Finding a good pack can be a bit of a challenge especially if you’re looking for a larger pack you’ll be wearing for a greater length of time. For a hunter, that challenge can present additional problems like whether the pack will fit the necessary gear. And, of course, it must be capable of withstanding the elements and be durable enough to take a serious beating. That’s where the Alps Outdoorz Commander Pack comes in.
The Alps Outdoorz Commander Pack is an external-frame pack made specifically for tougher backcountry hunting. One reason I’m such a fan of the company’s gear is that the family behind the name knows exactly what they’re doing because they’re diehard hunters, too. They don’t just come up with designs in an office somewhere. They create products to fulfill specific needs and they put them to the test. If you want a pack that’s made by people who know exactly what it takes to pack an elk down a mountain, this is it.
The frame in question on this pack is the Alps Outdoorz Commander Freighter Frame which was made with packing large quantities of meat in mind. Its performance is enhanced greatly by a padded waist belt and shoulder straps and there’s also a holder for shooting sticks and a knife and flashlight pocket. Features of the aluminum (lighter weight) frame include three extension lashing straps for big loads, a mesh back band for breathability and an adjustable shoulder harness. The waist belt is designed to accommodate clip-on holsters which is great for handgun hunters and hunters that want to be able to defend themselves while outdoors. Torso range is also adjustable.
As for the pack itself, it’s perfect for the various gear and random items you’re probably humping through the mountains. It has an easily accessible front pocket, a spotting scope pocket, and a pair of hinged pockets for small accessories. It’s made from Nylon Ripstop so it can take whatever the trees and brush dish out and has a Spindrift collar with a drawcord. An internal horizontal divider allows you to separate your gear, making it quicker to grab through the top-loaded pack mouth. And if you’re a fan of staying hydrated, there’s a hydration pocket and port, too.
Other features include a lower access door with zippers, webbing loops for lashing, and a rifle holder. This is a 5250 cubic inch pack with an empty weight of 2 pounds, 3 ounces. The weight of the external frame brings the total weight of the Commander Pack to 7 pounds, 5 ounces, empty. Torso range is 17 inches to 23 inches and the waist belt adjusts between 26 inches and 40 inches. There’s also an XL waistband made for waists larger than 40 inches.
But Does It Work
Yes, this is a somewhat large pack. It’s what you need for an elk or muley hunt in the mountains not for a day on feral hogs in fields. Alps Outdoorz makes it in their standard tan coloring which is ideal for hunting because it blends into most countryside. The pack and frame are tall enough it takes some getting used to moving through the trees but that goes for any pack. And as a 5’9” woman, bigger packs dwarf me more than they do bigger men.
It isn’t difficult to separate the pack and frame and gets faster with practice. The fact that it does take a little time is just a testament to it being well made. After all, you don’t want a frame and pack that come apart too easily and might come undone at an incredibly bad time. Added bonus, you can get the frame and pack on their own as individual pieces from Alps Outdoorz if you do not want the Commander Pack set.
Thanks to the way the pack and frame are made it is possible to adjust the Commander Pack for a very good fit. My low back is less than great – actually, it’s awful – and how a pack affects my back is a major factor. This pack can be adjusted so it does not jostle and press on your spine. It also shifts the weight more evenly so you are not being pulled back or down awkwardly.
At this point, I have a gun room full of Alps Outdoorz products and am happy to recommend any and all of them. The Commander Pack is no different. It’s made to exacting standards, it’s comfortable – even loaded down – and it’s durable. If you have any issues with your pack the company is pleasant to deal with (they have fantastic customer service). Highly recommend this pack for any outdoorsman in need of a tough, well-made pack from a respected manufacturer.