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U.S. Military CFP 90

rated 4.5 of 5 stars
photo: U.S. Military CFP 90 expedition pack (70l+)

Another fine military item that has already been reviewed on Trailspace. I just wanted to back up what's already been said. I'll cover the camo colors, negative aspect of large-capacity, and some low costs.


  • Outstanding pack at a low price
  • Designed to fit everyone
  • Woodland camouflage pattern


  • Kind of heavy when empty
  • Offers the potential to overload oneself

I'm 6 feet, 2 inches tall and the CPU-90 fits me well. I'm a Leave No Trace Master Educator in southeast New Mexico and I use this pack and the Marine Corps MARPAT pack when I teach the LNT Trainers Course (the Trainers Course is not a backpacking class but a certification class for LNT trainers on the minimum impact techniques to use and teach others during hiking, backpacking, and horse travel in wilderness, backcountry and frontcountry areas). 

To me, it's the camouflage patterns that are important as they allow users to blend nicely into various environments and also to fairly comfortably carry gear inside and out, and thus I use the CPU-90, MARPAT, and others to demonstrate that. Our military has done considerable research on patterns and colors that blend well. 

The CPU-90 has a detachable patrol pack that is basically a 1-day bag. These packs also carry everything you could want but as they are in the range of 4,000 (+) cubic inches, you have to be conscious of overloading yourself with stuff you don't need. The MOLLE II Army packs are on the order of 6,500 cubic inches and there's even a really nice attached "assault pack" which can be used as a 3-day bag (the one I have is used as my search and rescue pack). 

Ever since the American Civil War military planners kept advising pack designers and manufacturers to be aware of over-loading the foot soldier and the CPU-90, MOLLE II and MARPAT are examples of maybe too big. The classic study in "modern" times, 1950, was SLA Marshall's "Soldiers' Load and Mobility of the Nation" about striving to always lighten the load.

Because of our longest war and our leading backpack manufacturers building superb gear for the troops, the market is now flooded with packs and bags at fairly low cost. The CPU-90 is now being sold for around $40. Un-issued ones are more expensive but not too bad. 

The review I saw on Trailspace was likely from a number of years ago when they were running $150-200. I bought mine a few years ago for around $70 but just saw an Ebay price of $40 to buy right now and no bid. They looked pretty good (although this source also had some for nearly $180. But owner-reviewers who bought the low priced ones were very satisfied).

Source: bought it used
Price Paid: $70

I would like to say the US Army's CFP 90 is an amazing pack. Designed by Lowe Alpine in their Vector program and later manufactured by SDS and others. They were available to civilians as well. A buddy who was a Marine told me about them back then and said they were very good. 

I bought mine in 1991 from US Cavalry and use this (and my LC 2 pack), exclusively. The CFP is a rugged backpack. It has never let me down. The capacity is about 90 L which is a lot of stowage. When packed correctly it is very comfortable. Try getting an original one, there are too many copies, and they are not as good. I recommend it to anyone!

It's now 2014 and the pack is in the ownership of my second youngest son. It's still going strong. If you are to buy one make sure it's the original issue one and stay away from the ones manufactured by the FCI Co. Better yet, once in a while the original Lowe Alpine ones come up on eBay. They are very well made.

There are better packs out there such as Kifaru, Mystery Ranch, Lowe Alpine, just to name a few, but for $100 bucks or less, I doubt it. Anyways, 23 years is a good record for any pack. It has logged countless miles in very rough terrain and conditions. The type of conditions Canada's far Northwest can bring on and it has kept on going.

Design: Top loading with a built in bottom loading stuff sack
Size: 90 L
Number of Pockets: Three external side pockets and webbing for ALICE attachments
Max. Load Carried: I've had over 50 kg in mine many times-no rips
Height of Owner: Fully adjustable
Price Paid: $199.99

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Price Reviewers Paid: $70.00-$199.99

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