My favorite way to carry meat out of the mountains is on a horse. However, I’ve done it with a backpack plenty of times. I’ve carried out an entire mule deer in one trip and I’ve packed out a as much as one-third of an elk at a time. I have a bad knee with hardware in it and I have to be careful especially when going downhill.
Obviously the terrain and size of the animal are going to determine how much you can carry but I’d say that if you had to go more than about 3 miles in steep country that 1/4 of an elk is all that you’re going to be hauling with any packing system that goes on your body.
A couple of months ago I ran into the owner Pack Out Bags and he claimed that his Pack Out Bags would allow you to carry more and be more balanced and comfortable than using a backpack.
I decided to test them out and see if there was any merit to his claims.
First, the Pack Out Bags are designed to have one bag on the back and one bag on the front, like a mail carrier bag. There is a hole for your head to go through and very wide padded shoulder straps. There are also straps and snap-in buckles that keep everything together.
The Pack Out Bags are made in Idaho, USA. The sewing looks very high quality. 133 lbs of rocks didn’t seem to stress anything. I’m sure they’d take more than that but I’m not sure I want to try.
The pack folds up extremely small and weighs only 1.7 lbs.
I gathered 133lbs of rocks to test with. My pack scale only weighed up to 100 lbs so I had to weigh one half of the bag, dump the rocks and fill the other half and then weigh again. I ended up with 66 lbs on one side and 67lbs on the other for a total of 133 lbs of rocks. I put the Pack Out Bag on with only rocks in the back half and then squatted down and filled the other half.
I felt balanced and stable. The weight on my shoulders wasn’t unbearable or even uncomfortable. What was uncomfortable was the rocks pressing into my sternum. It gave me a feeling of having my breath taken away. Obviously rocks are hard and the bags were very full. Meat or quarters would likely not give the same feeling. Also, I think that 133 lbs is unsafe to traverse the mountains with. I’ve heard stories of people falling off cliffs with too much weight in their pack.
Knock 50lbs off and it would have been pretty bearable.
I don’t think that for me the Pack Out Bags would replace a day pack. However, I think you could pack them in your daypack, or if you shot something, quarter or bone it out, carry one quarter out with you to camp, return with Pack Out Bags and carry the rest out in one trip. No big heavy frame pack needed.
On horses, sometimes you get an animal down in a hole that you can’t safely get horses into. The packout bags would be perfect for this because it would be easy to carry in a saddlebag. Make a couple of shorter trips to the horses and not have to pack in a backpack at all.
Pack Out Bags has a website and there are some testimonials that you might find useful there. www.PackOutBags.com
The price on the website is $95