7 Great Backpacks for Big Game Hunters

These seven backpacks are worth their load-bearing retail weight.

7 Great Backpacks for Big Game Hunters

Living life outdoors can be a blessing and a curse. As an outdoor writer, I feel privileged to spend more time than most off the grid, enjoying the wonders our nation’s wild places provide. Unfortunately, as an avid hunter and multimedia content creator in our industry, getting all of my gear for the hunt and my work in the field can definitely be a challenge. Hundreds of thousands of hunters are similarly challenged — what to take, how to pack it and how to tote it all out there — coupled with the hope that you’re going to return with a heavier load — can be a bit stressful, especially for longer, more remote adventures.

Picking the wrong pack system can result in a heavier haul than necessary or leave a hunter ill-equipped — ultimately this can and occasionally does lead to life-changing, even life-ending consequences. Like Boy Scouts, hunters must be prepared and make sound, purpose-driven decisions. In quests to do just that, they often lean on retailers they trust for answers and solutions — great for you, since such answers also routinely end in sales, return visits and customer loyalty good for them, since they’re better prepared for their hunt than before they came in to see you. Of course, understanding this retailer-customer dynamic is one thing; offering the right tool for the job can be quite another. To help you help them, here are seven great packs designed to enhance their outdoor experiences and increase your retail traffic.


Alps Outdoorz Contender X Whitetail Pack (2019)

Launched in 2007, Alps Outdoorz offers packs, bags and other totable hunting gear. From ground blind chairs to layout blinds and sleeping bags to gun cases and backpacks, chances are good that retailers already carry a product type or two from this industry-leading brand. Fortunately, as diverse as their product categories and lineups are, they continue to innovate and the Contender X Backpack, released in 2019, is no exception. Alps Outdoorz fans already in the know and others just looking for a great pack are sure to give the Contender X a hard look.

Unveiled in 2019, the Contender X Whitetail Pack is a welcome addition to Alps Outdoorz’s always-impressive pack lineup. The Contender X’s foundation is an L-shaped frame for upright positioning when set on the ground, molded foam suspension and a heavy-duty, ultra-quiet fabric outer shell dressed in VEIL camouflage and ElimiShield Scent Control technology. The pack also features Lycra shoulder straps for long, comfortable carries, a drop-down pocket to hold a gun or bow, U-shaped zippered main compartment for easier access, and a waist belt complete with pockets and room for clip-style holsters. One of the Contender X’s best features is an organizational pocket accessible from both the interior and exterior of the pack. Capacity is 1,850 cubic inches; www.alpsoutdoorz.com


Badlands Creed (2020)

From quite a humble beginning in 1992, armed with little more than $2,500, a 10x20 storage locker and a couple sewing machines, Badlands has played an integral role in morphing hunting packs into the innovative, practical must-haves we know today. On a shoestring budget and a wing and prayer, just on the driven side of a pipe dream, Badlands stayed the course and grew from pack pioneers to one of the most popular hunting apparel and pack producers today, and its latest Creed backpack is a great testament to its drive to continue as an industry front-runner.

The Creed Backpack’s foundation is based on a motto itself, so whether it’s representative of the Badlands brand or just the pack itself, it appears aptly named. Badlands purports the Creed embodies the company’s pinnacle achievements in quality and long-lasting, rugged durability. To accomplish this, the Creed features an Allite Super Magnesium internal frame, Badlands’ KXO-32 fabric, molded foam suspension, magnesium ally stays, zippered rear-entry suspension, zippered back-panel access and a detachable rifle and bow boot. The Creed is also hydration bladder- and handgun carry-compatible. Capacity is 2,679 cubic inches; www.badlandsgear.com


Blacks Creek Guide Gear Strategy (2020)

If any backpack manufacturer has learned beneficial lessons in production, research and development, it’s Blacks Creek Guide Gear. With more than 20 years of manufacturing trailing behind the company, it has mastered raw material requirements early and, beyond product R&D, made consumer confidence and reliability top priorities. The result of such efforts are American-made pack systems regarded by hordes of fist-full-of-dirt hunting guides and diehard hunters as the pinnacle of backpack performance. This is good news for Blacks Creek Guide Gear and may be great news for retailers catering to discriminating hunters. Better still, for 2020, Black’s Creek recently released the Strategy pack system — perhaps the company’s best system yet.

The Blacks Creek Strategy Pack was designed to be an organized hunter’s dream system. The Strategy’s front-and-center feature is front access via a U-shaped zipper to 14 organizing pockets — perfect for organizing quick access equipment and micro-organization of additional gear. The Blacks Creek Strategy Backpack also boasts three rugged fabric options: 1000D Cordura, 500D Cordura and 3-layer laminated tricot; Mil-Spec hardware; YKK zipper pulls; external, expanding pockets; MOLLE straps to attach additional gear; front and top compartment access; bow and gun boot and a removable hydration pouch. Capacity is 4,000 cubic inches; www.blacks-creek.com


Mystery Ranch Pop Up 38 (2020)

For 20 years, Mystery Ranch has built a reputation among elite outdoor adventure seekers and professionals alike. From gritty high-mountain guides to firefighters waging forest-fire war in remote, extreme terrain, serious professionals have made Mystery Ranch packs their go-to. What does all this mean? In a world of influencers, endorsements through real-world use offer consumers great perspective on whether products can stand up to their own adventures. In a nutshell, Mystery Ranch packs have stood up to these reliability litmus tests, and based on the company’s growth, consumers have noticed. That said, 2020 looks to be another banner year for Mystery Ranch with the recent release of the Pop Up 38 pack.

The Pop Up 38 Backpack capitalizes on benefits recently unveiled in Mystery Ranch’s ultra-popular Pop Up 28, and expands upon them, literally. True to its name, the frame in this smartly designed pack quickly and easily converts from Pop Up 38’s daypack capability to a full-size hauling pack with a load rating of 80 pounds when it’s time to haul out meat and other gear. Size adjustments are achieved via expandable pole stays, while an adjustable load shelf and patented, micro-adjustable Futura Yoke system increase load capability while also improving carry comfort. An Overload feature allows for even more stowage between the pack and frame. Additional Pop Up 38 features include 500D LP Cordura construction, YKK coated zippers, hydration reservoir compatibility, Auto-lock SJ buckles and compression straps, zippered lid pocket, quick-access back pocket, top-loading shroud and side pockets for a rifle, tripod or water bottle. Capacity is 2,319 cubic inches; www.mysteryranch.com


Pack Rabbit Backcountry Hauler (2019)

A relative newcomer, Pack Rabbit has garnered quite a bit of positive attention as a result of its head-turning EXO-Skeleton technology and laser-focus on producing multi-function backpack systems. Designed for the hike, the hunt and yes, even the rest, Pack Rabbit Backpack systems offer versatility well beyond most other pack systems in the industry. Even better, depending on your customers’ favorite pursuits, Pack Rabbit offers an array of hunt-specific pack systems, i.e. turkey hunting, deer hunting, etc. In this vein, Pack Rabbit released what proved to be its most popular system in 2019, the Backcountry Hauler. Not only is it worth the hard look from retailers, but it’s also sure to turn heads and drum up hunting backpack sales for retailers opting to shell out some rack space.

Unveiled in 2019, the Backcountry Hauler certainly affirms Pack Rabbit’s rightful place among today’s best pack producers. As with other packs — I’ve spent quality time toting their Run-N-Gun Elite Turkey Hunter Pack System — the EXO-Skeleton tech is, as you might imagine, exposed. This technology is literally the backbone of Pack Rabbit’s system. Not only does it provide a great pack frame, but it also incorporates a flip-down seat for improved sitting comfort while hunting or resting — it holds me, and I’m not the thinnest guy roaming the woods by a long stretch. The Backcountry Hauler features compression straps and lash loops, interior and exterior anchor points, quick-release straps, Velcro strap keepers, YKK zippers, a detachable sternum strap, an external 500 cubic inch pouch with an exit port for quick access to gear or a hydration reservoir and an adjustable, padded hip-belt complete with a MOLLE/PALS system to attach additional gear. The Backcountry Hauler is available in Alpine Green or Coyote Brown. Capacity is 3,700 cubic inches; www.pack-rabbit.com


SKB Archery Backpack (2020)

So, what does a soft bow case have to do with packs and bags? This one is actually a backpack! SKB recently launched the SKB Archery Backpack. Archers and bowhunters are beginning to reap the combined rewards of backpackable convenience and SKB’s unquestionable knack for delivering high-quality, ruggedly reliable bow, crossbow, firearm and gear bags and cases.

The SKB Archery Backpack is a padded, parallel-limb, soft-sided bow case constructed of heavy-duty 600D cross-dyed fabric and soft interior padding. Additional SKB Archery Backpack features include hidden backpack straps, interior and exterior accessory pockets, a shoulder strap that doubles as a bow sling and a long, zippered pocket large enough to accommodate arrows or an SKB Arrow Case. Dimensions are 45x16x4.5 inches; www.skbcases.com


Tenzing Hangtime (2020)

While Tenzing is less than a decade old, it’s definitely a dominant brand in the hunting space. Of course, with Plano Synergy at the helm, Tenzing’s growth and popularity shouldn’t come as a surprise. Honestly, considering brands like Tenzing, Ameristep, Wildgame Innovations, Barnett, Avian X, Flextone, Frabill and others, as well as technology, product development and warranties, understanding Plano Synergy’s success becomes pretty simple, and the proof is in the company’s reputation — and to a great extent, in Tenzing backpacks, the brand-new Hangtime backpack as a shining example.

Unveiled in January 2020, the Tenzing Hangtime backpack has all the makings of the brand’s new flagship daypack. Indeed, it appears that all of Tenzing’s product development wins over the past eight years were rolled into a single daypack, and as a current Tenzing pack owner, I couldn’t be happier; I may have to upgrade once the Hangtime is available. The Tenzing Hangtime Backpack features roomy top-load and face compartments as well as ample front-face storage. A specialized, quick-access optic pocket enhances gear organization and keeps binos or a rangefinder at the ready. A top brand like Tenzing is sure to draw customers through your door, and premium Tenzing features like Robic rip-stop panels, premium air mesh, silent access including no-rattle zipper pulls and compression straps make these packs a definite option. Capacity is 750 cubic inches; www.tenzingoutdoors.com


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