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The Best Hunting Packs

4 September 2010
There are many hunting packs on the market today from a wide variety of manufacturers. Some make all kinds of packs from school bags to mountaineering packs while others focus on just the hunting niche market. One of these niche market companies that is making great hunting backpacks right here in the USA is Rocky Mountain Pack Systems.


 

One of the advantages of being a niche market manufacturer is that you only have to focus on a single product line. Rocky Mountain Pack Systems makes packs for hunters...period. No outside influences are pulling them in different directions. They aren't distracted by having to come up with a tactical pack line or a series of clothing and they aren't worried about the next gimmick that will support their million dollar marketing machine.

We have used a sold a number of different packs over the years and I would hold these up next to the best of them. Companies like Badlands, Blacks Creek, Eberlestock, Mystery Ranch (Dana Designs back when I had mine), and Nimrod all make a great pack and there is a place for each of them in the market. However, there is a unique combination of attributes that come together to make the Rocky Mountain Packs the best hunting packs around:

Practical in the Field
A lot of today's backpack designs are too focused on gadgetry. A plethora of pockets...pockets in pockets and dividers and straps and buckles and snaps and webbing oh my! Trying to find something tucked away in one of these monsters is impossible. I call it organization overload. Why?...perceived value...attracting a younger market?
While that's all well and good on the store shelf, what I have noticed in the field is that neither myself nor anyone else I encounter actually seems to be using any of these "features".
Enter Rocky Mountain Packs. Designed, tested and built in the wilds of Idaho these packs conform to the age old K.I.S.S. philosophy. If it doesn't need to be there...it isn't, which brings me to my next point-

Lightweight
The company slogan is "The Lightest Packs on the Mountain" and they design to that principle. My pitch is "Pack your Gear; Not your Pack!" A natural extension of the simple design philosophy that pays off in spades when testing your gear in the Idaho back-country.

Comfortable - All Day Long
Whether you wear your pack from the pickup to your tree stand or you load it up for a week long back- country trip, it should be comfortable. Idaho is know for some punishing open terrain with lots of vertical footage. If you want to hunt there, you also have to plan on burning some serious shoe leather. All of these packs feature padded hip belts and all but the smallest fanny have fully padded shoulder straps with chest buckles. A healthy layer of foam in the back of the packs pads out the load and reduces pressure points. The back of these packs is made from a special cordura blend that helps keep you cool in hot weather. The construction is entirely fabric and foam, so there aren't any gouging metal rods or bars.
 
Quiet & Burr Free
These packs are designed by hunters and one thing all hunters need to to be Quiet! Lots of packs use heavy cordura nylon, which is great for durability, but its extremely noisy. Then you have packs with a fleece exterior that is quiet, but everything in the woods sticks to it. Rocky Packs use a material called saddle cloth or buck-suede. Its soft to the touch, quiet, and tightly woven so burrs don't cling to it. Even the zipper pulls on these packs have rubberized ends to eliminate clanking sounds.

Water Resistant
The exterior saddle cloth fabric is laminated to a layer of ripstop nylon (similar to what you would make a tent out of). This adds strength to the pack and provides a barrier to keep your gear clean and dry. With oversize storm flaps on all of the zippers these are very dry packs. All of the padding utilizes closed cell foam so it can't get waterlogged even if you submerge it. I wear a Yukon Pack Steelhead fishing in the Pacific Northwest all winter long.

Durable
I recently spent some time in a trade show booth for Rocky Mountain Pack Systems and got to help out several repeat buyers. The company has been around quite a while so I wasn't overly surprised. What did surprise me were the reasons I heard from the customers for buying a new pack...reasons like: mine was stolen; my kid/spouse took my old one, etc. Only one person at the whole show had actually worn one out in 15 years of very frequent use and he was back for another. There is a reason for that...they use the best materials (YKK zippers) and quality American craftsmanship (double and triple stitching stress points). They offer a lifetime warranty against manufacturer defects.
 
Affordable
Producing simple, practical packs has yet another advantage. Even with them being 100% made in the USA, these packs come in 20-50% below the competition. You don't have to spend $200 on a day pack to get a comfortable, quality product.

A Modular System
Most of the packs in the Rocky Mountain Pack Systems lineup are designed to hook together and to a frame. This flexibility allows you to start simple with a hunting fanny pack or day pack and add other components later on as you need them up to a full hunting pack system with a day, fanny, and frame pack for hauling in a whole camp and hopefully for hauling out elk by the quarter!

Now that we've covered what to look for in a pack picking out the right one comes down to how you intend to use it. Where do you live...what kind of hunting do you do? These questions will guide you into selecting the right size and style (Fanny Pack, Mid-torso Pack, Day Pack, Frame Pack).

For the minimalists out there, I recommend the Coyote, Simple Shot, Ridge Runner or Simple Fanny packs. These packs are smaller, perfectly suited for day hikes or half day trips...scouting...or treks into a stand. They are light and easy to haul up into a tree because you can't drag along more gear than you really need.

There are a couple of specialized packs in the lineup including the Badger, which has 2 water bottles attached and the Bighorn, which pops up from a fanny pack to a full-sized day pack. The Bighorn is an awesome Turkey hunting pack, because you can pop the top and throw a whole bird in there.

For gear junkies (myself included) who are always prepared for a night in the field whether we intend to be or not, I recommend either a day pack (New Frontier, Simple Day) or a Mid-torso pack like the Yukon or Kodiak. While a minimalist could probably pack these up and live for a week out of them, gear junkies only worry needs to be keeping the weight down. These packs are good sized (we're talking deer quarters here), so you can really load them up if you aren't careful.

Personally I prefer the Mid-torso designs(Yukon, Kodiak). If you haven't ever tried on a pack like this order one up and try it out. If you don't like it send it back. You're only risk is a few dollars in return freight. These packs ride low...like a big fanny pack with an extra compartment on top. The weight distribution on them is perfectly balanced between your hips, haunches and shoulders and they keep your center of gravity low, which is especially great in rough, uneven terrain.

And last but not least, don't rule out the versatility of a combination pack like the Sawtooth or the Simple Combo. These packs give you a full day pack and a full fanny pack that you can use together or apart depending on your needs for any given day. Add a frame and you are ready for anything!

Have questions? Give us a call. We're happy to help talk you through anything from picking out the right pack to selecting accessories or even which camo pattern you should be looking at.

Good Hunting,

John H
Discount Outdoor Store