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5/11/12

Open Thread: Pack Choice

The Hill People Gear guys have got me looking at upgrading my "outdoors" pack--currently a ~2800ci REI pack in decent shape. This is the bag that I use for camping, backpacking and is kept mostly loaded for bug out purposes. I've run a bit short on space - with food, water, some minimal extra clothing, shelter system/sleep gear and of course tools, I just can't really fit everything that I'm looking to. So, I'm window shopping for an upgrade at the moment.

What packs are you guys using?

A bit more about what I'm looking at: I'm looking at a variety of different setups, and getting led towards the high end set ups from Kifaru, Mystery Ranch, or using the new HPG Highlander, compression panel and another company's frame. I like the modularity of a compression panel type design -  you can cinch it down for a day hike, or expand it out for all kinds of loads - pack bags, jerry cans, children, etc.

The Mystery Ranch Crewcab looks good, but I've heard mixed reviews on their NICE frame, and it's crazy spendy. Kifaru is even more spendy, and I'm not a fan of a 6-8 week wait time and MOLLE insanity.

At this point, I'm willing to spend in the neighborhood of $400 for a nice pack set up that will last me a long time and do a variety of things. Leaning towards picking up a Kifaru frame and then going with HPG for the Highlander, compression panel and pack bag. You can see what that set up looks like (or close to it - I think that's a prototype of the pack bag) at the HPG website.

19 comments :

  1. I have a Maxpedition CondorII. Its a smaller pack--but I think thats good, it forces me to keep things light. The molle helps with its smallness--I can strap whatever I want to anywhere on the outside of the pack. I currently have knives, an axe, a bocho laplander, two tarps, a canteen, and a utility pouch all strapped on the outside. If possible I like to have stuff on the outside anyways--more accessible and you know where everything is. Still, even with all the crap lashed to the thing its on the light side. I don't really have this set up as a bug out bag (no food or clothes) because in my location I can't imagine bugging out to the deep wilderness. In order to get to the wilderness I'd need a working car anyways, so in such a scenario I'd have this bag AND my bug out stuff (currently in a small bin). I for one can't be happier with the CondorII--its super comfy, looks gorgeous, and built Maxpedition tuff--I'd absolutely recommend it as a light 3 day outdoors type pack. The molle might turn some people off tho--but to each his own.

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  2. AnonymousMay 11, 2012

    I have the Molle II ACU large ruck with the sustainment pouches and the assault pack that attaches to the large ruck. The price was right - less than $130 for the entire set up on Ebay. Yes the system is used, but I was careful to buy slightly or gently used packs. I know that ACU doesn't work that well for concealment in some areas, so for $20 I bought a woodland camo pack cover at the local surplus store. This system works very well for me. I have the assault pack that I use for a get home bag / 3 day pack - I can pack 3 days of food and a couple of canteens attach via molle webbing. Inside the pack I also have enough room to pack the normal get home supplies - survival kit, knife, pistol, extra mags, poncho, water purification (two types including a filter system and tablets), extra socks, hat, flashlight, and a few other necessities. The assault pack gets me home where I can attach it to the large ruck and bug out if I need to. Two features that I really like about the large ruck system is that the assault pack was made to attach to it very quickly (designed to add additional capacity to the system), and the sleep equipment compartment is separated from the main compartment by a zippered shelf that can either separate the sleep gear from the rest of the pack that can be opened up and make one very large main compartment. This was a better design than the original molle pack that had the smaller main pack and then a separate sleep system carrier that attached to it. Because of the molle attachment points, extra pouches for canteens, axes, etc. can be attached to both the large ruck and the assault pack. The only thing I am actively looking to do to the system is to purchase the material from a fabric shop to make either a mossey oak break up or realtree camo cover for the system. I originally looked at several commercial internal and external frame packs, but the costs were so prohibitive. I could have easily spent $400 or more on a pack system, but the used surplus packs while in almost new condition for less than $150 with the woodland cover allowed me to spend the remaining funds on other light weight gear that I needed (additional water filtration system and multi fuel back pack stove). Anyway, each to his own - everyone needs to buy the gear that suits their taste and meets their own needs. This was just my two cents worth of opinion.

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  3. I have the Kifaru ZXR in black (which makes it blend in fine in urban environments - people don't notice the molle really). I live in Canada, so I had to pay seriously for shipping as well. Kifaru is made in the states, which means I don't have to pay duty from China (we don't have a free trade agreement here. The pack is awesome. Practically indestructible, out of 1000 denier cordura. I love the side pockets that are run along the side of the pack, sandwiched between the outside and inside of the pack. I can store axes, guns, whatever I want. The inside of the pack is large enough to fit two 5 gallon buckets, which I am trying out with gamma lids which waterproof the whole setup. I have yet to use any of the molle for anything other than my Gerber folding shovel which I have mounted to the side. The best part is the fit, which is great. There is a video on Youtube with the owner showing how to transfer the weight from your back to your hips.

    That being said, I have found a couple of things wanting with the internal frame setup. I cannot pack any jerry cans to the outside. Putting a winter sleep system into the bag fill a lot of the massive capacity of the bag (about half). Your back gets hot when carrying the pack. And if you do not buy the extra lid, there is really no outside pockets to store small things (I have juryrigged a small waterproof hard case with straps and buckles to the back middle)

    I have been looking at Large Alice packs with the external frame. It is 1/5th the price. It is modular. And to be honest, do you really need that many pouches on the outside? Getting Alice packs in Canada is more expensive, otherwise I would have bought a second for a backup pack.

    Still, I think for the money, the Kifaru will last as long as I live, including the lifetime warranty.

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  4. For EDC/GHB it's a Maxpedition Sikta, loaded to the gunwales. It also has tools, food,(mylar) emergency shelter, etc.

    I have a Kelty Redwing 2650 in Green and grey for camping/BOB. It sits in my trunk loaded and ready to roll with shelter, clothing, and some tools unless I'm camping. Switch out a few items and it's a camping pack. Throw the Sitka in the Kelty and it's a completed BOB system.

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  5. AnonymousMay 11, 2012

    Kifaru EMR w/ E&E pack (on back), Claymore (lid), two long pockets (one each side), and one long pocket set up horizontally below the E&E pack.

    As soon as it gets cold (September - May here) I need the room for a heavier sleeping bag (Wiggy Ultima Thule) and a parka.

    For a smaller bag I use a 5.11 Rush 24 as a day pack/three day pack during the summer, on the road, and/or when I travel to a warmer climate.

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    1. Sounds like a heavy duty setup! What's your capacity with all those pouches?

      I'm with ya on room - good sleeping gear/cold weather gear takes space!

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  6. The pack I've been using for the last decade or so is a 40l Arc'teryx. The closest current model would be the Kata, I think. I've been using it for hiking, skiing, and mountaineering, and though it is a tad small, I've been well pleased with it. Now that kids are an issue, I am however looking into getting something larger. A big issue for me is that it must be comfortable to carry day in and day out.

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    1. AnonymousMay 15, 2012

      I recently purchased a Arc'teryx Axios 50 backpack. I spent MONTHS researching a pack to buy. These guys have a history of making mountaineering packs.
      My wife has a back injury, so I have to ruck for the two of us. My goal was to double my volume, yet keep the weight the same as my old 35L pack.
      I have switched to a pair of his & hers Marmont Plasma 30 down sleeping bags, too (at only 1 pound, 8 oz each.) So, I can now carry TWO sleeping bags/systems, at less weight/space than I used to ruck for myself.
      My next purchase will be a Big Agnes Fly Creek UL5 tent (only 4 lbs.)
      The pack: It has most of the typical features of other packs, and they offer it in either orange, or charcoal. (I opted for the charcoal color for urban-acceptance and night-camo functionality.) The only down side is the non-removeable waistbelt. I do wish that more pack companies would offer more/bigger external pockets, more tie-down points on the shoulder harnesses for gear. This pack DOES have several compartments in the top-flap for quick access to maps, gear, etc. I also LOVE the waterproof zipper construction!!!

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  7. Re: sleeping system: I have a 100% wool blanket, 2 space brand all weather tarps, and some stakes--I keep it all strapped to the underside of my Condor II. Hard to fit an entire sleep/shelter system on the inside of pretty much any bag. Inside I have a large Eagles Nest Double Nest Hammock--its huge and scrunches down to almost nothing. My set up works fine for me, but if I had anything much more heavy duty--a sleeping bag or a tent or something--I'd need a larger bag, probably something with a frame.

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  8. Running a Eberlestock Gunslinger 2 in 'dry earth.' I really like the ability to have my rifle accessible but still have both hands free for camp chores, etc.

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  9. I am running a Eberlestock Skycrane, with the add on scabbard, because as much as I like the scabbard idea, I want to be able to take it off when I dont need it.

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  10. I use the Condor Urban Go Pack, it has great space and compartmentalization for setting up section for specific equipment. The only downside is it tends to be a bit unbalanced with the lower section sticking out from the body of the pack. It has enough room to hold bugout gear, school gear and a change of clothes. Not really a full sized backpacking set, but works fine for overnight or ultralight camping.

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  11. I have a couple different back packs, a big Gregory 4K CI or so, a Deuter that's about 2.5K CI, and a smallish lumbar pack from True North. You might want to checkout the Fire Fly from True North.
    http://www.truenorthgear.com/product_detail.php?path=0_1&p_id=185

    All three companies make good quality, sturdy, gear.

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  12. I have 4 packs and a few ruk sacks. I always go scrounging at the junk stores and am always surprised to see expensive packs or frames hanging there for only a few dollars. That is how I built myself and my two children our packs. bought some nice frames and eventually even found some great packs to go with them all for only a few dollars. A lot of expensive camping gear gets tossed for a write off at these stores and I end up the benefactor. The last two dynamo radios I bought, with solar and a hand crank cost a whopping $7.50 each from the same junk store, even were still packaged in sealed boxes. My average pack cost is $15.00 for top of the line equipment, one is a Redwing 50, and we also got a Gregory Jade 50 backpack from the same store for pennies on the dollar.

    Shop smart everyone...

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    Replies
    1. By junk stores I think you mean Salvation Army or Goodwill or similar thrift stores?

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  13. AnonymousMay 14, 2012

    I have multiple packs but my favorite for long term is my Kelty Tactical Eagle 7850. I'm a big guy and this pack is one of the first hat fit my frame well. It has enough space to store everything you need plus things you don't. There's mollee webbing covering many parts which is great because it's allowed me to attach a shotgun scabbard down the side and a pistol holster to the waist belt. It's a little pricy but it's a hell of a tough bag. I really like the top section and the "tunnel" compartments as I call them. They are a great design that lets you reach over your shoulder and into the hood while moving without removing your pack. Great for snacks, ammo, or whatever else you need to access quickly while moving. I can confidently say it's the last bag I'll ever own. Note: It's huge, even on me at 6'5" so keep that in mind.

    http://www.amazon.com/Kelty-Tactical-Eagle-Backpack-Coyote/dp/B003WY1UVY

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  14. I have an REI brand backpack and it is pretty darn nice. At some point when I buy a really nice pack it will be a Kirafu.

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  15. Falcon-II backpackI use a Falcon-II backpack mostly, I use it almost every day, I carry my essential in it and it works well when I wear it over my plate carrier.

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  16. AnonymousMay 15, 2012

    Kelty Redwing 50 is perfect, not to big or to small. Big bang for the buck and is Bush proven.

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