The most surprising thing about the new Carbine 2500 backpack is the name stamped on the Kryptek camouflage: SJK, the manufacturer formerly known as Slumberjack. The company that I associate with entry-level sleeping bags has produced a line of capable packs configured for hunting and tactical shooting purposes, and the midsize Carbine ($200; is a solid freshman entry.

Its size and many features make it a fine treestand pack, a mountain bag for minimalist overnight trips or longish day hunts, or a functional range bag. I spent a month with the Carbine earlier this fall, using it as a trail-camera tote, an early-season archery pack, and even luggage. Among its
assets are:

Diverse Utility
The 2,450 cubic inches and generous pocket dimensions allow you to pack surprisingly large items in the main compartment—I managed to squeeze in a sleeping bag, raingear, pants, and a shirt—and numerous sundries in the stash pockets.

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Beavertail Front (above, left)
The front pocket assembly is designed to unclip at the top to accommodate large or awkward gear like bulky clothes or a loaded game bag.

Bow/Gun Pocket (above, right)
The system for carrying a bow or gun is adjustable, snug-fitting, and positions the weight in the very middle of the pack, so there’s no shifting.

Tripod & Spotter The Manfrotto BeFree Carbon Fiber ($389) packs down to 15.7 inches and weighs 2.4 pounds. Meopta’s MeoPro HD 80 ($1,725) features a 20–60X eyepiece and HD fluoride glass.

Customized Fit
Backpacks are among the last of the one-size-fits-all outdoor gear, but the Carbine has enough adjustability that I achieved a very snug fit that didn’t shift, even when I ran to make a connection at Chicago’s O’Hare.

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Clever Touches
The handle on top of the pack has a quick-release buckle that allows for easy hanging on a limb or other support. On my bow hunt, I used this strap to secure the pack against a jackpine on a steep slope while I glassed for elk. The channel between the lower front pockets serves as a rifle rest.

Room for Improvement

Support: Most packs at this price feature a beefed-up internal frame for load support and rigidity. The Carbine has a plastic backboard stiffened with one aluminum rod, and the pack slouches under a full load.

Side pockets: I’d like to see one of these extended to better accommodate a spotting scope.

Zippers: I wish the pockets had center pulls rather than opening from just one side. I was constantly losing small items because the zippers weren’t closed all the way.