Hunting packs tend to take a beating and they serve multiple purposes by hauling gear and meat. Ideally, a meat hauling frame pack will handle the bloody work but some trips call for quick packouts and you might find yourself loading up the day or overnight pack to get that first load packed and cooled in a hurry.
Before fitting a hunting pack, examine the features and determine what you really want. Check the size to see if the pack will fit your gear for day trips or multi-days depending on the intended use. Many hunting packs come with special pockets for optics, integrated slings for rifles or bows, accessory pockets and loading systems with access from the top and bottom. Be realistic with yourself on both size requirements and feature. What will you actually need? Remember that added features means more weight and more complications. Try to find a pack that has only what you need and not much more.
If possible get your hands on a variety of packs so that you can compare the options along with reviews. Visit retailers, trade shows or even your local hunting buddies to try them on. You will find plenty of information online. Play with the features. Look for high quality components like zippers, and rate each pack before moving to the next phase of testing and fitting.
Unlike standard hiking or backpacking packs, hunting models require another layer of soundproofing. Archery hunters are especially sensitive to sound when using daypacks to quietly carry gear through the woods. Play with the materials, buckles and straps to check for sound. Soft materials that are non-abrasive are ideal and you don’t want anything clanking or jingling on a hunt. Many modern hunting packs are built with sound in mind.
Fitting Shoulder and Hip Straps
There are a few ways to go about fitting. You can measure your torso length from the C7 vertebrae at the base of the neck, down to the lower back, just above the hip bones to find the right pack size. Many pack manufacturers offer a choice in frame sizes. Many packs are also adjustable, and designed to fit a wide range of users. As you try on different packs, pay close attention to the fit on your particular body type.
Adjust the torso length so that the hip straps sit just above the hip bones and snug up comfortably. Next, pull on the shoulder straps evenly until there is no slack and they are positioned to share the load with hip straps. The chest buckle should clip comfortably on your upper chest, pulling the shoulder straps into a stable position.
After determining the pack will fit and adjust to yourloh body, it’s time to make a purchase decision.
Trial Run at Home
Only purchase a pack with a return policy in place. Store fitting is limited and you can’t test the pack under a load. When you get home, load your gear just as you would for a hunt and take it on a hike. Play with the strap lengths and feel it out with a load attached. If the pack isn’t quite right, return it and try another. After all the vetting with reviews and fitting in the store however, there is a good chance you found the right pack and can put it to good use.
For more tips on gear, check out the following articles:
- Clothing for Early Season Elk Hunting
- Clothing for Cold Weather Hunts
- Recommended Elk Hunting Gear and Accessories
- Weapon recommendations for a New Mexico Hunt
- Recommended Hunting Optics with Zeiss
If you have questions about a hunt here in New Mexico, please contact us.