Who It Suits
Hardcore off-trail mountaineers, backcountry hikers and hunters. Outdoorsmen looking for a scalable multi-role pack which is as tough as it gets, with a harness suitable for really heavy loads… and with obvious military flair.
Who It Doesn’t
If you praise extreme ultralight packs made of almost see-through fabrics, never go off-trail and believe only in the ‘ounces is pounds, pounds is pain’ mantra… Eberlestock might not be your preferred pack manufacturer.
An alpine pack with military trim – that could be the best description of the F7 Kite pack. It’s modern, slick, streamlined and super clean on the outside. To me it’s one of the best-looking packs out there. And that masculine look grabs some attention too… you can’t really play ‘a grey man’ in the mountains with this pack on your back, sorry. It’s essentially 36 liters, which expands to almost 50 liters with the roll-top part unrolled. A fully scalable sack with a number of attachment points outside and inside (including a MOLLE-compliant webbing panel on top) so you can really configure it to your liking and personal carry style. I added just a pair of side compression straps (self-made in five minutes with a couple of G-hooks).
The internal polymer frame plate is a foundation of the F7 Kite carry system. The harness is a classic Eberlestock, which is fully adjustable including spine length. It’s an overly comfortable system, almost overbuilt I’d say – but that’s a positive thing! Fully padded, broad shoulder straps lead back to the very spine to maximize contact surface and to lower pressure on the shoulders. The soft back with a ventilation channel and heavy-duty hip belt give a lot of support, whatever you carry. It’s also a pack with a huge potential for modular expansion… in the harness department too as the accessory list includes even an external frame for backcountry hunting so you can carry your game between the frame and pack (M1 Carrier Frame). Yeah, it’s as hardcore as it sounds – heavy hauling taken to the extreme.
Materials and Hardware
The F7 Kite is made of super tough Aramid fabric, which is abrasion resistant, heat resistant and simply tougher than most fabrics on packs you’d find around. Additionally, it looks like it was laminated inside for enhanced waterproofness. It’s similar to 600D ripstop Cordura in general appearance, but of course Aramid yarn is on another level in strength. All hardware pieces are made of tough polymer and the U-shaped zipper is big and splash-proof. It’s a 100% military-grade pack so it’s simply tough as nails. Stitching, all details and overall manufacturing quality is typical Eberlestock – perfection.
It looks like a simple pack but it has a couple of really cool tricks hidden up its sleeves. Multiple webbing lashing points are made for G-hooks (or any similar attachments) and this system worked great for me. The waist band is fully MOLLE-compliant and takes any external pouches or pockets, or even a MOLLE-equipped knife sheath. There’s no zipper pocket inside or outside the pack, so be prepared for that. I added my own pouch inside as the F7 Kite’s back side is fully Velcro (loops) lined – a standard these days in modular packs. The side pockets are made of the same Aramid material so you can put in them whatever you like – not just smooth water bottles but also stuff like a tripod, trekking poles, etc. which could ruin or at least cut delicate stretch-mesh pockets. But don’t worry, there’s some extra material left for expansion, so whatever you put in them won’t eat up space from the main compartment – that’s exactly how it should be done!
Space and Access
It’s basically one big cavity, scalable from 36 liters when rolled down, up to 50 liters in fully overstuffed mode. What else would you need in a multi-role backcountry mountain pack? If you’ve read some of my reviews you know I love this kind of pack. Stuff your gear inside, roll it down, click the buckles and you’re done. But there’s also a huge reverse U-shaped double zipper in case you need to find something quickly inside. So it combines ease of top-loading, compression, scalability and full panel access. Sounds quite good, right?
Pockets and Organizing
As I said, it’s a simple pack – just one big sack with two huge side pockets outside and two hydration side pockets inside. That means no weight penalty due to internal zippers or dividers. The only internal organization is a pair of side pockets for hydration (each with a tube port) which are perfectly sized for a 1L Nalgene or similar flasks or a small hydration system. I tried it with a Source Nomadic with two Nalgenes in my pack and it worked great!
But as I mentioned before you can add any kind of Velcro-backed pouches inside. I attached just one small pocket for a wallet, car keys and other personal items. What’s more, there are also G-hook loops inside so the possibilities for modular expansion are almost endless, and there’s even a full-size dedicated MOLLE Utility Panel available from Eberlestock for internal or external use and a Hook Up Kit if you need to use your pack as a military gear carrier.
The overbuilt harness means slightly more weight vs ultralight alpine packs but the carry comfort of even the heaviest loads is simply fantastic! Saving a couple of ounces is good, but if you need to haul serious poundage the extra weight of a perfect harness is worth its weight in gold. That’s exactly the case with the F7 Kite. With its fully padded straps, heavy-duty lumbar pad and belt, this pack is made to lift serious weights.
Heavy-duty fabric, which looks laminated on the inside, a rolltop closure plus AquaGuard zipper with weather-guard lip makes the F7 Kite pretty much weatherproof. Stitching is not tape sealed though – so I’d recommend additional protection if a heavy summer storm comes. But in most conditions it’s more than enough. Also remember, with such a construction (one big sack) you can simply put a big waterproof bag inside (even a 60-liter strong trash bag) and you’d be covered for even the most demanding tropical hike in monsoon season.
Alternatives to Consider
The F7 Kite is a heavy-duty, very scalable mountaineering pack made of Aramid material, that can be used also as a sack on an external frame for the heaviest hauling applications (including backcountry hunting). These features alone make it extremely versatile and I can’t think of a direct alternative that would work in this kind of double duty, heavy use regime. However, if you’d like to use it only as a standalone backcountry hiking pack, then the top hunting models of Kifaru or Mystery Ranch would be clear competition, the closest one being the Kifaru 14’R.
And other mainstream alpine packs? Well, it’s not the same class of carry item. The classic mountaineering packs are made to be lighter, but they are not even close to the F7 Kite in terms of toughness and longevity in really rough terrain, on rocky and bushy off-trail hikes and hunts.
A carry system optimized for virtually any load, full scalability, multi-role modular construction, and extreme toughness even for the roughest terrain.
Not So Good
Are you looking for a really ultralight package for your next hike or scramble on a well-maintained trail? Well, then you could find a lighter alternative. Also the price, while justified for such a heavy-duty pack, might not be within your budget at $289 (just the pack, no extras). Also it’s not a pack to impress your hiking mates with all the bells and whistles… which may be a good thing after all?
It’s undoubtedly a cool, masculine-looking pack, which is extremely versatile and more than just tough. I admit, it took me more time than usual to evaluate this pack (mostly due to Covid-19 and general lockdown in Europe) but after a couple of months of using it on multiple mountaineering and backcountry forest trails I can tell you with confidence, this pack will outlast you. You can do anything to it, you can overstuff it, overload it, get it through off-trail hell of the Rocky Mountains there and back. And it simply won’t let you down. It’s tough as nails, it’s simple to use and carries stuff great thanks to the comfy harness system. Considering all these aspects and the extreme toughness I’d actually call it a lightweight pack at 4 lbs. And if you’re going on a mountain goat bowhunting trip, in high altitude rocky terrain in Alaska, Idaho (where Eberlestock is actually located) or even Azerbaijan, just add a dedicated external frame and call it a day in search of the perfect hunting pack.
It’s one of the very few packs that you don’t want to put down to start testing something new. I honestly think Glen Eberle created a true gem in the Eberlestock range with the F7 Kite. It’s probably the best blend of an alpine, military and hunting pack I’ve tried so far. For sure it’ll stay in my personal pack collection for a long time… also to be appreciated by my son in a couple of years.
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