Picking The Right Hunting Backpack

Picking the right hunting backpack for your needs is something that hunters need some thought in to. The process can be confusing, intimidating, and very frustrating. Everyone has budgets that they want to stick to, and buying the right one for you is what you need to focus on. Firstly have a think on these […]

hunting back rifle holder

Picking the right hunting backpack for your needs is something that hunters need some thought in to. The process can be confusing, intimidating, and very frustrating.

Everyone has budgets that they want to stick to, and buying the right one for you is what you need to focus on. Firstly have a think on these few suggestions and make a note for your needs.

What size do I need? How many pockets? What frame? What material? Which brand is best? What’s the best pack for me?

I can’t give you all the answers you want, but I can give you a bit of a guide and some suggestions to look at and study a bit more in detail, like some features and specs that really matter and how a hunting backpack should function and perform.

Click on the images and read more about each of my recommendation. If you want to read about a hunting backpack needs, then keep scrolling down through my article.

TIDEWE Hunting Pack 3400cu, Silent Frame Hunting Backpack for Bow/Rifle/Pistol

What are hunting backpack needs and should haves…

  1. Durabilty with Comfort and able to packout loads
  2. Volume size
  3. Light Weight
  4. The Organization that you like and need
  5. Need of a Rifle or Bow Carry

I’ve placed these in an order of what I feel are important.

Durability and Comfort…

You’ve had a great hunt and you are now carrying your catch on your back, maybe climbing up a steep hill or through some marshy  swamp land. Your backpack has to perform for you. 

  1. The backpack shouldn’t hurt you no matter how you move.
  2. The backpack cannot break disastrously at any point.

Backpack Hunting Pack Comfort…

I’ll start with comfort firstly. The comfort of a Backpack is of key importantance for the carrier. Being able to have a backpack that can carry a small weight size well is easy. It’s a bit more challenging to get a build that carries heavier loads and even harder to make sure that the heaviest of loads can be carried well without too much difference. 

Getting a backpack comfortably carrying heavy packed out loads, these are the things your pack needs:

  • Stiff & strong vertical frame with strength to hold up well.
  • A frame tall enough to bring the shoulder harness up and off your shoulders, letting the bulk of the weight transferring to the belt.
  • Make sure the pack has a hipbelt that does not slip to avoid bruising, or rub your body.

The real only best way to know if your pack is comfortable or not, is when you start carrying those real heavy loads up and down hills and difficult terrain.

More often than not your pack comfort fails usually through the hipbelt slipping. Jostling of a heavy pack can cause the belt to inch down, which forces painful consequences. People try to over compensate in these areas which just brings the comfortableness to painfulness. 

  • Overtightening of the belt to stop the slipping will cause to strangling your waist and bruising your hips.
  • Overtightening of the shoulder harness and take more weight on the shoulders and back.

Doing these two thing alone can cause bruising of the hip points, strangle the waist, and place added pressure  to overwork the shoulders and your back. You might be able to take the pain and suffer through short distances, but longer hikes will be a togh and miserable experience.

Your choice of pack can pass or fail the comfort test based on how the adjustments you make so it fits your body. If your struggling to get it right, make contact with the manufacturer’s customer service and get them to help you out to try and fix your issues.

Comfort Considerations…

Packing heavy weights on hilly, mountainous terrain is hard. It’s supposed to be that way, but if you find your pack is giving you pain then you have a problem. What works for someone else may not always work for you. If you have comfort issues with your pack, ask the manufacturer for help. Try their suggestions. If all those things still don’t work, then it’s time for a change of backpack gear.

SPIKA Camo Hunting Backpack Internal Frame Hiking Backpack Waterproof Daypack for Extendable 40L+ Capacity

Backpack Hunting Pack Durability…

Durability is a bit easier to achieve. Just remember that a heavy pack wont always be a durable pack, and a light weight pack isn’t necessarily fragile.

In the area where backpacks need to be strong will normally show up with the simplicty of design. Practicality is what you should look for. A small weight backpack can be stronger and more durable than a heavier backpack…it’s all about the thought that’s gone into to the making.

Durability should be checked with a good look over and feel of the overall weight for a hunting backpack with the intention of disastrous mishap failures to be prevented.

To do that you can decide what component parts and pieces of the backpack are mostly important to you and you can make the backpack strong in areas where you want or need it to be. Making important components field repairable or field replaceable is a great option giving you the versatility outdoors to make an adjustment should you need to. Going down this path can generally lighten the backpack load, and have it deliver the reliability you need.

Volume, Weight, and Organization…

Volume is what you need and necessary, backpack weight and carry weight is a priority, and the organization components are a preference.

Pack Volume…

Volume is a necessity. Your pack is either big enough for your gear, or it isn’t. It all depends on how many days you are going to be out on the hunting expedition and below I’ll give a rough idea on how to look at it or at least have a think about your needs.

No of Days:.. Pack Volume Idea:……

  • 1-3 days,—– 3000-4000 ci
  • 3-7 days,—– 4000-5000 ci
  • 7-10 days,— 5000-6000 ci
  • 10+ days,—- 6000 + ci

This is a general guideline but the more experience you get the better you will get at adjusting small things to get to what works well for your needs. Eventually you will get it down to a fine art and work well with a lighter packout and load carrying suitability. Basically it will take time but YOU decide what’s needed for you.

Overall I think I can safely say that it makes sense to have your backpack that has plenty of room for all your gear rather than stress out and try to squeeze everything into a too-small pack, and risk losing valuable gear on a rough trail by leaving some gear hanging outside of the backpack.

Backpack Weight…

Weight is a priority and what to decide.

You find two packs that offer similar durabilty and comfort, volume is alomost the same, and you’re happy with the organization of the packing components that they both have. Which one should you take? In most cases then…THE LIGHTER BACKPACK WINS OUT.

Inexperienced hunters think that a heavier backpack is better and end up paying with pain and discomfort. Experience will eventually teach you that light weight wins out for making the hunting expetition much more enjoyable. Emphasis on weight is very important for all your carrying needs and your backpack is a big part of that.

The overall total pack weight will be a factor that can slow you down. Total weight hurts your ability to climb highe, to cover further distance, and cover distance faster looking for game.The carrying weight can makes you sore the next day and further days. Over a 5-7 day hunt an excess of pack weight can literally be the difference in success for having a good catch.

Pack weight is extremely important for a backpack hunte – here are some reasons…

  1. Your backpack is one of the heaviest pieces of gear percentage wise. It is easier to cut down the major weight from heavier items than it is for smaller items.
  2. Your backpack is nearly always on you while you’re hunting. Multiply the ounces saved by the time worn. Lessoning the weight on what you always have on your body will take more strain off your body than needing to cut down on your camping gear.

Here’s the obvious thing….going lighter means going faster, means you’ll feel better at the end of the day and the next day, and might even give that extra bit of energy to explore your surroundings before settling camp. And of course, as we get older this becomes more important as our capability decreases and sometimes our recovery times get a bit longer.

Allen Gearfit Pursuit Bruiser Whitetail Hunting Daypack


Organization is a preference.

The manufacturers perspective that you should take into consideration with a few general guidelines.

The more pockets a backpack has will mean more weight, more complexity, and possible area for water to enter. 

The added extra seams, zippers, dual layers of fabric, edge binding will add extra weight to the backpack. All these components takes additional labor and materials to build, and also can add to the cost of the backpack.

Too many pockets can probably be worse than having not enough pockets when you’re backpack hunting. Multiple pockets can and will slow you down when you need to get something out in a hurry. With one, two or three secured pockets finding critical gear is quicker in the dark and cold.

AS you get more experience and if you’re lucky enough to get some wisdom from an experienced backpack hunter, you will find that they generally settle into a narrow range of pocket preferences. Here are some.

  • Big backpack bag, light weight overall packing weight
  • One, two or three small/medium secure pockets.
  • A separated larger storage area not from the backpack bag.

A simple system like this breaks down your gear into different access levels, as an example below.

  1. Headlamp, tag, first aid kit, GPS, phone, or other critical gear in small secure storage. This will become second nature so you always know where they are and can find them quickly and easily in the dark.
  2. Daily food supply, rain weather gear, maps, or other needed but not critical gear in the larger storage area separate from the backpack body.
  3. Extra layers, game bags, kill kit, and other gear that doesn’t need quick access are stored in the backpack bag.

An ideal system is light and delivers quick access that you need for some gear, with a good level of segregation for other gear.

Pocket Styles…

The preferences of pocket are a very personal choice thing. Some people need or use a lot of water so they will naturally lean to backpacks with these requiements and look for side pockets, while others that may use different water carrying gear, like a bladder will utilize the side pockets for carrying other gear like a spotting scope and tripod or a hide. These may be taller and more secure side pockets.

Mesh pocket styles are popular as you are able to see what is in the comparment when needing to find your gear.

Again finding what suits you and what organization styles that will fit your needs is key. Everyone has different preferences and different needs. Once you’ve had a few experiences and hunting expeditions you will work out what pockets and how many pockets you really need. But just overall remember… that if you’re in going high and on steep country, less can be more and make for a better journey.

ALPS OutdoorZ Traverse EPS

Do You Need A Rifle or Bow Carry?

Weapon Carry

Having a weapon carry component to your backpack is a very individual preference or requirement. Some hunters think it is a must have while others are nonplused by it. Whether it be rifle or bow, everyone has an answer, and none of them are wrong.

Mostly hunters carry a bow either  in the hand, or strapped to the side or face of the backpack. Traditional bows are usually too long to strap to a backpack unless they are a takedown model, so usually they are more commonly hand carried.

Bow Carry Options:

  • Carried in hand
  • Strapped to backpack 

Backpack for Rifles, Bows, Crossbows, Muzzleloader, Hunting, Hiking, Archery, Blackpowder, Outdoors Expeditionary Alpha Pack by FIELDCRAFT

Rifles, on the hand, have many methods of carrying that have been used for years by hunters alike.

Rifle Carry Options

  • Rifle in hand
  • Slung over shoulder
  • Slung over shoulder with keeper on pack shoulder strap
  • Slung over pack frame
  • Butt bucket rig with barrel in front
  • Butt bucket rig with barrel behind
  • Butt in a side pocket and compressed
  • Rifle strapped to face of pack

LIEYING Camouflage Tactical Rifle Backpack Hunting Gun Bag Airsoft Paintball Shot Gun Daypack with Integrated Gun Carry System

There are many designs to suit individuals and each will have their preference. Hunting backpack manufacturers have done a great job of trying to cater for many hunters needs but eventually YOU will workout what best suits you.

Overall Take on Backpacks…

I guess this is pretty easy for you to hear, but all in all it will take a bit of time for you to workout what type of hunting backpack you need to suit your needs. Using one and adjusting the weight load, carry straps, gear requiements basically comes down to your preference on where you are hunting, what you are hunting and also the type of terrain that your hunting expedition takes you on. Click on the Hunting Backpacks link to take you to some choices.

Eventually you will get the Backpack YOU need for your needs and then…many an enjoyable hunting trip.

Hope the article helped and good luck with your hunting. Regards John

Hunting Books