The Kifaru Duplex frame (MMR) & bag versatility~ (one modular pack fans journey)

stephen b

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# Note- I thought I would post this here; I thought at first I would post it on the Kifaru forum- but I then thought that they may not be thrilled to see different companies pack bags on one of their frames on their site.

To start off with why I posted this topic- I thought I would give some people a idea of some bags from different companies that I have found that can work well with a MMR duplex frame from Kifaru ( or would work for the EMR).

FWIW- some of my likes and what I like to use for a pack and hunting. First of all I have been a fan of the modularity of bags and frames for hunting for years. Some guys like a single internal bag and some guys like a frame bag combo. I just like to be able to cinch down meat close to my back- out of any other bag and then still be able to have another pack bag also attached to the frame for the haul out.

My background for backpacking and backpack hunting started with using external frames in the early 70's when I started in Boy Scouts. After that I progressed to internal frame backpacks and then went back to using a better made external frame for hauling meat in the late 80's.

I have been using a modular type set up since I first used an older Dana Design ( from the guy who started Mystery Ranch) external frame. When I use to mostly rifle hunt I used a small fanny pack or a rucksack if close to camp/vehicle and then would go get the external for packing meat. If strictly packing in I used the large DD external and then set up camp and used a real small day pack or fannypack to hunt out of camp.

When I started bow hunting in the mid 90's I used a Dwight Schuh frame (Coleman Peak One) and pack bags. At the time I got that influence from what Larry D. Jones was using. - Since one, he was from around here in town and two, as far as I ( and many others) was concerned- Larry knew what he was doing and we thought he was the MAN when it came to killing Elk. From there I went to using a better harness and suspension system for that frame, to better pack bags for it (Schuh frame), to using a Molle polymer frame and bags for it from a company here in Oregon. I eventually went to the Mystery Ranch NICE frame system; I used the MR nice frame and a bag and load sling for 3-4 years.

During that time I also used some small daypacks from Blacks Creek and tried out a few of my non-hunting backpack packs for hunting also. I used bags from Deuter and also a couple other companies. But for me and my hunting I kept gravitating back to a true hunting pack. I either liked a medium size fanny/day pack if hunting less than a mile from the truck/camp, or I liked to bivy with a frame and bag set up- which I found was also the best even for day hunting if any distance in.

When I got the MR Nice frame system I thought it was going to be the pinnacle for exactly what wanted in a do all hunting pack. And for 3-4 years I really tried to like it. Even though it was tough as nails and was fine for either super light loads or real heavy ones- the bottom line was- I realized that it was for me one of the most uncomfortable packs of any type that I ever used- especially for medium type loads. It was even more uncomfortable that my older Dana Design external frame pack! The problem with the pack frame ( NICE frame) for me was it did not fit my back well at all with that straight back and no curve to the stays profile that it has. My mid back would just fight against the hipbelt and shoulder straps. Plus for medium bivy type loads (30-40 lb.)- that frame did not flex or move with me. That is not even to mention the shorter stays that give little lift- although for me that was not the real issue with the pack.

After one miserable (because of the frame) long weekend bivy hunt with the MR longbow pack this fall, I finally came to the conclusion that I needed to find something else. I realized that even though I liked the Longbow pack bag and the MR pack/frame was bullet proof- almost every other pack that I had available to me was more comfortable to use than the MR one. I was either going to go back to the Molle frame pack frame and bags ( that, while not perfect- it was more comfortable than the MR Nice frame when I used it on the next weekend's bivy hunt) or seriously look into a Kifaru system. I had no experience with them- but had read glowing reports.

The real thing that tipped me towards the Kifaru Duplex frame and ordering one was- when less than a week after using for the last time my MR Longbow, I saw this thread and Aron's post's of one here:

http://forums.bowsite.com/TF/bgforums/thread.cfm?threadid=401372&forum=5

I thought that looks like it could just be the thing that could be better (more comfortable) than my Nice frame set to be used as a day pack/ hauler. So..... after talking with some guys who had experience with both the MR packs and the Kifaru's, I ordered one ( MMR frame) with a cargo panel, with a couple of small pockets and a (M) pod. I also thought that I maybe could keep and use my Longbow pack bag on it and also be able to use some other quieter bags that I had tried with some success mounted on the Nice frame. I did not need the MMR pack bag- as it was too heavy for my tastes- plus I heard that Kifaru may come out with dedicated hunting bags for the duplex frame and I would wait.

I also thought long and hard about the Timberlines- but then I thought that I have mostly modular bag set-ups already and I may as well see how they would work with the MMR.

What I found out when I received it a month later-

** The MMR frame is way more comfortable for my back than the NICe frame- by a ton!

** the MMR frame with the cargo panel attachment hardware works with way more bags than I ever dreamed and with pack bags that I already have.

I may ( probably will) eventually get one of the dedicated bags from Kifaru for the MMR frame when they come out with a hunting specific one- whenever they do. Until then- I will use the following-
________________________________________

Bags and combo's- (most of these I already had) that I have found work with the MMR frame.

I have about 6-9 different bags (with a bunch of different combo's)- anything from 800-900 ci up to over 5200 ci. And that is with out adding any extra side pockets or mod pods ( with those you could go even more). And the weights are any where from 4.8 lbs up to 7.5 for the 5200 ci combo. My empty MMR frame is 3 lbs 15 oz. What I have that works are both some softer quieter bags and some Cordura bags. It is pretty easy to make work with minimal hardware. And they all fit pretty darn good- and do not look all jury rigged or anything.

I also have a super "cargo" panel made by another company for their packs that works PERFECTLY on the Kifaru frame- and it weighs - 4.5 oz.

First few pics are bags quickly attached to take pics. and the others are simply places beside the frame- since it is a bit of a job to mount each one separately- I just filled up the pack bag and put it next to the frame and then took a picture of the frame next to it to give you some idea. I have these ( when mounted right ) real secure on the frame when I do it - there is no slop. All of these pack bags were originally designed and intended to be used mounted on a frame of some sort- except of course the REI 85 XT.

*** obviously the Kifaru cargo panel ( and the small pockets that can be placed on it) and the (M) mod were designed to be used with the frame.

1. cargo panel-



2. another load hauling panel- 4.5 oz.



3. A MR Longbow bag ( which I have since sold because I kept a MR Military issue pack bag that is larger instead)



 
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stephen b

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Cont.

4. Another pack companies pack bags- Wilderness pack specialties:

A. The Top utility bag from their "Outfitter combo" ( 1800- 2000 ci) and weighs 16 oz. empty



B. the "Muley" pack- same company ( 1200 ci and 17 oz. empty - since I cut off all the fanny pack parts since I was not going to use it that way any more)- also fits better on the frame.

**-Shown beside the frame- not mounted





C. Both together

 
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stephen b

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Another companies pack bags that I have had for years- made for an older Peak One frame. Rocky Mt. Pack Systems:

Together RPS calls them the Sawtooth

** these mounted to the Frame real easy

A. New Frontier bag ( about 2000 ci) and mine weighs 1.5 lbs. empty since I cut off the simple day pack shoulder straps and the foam inner pad- since I was not going to use it as a day pack





B. New Frontier bag above shown with the ridge runner bag ( 13 oz. and 900 ci ) -together called the Sawtooth

 
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stephen b

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cont.

Here is a a Mystery ranch Military issue pack bag for the NICE frame that I bought used. It is about a 3000 ci bag that is like the MR Longbow- only bigger. It weighs 2 lbs 2 oz empty- after I cut some extraneous things out of the inside. It is a 3 zip design like the Longbow. These are only Military issue and I bought it used from a fella on a forum classified AD. I bought it with a Nice frame just to get the bag.

I Sold the Longbow bag pictured above and kept this one



side view:



and a pic from the harness/ suspension side

 

RosinBag

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Good right up.....never get rid of that frame. That is likely the best of the best of Kifaru's frames. I have one I use with a Longhunter bag for some time and only changed packs as the Timberline offered more organization. It is the $hit for hauling and versatility.
 
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stephen b

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A older version of a Wilderness Pack Specialties "Bighorn combo" bag. I have had for years and used this a lot with the Molle frame. It weighs right at 2 lbs. 1 oz. empty and is about 2400 - 2600 ci.

pics shown with bag beside the frame- not mounted



 
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stephen b

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and another

A "Green Gate Pack Body" from Oregon Pack Works.

I got this pack body to try out this fall after receiving my MMR. It mounts real nice to the duplex frame. it is 3300 ci and mine weighs 2 lbs. 4 oz. after I trimmed unnecessary fluff.

Shown mounted (quickly) on the frame



side pic.



suspension side view

 
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stephen b

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And now some recreation packs-

My Dana Design T-I pack bag from my older DD Loadmaster external frame. This is a listed 4200-4300 ci- but it is huge with the snow collar and the front bellow pockets.

This pack bag fit easily and fit great on the kifaru frame. and the crazy thing is- the older DD black hardware buckles are completely compatible with the tan Kifaru ones.

Bag weighs 2.5 lbs empty and is a great bag. Not exactly a " bowhunting" color- but still another option I have that works for the MMR frame.

Shown beside the frame- not mounted- got to lazy with all the stuffing pack bags and switching.






 
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stephen b

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I like it! The possibilities seem endless!
Just about is from what I have and have tried. It is almost as if- what won't work? And I even have not shown what I can do with a couple dry bags and even a simple light weight cordura meat bag from one of the companies above. Not to mention the (M) pod I have and some external pockets.

As you can see I have thought a bit about this and have fun experimenting with the frame. It is like a giant jigsaw puzzle- but easier
 

sreekers

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I just got my cargo panel in, and now the mission of seeing how that will work in action. Should be fun to get working.
 
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stephen b

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and possibly the craziest of all. REI 85 XT

I got this pack in October when they were on sale at REI ( after I was not liking my MR Nice system) and before I ordered my Kifaru MMR. I thought I would try out. After I got the MMR- I was (and somewhat still am) on the fence about whether I was going to keep this pack. But-- for a recreation pack- I really like it and it fits me well and carries a heavy load well.

Well... one day I thought- I wonder what that REI XT pack weighs when you take off the shoulder harness, hip belt, and all the stays? It weighs 5 lbs with all set up as I got it- and is a true weight on my scale. Well, it weighs about 3.5 lbs empty with out the stay system and the harness/ hipbelt. I thought- man- that is less than a MMR pack bag.

So the next thing I thought- was this- even though this pack was not meant to be hung from a frame, I wonder if it too would work on the MMR frame. And you know what- I got it to work pretty darn good- with just a little bit of hardware and a couple of crossing web pieces. Granted it is about 7.5 lbs all set up- but that is still less than a MMR frame and MMR bag combo.

And after I tried that out- Here is another cool reverse modification with the Kifaru duplex frame: I was corresponding with another fella about something else, and the subject of the REI 85 XT got brought up. Well, he told me that his brother had one of the 85 XT packs and really liked it so far; and then he went to say that he thought that the best thing going about the Kifaru duplex frame was the hipbelt, and... his brother was running the Kifaru duplex hipbelt on the REI 85 XT! And he said it is easy to do. Well I tried for my self- and it is a cinch. So I thought then- for sure I am keeping this REI pack.

So I can use a 85 XT on the duplex frame, and... I can use the duplex belt on the 85 XT instead of the stock one if I want. This fella also said he runs the Kifaru Duplex hipbelt on his old Dana Design external frame and it works fantastic.

Goes to show- all it take is a little thought and ingenuity. Maybe not for everyone- but I like it when things have multiple uses.

Shown with the REI 85 XT bag only (no harness; hip belt, or stay system) shown only beside the frame- not mounted on it in these pics. Again I was getting a bit lazy.



 

dreamingbig

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My next big purchase might be the frame and the cargo panel. Right now I am running a cabelas alaskan frame with two dry bags and my eberlestock x2 lashed to it. When I get to spike camp I drop the frame and gear and hunt out of the x2. I can also bivy out of the x2 from spike if I wanted. However the Kifaru frame and the cargo panel would also work for this same concept. Hhmmm... The only thing keeping me from doing this is the cost.
 

Rockchuck

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Okay, love the modular ideas. So what company puts out the 4.5 oz cargo panel? Also, do you know the name of the MR military bag that is an overgrown longbow. I always wished my longbow was a bit bigger when I had it. I love the modular idea and plan on picking up a duplex frame as well. I just need to decide EMR or MMR. I have a 21" torso and wonder if I should go EMR for the load lifter angle.
 

Aron Snyder

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Hey Rockchuck,

I would go with the EMR without a doubt. I have a 20" torso and with heavy loads the MMR frame just doesn't give me the lift I need. If I was running my pack for a jungle operations than the MMR would be great, but for any hunting situation I would go with EMR/26" frame.

Kifaru offers a hunting version of the cargo panel, but I'm not sure of the weight. I'll need to check with Janice on the weight as I have the military version, but I know the hunting version is noticeably lighter.

Great article/review/photos Stephen!
 

luke moffat

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I know my Longhunter with the hunter version of the cargo panel on it and no top lid is 6 pounds on the nose if that helps at all.
 

Matt W.

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Hey Rockchuck,

I would go with the EMR without a doubt. I have a 20" torso and with heavy loads the MMR frame just doesn't give me the lift I need. If I was running my pack for a jungle operations than the MMR would be great, but for any hunting situation I would go with EMR/26" frame.

Kifaru offers a hunting version of the cargo panel, but I'm not sure of the weight. I'll need to check with Janice on the weight as I have the military version, but I know the hunting version is noticeably lighter.

Great article/review/photos Stephen!
Great little write up and photos. Very intresting.....
Would the EMR Frame accept a Long Hunter bag? Is there much of a difference between the EMR and the Longhunter Duplex?

What about the KUIU Icon 6000 mounted on that frame? Anyone know enough about the KUIU to know if that would work? The KUIU Bag seems better designed than the KUIU frame...
 
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stephen b

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Okay, love the modular ideas. So what company puts out the 4.5 oz cargo panel? Also, do you know the name of the MR military bag that is an overgrown longbow. I always wished my longbow was a bit bigger when I had it. I love the modular idea and plan on picking up a duplex frame as well. I just need to decide EMR or MMR. I have a 21" torso and wonder if I should go EMR for the load lifter angle.
Rockchuck- The company that puts out the lightweight cargo panel is "Wilderness Pack Specialties" they call it a "handi-pak" and it fits on their Molle frames. It works perfectly on the Kifaru frame with I believe 6 sets of buckles. I used the same ones that I put on the frame that came with the cargo panel form Kifaru.

As far as the Mystery Ranch bag- The tag says it is a "Hi-Di". I bought from a fella that was selling it with a military Nice frame. I kept the bag and sold the frame as I was only interested in the bag. When I got it I called and asked MR about the bag and they said it is just a military issue bag and is not listed for sale on their website and they said the military issue ones like that are not suppose to be sold by the soldiers. The fella I bought it from was by the base in Kentucky and he said he purchased it from a friend. Anyways, it is suppose to be a communication set up. I cut out all of the inside radio stuff and all the internal pockets that I did not want. Then I left in a interior mesh pocket area. It is right at about 3000 ci- I did a comparison measurement between the Hi-Di and Longbow before I the LB and the Hi-Di is definitely quite a bit bigger. Mine weighs right at 2lbs 4 oz. after cutting out the extraneous items; mine is now like a big open 3-zip bag with one internal pocket and open inside just like their recreation packs are on the inside. I agree- it would be good if MR offered for sale a biiger version of their Lonbow- as you can see they can make that size.

BTW- I agree with Aron- for your torso size, I would get a EMR.
 
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