- Part 1: Top Four Tips To Scouting Now
- Part 2: Early Season Deer Stand Tips
- Part 3: Follow the Moon
- Part 4: Five Top Deer Gear Essentials
- Part 5: Five Top Backpacks
- Part 6: Essential Trail Camera Know-How
- Part 7: Making The Call
- Part 8: Keeping Warm
Nobody will ever consider me among one of the most organized people they know, but after spending a lifetime in and out of hunting camps at home and around the country, I’ve also come to realize I am far from the worst. When it comes to being ready to hit the deer woods with all of the various gear deer hunters tend to carry (plus some), the only way I can stay organized—before I head out and once on the stand—is by using a good pack. A good backpack is essential gear for the hunter no matter whether he or she plans to hike far off the beaten path to their favorite stand or plan on sitting a blind right off the edge of a field behind the house.
Most of the guys I hunt with locally on a regular basis travel super light, meaning sans pack, with a grunt tube slung around their neck, knife and shells in a pocket and gun slung under their arm. More often than not, I hear them comment later that they wish they had had some other item with them when they were hunting that day. I like to travel light too, and because the majority of my whitetail hunts involves sitting a stand in the morning and again in the evening, a small pack is all I typically use to keep my essentials organized and to ultimately improve the odds of success by having everything I need. Even if I don’t get something, I am at least more comfortable and prepared.
For all-day hunts at the peak of the rut, a pack stuffed with snacks, water, and maybe even a jacket or rain suit in the event of changing weather, is a must. Regardless of what style of hunting you practice in your pursuit of whitetails, the following packs are perfect options for today’s organized deer hunter.
Badlands Tree Stand Day Pack
Badlands has been around awhile and has built a solid reputation for super innovative pack design for every purpose. Their Tree Stand Day Pack is built solely with the deer hunter in mind, particularly deer hunters who sit in a treestand and want to hang the pack where they can access it and more importantly, the organized gear inside. The pack features a foldout stand organizer to keep calls and rangefinders handy and is quiver compatible for bowhunters. It is made of ultra-quiet KXO-32 fabric, is reservoir ready for reservoirs up to 3 liters, is carry compatible for a rifle and weighs empty just under 3 pounds. The main compartment is divided into two pockets with a total pack volume of 2,500 cubic inches. ($170)
Game Plan Gear Full Rut Rattling Backpack
I got the opportunity to test the Game Plan Gear Full Rut Rattling Backpack out first hand during a Texas hunt with the Mossy Oak crew where walking was minimal (from ranch trucks to stands a few hundred yards away) but the sits could be long in wait for the right buck to come along. I had some work deadlines to meet during the trip so my daily forays to the stand involved an odd mix of deer gear and my laptop computer and notes. The Full Rut Rattling Backpack accommodated all of it quite nicely. It boasts 1,700 cubic inches of roominess and was quiet both during carry and in the blind thanks to the POLY tricot “silent” cloth material it is made from. Game Plan Gear’s Hypalon wing design provides adjustable outer pockets made expressly for toting rattling antlers where they won’t clang while walking, but are also readily accessible when moving from rattling set up to rattling set up. The system is also good for carrying a jacket that you may want to remove while walking and put back on when sitting. Drop down pockets make this pack treestand friendly, and I have in fact used it a couple seasons now in my local treestands where it works perfectly. The pack is hydration ready, boasts PVC-lined side pockets to limit escaping scent and a webbing “Cam Loop” for holding a bow on the go. This great pack is also comparably affordable. ($110)
Tenzing 1200 Ultralight Day Pack
Tenzing blew into the pack scene not that many years ago, but in that time, they have become the go-to pack for many hunters and adventurers. The 1200 Ultralight Day Pack is made expressly for single day hunts and at a streamlined and low-profile 1,211 cubic inches (divided into eight total compartments) is perfect for hunters looking to carry a way to hydrate and tote essential gear as they slip through the woods or try to access a favorite stand without making a racket or getting hung up on low limbs. The pack weighs a mere 2 pounds. Tenzing packs can run the gamut on pricing, but this one is priced perfectly for the hunter looking for a great pack for a light payload and relatively short excursions. ($130)
Alps Outdoorz Crossfire X
This is one of those packs I saw another guy toting in camp and I was like, “I need one of those.” Turns out I really did as it became my go-to pack this past turkey season and will certainly get a full workout in the coming deer season. Alps Outdoorz is making waves with aggressive marketing and amazingly innovative design, and the Crossfire X is a great purpose-developed example of the latter. The 2,325 cubic inches of room are adequate to accommodate virtually all of the gear imaginable for a day-long deer hunt, and at the same time, is comfortable to tote thanks to a vented back panel, cushiony Lycra shoulder straps and a punched-molded foam waist belt. Being made from 1680D ballistic nylon and Hypalon at stress points makes the pack able to withstand plenty of the abuse that comes from being tossed in trucks, dropped on the ground, drug through brush and beat against trees and stands. A really cool feature is the removable accessory pocket that can be attached to the rear of the pack, hung on the front shoulder straps or worn on its own without the pack at all. Additional features include a gun/bow carrying system, hydration pocket and port, built-in rain cover and side compression straps. ($180)
Blacks Creek Fix Pack
Blacks Creek makes some great gear to outfitter specifications, and they bill their Fix Pack as their best-kept secret. Made expressly for day hunts/hikes, the pack boasts 1,500 cubic inches of space and tips the scales right at 4 pounds, but what it may possess in an added pound or two over some of the other packs in this review it more than makes up for in comfort and ease of carry. It is made with the same butterfly harness as their popular GRIP frame. It’s made with durable 1000d Cordura and 3-layer Tricot fabric, and all of the hardware is military grade. It is divided into seven pockets and has five compression straps for tightening down loads or cinching up peripherals. ($250)