The Kifaru Fulcrum
The excitement brought about by the arrival of the Kifaru Fulcrum was short-lived. Any city slicker can ride an old trail nag but only an experienced horseman should take a spirited horse into the mountains. It doesn’t take much thought to buy a box store pack and hit the trail and I had never owned a pack of this caliber. The Fulcrum quickly made me feel like a backpack city slicker. The myriad of straps, buckles, and personalized adjustments was overwhelming. It took a little time to learn the system and find the most efficient manner to weave the straps and find the right fit for me. However, once the work was done, I had a trusty workhorse fit for the task ahead. I realize this is an exaggeration, but throughout the season the pack became more of a hunting partner than a piece of gear. I didn’t hunt a single day without it. No matter where I went, I hunted with confidence. Whatever lies ahead, I knew this pack could handle it.
Pack Set Up
- The Fulcrum comes from Kifaru’s line of Expedition Packs.
- The Fulcrum bag weighs 3.4 lbs. and boasts 7,800 ci.
- I chose the Duplex Lite Frame with a 1/8” frame.
- We added the Guide Lid at 11.5 oz and an additional 1,200 ci.
All totaled, the full set up weighed around 8 lbs. with 10,000 ci.
The Guide Lid carried 90% of my kit 90% of the time: tags, knife, paracord, etc.
It also functions as a standalone “essentials kit”. For example, if you want to go on a stalk or a quick strike hike and you don’t want to lug your entire pack, the guide lid will do the job.
Yes, the Fulcrum works as a day pack. Yes, it’s overkill. Howard isn’t a fan of hunting with a day pack, only to hike out and fetch a meat hauler. It just doesn’t work for me. Thankfully, the Fulcrum packs down nice and tight. As a day pack, it was great.
Water Bottle Pocket
I was skeptical. I don’t like the sound of sloshing water, especially while hunting. Additionally, I was convinced that I’d lose my Nalgene. I was wrong on both accounts. As long as the Nalgene stays vertical, it stays quiet. The Nalgene fits so tight, I honestly didn’t need to use the safety strap to keep it in place. Another upside was that I didn’t have to fight frozen water tubes in the winter.
The Kifaru Fulcrum isn’t magic. It’s a well-built and well-designed pack with magical results. The strength of the pack is that if YOU can carry it, the pack can too.
Here’s the deal. The weight was always heavy, but it didn’t hurt my body. My legs weren’t stronger, but they last longer when you have a well-balanced and properly fitted load. While my legs were often sore, my back and shoulders and the rest of my body remained totally healthy. That’s the glory of the Fulcrum.
With the ability to balance out most any load, I didn’t fall as often as usual. Other packs have rubbed sores on my hips. The Fulcrum’s waist belt is wide and comfortable and there were no sores.
Lesser quality packs have pulled on my shoulders and caused headaches. These irritations were not present while using the Fulcrum. Even after an especially grinding day, my body was fresh and ready to go the next day.
Kifaru Fulcrum Versatility
Most of my loads were simply stuffed into the gargantuan main bag. I should have reminded myself that just because you can fill the pack, doesn’t mean that you should.
If you’d rather use the load shelf instead of the main bag, you can do that too.
The pack weights varied. Not all cargo has the same size or shape. For example, the elbow of an elk leg doesn’t pack down like the body of a wolf, but it didn’t seem to matter. The straps, the main bag, and the load shelf make it possible to balance almost any load. The most unbalanced load was my last elk load. The head stretched out too far. There were other options, but time was short, and I didn’t care.
My heaviest load with this pack was 104-105 lbs. My entire 2020 mule deer went into the pack. The weight was unwise, and I wouldn’t have tried it except that the pack-out was fairly short and mostly downhill.
As weight increases, the waist belt requires further tightening. While learning the pack, I cinched the belt too tight and my legs went numb. You have to find the right fit.
When the loads exceeded 80 lbs. the textured material on the lumbar pad eventually rubbed and irritated my skin. This could have been avoided by wearing additional shirts, but that doesn’t fly with me. I generate way too much heat to wear extra layers with a load that heavy. While it was annoying, it didn’t damage my skin.
Even after several heavy loads, I don’t see any popped seams and I can’t find where any straps have begun to break away from the pack.
The main pack can hold off significant amounts of moisture. A surprise Fall snowstorm caught us in the mountains, but the inside of the pack stayed plenty dry.
Note About Gun Bearer
After a full day using the gun bearer, it did add strain on that shoulder. There are a variety of options when setting up the gun bearer. My setup may not be the best option and resulted in a shoulder ache. The soreness was always gone by the next day but was none the less irritating.
I told my family and friends and I’ll tell you, this pack embarrassed me. I honestly felt a little shame for using the cheap packs I’ve used in the past. Maybe if I had made the transition from another high-end pack, I wouldn’t have felt so foolish? I went into this season out of shape and overweight, but my body suffered less than in years past. I can’t go back to cheap packs. The wear and tear on my body are too expensive.
You can comment on this article or ask Howard questions here.
Lock’n load Pockets