What’s the right hunting pack for you and what gear should you carry in your pack?
Choosing a hunting pack may not seem like it would be that difficult, but these days with so many options available, it may seem overwhelming and hard to find the “right one”.” There are a lot of great companies out there that offer an extensive variety of packs, provide excellent warranties, and are built really well. Only a few are designed for hunting. For some people it maybe as simple as just going to their local sporting goods store and purchasing whatever they have available and making that work. But that’s not how I operate. A pack is a huge part of your hunting arsenal and plays a big role in many aspects of a hunt. The biggest question you need to ask yourself is,
“What do you want to primarily use the pack for?”
If your hunt is close to the truck you may only need to carry a few necessary items such as snacks, emergency kit, a flash light, knife and GPS. If you are doing an extended backcountry hunts for days your choices for a pack are significantly smaller because you will be carrying sleeping bag, tent, cloths, meals and possibly the game animal. I am going to concentrate on the extended large hunting packs.
“Will you be packing out meat at the end of your hunt?
I spend most of my time hunting country that requires quartering an animal up in small manageable section and getting it all back to camp. You may consider taking light weight game bags to store your meat. If you hunt an area that you can easily access with a vehicle or 4-wheeler, then you probably don’t need your pack to have this capability.
One major thing to consider when choosing your pack is comfort and fit. I always recommend that you try on a pack (and load it with weight) before you commit to buying it. If a pack isn’t comfortable or doesn’t fit your body type then it will be a constant headache for you and potentially make a hunt very difficult. Get a pack that has a torso adjustment. Do a lot of research online. Read reviews so you have an idea of what people have liked and disliked about a specific pack. There is endless information available online that can be very useful, specifically how to adjust a pack to your body.
I personally do a lot of both backcountry extended hunts and simple day hunts. Like many people, I can’t afford to have a different pack for every type of hunt or senerario I find myself in. I need a pack that can be molded into whatever I am doing that day. I believe a lot of hunters fall into this same category. Using what I call a, “multi-use” or also referred to as a “modular” style pack has been my #1 choice for many years now. What I mean by modular/multi-use is that the pack can be configured to fit whatever kind of hunt I am going on. I use the Horn Hunter Full Curl System which is a 3 piece system that includes the frame with built in meat shelf and hydration pouch, a 3000 cubic inch storage bag and an additional 1400 cubic inch pack. I can use these in different configurations to fit my needs for any hunt. For example, on a day hunt I need enough space to carry my essential items and have the ability to pack out meat if I am fortunate enough to have success. So for this scenario I use the frame with the smaller 1400 cubic inch pack attached to it. This gives me 2000 cubic inches of storage between the 2 components plus the meat shelf. I can compress this combination down really well with the provided straps so it is actually a very low profile pack. Now, if I decide to do a multi-day backcountry hunt all I have to do is attach the additional 3000 cubic inch bag and I have a total of 5000 cubic inches. I put all of my camp related gear in the big bag such as my tent, sleeping bag, pad, stove, food, and extra clothes. When we get to where we are camping, I simply detach that bag and set it aside. I still have my frame and day pack to hunt for the day.
Remember to ask yourself, “What am I using the pack for?” This will help narrow down your choices.
I have attached a gear list that my hunting partner (who’s also my sister and is awesome) put together for me. I check it before every hunt. Having a great list like this is priceless, because we all have forgotten something at some point that we really wanted or needed.
I hope this provides some useful information for you. Good luck on your next adventure!
Ryan Hay, OR Staff Writer
Gear List – Backcountry Archery Hunting
|Bow/Rifle||First Aid Kit||Tracking Ribbon||Toilet paper|
|Release||Clothes/Raingear/Boots||Light weight meat bags|
|Tent/Bivy||Hunting Calls||ZipLoc Bags|
|Sleeping Bag/Pad||Knife||Zip Ties|
|Water Filter/Tablets||Rangefinder||Scent Killer Spray|
|Food/Snacks||Extra Batteries||Satellite Phone/ Locators/Cell Phone|