The Allmansright Custom Liten 35 Backpack is a frameless backpack with 35 truly usable liters of capacity, that can be used as a hiking daypack or an ultralight backpacking pack for hikers with a dialed kit. While there are a lot of frameless packs on the market with two side pockets and a mesh front pocket, the fantastic build quality, comfort, eco-consciousness, user-repairability, and multi-functional minimalist hardware on this pack really set the Liten 35 apart.
Specs at a Glance
- Product reviewed: Allmansright Custom Liten 35 Backpack, with custom options of 1” removable hipbelt and non-removable top strap added.
- Weight (manufacturer’s): Approximately 16 oz (weight from manufacturer is approximate due to custom options)
- Weight (tested): 19.5 oz, including custom add-ons of hipbelt and top strap
- Volume: 36 liters (31 liters in main pack with the roll top folded 4 times and secured, approximately 5 liters in front pocket. Side water bottle pockets are not counted in the calculation of volume
- Materials: ECOPAK EPLX 400, ECOPAK EPLX 200, Recycled Bag Cloth RBC 450 RS, Midweight Poly mesh, 3D polyester mesh
- 2 torso length options: 17” or 19”
Who is Allmansright?
You’ve probably heard of cottage manufacturers before, but what’s smaller than a cottage? A NYC apartment! Livio Melo and Jennifer Jacobsson (Liv and Jen) do all of the design, sewing, marketing, customer service, and shipping themselves out of their small studio in the Bronx. There is nothing homemade-looking about the construction of these packs, however. Liv was a design student, and the shaping, cutting, sewing, construction, notions, and multi-use elements are impeccably executed.
Allmansright takes its name from Allemansrätten, the “Right of Public Access” law that Jen grew up with in Sweden. This philosophy of public access deeply connects with Allmansright’s mission of ensuring diverse communities have access to and inclusion in the world of outdoor recreation.
In addition to the color options, you can choose to include the following add-ons:
- A stretch bottom pocket for snacks or an extra layer
- A sewn-in (non-removable) top strap, for additional compression or securing a pad or other items to the top of the backpack
- A removable 1” wide simple webbing hip belt with a dual-adjustable quick-release buckle. This belt attaches via two triglide buckles.
- Cordage to secure a foam sit pad on the back panel as a virtual frame, for extra cushioning on your back, and for easy removal at rest stops. Even though we didn’t order this as a custom option, the pack still has loops on the back panel for adding cordage later.
The Liten 35 Custom is primarily made of recycled material manufactured by Challenge Fabrics (the creators of Ultra fabric). Fabrics used are from Challenge’s ECOPAK line–a reinforced waterproof laminate fabric in 200 denier for most of the pack body, and 400 denier for high-wear areas including the bottom of the pack and the bottom of the side pockets.
The tougher material on the bottom wraps up the back of the pack an inch, both to keep that seam off the ground as well as to shift the seam away from a high pressure spot on the edge of the pack. The back of the pack (the part that goes against the user’s back) and the outside of the shoulder straps are made from Challenge RBC (Recycled Bag Cloth), which is DWR-treated and PU coated for waterproofness. It feels like soft packcloth, and feels much nicer against the skin than plasticky-feeling laminate fabrics. The front pocket and top of the side pockets are made of a medium-duty poly mesh to allow water to drain easily. The ECOPAK bottoms on the side pockets have grommets to aid in drainage as well.
The Liten primarily uses internal grosgrain binding to finish the seams, and the rolltop seam is flat-felled to reduce bulk. The seams are not taped or seam-sealed; a pack liner should be used for reliable waterproofing.
The Liten is a roll-top pack with the top lip stiffened by webbing along one side of the opening. No Velcro is used for the closure, which I appreciate, as I find Velcro always snags my clothing. No snaps are used either. I find the webbing used to be sufficiently stiff to provide for a good roll. The roll-top buckles mate with Lineloc buckles attached to zigzagging static cord on either side. When you pull the cords tight, they compress the sides and pull the top down to compress from the top as well. The roll-top buckles cannot clip to each other–they only mate with the side buckles.
We received a pack with the custom option of a non-removable top strap, which provides additional top compression and a way to strap a pad or a tent to the top of the pack. A lot of webbing is provided for this purpose, and you can tuck any extra into the front pocket. I wish the top strap were available as a removable option, because I think the roll-top mechanism provides plenty of top compression already, and if you’re not strapping something to the top of the pack, you still have to fasten the top strap to keep it from flopping around.
Shoulder straps and Pack Carry
The Liten uses 3-inch wide, S-shaped shoulder straps which are a good unisex option, since they curve around the chest instead of pressing against it. They are sewn 3 ½ inches apart from each other at an angle to match the natural downward slope of most shoulders. There is a sternum strap with an integrated whistle which slides along webbing on the straps. The straps have 3D mesh on the underside and are soft and comfortable with no grosgrain binding along the edges (a common practice which can sometimes make for hard-edged shoulder straps). Instead, these straps are sewn inside out and then turned right side out so the seam is captured inside. There are no plastic stiffeners in the straps; they can be compressed completely if you squeeze them.
I found the width and flexibility of the straps to be extremely comfortable, allowing the pack to hug my body closely and securely, with no pinching of my neck where the straps attach to the pack. Wide straps also distribute the weight of a pack over more shoulder area, making the carry more comfortable. This is important, since a frameless pack like this is carried with all the weight on your shoulders.
We also got the custom option of a removable 1 inch webbing hip belt, which connects and disconnects quickly and easily via triglide buckles. A thin webbing hip belt doesn’t transfer any weight to your hips; its main purpose is to provide additional stability to prevent the pack from bouncing when moving quickly or climbing. I found that the shoulder straps fit me so well I usually left the sternum strap unbuckled, even when scrambling, and the hip belt, too.
The webbing on which the sternum strap slides terminates in a couple of pre-sewn loops halfway up the straps, for you to attach water bottle pockets, bear spray pockets, camera pockets, or clip a satellite messenger to. I like how the top half of the straps have no webbing on them–it looks clean and minimalist. You’re not going to be clipping pockets on the top of your shoulders in a horizontal orientation anyway. It makes sense for the webbing to start on the part of the strap that is usable for pockets.
The volume of the Liten 35 is larger than you’d think from the written specs. Allmansright measures the main pack volume with the roll top folded four times for security and clipped together, instead using the full unrolled height, (i.e. with the pack open like a bucket). I appreciate this detail because it measures the actual usable volume. The front stuff pocket is included in the volume (5 liters) but the side pockets are not, due to the expectation that they will primarily carry water. Livio reports that the volume calculation is actually 36 liters (31 liters in the main pack, 5 for the front pocket) but he rounded down to be conservative.
The ability to reach side pockets while wearing a pack is highly dependent on the user’s body and flexibility. I’ve seen packs reviewed where one reviewer categorizes them as having easily-accessible pockets and other reviewers say they can’t reach them at all. For my body, I find the side pockets on the Liten 35 slightly too tall for me to reach my water bottles to remove and replace them while wearing the pack.
How can you know for yourself whether you’ll be able to reach bottles from the side pockets of a pack? I take a pack where I can reach the bottles, and measure the height of the pocket from the bottom of the pack. While this isn’t a guaranteed metric, it gives you an educated guess about the likelihood of the accessibility of other packs’ pockets for you. On the Liten, the user-side opening is 8.5 inches from the bottom of the pack (the ideal for my body is 7” of height here).
However, this height (which rises to 11 inches on the non-user side) means that bottles are held very securely without danger of falling out. One way I used the side pockets was to attach a hydration tube to a water bottle and clip the bite valve to the front of the shoulder strap for on-the-go access. I refilled this system from a regular water bottle in the other pocket. One Nalgene or two SmartWater bottles, or one Nalgene plus one SmartWater bottle, can fit per pocket.
The Liten’s side pockets use captured cord locks which allow you to tighten or loosen the cord with one hand. To tighten, just pull the cord. To loosen, just press the button on the cord lock and the pocket snaps fully open. This is especially useful if you’re able to reach the pockets while wearing it, but even though I couldn’t, it meant for rapid adjustability and security when loading the pack.
If you prefer adding on shoulder strap pockets to carry your water bottles, then the side pockets could be used to carry a tarp, stove, fuel, a rain jacket, or other similar items.
Smart, versatile, multi-use design elements
That one-handed cord adjustability feature on the side pockets is indicative of a design ethos and thoughtfulness present in the whole pack. The Liten is cleanly designed with a number of minimalist features that have been well thought-out to have multi-functionality without a ton of extra webbing, hardware, or other add-ons.
Here are some other examples:
The side compression cord goes through tiny D-rings sewn into grosgrain loops. The D-rings allow the cord to slide more easily than they would through grosgrain alone, and also make the adjustment more durable. The grosgrain loops are sewn in the middle to create loops on both sides–one side with the D-rings for side compression, the other loops alone to run elastic cord through to attach a sitpad to the back panel. This dual-loop functionality is repeated on the front side of the pack to be the other set of D-rings for the zig-zag side compression cords and D-rings on the second loop for the elastic cord in front of the front pocket.
Below the front mesh pocket is an elastic cord with four cordlocks, configured to hold trekking poles, an ice ax, and a sleeping pad simultaneously, or any combination of these items. The shafts of the ice ax and trekking poles are held in place with small elastic loops and plastic hooks near the top corners of the front pocket. It seems so simple but it’s executed so cleanly without a bunch of extra stuff flopping around for all that functionality.
A Cyberian cord lock on the front pocket allows you to open and close the pocket with one hand. A tiny loop of cord at the top of the front mesh pocket allows you to clip small items there (a mini pocket knife, hand sanitizer, a compass, etc) for easy access without digging into the pocket. The elastic cord on the front pocket provides compression to the items inside the pocket, allows you to strap additional things (like a wet jacket) outside the pocket, and it can be unhooked to provide additional cordage for bulky things attached to the side of the pack, like a long tent stuff sack.
As described above, the Liten is primarily constructed of Challenge ECOPAK, a polyester-based laminate of fabrics for increased waterproofing and a fully recycled fabric that can be recycled again at the end of its life, because it doesn’t laminate materials of different origins together (for example, nylon to polyester). The RBC is also a recycled and recyclable fabric.
In addition to the fabric choice, the Liten uses elastic cordage which can easily be replaced by the user at home when it wears out, because both ends are accessible. Elastic tends to be the first thing to fail or wear out on a pack, but many, many frameless packs from other companies use elastic binding on their pockets that begins to droop quickly, or elastic cord that is sewn into the seams.
This is the first time I’ve seen a frameless pack use elastic in the pockets that can be easily replaced by the user at home without sewing. Being able to replace the elastic cord can add years on to your pack, and, in my opinion, is a sign of respect for the customer and the environment.
Pack in Use
I think the Liten 35 works equally well as an ultralight hiking daypack as it does as an ultralight backpacking (multi-day) pack.
It works well for both cases because it is ultra lightweight and simple to use, while still having a number of attachment features that don’t get in the way when you don’t need them but are very handy to have when you do. For most of the past decade, I’ve used a small ultralight pack I sewed myself for most three-season, 1-3 night backpacking trips. I was very happy to see that the Liten 35 is a very similar volume, but with a more capacious mesh pocket and side pockets, so I’m able to fit my hammocking or ground-sleeping kits into it with no problems.
Because all the weight is on your shoulders, it’s important to keep your pack weight from creeping up too high. The pack size will prevent you from overstuffing your pack with too many extras, but aiming for a total pack weight of less than 20 pounds in a frameless pack is recommended for most users.
The Allmansright Custom Liten 35 Backpack’s build quality, sustainability practices and creative design elements are very exciting to me, and I can’t wait to see what they design next. But my excitement is not just ideological, it’s practical. The Liten 35 carries well and comfortably, with wide and cushy shoulder straps that hug the pack close to my body, even when I’m scrambling up above treeline. For lightweight and ultralightweight kits, I think it’s a fantastic option.
Disclosure: Allmansright donated a backpack for this review.