Kifaru Fulcrum Review
I’ve been a dyed-in-the-wool Kifaru fan for a few years now and the past year and a half or so I’ve been running the EMR2. It has truly been a great pack. When I started hearing rumblings of an update for the EMR2, I was pretty stoked to see what improvements they’d come up with and when Aron posted up the video on it, I was not disappointed. Now that I have mine in hand and have had some time to get a feel for it I thought I’d give my thoughts on it.
What I look for in a pack bag is pretty simple: I want a pack big enough to haul everything I would need for three or more days, yet keep my daily gear necessities readily accessible. I also want to be able to dump most of my camp and compress the bag down to a tight smaller day-pack without having to reorganize too much. The Fulcrum fits my basic requirements perfectly.
The main bag itself is enormous coming in at 6000 cubic inches and alone would make a pretty formidable pack bag with a built-in water bladder sleeve and mounting loop. The wing pockets are 900 cubic inches with a full-length center zip and a stretchy nylon sleeve on the back and come with removable hdpe sheets to stiffen the pockets if you desire. This brings the bag total to 7800 cubic inches alone, which is plenty big for most 10-12 day hunts, but with Kifaru’s modular system you can expand this size quite a bit.
The main bag itself compresses completely out of the way and the wing pockets fold in to make a pretty slick little day pack.
The improvements Kifaru made over the EMR2 are substantial. The biggest improvement is the ability to compress the main bag independently of the wings, which is important when running things in the wing that you don’t want crushed like a high-end spotting scope or camera gear. The new lid system is one of my favorite upgrades; it can now be run without a lid and simply folded down and strapped for a sleek, light, and fast day pack. It even has tabs for a belt pouch for additional organization.
Or, it can be used with Kifaru’s other lid options and has a draw cord to cinch it closed like the EMR2 did.
I think it’s worth noting here that on my EMR2 I would have issues with my guide lid wanting to slide off the side if the pack was not full and I’m not sure what they did differently to resolve that, but there is no issue at all with the lid slipping on the Fulcrum.
Kifaru added a water bladder sleeve which should make a lot of people happy, but it is at the sacrifice of losing the interior attachment points.
They eliminated the two exterior pockets on the back of the pack, which was a good move for me because I rarely used them. There is now PALS webbing around the bottom of the pack, which allows for additional pockets and attachments. Another pretty nice upgrade is every buckle on the pack is an autolock, which will really help keep the load tight. All in all, Kifaru made some pretty major changes to an already great pack.
When I got the pack I was a little apprehensive because it had live up to the EMR2 and I wasn’t sure if I liked the way a few of the changes were made, but overall I was pleasantly surprised. I was concerned the stretchy nylon material would not be durable, but the material is actually quite tough and feels very similar to my First Lite Corrugate Guide pants but thicker. While only time and use will tell, I am fairly confident it will hold up.
I was also concerned with the wings being floppy because of how they are attached now in three spots instead of sewn on the whole length of the pocket, but this concern was entirely unfounded and any floppiness is negligible. I thought I wouldn’t like that the wings don’t cinch down tight in day pack configuration. However, because of the way they strap together and where they attach, it’s easily secured tight with one strap or the lid. I do really like the center zip wings, but something I did not expect is how much more difficult they are to stuff with puffy gear if you use them for that, which I don’t so its not a big deal to me. One thing I don’t really care for is that a lot of the straps cannot be removed and the pack is a bit “strappy”, but this certainly isn’t a deal breaker for me.
In summation, I think the designers did a fantastic job with the redesign and I look forward to putting it to work this season. Anyone who may be on the fence about the Fulcrum should not be as this pack is, in my opinion, the most versatile pack Kifaru has produced to date.
You can ask William questions here:
For a multi-video review of the Fulcrum by Jordan Budd, including a comparison to the Reckoning pack click here for Kifaru Fulcrum Review Part 1