View Full Version : All-time favorite smith designs?

07-30-2013, 08:59 AM
After many years of using both Mountainsmith and Kifaru products, beginning back in the late '80s, and after spending a bunch of years rambling the Colorado backcountry with Patrick, I've used and become very familiar with most of the gear he's designed. Matter of fact, I have a huge pile of it stored in my shop! ;)

So, I wonder...WHAT ARE YOUR ALL-TIME FAVORITE PATRICK SMITH DESIGNS? TACTICAL, HUNTING, SHELTERS, SLEDS, MATTERS NOT. If you were to list just your top three, what would they be, and why?

Here's mine in descending order:

1. Kifaru box stove. I've had one ever since I got my first shelter back when the Para Tipi was first introduced. This little appliance truly changed camp life forever for me. I wish my small stove could talk, because it sure would have some stories to tell. It's cooked hundreds of trout and small game, bailed both me and my partners out during epic rain, hail, and snow, and warmed good company in the backcountry for way over a decade. It's still going strong. It's easy to assemble and disassemble, lightweight, easy to pack, and extremely durable. The stovepipe design is pure genius. I love it!

2. Kifaru Spike Camp pack. This is my go-to day pack for guiding fly fishing trips. I wear this pack nearly daily for three months in the summer, and it's perfect. I've ended up with an OD G2 Spike Camp with composite stays. The rest of the year I use it for day hunting and all sorts of things where I need a full-day pack that's bombproof, has everything I need, and nothing I don't. Patrick uses his for just about everything too, and I suppose that's the best testament for it's usefulness. It's the ideal day pack!

3. Kifaru KU 3700 pack. Another game changer! I've had a bunch of Mountainsmith/Kifaru packs, going all the way back to a Golden-made Frostfire II back in the mid-to-late 80s. The KU 3700 has been my backpack of choice for about five years now, and for good reason. It's extremely lightweight for it's capabilities, way more durable than it looks, and fits perfectly into my choice of lightweight backpacking and hunting. If you're luck enough to find one of these discontinued packs, jump on it, because they're amazing in either the 3700 or 5200 size.


mark s
07-30-2013, 10:29 AM
The Sawtooth- To me a perfect shelter. Stand up space, space for two, a stove and your gear for 4 1/2 lbs. And can have a liner to eliminate the condensation spritzing. I love it for the luxury when soloing and for when I have a companion. Although I also love my 8 man, I find that I don't care for sleeping with more than one other person.

07-30-2013, 10:59 AM
I consider my KU 5200 to be, bar none, my favorite bit of kit. I was sad to see them go extinct! I protect mine like it's gold...


07-30-2013, 02:10 PM
I might have to top three it:

1) The Box Stove. The Medium Stove I got with my first Kifaru shelter (a 6-man) might be the single biggest factor to getting this Maui-boy out into any kind of camping in temperatures below 68F.

2) Sawtooth Shelter: What mark said.

3) KU Koala (I'm just trying not to follow with Paul and Scott, and say my KU 5200 pack....): Getting gear into a spot that is easily accessed, while keeping your sidearm secured and ready is a pretty innovative idea. Doing it in light weight is even better! Snacks, possibles, hunting/fishing licenses/binoculars/water filter/etc. all in an easy to access space. I do a lot less stopping for things like rain gear, maps, snax, navigation when its all easily accessible. I probably use my KU Koala more often than a E+E for shorter jaunts.

07-30-2013, 02:46 PM
1) Koala. I have this with me everywhere I go. I'm type I diabetic, & have a lot of crap to keep track of, pump supplies, sweet tarts, etc. This makes it a good cover for ccw as well, along with a Swiss Army Knife, iPod... Or, it's a purse, and I'm okay with that.

2) Box stove. This might be the biggest factor in getting my weenie friends/kids to come along. 14 hours of rain at 10,000 with my kids, without a floor, snug as bugs in rugs. I've got 2 tents with stove jacks, I may be modding another soon, as it's got a FLOOR... (and therefore, I won't get asked "did you bring the tent with the floor?" Actually, I will probably still get asked)

3) Duplex cargo hauler. Just warming up to the EMR, (Mel just helped with with adjustments that I thought I knew how to do, but didn't) loved the MMR, traded it, I think it'll be okay though.

I don't see getting rid of any of the stuff I've got, X-Ray, MollEx, pods, pockets, cargo chair, etc. I just see moving to where I don't need to carry everyone's stuff, and using it in more seasons, to do more stuff. I remember getting a Mountainsmith Day pack when I was in school to take mountain biking. I was poor & bought a refurbished one from Chicken Head Sports in Idaho Springs and thinking "this would make a great small game pack!" I unzipped it, and it had rabbit fur inside. :eek: I still have that, and still occasionally take it pheasant hunting...

07-30-2013, 04:07 PM
The Tipi and box stove. Patrick didn't invent the idea of a heated shelter but making one light and compact enough to man carry while being sturdy enough to withstand wind and driving rain or snow was brilliant. One day, perhaps, I will swap my 4-man for a Sawtooth and the medium stove for one of the new roll-ups, but for now this is my choice of prime shelter.

Mountainsmith Tyrol. The ancestor of the Spike Camp and the Scout, the Tyrol is a fine design, light, durable and low profile so usable as a canoe pack. I made a few modifications - a padded frame sheet, a top pocket and belt pouches to make it mine.

Mountainsmith Power lounger (I have two) the ancestor of the field chair. I yearn for a chair I can properly sit in, but until then the Power Lounger is extremely comfortable, compact and light.

07-30-2013, 04:23 PM
Scout my edc bag and Spike Camp my hunting pack. Wouldn't want to be without either but looking forward to more K stuff to compare them to.

flamingo 7
08-06-2013, 08:34 PM
This is a tough one, what does one mean by “all-time favorite”. To me it means the last thing I’d get rid of, not necessarily the thing that gets the most use. While my Spike Camp gets the most use as an EDC bag as well as my day pack, I could “put up” with a lesser bag for day hikes and EDC (and did quite happily for years). I love it and will gladly replace it with the current version if the dang thing would just wear out. The KU Koala is also high up on my favorites list, but I could get similar bags (I’ve not tried them, though they look like they’d do the trick). The KU comes close to being irreplaceable, but again I could use the Long Hunter.
#1. For me the top item would be the pulk. We’ve got a terrific local mountaineering shop here in town, with a bunch of world class mountaineers behind the counter earning enough to pay for their next adventure. Wanting to try out a civilian pulk (I’ve pulled an Ahkio), I search for a rental or something to borrow and the old Mountainsmith pulk at the store was the only thing available in the area. It was old and battered, but pulled like a dream and met my every need. A few weeks ago I was again in the local shop and the fellow helping me noticed my Kifaru hat and thus began an hour long conversation about Patrick’s younger years, and shared experiences. As I was leaving he said to mention to Patrick that they still had two Mountainsmith pulks. The store was going to get rid of them because they were so beat up, but he talked them out of it as there was nothing to replace them with. A little nylon webbing, some replacement hardware and some elbow grease and they continue to do yeoman’s work. The point is this; I can’t replace it with anything reasonably close on the market. A while back Super Badger posted an exceptional DIY for a pulk with available sleds, and I gave it considerable thought, but while I’ve not pulled them side by side, I don’t think it would match what I get from the Kifaru sled.
#2. The medium box stove; awfully close (if not a tie) to #1. What else can you say about having sufficient heat in the back country at minimum cost in weight? If the subject of Kifaru or camping comes up in conversation with my wife present, she immediately launches into a testimonial on the box stove. Four years ago during 4th season I had several mornings of 5F. By the time the coffee was brewed it was 70 in the tent (OK at the clothes line, but warm enough at ground level to roll out and dress). It’s changed my outdoor life.
#3 My Longhunter. I could replace it with another pack, but carrying a load without pain for long distances is a different proposition to a day pack. I’ve not carried the newer packs, but the Longhunter’s durability, clean lines and gaping maw (actually a hazard as I tend to fill a pack rather than use discretion. If it fit’s, I must need it…), make it a joy to use.
Finally my favorite gadget is the gun-barer. I’ve attached it to just about everything, and is in constant use across the hunting season, birds to big game.

That’s it; my favorites. Thin arguments, maybe, but that's my choice. I’ve listed what I own below. Hardly an exhaustive list, but I like what I have and men with guns are going to have to take them from me.

Mountain Smith Day Bag Lumbar pack
Koala -sold
KU Koala
G1 Spike Camp
KU 5200
MMR – Sold
G1 Longhunter Guide w accessories
Pera Box Stove
Medium Box stove
Super Tarp w annex
6 man tipi
Expedition Sled

08-12-2013, 10:05 PM
Kifaru Longhunter- the original work horse pack!

Kifaru Tipi- whatever the size, the tipis are just badass. Combined with a stove equals an amazing experience.

08-17-2013, 01:54 AM
Currently, my favorite Patrick Smith gear is:

1. My original version of the Marauder. It's been around world and held up to the abuse very well. The thing still looks new (probably due to my policy of washing it every couple of years whether it needs it or not . . . ). I believe that the pinnacle of three-day packs was reached when this baby was designed. It is still my "go-to" bag for most day adventures that require me to carry a bigger load. It has been everything for me; aid bag, field office, three-day pack, school book bag, flight carry on, mountain biking pack, etc, etc. It has done all jobs with aplomb.

2. My KU 3700. Although it hasn't gotten as much use as my trusty Marauder; this pack can hold it's own. As soon as I heard that they were being discontinued; I ordered one for my wife. Or, maybe it was a back-up for me . . . we shall see.

3. KU Koala. Even though I can't "carry" over here in Germany, this little pack is still getting a lot of use. I've started using it while mountain biking and I find that it holds my phone, wallet, small bino's, etc, etc, very well. I've used it in conjunction with my Marauder and it is the perfect accessory. I can't wait to get back to CONUS so I can use it for what it was made for.

Take care,

08-30-2013, 11:01 AM
I have only two of his designs, so I guess that is pretty easy for me.

#1-MOLLEX-I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical when I first got the pack, I didn't think it would be big enough. It made me re-think what I take out to the woods and then I started to add pods to it and that was a game changer. I have a large and a small pod, plus a cargo chair. The Omni waistbelt is what legends are made of. I don't think I will ever not use this pack. The versatility alone with this pack is worth its weight in gold.

#2-MS Day Lumbar Pack-I have had this little dude for almost five years now. I bought it with the strappettes and recently cut the wing style belt pieces off and replaced with a MS pack waistbelt. It connected right up and makes this thing even better. I have this on the trading post, but I am not really sure if I want to get rid of it just yet.

Yolla Bolly
10-21-2013, 02:17 AM

11-14-2013, 08:19 AM
MountianSmith Tour lumbar pack.

I believe this to be a fitting item for this thread? I sure hope its correct!

I'm a Professional hunter in South Africa. It's often hot during the early months of the season. Backpacks just plain make me sweat for the first couple months. One day wandering around in an American REI I found this medium sized lumbar pack with the biggest heavy duty zipper I have ever seen in my life. I just found the perfect early season means of carrying all the bits I needed.

I'll bet this is 10-12 years old now and still in 100% perfectly functional order. It is used to carry my Rangefinder in one bottle pocket and the powder I use to check wind in the other. Inside bug dope, blister repair ( clients have often brought with them their very soft office feet). Several other medical type items. gloves, camera, mini tripod for camera, Sharpening steel, knives, replacement peep sight for the rifle. Dry socks. etc etc.

On the belt is a full function leatherman, ammo holder and flashlight. I'm like the Professional hunting Batman with a utility belt. It's been on so many hunts with me over the time I've owned it. Safe to say every hunt I've been one with hundreds of clients. I have opened and closed that top zipper a gazillion times and stuffed it with so much, even a down jacket on occasion.

Later in the fall I have used the Spike camp, when more is needed or longer trips from the camp or vehicle are taken. I've been dreaming of that coyote brown tailgunner as an upgrade from the Tour. I'm checking the for sale list daily here now for that! Its a safe statement that the " Tour" Lumbar pack has had the most use without failure of any thing I have ever owned with a zipper.

One further comment, in South Africa when you visit, do not refer to these as " Fanny packs" .......... lumbar pack is a much better more polite word that will eliminate the confusion of saying what you want to put into your fanny pack.

11-30-2013, 01:17 AM
Without a doubt my E&E. I've had it for roughly 10 years (not sure exactly when they came out). It has been my EDC purse/ daypack for a decade. Like my car keys, wallet and pistol, I don't leave home without it. I carry a compass, Excedrin, contact lens case, leatherman, petzl headlamp, surefire 6P, two rings of work keys, sunblock, lipbalm, wallet, triangle bandage, magnesium/ flint stick, lighter, etc. in it. Obviously in addition to this stuff I often throw in my DSLR with a tripod on the outside, or a couple water bottles and a jacket, or spare M4 or MP5 magazines and a blow out kit...just depending on what I'm doing that day. Without a doubt it is the best $80 or so dollars I've ever spent on a piece of gear.

When Kifaru opens on Monday I'll be ordering my Late Season. Hopefully I'll have many fun times ahead and that pack will make the list as well.

01-22-2014, 11:08 AM
#1) Kifaru 8 man Tipi tent with large Kifaru stove. Perfect shelter for car and winter camping. It's amazing when you get that stove nice and red hot. No matter what's happening outside, you're going to be warm and dry

#2) KU 5200 pack with KU Koala. Very nice Back Pack system. Amazingly light. Just don't get it near a flame.

#3) Kifaru Marauder. Perfect size for day trips, snow shoeing and EDC. I've carried a 30 pack of PBR in it.


09-23-2014, 12:50 PM
Zulu - I have owned mine for 10 years now.
Marauder - Ran one as a medic bag in Iraq.
Mountainsmith Elite 5000 - Use this a my mountaineering pack. Its is a top loader/panel loader. The lid also turns into a hip pack. I am trying to lighten it up with some g-hooks and thinking about switching to carbon fiber stays from Kifaru.
Slick 20 degree sleeping bag. I have used this on many hikes and Army trips. Best sleeping pag I have owned.

09-23-2014, 07:27 PM
Like many here, I own my favorites and they make me very happy when I am using them.

G-1 Longhunter


4-Man tipi

Medium stove

I think about and look at the new goodies...maybe when a need arises I'll go there.

mountain matters
01-05-2015, 11:49 AM
Mountain Smith Day Lumbar pack.

01-20-2015, 03:38 PM
Just picked up a Mountainsmith Frostfire 5 for the wife. Nice design with the clam shell opening. Suspension looks like Kifaru duplex suspension. Lid converts to a day pack.

01-21-2015, 05:03 PM
#1 is Gun barer
#2 is MolleX
#3 is Pak-Loc windshirt

I like a lot of Kifaru's designs. I just wish I had more time to play with them

01-21-2015, 07:21 PM
I'm new to Kifaru gear, but my favorite designs so far are:

1. Scout w/ padded PALS belt
2. 24 - inch Duplex Frame

01-22-2015, 05:54 PM
MS Tour lumbar pack, 16 years old and has been with me everywhere. Love the big yellow zipper pulls!

01-23-2015, 05:32 AM
My top three favorite simith designs

1) Sawtooth tipi with stove.

2) Packlock vest with sleeve. I am so glad i have it.

3) KU 5200 pack (I will never sell it). Can i say biniki frame also my favorite. Now i can use any type of Kifaru bag in one frame.

Long time no hear from Mr. Patrick. Really hope Mr. Patrick come here say hi and share his valuable experiences to us.

01-24-2015, 06:00 PM
Hello men, I think wolfmen has a point: I have been a recluse on my own message board. And I am sorry about that. I suppose I've been letting you folks have the floor so to speak...not wishing to hog the site. That, plus a tendency to shyness.

I've heard from other fellows wishing I would weigh back in as well. And so I will. And thanks for asking!

I am honored beyond measure when I read about your "favorites" of my designs across the years. Makes me think perhaps I've done something worthwhile over a pretty long career. Thanks ever so much.

01-24-2015, 06:14 PM
Hello Mr. Patrick, please do not say sorry. We are here just like old friends. Talk sometimes, meet sometimes.

All your experiences and designs bring me to new level and new perspective to the nature. Thank you!

Looking forward your share again.


01-24-2015, 06:14 PM
Hello men, I think wolfmen has a point: I have been a recluse on my own message board. And I am sorry about that. I suppose I've been letting you folks have the floor so to speak...not wishing to hog the site. That, plus a tendency to shyness.

I've heard from other fellows wishing I would weigh back in as well. And so I will. And thanks for asking!

I am honored beyond measure when I read about your "favorites" of my designs across the years. Makes me think perhaps I've done something worthwhile over a pretty long career. Thanks ever so much.

Yes, you have Patrick, really like K gear.

02-08-2015, 11:22 AM
Here is a shout out for the Urban Zippy and another vote for the KU line. It was a love/hate with my Zippy initially until I adjusted it to my use. I just love all of the pockets and I always have this bag ready to grab and go.

The KU was one of the most comfortable packs I ever owned. Although I ended up selling the pack to a Kifaru Forum family member (due to lack of use), I have yet to find an equal to this pack. I understand why the line was discontinued, but I appreciate all of the design, testing and hard work that went into this system.

02-08-2015, 11:38 AM
Ichaves, I confess to being the designer of the KU line, but not the Urban Zippy. As I recall Mel Terkla instigated the Zippy, and then Janice Jensen steered it into the Urban Zippy format.

02-08-2015, 05:58 PM
The list of my favorite designs is very long. But my top three are:

Duplex frame
KU 5200

Patrick- you are an amazing designer and a great outdoorsman. Always enjoy when you speak or type!!

02-08-2015, 06:25 PM
Fairly new to the Kifaru lineup but have had a great time getting my hands on a good bulk of it to try and test out.

For me the Sawtooth and MMR are my favorites. And of course the good ol 24 man Tipi every year at the Rondy =-)

02-09-2015, 08:22 AM
I need to add a new love, my HC 4800. The best bag I've ever had. It has replaced my KU series and I haven't looked back.

08-07-2015, 08:37 PM
No where near it...Thx brother

Yolla Bolly
11-19-2015, 10:39 PM
Until not-too-long ago, I would have said my Longhunter. i am not sure which "Generation" it belonged (it came with reversible orange/camo fleece panels, which I never used) After humping aluminum tubing rucks, being able to carry heavy loads without pain was a blessing beyond compare. Now after two seasons with the Nomad, I think I am changing my mind, at least for hunting. I will probably keep the Longhunter for fishing and general backpacking, though. Anyone want the fleece panels and the Cargo Shelf/Chair? i still have them in the garage.

04-15-2016, 09:35 PM
#1- Kifaru Stove/Shelter Design.
#2 Kifaru Spike Camp.
#3 Frames for hauling heavy $tuff. Love it.

10-08-2016, 03:39 AM
I've had my MS daypack for over 25 years, and it still works great.

that lead me to the tailgunner1, which I've been running for almost 10 years now, would love to have an updated version of this available. Served me well is the bush, fishing, in town, and even got me through two kids and all their stuff when they were young. I'd buy another now if they were available. Will probably end up copying and improving it since it's not likely to come back...

then theres's the E&E, another hugely effective pack... I don't hunt or fish for days at a time anymore, so it's great for a long day or overnight. Handy as a bailout bag too.

those are my top three, I also have an old MS bugaboo, great for long weekends. Then there's my old MS delta elite, getting to old to load that up, but talk about a great pack...

i have yet yet to wear out any of them, the original MS are showing the age, but the tg1 & e&e, are bombproof, they'll outlast me... wish those lines weren't going away,. I'd love to see the scout and tg be updated. After using them for so long I have a lot of ideas to tweak them a little and really make them rock these days.

74 Bronco
11-09-2016, 09:20 PM
It's a tough call but i'm a big fan of my Marauder. It's perfect for hauling my camera equipment around.

#2 would have to be my first Kifaru bag; my GEN 1 MOLLEX. Got it back in '07 and took it on three separate trips to Iraq. It's no worse for the wear and still my first choice when i'm going to be hiking around in the mountains.

07-02-2017, 09:54 PM
Marauder. I never should have sold it.

Kifaru doesn't make them like that, anymore...

07-16-2017, 09:45 PM
In no particular order:

The gunbearer. No better way to carry a rifle long distances, even a heavy one.
The heated tipis. Optimized winter comfort.
The late season. The daypack big enough to carry everything in the winter to keep you warm, and pack out a bone-in elk quarter on the way back.
The Spike Camp. The little pack that can. Mine's had a bone-in elk hind quarter, plus 30 lbs of gear on it before. 19 years old and good as new.
And the latest: Mountain Warrior on a tactical frame. The frame design will hold more weight than I could ever pack. I liked my Longhunter, I love this pack.

08-24-2017, 05:03 PM
Of my Kifaru kit:
1. Scout. Just fantastic, glad to see it back in the shop!! Carries just enough while keeping your back dry, use the shoulder straps alone, or the just the belt, or both.
2. Pointman and Express - equal 2nd Place; Pointman gets a bit more use as it's bigger while still passing as carry on size.
3. EMR. Don't use often but when you need it, you need it! Mostly used stripped down as a hauler.

One day I hope to add a Tipi & stove for winter camping to this list :)