Contributors to this thread:
Exo, Kifaru, Stone Glacier.
I've been hiking every day with my cheap cabelas internal frame pack for a few months now. It's become apparent that I want I better pack before the 2018 elk season, I've all ready blown my 2017 gear budget.;) I've read the threads from two and three years ago but exo and maybe others have put out new frames since then. 2 years ago it seamed that kifaru was the standard. For those of you that have tried several packs, what pack and frame do you like best? I know fit plays a part but all these bags should be able to be made to fit.
I have a Kifaru. There are lots of options if you are not tall. To my knowledge Kifaru is the only one that offers 26" stays for taller guys. There may be other options now but when I bought mine a year ago that was the case.
I really like my Stone Glacier Sky 5100, have purchased the Approach bag as well for shorter trips. Very adjustable, carries heavy loads well for me plus the pack itself is light. Win/Win in my book.
I would recommend trying as many as possible prior to purchasing, as one mans treasure is another's trash.
I do not have first hand experience w/ the exo, but I did read a review from someone who has both the exo and a kifaru. Hands down he said the kifaru. The kif will have far more options over the exo, but the exo has a more attractive price tag. I say cry once and be done w/ it, take the dive. Being as you're shopping for next year you have plenty of time to wait around and pick up a used frame/pack.
Hopefully Kota will chime in. He has probably tested more packs than anyone and he can give fair analysis of what he has found.
Bowfreak I read his comments from 2014-15 and he was all for Kifaru then. I know these bags are pricey but I figure I'll have it for several years and I completely get the buy nice or buy twice thing. I am 5'10" with a torso that's probably long and broad for my height.
Charlie I will look into the MR Metcalf. MR is the only one of these I can try in store, albeit a 3 hour drive. At 200$ less than Kifaru and 100$ less than exo and stone glacier it is all ready appealing. Does MR ever run sales?
Check out the classifieds on Rokslide. Lots of used packs.
Stone Glacier. Quality and a GREAT customer service....
Thanks ghost bird I've never been there but will check it out.
Another guy to talk to is Aron Snyder. He is had every pack there is on his back at one time or another. Great guy and always easy to talk to. I don't know if he logs into Bowsite anymore or not.
I've hunted with 5-6 full size packs and there is a world of difference in comfort between the top brands and the rest. My favorite is Kifaru for comfort and durability. My favorite for lightweight is the SG (haven't tried the new frame that came out a few months ago). Haven't tried EXO, I'm sure that it's a good system. You are making the right choice as long as you have the budget for one of these three.
Yes, MR does have sales from time to time - usually after a hunting season, rather than before. The knock on MR is that their packs are heavier than the rest, but on the flip side, those who own and use MR will tell you that the few extra lbs. are well worth it. Good luck!
Bought my first "high end" pack two years ago.....Kifaru Mountain Warrior. To date, I've hunted with it quite a bit in daypack mode and it has handled both elk and caribou. Only regret is not getting one sooner!
Wild 1 Ican handle an extra pound or two if the system is 300$ cheaper. How does the MR stack up against these others when loaded down? Is the comfort similar?
I would at least consider a used pack. There are a lot of great deals to be had on Rokslide and other forums. I picked up a like new Kifaru pack for almost half of original price. Like new meaning, never been out of the owners house.
"Wild 1 Ican handle an extra pound or two if the system is 300$ cheaper. How does the MR stack up against these others when loaded down? Is the comfort similar? "
Having worn both Kifaru and Mystery Ranch, I would buy a used Kifaru long before I would buy even a brand new Mystery Ranch assuming similar prices. Just a different level in terms of comfort.
Link - The best was to answer your question is this: it's all about the FIT. A lot of hunters and non-hunters, are wearing packs that don't have a proper fit. I've known a few hunters who have sent the same pack back 4 or 5 times just to get the perfect fit. If you can get the right fit, all of these packs will be will be comfortable - they're all quality packs. The bummer is, most of these are not sold in retail outlets - this makes the entire process a little more challenging. Good luck!
Look at used. Lots of barely used packs on the secondary market. I like my older Mystery Ranch. I have eyes for Stone Glacier but not the funds. Brother has an Exo, not a fan of the frame. Never tried Kifaru, not into cults (semi kidding there, don't get no wadded panties).
Figure out how to spend a weekend in Denver, there are retailers for Kifaru, MR and SG.
Stone glacier are elk hauling machines
I've tried a bunch more packs since my pack thread and while it is tough to beat a Kifaru, the new Stone Glacier X Curve frame is VERY nice. I'm currently running the following packs and they are all great: Kifaru Fulcrum with 26" Hunter Duplex frame, Kifaru Mountain Rambler with 24" Ultra Lite Duplex frame, Kifaru Mountain Warrior that I run with both frames, Kifaru Tarryall with internal frame, and the Stone Glacier Sky Talus 6900 with the new X Curve frame.
I tend to prefer Kifaru. Overall I still like their Timberline series better than any of the external frames.....of which I own a few.
Link, if you need a better pack, I'll send you a complete, brand new Gen IV army ruck, just send it back when you are done. It is very functional, carries weight very well, and only losses ground to my kifaru in the waist belt department. It's a very capable setup and far better than any internal framed set up for heavier loads. As long as your torso is 21 inches or shorter, it'll do you a good job. Let me know. God Bless
WV that's a great offer but I'll make do through this elk season. I'm going in a group of three and I doubt we kill more than 1 elk if we kill any at all, Ha. I'll start saving for 2018 and watch Rokslide for any deals on a Kifaru. Still curious if anyone has tried the new exo frame, I believe it's the K 2. Thanks guys.
Just so you know, a full Gen IV medium ruck kit would deliver to your door for less than $50. Mine would deliver for $15 shipping. So, if you change your mind, you can change your situation in very little time and/or with a small investment of money. Good luck on your hunt and God Bless
What kind of weight are you thinking of packing? I know a few guys that love their EXO..... A great hunting pack, flexible and comfortable, but when it get up into the 75-100 lb range not so much. Hate to go to those weights but hate making another trip in for 40-50lbs worse if I can do it. Have to make that decision on the mountain. Nothing is really comfortable in that range but I know the Duplex can handle it over and over. And that that does not kill you.....
SG.... I'd love to strap one on. They have a great rep for an ultra light rig that can handle some weight. But in my world it's all rep, never even held one.
Stone Glacier for me. No complaints.
SG carries 90# purti darn good...
really happy with my SG as well
Link I sent you a PM. I found a Kifaru pack for you in my truck if it's what you want and fits.
I have tested or used all thos packs as well as mystery ranch. My experience with the SG was very limited, but the pack was comfortable and held the weight well. (I have ran at least 65#s in all the ones I have used). I only had the SG at weight for 15-20 minutes and only climbed stairs with it. The pack itself was just too much of a tube for me.
I used the mr nice frame for many years. I loved it at first and it was very tough. I got older and gained weight, and it suddenly wouldn't stay on my hips as well as in the past. It let the weight settle on my shoulders. I had packed out several elk, two mule deer, and a bighorn with the pack in the past and never had problems. But it either didn't fit me anymore, or I was older and noticed the weight on my shoulders more. Either way, in 2016 I decided to test as many good packs as I could.
I tested a bunch of packs / frames. Stone glacier, Rei, mystery ranch ( my older pack), kifaru, exo mountain, and KUIU.
I tried the exo with a day hunt load and loved it. I then tried it with 65#s for about 1.5 hours..... I was crippled for a couple weeks. How it distributed the weight seemed to push in right at L5. I literally couldn't test any other packs for couple weeks. I was loaned a kuiu icon pro frame and found it very comfortable. It carried the same weight very well, but when I packed out a quartered mule deer buck, I felt like the pack was at its limit, and on the verge of breaking. It did not, but it flexed very badly when I took the pack off at the truck and set it down. I packed a deboned antelope and it did excellent. The weight in it was quite a bit less than the muley though.
I settled on the kifaru and have packed two antelope and a muley with it. It was the most comfortable with anything over 60#s and I love the newish reckoning pack. It definitely handles heavy weight the best for me. Hugs my waist and stays up on my hips. Seems to be built every bit as tough at the mystery ranch, and is slightly lighter than the mr frame / pack. I carried approximately 45#s for a bunch of train g hikes and a little over 70#s for a couple of training hikes. It is a very rigid frame and I don't feel as mobile when using it in daypack mode, but I know it will be comfortable and failure free when I put some real weight in it.
Bucman, that's a pretty good review. I've decided on a Kifaru frame for sure but I need to get fall and paying for tags out of the way first. Thanks again WV and Fulldraw for your offers, you guys are first class.
I used Kifaru for a long time but now have switched to SeekOutside. Kifaru was always a little uncomfortable for me and I figured out it was due to the thickness of the lumbar pad. I found the Seek Outside to be more comfortable for me. It also has an adjustable frame that goes from 24" to 28".
I hav been using Kuiu, but I don't like how they fit me. Maybe I just don't have them adjusted correctly. There is a lot to like about their packs, but when they don't fit correctly, they suck the energy from you quickly. Been looking at the SG packs. How are you guys attaching your bow to them? The Kuiu packs have an additional bow holder "cup" that can be added to protect the lower cam. I shoot a 34" ata bow, so I need to be able to lash a longer bow to the pack.
Tom...There are a number of ways to attach a bow to a SG, depending on the pack. They all have enough compression straps to strap it on one way or another. The SKY archer was built for a bow, but the Talus is very accommodating as well.
Stone Glacier. Best pack I have ever used.
Does anyone have current experience with the new Exo K2 5500? They upgraded several features on the frame, shoulder straps and waist belt.
Stoneman, I just got the new EXO K2 3500 and have only started giving it some weighted use and fine tuning the adjustments. I really like it so far, and it seems to be super comfortable. I threw 35lbs in it and wore it for an hour on a stairclimber and incline treadmill for an initial test and I can tell I can easily go up in weight. The above comments have me a little concerned once I get 60+lbs in it, but so far so good.
Offhntn, it seems we can read 100 positive reviews and 1 negative one... so that is the one that sticks! I think you will be happy with your 3500, heck thats the pack that Corey Jacobsen runs.
the exo is the pack im fixing to buy. ive been researching a ton. it seems to have the best mix of bag layout, capability to haul weight with some comfort, and overall weight of pack. The kifaru would prolly be my choice but to me their bag layouts just aren't as good. I just cant make myself like their bags, none of them! The exo bag just seems better designed, but that's my opinion. the kuiu would be a good choice and the most reasonably priced. but the exo allows more space in the bag I feel due to the design comparing same sizes . Same for SG, not overly found of the bag designs.
I don't even have a pack bag on my Duplex.......
Stoneman, AGREED. And yeh, I know if Corey will use one for all his hunts and packouts, it isn't junk. I was impressed with the Customer Service with EXO when I had some questions, Steve emailed me right back!
thomas, I am the same. And even though kifaru would've been my second choice as well, sometimes all of the "features" on a bag doesn't necessarily mean they are convenient, needed, or even wanted.
It all depends on how it fits you. Two years ago I bought a used Tenzing 5000 for an elk hunt in CO. With 65 lbs. it was fine but I sold it after I sold it thinking I would gain comfort by going to a higher end pack. Last year I had a CO sheep tag and spent the money on a new Kifrau duplex frame with Timberline bag. I can honestly say that with 65 lbs. it was no more comfortable than the Tenzing. I haven't decided if I'm keeping the Kifaru yet or not.
Just to throw this out there - no such thing as a pack that makes the weight magically disappear.
You will always feel it, no matter what.
Tired them all. Best fitting and most comfortably with a heavy load was Kifaru.
I will 2nd what TD said. I didn't buy my last kifaru pack for the bag. I don't even have a bag on it. I haven't had 100 lbs on yet however I had 75 lbs. it didn't feel any different then 50 to me. My workouts are with 50 lb pack weight.
FYI an EXO bag can be attached to a kifaru frame.
Kifaru. If I didn't truly believe Kifaru was the best pack in the world, I would use Stone Glacier. IMO Exo doesn't even belong in the same paragraph as the other two.
If your kifaru isn't comfortable, something is out of adjustment. Sometimes the stays need to be bent to fit your frame, sometimes it's the straps.
"IMO Exo doesn't even belong in the same paragraph as the other two."
Have you ever used one?
Pack choice is very personal. I have tried a ton of them. I have tried Kifaru 3 different times wanting them to work for ME because of weight. Every time I come back to my old Mystery Ranch NICE frames and bags. I'm close to trying the Stone Glacier for the same weight savings, but all packs for ME compare back to MR.
Love my stone glacier solo. Only thing I have used the last several years. Bought a larger SG pack this year for longer trips.
well I just ordered an exo 3500 yesterday! so we will c how it performs shortly
Thomas, what did you think of your EXO 3500?
I've used Exo and multiple Kifaru packs. All are comfortable and I'm sure you could be happy with either. I've hauled more meat with the Exo and it's a simple process to load it. I like the access and organization straight out of the box on the Exo. Kifaru required pocket and pouches which means more $ and more weight but it can be customized to your liking. It does look like the new Eastern Ruck addresses some of the organization issues but I've quit shopping for packs.
I shoot my bow much better with the Exo frame and that was a strong factor why I kept it. I sold the larger kifaru packs and the pouch/pocket collection. I still have a small Kifaru pack (Scout) I use for local deer hunting when meat hauling isn't required.