Whether your trip involves little more a 200-yard walk to your deer stand or a multiple-day backcountry hike for elk, odds are no matter what type of hunting you do and where you do it, you’re going to be toting along more than just a firearm or bow. Today’s manufacturers keep a steady stream of gear and gadgets flooding the sporting goods store shelves to help hunters improve their experience afield and for the most part, today’s hunter welcomes the offerings. From calls and GPS units, to optics, range finders, extra ammo and even high-energy snacks, a guy needs a way to keep everything organized and easy to carry. As a result, a good pack has become almost essential gear for the modern hunter.
The following list offers a look at some of today’s top offerings.
Badlands has been renowned for their quality packs for years and theBadlands Pursuit pack lives up to the company’s reputation for quality and functionality. The perfect sized daypack, the Pursuit is 18x11x8 inches in size with a 1,500-ci capacity. The pack is hydration bag compatible or can accommodate water bottles if that is your preference. Five storage pockets along with three large compartments provide abundant space for all the gear needed for a daylong hike or hunt. This is a great early season pack as it accommodates the transport of a bow.
The 1-pound, 8-ounce pack employs Badland’s Air Track suspension for great support and excellent airflow between the pack and carrier’s back in warmer weather. Bedroll straps work just as well for toting a heavy jacket. The Pursuit is available in Infinity camo. ($80; badlandspacks.com)
Black’s Creek X Series G11 Backpack
For the technical gear aficionado, Black’s Creek has a cool product line. The Black’s Creek X Series G11 backpack is full of features to make the management of gear on any trek simple. The 27×11.5×9-inch pack expands to 4,800-ci to haul items as well as meat from the field. It is hydration-pack compatible, boasts a whopping 25 pockets, has straps for carrying a bow or gun, a rain fly when bad weather hits, an expandable meat compartment and a detachable fanny pack for essential items when you have to drop the weight and travel light on a stalk.
Key construction features include Dynema and Three-Layer Tricot fabric construction, an internal high-tech back support with aluminum stays, a breathable mesh back, bar tacked and reinforced high-stress areas for durability and extra support and molded plastic zipper pulls for reduced rattling and noise. Tie down loops and accessory straps on the front waist belt round out the functionality of this pack. ($330; blacks-creek.com)
Crooked Horn Outfitters Trailblazer II
Crooked Horn made one of my favorite packs that I have used for years for extended excursions. Today, the company’s packs still deliver the same comfort I loved about my original model. The Crooked Horn Outfitters Trailblazer II is a 900-ci pack boasts heavy-duty padded waist belt and shoulder straps to prevent cutting into the user when hauling heavy loads or for extended periods, while the shoulder and sternum straps help better distribute weight more evenly. A carry handle at the rear top of the pack allows for simple loading, carrying or hanging once you reach your destination.
This pack is also hydration compatible and boasts a cool, new tactical look with Earth-tone trim, buckles and zippers. The Trailblazer II can accommodate dual water bottles in specially created pockets, while the knife pocket/sheath is readily accessible. The built-in bow/rifle pouch allows hands-free carrying of those items when hiking or stalking. Even though this pack is made from GrizHide fabric laminated to weather-proof nylon pack cloth making it completely waterproof. It also features a rain flap with a storage pocket for smaller items such as keys, wallet, etc. ($135; crookedhorn.com)
A lot of serious backcountry hunters and guides swear by Eberlestock, which says a lot for the company’s packs. Since undergoing a renovation in design in 2010, the Eberlestock X2 has been a hot seller for serious hunters going on the long haul. The 1,800-ci pack is made from NT-1 waterproof microfleece and 1000-denier nylon and boasts a lightweight tubular frame and long pads on the waist for better load support, and easily accessed pockets on the belt.
The X2 utilizes oversized compression straps for lashing on heavy loads; dual hydration compartments; quick-access pockets for spotting scopes and tripods; a FlexChassis flap, which can flip forward for use as a seat or to cradle strapped on loads; and padlock webbing tie-points for easy attachment and access to lashed on or attached items.
The X2 is compatible with Eberlestock’s A1SS or A2SS side scabbards for toting a rifle or shotgun, as well as with the ARCG ButtBucket, for carrying a compound bow. The harness is designed as a “shooter harness” making it easier to shoulder and fire even with the pack on. The full mesh back panel is separated from the main pack by a big air gap for cool-wearing when the weather or your own efforts make you sweat. ($189; eberlestock.com)
Kifaru Longhunter Standard
The Kifaru Longhunter Standard pack is made for serious backcountry excursions and boasts a list of features to prove it. The DuPlex Frame and Suspension is a flexible contoured internal frame that uses rigid, aircraft aluminum stays to transfer load weight from your shoulders to your hips through a custom fitted contoured waistbelt.
The pack is designed to easily haul more than 100 pounds in its huge 5,200-ci of space. This pack is loaded with space and straps including top draw cord access to the main compartment, side compression straps, a rear bungee cord for quick storage, bottom compression straps, bottom tab loops for Kifaru’s attachable Pods and Dock & Lock pockets, bottom compartment zippered access, and pocket and gun bearer anchors for toting a rifle or bow.
The frame removes to become a freight hauler. The top hood is removable to become a lumbar pack. Double Quiet Fleece Side Panels reduce noise when hiking and hauling. ($555; kifaru.net)
Mystery Ranch NICE CrewCab
This may well be the one pack you need for everything you do. A variable capacity pack made up of three separate compartments, the NICE Crewcab can be configured to carry loads that vary in size, shape and weight. It can be collapsed to serve as a smaller daypack or expanded for extended excursions. Capacity varies between 1,900-ci and 5,000-ci depending on the configuration. At full size, it can accommodate Mystery Ranch load cells, Pelican cases, sprayers, and even multiple elk quarters.
Capable of hauling up to three 100-oz. Camelbak reservoirs. Zippered back panel has integrated hose ports for use with the reservoirs. NICE frame is a sturdy, yet comfortable and flexible frame system designed to control heavy loads, yet remain low-profile and unobtrusive when hauling lighter loads. ($490; mysteryranch.com)
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