Kifaru Marauder field test in New Zealand

The Kifaru Marauder Gen 1 with an external Tatonka brand pouch docked on the front molle system
The Kifaru Marauder Gen 1 with an external Tatonka brand pouch docked on the front molle system

Here’s a brief summary of my Kifaru Marauder field test in New Zealand. There are many things I like and don’t like about the Marauder and this field test really got me thinking about some areas of pack design I want custom made. The more packs I buy and try, the more I am convinced that a custom made pack is the only way to achive my kind of ‘perfect pack’.

The fact is, the Kifaru  brand carried a lot of weight especially among the tactical, prepper and hunting enthusiast. Patrick Smith and his team certainly make some good, solid packs and it is no wonder why people love their products so much. Over the years, Kifaru has evolved and introduced more new models into the market and at the same time retired some of the older ones. The Kifaru Marauder I field tested is a Gen 1 model and is no longer offered by Kifaru.

I love the front panel loading design. It makes packing, organizing and retrieval of items from the inside of the pack a breeze. I can lay the pack on the ground, open the clam shell front panel and see all my stuff inside the pack. I don’t have to dive in and dig to look for my things and it is so much better than having to empty out the entire bag just to look for that darn chocolate bar.

The front panel loading Marauder makes it easy to pack, organize and retrieve items
The front panel loading Marauder makes it easy to pack, organize and retrieve items

Kifaru packs are one tough cookie. The Marauder boasts the 1000D Cordura which is one of the all time favorites for military/ tactical related products. I cannot find any fault in the construction of the pack at all really. There are however a few thread that seems to be ‘fraying’ from the bar-tack of the molle panels (note the small thread on the middle right hand side of the picture above). Though they are annoying, they don’t seem to come undone anymore than it is.

Molle panels…thank God this Kifaru Marauder is covered with Molle panels. The Marauder is a small pack. I believe they were listed as 30 liters (about 2000 cubic inch) but damn they are a bit too small for my use in New Zealand. I was warned over and over again that the weather in New Zealand is ‘four seasons in a day’ and the pack’s limited space means I won’t be able to haul the extras inside the pack. The Molle panels enabled me to attach a Tatonka pouch on the front of the pack, probably adding about 3 liters of capacity to the entire set-up.

The Tatonka pouch taking a ride on Kifaru Marauder (Gen 1)
The black Tatonka pouch taking a ride on Kifaru Marauder (Gen 1)- Mount Cook, New Zealand

Perhaps docking the Tatonka on the Kifaru Marauder is a good thing as well. It adds on a bit more capacity which I needed and it sorta like ‘masks’ the tactical look of the pack. Something that’s constantly haunting me after the Camelbak Trizip experience.

I hauled this Kifaru Marauder on a few hours walks on trails around Te Anau, Fiordland National and Glenorchy. Overall, I am happy with the pack but my biggest gripe would have to be the shoulder straps. I reset the shoulder straps a few times, carried it but it constantly bugs me with discomfort on my shoulders. Yes, I did not have a waist belt on the Marauder to help shift the pack’s weight to my waist but I don’t usually feel this sort of discomfort on my shoulders on packs like S.O. Tech Mission Pack or the LBT Geronimo . Strange. However, the discomfort is gone as soon as I snap on my chest strap! So…there I was tramping on trails in New Zeland and walking down the streets of Queenstown, Dunedin and Christchurch with a Kifaru Marauder all buckled up to my chest strap! Strange feeling indeed.

I had to snap the chest strap on to reduce (significantly) the discomfort on the shoulders
I had to put on the chest strap on to reduce (significantly) the discomfort on the shoulders

While I would still like to own this pack, sad to say that comfort is a major deciding factor. This extended field test of the Marauder in New Zealand has certainly inflicted wounds on what I have hoped to be a fairy-tale ending relationship. I still have some time in New Zealand and hopefully I will discover how to better fit the shoulder straps to suit me. If that does not work, maybe I will just get use to the discomfort (hate the idea of putting on the chest strap all the time!)

So…what now? Would I sell it? Maybe. If not? Keep the pack for what?? Bragging rights of course. After all…this Marauder is still a Kifaru.

Note: Read this post on additional pouches made for this Kifaru Marauder.