Benchmark Pro-Staff Taylor Skinner
Everybody has their idea of the perfect pack. Luckily there are lots of good choices on the market these days. Not every Expedition backpack has everything a hunter would like or need in every situation. The pack could be too small, or does not have the ability to haul game because the frame is too weak. On the other hand, a smaller day pack may not have room for all your needed gear such as a snack, water, or even some rain gear. In most cases packs are not big enough and cannot pack meat when you are lucky enough to harvest an animal. Your option is to go up in pack size. Now you have the room you need but the pack is way too bulky and you start to think, “What else can I put in this pack”, and soon fill the pack up with unnecessary items. Or, the pack is way too big for a shorter day hunt. In the end, like me, you’ll end up with several packs to fit the different hunting situations.
That was until I found the answer in a modular packs. With a modular pack they have a game Hauling frame as the base of the pack and may even have a shelf to keep the load from sagging. Now you have options. A modular pack has different size bags for hauling meat, extra gear, clothing, scopes, tripods, weapons, and for long hunts extra water, sleeping bags, and tents. This past year I used the Horn Hunter Full Curl System and I was able to configure the pack perfectly for every hunt. There are several straps that you can expand and tighten to keep your load and gear nice and tight so it doesn’t sway as you are hiking.
As hunters, we are always looking for a way to get in the woods. Many of us enjoy shed hunting as a way to get out in the off season, it helps us stay in shape and we can keep track of the animals that we chase each season. For shed hunting you can strip the modular pack down to the frame and have something strong to haul your sheds. I used is solid tubular frame that has a hydration pocket for water and pockets on the wings and sides that have just enough space for, snacks knife, flashlight and the all the emergency essentials.
Last year in Wyoming we were able to take several Antelope and we used the perfect size pack for this hunt. We striped the Full Curl pack down to the frame and I was able to load all the meat on the pack and still have my essential gear. I was able to make it back to the truck in one trip. How great is that! In the past I may have had a small day pack and had to hike back to the truck for a bigger pack or frame to harvest my Antelope. I hope that my experience in the past has made me a smarter more efficient hunter.
Our public lands are getting more crowded these days. We are often looking to get away from the crowds by hiking into wilderness areas. An Elk requires a lot more work and gear to get it broken down and packed out. You will need more food, stoves, sleeping bags, knifes, flashlights and more. Most the time it is not close to your truck. You hike in several miles and camp close to the Elk herds. You need more room to pack in and then pack out. For a typical elk hunt I attach to the Horn Hunter Full Curl frame a big bag for my camp gear and attach a day pack for my hunting gear. I also bring lite weight game bags in the event I need to pack out elk meat. The more you can strap to your pack the less you have to travel multiple trips to the truck. When I get to my base camp I leave the big bag for camping and take the frame and small bag up the mountain to hunt. The head on a bull elk is big and often awkward to attach to your load. Make sure your pack has plenty of straps to compress the antlers, head and Hyde.
We are pretty fortunate as hunters these days with all the great products in the market. Unfortunately, most of them are pretty expensive, and we can’t afford everything we want. The list is too big. A pack is part of my core gear, and I have put a lot of thought and experience into a pack decision. Instead of spending money on several expensive packs to fit all your different styles of hunting, get a good modular pack system that will last you a lifetime. I’m glad I got rid of all my other packs, and I know you will be too.