Choosing a hunting pack for stalking and still hunting


Charles S
June 17, 2007, 03:28 PM

I am in the market for a new hunting pack. I have hunted for 25+ years so I have a really good idea of how I like to hunt and what I want with me. I know about what size I want because I currently am using a pack with a 1300 cubic inches and it is more than large enough for all my stuff on any occasion.

Here are the must.

I really want a narrow pack that has internal support (not necessarily a real frame). I am looking for the 1100 cubic inch range. I want internal hydration. I really want wide straps and a comfortable suspension, a sternum strap is very nice, a good belt is a must. I am about 6 feet tall and broad through the shoulders. I have a long torso so this is in an issue. I am not fat, but I am not small (about 190#).

Here are the three I have in mind. I appreciate any suggestions or thoughts.

Cabelas Elite Scout;jsessionid=SFIHKDDGY4XJ4CWQNWSCCOQK0BW0KIWE?id=0010074514998a&type=product&cmCat=search&returnPage=search-results1.jsp&QueryText=Elite+Scout+Pack&N=4887&Ntk=Products&Ntx=mode+matchall&Nty=1&Ntt=Elite+Scout+Pack&noImage=0&_requestid=38285

I like this one because it gives me the ability to stash a coat once the morning warms up.

Camelbak Striker

I have had really good experience with Camelback, but this one does not really give me a place to put my coat, and the straps look a little thin for load bearing.

Kelty Red Fox

No experience with Kelty hunting packs but they make great packs for backpacking.

Thanks in advance for any advice.

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June 17, 2007, 03:46 PM
I like the Elite Scout Pac.

Charles S
June 17, 2007, 03:47 PM
Thanks for your thoughts, honestly, that is the way I am leaning.

June 17, 2007, 03:49 PM
I'd go elite scout as well

June 17, 2007, 04:21 PM
The elite looks like a good choice. I would suggest that you go to a Cabelas, Bass Pro, Gander Mt., or similar store and try on some in person.

June 17, 2007, 05:26 PM
I don't have any experience with any other packs, but do have a Camelback Striker and love it. It's just the right size for still hunting. It doesn't have any support to speak of and has a waist belt of webbing (no padding), but I only carry the water, chow for the day, med/survival kit, GPS, poncho rolled up and tied on the bottom, etc. I wear a lightweight coat in the morning and when I stuff it into the pack it gets a bit tight but still fits.
It's not built for really carrying loads, but is nice and small so it's easy and quiet to slip in and out of the brush.

June 17, 2007, 06:44 PM
Elite scout imho & if you are near where you could "try one on for size," +1 for what 22-rimfire advised.

June 17, 2007, 10:41 PM
One of the jobs I had while I was in grad school was working at a local outfitter. We didn't sell any firearms, just hiking, camping and canoing supplies. We had several folks give us talks on fitting backpacks to people, and I probably fit 200 folks for backpacks to take trips on the AT or to Philmont. Anyway, the difference between a medium and a large is dependent on the size of the person wearing the pack, specifically the distance between their waist and their shoulders (really, the top of the pelvic bones to the shoulders, because that is where the belt is supposed to rest). Just because a large pack is in the 1100-1300 cubic inch range (just picking numbers here), doesn't mean that it will fit you correctly. You want the shoulder straps to leave your back and meet the pack just at the spine of your scapula (shoulder blade), while the hip belt is resting on your waist.

So what does all this mean? Take a duffel bag and stuff some of the things that you would take hunting with you into it, and then head off to the store to try one on. Load the pack with your gear, and then ware it around the store for a while (an hour would be good) to see how it feels. I often did this with the folks in the store, putting at least 30 lbs in the pack so they could get a good feel for it.

When you are hiking, your back pack is the second most important piece of equipment, with your shoes being first. If either doesn't fit right, you won't have a good trip.

Good luck,

June 17, 2007, 10:55 PM
Just from what I read online I think the Elite Scout has the best description. But I do think 22-rimfire is right about trying it on before buying. Nothing like getting the "perfect" hunting goodie and then finding out it has a squeak or rattle!

As for me I use an old WW-II gas mask bag for a possibles bag. Have done so for ... er... um ... 40+ years.

Charles S
June 17, 2007, 10:56 PM
Great advice all. I really appreciate your thoughts.

wolfe28, I know you are correct. That is why I mentioned the fact that I have a long waist.

Unfortunately, I am in graduate school and I am not really close to a Cabelas to easily try one of their packs. I have a Camelbak that is a little short, but works Ok.

I really am looking for comfort for all day hiking hunts.

Again I appreate your input and time. I will try to make it by Cabelas and try their pack.

June 18, 2007, 02:55 PM
It's a little bigger than what you were looking for at 1900 c.i. but have you checked out a Badlands Diablo ( (I would have linked you to Badlands web page but it is not as up to date)?

Badlands cost more than most but the warranty is second to none (lifetime) and they are built exceptionally well.

June 21, 2007, 01:16 AM
I have been using the Camelbak Striker for hikes and mountain biking since last fall. For loads up to 25# it is excellent. Big enough for emergency gear, food, navagation and a modest amount of recreational gear. I've had it loaded up to 35# but began wishing for a better waist belt.

I prefer this size to a larger pack for hunting because it doesn't get hung up on brush & trees when crawling around in the thick stuff. It also allows wearing a sidearm and/or a sheath knife on your belt and accessing them without interference.

I'm 5'9", stocky build, and find it very comfortable.

Charles S
June 23, 2007, 10:47 PM
I prefer this size to a larger pack for hunting because it doesn't get hung up on brush & trees when crawling around in the thick stuff. It also allows wearing a sidearm and/or a sheath knife on your belt and accessing them without interference.

Honestly, that is the kind of advice I was hoping for. What you describe is exactly what I am looking for in a pack....

One more question. Can I put a coat in the pack as the day warms?

Thanks again!

June 24, 2007, 01:13 AM
One place that I always liked was/is REI, since they actually let you use the gear. And if you buy something, and it just doesn't work out, you can exchange it, no problem. That's true of their jackets, and of the equipment.
I tried a lot of expensive day bags, and actually just stumboed across one in Walmart of all places that really suits me. It's about 1600 with a water bag, lots of pockets for segregating gear, and two long side pockets for the bone saw, and skinning knife, and other gear. I can stuff an extra jacket inside, and lots of food, as well as a rope, and light climbing gear, survival items, including signal mirror, etc.
20 bucks, and I've used it 3 years, with no failures in seams or zippers. The bladder carries about 3/4 gallon of water. It has a very strong top handle, so I can hang it above me, in my tree stand, and sip from the tube. The waist band is padded, and the straps are wide and well padded. Each has accesory straps, and the back has the usual elastic zigzag, with a slide lock.
It also has a bottom zippered compartment that has a water proof cover for the entire bag. All this in Real Tree, and a bruched silent outside texture.
A note about bladders. I think you can retrofit any pack with a bladder. So if one finds a pack that absolutely fits great, but doesn't come with a water bladder, just get one and put it in.

If I get tired of my shoulder holster (for the contender) I can even tie the piece to the outside for an over-the-shoulder/behind-the-head draw.
comfortable, and snug to my body. I am stocky, and it fits great. if I ever see another in Walmart again, I will buy 2 or three of them.

June 24, 2007, 03:49 AM
I've found that no matter what size the pack is, I get hung on limbs and briars frequently tearing up the pack. That's why I switched to the Flying Circle Bag Company's Stryker Backpack (

It's .mil approved, and about the same price after the adding hydration as many less durable commercial packs. All you need is your hydration system. I added the 70oz CamelBak Omega system to mine for about $25.

June 24, 2007, 04:26 AM
Personally, I like a larger pack.
Currently, I'm looking at 4000 cu in (60 L) packs
that I can take along survival gear
(food, fleece, rain gear, light sleeping bag, bivy, water, closed cell foam ...)
but it can be compacted to the same size
as a 1000 cu in pack with compression straps,
and rides like a dream. (You don't even know it's on, says I from experience.)

Top contender: Gregory Baltoro (

But then I walk a long ways and I never know for sure if the weather's going south.

My recommendation based on years of expedition packing in big wilderness:
look at Gregory ( and Arc'teryx (

They make all sizes from 500 to 6000.

Gregory is the BMW of packs.
IMO, there are no better.

You don't carry a Gregory;
you wear it.

June 24, 2007, 06:50 AM
I have slowly reduced the size of my packs over the last 4-5 years after getting back to backpacking with zeal. My first pack was a Jack Wolfskin Trailhead II (6+# just for the bag!), a great pack that was too great in size and geegaws and had problems with "strap diarhea" (from the ultralight backer). The first trip with it saw a pack load of 55+# (including a Beretta 9mm and 150 rounds of ammo to play with in the woods!). Dang, that was an ordeal! Traded for another Wolfskin Fjell Runner (3500 I believe). I think it is a better fit for general purpose packing.

Then I found the KIMM sack (Karrimor Intl. MTN. Marathon) that is 35L (2000 or so cubic inches I think) (about 30 or so ounces total) in size and I love it so much I bought 2. It is my standard bag with the JW being used for more than 3 or so days afield or longer treks. 1 is packed as a BOB or spare bag for a friend.

Carefully packed it is about 16 - 18# with food for 2-3 days (also condiments, treats and the like), a good 30 degree down sleeping bag (2#), Closed cell sleeping mat (1#) rain gear, cooking kit (<1#, propane), some spare clothes (socks, poly longies, undies, fleece or down jacket, beanie, etc...), a small but comprehensive first aid tin, a fire kit (at least 4 methods + a smidge of tinder and a couple small candles), emergency fishing kit (sinkers, flies, hooks, floats and line), multi tool, folding knife, headlamp and batteries, mini maglight LED, sven saw (a luxury but super light and extremely useful), lots of paracord, a couple of HD garbage bags, space blanket and a few other small personal care items and an extream filtering water bottle and a bladder in the bag empty.

No tent/shelter is included in the weight number as I am still looking for the best solution for me... Figure 4# or less for a shelter. I have a truely HD 2 1/2 or friendly 3 person all weather dome that is about 7 1/2# but am planning on paring that weight about in half.

I plan on adapting the bag for hunting as it fits well (I am tall and not exactly slender) hug's snugly to the body, and is pretty much below shoulder height and doesn't really protrude beyond the sides of my bod, so it doesnt catch on stuff or wallow around. At 20 or even to 25# camping weight, it rides well and has no extra garbage hanging off it to catch on brush and is pretty quiet. For hunting, several items will be left behind and a few added. I am planning some fall and winter camping, hunting and dirtbiking trips/long weekends for later this year and the smaller bag is just right and non obtrusive.

I like the freedom of a smaller load and am not hurting for comfort at all. Having 25% of my total weight in pack weight alone was silly of me and I doubt I will ever get a bag bigger than 3500 cu. in. again. Kind of like a purse I reckon. The bigger the purse I carry the more useless garbage that ends up getting toted all around.

Spend some time surfing the web for ideas. Google: Ultralight backpacking for some excellent ideas and gear lists that may help you out in finding your perfect bag. You may be pleasantly surprised at what is out there. It is fun seeing just how light I can make things while keeping a decent level of civility and comfort.


June 24, 2007, 10:20 AM
CS wrote: "One more question. Can I put a coat in the pack as the day warms?"

How big is your coat? How much gear will you have in the pack.

I have a Parka that I wear when the weather is especially nasty. When the weather clears I strap it onto the CB Striker. It can also be rolled/compressed and cinch strapped onto the bottom (outside) of the pack.

This is the pack I use primarly for day excursions from base or spike camp. In it I carry gear that will allow me to make shelter (poncho, large pack cover, cordage) start a fire Fire (lighters, matches, flint, saw, tinder), procure, sterilize and store water (canteen cup, bladder, 1+ liter bottles, purification tablets), First aid kit, extra clothing layer (midweight pile tops/bottoms, hat, gloves, two pairs of socks) plus misc, usually 20 extra (45-70 for Elk & Bear) and 100 rounds of 22lr (Grouse, signalling, plinking opportunites), extra knife, game bags, flashlight & headlamp, food, tags/license, whistle, maps, compass, gps... and probably a few other items I've forgotten about.

Even with all that I still have a little more room inside and plenty of space outside. The shape is streamlined and allows for nearly unhindered movement through our thick NW forests while having enough gear to survive.

I almost got to test that last year during Elk season when I walked past Spike Camp in the dark and got lost. Once I realized I was lost it was comforting to know that I had the gear I needed. Having a headlamp, map and compass allowed me to navagate in the dark and find my way back to camp as well as the option to make a hasty camp should I begin to tire or find the travel too dangerous.

Charles S
June 24, 2007, 10:43 AM

Thanks for getting back to me. I really think that I will choose the Striker based upon your feedback.

Down in East Texas I most often just use a waterproof jacket because it is rarely cold enough to need more, but I occasionally (late in the season) need a parka. In Oklahoma I need the parka more. My gear is all waterproof because it rains so often during hunting season.

My primary use for this pack will be as an all day still hunting pack, but I also would like the ability to use the pack as you describe for elk hunting.

How much gear will you have in the pack.

My gear load out is actually very similar to yours. First aid, rain gear (primarly to make a shelter if needed), fire starting, water (and the ability to get more).

To what you mentioned I almost always carry a saw that can be used for both wood and bone (I have an old Buck that is no longer in production that works very well), I also carry some compact Steiner Binoculars, during bow season I almost always carry a compact Laser Range finder, I carry a laminated map of the area, compass and GPS....Oh yeah most importantly I carry lunch (LOL). Game calls as I see the need.

I have currently parred my ready to go load out down to about 11# including litter of water and the pack. My load out easily fits in a 1300 CI pack with room to spare. I have to strap my coat to the outside and the rope I carry is strapped outside the pack.

Even with all that I still have a little more room inside and plenty of space outside. The shape is streamlined and allows for nearly unhindered movement through our thick NW forests while having enough gear to survive.

That sounds like an ideal that lets me carry the gear I need and still move through a thick forest.


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