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  1. #1
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    Backpack of choice for DIY Elk Hunt

    New to the forum, and I'm planning a DIY elk hunt for out west in the next year or two. I've read a lot between Mystery Ranch and Kifaru packs, and also watched a ton of videos on the two brands. Just looking for input on in the field experience and which would be the better over the two, and why. The pack size I'm looking for is for at least a week long hunt since I'll be traveling from the east coast, and wanting to buy something that will last for years to come since I'm planning on making the trek out west a once a year thing. Thanks for the help.

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  3. #2
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    Kifaru, hands down. I wouldn't put these to next to each other. If you wanted to compare others with Kifaru, I'd look at Stone Glacier and Exo Mountain. I would try as many as you can. Your body type and preferences will have most weight on your decision, however if you only had one option, I would say Kifaru because it seems to provide more adjustment options and sizes


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  5. #3
    Senior Member Backpack Hunter's Avatar
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    Kifaru has treated me well. Whatever you decide on you will need to make a decision quick as season is fast approaching.......and I just realized you said the next year or two.

    Send me a pm, might be able to let you try on a pack or two.

  6. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Backpack Hunter View Post
    Kifaru has treated me well. Whatever you decide on you will need to make a decision quick as season is fast approaching.......and I just realized you said the next year or two.

    Send me a pm, might be able to let you try on a pack or two.
    Kifaru, timberline1, Emr2, Reckoning, or fulcrum. All great packs that would work great for a 5 day elk hunt.

  7. #5
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    I've got a kifaru timberline 1 internal frame in foilage and also a emr2 in highlander bag only if looking to purchase one

  8. #6
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    You're going to hear a lot of answers. They're all good packs. I sold my Kifaru Timberline 2 and I'm currently running a Mystery Ranch Pintler for 1-3 day early season hunts and just purchased a Stone Glacier Sky Archer for 3-7 day hunts. Different strokes for different folks.

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  10. #7
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    Kifaru Fulcrum, EMR2 or Nomad. Reckoning and Timberline 1 also great choices. Plenty of room for meat and camp. Fatrascal.

  11. #8
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    Seek Outside is worth considering as well. Handles weight well, super adjustable, lightweight, and tough.

    We're spoiled for choice these days. Lots of good options to fit your preferences from companies you can be proud to support.

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  13. #9
    Senior Member mfllood3800's Avatar
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    Kifaru Tahr
    I have 5 days in it with extra pockets on it to accommodate all my needs (stove, tipi)
    Then you can compress this thing well for day pack, and still haul out as much meat as needed, either on the shelf or in the bag, or outside of bag w/compression straps.

    I also have the AMR which is used for longer than 5 days- its a house.
    "You can only do publicly what you pay for in private"
    Don't be something you aren't

  14. #10
    Senior Member Where's Bruce?'s Avatar
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    Kifaru will give you the greatest number of options and customization. You need to ask yourself some questions:

    1. Do I have a price limit or am I gonna get the pack I want regardless?
    2. How many cubic inches do I want?
    3. How many pockets and pouches do I want?
    4. Do I want to strap a bow or rifle to it?
    5. Do I plan to carry more than 50-70lbs?
    6. What kinda flexibility do I need? (Use it as a day pack too? Carry base camp and hunt with it all week?)

    Answer these questions and you can begin to narrow the choices of frame, bag and options. Any recommendation offered beforehand is worthless.

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  16. #11
    Senior Member mcseal2's Avatar
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    If this is your first backpack hunt I wouldn't recommend planning it for 7 days. Maybe go in for 3 days or so and plan on a trip out in the middle or something like that. Unless you are hunting an area you know well and have hunted for a number of years I personally don't like to make that much of a commitment to one area. I like mobility and would rather have a lighter, shorter term camp and hunt with it on my back while learning country than to have a weeks worth of gear packed into one basin. I'm darn sure no expert and others with way more experience will likely chime in, just my opinion.

    On packs I personally chose Exo when making my decision between them and Kifaru. Kifaru makes great gear and I don't think anyone will tell you that it's a wrong decision to buy one. Both have excellent customer service from what I've seen and read. I have a Kifaru Megatarp and Paratarp I use and they are top quality. I chose the Exo pack mainly because it was lighter in my favorite configuration they offered than the Kifaru was in my favorite one they offered. I just got my Exo a few days ago and took it on only one hike so far. I went 2.5 miles yesterday with 83lbs according to my catfish scale from the boat. It packed it really well, especially for being straight out of the box and not yet fitted for me. I put a 50lb bag of cattle mineral between the bag and frame, strapped it down and then hauled my normal hunting gear in the bag. I also had a holster and revolver, plus sheath knife on the belt. My intention was to try it out loaded down with more crap than I ever actually take and see how it handled it. I thought it did great. The only uncomfortable spot I found was between my shoulder blades in the center of my back and I think that was due to not using trekking poles and needing to move the shoulder harness up one notch. I basically set the pack up to fail and it did not. I did not fit the pack before the hike, just loaded it and tried it out. Anyway that's my review and hope it helps you make the choice that's right for you.

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  18. #12
    Senior Member Where's Bruce?'s Avatar
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    Ya don't travel thousands of miles to leave in a few days. You might move but you wanna pack that'll carry everything. My choice for that was a DT1 with two medium pouches on the sides of the pack and two small pouches on the belt and a Longhunter Lid w/ Gunbearer. Carries a week of crap, no problem. Roughly 11Kci. It's a friggin' condo! But it sure feels good when loaded down.

    Attachment 55883

  19. #13
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    I have a Kifaru DT2 and a mystery ranch metcalf. For that trip I would go with my MR metcalf. Why? The meat shelf for one. One week in the hills is a fair share of gear and food. An elk could die st any moment on that trip (or not at all) and having the meat shelf option to put meat is great.

    On me, the back also fits me better. is just seems to ride on me better. It never slips down has I'm trudging along.

    I do give up some weight advantages as the DT2 is probably a bit lighter as I have optioned it out. The metcalf is a Tough pack. If it is anything like my old ass DragonSlayer, it will never fail. My DT2 has a tiny tear that doesn't affect performance. I kinda remember how it happened. My fault /I'm sure but it's been a long time.

    OP. You have some fine options to choose from. You'll get more nods to Kifaru on this forum tho.

    I think my MR was way less expensive as well. If that is a concern.

    Good luck. If you draw an elk tag, hunt the whole time. Come out to restock if needed. But use all the tine the tag gives you.

  20. #14
    Member ScottinPA's Avatar
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    Good advice above. I ran an MR Longbow last year for trailhead day hunts. Plan multi-day hunts on next trip (next year) but learned what I like and don't like from my past hunt. Looked at the Metcalf since I liked how the Longbow rode. Also tried EXO but it didn't seem to fit me well though the layout was good. Went with the Kifaru and initially the Mtn Warrior but sold the bag and have a Mtn Rambler. I can add pouches and pods to stretch it for 5+ days if needed, more with a camp bag on the shelf. YMMV.
    Find someone local that has the packs you're interested in or plan to do the buy/try/return thing.

  21. #15
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    If you want to buy just one ....buy Kifaru!!! As mentioned above Kifaru has so many bag and pocket options. The frame is solid, comfortable, and capable of 100+ lbs. I have an EMR2 that handles extremely large, bulky loads and a Timberline for smaller loads with quick and easy access to pockets. I've used my EMR2 on several Alaska sheep, mtn goat, and bear hunts where I had to pack camp, meat, and lifesized capes. I've also hauled a gob of boned elk meat and capes out of ungodly places! The EMR2 also has large outside pockets that work great for a large spotting scope plus tripod. I use the guide cargo pocket on top for quick and easy access to raingear, food, maps, knife, etc.

    If you only have 1 bag I would suggest a larger volume bag. A larger bag will save you 1 to 2 trips. If you start tying meat or cargo haulers to the outside of a smaller bag they will likely shift when on steep/uneven terrain. It always pays to load and carry the hefty part of the load (meat) next to your back. Even when unloaded my EMR2 cinches down really tight and doesn't weigh that much less than my Timberline.

    One thing to remember is elk are large animals! If you backpack in and shoot a bull 5 miles from your truck it will roughly take 3 to 5 trips for 1 person to get camp, boned meat, antlers, and possibly cape out. You may also want to review YouTube videos on how to bone out an animal!

    One thing you might look into is the weight of the MR. The old ones used to weigh a bunch!

    Once you get a pack you might try a scouting trip to work out some of the cobwebs. You will likely learn quickly what to bring and what to leave home. A week long backpack trip is a super long time. You will also need a lot of food! You may want to try 3 or 4 days...take a break to shower/eat a good meal...then head back out for a few more days? If the weather is bad a week long trip can be brutal!

    With that said...you will hardly find any complaints from Kifaru owners!

  22. #16
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    I can't really imagine anything working much better than a fulcrum. That center zip and compression system would hold heavy loads of meat with no problem, it also packs down small enough that the oh can use it for day hunting. I'm using 3 medium pockets, a water bottle holder and a native lid (haven't had a chance to play around with the native much though). I really can't imagine needing to get a new pack anytime soon not that I'm getting rid of my barneys pack.

  23. #17
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    There are several really good pack options out there. Anyone of them will serve you well, each offer something a little different. Check out each company and see if you can get your hands on some before you buy. Kifaru, Stone Glacier and Exo have separated themselves into that top tier of pack but a lot of people still like Mystery Ranch too.

  24. #18
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    Kifaru is very popular on this forum. It just never worked for me. Except for the Spikecamp. But that is not the frame/bag style that is all the rage these days.

    I generally run EXO and they are simple, built very well and for me, are comfortable. There is nothing about it I don't like. I run the original version. They are a great company too.

    I would not discount MR. Especially the ones built in MT.

  25. #19
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    I do NOT agree that Kifaru, SG and EXO are the top three of packs, and I currently use an older Bozo-made Dana Terraframe, I have modded to haul meat and emerg. gear. My main packs are now SO Divide MC fully rigged and the new SO Exposure 5000.

    I have carried a LOT of packs in 61 years of hiking, 53 years of hunting and while working for the BC and Alberta resource depts. I have not used an EXO or an SG, but, had two Kifarus, 1st. gen. and could not make them work as well as the several MRs I had......FIT, comes first and some designs work better for some body types than do others.

    So, I would examine as many of the high end packs as you can, then, pick the one which is most comfy FOR YOU. I like SO as they are SO light, simple in design and nothing has ever been quite as comfortable for me. All of the top end makers will give stellar service and all of them make gear that we could not even dream of when I was young.

    Call the various guys and discuss your needs, then consider the advice you get and go from there. If, I were younger and richer, I would try an EXO, new model Kifaru and an SG, lots of fun and they hold their value in the "pre-owned" market.

    HTH-JMHO.

  26. #20
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    I started with a cheap Kelty pack that did the job, went to a Mystery Ranch 6500 and really liked it, tried Kuiu (tried saving weight, not worth it), tried Kifaru (spent too much time on Rokslide reading reviews), and am now back with MR. A buddy just bought a Stone Glacier pack and that thing is solid as well. They all feel pretty good with 50 lbs or less, but for me the MR pack is what I like when I start packing heavy loads and meat. I'm probably in the minority on this forum, but I don't like the floppy Kifaru waist belt and softier, floppier bags. Unless the bag is full, I wound up spending more time than I should have messing with extra straps and buckles, getting everything tucked in place and tightened down. I was running a Tahr bag with a few extra pockets and guide lid. Other people really like that setup, so maybe it's just me? On my MR packs, both Guide Light and NICE frame, the pack bags, straps, and waist belt are stiffer, and I just like that better. My only dislike so far with the Guide Light frame is MR got rid of the pals webbing on the Guide Light waist belts. I've been thinking about sending mine off to pods8 (Rugged Stitching) to see if he can remedy that... maybe after this season.

    Regarding which bag, I love the Pintler for 1-3 day hunts. I use this bag for pretty much everything. The 6500 (redesigned as the Marshall) is great, but it's a big bag. I like it and it does compress down, but just know that it's a BIG bag. There is a lot of room in that thing. I finally bought a Metcalf earlier this spring, and have had it out for a couple day hikes and shed hunting. I'll have that one out backpack hunting this year, and it should fit the bill nicely.

    As has been stated above, it really is a great time to be shopping for a hunting backpack, or hunting gear in general. So many good options to try, and if you shop around or buy used you can resell and usually not lose much if any money if you take care of your gear.

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