein lies its ingenuity.


You've got to be sure after all! Unfortunately we couldn't find anyathletes prepared to chuck the pack with hundreds of pounds worth of their own climbing equipment offa cliff. Here'ssomein-house testing instead...

Test 1
10kg in the pack
Lifted 4m and small shocked dropped. Repeated 3 times.
Test 2
25kg in the pack. Lifted 4m and small shocked dropped. Repeated 3 times.
Test 3
33kg in the pack
Lifted 4m and small shocked dropped. Repeated 3 times
Test 4
33kg in the pack 
65kg added for 5-10 seconds. Repeated 3 times

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