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All-time favorite smith designs?
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Thread: All-time favorite smith designs?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Near Canon City, CO

    Default All-time favorite smith designs?

    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.

    Last edited by Sawtooth; 07-30-2013 at 10:25 AM.
    "Me got no house; me all time moving; light fire, make tent, sleep; all time go hunt, how have house?"

    --Dersu Uzala
    Sihote'-Alin Range, Ussuria, 1902


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Cleveland Ohio

    Default Re: All-time favorite smith designs?

    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.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2009


    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...


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Aloha Kakou from somewhere beween the Oscillations

    Default Re: All-time favorite smith designs?

    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 68°F.

    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.
    ‘A‘ohe pau ka ‘ike i ka hālau ho‘okahi.
    (All knowledge is not learned in just one school.)
    - ‘Ōlelo No‘eau (Hawaiian Proverb)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Centennial, CO

    Default Re: All-time favorite smith designs?

    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. I still have that, and still occasionally take it pheasant hunting...
    "A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects." -Robert A. Heinlein
    "Count your blessings and you will never finish" - Fr. Jim Babb, SJ

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Rhode Island

    Default Re: All-time favorite smith designs?

    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.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    eugene, oregon

    Default Re: All-time favorite smith designs?

    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.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Fountain, Colorado

    Default Re: All-time favorite smith designs?

    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 5°F. 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

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2009

    Default Re: All-time favorite smith designs?

    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.
    The woods are calling and I must go

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    FBG, TX

    Default Re: All-time favorite smith designs?

    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,
    "Heal with steel"

    "Noli nothis permittere te terere."

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