View Full Version : Substitute for KU packs

11-13-2014, 10:26 PM
Hey all,

I'm in the market for a new Light pack for backpacking...to be used from anything from 2 day hikes to 5-6 multi-day backpacking trips. I would love a KU pack, but they hard to find and often expensive used. So, I'm looking at alternatives that may work just as well or perhaps better. Would love feedback on the following:

-Purchase Bikini frame and have custom pack bag made for it(like from Zimmerbuilt)...I'm wondering, is the Bikini belt and shoulder straps same as KU setup?? I haven't seen a Bikini frame in person...

-ULA Catalyst. Suspension system might not be as robust as Kifaru. Great price point. Perfect size for me. Nice having bottle pockets, mesh pocket, belt pockets, etc included. Is 40lbs comfortably realistic?

-Seek Outside Evolution. Light weight, claims to haul weight very well. Versatile. Same price range as Kifaru gear. Relatively little known about them.

-Other options in the 3-3.5lb range that can carry a 40lb load well??


11-13-2014, 10:46 PM
Stone glacier Sky.. don't keep looking
. Just buy it and b done!

11-14-2014, 05:44 AM
Mountainsmith also has a new "light" series that sounds like you would like. I love my KU 5200 and I am really upset with myself that I sold my KU 3700.

11-14-2014, 09:49 AM
You cannot beat the ULA Catalyst for a hiking pack. Mine only left my house because my daughter now has it, as she outgrew her pack. I decided to keep my KU for a hiking pack since I already had it. The KU will carry 60-70 pounds comfortably, the ULA Catalyst will not, I've had 40+ in a Catalyst a few times and the framesheet would start to roll/yield under the load, no harm done except a bit of load transfer to my shoulders. Installing KU CF/lam stays in a ULA Epic is another option, a lighter weight Bikini of sorts, not as robust, but somewhere between the Catalyst and the Bikini in load-carrying ability. If I could have KU stays in a ULA Catalyst, I'd rather have it than my KU for just about any use. The mesh pockets might be a liability in certain environs but they are light and functional. The layout/design of the ULA packbag and pockets is that good. There is a reason that more long-trail hikers use a ULA Catalyst or Circuit than any other.

11-14-2014, 12:01 PM
Thanks guys for the comments!

I had never seen the Stone Glacier, looks like a very nice pack!

Take-a-knee, wondering if you've seen the Paradox Evolution or Stone Glacier Sky in person? Thoughts compared to ULA or KU? A local outfitter actually carries the ULA line locally here in Portland, so I'm headed down there this afternoon to check them out.

The other pack that caught my eye is the Granite Gear Trace Nimbus Access...REI carries them and with the 20% off coupon, makes it a very reasonable offering. I may order one just to check it out...


11-14-2014, 01:52 PM
Never seen a Stone Glacier but I tested a prototype Paradox. I did not care for the wrap-around belt. The U-shaped frame continually bumped my butt, literally. I hated it. It carried a load just like the old GI internal frame that also had a wrap around belt (that always disappeared into space on jumps), IE, it sucked. People who are sorely lacking glute development seem to like it, strangely. I had a Granite Gear simply fall apart, luckily I bought it at REI.

Edit: The best pack waistbelts will look something like a Kifaru, IMO. Hill People Gear's for example. HPG's design that allows different lumbar and hip pads is great, but a regular Kifaru belt works for me.

11-14-2014, 04:39 PM
The old GI internal frame, I hated that thing....

11-14-2014, 05:57 PM
The old GI internal frame, I hated that thing....

CFP-90? They bought the rights from the Lowe brothers, and, in the Army's inimitable own way, turned it into an abortion.

11-14-2014, 07:42 PM
That's the one. It looks like it'd be nice, especially compared to an ALICE pack, then you put it on and add weight and wonder what you did to deserve that sort of punishment.

11-17-2014, 08:35 AM
I don't own a paradox but have read all the reviews I could find about them and the response has been overwhelmingly positive (about a dozen of them). That said, it might (like any pack) not be right for everyone. The nature of the belt indicates it may be suited to the slimmer end of the spectrum of people since it is a hanging belt design. That doesn't mean it won't work for others. I am intrigued by them but, again, don't own one.

11-27-2014, 08:55 PM
I'm not sure on your exact needs, but a Bikini Frame and a Highcamp 7000 comes in at about 4.5 pounds, with quite a bit of capacity, both in volume and load bearing capability. I use a bikini and a DT2, which is a little heavier, but has some pockets built in and extra features built in.

04-05-2016, 05:28 PM
Check out jimmy tarps. He makes lightweight packs that connect to kirafu frames.

04-05-2016, 07:04 PM
I have a Bikini/Camp Bag combo w/Day Pack lid from Mystery Ranch. Works pretty well and light weight. Sometimes I throw in a grab it to help stabilize the load.

I also have a KU 2200 w/Bikini belt. It can mushroom in size with a couple KU Long Pockets. Kifaru told me that the Bikini components are the only replacement parts for the smaller KU straps and belts (same webbing size, 3/4 inch). The belt supports a lot more than the original. Don't think I will ever get rid of it.

The only thing I don't like about the Bikini is the space in the center. The load sometimes pokes me in the back. May end up selling it to try out the newer frames.

04-05-2016, 10:39 PM
In the recent past I have or have had a ku 3709, bikini with high camp, dt1 and dt2 bags, gossamer gear mariposa, custom cuben ula ohm 2.0 with extended snow collar (so equal size to the catalyst), kuiu icon pro and ultra (of various sizes) and a handful of others, and for a pack that is light enough to hike with but sturdy enough for heavy hunting loads I haven't found anything quite like stone glacier. A minimalist is about 3lbs and can carry 50lbs comfortably (haven't tested it with more weight). I've sold everything else--except the bt1 and 2