Kifaru Cavern Review
By Tony Trietch, Rokslide Prostaff
Ask most any western backpack hunter what they consider their most important pieces of gear and I’d be willing to guess their backpack will be towards the top of that list. A well-fit frame that allows you to hunt without discomfort and haul (hopefully) a heavy load is essential. Often overlooked is the bag attached to the frame.
I like a system that allows me to use different bags on the same frame. Kifaru International offers several frames and enough bags to fit about any type of hunt or hunter and any type of preferred organizational style.
New for 2018 are the Kifaru Cavern and Crater bags. The only difference in the two bags is overall size. The Cavern is 6500ci and the Crater comes in at 8000ci. Both are big bags that were designed for the serious backpack hunter or professional guide. Read Jordan Budd’s Crater review here. Both bags will fit on any 24” or 26” Kifaru frame.
Some people like lots of little pockets and pouches on and inside of the pack. Some people like bags that are simply a compressible cylindrical tube. The Cavern falls somewhere in the middle. There is a zippered side pocket designed for a spotting scope on the left side. The right side has no pocket but rather a side zip entry into the main bag. Both have two zippers so you can open from the top or the bottom. You can also access the inner bag from the top via the fold-down snow collar. The only inner pocket is the small chamber pocket, this works well for small items that you don’t carry on your body. There is also a spot to hang your water bladder inside.
The spotter pocket zips all the way up and leaves little chance for your expensive glass to become dirty. It bellows out when the pack is stuffed full of gear and boned out meat but can also suck into the pack when not full. This makes for less total width when day hunting with a less than full pack. The spotter pocket is big enough to hold my Swarovski STX95 along with a light jacket or vest. I was able to stop, take off the backpack and get to the spotter quickly with the pack both loaded up and in daypack mode. The new zippered spotter pocket is a win in my opinion.
The Cavern has adopted the compression strap system from the popular Kiraru Reckoning pack. I used the Reckoning last season and fell in love with the three horizontal strap system. On each of the three horizontal straps, there are two sewn in (to the bag) locations that separate each compression strap into three individually adjustable straps. This gives the user countless ways to compress the pack with about anything you want to carry in it.
The snow collar folds down and is held in place by an adjustable vertical compression strap that attaches along the backside of the bag in a vertical row of webbing. This gives you multiple points of attachment for the bottom of the strap. There is also a compression strap at the bottom of the pack for cinching up the lower portion of the bag. The Cavern can be run with or without a Guide lid. If you choose no additional lid, there are sewn on attachment points to install a medium belt pouch on the snow collar when folded down. I like the versatility here and plan on using both this fall. Last year I ran the Reckoning without a lid all season and it worked great. There is also a belt pouch matrix on the back of the bag for attaching more external storage if needed. Two rows of pals webbing wrap around the lower portion of the bag as well and offer more external pouch attachment points. I will probably end up running a couple medium belt pouches here.
The Cavern has a meat shelf for those out there that like to haul heavy loads of meat outside of the bag. It allows you to separate and extend the pack away from the frame and slide the meat in-between and compress together. I will say that this bag is big enough that I will be able to carry seven days of gear and food along with an entire boned-out buck inside the bag. So if you are a minimalist and like carrying the meat inside the bag, this bag will work for you, too. I think this bag is going to be great for the hunter wanting to backpack hunt four to seven days and still have the ability to compress the pack down for a day hunt.
- 6500ci main bag
- Fold down Top and side zippered entry
- Zippered side spotter pocket
- 3 horizontal compression strap rows w/ three individually adjustable straps in each row
- Can be run with Fold down collar or add guide lid
- Chamber pocket and H2O attachment point inside including hose port
- Meat shelf
- Multiple points of attachment for belt pouches
I’ve also included a full video review of a loaded Kifaru Cavern
For me the functionality of all my gear is paramount. Everything must work together to help me hunt, hike and haul heavy loads efficiently and as comfortably as possible. I tend to be the type that likes fewer pockets inside my packs and the Cavern is right up my alley. I still have the ability to add a few belt pouches if needed but have the simplicity of an uncluttered main bag. The spotter pocket is exactly what I felt was needed to protect my precious optics and I think will be well received.
I can’t do a review on a Kifaru International product without mentioning the customer service you get from them, they are always there to pick up the phone and help. In addition, they are made 100% in the USA.
You can comment or ask Tony questions here.