30 August 2012

Hill People Gear Kit Bag & Tarahumara Pack, a first look

Originally written when it was still cold out, but still good info.  A detailed review is coming soon.
Last week my Kit Bag and Tarahumara pack from Hill People Gear came in. Since then I have done two short hikes, one with just the Kit Bag and one with the Kit Bag and the pack. The later was today, over some very steep terrain on tight trails. Here are my initial impressions.
Before going on the hike today I stopped at the local post office to weigh my bag. The bag including my Glock 19 and 84 ounces of water came in at 21.5 lbs. I would estimate that the pack was about 75% full, with the Kit Bag about 50%.

Upon arrival at the trail head I first put the Kit Bag on and then the Tarahumara before attaching them to each other with two supplied Grimlocks. I realize that this in not very much weight, but over the years I have worn many packs and the suspension of the the Tarahumara was incredibly comfortable. At 6’2, 290 lbs, with a 52 inch chest, I have never had shoulder straps fit as well as these do.

My plan is to try running them as a Bag Of Evil together. The Kit Bag is set up as and E&E Bag with essentials. Depending on the weather, the Kit Bag is suited well to being used as a day pack.

The first thing that stands out in the whole set up is why the hell did it take this long for someone to come up with the Kit Bag concept. Everything you frequently need on the trail such as water, compass, first -aid kit, snacks etc is right in front of you and easy to get to without dropping stuff all over the place.

As previously mentioned some of the terrain today was steep. It included walking down the side of a hill to the Susquehanna River and back up. Calling the suspension system shoulder straps would be a poor description, they are more like a harness. During the hike the pack did not move on my back at all and there was no bouncing.

When we broke for lunch I took the pack off but left the Kit Bag on. What I immediately noticed was that things I would normally have to go into my bag and get to make chow were still on me. Things like-
  • A little water for my MRE
  • Can opener on my Leatherman to open my son’s Spaghetti Os
  • Bandana for him to hold the hot can

The other day while on a short trek with just the Kit Bag I put my Hydroflask in the middle pouch of the Kit Bag where most people will keep most of the contents of the bag. When the bottle was down about mid-way it was uncomfortable, but as soon as I laid it on top as pictured it worked great.

Since settling on what I personally want to have with me all the time no matter what I am doing, I am now focusing on cutting the weight and bulk of those items. Nothing weighs nothing. I bought a food scale for weighing all the small gear that turns ounces into pounds. I specifically chose to do this in the last few months of winter so that by spring it would be easy.

When we would stop for a break I would fill up the Hydroflask in the Kit Bag with water from my 32 oz Guyot SS bottle or my 50.7 oz Nalgene Silo that ride on either side of the pack. This feature is the #1 thing that drew me to the bag. If I were to use both Nalgene Silos, a 70 oz, hydration bladder in the sleeve (will also accept a rifle) and the Hydroflask I would be able to carry over 200 oz of drinking water before carrying anything the pack itself. This could be huge depending on how far your next water source is if you don’t have a filter or don’t feel like using it. 

The next best thing about the pack is the dual cinch straps that not only allow you to pull the contents tight, and secure the top of taller water bottles, but give you a great place for storing ‘fluffy” objects like clothes as you can see in the pictures.
Again, this is just the first look but it definitely looks like love at first sight.


  1. I just gave my brother a hydration bladder for his birthday and it was great to see him pleased with it. I've seen how hydration bladders are more convenient to use and carry instead of water bottles. He hikes a lot and it fitted well inside his backpack. If you need to see the reviews of most hydration bladders, then check out this link: http://myoutdoorslife.com/gear/camping-and-hiking/finding-the-best-hydration-bladder.html