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  #1  
Old September 26th, 2005, 08:39 AM
Nadir_E
 
Posts: n/a
Backpacking/Hunting Pack Manufacturer

Hi All,
I mentioned something about Kifaru internal frame backpacks this weekend and was asked to put up a link to their website. Here it is:

http://www.kifaru.net

Note that there are two main lines - military and hunting. In military circles this is Gucci gear - the end-users speak very, very highly of it. Kifaru is considered by many to be the the best available with it's main downside being the expense. The salient feature in load-carrying ability is the suspension system (one shared, I believe, by Mountainsmith - a company with whom Kifaru's founder was once affiliated).

I expect that those of you who hunt may be interested in the hunting line which has some of the same flexibility of the military line in terms of easily adding/detaching pockets, etc. It also has reversible panels providing for either a camouflaged exterior or blaze orange.

I own two of their military packs and am waiting for a third. I prefer the military ones for reasons ranging from walter mitty to my perception of their greater flexibility in terms of configuration/modification. Take a look at the site and you'll see what I mean.

By comparison, I've also owned and used internal frame packs from The North Face, Kelty, and Gregory. So far, in my experience, the Kifaru line is living up to its reputation.

fwiw,
-Nadir

PS - it was great to see so many old friends and make the aquaintance of so many new ones. I hope to see you all again soon.
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  #2  
Old September 26th, 2005, 08:46 AM
traveltoad traveltoad is offline
Aaron Shrier
KI6BCA
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: San Fernando Valley
Posts: 2,628
Nadir,

It was great to meet you!!! I hope to see you again soon!

Thanks for the link!

Aaron
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  #3  
Old September 26th, 2005, 09:04 AM
traveltoad traveltoad is offline
Aaron Shrier
KI6BCA
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: San Fernando Valley
Posts: 2,628
The Kifaru looks very cool.

Which packs do you have? I am also curious as to why three? They seem at quick glance to be very versatile and expandable.

A
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  #4  
Old September 26th, 2005, 10:07 AM
Nadir_E
 
Posts: n/a
Quote:
Originally Posted by traveltoad
The Kifaru looks very cool.

Which packs do you have? I am also curious as to why three? They seem at quick glance to be very versatile and expandable.

A

Aaron - the US military as a whole has largely begun moving away from "we must all look the same" to recognizing that different jobs require different load carrying methods. The 1960's era ALICE gear has evolved into today's MOLLE gear. The multitude of horizontal straps you see on the packs are part of this system and allow the user to attach literally dozens of different types of pouches to their load carrying vest and/or their backpacks. It is this capability to customize that really sold the military versions in my mind.

The two packs I have at the moment are the Marauder and the Zulu. In truth, the Zulu can do both jobs (it can be made very small with the cinch straps). The Maruader, as a panel-loader rather than a top-loader offers some advantages for unusually shaped loads, plus it has the molle straps on the inside (helps to organize) as well whereas the Zulu is a traditional 'open bag.' The go-lite crowd could get more than 3 days' of stuff in a Zulu, but I don't count myself among them, so for me this covers day hikes through weekend-long trips.

The third pack I just ordered is their MMR (multi-mission ruck). Their EMR (extended mission ruck) is VERY popular among elite troops because they tend to carry ridiculous loads into inhospitable locations. Fortunately, I will likely never need to carry all the mission essential stuff they do (military batteries, sattellite transmitters, claymore mines, c4, etc., etc.) so for me the MMR fills the role of a 5+ day trip pack. I ordered a number of the exterior pockets, so were I to go snow-camping (gear intensive activity) with it, I can get it from the unadorned 4,000 ci range up to 7,000 ci.

The main downside to the molle straps is that they add weight; small as it may seem, in backpacking parlance, 'every ounce counts.' If you're used to traditional backpacks and don't see the need to fiddle with your equipment load or layout once it's set up, then a molle-based pack may not be worth it for you.

Were I to recommend any one Kifaru product based upon my own experience and reviews I've read from other users on military/LEO boards, it would be the Zulu. It has the greatest apparent flexibility. The EMR gets very high marks, but I believe that is simply too much pack for your average civilian. In all cases, the padded belt they offer as an option on the smaller packs is really essential for the suspension system to shine.

-Nadir
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  #5  
Old September 26th, 2005, 10:18 AM
traveltoad traveltoad is offline
Aaron Shrier
KI6BCA
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: San Fernando Valley
Posts: 2,628
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nadir_E
The two packs I have at the moment are the Marauder and the Zulu. In truth, the Zulu can do both jobs (it can be made very small with the cinch straps). The Maruader, as a panel-loader rather than a top-loader offers some advantages for unusually shaped loads, plus it has the molle straps on the inside (helps to organize) as well whereas the Zulu is a traditional 'open bag.' The go-lite crowd could get more than 3 days' of stuff in a Zulu, but I don't count myself among them, so for me this covers day hikes through weekend-long trips.

The third pack I just ordered is their MMR (multi-mission ruck). Their EMR (extended mission ruck) is VERY popular among elite troops because they tend to carry ridiculous loads into inhospitable locations. Fortunately, I will likely never need to carry all the mission essential stuff they do (military batteries, sattellite transmitters, claymore mines, c4, etc., etc.) so for me the MMR fills the role of a 5+ day trip pack. I ordered a number of the exterior pockets, so were I to go snow-camping (gear intensive activity) with it, I can get it from the unadorned 4,000 ci range up to 7,000 ci.

The main downside to the molle straps is that they add weight; small as it may seem, in backpacking parlance, 'every ounce counts.' If you're used to traditional backpacks and don't see the need to fiddle with your equipment load or layout once it's set up, then a molle-based pack may not be worth it for you.

Were I to recommend any one Kifaru product based upon my own experience and reviews I've read from other users on military/LEO boards, it would be the Zulu. It has the greatest apparent flexibility. The EMR gets very high marks, but I believe that is simply too much pack for your average civilian. In all cases, the padded belt they offer as an option on the smaller packs is really essential for the suspension system to shine.

-Nadir

Funny, those are the two packs that stood out to me... although I have only had a chance to take a quick look at the site.
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  #6  
Old September 26th, 2005, 09:02 PM
Matt Kendrick Matt Kendrick is offline
Matt Kendrick
KI6CGL
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Garden Grove, CA
Posts: 363
nice packs

yeah, those are some sweet packs. i did the PCT back in '93 carrying some crazy loads with a Gregory on my back. not quite as high end, but a great local company nonetheless.
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  #7  
Old September 27th, 2005, 06:41 AM
traveltoad traveltoad is offline
Aaron Shrier
KI6BCA
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: San Fernando Valley
Posts: 2,628
Nadir, there was also a book we spoke about. "Expedition Traveling" or something like that. Can you remind me what it is called?

Thanks,
Aaron
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  #8  
Old September 27th, 2005, 07:13 AM
Nadir_E
 
Posts: n/a
Quote:
Originally Posted by traveltoad
Nadir, there was also a book we spoke about. "Expedition Traveling" or something like that. Can you remind me what it is called?

Thanks,
Aaron

Thanks for the reminder, Aaron - I'd forgotten about that. The book I was telling you about is:

"Vehicle Dependent Expedition Guide" by Tom Sheppard 1998 (ISBN 09532334-0-9).

Another LR book published around the same time was called "The Land Rover Experience" which included some 'how to drive this thing' sections. About a year later, Sheppard did a 'lite' version of his original title combined with elements of the LR Experience and called it:

"Off-Roader Driving" by Tom Sheppard 1999 (ISBN 0-9532324-2-5).

For fun, another book you might want to track down is:

"Working in the Wild: Land Rover's Manual for Africa" by Land Rover, 1989
Part Number SMR 684 MI

I've got a few other titles that might be of interest, but if you're looking for the best of these, IMO, it's Sheppard's first book. It covers FAR more than vehicle-related issues and it's not intended for the weekend getaway close to home - it's for the real deal.

-Nadir
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  #9  
Old September 27th, 2005, 07:30 AM
traveltoad traveltoad is offline
Aaron Shrier
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Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: San Fernando Valley
Posts: 2,628
Fantastic!!!! Thank you very much!

-A
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  #10  
Old September 27th, 2005, 07:40 AM
traveltoad traveltoad is offline
Aaron Shrier
KI6BCA
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: San Fernando Valley
Posts: 2,628
FYI Amazon US has the now out of print Vehicle Dependent Expedition Guide listed (used) for $587 !!!!!!
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  #11  
Old September 27th, 2005, 07:53 AM
johnlee johnlee is online now
John Lee
K6YJ
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Torrance, CA
Posts: 16,150
I took a quick look at those Kifarus and they're not doing it for me. I guess I'm just a Gregory kind of guy.
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  #12  
Old September 27th, 2005, 08:12 AM
read read is offline
Read Kerlin
KI6CSI
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 303
This is what I pack with http://www.ospreypacks.com/crescent_85.htm
I have packed with gregory, northface, and A16. This one left them in the dust.
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  #13  
Old September 27th, 2005, 11:03 AM
Nadir_E
 
Posts: n/a
Read - Osprey's Crescent 85 is clearly a nice pack. You're dollars-ahead buying it over a similarly sized Kifaru (about $50 less than the Longhunter). I would point out, however, that two things differentiate the Kifaru from Osprey's pack:
Firstly - it comes with the 'gun bearer' which is a means of attaching your rifle to the waist-belt and shoulder strap, allowing you to use both hands while hiking/climbing yet keeping the weapon close enough to use should a shot be presented suddenly. Obviously, this feature isn't on the Osprey, but I suppose you could mock one up.
Secondly, the "dock-and-lock" feature Kifaru offers with its accessory pockets allows the Longhunter to be enlarged at the user's discretion. It doesn't appear to that this can be done with the Crescent 85 (could be wrong, I've never owned one).

Packs are like all other human tools - they work well for some people and less so for others. For me, the 'chance' I took buying the Zulu was fairly small and it performed so well I had little concern moving up their food chain to fill my need for a longer-range pack.

Matt - the PCT sounds like a great trip. Earlier this year I planned a nice 5-day trip in the Sierras that was supposed to happen this month, but had to cancel it when I made a job change. I'll post here before I make any future plans in case folks feel like coming along. When I took the Sierra Club's Wilderness Travel Course I used a Gregory (Robson) for Snow Camp (the most gear-intensive part of the class). My weekender was a Kelty and my day-hike pack was a North Face offering.

-Nadir
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  #14  
Old September 27th, 2005, 11:15 AM
nosivad_bor nosivad_bor is offline
Rob Davison
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Posts: 1,051
the reprint tom shepard books are soft bound and not color unlike collectable old ones which are hard back and color, those are the ones fetching the big bucks. i've read through it and it is a nice book.
i'd love to see it in my stocking this christmass.
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  #15  
Old September 27th, 2005, 11:15 AM
Nadir_E
 
Posts: n/a
Quote:
Originally Posted by traveltoad
FYI Amazon US has the now out of print Vehicle Dependent Expedition Guide listed (used) for $587 !!!!!!

Ouch! It was tough to find when I bought it back in 2000, but it wasn't THAT bad! I see listings for it on BP & Rovers North websites, but neither appears to have it in stock (BP has the other books I mentioned, though). I suppose you could use Ebay's automated search function to keep an eye out for it there.

There are a pair of new ones on http://www.amazon.co.uk for 95 each (about $170) which is still too high, but it's less than $587!

If you want to swing by sometime and check it out before dropping that kind of cash, let me know.

-Nadir
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  #16  
Old September 27th, 2005, 06:04 PM
Matt Kendrick Matt Kendrick is offline
Matt Kendrick
KI6CGL
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Garden Grove, CA
Posts: 363
pct

nadir, yeah the pct was an awesome trip. both amazingly beautiful and absolutely brutal all at the same time. ask me about the walk across the mojave some day, i understand why most people skip that and go straight to the southern sierras! but, i was a thru-hiking purist and didn't want to compromise . my friends and i set out to do the california section only (about 4 months), time didn't allow for oregon and wash.

fwiw, prior to that trip i blew through two northface packs, one totally gave out on the john muir trail, the other i could just never get to carry the load it was rated. my gregory became my best friend on the pct, i put that thing through hell and back for 1200 miles and it's still hanging in my garage ready to go. about two years after i bought it i had a seam start to unthread, i drove it to temecula and they fixed it while i waited, no charge. it's the only pack i'll ever carry.
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  #17  
Old September 27th, 2005, 07:05 PM
greghirst greghirst is offline
Greg Hirst
KI6CQL
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 2,289
Quote:
Originally Posted by nosivad_bor
the reprint tom shepard books are soft bound and not color unlike collectable old ones which are hard back and color, those are the ones fetching the big bucks. i've read through it and it is a nice book.
i'd love to see it in my stocking this christmass.

Yep. The cheapo soft-bound "Vehicle-Dependent Expedition Guide" (2003 edition) is available from the Royal Geographic Society for 25 pounds.

http://www.rgs.org

Free pdf download of "Desert Expeditions" is also available.
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  #18  
Old September 27th, 2005, 07:52 PM
Nadir_E
 
Posts: n/a
Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Kendrick
nadir, yeah the pct was an awesome trip. ... ask me about the walk across the mojave some day...the california section only (about 4 months)

Matt - that info would definitely be worthy of a trailside chat, or even lunch!

I'd love to hear more about it. When we did a weekender in Joshua Tree it was basically car-camping, so water wasn't an issue. I'm sure that wasn't the case as you crossed the Mojave!

-Nadir
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