If you’re looking for the best hunting backpacks on the market, you’ve come to the right place. In this blog post, we will discuss some of the top-rated backpacks for hunters and why they are so popular. We’ll also provide a buyer’s guide to help you choose the right backpack for your next outdoor adventure!
Hunters require dependable hunting backpacks, whether it’s a whitetail hunt in the Midwest or an elk trek through the Rockies. Modern-day packs are comfy, purposeful, and tailored to specific big-game pursuits, much like other outdoor gear.
Over the years, I’ve tried out and carried hundreds of packs during different outdoor excursions. Some have lasted me a while, but others – usually due to inferior comfort or durability levels – were given away at family yard sales. The best hunting backpacks share several key features, such as being comfortable to wear, durable enough to last multiple trips, functional for various purposes, and equipped with technologies that actually serve a purpose. Once you find one that fits well and is easy to carry around -never let it go!
- Best Overall: Badlands Superday Backpack
- Most Versatile: Sitka Apex Backpack
- Best Multi-Day Pack: ALPS Elite Frame + 3800 Backpack
- Best for Whitetail Hunting: Mystery Ranch Hunting Backpack
- Best Backcountry: Sky Archer 6400 Backpack
- Best Budget: Cabela’s Bow and Rifle Backpack
1. Badlands Superday: Best Overall
The Badlands Superday pack is created for the hunter that wants a durable, comfortable backpack with plenty of space. The molded foam molds to and hugs the back for a snug ride while the waist belt is attached around the hips. I like how easily adjustable it is as well as hat-tippers such as bedroll straps, detachable rifle/bow boot holder, and C6 DWR coating.
The waterproofing technology used on this bag keeps the inside dry. The moisture rolls away from the pack, keeping the contents safe. I can attest to the bag’s durability after using it in a variety of conditions for many years.
- 1,440 cubic inches
- 3.15-pound weight rating
- Easy-access hip-belt pouches
- Molded foam suspension
Even though the pack has no internal frame, it feels like it does because of how the shoulder strap adjustments distribute weight to a contoured waist belt that wraps tightly around your hips. The Superday is extremely comfortable, and its size (1,440 cubic inches) and weight rating (3.15 pounds) make it perfect for a day trip–the best daypack out there!
- You can carry both a rifle and bow with this system.
- The waist belt is adjustable, so you can get a snug fit even if you’re wearing bulky clothes.
- It’s built to last a long time without falling apart.
- There’s no rain cover, so everything will get wet if it rains while you’re hiking.
- The hip-belt holster adds weight that some people might not want to deal with when they’re trying to travel light.
2. Sitka Apex Pack: Most Versatile
The Apex is a streamlined move-with-you pack with a capacity of 1,800 cubic inches that exceeds its rated volume. The body-hugging waist belt has several pockets and fits well with three outside compression straps that compress additional clothing. It’s a feather at 36 ounces.
The deployable/retractable cam cables quickly extend and retract, making it easy to keep your bow and arm steady when you need it most. However, hunters who are packing large hauls of meat may have to make a few more trips than they would like.
- 1,800 cubic inches
- 36 ounces
- Body-hugging waist belt
The Sitka Apex is a do-everything pack that’s just as effective on a stand as it is on a spot-and-stalk muley hunt. The Apex has a low-profile frameless design that absorbs noise and abrasion while providing 1,800 cubic inches of interior volume.
- Retractable and deployable cam cables.
- The fabric is quiet.
- The hunt is bigger than it seems.
- It is not suitable for hauling meat.
3. ALPS Elite Frame + 3800 Pack: Best Multi-Day Pack
During the entire season, I used the Elite Frame and 3800 Pack on multi-day hunts and was blown away by how incredible they are. The Load Lifters as well as torso adjustment, anti-sway waist belt, and shoulder straps allows anyone to create a perfect fit. Additionally, the rifle and bow drop-down pocket is extremely accessible. Lastly, you’ll be thankful for the compression pockets located throughout the bag.
The primary compartment is large and easily accessible, while the innovative frame cuts down on weight by 30% without compromising strength or durability. Additionally, the small hook tabs make it easy to remove the backpack from the frame, and the water-resistant Cordura fabric will keep your belongings dry in even the most extreme conditions.
- 3,800 cubic inches
- 6 pounds 1-ounce total weight
- Adjustable torso range
- Anti-lumbar slip pad on frame
I love how effortlessly the pack detaches from the frame, with many lashing straps and a meat-hauler design. Hunters who use this multi-day pack can also buy a 1,800 cubic-inch backpack that connects to the frame for day-hunt excursions.
- Included rain cover.
- The pack can be detached from the frame and adjusted easily.
- Adjustable torso in six positions.
- The hydration hose can be connected to two ports on the side.
- A third attachment is needed for an adventure-style bag.
4. Mystery Ranch Hunting Backpack: Best for Whitetail Hunting
This tote has a top haul loop and the waist belt can be wrapped around the trunk, so your gear won’t swing or fall out. The two-zipper access allows the face panel to open at 45 degrees.
This design keeps key equipment like phone calls close to the hunter so he or she doesn’t have to move around. The inside of the pack is lined with pockets and sleeves to aid in the organization of the hunter, and a waist belt with two side pockets for a headlamp, knives, and camo makeup are included.
Outside compression straps make attaching a stand or archery bow simple, while the front stretch-woven pocket holds extra gear such as a rain jacket or an additional coat.
- 1,890 cubic inches
- 4.6 pounds
- Internal Frame is rigid but flexible
The pack’s ridged stay-open design allows for quick access to the main compartment, and the lid folds out and away from the pack, putting a zippered area near the hunter that minimizes movement.
- Stay open design makes it easy to find things.
- Purposeful gear pockets help you keep organized.
- The face panel can be opened 45 degrees without losing content.
- Stand carry compression straps make it easy to transport.
- The inside zipper design makes this product appear less durable.
5. Sky Archer 6400 Pack: Best Backcountry
I used this pack and frame on my Colorado Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep hunt, and it did not disappoint. The internal spotting scope compartment is an excellent feature, as is the side-zipper access to the main compartment.
The Sky Archer has side pockets on both sides, and a tripod or arrow tube may be attached to the left side pocket. The 3/4-inch tri-slide buckles built into the panel’s interior side zip allow you to attach Swing Out or Camp Pockets for additional organization. For greater flexibility, the compression straps have longer lengths and dual adjustmen tfor men and women alike. This pack plus frame combination offers excellent value with 6,400 cubic inches of volume and 2,500 cubic inches of load shelf expansion.
- 6,400 cubic inches
- 5.8 pounds with bag and frame
- 30-inch side-zip access panel
- Internal spotting scope pocket
This 6,400-cubic inch bag paired with the Medium Xcruve frame is an amazing system. It has a frame+bag 5.8-pound weight rating and can hold 150 or more pounds without issue due to the use of strong Cordura 5000 and Xpac fabric.
- The pack fits the body snugly, like a glove.
- 2,500-cubic inch load shelf that can be expanded easily.
- Heavy duty YKK #10 zippers.
- Convertible to 4,000 cubic inch bivy mode if necessary.
- Pack removal is somewhat complicated and time consuming.
- There are a lot of different straps and lashings which take some getting used to.
6. Cabela’s Bow and Rifle Pack:Best Budget
Many people have enjoyed this backpack over the years, and it is easy to see why. I love a backpack that keeps my rifle or bow securely in place while still allowing me to move around easily through hard-to-navigate terrain. The back panel design is also great because it allows me to access the main compartment quickly and comfortably.
The sturdy and lightweight frame provides plenty of room for shooting a rifle from the prone position, with a comfortable waist belt that allows sidearm holster attachment and a foam structure that makes an excellent resting place while shooting a rifle from the prone position. The backpack has an integrated water reservoir, as well as an attached rain cover that shields the contents and keeps moisture out.
- 2,500 cubic inches
- 4 pounds 10 ounces
- Polyester and 600-denier polyester-oxford build
This backpack is a great deal because it’s under $150 and can hold 2,500 cubic inches. It would be perfect for a day hike or an overnight camping trip.
- Padding on back for increased comfort.
- Integrated rain cover and blaze orange flag included.
- Holds bow or rifle securely.
- Not the best hip-riding pack.
What You Need to Know Before Purchasing a Hunting Backpack
When trying to find the best hunting backpack, you have to think about what will be its purpose. It’s not logical to get an awesome treestand pack and then say it failed because it didn’t work well on an elk hunt. On the other hand, a treestand hunter isn’t going to adore how much space a 4,000+plus cubic-inch pack takes up in their tree. Each hunt asks for different amounts of space; here is a helpful breakdown of storage based on style and type of hunt:
- Daypack size—Day hunts benefitted the most from 1,000 to 2,000 cubic Inches packs as they could store extra clothing, calls, water and more while not being too difficult to carry around. These types of packs would be struggling if trying to haul out a large amount of meat.
- Multi-Day size—From 2,500 to 3,800 cubic Inches: A person could survive for two to four nights on the mountain if they had enough food and water in a pack with this volume.
- Adventure size—The average capacity ranges from 3,800 to 6,000 cubic inches. Many public-land western hunts for mule deer, elk, bighorn sheep, and the like require hunters to live in the backcountry for a week or more. Adventure-hunt packs are built like a German tank and can carry everything and the kitchen sink.
When it comes to making a hunting backpack, manufacturers think about a lot of aspects. The quietest whitetail backpacks have no zipper and instead have a zipperless central compartment opening. They feature an internal structure that allows the bag to remain open while still maintaining its form. Backcountry packs include additional pockets, pouches, and features that allow you to carry more gear without having to worry about overloading your bag. Just keep in mind that extra gear equals more weight. Here are some key characteristics to look for in a hunting backpack.
- Pockets: Although pockets are great, too many of them can actually make it difficult to keep track of your belongings. Make sure that each pocket serves a purpose before you buy a bag with lots of pockets. A quality pack should have internal and external pockets that are fitted with heavy-duty zippers (unless magnets or stretchable nylon is used). More pockets usually mean more weight, which can also negatively affect organization.
- Side and/or Bottom Access: A top-opening lid covering the main compartment opening is a plus. Many multi-day and outdoor adventure hunting backpacks have a lid that covers the main compartment access. Side zippers provide quick access, and you may retrieve items at the bottom of the pack without having to sort everything out first.
- Hooks and Attachments: Multi-day packs and those designed for adventure generally have lashing points, extra synch straps, and Molle straps to attach supplemental gear. When you’re able to carry a sleeping bag, bedroll, and clothing on the pack’s exterior then there is more room available internally. Many Midwest whitetail packs come with hooks or loops that provide the hunter the ability to hang the pack from a solid tree limb or use a screw-in hanger.
- Hydration Pouch Sleeve: Most hunting packs are H2O compatible, which means they have a waterproof sleeve to hold 1-2 liter water bladders. This design is much better than carrying noisy plastic water bottles because it allows hunters to hydrate without making any noise.
- Internal/External Frame:Backpacks with internal and external frames distribute the weight more evenly, making them comfortable to wear for extended periods. Internal frame packs come with the frame already attached, while external frames must be bought separately. However, external frame models are often of a higher quality than other pack types.
- Other:I prefer a rainfly that is not connected to the pack. Other premium features include big spotting scope pockets, waist belt pockets, and a detachable lid.
Don’t think that a more expensive hunting backpack means it’s better– sometimes, you just need something for a small hunt and a cheaper backpack will do the job just fine. On the other hand, if you’re going on a backcountry elk hunt, you’ll want to invest in something much sturdier. It all depends on your needs.
My favorite elk pack costs $425 because it’s extremely comfortable and durable compared to other packs; however, some may find this price tag too high . For me though, features like these are worth every penny when I’m shedding pounds and trying to have the best performance possible during my hunts.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the finest deer hunting backpack?
There are a plethora of excellent deer hunting packs. Most deer hunters, on the other hand, hunt from elevated locations, and the finest packs for this type of activity are those with rigid designs that allow the pack to stay open without collapsing on itself. A pack that is kept open allows fast access to essential gear.
How many cubic inches should a hunting pack have?
Keep in mind that the backpack you choose should be based on how often you plan to use it. If you anticipate spending a lot of time outdoors, then your pack will need more space. I suggest trying out different packs in person before making a purchase so that you can get a feel for which size is right for you. Some packs may appear large but have limited storage space, while others are much smaller but have plenty of room to store all of your belongings.
What is the maximum size of a large pack I’ll need for elk hunting?
If you don’t want to ruin your shoulders and back, make sure your elk hunting pack has an internal or external frame system. The size of the pack you need depends on whether you’re returning to a base camp every night or living out of your pack while in the woods. If you have a place to return to at night, then a daypack with a frame system will suffice. However, if you plan on being out for several days, choose something between 3,800 and 6500 cubic inches.
Is a camo hunting backpack necessary?
No, more pack manufacturers are creating packs with solid colors as options. I advise remaining with flat earth tone colors, but if you locate an excellent pack that isn’t offered in camo, don’t let that one small detail stop you from purchasing the pack.
How can I clean my hunting pack easily and efficiently?
Hunting packs get filthy on the inside and outside. I clean my packs at the end of each hunt, if not sooner, every season. I’m always amazed at how much pine needles, dirt, trash, and other debris I find while cleaning out a pack. Packs become bloody over time, and a thorough washing will remove any bloodstains. After removing all of the pack’s inner contents, follow the directions on the label for its cleaning procedure.
What should I keep in my hunting backpack?
Every hunter has different needs, but there are some essential items that every hunting backpack should include:
- A knife, preferably a fixed blade
- A first aid kit
- An emergency whistle
- Water and snacks
- Cordage or string
- extra batteries
- rubber gloves
- rain gear
- field wipes
There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to picking the right backpack–the best hunting backpacks share certain qualities (like durability and comfort), but each pack is designed for a specific purpose. The only way to choose the perfect backpack is to consider how you hunt, and what features you need in a pack.