Recon: Kifaru Urban Zippy
For twelve months I’ve carried the Kifaru Urban Zippy at every available opportunity. To work, on urban trips, for day hikes, and overnight backcountry adventures. When I first began searching for a new pack I had a very specific set of requirements…
- I wanted the quality and durability normally found in tactical packs, but not the tactical look.
- Organization options needed to be numerous and well designed. I’ve had previous experiences with packs that had lots of dedicated pockets, but I wanted something that could handle a wide variety of configurations.
- Along those same lines of adaptability, I needed my pack to fulfill a variety of roles. Compressed and pared down for EDC carry, but it also needed to be able to handle packing for travel and all fulfill numerous backcountry roles.
The Urban Zippy, or UZ as it’s come to be known amongst Kifaru fans, not only completes each of these categories, but also excels at them.
While black seems to be the dominate color in the world of EDC packs, I chose coyote brown for my UZ. Black does a great job of blending in an urban environment, but it stands out significantly in more natural environments. The coyote brown, in Kifaru’s case a true brown, doesn’t jump out as overly tactical and this is in part to the design.
With the introduction of the UZ Kifaru aimed to offer a pack that was well suited to EDC use without the tactical look, but still held to their legendary quality standards. Upon receiving my UZ the build quality was immediately evident. The pack material, webbing, stitching, and hardware are all of the highest quality. My initial impressions about the quality have held true over the last year. Through day to day, to carrying heavy overnight loads, the UZ has held up amazingly with no signs of premature wear.
Outside of EDC use I’ve found the UZ also shines in the role of gear-centric outdoors pack. I’ve used it as my personal gear bag on several overland trips and numerous hikes of varying lengths. While overlanding the pack remains in the cab of the truck and keeps camera gear, extra layers, and other items that require quick access readily available. While hiking it offers the same organizational abilities that allow it to excel as an EDC pack.
Here’s a summary of this feature rich pack.
The UZ comes with a capacity of 1,500 cu. in./24.58 liters. This size puts it amongst the majority of daypacks and every inch of the space is well designed. The pack is slightly wider and slightly shorter than some other popular packs in this size range, but I think the dimensions lend the UZ to a more traditional ruck shape.
The pack features a top entry zip lid that includes a pocket both inside and out. The external pocket makes a great place to store items you need on the go. I did find that overloading these pockets could make the lid more difficult to manipulate, but when packed with light items it functioned perfectly. My hat, sunglasses, or a point and shoot camera were the normal load for this section of the pack. The inner lid pocket is mesh and allows opportune viewing of the contents. I keep cords and chargers here for EDC carry duties, and snacks, a folding titanium wood stove, or other food related items here while in the backcountry.
One unique feature of the UZ is the side water bottle pockets. While they appear to be a normal pockets a full wing zipper opens around each pocket. This entry allows access to the inside of the pack, and the two center zip mesh pockets inside. These are large enough to hold a liter water bottle or a small tarp shelter. It should also be noted the side pockets are constructed of the same 500D Cordura of the rest the pack. This allows them abrasion resistance not found on packs with mesh or stretch water bottle pockets. These pockets also feature cord lock equipped shock cord to secure bottles or smaller items while on the move.
The main body includes a sleeve that fits a 15” laptop and is also hydration compatible. A hydration bladder can be routed through the center opening and attached to either strap. The inside of the pack also includes mounting options for a variety of Kifaru’s chamber pockets. The interior wing pockets are accessible from the interior of the pack as well.
On the outside of the pack the themes of adaptability and organization continue. The two compression straps are center adjust and can be completely removed. The pack also comes with a shock cord for further compression or for holding an item on the outside of the pack. I tended to carry the pack without the shock cord, keep the compression straps for load stability, and I also frequently carried it with the Kifaru Organizer attached the front via the Lock n Load system.
The pack also comes with the option of a web belt and grommets, but I chose my pack without these options as I rarely use a belt for this size pack and I didn’t think I would be using this pack in conditions that would call for drain grommets.
The final, and in my opinion, the most important point to discuss on a pack is the straps. They are the direct connection between you and the pack, and the Urban Zippy offered a great carry experience. Initially the thin straps surprised me, but the contours and padding are exactly what is suited to the pack. Even with two Kifaru Long pockets and a Small Pod attached the pack handled the load and I felt no pressure or stress points while on a winter overnight trip.
The straps are adjustable at both the top via aluminium buckles, and at the lower usual location via ladder locks. The straps also feature a sternum strap, d-rings, and additional mounting points. The extra webbing is managed via hook and loop wraps, which are also included on the compression strap.
Kifaru also offers a frame sheet for the Urban Zippy. This was made available after I had ordered the pack and I had already been carrying a closed cell foam pad to add stability and it could also be used as a sit pad.
I’ve carried a lot of packs from a number of popular brands, and the Kifaru Urban Zippy is amongst the top picks in terms of build quality and the obvious thought that went into the design. The unique balance between the durability of tactical construction and an unassuming design create an incredibly adaptable pack that excels in a wide array of roles. If you’re looking for a one pack quiver the UZ’s flexibility along Kifaru’s offerings of extra pockets and pouches make a great option to take along on all of your adventures.