Field Pack Advice

Mithrandir

Newbie
Joined
May 28, 2020
Messages
3
Hi,

New to the forum...just joined today actually. With the wealth of experience on the site, I'm hoping to get some advice.

I'm looking for a new field pack after a lifetime of marginal packs. Looking primarily at Kifaru and SG. I spend a lot of time sampling streams and rivers in the Colorado Plateau. Lots of hiking in hot dry weather in and out of red rock canyons, some simple scrambling and down climbing, and bushwhacking through willow, tamarisk, Russian olive carrying day gear + sampling gear. Sometimes I do multi-day sampling trips. Loads range from 25-50 lbs. Some days a 14'r or Mag 22 seems like it would work being low profile and won't hang up when bushwhacking. Tarryall looks nearly perfect but is discontinued. For overnights, they seem small and maybe the Woodsman or SG EVO 3300might be the way to go. The mini-keg looks cool but not sure how the 22" frame would be? The meat shelf seems nice for odd shaped sampling gear or extra gear. Also, looking to get into hunting this soon.

Anyone have any sage advice on a unicorn pack? How does the 14'r suspension perform compared to a Duplex or SG frame system?
 

pc3

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2020
Messages
160
For what its worth, I have a 44 mag...cinched down a little it would work well for you I think, and then you can expand if you decide you want to hunt/camp over night.

It is a real "Malcolm in the middle type pack" lots of organisation for gear. For an all round pack if you are going to own perhaps only one I think the 44 mag or Fulcrum, I was going to buy a Fulcrum but the 44 mag came on sale and I went with that. The Fulcrum probably wins for "one bag to rule them all" option though.

I intend to get a day pack only option soon however and will watch this thread with interest.

I like the 14'r I think it would be better if t zipped right open like the Fulcrum and reckoning.

I like the 22 mag same layout as the 44 mag (couple of differences)

I like the stryker because it can haul odd objects.

If your getting only one pack maybe err on the slightly larger side.
 

homebru.trout

Senior Member
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Joined
Sep 24, 2016
Messages
484
Location
Austin, TX
Both Kifaru and SG are solid choices. I would suggest using an external frame pack rather than one of the internal systems simply due to the much better weight carrying capability and the future flexibility it gives you in terms of swapping bags, etc.

I have used both extensively for several years. Based on my personal experience, Kifaru is going to be the more durable pack material and has many more customization options. The drawback to that is that you get to customizing yourself into a pack that is 8-9 lbs unloaded if you get carried away...and I'm a gear nut who definitely gets carried away. That should not be interpreted as a deficiency on Kifaru's part. My SG pack system as configured today is much lighter than any of my Kifaru rigs ever were and it gives up nothing in the weight carrying department. The tradeoff is I've got some tenacious tape on some worn areas that I never saw on my Kifaru packs. IMHO SG compresses down much better. I always felt I was swimming in excess material when I put a larger Kifaru model into full compression mode as a day pack but others don't seem to mind so that is likely some personal issue on my part.

If you value integrated organization for various water sampling do-dads, etc. then a 44 mag on a duplex light frame is a solid option. As suggested above you can take a Fulcrum from the mild to the wild in terms of size and still bolt on all manner of pockets and pouches. I personally use an SG 5900 with a lid and an access bag and it's all I am ever going to need. For my purposes, the 5900 is the unicorn you speak of. For others it likely is a Kifaru model and that's fine too.

You'll here this from multiple folks as you go through your decision process but it all comes down to fit and personal preference on features. You will be well served for years by either option.
 
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Mithrandir

Mithrandir

Newbie
Joined
May 28, 2020
Messages
3
Thanks to both of you for your insights. All helpful information. Seems like I should steer clear of the 14r and Minikeg for this application. Investing in an external framed version makes sense with the ability to try other bags and keep the frame. Is an external frame still comfortable in the 20-25 lb range?

The 44 mag would be pretty nice for all the organization but it is a portly fellow. I do like the customization of Kifaru and definitely the durability. I am really struggling with the durability vs weight. Even though the pack will be scraped on rock and vegetation and dragged occasionally off small ledges, I fear the weight penalty when it's 90-105 outside. SG looks pretty streamlined and relatively light. I just saw the bivvy mode on the 5900s. That might be a game changer since it bivy's up tight. Super versatile.

Does either brand outperform in the ventilation department for hot climates? Any consensus on the more comfortable frame? I've read Kifaru has the better belt and better at heavy loads >60lbs and maybe SG has the better meat shelf and pretty good all around? Is that all semantics and personal body type? Or is that the consensus?

Thanks for your time.
 

homebru.trout

Senior Member
Rokslide Sponsor
Joined
Sep 24, 2016
Messages
484
Location
Austin, TX
I think you'll find that your definition of heavy loads is a bit different than an elk Hunter's definition. Many folks go into the back country at 40-60 for an extended hunt and if successful will make multiple trips at or near 100 lbs. Frame comfort will be a very personal thing based on how you are built and how your back and hips move. I agree with the widely held opinion that the Kifaru belt is hard to beat for comfort under heavy loads. If you are planning on consistently hauling over 60 lbs with frequent packouts approaching triple digit weight it will serve you well. All that said, I found the SG x curve was consistently more comfortable on me and I tended to fuss with it and tweak it much less than the Kifaru throughout a long day. I hauled two consecutive loads with mine last fall that I weighed with a luggage scale in the 90s with no issues. I train with 50, 60, and 80 lb sandbag loads and it takes whatever I throw at it.
 
OP
Mithrandir

Mithrandir

Newbie
Joined
May 28, 2020
Messages
3
For sure, I don't see carrying much more than 50 90% of the time. However, I would like to get into hunting.

What do you think about SG's use of velcro on the shoulder harness/straps. Does that hold and hold up pretty well in your experience? I assume it would given all the great reviews and their reputation.
 
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