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