Hunters know the importance of being able to carry their gear while out in the field. The easiest way to carry this gear is with a well-designed hunting backpack that will secure your equipment without weighing you down. You already know that a regular backpack won’t do the trick – but what are your options once you’ve decided to purchase a hunting backpack?
Best Hunting Backpacks for the Money
Eberlestock Halftrack Hunting Pack
The Eberlestock Halftrack Hunting Pack offers enough space to carry everything you need for hunting trips up to 3-days long. This is an exceptional pack that will hold your sleeping bag, some clothes and food, and even basic medical supplies – all evenly distributed so that your back doesn’t suffer. This is one of the most comfortable backpacks we’ve ever tried.
One of the trade-offs for comfort is that there isn’t a lot of room in this thing. If your trip is going to be longer than a couple of days, you’re probably going to need a second pack for your camp – this isn’t meant to live out of. But with reasonable expectations, this pack is definitely one of our top picks for weekenders.
Our only real complaint with this backpack is that you can’t easily carry water bladders. The tubes that are meant to deliver the water give a very slow drip – you will probably have to lean forward to get water more quickly. On the other hand, you can put the bladders into the side pockets with pretty good results, but you will lose valuable storage space – we estimate that using this as a hydration pack will also make it a day bag, rather than a weekend bag. It is still one of the best choices for short trips, though.
Eberlestock X2 Hunting BagPack
Eberlestock is generally our pick for comfort, and the Eberlestock X2 is no exception. This bag evenly distributes weight across both shoulders and the waist, which means that – even when fully loaded – this thing is not going to weigh you down. If you will be hunting from horseback (always an elegant choice), this pack is great for bow hunting, although not specifically designed for that. It may take a few tries to get your bow secured properly, but once you get the hang of it, you will be able to carry your things effortlessly.
Keep in mind that this is marketed as a daypack. The X2 isn’t big enough to spend a week out on the trail, but it does offer a great amount of storage for a shorter trip. If you have another camping pack that you can keep your day-to-day essentials in, this bag does offer enough room for a huge amount of water with your other supplies. We were able to pack two 2.5L water bladders, one rifle, one shotgun, one ammo roll, a sleeping bag, a tent, and a med kit – all at the same time.
Our only real complaint with this backpack is that the exposed frame can get damaged if you’re a little rough with it – and since we frequently hunt in rocky terrain, it has definitely shown some signs of wear. This isn’t a huge problem yet, as it hasn’t suffered enough damage to compromise its structure, but it is something that you should be advised of before buying.
Eberlestock X3 LoDrag Pack
This is the third Eberlestock product that made our review, and for good reason. The Eberlestock X3 LoDrag is one of the best day packs we’ve ever had the pleasure of trying. This has a very large capacity for a day pack, and we found that there was more than enough room for our sleeping arrangements and our hunting supplies. If you want one slim pack that will hold everything you need, the X3 is a great choice.
The scabbard in the X3 has a great deal of padding while still offering the space needed for your supplies. It will easily hold a 12ga or a .308 securely, in addition to being able to store slightly less securely in the main compartment. The compression straps do a great job at minimizing the overall size, while the straps help keep the load comfortably. Possibly most important, this bag has a great airflow design, which keeps your back cool – even if you’re wearing your pack over a bulky sweater.
This bag did leave some complaints with the water storage, but this isn’t meant to be a hydration backpack. Its primary focus is gun storage, and that is definitely the area it excels. Although the mesh along the outer edge of the bag is great for carrying extra items (like sleeping bags, or smaller water bottles connected by carabiners), this is not meant as an everyday bag. If you need more water storage than you can easily attach to the outside of the bag, you might want to go with a different bag.
ALPS OutdoorZ Commander Freighter Frame Plus Pack Bag
With our top-of-the-line choice in waterproof hunting backpacks, the ALPS OutdoorZ Commander Freighter is a wonderful choice that will keep your equipment dry, no matter what the weather is like. This might not be important for everyone, but those who are going to be hunting in rainy or otherwise wet conditions will be happy that their pack protects their gear from moisture. More than just keeping things dry, this pack is also rugged against thick, dry brush – highly resistant against rips and tears. Truly, this is an all-weather pack that holds up well in any terrain or climate.
One of our favorite things about this backpack is definitely the price. At the time of this review, it was listed just over $$* on Amazon – definitely more affordable than some of our other items. That doesn’t make it a bad pack, though – just suited to different people.
Unfortunately, this pack does take a few shortcuts in order to get the lower price, and those who carry a heavy weight may need to carry a repair kit in their pack. If you can afford a higher quality pack, we do highly recommend it – but for those who need an emergency “fall-back” pack when your regular one goes out, this can be a great choice to hold you over while you save up for something better.
What should you know before you buy?
When making an online backpack purchase, it’s important to know what you’re getting into. For those who have never bought a hunting backpack before, these are the essentials:
What is your budget?
In most cases, the bigger your budget, the better quality your backpack will be. But there are many fine hunting backpacks in many price ranges, so it’s best to know what you consider your absolute must-haves. The best backpack is probably not going to be cheap.
Who is the manufacturer?
There are many brands out there, and most hunters will have a favorite. Badlands, Eberlestock, and ALPS are three of the most common brands. We have backpacks from two of these manufacturers in our review.
Is it part of a kit?
Some backpacks will come as part of a larger set, which may include optional equipment or gear lists. Not all items are necessities for everyone, but these extra features can help you decide between otherwise similar kits.
What weapons will you be using to hunt?
Some hunting backpacks may be tailored to a particular hunting weapon – such as rifles, bows, or knives. A rifle backpack will probably include a gun holder, while a bow hunting backpack will hold a bow and an arrow quiver.
How long is your expedition?
Some bags may only be suitable for a day at a time, where others are meant to hold a large amount of supplies. If you will be camping out on your hunting trips, you may need a bag that has room for a hydration system.
What color would you prefer?
Many backpacks come in both blaze orange and camouflage pattern, allowing you to choose whether you want to be seen or not. Some backpacks may be solid colors (such as neutrals and pinks) instead. Always look over your options and decide which one you like most.
How much do you need to carry?
You should be able to comfortably carry the backpack, whether empty or full of supplies. If you will be buying online, you’ll have to estimate how light it is. Some backpacks may have an internal or external frame, which enhances the structure of the pack, but may add extra weight. Sometimes this weight is redistributed to make it snug and secure. Many backpacks also offer lots of pockets to keep your smaller items safe as well.
What are other people saying?
Whenever possible, you should try to read the reviews from other customers to know what to expect. After all, the company can say whatever they want – it’s up to the consumers to say whether it’s true!