Snugpak Sleeka Force 35 Backpack Review

Snugpak Sleeka Force 35 Backpack Review A little too excited I admit it. I’m a gear head. Backpacks excite me, and I’ve been a bit of a Snugpak fan-boy for […]

Snugpak Sleeka Force 35 Backpack Review

Snugpak Sleeka Force 35 Backpack Review - with tagA little too excited

I admit it. I’m a gear head. Backpacks excite me, and I’ve been a bit of a Snugpak fan-boy for years. When I received the Snugpak Sleeka Force 35 backpack I waited until the next day to really look it over thoroughly and let the excitement of a new pack to die down. I also refused to listen to or view other peoples reviews, so as to not sway my opinion, and let the pack stay in my office overnight, without looking at the features or reading the product labels. It was hard. Really hard. The next morning I took my first real look at the Sleeka Force 35 backpack, and…

Just the facts

The pack comes in three colors. Olive, black, and tan. Performance Equipment, the US distributor for Snugpak, sent me the black version for review.

Sleeka Force 35 dimensions:  25inches (63.5 cm) long by 20 inches (50.8cm) wide.

Sleeka Force 35 weight:  1.94 lbs (910g).

Sleeka Force 35 volume:

  • The center, or main compartment is 35 liters, or 2135.83 cubic inches
  • The two side compartments are around 32 oz., or 61 cubic inches.
  • It also has a top pocket that holds about 1.5 liters or 91.5 cubic inches.

Day pack with a militaristic attitude

The Snugpak Sleeka Force 35 is not meant to be a 72 hour backpack. By weekend pack standards it is on the small side. It is marketed as a day pack, and this is where it excels. The size of this pack reminds me of a small US military A.L.I.C.E. pack. Perhaps the kind of pack that college students carry around campus. Although I wouldn’t carry a laptop in the Snugpak Sleeka Force 35 without additional padding, as there is no padded laptop sleeve in the pack. The side pockets are large enough for a wide mouth Nalgene bottle each, and the top pocket/pouch is large enough for two or three paperback books.

Snugpak Sleeka Force 35 Backpack Review - Randy right side

Pockets

The side pockets on the Sleeka Force 35 have a very interesting closing mechanism that uses elastic strips at the closures instead of draw strings or buckles.

There is a small mesh pocket on the front of the pack, and it opens and closes with a hook and loop strip. I learned the hard way that the mesh has to be handled carefully. On my first attempt to open the hook and loop strip holding the mesh pouch closed the mesh tore. Fortunately, I was able to stitch it back together.

Snugpak Sleeka Force 35 Backpack Review - Repaired mesh

If you have a pack cover, you can stash it in the little slash pocket on the bottom of the pack, below the tailbone pad.

 

There is also a bungee cord that crosses back and forth across the rear facing side of the pack that should be useful for transporting wet gear.

Main compartment

The main compartment opens and closes with a draw cord, like a big stuff sack. The Sleeka Force 35 is a rather standard top loading fair with no internal dividers or pouch for a hydration bladder.

Snugpak Sleeka Force 35 Backpack Review - top load

Suspension

The shoulder straps are very thickly padded, with webbing loops, and D rings to allow you to attach things that you would like front and center. The Sleeka Force 35 is a frameless backpack. The waist belt is padded all the way around to the kidneys. The belt itself is two inches tall with a large plastic buckle, and two hook and loop keepers on the ends of the webbing.

The shoulder straps are thickly padded with a breathable mesh outer covering and also come with a sternum strap that is elasticated for comfort.

Build quality

The Snugpak Sleeka Force 35 is very well constructed, although I would like to see a more durable mesh pocket on the front of the pack. The 600D nylon is tops when it comes to durability and weight reduction. Great quality webbing throughout the whole product, and heavy duty buckles, and D rings make for a excellent quality beginning. One can tell that Snugpak put a lot of thought into this product.

Packing the pack

Loading the top loading main compartment of the Snugpak backpack is fairly straight forward.

However, the side pockets are a bit difficult to load with the pack full. I can get a 750 ml(25.3oz.) water bottle in a side pocket with no problem, but a full sized Nalgene bottle is a little hard to squeeze in. It will go but it takes some effort. On the other side I can get a ground sheet (rolled up) and some tent stakes (about 6 stakes). In the top pocket I can fit a water filter and some water bags, along with a small first aid kit.

The size is that of a day pack, but ultralight backpackers will like the fact that they can fit their gear and not have a lot of unnecessary excess pack left over. The Snugpak Sleeka Force 35 does not have a whole bunch of compression straps which helps out with lowering the weight, but also means you need to think a bit more about how you load items into the pack. Fitting a weekends worth of UL gear into the Sleeka Force is a tight operation to say the least, but ultralighters will like the idea of not having their loads shifting through out their entire hike. The fit is tight on my 6’2″ frame, and the sleeka does not move around. It doesn’t bounce, or slide side to side like some other small packs do.

Carrying the load

The Sleeka Force 35 carries very well. The main body of the pack rides low, but the waist belt is nice and high… just above my hip bones. It is actually more comfortable than an A.L.I.C.E. pack and even more comfortable than my folding pack.

Snugpak Sleeka Force 35 Backpack Review - Randy hikingHiking with the Sleeka Force 35 is nothing short of a pleasure. The thickly padded shoulder straps, and good air flow between the back panel and the users back is great. The padded portions of the waist belt make the Sleeka Force 35 truly a thing of beauty. After hiking about 30 minutes you begin to think ” Honey where have
you been all my life”? It is without a doubt a dream fit. No achy shoulders, no sore spots from chaffing, no having to constantly re-tighten, or adjust shoulder straps, or hip belts. The Snugpak Sleeka Force 35 t is a thing of beauty. This is not your Granddaddy’s backpack. Total comfort all the way.

Overall

With the Snugpack Sleeka Force 35 the reward is in the carry. To say that the Snugpak Sleeka Force 35 is comfortable is probably the understatement of the year. I REALLY like this pack.

The 600D cordura nylon is a great testament the quality of this Snugpak product. I just wished the fine folks at Snugpak would have put a solid cordura pocket on the front of the pack instead of a mesh pocket, but this is the only construction flaw I can find.

You have to plan out where you are going to carry everything in this pack, else the Sleeka Force 35 can be a pain to load. The side pockets will fight accepting larger items if the body of the pack is full. There are no drawstrings on the side pockets to help keep contents in, but as I discovered, they are not needed. The elastic strips at the top of each pocket is more than enough to keep things secure.

To the people at Snugpak I say BRAVO!

Gears Rating:

Gear Score
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To say that the Snugpak Sleeka Force 35 is comfortable is probably the understatement of the year. I REALLY like this pack.

-Guest post by Randy M

About Randy M

Like most of the Gear Report team, I live in central North Carolina. I was born in the early 60’s. and have been hiking, backpacking, and camping since I was twelve years old. i attended summer camp, in the mountains of North Carolina. At eighteen I joined the U.S. military, where I learned how to camp and backpack for a living. After twenty-two and a half years I retired and have been an Assistant Scoutmaster to my local scout troop since 2010.
I enjoy traditional and ultralight backpacking with an emphasis on backpacking gear. My gear closet overflowed some time ago and now also occupies half of a shed. I have written reviews of much of gear that I own for various online forums. So, I know a little about the subject of carrying a backpack. :)