When you’re on the hunt, putting thought into your gear is essential. While many of us are worried about our rifles and boots first, for good reason, picking out the best hunting backpack you can find is definitely up there on the list of priorities. There’s a wide variety of types available, and what type you go with will depend on what you’re doing in the field. Let’s take a look at how to decide, then we’ll show you some fantastic options to get you started.
Picture the trip you’re about to embark on before you read any further. Are you planning a day-hike to snag cottontails and quail? Heading out to your stand for deer? Planning a multi-day trek to engage a bear or elk on their home turf?
This is what you’ll need to keep in mind as you look things over. Once you’ve pictured where you’re going, what you’re hunting, and how long you plan on being out and have a solid idea then it’s time to get down to the brass tacks.
Type of Pack
There’s a lot of different backpack types available. Let’s go over them, and we’ll talk about the ideal use for each.
Daypack: Think a more rugged version of the pack you carried while you were in school. These are suitable for even extended treks for small game since you won’t need as much gear for butchering and it’s unlikely you’ll be forced to lash your harvest to your bag. They’re also suitable for stand hunting if you’re close enough you don’t mind dragging the deer out.
Framed Pack: Framed packs are great for multiple day trips since you’ll be able to carry more gear, food, and water while you’re on the move. They’re probably a bit overkill for most day trips, but you’ll be glad you have one around if you like to combine backpacking and hunting for a few days on the move.
Framed Hauler: An exercise in specialization, these packs will often have small amounts of storage and a frame with lashing for carrying your prey. They’re highly recommended for stand and blind hunting since it’ll be easier to get the meat back to your car after you’ve shot your quarry.
There're a few other things to keep track of while you’re buying your pack other than the type. The quality is an obvious consideration, hunting and moving through brush will put some wear on the bag and once you’ve got a good-sized hole in one they’re pretty much useless.
The organization of the pockets is another thing to think about before you make your purchase. A few separate pockets are often superior to one larger pocket when it comes down to it. You want your stuff to be organized so you can access what you need more quickly, especially when it comes to items like first aid kits or spare ammunition.
The strap system is very important as well. You’ll need good straps, and to make sure that they’re across the right area. While not as important with padded straps, a thin nylon strap across your nipples can be uncomfortable if you’re not wearing thick clothing under it, and particularly thin supports can cut into the skin after a long time.
If you’re hunting on the move, you’ll want to go with the lightest pack possible and make sure it has a solid support system to keep it from jostling about while you’re moving or from chafing while you’re on the prowl.
Finally, you’ll need to look at the aesthetic of the bag. Almost any dedicated hunting bag is going to come in camouflage patterns, and the end choice in this area is mostly up to you. Keep in mind that many animals see in different spectrums, deer, for instance, have an enormously different visual perspective of the world than we do.
Wrapping it all Together
As long as you know what you’re going to be using your backpack for, you’re one step ahead of the game. Meat haulers, for instance, are great for hunting from a blind that’s a good distance from the car but aren't going to be out for multiple days. A daypack in the same situation would have more storage, but you’re going to be on your own when you’re hauling the animal out.
With a bit of forethought, you can make sure that the piece of gear you end up with is well suited to your own needs it can make a big difference in the comfort on your trip. While a wrong pack choice isn’t likely to hurt your chances of bringing things back, it can make a huge difference in how you feel about your next trip thanks to the discomfort that can come with a wrong choice.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at a variety of the best hunting packs on the market, and you can use the information above to make an educated purpose that will suit you in the field. Happy hunting!
If you’re a bowhunter and looking for a bag that will help you out during a shorter trek, this is the bag you’re looking for. It’s fantastic and has a few specialized features which are useful for archers.
Bow Pocket- The first thing most people will notice is that the bag is designed to carry a wide variety of bows. You can strap your bow securely to the pack and keep your hands free while on the move. It can also hold a rifle.
Hydration Pocket- The pack is compatible with hydration pockets up to 3L, lessening the need to carry extra water bottles into the bush with you.
Padded Belt with Pockets- The waist support for this bag is well padded, and also has pockets which are just the right size for extra shells or rounds, and smaller magazines for bolt-action rifles should fit fine as well.
“Shelf” Pocket- The front pocket can be lowered like a shelf, maintaining a ninety-degree angle from the bag. This can be great when combined with the d-ring which allows you to hang the bag from a nail or branch.
Quiver Straps-There are Velcro straps on both sides to enable you to easily carry your quiver.
Mesh Pockets- The interior mesh pockets have a tendency to fall apart under repeated use, but this is more of a quality control issue than an issue with design.
Not Compatible With All Bows- Some bows just don’t hold into the pocket well, mostly those with unique arms. Scrutinize the bag carefully before purchase if you use a unique bow.
For the hunter on the move, this makes a great pack although most rifle users will prefer to keep their rifle on a strap instead of on the bag.
If you’re looking for a big bag, but still want to maintain mobility without a frame, the Traverse EPS may be exactly what you’re looking for. It occupies a unique area in between a cargo pack and a daypack and will allow you to haul your gear easily to and from your stand or blind.
Expandable Weapon Pocket- You can drop down a strap which will hold the butt of your rifle and the pack can extend over it to keep your optics nice and safe while you make your journey.
Expandable Mesh Pocket- The bag can extend to carry an additional 1200 cubic inches of space to allow you to carry more out than you packed in, such as the meat from your kill.
Huge Storage- The bag has 3300 cubic inches of storage before being expanded, totaling an amazing 4500 cubic inches of space when everything is in play.
Light Internal Frame- As opposed to the larger frames that come with some rucksacks, the Traverse EPS has a light internal H-frame that, combined with the supports, will keep the weight distributed evenly over your back.
Hugely Customizable Fit- You can modify almost any part of the pack’s fit in order to ensure that you get the best fit possible and stay comfortable while you’re getting places.
Bulky- Make no mistake, this isn’t a daypack. It’s a large bag and it’s more suitable for carrying your stuff to a destination, rather than while you’re scouting or giving pursuit to your prey.
Shoulder Straps- The shoulder straps are already padded, but they could definitely use some more of it to ensure a better experience.
If you’re a stand or blind hunter, and not concerned about mobility while carrying your gear, the Traverse EPS definitely deserves a closer look.
Like to hunt on the move? Want something to help you carry out your kill as well? Mobility and utility meet function in this unique set-up which is really several bags in one kit.
Unique Design- The bag has a unique design, allowing it to be altered in a number of ways. Whether you need to carry your bow, strap down some meat, or just make sure you have all your gear on the way to base camp it can be modified for everything.
Very Organized- This pack will allow you to keep your stuff quite organized thanks to numerous subdivisions and the way it can be expanded.
Modular- The Pathfinder is also compatible with accessory pockets to give you even more storage.
Comes with Straps- The pack comes with straps to allow you to secure larger and heavier loads than will fit in the pack itself.
“Bow Carrying” Mode- One of the modes the Pathfinder can be configured in is specifically designed to carry a bow and allow it to be quickly and easily accessible.
No Handle- There’s no handle on the pack, which seems small but can make leaving it in a staging area or carrying it while it’s not in use a pain.
Not Suitable for All Bows- The pack itself isn’t suited well for all bows, but if yours can fit properly then you’re in for a treat.
The unique design features of the Pathfinder make it a standout option for almost anyone, but it does lack the ability to carry a rifle comfortably.
The Commander frame plus pack bag combo is ideal for long hunting trips where you’ll be establishing a base camp.
Huge Storage- The pack can hold a jaw-dropping 5000+ cubic inches of storage.
Rifle Holder- Keep your rifle secure on the way into your base camp with the side pocket, which will comfortably carry almost any weapon.
Removable Bag- The bag can be removed and left at camp so you can haul your meat back to where you’re holed up by using the freighter frame.
Lashing Points- Easily usable lashing points for when you want to carry something bigger than will fit in the bag.
Adjustable Frame- The frame of the bag is adjustable in order to accommodate nearly anyone’s torso, this can be important as you’ll certainly be wearing it for extended periods.
No Waterproofing- According to some users, the bag is almost anti-waterproof. Be sure to carry some extra rain gear if you’re planning on being out in inclement weather.
Huge- Your mobility will greatly suffer while you’re wearing this pack, there’s no way around that. It’s a very large bag, meant to haul a lot of stuff.
If you’re planning on being out in the woods, desert, or tundra for an extended period then you could do a lot worse than this bag. For the price it absolutely won’t be beaten, so take a look if you want something to keep you going for long periods.
For our money, the best of these bags all-around is definitely the ALPS OutdoorZ Pathfinder Pack(Best Hunting Backpack Under 100). You won’t be able to find anything like it and if you’re only going to own one backpack for all types of hunting it’s absolutely the best you’ll be able to find.
We hope we’ve helped you to find the best hunting backpack possible for your own use. If you have any suggestions or comments then let us know below.
I am Kevin who is a founder of deerhuntingfield.com; Here at Deer Hunting Field, we want to teach and educate. Hunting is a passion which has existed in mankind since almost the beginning, and with the advent of the internet, we can now share information, tips, and more with each other faster than ever before. This is a crucial part of our philosophy.