Photos by Full Curl Digital
With outdoor gear companies churning out excursion-size packs at a fevered pitch, I was anxious to get Sitka’s take on the bread and butter of a backcountry hunter’s gear. While having been introduced a couple of years ago, Sitka is doubling down on the Mountain Hauler line, having added the 2700 and 4000 cu/in model in mens as well as the 2700 for women.
I had several multi-day hunts planned this spring so chose the larger of the models. The 6200 weighs in at a respectable 6.4 pounds, putting it at a competitive weight/storage capacity ratio. The main frame is constructed of aircraft-grade aluminum with all of the load-bearing components attached directly to the frame, a feature I took full advantage of on numerous bear hunts this spring. The yoke is adjustable from 17 to 22 inches, offering a wide range with my five-foot-seven frame fitting comfortably into the smaller adjustment. The pack’s fabric is polyurethane-coated nylon to resist blood and stains and rides the line of being durable yet weight-conscious nicely.
The primary compartment is 4000 cu/inches and has the hydration bladder pocket as well as the load shelf inside and is expandable to 5000 with internal zippers. The rear pocket is 750 cu/inches and can be accessed from the top or from a zippered back if the user doesn’t want to remove the lid. The top pockets on the lid offer 450 cu/inches of storage as well.
Offered in two sizes, the hip belt has a quick attach hook-and-loop system for bear spray, a holster, or whatever else the user wants close at hand. The medium belt adjusts for 28-36 inch waists and the large adjusts from 34-40. With the three-layer foam pads, the belt was comfortable under 50-70 pound loads for hours at a time.
After numerous days of serious elevation gain and loss as well as varying load sizes and weights, the Mountain Hauler more than held its own. The yoke, shoulder, and hip straps were comfortable with no chafing and, as a perpetually unorganized person, I appreciated the simple layout of the pockets. In a crowded field of pack manufacturers, Sitka has some unique and handy ideas that are sure to make a backcountry hunter’s days just a little bit easier.