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Best Hunting Packs of 2021

Best Hunting Backpacks of 2021

When it comes to buying a hunting backpack, there are thousands of things to consider. If you need to know what to look for, we can help you with that. When it comes to storing your hunting gear and packing out heavy loads, you want a hunting pack that fits like a glove and provides easy access to the things you need.

This article is meant to be a guide to the other end of the decision – finding a pack that fits your needs once you’ve figured out what they are. Although we’re slightly biased, you can’t go wrong with any of these packs.

These are our recommendations for the best packs in three size categories for day hunting trips all the way to extended expeditions:

Day (2000-3500), Hybrid (3500-6000), and Expedition (6000+).

This is not a complete, ranked list, but more a compilation of some of the best options we have found. Our main points of interest are cost, weight, optics storage, access to hunting gear, organization, durability, and modularity, and we’ve outlined some of our favorite features of each, as well as some potential drawbacks when we could find them. That part proved difficult.

All of these packs feature high-quality materials and construction of Cordura, Xpac, or a combination of the two. The hardware (zippers, straps) on these packs are all heavy-duty and very durable in our experience. These packs are also all relatively easy to clean.

Some of these packs use internal frames, and some use external frames. If you need help understanding the differences between the two frame systems, we can help with that too.

2000-3500 Cubic Inch Hunting Packs

Mystery Ranch Pop Up 38 - Best Hunting Packs of 2021

Mystery Ranch - Pop Up 38 - $350-375 (Full System)

The Mystery Ranch Pop Up 38 utilizes a tech-forward, clever, there-when-you-need-it design that allows it to convert from a small daypack to much more when the time comes.

Best Features:
• “Pop-up” frame system with locking mechanism allows for meat hauling and higher load carrying
• Expandable from frame - allows meat storage between frame and bag

  • Load Shelf 
  • Clever organizational storage
  • Mystery Ranch Futura Yoke system offers micro-adjustments for torso length fitment

Potential Drawbacks:

  • When unloaded, the bag is loose and can flop due to the length of the attachment straps/buckles
  • This pack is a capable meat hauler, but at 2300 cubic inches, you will need to be selective with gear. 

Outdoorsmans Spur 50 - Best Hunting Packs of 2021

Outdoorsmans - Spur 50 - $350 (Full System)

The Outdoorsmans Spur 50 Pack System is a load-capable, compact daypack that prioritizes strength and simplicity while maintaining crucial features.

Best Features:

  • Made in the USA
  • Bag separates from the frame for meat hauling
  • Military-grade frame/harness system
  • 3000 cubic inch main compartment
  • Easily adjustable torso length
  • Padded optics pocket - fits up to 15x56 binocular
  • Tripod/spotting scope enclosed side pockets
  • Meat shelf
  • Weapon carry system + gun bucket

Potential Drawbacks:

  • Smaller frame size - larger folks may have some trouble with fitment
  • Less organizational pockets - most of the room is in the main compartment

Kifaru - Muskeg 2800 - $363-384 (Bag) $368-400 (Duplex Lite Frame)

The Kifaru Muskeg 2800 is a great-looking pack that utilizes modern materials (X-Pack with Cordura accents) and offers great flexibility with modular attachments.

Best Features:

  • Made in the USA
  • Modular system for use with multiple Kifaru frames
  • Lightweight (2 lb, 5.6 oz)
  • Roll-top design for compact storage/transport
  • Modular attachment points that accept many Kifaru storage/organization additions
  • 7” Snow Collar
Potential Drawbacks:
  • Modular system is great, but additional pouches/attachments are sold separately
  • Modern materials greatly reduce weight, but at the potential cost of durability
  • Cost for full system (bag/frame/accessories)

3500-6000 Cubic Inch Hunting Packs

Kifaru - 44 Mag - $299-343 (Bag) $368-400 (Duplex Lite Frame)

The Kifaru 44 Mag pack system has become a standard in the West for all-around glassing, hunting, and hauling. Most Kifaru packs are sold with optional detachable lids, but the 44 Mag uniquely features a built-in two-pocket lid that’s perfect for optics and smaller items.

Best Features:

  • Made in the USA
  • Very comfortable and fit-to-user frame/harness options
  • Modular system for use with multiple Kifaru frames
  • Customizable - build the pack you need with many accessories and attachment points
  • Full Pals webbing front panel
  • Integrated lid stores binoculars perfectly
  • Enclosed side pockets that fit tripods/spotting scopes
  • Front-open design for easy access to items in the bottom of the bag
  • Expands to reveal a built-in load shelf
  • Can accept additional Kifaru lid

Potential Drawbacks:

  • Organization pockets located on the inside of the main compartment - must undo several buckles and open the whole front panel
  • Kifaru frame sizing system may make it more difficult for multiple people to use a pack
  • No built-in weapon carry function (easily added, but sold separately)
  • Complex bag attachment system functions well but is not as easy to remove for cleaning, etc.
  • Cost of full system
  • User may develop anger issues and a healthy addiction to Copenhagen Snuff (not all bad)

Outdoorsmans - Palisade 90 - $500 (Full System)

The Palisade 90 is an updated version of the Optics Hunter, a long-time favorite of western big game hunters. With some clever quality of life improvements and a new harness/belt system, the Palisade is the perfect solution for anyone who spends most of their time behind glass. The roomy side pockets can be compressed flat or fit tripods and large spotting scopes. The padded optics lid is perfect for storing binoculars up to 15x56.

Best Features:

  • Made in the USA
  • Simple on-off bag attachment points
  • Large, unpartitioned main pouch
  • Easy access side pockets (straps do not interfere with or compress side pockets)
  • Bag separates from the frame - allowing better load distribution
  • Includes removable All Purpose Pouch (APP) for tools/tags
  • Long-Range-style padded optics pocket lid (Also fits 6 breakfast burritos)
  • Highly compressible bag via multiple compression straps that do not interfere with access
  • Massive load-carrying capability thanks to the Outdoorsmans Frame System
    • Modular frame system compatible with Atlas Trainer barbell plate attachment and Rotopax water containers.
  • Included A.P.P (All-Purpose Pouch) clips securely to the front panel for organization and easy access to tools, tags, etc.
  • Highly adjustable shoulder straps/belt
  • Relatively low price point

Potential Drawbacks:

  • Less organizational space due to a focus on simplicity and open storage
  • You will be the first on your buddy’s list of people to call for help packing out
  • Frame can carry more weight than you can. You could potentially grind your knees to powder

Stone Glacier - Evo 40/56 - $684 (Full System)

The Stone Glacier Evo 40/56 is a lightweight multi-day pack that boasts a simple yet functional design that can be run with or without a lid giving it the versatility to be 4000 or 5600 cubic inches. Multiple compression straps, internal side spotting scope pocket, and durable 500D Cordura fabric make this one of the best packs for minimalist ounce counters.

Best Features:

  • Made in the USA
  • Modular system for use with multiple SG frames
  • Lightweight (1 lb, 9 oz)
  • Simple yet functional design
  • 25” Side access zipper
  • Heavy duty YKK #10 zipper
  • Internal Spotting Scope Pocket capable of fitting the largest scopes
  • 2,500+ cubic inch expandable load shelf
  • Can be 4000 or 5600 cubic inches

Potential Drawbacks:

  • Limited access makes getting items deep in the pack difficult.
  • Can be run with the Evo Lid, but the lid is sold separately
  • Minimalist design offers no internal or external pocketing
  • On the higher end of cost at $600+

6000+ Cubic Inch Hunting Packs

Exo Mtn Gear - K3 6400 - $675 (Full System)

The K3 from Exo Mtn Gear is a true lightweight, expedition-style hunting backpack. Combining high-quality materials and thoughtful design, this pack is a great option for extended mountain hunts and has proven itself capable of hauling major loads. An adjustable frame system adds flexibility and versatile weight-bearing options.

Best Features:

  • Made in the USA
  • Weight (5 lb, 6 oz with lid and frame system)
  • Adjustable frame extension system
  • Extendable bag reveals meat/load shelf that adds 2500 cubic inches
  • Highly adjustable harness/hip belt system for a custom fit
  • Modular - titanium frame system accommodates any Exo K3 bag
  • Frame flexibility - frame has the ability to flex with your body while retaining a 250 lb capacity
  • Roll-top design allows compression for shorter trips
  • Front panel zip access to main compartment
  • Wet storage compartment to keep wet/dry clothing separate
  • 250 lb load rating
  • Huge side pockets

Potential Drawbacks:

  • No dedicated tripod optics storage
  • Less accessory attachment points than competing packs
  • Cost

Stone Glacier - Sky Talus 6900 - $684 (Full System)

The Stone Glacier Sky Talus 6900 is a lightweight, expedition-style pack that boasts a simple, yet functional design that can be run with or without a lid. A cavernous, 6900 cubic-inch capacity makes this pack right at home on 10+ day hunting trips. Similar to the Evo 40/56, this backpack is easy on your back, easy on the eyes, and hard to kill.

Best Features:

  • Made in the USA
  • Modular system for use with multiple SG frames
  • Lightweight (bag: 2 lb, 11 oz, bag with medium Xcurve frame: 5 lb, 12 oz)
  • Simple, yet functional design
  • Full center-zip access to main compartment
  • Heavy duty YKK #10 zipper
  • Offset side pockets that allow you to carry tripods or rifles without restricting access
  • 2,500+ cubic inch expandable load shelf
  • Can be compressed from 6900 to 4750 cubic inches in “bivy mode”

Potential Drawbacks:

  • Load capacity of 150 lb - lower than other options, still extremely viable
  • On the higher end of cost at nearly $700

Outdoorsmans Long Range 125 - $530 (Full System)

The Outdoorsmans Long Range Pack was created as the expedition version of the Optics Hunter Pack and was the inspiration for many of the features of the Palisade 90. A very large, unpartitioned main compartment, glassing-minded layout, and integrated meat hauling system make this a true backcountry mule.

Best Features:

  • Made in the USA
  • Simple on-off bag attachment points
  • Massive, unpartitioned main pouch
  • Easy access side pockets (straps do not interfere with or compress side pockets)
  • Bag separates from the frame - allowing better load distribution
  • Includes removable All Purpose Pouch (APP) for tools/tags
  • Long-Range-style padded optics pocket lid (Also fits 6 breakfast burritos)
  • Highly compressible bag via compression straps that do not interfere with access
  • Massive load-carrying capability thanks to the Outdoorsmans Frame System
  • Modular frame system compatible with Atlas Trainer barbell plate attachment for training and Rotopax water containers.
  • Highly adjustable shoulder straps/waist belt
  • Relatively low price point
  • Dedicated spotting scope carrying system
  • Extremely durable frame vs. aluminum frame or other materials
  • 7500 cubic inches
  • Cost

Potential Drawbacks

  • Slightly heavier than other expedition-style backpacks at 7 lb, 4 oz (get stronger)
  • No front-zip access to main compartment
  • You will be the first on your buddy’s list of people to call for help packing out
  • Frame can carry more weight than you can. You could potentially grind your knees to powder

Conclusion

All of these pack systems offer expansion options to some degree. Prices mostly do not include accessories like rain covers, water bottle holders, weapon attachments, etc. These additions can make a good pack into a great pack.

Next article How to Choose the Right Hunting Pack

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