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
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.
His most important factors are:
1) Fit and comfort with low to moderate loads
2) Total pack weight (must be under 7 lbs)
5) Minimum of 5 separate compartments/pockets
As you can see, Jay and I would be looking at 2 totally different packs. Make your checklist as carefully as possible, otherwise you may end up looking back a week or two after your purchase and thinking “man, I really wish I would have got a pack with a few hundred more cubic inches.”
I also take several multi-day scouting trips where packing heavy weight is not needed. So, when I’m looking for a scouting pack, my top 5 list changes dramatically. This is the type of situation where things get a little more complex and you need to make sure you look at your options wisely.
If you scout and backpack frequently but you are not going to be packing more than 80 pounds at a time, then 1 pack will probably be just fine. But, if you are burning the “hunting candle” at both ends and plan on hauling heavier loads, then you will probably need 2 or more packs for all of your needs.
My life revolves around backcountry hunting and having a few packs makes things a bit easier for me.
Click the link below to see the packs that I will be using for my 2011 Live Hunt season as well as the situations I will be using them in.