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BoulderTroll
11-27-2013, 03:54 AM
Howdy all, sorry it's been a while since I was on here. My life gets busy and interests change from time to time, but I'm back in the market for a good backpack, so there is nowhere else to come than Kifaru, naturally. :)

I'm torn between a few models (one of which I'd never even considered before), and I could really use some input from people who have owned one or more of them. Let me start by listing the models I'm looking closely at:

Late Season
T3
T2
Xing

(in that order)

Here is my intended use:
By far my most common backpacking scenario is a 2 or 3 day weekend in the Sierras. I pack and camp between 8 and 12 thousand feet, and in Summer, with the occasional shoulder season into Fall. I always take along my hiking buddy, my female Malinois. I carry her dry kibble along with my food. Here is my packing list:
Tent- Hilleberg Unna (5 lb, solo+dog tent)
Sleeping pad- Thermarest ridgerest closed cell (for summer), or Synmat 7 for fall
Quilt- Kifaru doobie for summer (I sleep cold), and Kifaru 0* slick bag for fall (again, I sleep COLD hahaha)
Wiggy's pillow (what can I say...it's the one true creature comfort I allow...stuff sacks just don't do it for me)
Arcteryx Bravo fleece jacket
balaclava
spare sox/ skivvies
Frog Toggs rain jacket and pants
small first aid/ survival supplies/ flashlight/ headlamp, and sawyer squeeze water filter
mountain house freeze dried meals and kibble (2 cups per day of kibble)
Snowpeak gigapower stove and canister
titanium mug and spork w/ 2 Nalgene bottles (one for me and one for Vixen)
Giottos carbon fiber tripod
Canon 5DII dslr camera
Canon 70-200F4l and 24-105f4L lenses
Bear Vault 500 (This is the kicker...it is by far the biggest/ bulkiest item in my pack, but it carries all our food, toiletries, survival gear, and cooking gear...and it makes a halfway decent camp stool. The downside is it's bulk, but a necessary evil as it is required in the Sierras. For those not familiar with the size of a Bear Vault, it BARELY slides into the top opening of my Express.)

That is basically the list and the intended use. Now let me explain that my loaded pack weight is typically in the 45-50 lb range. For the last year and a half or so I've been using a HUGE pack that all this stuff fit in with ample room. I ended up bringing even more than I needed, because I had the space. So please keep in mind that part of my goal when selecting a new pack is to get one that will barely fit what I just listed. I don't want another huge pack. I should also note that the sleeping pad is carried on the outside, so don't worry about adding it in, and if I use the 0* slick bag, it can go in a medium pod if it absolutely has to (although ideally I'd like to avoid that).

Now as to my thoughts on the packs I mentioned. Based on my love for my Express, the Xing looks like a dream come true. I drool over the panel opening on an Express shaped pack. My concern is the volume, I know it is listed as bigger than the Express, but not by much. I have a feeling it would not hold the gear I just listed, even with the summer set-up. Next come the T3 and T2. If a Nalgene or two can fit in one slot pocket, my tripod will fit in the other, and I won't lie, a slot pocket for my trip would be really handy, as I use it often. Up until now I've been just sticking it to the outside of the pack with straps, which works, although a slot pocket would be even easier. My concern with the Timberlines is the two back pockets. I'm really not much of a fan of outside pockets, since I really have no loose, small gear aside from my compass and topo, but the T series pockets are sort of overkill for those. My other concern is the width of the main pouch of the T3. I believe it would hold the BV500, but I doubt there would be much room left for other stuff (I'm mainly thinking of the Hilleberg tent) next to it. Clothes could stuff on top of it no problem, and likely the quilt too, but the tent would need to run along side it. The T2 would probably fit everything easily, but I'm afraid I'd be back to "huge pack syndrome".

Lastly comes the Late Season. I REALLY like the simplicity of design in this pack, and I'm embarrassed to say I've never even looked at it before (and I've bought Kifaru for the past 10+ years or so). If someone could convince me that the Late Season would hold what I just listed, I'd probably jump on it.

Sorry for the long thread, and I know these comparison threads are done to death. But I want to make the right decision, and I figure the more info you guys are armed with, the better your advice will be. :)

Thanks in advance.

techbrute
11-27-2013, 06:39 AM
Skip the Xing. Too small. You'll always need to have Pods and Pockets on it, as opposed to just getting a pack that fits what you have most of the time, then occasionally bumping up the capacity.

For me, personally, I would get something with the 26" stays. The 22" stays on the Xing don't really give me much lift at all. I'm "only" 6', but my height is all in my torso. YMMV

74 or more
11-27-2013, 09:15 AM
I say get a T2. Don't spend the money only to realize you need more space. Especially if your carrying around a Bear Vault most of the time.

BoulderTroll
11-27-2013, 01:56 PM
Thanks guys. Techbrute, I was afraid of that about the Xing, and I bet you're right. OK, so that one is off the list.

74 or more, that would sure be the easy choice, but I haven't given up just yet on the Late Season. I'd still like to hear from folks who own a current gen (the slightly larger one I believe) Late Season, to see if they think it might be doable.

Sourdough
11-27-2013, 02:03 PM
My advise is Ch!t can the "Bear Vault" and take a few moth balls if you feel the need. I would suggest the T-3 and order a Tactical Duplex belt at the same time, then sell the belt that comes with the T-3 (I am assuming it is removable). I am using my T-3 bag only on a non-Kifaru frame.

BoulderTroll
11-27-2013, 02:17 PM
My advise is Ch!t can the "Bear Vault" and take a few moth balls if you feel the need. I would suggest the DT-3 and order a Tactical Duplex belt at the same time, then sell the belt that comes with the DT-3 (I am assuming it is removable). I am using my DT-3 bag only on a non-Kifaru frame.

The unfortunate part about chit canning the bear vault is that I only backpack in the Sierras. The Sierras (pretty much the entire mountain range, and definitely the places I like to visit), require a hard-sided bear canister or it's a $150 dollar fine. And rangers are out in force, even deep in the back country. Without starting an off-topic bear canister war (hahaha) the unfortunate truth is that they do work in the Sierras, and even though I hate carrying and packing one, I do believe in their success. The Sierras are such a densely populated backpacking area that black bears actually changed their habitat to above 10,000' (where they never were before), due to the availability of backpacker food. Since bear canisters have become mandatory bear incidents have dropped by over 60%.

Trust me, I hate the extra weight and bulk of a bear canister. But I can't argue with the fact that I only backpack in heavily bear-populated areas and have never had a single encounter with one. Part of that is no doubt due to always bringing a dog, which bears do not like.

Mel
11-27-2013, 02:18 PM
BoulderTroll,

I will be down in Capitola this Friday and I could bring down a current Late Season for you to check out. I have a lot of folks to see while I'm down there so wouldn't have lots of time to visit, but at least you could see the pack in person. Not sure what your plans are for the weekend, but maybe we could meet at the Seacliff stairs or something? You can bring all your gear and see if it's going to fit in the Late Season. Let me know!

Mel

BoulderTroll
11-27-2013, 02:24 PM
BoulderTroll,

I will be down in Capitola this Friday and I could bring down a current Late Season for you to check out. I have a lot of folks to see while I'm down there so wouldn't have lots of time to visit, but at least you could see the pack in person. Not sure what your plans are for the weekend, but maybe we could meet at the Seacliff stairs or something? You can bring all your gear and see if it's going to fit in the Late Season. Let me know!

Mel

Hi Mel, that would be awesome! It'll be good to see you again. We're heading out to the central valley tomorrow for Thanksgiving, but I'll be back tomorrow night. Friday will work great for me, just let me know the time. I check my email throughout the day:
blackhawk5150@yahoo.com
...or, I could just call you.

Doug

BoulderTroll
11-29-2013, 04:32 PM
I wanted to update the thread with the outcome. Thanks again Mel, for taking time out of your trip to show me the packs! It was fun seeing you guys again. :)

Thanks to everyone who has offered input in the thread. Mel and Rena met me for breakfast and showed me a Xing and Late Season. I brought my Express to compare to them size-wise. The Xing has noticeably more room and much better access than the Express, although they would both be useful with different roles.

The Late Season is the pack for me. Mel's was in Foliage green. I've never seen that color in a Kifaru pack in person before, and it is great. It is a nice understated color that doesn't scream "military". It's also pleasing to look at. That may sound goofy, but I've got so much OD and coyote brown gear that a nice shade of silver-green is cool to look at. Now more importantly, the Late Season will work out perfectly in size. If I can't fit everything I need for a 3 day trip in the Late Season plus a medium pod, I need to re-think my packing list. And speaking of the pod, that is going to be the solution to the Bear Vault. The BV450 in a medium pod has plenty room to spare for other things, and the BV500 looks like it was made to fit in a medium pod (or vice-versa). Having the pod, with my food, toiletries, and cookware strapped to the bottom of the pack will make stops for snacks or lunch breaks super simple. No need to get into the pack itself, and easy to dump at the camp. Everything besides the bear vault will easily fit in the Late Seasopn main body, and the pack will be slick without the need for extra pockets (at least for summer trips).

All in all, I fell in love with the Late Season. I'm shocked at how much more volume it has than the Express, and yet is still small enough to make a great daypack. How on earth did I not notice this pack before (I know, I spend way too much time on the Tactical page and not enough on the Hunting) Hahaha.

BoulderTroll
12-02-2013, 01:04 PM
Just put my order in for the Late Season with Heath. :)
The waiting is the hardest part.

W-N
01-16-2014, 05:51 AM
Just put my order in for the Late Season with Heath. :)
The waiting is the hardest part.

I own the Late Season with 24" stays and it is a great ruck. I recommend the small pouches to mount on the belt. They work well for me. I also mount the large belt pouches on the lower sides of it, when I need a little more room.

Congratulations on your new pack.

techbrute
01-16-2014, 06:30 AM
Have you gotten your pack yet? If not, I'm sure you're getting close.