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?
3) What is the heaviest weight you can handle and how often will you be carrying that amount?
4) Is the actual weight of the pack your biggest concern or are you more focused on durability?
5) When you kill an animal on a day hunt or multi-day hunt are you and your partner going to pack it out in one trip, or are you going to make multiple trips back to the truck?
6) Does the pack company have a great reputation and do they warranty their product?
Once you have answered those questions you will have the general size/volume of the pack narrowed down as well as the intended use.
The next things you have to figure out are the much finer points. These will be “wanted” features and not so much “needed” features. They are still important, but not necessarily deal breakers.
Does the pack have a spotting scope and tripod compartment?
Do you like pockets on your waist belt or do you like to attach your own?
Can it be compressed down enough so it can be used as a daypack once you drop camp?
Does it have a pocket for a water bladder?
These types of options are different for everyone, but it’s a good idea to get your own personal checklist of “must haves” down on paper.
To this point we have covered just about everything you will need to think about before purchasing your perfect pack, but you will probably find out that you will need two packs to cover all of your hunting needs.
Now you will want to make a list of all the options you feel your pack must have. Once that is together you are ready to start trying all the packs on that meet your requirements and see which one feels the most comfortable.