Oakley is one of my favorite companies, and they’re one of the few large companies to keep their DNA and soul intact with the growth.
Everyone I’ve met at the company is solid so it’s no surprise that this translates into good product. I mostly wear their glasses for the ballistic protection, and lately I’ve been rocking their Kitchen Sink pack—the focus of this review. I give the pack 6 out of 10 to start but there’s much to improve on however, this is my Oakley scale so add two points for the competition comparison and they’re at an 8 with this bag. The Kitchen Sink appears to be largely over engineered but has some a few flaws when the pack is put to practical use.
I’ve had the bag for several months and it’s logged over four thousand miles of travel by air and sea. It’s been my primary carry on bag on the plane (commercial and the SOFREP Yak 52), and recently completed a boating excursion from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico to San Diego, CA.
Last weekend I took the pack hiking with my kids. Our plan was to hike four miles and two thousand feet of vertical near Squaw Valley, CA in the Sierras. Five minutes into the hike my chest strap popped off the internal retainer wire. Anyone that’s an experienced hiker knows that the waist and chest strap are key components for weight distribution. Upon closer inspection this is a major weak point of the pack and needs improvement. I tried for five minutes to pop it back in place but was unsuccessful. Then I noticed the buckle on the opposite strap was about to come off because of faulty stitching.
Before writing this review I looked online to see if others have had similar issues but all I could find was a YouTube review of a static pack that looked like it was filmed in someone’s mom’s basement. Another reason why I like the LOR.
My Suggestions on Design Improvement
The chest straps and shoulder straps are big areas that need major improvement on this bag. For a bag of this size that screams over-engineering (by looks alone), the shoulder and chest straps should be a wider and all hardware should be double stitched and re-enforced (e.g. chest strap) at all stress points. The existing chest strap design is flawed, it popped off the retainer and was rendered useless in very light conditions.
The main compartment is extremely hard to get at, and could possibly be re-designed to have better in and out access.
The smaller Remora-like pouches have no practical purpose that I’ve found. In my opinoin these should be expanded to smart phoned sized pockets or get rid of the mesh and make a tight little knife carry spot or maybe get rid of them all together and use the extra stitching for the main straps.
Hidden stash pocket a must…don’t advertise it, make it a discoverable feature…
Not sure if the wire is stainless but if not I’d switch out the hardware for stainless, or else it’s a recipe for rust in any salt water environment. Most the hardware is aluminum so no concern there, mainly concerned with internal wire support and wire zips.
Photo: Stitching on the chest strap unraveling.
Photo: opposite chest retaining strap that popped off its retainer.
Things I really like about the Kitchen Sink Design.
The pack just looks badass in true Oakley fashion, and gets compliments everywhere I go. Love the parachute hardware. Computer side zip pocket is insanely useful. Padded top pocket for shades and small electronics is clutch. The bottom wet bag is just killer, I use this for wet surf trunks and as my masters swim bag and all my wet swim gear. Smaller back pocket with compartments is super useful for knives, passport, phone and other items. A good all around bag but because of the major issue on the main strap points I knock it from a 9 to a 6 on my internal Oakley scale, after all it is a backpack and the one area that should have been re-enforced to the tilt is the most overlooked in my opinion.
Good job to Oakley for continuing to push the boundaries on function and design, not too many companies making bold moves or leaning forward as far as they do, and innovation comes with risk.
Keep up the good work gents and I hope my humble suggestions help make a better pack.
To learn more or purchase the pack click here.
(Main Image: Kitchen Sink loaded up in the SOFREP Yak 52)