I was able to get my hands on one of the Pa’lante Packs ‘Cuben Simple’ backpacks last week, and just finished up shooting, editing, and uploading an initial walk around video.
Pa’lante Packs also makes a non-cuben version, with more features, called the ‘Simple Pack‘, I just did an article and video on it a few days ago.
So the ‘Cuben Simple’ is basically a simplified version of their X-Pac version. Less features, less hardware, and lighter weight fabric.
As they describe it on their website:
“Designed to be as light as possible while making no sacrifices to comfort or performance”
Overall, the features of the Cuben Simple are:
- Roll top closure
- Front pocket
- Built in harness pockets
- Side pockets
- Mesh bottom pocket
And, that is pretty much it.
Even things such as hardware on the roll-top are not on the backpack (ref: 4:10 in my video) which was rather surprising, but goes to show just how much Pa’lante Packs wanted to scale back on the hardware, and thus weight, of the Cuben Simple.
What I Like:
I like that Pa’lante Packs decided to really try to scale back the features on the Cuben Simple.
As I shared with somebody recently:
“the Cuben Simple feels like that missing gap between the mld core, and the mld burn”
And it really does.
The Mountain Laurel Designs ‘Core 22L’ has been my backpack of choice for almost two years. I understand that the vast majority (99%) of people out there are not able to use a 22L backpack, or even the larger 28L version of the Core, and that is sort of where the likes of this Cuben Simple backpack comes into place. You get just a few more precious liters of volume, side pockets for those who like those things (meh) and that super neat lycra mesh bottom pocket that brought the Pa’lante Packs so much attention when they were first released.
What I Do Not Like:
It is rather unfortunate, and downright inexcusable I feel, that Pa’lante Packs did not seam/tape/bond the Cuben Simple – even if it meant they had to go to Zpacks and buy some of their one-sided tape in order to do it. Putting tape on cuben (err: dcf) is pretty much a ‘should do’ in this day and age. No, not because you want to keep the water out, but because taping/bonding the thread lines goes a huge way in reducing, and often times totally preventing, thread pulling – an issue we all know to be all too common with DCF fabric. I pretty much consider any DCF backpack that is not tape/bonded to be inexcusable. MLD, Zpacks, HMG, and even fellow tiny companies like Appalachian Ultralight all seam their backpacks. Pa’lante Packs screwed up big time in not doing this.
Cuben Simple vs standard ‘Simple’:
I would tend to think that you can think of the standard ‘Simple Pack‘ as a full featured, minimalist, backpack. It has all the things we have come to expect in backpacks in this category.
The Cuben Simple is basically a scaled down version. Instead of using two buttons in the collar, for example, there is only one. Instead of the roll top having the typical snap buckle to keep it close, there are not any. Those type of things. Of course, the DCF fabric versus the X-Pac is a big difference. Both in durability (huge difference) and weight.
There is a 150 gram (5.29 ounce) difference between the two. For most of us that want/use a backpack of this side, 150 grams is a good percentage difference.
Who Is It For?
I would say that the Pa’lante Packs ‘Cuben Simple’ backpack is for those folks that might find the MLD Core a bit too small in volume, but jumping up to the MLD Burn is just a bit too much. That makes the market for this backpack to be pretty small, but for those of us within this category/size of backpacks, I gotta say, the Cuben Simple is a nice little backpack that fits that slot between the Core and the Burn.
I got lucky and was able to trade some gear for this Cuben Simple backpack. Lucky score on my part. I had a chance to buy one during the second production run but was out on-trail and the payment process just would not go through. Been trying to get my hands on one ever since.
I know that a lot of people seemed to take my remarks about the QC of the Simple Pack as me saying that it was/is a bad backpack, that I was not happy with it, yadda-yadda, but that was/is just not the case. I think the Simple Pack is a nice backpack. It absolutely should be bonded/sealed, and yes, the QC needs to improve. But Pa’lante Packs is, we have to remember, a very small company, being operated by a couple of very active hikers – who decided to focus more on their outdoor adventures (and thus outsource manufacturing) than spending all their lives in a room sewing backpacks. Prop’s to them for that. The particular Cuben Simple backpack that I have been lucky enough to get was made in-house by them.
I suppose in closing I will say this: If Pa’lante Packs would have invested the extra bit of time, and very little money in the big scope of things, to tape/seam/bond the Cuben Simple, that would have gone a huge way to making this backpack an exceptional backpack. As it is, I am forced to do that myself. And when you are talking about a backpack that was priced at $260 bucks, well, sigh…
Where To Buy:
The Pa’lante Packs ‘Cuben Simple’ backpack is available to drool over on their website, but I have no idea when/if it will be back in stock.