King Kong Plus26 Backpack 03-ft

Review: King Kong PLUS26 Backpack

Note: We received this product for free. No other compensation was provided, and as always, all opinions are our own. We may earn money from links on this page, but we only recommend products we back. Learn more.

A durable, high-quality backpack will last a lifetime and has the potential to improve your day-to-day quality of life. King Kong is a brand built on creating the toughest bags using premium quality materials, smart construction, and thoughtful design. This made the King Kong PLUS26 an ideal product for the Durability Matters team to test. So, we put it through its paces over the course of several weeks, expeditions, and trips.

As an avid hiker and someone who traverses rough terrain for work, I was thrilled to use this bag to carry my must-haves as I trudge through the woods. During this test period, I also got the chance to use the PLUS26 as my primary piece of luggage for a short trip and a flight. The results: this backpack has a lot of perks.

First Impressions

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The King Kong PLUS26 comes well-packaged without excess plastic. It arrives in a beautiful storage bag. The quality of the materials is apparent right away. The zippers are thick and the zipper pulls look tough.

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I received the charcoal color and it is a deep gray with attractive black trim. I appreciate the red pops of color from the interior liner within the pockets and in the main body of the bag. The red that peeks through on the expansions of the pockets also gives the piece a bit of fun flair.

As I explored the bag, I was impressed by the number of interior pockets with intentional purpose. Considering its low profile and simple exterior, this bag has plenty of hidden pockets and compartments without extra bulk. In fact, this back is also much lighter in weight than I expected.

The weird quirk about the bag I received was missing the bottom clip for the external show compartment.

Quality of Materials

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This backpack is as tough as it advertises. All of the seams are neatly sewn and the rubber trim on openings, edges, and the handle promise longevity in high-wear areas. The rubber zipper pulls are tough and the zippers open and close smoothly.

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The padding is dense and stiff. It’s thick without feeling hot or bulky. The same is true of the straps. You will find most of the panels are doubles-lined with slight padding. The bottom is extremely strong.

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Functionality & Convenience of Design

One of the best features of the PLUS26 is that all of your smaller items are easily accessible. The interior pocket of the main pouch is right at the top and on the exterior flap, so you can get to your smaller items that you may want to keep secure a bit more hidden but easy to find when needed.

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The shoe compartment is a great feature. It zips almost flat for carrying items other than shoes, which is wonderful for outings that don’t require a second pair of shoes.

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I also really appreciate that the main compartment has a top-access zipper as well as a side zipper that allows you to open the bag more like a piece of luggage.

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To be honest, the King Kong website doesn’t do the backpack’s thoughtful design justice. There are many details in the design of this bag that add to its usability. These include:

  • A chest strap that can be raised and lowered to better fit your chest–a great perk for women according to my wife. They also stay secure because of the shoulder strap mechanism.
  • Elastic around the top of the bottle compartments to keep your bottles secure should your bag tip over.
  • I love that King Kong included elastic loops to hold the excess strap that would normally dangle.
  • One of the exterior pouches is mesh-lined, which is perfect for smaller, sweaty gym clothes.
  • The strap that secures the laptop pouch can double as a towel holder.
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Performance, Comfort, & Durability

Overall, I feel most people will love this backpack for the gym or hikes. The small, thoughtful details do make a difference. This has become my go-to bag for most outings and activities.

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My laptop easily fits into the laptop compartment, and I have found the top exterior pocket to be extremely useful for carrying small items like a notepad for work, pens, and cards.

It worked well on my trip and easily fits into the carry-on compartment or beneath the seat.


The back padding offers support in all the right places. The areas between pads offer excellent ventilation for areas of the back that tend to get sweaty.

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The bag distributes weight across the back, chest, and hips evenly. It’s much more comfortable on the shoulders than a duffle bag.

I found the bag comfortable overall, but there was one issue: the straps are quite wide but close together at the traps. I noticed that the straps tend to rub on my skin. I didn’t experience a lot of discomfort from this, but I could see it being an issue for extra-long hikes. I think they will loosen and soften a bit with time, though.

Best Uses for the King Kong PLUS26

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This bag is great for day hikes, as a gym bag, or as a carry-on. My wife has even considered using it as a diaper bag. I appreciate not having to stick my dirty boots or stinky gym shoes in the main compartment.

One of my favorite uses of the bag is that it’s ideal for race day. You can bring easily organize your running gear, bring a change of clothes, and have a spacious bag to stash your jacket on cold mornings. The dual bottle pockets are also great for race day.

Other Considerations

The zipper seams are durable but not necessarily waterproof. We will also contact King Kong regarding the missing buckle to see how they handle the lifetime warranty. Hopefully, they can send a replacement clip or exchange the bag.

The King Kong PLUS26 Backpack: Packed with Perks

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This backpack is truly versatile. It is also a great value for the price. It’s an excellent choice as a gym bag, travel bag, day hike bag, or day-to-day work bag. I do not doubt that it will last a long time even with daily use. It would be a great gift for an athlete or someone who commutes to work on a bike, on foot, or on public transit.

Over the course of a few weeks of use, it has held up well and had not shown signs of wear and tear. It keeps all of your belongings secure and easily accessible.

Jeff Hill

As a GIS Specialist for a land conversation non-profit, Jeff has the expertise and ability to put outdoor gear, including tools, technology, and clothing through real-life trials for accurate and informed reviews. For over a decade, Jeff has traversed a wide range of terrain types and less-than-ideal weather conditions along the way. He has a knack for testing buy-it-for-life products.

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