What’s in Your Backpack?

For peak performance in the field, a backpack tailor made for predator hunting duty is essential.

What’s in Your Backpack?

Having the right backpack for the job adds up to greater efficiency in the field. (Gordy Krahn photo)

I’ve probably got a half-dozen backpacks and daypacks of various shapes and sizes, each designed for various hunting applications. Having said that, I typically use the same pack 90 percent of the time. I do this out of familiarity. I know each pocket, each nook and cranny, intimately, and can always find my gear quickly and quietly, even in the dark. For me, a pack is one of those “don’t leave home without it” items. I remember as a kid I carried all of my gear in my pants and jacket pockets. It didn’t bother me at the time, but it would drive me crazy now. I guess we learn how to hunt smarter as we grow older. I’m a stickler when it comes to organization, and that’s what a good pack will do for you, keep you organized and more efficient. 

Most of my predator hunting is geared toward half- or full-day run-and-gun ventures, so I gravitate toward a small- to medium-sized pack. One reason for this is that no matter how large my pack is, I manage to find a way fill it with gear, most of which I never use. That’s one of the reason’s I go with a smaller pack and pack smart — the smallest model that will efficiently get the job done.

It’s like the difference between driving to a hunting location or flying there. If I’m driving, I invariably bring too much gear. I just keep piling it in the truck. When I’m flying, however, I have to think very carefully about what to bring and then pack only the essentials. It’s the same way with backpacks, every piece of gear should not only have its place, there should be a 90 percent chance that you’ll use it. 

Good pocket configuration is paramount to a good pack. But it’s not necessarily how many pockets you have but if they make sense for the type of hunting you do. I like a large pocket-less main compartment to store clothes and other large gear items. I typically dress in layers when hunting and I need a place to put discarded clothes as the day warms up or a place to keep my rain gear. I also want some webbing on the exterior of the pack where I can attach extra clothing, especially clothing that’s gotten wet. All pockets should have a specific purpose and I’m consistent about what I put in each of those pockets. This way I know exactly where to go to retrieve gear at a moment’s notice.

For today’s predator hunters there has never been a better time in regard to the number of special-duty backpacks that are on the market — models to fit every conceivable situation and application. Here are some top shelf models designed with the discriminating hunter in mind.

5.11 Tactical Rush12

The Rush12 from 5.11 Tactical is a lightweight, high-performance pack suitable for grab-and-go predator hunters. Compatible with 5.11’s Tier system and the Rush Tier rifle sleeve, the pack features a wrap-around MOLLE and SlickStick-compatible web platform, adjustable contoured shoulder and sternum straps and a 60-ounce hydration pocket. Made from durable, water-resistant 1050D nylon, the 24-liter Rush12 has a roomy main storage area and 16 individual compartments. Other features include a zippered fleece-lined eyewear pocket, glove-friendly pull tabs, two external compression straps and self-repairing YKK zippers. 

MSRP: $99.99

CONTACT: www.511tactical

ALPs OutdoorZ Enforcer

The Enforcer pack from ALPs OutdoorZ was developed to meet the rigorous demands of run-and-gun predator hunters. It wears like a conventional pack, with adjustable shoulder harnesses, sternum strap and waist belt. The heart of the backpack is its plush 3-inch memory foam seat and kickstand frame, which folds up behind the pack via two compression straps and secures out of the way while traveling and deploys quickly to provide a comfortable seat and backrest. The legs adjust individually for upright seating on uneven terrain. In addition to the main cargo compartment and exterior front pockets, there are two large removable pockets integrated into the waistband subdivided with quick-access mesh pockets to stow small items. 

MSRP: $169.99

CONTACT: www.alpsoutdoorz.com

ATI Rukx Gear Tactical Daypack

Manufactured for maximum durability, American Tactical’s Rukx Gear Tactical daypack is designed to efficiently and comfortably transport gear while in the field. This compact pack provides a blend of capacity and transportability with four main storage areas and an internal organization system that will keep equipment accessible while protected from the harshest environments. A premium back-relief panel provides maximum comfort during extended use and the daypack is hydration-pack compatible. Made of 600D polyester, the Rukx Gear Tactical daypack is water-resistant and features reinforced Velcro webbing and heavy-duty non-rust zippers. It weighs 3 pounds and measures 18x11x11 inches. 

MSRP: $44.95

CONTACT: www.americantactical.us


The AttackPAK Multi-purpose Carrier (MPC) pack allows hunters to carry more weight and hike farther over challenging terrain with less stress. AttackPAKs are built with modular, multi-function components to customize the load. The belt and frame are fitted to each user’s waist size and torso length for a custom fit and ergonomic weight distribution. The foundation is a patented Integrated Load Carriage system in which the belt and frame are independent, allowing unrestricted mobility and quick detachment. Hunters can transport all of the gear needed for an all-day hunt. One frame and belt can be used with many different pack capacities to reduce the overall investment. 

MSRP: $189

CONTACT: www.attackpak.com

Badlands Vario 33 Kit

The Vario 33 backpack kit from Badlands includes everything a predator hunter needs to hit the ground running, including the Vario frame, 3,300 cubic-inch pack and deluxe batwing. The frame is available in two sizes — 19- to 22-inch torso and 17- to 19-inch torso — for a custom waist fit. The Vario 33 features magnesium alloy frame stays that are two times stronger than T6 aluminum and wider, thicker shoulder straps, molded foam suspension and an adjustable yoke for added comfort. Other features include easy access hip/belt pouches, hideaway daisy chain lash points, wide mouth opening, side access zippers and side-stretch pockets, detachable rifle/bow boot and much more. 

MSRP: $499.99

CONTACT: www.badlandsgear.com

Blackhawk EDC Stax 

With the EDC (everyday carry) Stax pack from Blackhawk, the user can divide the main compartment when needed, or fold down the built-in shelf for access to the entire space. A port door provides easy entry to gear stored below the shelf. The EDC Stax pack is constructed of rugged 500D nylon and a padded compartment in the back holds either a large laptop or hydration reservoir. Other features include a large, fleece-lined valuables pocket deep enough to hold the largest smartphones, loop-lined MOLLE in the main compartment for secure attachment of pouches and other accessories and zippers with wide tabs for reliable opening and closing. 

MSRP: $139.95

CONTACT: www.blackhawk.com

Duluth Pack All Day Lumbar Pack

Duluth Pack’s All Day lumbar pack is the result of years of technical input from serious sportsmen and women around the country. With enough room and support to carry all of the gear needed for an extended day trip, this lumbar pack will help keep hunters going strong from dawn until dusk. Key features include burly 15-ounce canvas construction, removable shoulder straps and waist belt, waterproof bottom lining to keep gear dry, dual water bottle holders, two compression straps on top of the pack and zippered access to the main compartment. The All Day lumbar pack measures 14x8.5x6 inches and its capacity is 12 liters. It’s available in a variety of colors and Mossy Oak Bottomland camo. 

MSRP: $270

CONTACT: www.duluthpack.com

Klymit 65L Gear Duffel

Big travel plans often require packing everything but the kitchen sink. And that’s why the 65-liter travel-friendly Gear Duffel 65 from Klymit is a great choice for that next big adventure. Durable and roomy, it has plenty of room to organize and transport a ton of gear and features grab handles on all sides and comfortable shoulder straps that allow the duffel to be worn as a backpack. Made from durable 600D polyester fabric, the Gear Duffel 65 has two internal accessory pockets, one external pocket and load stabilizing straps. Dimensions: 25x13x12 inches. 

MSRP: $69.95

CONTACT: www.klymit.com 

Mystery Ranch Pop Up 38

The Mystery Ranch Pop Up 38 backpack was designed for hunters who want a large pack with a large main compartment that can be accessed via a top-loading shroud or by a full-length side zipper. The Pop Up 38’s two-part lid keeps key items within reach while helping to secure and protect spotting scopes and tripods that are stashed in the outer compressible pocket. Dual side pockets accommodate trekking poles, water bottles and other items. Autolock buckles and compression straps cinch down to firmly secure gear. A telescoping frame transforms the pack from a low profile look to a maximized load lifting system in seconds, utilizing trekking pole technology. 

MSRP: $350

CONTACT: www.mysteryranch.com

Sitka Gear Mountain Optics Harness

Sitka took a systems-based approach to carry optics, electronics and other accessories in the field with its new Mountain optics harness, which features a quiet magnetic one-handed front flap to quickly and quietly access binos. Removable, modular side pockets can accommodate a rangefinder, GPS, cell phone or other accessories. The chassis has zippered stash pockets on the back for added and secure storage. Numerous elastic pockets provide at-hand storage for a wind gauge and calls plus an internal lens cloth keeps optics clean and sharp for glassing. It is rounded out with a brushed polyester face fabric for silent stalks.  

MSRP: $149

CONTACT: www.sitkagear.com

Snugpak Endurance

Purpose-built for hunters who want the ability to attach additional pouches to their pack for those long cross-country hikes, the 40-liter Endurance from Snugpak has MOLLE webbing on the front and both sides to accommodate extra gear. It also has a hydration sleeve as well as a routing port for the drinking tube and a storage pocket on the lid. The Endurance features contoured, heavily padded chest straps faced with textured high wicking fabrics and its top lid zippered compartment is a great place to store those essentials that need to be easily accessed. The bottom compartment is designed to house a Snugpak Aquacover, which can be purchased separately.  

MSRP: $129

CONTACT: www.snugpak.com

Tenzing TZ 2220 

Tenzing’s TZ 2220 daypack is an overachiever in every category: load carrying, packability, premium materials, quick access, simplified organization, specialized accessories and all-day comfort. With 2,400 cubic inches of usable space, it allows users to hunt light and hunt fast while keeping every critical item within easy reach. The TZ 2220 features 19 compartments and pockets for secure storage and organization of all hunting essentials. Other features include a premium air-mesh suspension system for improved breathability and overall comfort, durable Robic rip-stop fabric in high-stress areas, internal fluted aluminum frame stay, five horizontal compression straps to secure the load, two lower webbing straps to attach extra gear, foldout bow and gun carrying boot and much more. 

MSRP: $229.99

CONTACT: www.tenzingoutdoors.com


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