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#67137 - 06/04/06 12:45 PM Me and Kifaru
Polak187 Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/23/02
Posts: 1403
Loc: Brooklyn, New York
Well hereís the review of Kifaru Marauder.. As some of you may remember it was a nightmare trying to get the pack set up with things showing up late and parts missing so basically I went on a 30 day trek/climb with untested pack. During my trip I learned both to hate and love Marauder and now I have a dilemma if I should keep it. Also since we've talked about Kifaru in general I'm trying to show that sometimes the best money could buy item in the business may not be the best item for the task. Think about it when assembling a BOB or PSK. Weight and comfort of the container is very important. Just becasue it is rated as top of the line doesn't mean it is right for you. And hereís my storyÖ



I was planning on 30 days in Nepal. I had two packs. One big 60 liter external frame pack that held all the spare clothes and equipment. The big pack was either carried by porters or yaks. My Kifaru pack was either my day pack or 2/3 day pack if I yaks were taking a different route. On average weight of my Kifaru loaded with water was 30 lbs.



My pack is a basic configuration Marauder with waist belt. Originally I was planning on two side pockets and claymore pouch in the center with misc pouches mounted on the waist belt. I received a Back Pack pouch that was way to big for the pack and after rushing order in I got a claymore pouch but in a wrong zipper configuration. So pre trip outside configuration looked as follows:

Marauder with Waist Belt
Side pockets on both sides (vertical load)
Back pouch on the front (vertical load) w/ Velcro panel from supp capt
Claymore pouch under the bottom of the pack (horizontal load)
Stash it pocket on the right side of the waist belt
GPS pouch on the left side of the waist belt

Problem with above configuration? Heavy. Carry on baggage maximum weight is about 12 lbs and my carry on with camera gear and basic stuff was close to 24 lbs. Right away I got rid of books, batteries and side pockets (which were not used for the rest of the trip) but still pack was way to heavy. For the hell of it I took everything out except a camera and two lenses and pack was around 15 lbs. If it wasnít for a fact that I work at JFK I would have to check in my camera gear. For the rest of my trip my packs configuration was as follows (pictured below):

Marauder with Waist Belt
Back pouch on the front (vertical load) w/ Velcro panel from supp capt
Claymore pouch under the bottom of the pack (horizontal load)
Stash it pocket on the right side of the waist belt
GPS pouch on the left side of the waist belt





Still pack was very heavy and thatís pack itself not counting my gear. I have to give Kifaru credit for making straps wide but little padding made it very miserable for me especially since Iím used to better straps on my other gear. Also chest strap was way to high. No matter what I did it was high which constricted my movements and with layers of clothes (fleece, windstoper, down and shell) it pushed it up choking me (not a good thing at 6500 meters). Waist belt was fine except that placement of the stash it and gps pouches (as per where the webbing was) made my arms get snagged on them. Since I had to leave my pack sometimes in different places I needed to lock it but it was impossible with Kifaru since pull tabs are made out of cord and not metal so a small padlock was useless. It created a small inconvenience since I carried some valuable stuff that I needed to keep my eyes on. I have a normal build with 5í10íí and 180 lbs frame. I got a regular harness configuration. Pack was riding way to low for me and I hated it especially during climbs since it changed my center of gravity. I think I spent first 3 days trying to configure it right and than got used to it and gave up. Zippers were great but storm flap made it weird to open it up and when pack was on lock down (all the straps buckled and secured) it took forever to get inside it especially if my hands were cold (most of the time). And last thing: extra length of straps drove me insane. Pack got also really heavy with moisture so I ended up buying a cheap rain cover.

And now the good thing. Inside of my pack using Kifaru internal pockets I created a wet dream for obsessive compulsive maniac that I become. Utilizing 1 pullout pocket and 4 lock and load pockets I organized my pack so it was perfect. I was able to keep all the stuff separate and not dig thru my pack to find something. I was able to carry 2 lenses, big slr camera with a lens, point and shoot, rain shell, extra fleece, FAK, food, whatever else I needed for a day, storage hardrive, two neglene bottles, sleeping bag. All of that organized and put away neatly.



Quality of work on the pack is amazing. I think there are few products out there that match Kifaruís level of marksmanship. Everything was perfectly finished and no loose ends were left. I regret not buying Naglene pockets to hold water. It would have made some stuff much easier.

It is both my fault and Kifaru fault that I didnít have time try out the pack before I left. My three days off during which I was trying my equipment were fri, sat and sun and I didnít get the pack until Monday night. Most likely if I took it on few hikes as planned I would have returned it to the company. I guess elite and premium equipment is not for everyone. I can see how it can be a great pack but not for everyone. Maybe my application was just wrong. Reason Iím still considering keeping it is because of the internal organization which I came to love.

_________________________
Matt
http://brunerdog.tripod.com/survival/index.html

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#67138 - 06/04/06 06:28 PM Re: Me and Kifaru
Malpaso Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 09/12/05
Posts: 817
Loc: MA
Hi Matt, welcome back, hope your trip was all you hoped it would be.

Great, informative review. I have put together a similar setup, and can see where you ran into difficulty. For quite some time, I was wavering between a Zulu or Marauder, or a Camelbak BFM. The three packs are simliar size and configuration, although far different in price. I bought a BFM only because I snagged one on ebay for $100. I added a Kifaru Liter Plus pouch, Claymore Pouch and GPS Pouch.

I came to a similar conclusion as you did, size issues. A pack that size (with or without add on pouches) seems to fit in between needs. For EMS situations, it's too small for a week and too big for a couple days. This may be different for military applications, as the LF crew seem to say these packs are perfect for three day packs. I had planned on using it as a carry on. but am skeptical now based on your experience. It will be great when we deploy on military aircraft, but might pose a problem on commercial flights.

I'm going to look at the PullOut and Lock'n Load pouches based on your review.
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It's not that life is so short, it's that you're dead for so long.

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#67139 - 06/04/06 11:00 PM Contact Mel about better fit
Tmpx Offline


Registered: 01/15/06
Posts: 26
Hi Matt,

Congratulations on your new setup and thanks for the review.

I am looking into buying a marauder myself and spend quite a bit of time on their forums.

As you mentioned in your review the gear is heavy, the comfort however, should be very good. Discomfort seems to be a more common initial complaint. The general advice is to give Mel a call at 1-866-308-1911. Usually after the call most people were raving about the comfort.

Most of the details on the bags have been thought trough very thoroughly and I suspect that the zipper pulls might have undergone a similar process. Since it is a military bag, one of the reasons for the zipper pulls to be made out of cord might be to minimize sound. But that is just me speculating. <img src="/images/graemlins/laugh.gif" alt="" />

There are several threads on the Kifaru Forums about strap management. In general most people advice against cutting and recommend either ranger bands (rubber bands cut from bicycle inner tubes) or Velcro straps to keep everything tidy.

For your water you might want to consider a camelbak type of reservoir instead of the Nalgene pockets with bottle.

Best regards,

B.

P.s. What is the empty weight of your setup?

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#67140 - 06/05/06 01:31 AM Re: Me and Kifaru
ironraven Offline
Cranky Geek
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/08/05
Posts: 4642
Loc: Vermont
Not the first time I've heard these kinds of grumbles about Kifaru. I haven't worked with thier gear yet, first hand, but it sounds like they overengineered for the problem at hand.
_________________________
-IronRaven

When a man dare not speak without malice for fear of giving insult, that is when truth starts to die. Truth is the truest freedom.

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#67141 - 06/05/06 01:39 AM Re: Contact Mel about better fit
Polak187 Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/23/02
Posts: 1403
Loc: Brooklyn, New York
It is about 8 lbs minimum... I personally don't think that pack is right for me. I grabed my old kelty Map3500 and Marauder for comparison than after packing them up with the same gear Kelty did much better. I will still utilize the claymore pouch and their internal pockets for organization but my quest for nice pack is still on. I'm currently looking at TAD FAST 2 gen.
_________________________
Matt
http://brunerdog.tripod.com/survival/index.html

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#67142 - 06/05/06 04:57 AM Re: Me and Kifaru
wolf Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 12/01/04
Posts: 329
Loc: Michigan
Thanks for the well thought out review and the great photos!
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"2+2=4 is not life, but the beginning of death." Dostoyevsky

Bona Na Croin

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#67143 - 06/05/06 05:17 AM Re: Me and Kifaru
lukus Offline
Member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 170
Loc: TEXAS (where else?)
Awsome trip, I'm definitely jealous.

I'm waiting for an Express pack, two water bottle sized side pockets, GPS pouch, the E&E, and various internal pockets. The wait is driving me crazy, but it's taken a little longer because I'm having some PALS sewn inside the top and bottom zipper flaps so when I open it - voila - organized pockets. The E&E will be used as a piggybacked back pouch to carry minimum essentials, and can pop it off for day hike use (or to lighten the load in case I have to run full bore through a forest at night from a bear that might or might not be chasing me, and it should be water resistant enough so I can jump off a freaking high cliff into hypothermic inducing snow melt river like I learned on "Secrets to Survival", but I digress).

Even though it's a smaller pack, you've got me a bit concerned about the weight. I'm planning on compressing it down and using as carry on luggage so as to not be totally screwed if check-in goes missing. Guess I'll have to figure that out when it gets here. Should be any day now, Express packs were sewn last week. I'll give a review after I've had a chance to try it out.

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#67144 - 06/05/06 09:04 AM Re: Me and Kifaru
JohnN Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 10/10/01
Posts: 966
Loc: Seattle, WA

FWIW, I'm starting to think this (weight + comfort) is a problem with most military style packs. Take the Maxedition line for example. No internal frame. Even cheezy day packs have at least some supports to transfer weight to your hips.

For my part, small internal frame packs from someone like Arc'Teryx or Dana are looking attractive, even tho you lose the heavy duty materials and the attachment points.

Thanks for the report Matt!

-john

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#67145 - 06/05/06 10:50 AM Re: Me and Kifaru
Tmpx Offline


Registered: 01/15/06
Posts: 26
8 lbs minimum? <img src="/images/graemlins/shocked.gif" alt="" />

Btw: Tad Gear Fast Pack Gen 2

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#67146 - 06/05/06 11:12 AM Re: Me and Kifaru
Leigh_Ratcliffe Offline
Veteran

Registered: 03/31/06
Posts: 1355
Loc: United Kingdom.
Just as a point: Most climbing sacks from the top end of the market are as strong as the Mil-Spec stuff. They are also better designed in terms of their ergomomics. Most people in the lightweight community would look horrified at the prospect of a pack that weighs 8lb before you load it.
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I don't do dumb & helpless.

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