Best Elk Hunting Packs Reviewed – 6 TOP Rated Backpacks of 2019
Table of Contents:
- 1 Badlands 2200 Camouflage Hunting Pack and Meat Hauler
- 2 ALPS OutdoorZ Commander + Pack Bag
- 3 Tenzing 6000 Back Country Hunting and Hiking Pack
- 4 Horn Hunter Full Curl System Backpack
- 5 Eberlestock Mainframe Pack
- 6 Eberlestock Team Elk Pack
- 7 Buyer’s Guide
Although many modern hunting techniques require far less hiking than they once did, Elk hunting remains an adventure in many respects. Simply spotting a prized Elk typically involves much planning, preparation and of course tracking and plenty of hiking. Then the real work of packing the animal back out begins. A typical backpack may be great for backcountry camping but in an Elk hunt you will want the best Elk hunting pack that is designed for both gear and packing out your animal.
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Choosing the pack that best suits your needs can be a challenge if you don’t know exactly what to look for. There is a multitude of similar looking options out there, but certain packs have hidden advantages such as lightweight frames and multiple storage compartments. Another factor to consider is manufacturer quality as many packs may look great, but simply do not hold up to the rigors and demands of wildland hunting.
A wise thing to do when considering your next hunting pack purchase is to review a number of different options and narrow down the choice to only a couple of models. From there it is a very good idea to read the reviews of your candidates made by people who have already tried them out. Doing so could very well save you much trouble in general and your trip’s overall success in particular. The following is a helpful list of Elk hunting packs we believe will assist you to narrow down your choices.
Badlands 2200 Camouflage Hunting Pack and Meat Hauler
Comfort is at the top of most hunters wish lists when it comes to their pack. Although it may not be as important for shorter hunts, on a long hunting trek comfort is crucial. According to the vast majority of reviews, the Badlands 2200 certainly fits that requirement. The unique suspension system is comprised of carefully molded foam designed with thoughtful consideration to the natural contours of the body.
The end result is a pack that feels almost as a part one’s body rather than a bulky sack hanging from the shoulders. Adding to the comfort are the padded shoulder harness and hip belts which are both adjustable for customized fit and feel. The frame itself is also very lightweight, yet extremely durable. This allows for the carrying of extra gear you might have chosen to leave behind with a heavier pack.
- ThermoMold Suspension
- T-6 Aircraft Aluminum internal frame
- Badlands KXO-32 fabric is both durable and quiet
- Internal scope and tripod pockets
- Zippered rear entry panel (allowing quick access)
- Scent suppression thanks to the DWR-treated fabric
- Neutral color palette allowing for a stealthy approach
- Integrated rifle boot and built-in hip belt pistol holders
- Weighs only 5 pounds, 15 ounces
- 1980 cubic inches of main compartment volume with an overall volume of 2250 cubic inches
- Badlands’ KXO-32 fabric is a trifecta of durability, quietness, and waterproof
- Badlands stands behind their product with an absolutely unconditional warranty.
- This is a large pack which can be a negative aspect for people with smaller builds
- Relatively small volume for its size
ALPS OutdoorZ Commander + Pack Bag
While some packs come as a single unit, this model incorporated both the Commander Freighter Frame as well as a large detachable pack that adds up to 5250 cubic inches of storage volume. The obvious advantage of this type of combination is that the pack bag can be used to carry in all your gear, and then once you have established the base camp, the bag can then be separated from the frame. This allows the wearer to carry the frame as a stand-alone unit.
With all that gear left behind, the hunter is able to pack a maximum game load with much greater ease. If you find it necessary to carry both meat and gear, the pack itself has an internal divider as well as multiple gear pockets designed to keep those items neatly separated.
- Durable Nylon Rip-stop fabric
- Drop-down rifle pocket, hydration pocket, and port
- Lower Door Access with No.10 Zippers
- Total Weight: 7 pounds 5 ounces
- 5250 cubic inches
- Typically more affordable than other packs in this category
- Plenty of carrying capacity
- A limited torso range of 17 23 inches
- Extra weight due to added design features
- Reported issues with hip belt comfort
- Detachable cotter pins can snag brush as well as poke through to the skin
Tenzing 6000 Back Country Hunting and Hiking Pack
Tenzig boasts that this pack is “bigger, stronger and lighter than any comparable pack on the market.” At first glance, the initial storage volume of 4400 cubic inches may seem small in comparison. However, this pack has the great advantage of being expandable to a whopping 6013 cubic inches. At that capacity, it certainly tops the scale beyond that of most hunting packs. When you add the fact that they accomplish this amount of space in a pack that comes in below 8 pounds is quite a feat.
Some manufacturers will sacrifice comfort for space in order to maintain minimum empty weight. Thankfully the designers at Tenzig realized that a pack this big needs to remain comfortable, especially when fully loaded. The torso suspension system is fully adjustable for individual sizing and includes padded hip support. The back pad is contoured as well allowing for air circulation and cooling while on the move.
- Two rigid internal aluminum frame stays
- Foldout bow and gun carrying boot
- H2O Compatible (3-Liter)
- Triple Entry Into Main Compartment (Top, Face & Bottom)
- Expandable, Breathable Meat Compartment
- Total Weight – 4pounds 6 ounces
- Total storage volume: 6013 cubic inches
- A huge amount of storage volume
- Light and comfortable, yet big and durable
- The pack material is not waterproof so weight is added by incorporating a rain cover
Horn Hunter Full Curl System Backpack
Horn Hunter made a significant contribution to the hunting pack industry when they introduced their “Full Curl” frame system. This revolutionary and highly adaptable system allows for the removal of the main bag and extra daypack from the frame. Other manufacturers have taken their design cues from this system because it truly is remarkably versatile. The frame alone is specially constructed in such a way as to be able to carry a full field dressed deer and includes an adjustable bottom shelf.
Once the meat has been successfully transported, the hunter can return carrying only the frame back to camp. The detached gear bags can then be reattached and packed with gear for the return trip. While on the trek, specially designed compression straps are adjustable making this a comfortable pack for a variety of body types.
- HH12 Full Curl Bag with the HH13 Hybrid Full Curl Frame and HH11 Full Curl Pack
- H3 Tubular frame structure
- Adjustable torso
- Weight: 9 pounds
- Storage volume: 5000 cubic inches
- A highly versatile pack
- Plenty of capacity for most hunts
- Somewhat heavier than other packs
- Multiple straps can become a snag hazard
Eberlestock Mainframe Pack
When it comes to modular packs, the Eberlestock F1 Mainframe incorporates a unique advantage. Although modular hunting packs are no longer new to this market, the design of this pack is inherently strong. Simply put, if you can lift it onto your back, you can carry it with this frame. What may be hard to believe though is that the frame isn’t overly heavy or bulky. In fact, this model is actually much smaller than the typical freighter frame.
If the advantage of this remarkable little frame isn’t enough, the added versatility may just win you over. When you aren’t carrying that long sought-after prize, the frame is specially designed to accommodate any number of Eberlestock’s duffels, dry bags, or zip-on packs. This means that the pack can accommodate enough storage capacity for long treks, but it can also be customized as an ultralight option. To do this, remove all the other possible packs and simply add a single J2DB Dry Bag to the frame.
- The F1 Mainframe (featuring Eberlestock’s Intex II frame)
- 3 built-in compression straps
- Adjustable ladder harness
- NT7 waterproof fabric
- One of the most versatile and personalized options on the market
- A history of quality and craftsmanship
- An ever-increasing number of optional bag attachments
- At the higher end of the price range
Eberlestock Team Elk Pack
“The ultimate hunting pack of choice” is the end goal of the manufacturers who truly care about their customers. Making a pack that sells just isn’t enough for the thinkers and designers at Eberlestock. These creative folks never stop dreaming up new (and useful) ideas to satisfy the wants and needs of hunters. They know very well that most hunters don’t want to devote a huge amount of storage space in order to accommodate various packs for different types of hunting activities.
If a single, versatile pack can deliver all the various needs a hunter has, they know it can be a market leader. The Team Elk pack is their contribution to fulfilling this need. Knowing that your purchase from a reputable manufacturer also helps to support the lifestyle you enjoy is an added benefit.
- Intex frame
- Both front-loading and top-loading access
- Full-depth spotting scope pocket
- Hydration pocket
- Weight: 6 pounds, 8 ounces
- Storage volume: 3,100 cubic inches
- Designed for both stealth and comfort
- 10% of each Team Elk pack purchase goes to support the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
- Smaller storage volume
A hunting pack must be suitable to carry not only the necessary gear, but also versatile enough to pack out a successful hunt. To do this a pack must be above all sturdy enough to manage the load, but comfortable enough to make that load manageable by the hunter. Various companies have devised unique solutions to these challenges. They may seem similar on the surface, but experience has shown that certain manufacturers get the “big picture” and devote themselves to the making of the very best packs so that you, the hunter, come home with your prize.
Packs designed for day hunts typically rate towards the smaller and lighter side. The simple fact is that day packs do not need to incorporate extra space for bulky gear. Instead, these packs can focus on getting in and out of an area without the extra burden of unnecessary space.
Bags designed for backpack hunts obviously require more size and weight in order to incorporate the storage and maneuvering of extra gear. On overnight or extended-stay hunt requires a more comfortable design as well as a more durable (and hopefully lighter) frame than that of a daypack.
Let’s face it, a company that doesn’t take valuable time in considering the many factors involved in hunting won’t end up with a quality product. The design incorporates all the possible characteristics that make a pack ultimately useful to the hunter. Single-use packs can be great, but a truly versatile pack that is designed to be a successful tool in multiple environments and applications is something highly sought by the hunting community.
Frames are the very backbone of the hunting pack system. The most versatile pack system can be reduced to mere garbage if the frame cannot adequately carry the load or fit the hunter’s back. Internal and external frames have long been an item for debate among hunters and backpackers alike, but in the end, it is what works for each individual that makes the determining factor. Internal frames tend towards the more comfortable end of the design spectrum, while external frames are often more sturdy and capable of carrying more weight. It takes careful consideration and design time to find the “sweet spot” for both types of frame variation.
Believe it or not, the choice of fabric a manufacturer chooses can make or break a successful hunt. A waterproof fabric may keep a person’s gear safe and dry, but if it is too rigid it can become uncomfortable over a long hunt. Similarly, a fabric that tends to make excessive noise while on the move, especially through the brush, can be a deal breaker for the stealthy hunter. A soft fabric that is quiet may be susceptible to tearing though so it is essential to develop a soft, quiet and durable fabric. Such a fabric that is also waterproof will be a highly sought commodity in the hunting community.
Zippers are another of those pesky debate makers. It goes back to a time when zippers were inherently faulty when exposed to extreme and adverse conditions. They could easily snag and break or inadvertently open a gear pouch at the most inconvenient moment. Worse yet, the zipper could fail in such a way as to make it impossible to open a compartment making it necessary to ruin the entire pack in order to gain access. Fortunately, zipper technology and manufacturing techniques have drastically improved over the years. So much so that they have more or less becomes simply a matter of personal preference.
There is no denying that the empty weight of a pack vastly affects its usefulness. A pack that weighs less when empty can simply carry more gear providing that the lighter weight is not due to smaller size alone. Nobody wants to carry extra weight and a lighter pack that can endure the harsh environment and treatment given by the average hunter will win out every time.
How much a pack costs is an important consideration, but it is one that should be looked at closely. An expensive pack isn’t necessarily better just because it costs more. At the same time, a less expensive pack isn’t always an inferior choice. The best thing to do when considering price as a factor in a pack purchase is to see if others have been willing to pay the advertised cost and then given it good reviews afterwards.
Brand name is a powerful tool you can use when choosing your next pack purchase. Some companies have been building and improving upon their packs for decades while others are just now entering the market. It won’t take much reading in review sections to get an idea of what packs are highly revered while others are typically avoided. There is no single best brand out there, but there are certain brands that can be trusted overall.
Choosing the right pack for your individual purpose is definitely a matter of personal choice. Making a poor choice could very well be a disaster while a wise choice can make for success. In either case, your choice will be a memorable one, but let’s hope for the latter case. Never rush into making such an important decision as that of your hunting pack. Even if you’ve been invited at the last minute to a great opportunity, take as much time as possible to search out a good pack. Listen to those who have used various packs in the past and take their advice, especially on items they say to steer clear from. With the availability of online reviews and gear forums, there really should be no reason to be stranded in the wilderness with an unfortunate pack failure. If your hunt fails, let it be due to factors beyond your control.