Once a relatively lesser known member of the animal kingdom, the honey badger rose to infamy last year, becoming a legend among critters. It's not all that surprising to see the animal referenced in a product name, especially one designed to bring some of the animal's tenacity and ferocity to the outdoors. The new Honey Badger backpack may not survive an all out attack by a honey badger, but it'll survive all kinds of other adventures.
"If you can’t show up with something that redefines the market, don’t bother to show up at all."
As that self-made introduction implies, SlingFin is a manufacturer bent on showing up to market with innovative solutions developed outside the box. It feels that other outdoor companies are too preoccupied with copying each other's designs, focusing on fashion and compromising for profit to properly innovate. We've seen its massive base camp tents in the past, and the Honey Badger backpack is a smaller manifestation of its design credo.
The Honey Badger has been developed with a goal of being super-tough, versatile and waterproof. It's designed for all kinds of outdoor activities, including climbing, backpacking and canyoneering. The Honey Badger is based around a semi-rigid shell that SlingFin calls the ExoPak. The pack is built out of abrasion-resistant composite and includes integrated tie downs and climbing rope for hanging, lashing and tucking gear. Inside, a removable dry bag liner keeps gear dry and fresh. Because of its semi-rigid construction, SlingFin is able to eliminate the internal/external suspension systems used in other backpacks.
The ExoPak secures to a shoulder-waist harness for use as a backpack. It can be quickly detached from the shoulder-waist harness, allowing it to be reconfigured as a bicycle pannier or duffel bag. We'd assume that SlingFin could also use the two-part system to allow you to use different shapes and sizes of packs with the same shoulder and waist harness. The company lists the weight of the 23-liter (1,400 cu in) Honey Badger at two pounds (.9 kg), or two pounds five ounces (one kg) with the dry bag.
To ensure that the pack is as much a survivor as its namesake, SlingFin ran the pack through what it calls "Test to Destruction." This regimen of abuse included dragging it behind a car at 60 mph (96 km/h), dropping it from 1,200 feet (366 m) while skydiving, and putting it through water testing. It didn't make it out of all tests unscathed (you can read more about that here), but it definitely showed grit and resolve.
In an effort to make it less beholden to investors and more focused on building gear, SlingFin has funded its operation mostly through funds raised from family, friends and fellow outdoor enthusiasts. As such, it has limited resources to usher its designs to production and has turned to Kickstarter in an effort to get Honey Badgers scampering off out of the factory.
SlingFin plans to get the Honey Badger to market next year with a retail of US$229. A $95 Kickstarter pledge gets you a build-it-yourself Honey Badger kit, and a $175 pledge gets you a full pack.