Sunday, 30 October 2011

Unboxing: Kifaru Packlock Parka Review

Café Minimalism
To espouse a philosophy of minimalism without actually putting into practice any of its tenets. 
From Generation X by Douglas Coupland

OK this really is it. I've confessed to rampant Kit Tart-ism before: it started as a fascination, thats became a little too much of an obsession and must come to an end. I've scaled the giddy highs of matching boot bags, I've sneaked guilty lustful glances at the websites of low volume manufacturers, I've felt the pain of being out-bid or worse still; been at the back of a que of similarly afflicted chaps offering the asking price.

The main focus of my recent kit collecting has been Kifaru; the Colorado design and build shop run by Patrick Smith. He seems to go from one extreme to the other with his ideas, the packs feel like they'd be tough enough if they were only half as strong, while the sleeping bags and clothes seem to be made of not a lot. At just 1,715g (60.5oz) for the whole outfit the Arctic edition of the Parka and Pants look like a lot of warmth for the weight.

Secretly I've been delighted to hear the weatherman foretell freezing conditions this winter, my heart leaps at the words "Arctic Blasts sweeping the country" for now - at last - I have the whole suit.

A while back I picked up the matching pants, and then missed out on buying the jacket, this very jacket. Weeks passed then the vendor wrote to me, confessed to backing out of the deal, and offered the parka to me again. Seeing as I'd been emailing Kifaru to see if I could at least get on the waiting list for when they restart the clothing line, I resigned myself to living on road kill, beans and rice for another month or two and bought it.

As with Kifaru's regulator sleeping bag the design time has gone into draft exclusion. There really is an almost hermetic seal where the collar meets your face, I've often felt that pretty much any weather can be tolerated if you don't have a draft playing over your neck. With the hood up only your eyes are exposed to the elements.

 Moody 'ninja stare' model's own

These pockets put a pair of heat pads right on the small of your back - perfect for groaning old farts and/or those of us afflicted by the growing pains of middle youth. The little black square is a pocket for the elasticated draw-cord for the waist. It's these small touches that make gear from small companies so special, at the time of ordering you specify right or left handed and the zips and tensioning cords are handed for you.

The Packlock concept is the tacky/sticky patch (both inside and out) matches up with patches on the pants and the packs lumber pad to lock the pack in place.

During the summer I spoke to Scots supplier of high-end low-volume hunting gear, [yes there will be a review but not for the foreseeable - skint init] we chewed the fat for a while, discussing the outdoor industry's latest attempts to separate the public from their money and agreed that the Kifaru pass-through pouch concept (you can still use the pouch while your packs waist belt is done up) is probably the most 'elusive obvious' idea in current outdoor clothes design. I'm planing to modify my Ventile smock to have the same utility.

So how does it stand up to the elements?
How should I know its still in double figures [centigrade] here!
More Soon

The yearning spiritual emptiness of my acquisition-deficit-syndrome is now being held in check by the yawning actual emptiness of my wallet. But there is an alternative I'm thinking of trying.
Conspicuous Minimalism: the non-ownership of material goods flaunted as a token of moral and intellectual superiority. Also from Generation X by Douglas Coupland


Exploriment said...

You English and your wussy weather. It's already dropping below 0°C here. Maybe you should send it to me for a proper trial. Oh, but it likely won't fit me anyway. Rats.

The Suburban Bushwacker said...


If its any consolation I do have an adventure in mind - in Europe's Alaska

Angler Gang said...

That looks like a pretty bad ass jacket!

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Angler Gang

It is I'm totally chuffed with it, I was very lucky to get it for the price as now I have one i would never sell it

Rob Collins said...

Hello from Colorado, USA!

I stumbled onto your blog this evening after wandering the www looking for axe reviews, contemplating buying something else I've already got, but different....

I do get the opportunity to camp with and shoot with Patrick Smith on occasion, he recently had surgery for a detached retina, but, according to his post on the Kifaru forum, is healing quickly.

If you ever tire of the packlock clothes you've got, there's quite a market for them since they've been discontinued. I believe we're cut from the same cloth, Kifaru packs & gear seems to accompany me to the mountains just west of me, to my childhood home in Missouri to deer hunt with Dad, and daily to work, because, I've given up on pretending not to be a barely civilized suburbanite...

I enjoy your blog so far, and look forward to reading the rest of it, thanks for posting it!

Rob Collins
Centennial, Colorado, USA

Anonymous said...

Hello from USA;

Well, I procrastinated until Kifaru stopped making the Packlock line of clothing and of course, now I want one of everything they no longer make.


However, I've found a standard Packlock parka for sale and that's why I'm 'commenting'. You see, I'd prefer the arctic version and wish to know how much warmer it is than the non-arctic version.

I thought perhaps you could tell me what the coldest temperature(s) were that you used your parka in, what you had under it, how long you were out in that weather, activity level, and of course, the major question....just how warm you opposed to being "not cold".

All summer I tried to stay off ebay due to a bad buying habit. So naturally and of course, in August someone in Colorado auctioned an unused arctic packlock parka in my size XL. It sold for $350 USD with only 2 bids.

Tried to find a contact form/email address on your blog to chat you up that way but found no such form/address.

Thank you from over here....

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Hi Anon

I can't really answer as i've only ever had the Parka in this post, it was pretty warm.
I sold the whole set earlier this year on the Kifaru forum where they do come up from time to time. Like all kifaru stuff its a lot of money to have wrapped up in something you don't use much and when you do you're treating it pretty rough. I've just sold my Pointman and accessories for the same reason. I sold my NICE frame too, doubt I'd sell the Longhunter as the bigger packs are the bit where Kifaru really comes into its own. Bloody loved that Pointman though.
happy Hunting