back packs

Discussion in 'camping equipment and clothing related' started by grumpyvette, Jan 27, 2010.

  1. grumpyvette

    grumpyvette Administrator Staff Member

    now assuming your not going to use an outfitter who will set up your camp and pack out your elk for you...
    Ive been hunting mule deer and elk in some darn steep canyons for 5 decades,
    so heres a couple tips you can take or ignore.

    assuming you'll be packing into an area or at least packing your elk back to your truck once its down...I'd say the rifle caliber or action might seem to be very important but Its been my experience that,
    most of the 25-45 caliber rifles work in even semi skilled hands,
    if you can get into a decent shooting position at a decent range,
    And if you can shoot accurately from field positions,
    the same can definitely NOT BE STATED in regard to your average back packs ability to cope with several hours of the strain of transporting 60lbs-80lbs of meat and gear out of some steep canyon.
    IM FORCED TO REMIND YOU, that any dead elk ,even when the meats boned out to reduce weight and placed in the 2 gallon zip lock bags and after they are placed in the snow too cool off on any elk hunt, tends too weigh a great deal more than you will feel comfortable packing out of most deep canyons on your back!.
    you generally will require several round trips, from some steep canyon to your truck over rough terrain, to pack out an elk!
    finding a higher strength back pack that will not fall apart under a significant load over years of use is a huge challenge for most guys,
    remember youll want at least the main compartment to be rather deep and large because you may need to transport a single rather large size ham or shoulder,
    most aluminum frame pack frames I've tried eventually failed

    before you bring any back pack on a ELK HUNT youll want to test it out carefully, by actually testing it,with significant weight loaded over at least 30 -120 minutes,if your slowly walking up some stadium stairs or walking hills near your home to get in shape for your hunt!
    what might feel OK in a 2 minute test in some store,...WON,T feel the same after 30-90 minutes!
    you need to spread the significant load on your shoulders and hips and youll need too pad straps on hips and shoulders over a wide area, pad it as much as you can!
    you need too adjust the straps and hip belt so 80%-90% of the weights on your hips not your shoulders, and youll want too,find several trash bags and put a 80 lb bag of sand inside them,and duct tape them carefully so it won,t leak, then place the large load simulating a elk quarter or load of meat,in the pack. if your pack won,t fit a MINIMUM of that size load in its main compartment YOULL NEED TO LOOK INTO A LARGER STRONG PACK!
    then spend a minimum of two hours walking around ,ideally, up a few stairs,in some out door high school stadium or condo stair case,or across local hills etc, if the pack you selected squeaks or rips, under that load ,its JUNK and you just saved yourself a whole lot of grief knowing that well before the hunt, and getting a better pack is mandatory, because you normally will be packing gear into or elk meat in or out, in your pack, and a pack that fails 1/2 way up a steep canyon is a huge problem.


    this one linked above is better than most and at roughly $60 a bargain

    I tried at least 4 different welded aluminum frame freighter style pack frames similar to this,(I'm sure theres a dozen good quality freighter packs but the ones I tried were junk!,) every one was noisy and eventually broke under the loads I packed out, of those canyons, they were a HUGE P.I.T.A. and in my opinion a waste of money ... ry_Code=BP
    these are supposed to be top quality
    the first few elk I packed out I used an external frame aluminum frame, pack. the first year was a total disaster as the riveted aluminum frame squeaked constantly and eventually broke under the 80 lb loads in very short order, the next year I bought a far stronger name brand welded frame ,that cost over $120 which was a huge expense in the early 1970s, it lasted two years before it broke , I explained my problem at cabelas store, to an old geezer who had actually experienced similar issues, and the guy suggested a cheap PEAK ONE pack,frame,at that time or something like the CURRENT ,
    but suggested I have a much better bag made, from a military duffel bag with lots of strong nylon buckle attachment straps sewn on,with a larger compartment, I bought a heavy nylon duffel bag and heavily modified it so it securely strapped too and was supported by the flex frame at a dozen plus all adjustable strap locations, on the frame, plus
    I used 50 feet of seat belt nylon and brass grommets to make a custom pack,support sewn to the edges with a great deal of sewing of seat belt web strap, to secure the duffel to the pack frame so it comfortably supported 100 lbs of sand bags inside the duffel ,the dozen plus individual buckle straps sewn so the weight stayed centered and close to my body, I bought far better quality hip and shoulder belts and added those and
    its lasted and worked for 30 plus years, its ugly and not high tech, but like a crowbar its hard to damage, and it works

    [​IMG] ... 160606328/

    80%-90% of a loaded packs weight SHOULD be supported on your hips NOT the shoulder straps,
    so a sturdy well padded hip belt is ABSOLUTELY mandatory
    you may NOT be able to find a quality hip belt on a sturdy frame,
    but most quality back paks sell replacement component parts separately,
    so mix & matching frames,
    belts and straps might be your only choice

    [​IMG] ... rmvSB=true

    yes if you have deep pockets there are decent packs available off the shelf on-line but they are not cheap


    a few tips
    a decent wide brim hat treated with water repel-ant spray, to keep rain and snow out of your eyes or running down the back of your neck and sun out of your eyes sure helps
    as does having a comfortable light weight back-pack to transport game meat, and a poncho to keep you drier in heavy rain or snow.
    comfortable insulated boots with good ankle support and an aggressive tread are nearly mandatory
    this is a darn good value in a skinning and dressing game knife
    a jacket and or vest that can be stored in your back pack for sudden temp swings helps a great deal

    a decent rifle bi-pod aids accuracy

    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 30, 2019
  2. grumpyvette

    grumpyvette Administrator Staff Member

    If I back-pack into deep creek or grizzly creek drainage,or where ever you hunt elk, several miles into the type of canyons I hunt,youll want to think carefully about the weight of the gear and how well it works,how long you intend to stay in the canyon and the weather, I generally take my 35 whelen 7600 slide action , but I'd point out that the rifle choice is more due to familiarity like an old friend, and any of several rifles I own would work just as well, both the 340 wby and my sako 375 H&H have made that trip several times as has my browning BLR in 358 win, its NOT the rifle its the skill you have using it! Id use my 257 roberts BLR on a hunt if thats all I owned and I doubt it would effect the results.
    be sure to carry rain gear and the tools to dress out an elk. zip lock bags a small hoist etc.
    I load a speer 250 grain over 53-54 grains of imr 4320, and a fed 215 primer, in my rem 7600 slide action,
    its dependable and accurate up to at least 250 yards and Ive found its well suited to longer trips than the 340 wby that I generally use if I only intend to glass and stalk or the 375H&H sako carbine I use if I want to spend the day sneeking thru dark timber at a snails pace.
    but I'd point out your area might not be as steep and wooded as where I hunt where ranges tend to be short but walking 4-5 miles along a canyon each day does tend to get results and the pack out is always a huge P.I.T.A.
    Id point out that youll generally be forced to make several trips to back pack out an elk and carrying a rifle on the trips in and out is a P.I.T.A. so I generally carry a shoulder holster and a heavy caliber revolver. you don,t want to arrive at the recently shot elk, on the second or third trip, to retrieve meat, only to find a bear, cleaning up the scraps and disputing the elks true owner, while your un- armed
    the 44 mag silhouette with adjustable front site and 10 5/8" barrel
    YES IT REQUIRES a shoulder holster to use comfortably
    your back pack choice to pack out meat in significant quantity is something you really need to think through
    carrying a pistol on a hunts is a bit like keeping a fire extinguisher handy, you may never need it, and 99% of the time its extra weight, but if you do you'll be glad you had it, in 40 plus years of hunting elk Ive seen plenty of evidence of scavengers on gut piles on return trips, but only once had a minor confrontation and that ended with me firing a shot into the ground and the small black bear deciding the next county was a good destination.
    keep in mind that one instance where I was very glad I had a pistol handy, could have turned out rather badly if I had no revolver and yes only once in 40 plus years may not seem like its worth the effort but it only takes ONCE to get MAULED or killed and you have no idea if that going to be on the 1st, or 14th,or 41st trip either. or it might never happen or happen twice
  3. philly

    philly solid fixture here in the forum

    ive used both the metal frame alice packs and the newer plastic framed rucks in the army ... e-assembly

    and since you can get them now online for about the same price i will urge you to get the plastic one. it is infinitely more comfortable and adjustable than the metal frame alice pack.... for a structural integrity anecdote, ive intentionally carried a full grown man on both frames with no damage to the frame (across a parking lot) and the newer style has the added benefit of being modular with MOLLE straps all over it

    basically all the kit you can buy in the universe for just about every purpose nowadays comes with some sort of molle strapping standard for operators and geardos (pronounced like weirdos) alike. for heavy load outs, i recommending removing the main pack from the fram as it comes from the factoy, and raising it as high as possible on the frame to put the weight higher on your back, this gives you less rearward arching and puts less strain on your lower back, its especially helpfulwhen youre walking uphill with any serious weight.

    most ruck marches we did for exercise were a minimum of 45 lbs in the rucksack, but in the field and on deployments that could easily double, not including the weight of the gear you are wearing, and weapons and ammo. they are really great bags and many many many people have put them thru their paces with great results.

    Attached Files:

  4. philly

    philly solid fixture here in the forum

    all the aftermarket kit i ever bought was this brand...

    it worked. i liked it. they have everything you can possibly want in modular molle format, from map kits to medic pouches to bandoleers to mag pouches and all kinds of stuff you'd like to have easily accessible on the outside of your gear. and once upon a time you could get in touch with them by email and have them custom make you some shit to spec for a special purpose you came up with (dont know if they still have that service, this was like 5 years ago)
  5. philly

    philly solid fixture here in the forum

    Attached Files:

  6. philly

    philly solid fixture here in the forum

    some resources: ... geNumber=1 ... e-pouches/

    i have a bug out bag that i built starting with a 72 hour pack from these guys...

    but the metal rings that hold the bottom of the bag to the shoulder straps bent open when i went on a run with 50-60 pounds in the bag... so i replaced those little wimpy rings with beefed up carabiners like these... ... gQodNLYA9g and never had a problem again...

    when buying carabiners, a little caveat... do not, for any reason buy the cheapy d ring carabiners that they sell near the register at outdoor stores as key chains... dont even fucking buy them as a key will eventually find yourself in a situation where you NEED a carabiner, and will inevitably use that piece of shit as a last resort, and it will inevitably fail, and someone may get hurt as a result... spend the extra cash, buy one that people trust their life with hanging from cliff faces and shit... and youll never ever regret it. please, if for no other reason than you might slice someones face open with the high speed shrapnel of one of those shits self destructing... turning a bad situation worse (ask how i know) please just buy the good shit, in this one instance atleast.
  7. grumpyvette

    grumpyvette Administrator Staff Member

    the 44 mag silhouette with adjustable front site and 10 5/8" barrel
    no one could hope to accurately guess at what a different person might select in a wife, hunting equipment, a truck, rifle or predict what choices they make, in each area, because they are not using the same base of past experience to base those choices on.
    while Id bet your correct that the vast majority of the readers would not select that revolver , I find it an excellent choice as is deadly accurate and fast to use in my hands and has accounted for dozens of hogs and several deer in the past.
    I load a lee 310 grain hard cast over 21 grains of h110 and cast from 95% ww alloy and 5% pure tin, it will hold a 3" 100 yard group off a bench rest, and a 4" 50 yard group free hand, and its a whole lot lighter and easier to pack back into some canyon, on a meat retrieval trip than any rifle I own.
    yes your correct it might not be your ideal choice , but it IS mine and I'm very willing to carry and depend on its performance,as I have for 35 plus years

    I've lost count of the deer and elk Ive processed decades ago, you need a decent knife ,
    but theres no reason to spend hundreds of dollars on an edged tool,
    that works perfectly well, you can get for under $30-$100,
    It takes some practice and experience, too learn to quickly and cleanly dress game and keep the venison clean and free of dirt and contaminants,
    if theres snow or a mountain steam handy place the sealed 2 gallon zip lock bags in the snow,
    or water to cool, before you pack out the venison to reduce chance of it starting to spoil.
    because this is a thread about equipment Id include a few related tips gained over the last 45 plus years of elk hunts.

    this woodsman (above) and the sharp finger (below),are both a darn good value in a skinning and dressing game knife,
    both work, you may prefer one vs the other,
    but both get the job done and at the very low price,
    you could buy both and give the one you don,t prefer to a son or friend
    youll find either available under $29 if you shop carefully

    youll need a handy blade sharpener no mater what blades you select.
    if you dress out Elk youll occasionally find a heavy blade handy for some jobs
    I,ve found this Kukri far more useful than a hatchet, for various reasons, and if you ever dress out out elk you know that there's times where that a heavy blade or a hatchet can be useful and can be used to make the job easier,but for some people the weight and length, of the kukri plus having it as a second blade tool, make it less than ideal,
    if you do much long distance back packing you'll rather rapidly find you'll need TWO different edged tools, a small nimble slicer/Skinner, and a chopping tool that must be longer and heavier with more mass.
    something like a 8"-10"
    bowie can be used for both but its not close to ideal for either job.
    but if you must have only one blade you can get by with a cold steel trail master
    keep in mind youll want a small portable game hoist , too get the deer/elk off the ground for skinning and processing, theres no way one person lifts an elk up on a near by tree without a decent hoist in his pack ,
    and a few dozen 2 gallon zip-loc bags to place the boned out venison in to keep it clean, all the elk I've shot were too heavy for one person to drag very far in steep canyon country, so you'll find you'll be forced to bone out much of the meat and pack out the elk in sections , in a decent high quality back pack. for two guys this generally takes several return trips, hang the carcass high and leave a shirt with your odor close by, or coyotes and bears may steal it in your absence , and it makes sense to have a, lighter weight, handy, 2lb-3lb heavy caliber handgun, rather than a heavy 7lb-9lb rifle,thats not allowing you to keep both hands free, on return, packing out meat, trips as theres a small chance youll be disputing ownership of the venison ,
    on a return trip with other predators.
    once youve dropped an elk down in a canyon bottom several miles from any road access,
    in a canyon like this (I hunt here frequently) youll see the advantage of a good back pack, good ankle support boots and a handgun with a shoulder holster.

    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 29, 2018
  8. LoisJoh

    LoisJoh New Member

    I have made DIY bags using the old blankets.
  9. Grumpy

    Grumpy The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer. Staff Member

    I've seen some really nice quality day packs made from both nylon and canvas ,and a blanket with the skill of a good seamstress would be a if designed well, a decent pack.
    but keep in mind day packs are designed to carry the minimum essentials and their weight is supported by your shoulders, and while you might have a waist belt,
    heres a quick memory jog list, for hunt day pack
    (remember you might be forced to stay out over night, & weather is unpredictable)

    skinning knife
    compact blade sharpener
    area topo maps
    cell phone
    several lighters
    several mil surplus trioxane heat tabs
    granola bars
    rain poncho
    2 gallon zip lock bags
    small block & tackle hoist & rope(50 ft parachute cord)
    spare ammo
    heavy hoodie jacket
    large plastic tarp
    lip chapstick
    water purification tablets, or filter/pump
    down vest
    pack of wetnaps
    toilet paper
    emergency food
    on your belt
    large knife or light tomahawk, or kukuri
    the cold steel (TRAIL MASTER, or ( KUKRI) are good choices

    anything that could get screwed up if you fall in a creek like medicine, licences, cell phones etc. gets double zip loc bagged

    on a day pack its designed to keep the pack stable but does little to take weight off the shoulder straps
    (btw try to pack the heaviest components as low in the pack as possible is it makes maintaining your stability in steep terrain easier)
    the design of the better packs designed to haul significant load weights, are designed with a frame too transfer the vast majority of the weight they hold to the hip belt,
    and the shoulder straps are there simply to maintain pack location and stability.
    both pack designs look some what similar, but a day pack can easily be folded for storage inside a rigid frame pack designed to transport heavy loads,
    that has a internal or external weight bearing frame that is designed to position the cargos weight off the back and shoulders, and onto the hips
    a cargo pack will not fold as its mandatory it has a semi rigid or rigid weight bearing frame of some type.
    your average new person to hunting could easily be confused, but if you go to a decent outdoor specialty shop they can easily point out the differences, a decent cargo pack would have no problem with you loading it with a 80-100 lb sand bag, and you could still place a finger under the shoulder strap if you lean a bit forward with the load totally supported on the hip belt, a pack without a frame would place the vast majority of the weight on the shoulder 2-3 hours of packing the cargo or that 80-100 lb sand bag, you'll feel and know the difference and never forget it if you've tried both designs.
    you may not be packing heavy loads but with the proper design what ever load you do pack will be far easier to handle, more stable and less fatiguing
    BTW good boots with ankle support and stiff cleat type bottoms are almost mandatory

    decent quality commercial pack are not cheap

    one of the keys to reducing individual expenses is sharing equipment and transportation expenses it makes no sense to have each person , purchase and pack shared equipment like stoves, tents, large coolers and separate truck rentals and transportation expenses.
    if 4 guys share the cost of a 4x4 truck rental and fuel costs it reduces the total personal individual cost significantly, and you damn sure don,t need 4 separate, coolers, tents and stoves packed into a truck.
    if you spend time at any local outdoor 100 yard or longer rifle range, you can rather easily strike up a conversation with the guys you observe that seem to be the type of people you see, and start up a conversation with,that you personally,
    feel comfortable talking to about hunting and rifles, and maybe past hunting trips, once you get to know them better you might broach the subject of meeting regularly at the range and possibly going on local hunts, well before you actually start plans for a much more extensive time and cash intensive, out of state big game hunting trip, where you might be spending a good deal of time together, or dependent on some guy you don,t really know that well.
    youll certainly want too weed out the guys that are not willing to help set up camp, back pack out each others game, and share expenses way before you make an expensive out of state big game hunt together.
    finding a hunting partner is a time intensive process and your not going to find the ideal partner easily, my last hunting partner I had for 30 plus years had a wife that was a total bitch, she saw hunting trips as a plot for him to get out from under her thumb/control for 10 days a year (SO DID HE TO TELL THE TRUTH)
    but he would pull his weight, and we would both share all work and expenses equally.
    Yes we all make mistakes and your sure to find guys that talk a great game but won,t lift a finger to help around camp or help dress out or pack out your elk yet expect you to help with transport and care of theres, or agree to share gas and other expenses equally but once on the trip don,t do crap.
    youll also want to get a detailed written list of what is expected in shared expenses, chores, and an agreement that any truck you rent gets fully insured or break-downs on the trip expenses will be equally shared.
    stupid disagreements can cause hard feelings, I remember on one trip we got a damaged tire , that had to be replaced,and one of the five guys on the trip did not want to chip in on the cost of the new tire (because he was not driving when it happened) obviously that was the last trip he was allowed on in our club.(the 25% of the cost to replace the ruined tire, or in that case $37 was all but meaningless, to all of us, but the "SCREW YOU ! THATS YOU PROBLEM! "
    attitude was NOT!)
    when your on a hunting trip everyone must work to make things run smoothly and if something breaks we all work to get it repaired, if someone has an elk down in some steep canyon , we all work to back pack it out. and at least in my group the guy shooting the elk naturally keeps the bulk of the meat and antlers but about 1/6-to-1/4 of the meat from any elk gets divided too the other members, so if lets say 3 of 4 guys get an elk on a given trip, the one un-sucessful hunter still gets some elk steaks
    each of our personal experiences accumulate over time and each while probably significant different has a profound effect on what we personally see as the ideal equipment list , and colors our choices.
    I prefer to hunt out of a back pack, think mountain man, tactics with very limited minimal but better more modern equipment choices
    most of my fellow elk hunters in my group think I'm at least a marginal masochist, because I will almost always, leave camp and am perfectly comfortable under conditions many feel are not tolerable.
    personally I want to cover ground , but leave no trace I was there, I select a light flexible but totally durable back pack, minimal equipment,
    a fairly powerful rifle like a 375 H&H or 340 WBY a 22lr revolver,a kukri, and a -10F rated sleeping bag , and a parka and poncho, a couple 2 ltr bottle canteens a few tools, mres, and think little of spending 3-4 days away from camp.
    if your not afraid of getting lost,, not all that concerned with having more than one meal a day, not worried about spending nights sleeping sitting against , or laying under, a large over hanging conifer, tree,
    even if the temps drop and your waking up under a foot of fresh snow, miles from your truck, I can totally enjoy the hunt..
    too many guys are convinced they must be back in camp at dark, too many guys in my opinion think they must have a hot meal and a camp fire.
    I cover a good deal of carefully pre-selected, terrain, but I don,t travel fast, Im just persistent, I really don,t care where I am at dawn or dusk, I just want to find a decent elk,
    I've never been all that concerned with huge antlers but yeah Id prefer to shoot something impressive just like most of you.
    this style of hunt is obviously not that popular as only a few of they guys Ive hunted with wanted to repeat the hunts even when I'm successful most years, AT least 50% of the trips in at least getting a decent mule deer or elk.

    Last edited: A moment ago
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2019
  10. Grumpy

    Grumpy The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer. Staff Member

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