After reading through part 1 and part 2 of this series you should be well on your way to finding the right hunting pack. You have your torso length figured out, you have your top 5 lists ready to go and another list of the finer points that will help sway your decision one way or another.
Now let's get specific. Here's exactly how I go about picking my hunting packs (below is a link to the list of the packs I plan to use this season). My top 5 list is more catered to load hauling and comfort for long hikes. It’s not that hard to find a pack that feels good with a 25-pound load in it, but the lower quality packs start to show their flaws when you're hauling several days worth of gear or a deboned elk quarter.
Here are my 5 most important factors when choosing a pack: 1) Functional load lifters and suspension 2) Fit and comfort with heavy loads 3) Extreme durability 4) Compressibility 5) Total pack weight
As you can see, my list is catered to multi-day bivy trips and extreme load hauling. I generally end up packing out 8-15 animals a year so comfort and durability are top priorities.
To help give you guys a well rounded view, I asked my hunting partner Jay what his top 5 list would be. His total load hauling capability is less than mine, and he is a “more trips with less weight” type of guy. He is also a bit of an ounce-counting weight weenie.
Growing up in a small logging town in Oregon, one of my first pairs of shoes was full-grain leather boots. All my Dad’s friends were loggers. They had breaking-in a tough pair of boots down to a science.
The first thing they taught me was to wear my boots around the house with damp socks. Not dripping wet, just a little damp, and to wear them every morning for at least a week or two. The moisture helps soften the leather from the inside out.
My 2011 Live Hunt spring turkey season is all “tagged out”, but it was a wild ride for sure! When you’re trying to fit 3 states, 5 turkey tags, and a full time job into a 3 weekend time period, it can be a real adventure to say the least.
We faced some nasty conditions, including “Forest Gump” rain in Colorado, blizzard like conditions on the drive to Kansas and 80-degree temps in Nebraska. But in the end … we got it done!
Torso length and load lifters (I cover these in How to Buy a Hunting Pack - Part 1) are the first things you need to figure out when buying a pack. After that, it’s time to narrow down your hunting pack choices. Here are the most important questions you need to ask yourself:
1) Will you be using your pack as a daypack, multi daypack, load hauler or a little of each?
2) If you are going to be doing bivy/backpack hunts, what will be the total number of days you will be using it for?