Kifaru ARK Frame Review

There are certain items we use to hunt that get a design refresh more often than others.  We see companies redesigning clothing lines, boots, bows, and backpack bags often, if not every year.  This is not necessarily because they do not work as intended but maybe because there is consumer demand for constant change or because some products do not take as long to design and test in the field.  Then there are the items we use that seem to stick around for a longer length of time.  Products that, year after year, just flat-out work, the Kifaru Duplex Lite/Tactical frame was one of those products.

New for 2024, Kifaru has released the new ARK Frame.

I had the opportunity to use the new Kifaru ARK frame this fall and winter.  It was mid-fall when I stopped by the Kifaru headquarters to get my prototype frame and bag.  I only bring this event up because of the memory burned in my head when I was handed the ARK Frame with a KU4300 attached (Read the KU 4300 review here). The combo was so light that I thought it might be a practical joke; something had to be missing.  It was no joke; this combo is ridiculously lightweight. I was off to test it out.  I had four more states to hunt and hopefully get a few pack outs to see how this new frame felt on my back. See it here.

Prototype vs. Production ARK

I will say that the first prototype frame I tested is a couple of ounces lighter than the production model, but the production ARK frame is still lighter than the Duplex Lite.  For reference, a small (28-34” waist) is 3.05 lbs, a medium (35-39” waist) is 3.09 lbs, and a large (40-46”) is 3.13 lbs.

Backward Compatible

The shape or outline of the ARK frame is almost the same as the previous Duplex models, and all bags made for the Duplex frames WILL fit the new ARK frame.  You can still use your load shelf from older packs as well. You will gain additional, higher attachment points for the load shelf.  I did not use this feature as I prefer to load the meat into the bag itself rather than use the load shelf.  The ARK comes in a 22” and 25” version.  This surprised me, as I had always used a 26” Duplex to gain better load-lifting capabilities.  I was pleasantly surprised when the new 25” frame seemed to do a better job at lifting the shoulder straps than my previous 26” frames.

Kifaru ARK Foam

The foam has been updated to a new material in the shoulder strap, hip belt and lumbar pad that is supposed to last longer before needing to be replaced.   The Lumbar pad foam is different from the other two and I will say, it does not compress flat under a heavy load.  Between the new foam that should last longer and the carbon sheet frame, there will be less things to wear out and the frame should out last previous models.

Easy Adjustments

The shoulder strap adjustment got much easier; it is a simple single adjustment point on the back of the frame where the shoulder strap attaches.  There is also a new clip for attaching the load lifter straps to the top of the frame.  These clips are stronger, smaller, and lighter than the older buckles.

The hip belts have a new laser cut attachment point design that replaces the Molle webbing.  This is a weight saving and I saw no loss in functionality.  Attaching pouches or accessories to the new laser cut slots only takes a few attempts before it is just as easy as molle.  I ran the Kifaru Gun Bearer for three hunts and the weight of the rifle caused zero problems in the new material.  On longer hikes in the past, the extra weight of the gun bearer on one side of the hip belt would sometimes cause a torsional twist feel of the belt.  I felt none of this with the ARK.

Improved Comfort

The fit of the ARK does feel slightly different than the Duplex Lite and I think it has to do with the way the carbon sheet moves with me.  It flexes slightly, and it is very comfortable with light loads.  The hip belt is just as comfortable as the previous version, and I had no pinching or hot spots at any time.

Listen here to Aron explain some of the more detailed new features of the ARK.

First Hunt

The first hunt with the ARK was in Wyoming chasing deer and after 100+ miles searching for a keeper buck, I came up empty.  I was, however, able to take my first spot-and-stalk mountain lion, and on an OTC tag.  With all the lion quarters, backstraps, and the hide & head stuffed into the pack with my day hunting gear, the ARK was still very comfortable and created zero points of discomfort in the hip belt, lumbar or shoulder straps.  This pack-out was only a couple miles but in very steep and slippery terrain canyon country where I was using my hands to climb out much of the time.

Packing Weight

My next hunt with the ARK was in Colorado, and after many long days sorting through young deer, I was able to find a mature buck on the last day of the hunt.  This pack out was 4.5 miles from the truck and with a full boned out mature mule deer plus day hunting gear in the pack, this pack weight pushed triple digit weight.  I was very happy with the frame and the way the weight rode on my hips and shoulders.  The load lifters would easily decrease weight off my shoulders when needed or put more on my shoulders if I wanted to give my hips a rest.  I honestly do not remember packing out an entire old buck with all my optics and gear with less discomfort.

Great Loaded or Empty

I put 75+ miles on the ARK in Arizona hunting the late OTC archery deer hunt but again never found a buck I liked.  Hiking around with 25-32lbs in the pack is a dream.  The frame rides very comfortably with low weight inside.

I am just getting home form a New Mexico Barbary sheep hunt where I was able to kill a great ram.  I put another 75+ miles on the frame between scouting and the hunt with zero issues.


This frame seems to flex with your torso as you move.  That might not sound like a good thing for the times when you have a heavy pack but that is the crazy thing, it excels at the heavy-load carrying, too. Whether you are hiking around with 30-50lbs of gear or have it loaded down with triple-digit weight, this frame is as comfortable as I have used.

High quality, 100% made-in-the-USA products are not cheap, and the ARK sells for $500.  If you are in the market for a new backpack frame, I would highly recommend the ARK. Available here.

Comment or ask Tony questions here.

*To note, Kifaru is a Rokslide advertiser.