Pack Review: The Best Hunting Backpacks

Here's a rundown of the best hunting packs listed from smallest to largest. There's also a description for each pack and what situation you would want to use it for. ** 1,000-2,500 Cubic Inches**
My Choice: Kifaru Scout If you are looking for a pack that will work well when hunting by the truck and mobility is key, then this pack size is what you want. This is not a load hauler by any means, but it can handle a decent amount of weight when needed. These packs also work great for turkey and antelope hunting as well as those quick trips into the wilderness that don't require a ton of gear. The Kifaru scout is rated at 1,200 cubic inches (it's a little larger then that I think), but with the added 2-quart canteen pockets, I can easily get day's worth of gear inside as well as a jacket and an extra base layer. This pack also has a couple internal pockets that make organization a little easier. The max comfort load on the Scout is 30-40 lbs.
3,000-4,200 Cubic Inches
My Choice: Kifaru Late Season
This pack size is in going to be the most versatile in your hunting arsenal, still not a true load hauler, but it can handle any amount of weight you can throw at it. Other than extended trips, there is nothing these packs aren't suited for, from whitetail hunting in the Midwest, or 3-night bivy in the middle of the Rocky Mountains. The suspension will very greatly from one company to another, but if you look at my packs of choice, you know those are going to be able to handle 100 lbs loads when needed. The late Season has been on my back for many days in the field and has proven itself many times over. I have personally had well over 100 lbs in this pack, but the comfort level will max out around 60 to 80 lbs depending on your torso length. I use this primarily as a daypack, but it will see some quick short bivy trips from time to time as well. At 3,200 CI and a total pack weight of 4.8 lbs, this is another great choice for a do all pack that can take some abuse.
4,500-5,200 Cubic Inches
My Choice: Kifaru ZXR
The ZXR is one of the best 4-7 day bivy packs on the market today. Offering 3 exterior vertical pockets that are perfect for carrying spotting scopes, tripods and walking sticks. Another great option offered by Kifaru is the "grab it." This is an attachment that allows you to carry big game quarters (or anything for that matter) on the outside of your pack, while all of your gear is on the inside. As some of you know, I will take a 5,200 cubic inch pack on day trips when the possibilities of taking an animal home are high. This way I can get the entire animal (or at least half) in the ZXR and only make 1 trip to the truck. It will also compress down very small and keeps a very low profile, so this makes the ZXR one of my top go to packs for hunting and will be used as my primary bivy scouting pack as well.
5,500-7,500 Cubic Inches
My Choice: Kifaru EMR

When you buy a pack this size, you better have a strong back and a weak mind, because you know you're going to be packing an extreme amount of weight, or using it for extended stay backpack trips! The only real disadvantage to a pack like the EMR is going to be it's total weight. Usually a load hauling 7,500 cubic inch pack that is this durable is going to be a minimum of 8 lbs. I have personally hauled 150-pound loads in the EMR and it looked as good as new when I arrived back at the trailhead … except for the blood. The EMR will swallow up 80-pound loads with ease and make them feel more like 60 pounds. Another great thing about this pack is that is will compress down to nothing and work very well for a daypack once you have hiked into your base camp. One more thing to consider when buying a pack this size is how often you are going to be helping out friends with their pack out jobs? This year I will be joining several of my friends on hunts and the EMR will be on my back every time. This way when an animal is killed, I can take at least half back to the truck, as well as our gear and optics. So if you're one of those guys who packs everything but the kitchen sink, stays for 10 plus days, and is physically able to pack out an entire animal, then the EMR (or a pack of its size) is going to be a great option.

These are the packs that I will be using for my 2011 Live Hunt season as well as the conditions/reason I will be using them.