Buy once, cry once. Kifaru vs. Stone Glacier

TheNorthStar

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Apr 5, 2017
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Minnesota
Ok, fellas, before we even get going here, forgive me for even asking the question... I know these types of threads can devolve into the ridiculousness of guys just shouting out for their team, often times without even having tried on another pack. If I may, I'd ask that instead of all that, if you've used one or even both of the systems, let me know what you like and dislike about it and whether you've ever had anything go wrong with it aside from any comments you might have on my own following observations.

I'll be coming out West for my first backpack excursion this Fall for Mule deer and have an Elk trip in the works for 2018. I fully expect that this kind of hunting is going to turn into an obsession and I'm trying to set myself up for many years of hard hunting. My experience in packs is limited to day packs no bigger than 1500ci as most of the big game hunting I'm accustomed to has been done within a stones throw of a shower and a warm bed. Poking around on several facebook groups and message boards, I've narrowed it down to these two manufacturers but before I blow 7 or 800 bucks, I'd hoped to have a discussion with some veteran western hunters myself. That'd be you fine gentlemen. I'd be much obliged for anything you could add.

The 2 specific systems I'm looking at are the Kifaru hunting frame with a Timberline 2 bag and the SG Xcurve with a Sky 5900 bag. Without the luxury of trying them on and assuming similar quality in construction, I have to say I'm leaning towards the Stone Glacier for a couple of reasons, #1 being the built in load shelf. Now I know Kifaru offers a load shelf as well, but I'm inclined to believe that it's not as sound because it seems like more of an after thought by the designers. I've seen a video where one of their guys, while showing the load shelf and how it works, explains that he doesn't like them and he doesn't see any need for one. Not a great marketing strategy there. The 2nd reason for my bias is the bivy mode the Sky bags collapse into. It seems to me like an appealing feature to have a smaller sized and more manageable bag to hike about with once your spike camp has been set, but again, I have no hard slogging to base my opinion on. Is that a fair assumption or no?

Lastly, I've seen folks talk about how certain frames sit more comfortably depending on the size of the person carrying them. I'm a small guy. 5'7", 150lbs. I'd have to venture a guess that the Kifaru frame and all of it's size options might end up being a more comfortable carry for a man of diminutive stature. This is really why I've decided against a harder look at the Kuiu packs. Too many guys have mentioned that they don't stay comfortable for anyone of any size under heavy load. My apologies to the Kuiu crowd. Their marketing campaign in the past couple years has bred some rabid fan boys and I want you to know, I'm not your enemy...(sarcasm).


Thanks in advance!

Phill

(Pictures for something pretty to look at after reading this drivel)

DT2CB75350.jpg Screen+Shot+2017-01-12+at+2.52.52+PM.png
 
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NoWiser

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Feb 12, 2013
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Minnesota
I owned the Timberline 2 on a bikini frame for a few years and really liked it. It was time for a change so I sold it this spring and got the Stone Glacier Xcurve with the 5900. I have not had the chance to put many miles on it, but I'm equally impressed with it so far. The main reasons I switched to SG were:

1. I had hoped the new belt design with the two adjustable straps would allow me to take some pressure off a pinched nerve I have at the front of my hip. After messing around with the pack, I think that, while it seems like a good idea, it will not function as I hoped it would. I don't see it being significantly better or worse than the Kifaru.

2. Weight. The SG should save me a decent amount of weight. I could spend hundreds saving weight on camping gear that I only have in my pack for two trips per hunt, or I could upgrade and shed weight that will be on my back 100% of the time I'm hunting.

3. Bivy mode. I like the idea of the smaller pack when the cubic inches are not needed. It's not a huge factor because the Kifaru cinched down nicely as well. The bivy mode is just a bit more compact. I also like the narrower width of the pack. I'm pretty thin and like the taller, thinner packs that don't stick out to the sides of me.

4. Load Shelf. It's nice to be able to pack the meat outside the main compartment to keep your stuff inside free of blood. It's also nice keeping that weight tight against the back. I'm pretty impressed with the load shelf on the SG after playing around with it a bit.

In the end, though, comfort trumps all and if I am not happy with the SG after this hunting season, I'll have no trouble selling it and getting a used Kifaru similar to what I had. Kifaru customer service gets an A+ for sure. I wish I had more time with the Stone Glacier to give you a better comparison. I will say that I did not regret buying the Kifaru and do not regret buying the SG, and I'm pretty certain you will be happy with whichever you choose.

Where in MN do you live? I'm sending my Xcurve frame to a friend to test out this spring but if you are close by, I'd be willing to meet you somewhere to check it out when I get it back.
 

Muskeez

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Aug 21, 2012
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NW Iowa
I only have the SG Solo (3200 or 3500 I think), have never tried the 5900 or Kifaru. I am only 5'9" and 165#. I like how it adjusted to my body and I was able to adjust the height so that it wasn't riding on my butt cheeks. It is super light and has held up well. My partner and I have the same packs and we can do 7-8 days , 9 miles from the truck. Having a smaller pack means that I can't bring too much stuff and over pack which is a good thing. 55-57 pounds after bow is strapped on is plenty of clothes, food and equipment for us. The pack can carry more meat than I can. After over loading it with meat I had to stop and stash half in a tree, my body wasn't going to make it in one trip. My point is a 5900 bag may just create more stuff being brought along than you really need. Other than that I love my SG and Kurt is a great guy to work with and help you with questions.
 

wllm1313

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Aurora, CO
My brother in law has the Kifaru Reckoning I have the stone glacier and we often argue why one is better than the other till we are blue in the face, but I honestly think it came down to the fact he lives in CO and was able to try on a pack and I got mine when I lived in Bozeman and tried on one in their factory store.

My brother in law has the Kifaru Reckoning with the load shelf... it can be strapped down to a bivy like mode, is super light and totally bomb proof. That said the meat-shelf kinda looks like a POS compared to the SG but he hasn't used it yet so that is just idle speculation.

Both are great and you wont be disappointed with either. I'm 6' 150 and the stone frame fits me like a glove. I have used the meat shelf on two elk, 1 bear, 1 mule deer, 2 antelope, and tons of upland birds. The shelf is bomb proof and easily deploy-able. I had no problem packing out my entire camp + a mule deer in one trip and love that my gear doesn't come back soaked in blood after a pack out also that I don't have to dump out my gear to accommodate meat (the SG loadcell bags are worth it in IMO). I can't imagine someone using a SG meat shelf and ever switching to a pack that doesn't have one and from personal experience you will max out the weight you can physically carry before you max out the pack.

Also SG has amazing customer service.
 
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Beartooth83

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Aug 23, 2013
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Beartooths, Montana
I recently bought a Kifaru. I'll be running the 22 mag for day hunts. It has the capability haul out the first load. At which point I will then swap out bags and put the Cargo Panel on the frame. I love the versatility.
 

Brn2hnt

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Jun 5, 2015
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Sac Valley, CA
I have the exact Kifaru setup you are considering. I also added a strap kit for horizontal compression and a grab it (think that's the name, its like a big diaper). It will compress down to basically flattened frame size, just depends on where you put your stuff. I regularly put my spotter in one side pocket, trekking poles and tripod in the opposite side for weight balance, rain jacket and puffy in the guide lid, water bottle pouch on belt, and spare shells, lighter etc on opposite pouch on the belt. Rarely is there much in the main bag during the day. That thing is basically the twon side pockets rolled to the center and then secured with horizontal straps and grab it. Big selling point for me was the organization I get from the pockets. Weight of a bare pack is less of a concern for me, as I am a bigger guy. I am also the only one of our group under 50, so comfort while carrying heavy loads is paramount. I have only tried a Kuiu and a badlands before this, but the Kifaru blows those two away in terms of comfort. Can't speak to the ease of use for the load shelf, I never carry bones out and much prefer putting meat inside my bag than outside. For what it's worth, it seems pretty unanimous across all forums that SG, MR, Kifaru, and Exo are in the same echelon as far as quality of construction goes. So choose one based on features your situation calls for and be confident from there.

Pros of the DT2 for me:
-Organization and how I can add/swap different pockets out based on what I want
-Heavy Load comfort is outstanding
-Ease of access to rain jacket and tripod/spotter (both outside main bag)
-Durability, thing is built like a tank

Cons:
-Weight, durability and pockets cost ounces

Let me know if you've got any other questions about the DT2

Mike
 

BlakeA

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North Dakota
I recently bought a Kifaru. I'll be running the 22 mag for day hunts. It has the capability haul out the first load. At which point I will then swap out bags and put the Cargo Panel on the frame. I love the versatility.
I have this exact setup and absolutely love it. The cargo panel is the bomb
 

Brendan

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Apr 7, 2016
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Kifaru here. With my EMRII I can fit all the meat I can carry in bomb bags, inside a cuben fiber dry bag, in the main pack, and keep it and all my gear closer to my back than a load shelf allows. I have Rambler which has a dedicated load shelf, and I would choose the EMRII for meat hauling, even if I'm just day hunting. That said - I will be trying out a 22Mag this coming year too. No experience there yet.

Regarding load shelves - some people like them, some hate them. If you ask Aron @ Kifaru - he doesn't even advise using one, pretty sure they only build them because that's what people keep asking for (at least that used to be the case). With a bigger bag with the meat and gear inside - you will be able to carry more weight more comfortably because you're keeping the center of gravity more over your hips as opposed to the bag moving out away from your back. But - then you have to have a bag big enough for both meat and gear, and have to not care about getting stuff dirty, or use a dry bag. All about tradeoffs and what you prefer.
 

wllm1313

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Dec 9, 2015
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Aurora, CO
Honestly I find most people who say that loadshelfs are superfluous haven't used them. The loadshelf you see in the photos on stone glaciers website are filled with sleeping bags which make them seem to push the bag away from your back, in reality a elk hind quarter is at most 12 inches wide at the base and tapers as it goes up therefore the shift in your center of gravity is marginal. In this photo i have a full elk hindquarter in the loadshelf with both backstraps. IMG_2898.jpg
 
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MTGomer

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Sep 25, 2015
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MT —> AZ
I love my SG, but never tried kifaru.
Hard to find anyone say anything bad about either. Probably goes down to personal preference.
Service is fantastic at SG long after your purchase. (When he was a pup, My dog chewed a blood soaked load lifter. They fixed it for free and complimentarily upgraded my waist belt while it was in there too)
Kurt and Peter are awesome guys, I don't really know Jeff but I've heard he is too.
But people say the same of Kifaru



Base camp, spike camp, and a wolf, 5 day hunt- Unlimited sheep hunting, Montana.
IMG_1404.jpg
 

TheNorthStar

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Apr 5, 2017
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Minnesota
Oh, hi. You must be this forums "that guy". Nice to meet you.

Thanks a lot to the rest of you guys for the input and perspective. I really appreciate it all.

And on the topic of bringing too much stuff with me, Muskeez, I can garentee that's going to happen. I mean, I bought a snake bite kit for Pete's sake... No Wiser, I'll send you a pm when I get home from work this evening.

Again, thanks, fellas. I'm getting super excited here. I printed off my license and my tag showed up in the mail yesterday.

Phill
 

TheNorthStar

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Apr 5, 2017
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Minnesota
Well guys, my original biases won the day and I ordered the Sky 5900 after a few exchanged emails with Pete over there at Stone Glacier. The only negative aspects I see with this bag is the lack of organizing pockets within and even that has the silver lining of helping to keep the weight of the rig as low as possible. I've already got a few roll top dry bags and a couple of those backcountry organizers from OR that should help keep things easy to find without having to buy a bunch of their swing out pockets. It was a difficult thing to wrap my head around, how expensive a quality pack can be, but by all accounts, your pack and your boots are the 2 things you don't want to scrimp on unless you love being miserable.


Now I bought a kuiu rain cover that ought to fit this thing off a friend of mine a while back, but I'm curious about how water resistant the 500d Cordura material is. Or if it readily accepts water proofing along the lines of Rust-oleum's Neverwet. For you guys who own SG, do you have any experiences to add there?

Again, thanks a ton to all who offered advice or impressions. I'm grateful to have found this community.

Phill
 

npaden

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Feb 3, 2011
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Lubbock, Texas
I have a SG Solo and in an occasional rain shower here and there I've never had anything get wet without a rain cover. In a torrential downpour raining buckets for an hour some of my stuff got wet, but I'm not 100% sure if it was that I didn't have it zipped up all the way or what. I've got a couple small holes over the years as well that I probably need to patch.

I was hunting with a friend once who had an eberlestock pack and we went through a hard rain for probably 10 or 15 minutes and he ended up with about an inch of water in the bottom of his pack and nothing in my pack got wet on that one.

I haven't ever bought a rain cover.
 

SnowyMountaineer

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Dec 11, 2009
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WY
I've never wished I had a rain cover going on 5 years now with an SG and hard use. I can see why people use them and maybe sometime I will, I just don't currently. No reason it shouldn't take a spray on product as you note. If it's really raining I keep my insulation in a sil drybag, but all your other stuff if going to get wet anyway with use, so I don't see the point of my headlamp, knife, stove, etc. being bone dry inside a "waterproof" pack. A couple of years ago I slipped crossing a creek at about 11pm and got pounded to the bottom by a 100+ lb load of elk meat and gear. Of course my stuff was wet, but it wasn't a lake in there or anything. One thing waterproof materials do well is hold water...both directions.

I learned a few years back that I have more fun, stay safer, and function more effectively in the backcountry when I stop caring about staying 100% dry, and figure out how to live relatively comfortably while wet. That means emphasizing equipment that dries fast and works in variable conditions. I didn't come up with this theory, mountaineers and similar such dirtbags have been doing it all along. Of course I try to stay dry and use effective layering to do so, but it's too easy to let it consume a lot of time and pack weight if you let it.

500D cordura is a tight weave, so has some structural water repellence, not chemical. As it wears it will get very slightly more absorbent though not problematically so.

As far as interior pockets, I can again see why people use them, but they are a preference not a necessity. Enjoy the pack, I hope it treats you well!
 

ajanssen

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Mar 12, 2017
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Iowa
Looks like you have one of their hydro holsters on your pack. Does that thing get in the way of your arm swinging when you walk? Not a fan of bladders and looking for a good bottle option, but also hate having waist mounted pouches that your arms drag against with every step.
 

ajanssen

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Mar 12, 2017
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Iowa
MTGomer - It looks like you have one of their hydro holsters on your pack. Does that thing get in the way of your arm swinging when you walk? Not a fan of bladders and looking for a good bottle option, but also hate having waist mounted pouches that your arms drag against with every step. Maybe it sits back far enough so it's out of the way.
 
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