By Montana Grant

Posted: October 28, 2021

Backpacks have come along way. Newer packs have fold out, zip ups, collapse and expanders, internal frames, pockets galore, rain covers, Spread Tow technology, fleece exteriors, gear strappers, and interchangeable this and that’s.

My first pack was a Boy Scout Special, that belonged to my Uncle Zeke. He used it with no frame. When I used it, I added an aluminum frame made from an old, busted lawn chair. Bolts and duct tape held it together. I added a web belt that placed the weight onto my hips. That old canvas pack traveled the Appalachian trail, Cand O canal and a huge trek in Philmont New Mexico.

My first true hunting pack was an Army issue Alice pack. This was the military version of a fanny pack. It was way better than filling my pockets full of junk. The shoulder harness distributed the weight and keep my upper body free to shoot and climb. Later I splurged and got a Cabela’s fleece pack that would open big enough to carry a quarter of an elk. This shoulder harness system was camo and had a huge zipper on it. A band of spring metal kept the top open when unzipped. This old pack hauled a ton of gear and meat.

Zippers and Velcro are the death of most packs. Good luck finding a repair place. You usually need to just get a new pack. My Son gave me a cool pack the turns into a chair. It is perfect for dove hunting and short jaunts. I prefer packs that are low on my back and not high on the shoulders. Full back packs make carrying a bow, rifle, or calls harder. You can shove weapons into the pack but that means the pack must come off to get the weapon ready.

Bino harnesses also become a need that get confused in full pack straps and harnesses. Overlapping layers of straps get crazy. The young guys that I have seen afield carry full packs. They bring everything but the frying pan. Usually there is no place to pack out meat, but they could spend a comfortable night afield and not starve for a week. Bladder systems with sucking hoses hydrate them as well. All these features increase the weight and limits your hunt.

Everyone has a different need when afield. The outdoor gear market is full of great pack choices. Decide what type of pack you need, and then look for sales. Try them on if you can. My suggestion is to go as compact as you can, with room to pack out a quarter of a critter.

Organization is huge. You need to know where extra ammo, calls, lights, knives, candy bars, and water is located. You need a small first aid kit. Handwarmers add comfort. A compass or GPS is critical. If you can’t find it, or forget you have it, what’s the point in packing it?

Pick a pack that fits your needs. If you only walk a few hundred yards to a tree stand, you don’t need a mega pack. If you hunt off a horse or wheeler, you will be strapping the pack to the luggage rack. If you are hiking in 15 miles to a secret honey hole, wear the biggest and most comfortable pack you can find. Maybe a wheeled cart or sled is also in order, so you can transport the critter out.

Montana Grant

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