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It’s hunting season.
It’s time to reinspect your current gear, make some upgrades and replacements, and ensure your kit is fully charged to cover your six when you head into the great unknown wilderness of North America.
You’re here for the sport of it, for the self-sufficiency behind hunting your own food, and the thrill of creating and executing a plan with flawless application.
In order to make sure everything goes off without a hitch, you need your number one hunting companion.
I’m talking about the best hunting backpack out there, the one that fits your style, your weight capacity, and literally has your back in all scenarios both hostile and docile.
We’ve taken out the guesswork.
From primary features to secondary benefits, carrying weight, empty weight, and the very best benefits offered, we’ve broken down everything you need to know about the top five hunting backpacks on the market.
Our Reviews Of The Best Hunting Backpack
#1 Tenzing TZ 3000 Back Country Hunting Backpack
There are hunting backpacks, and then, there’s Tenzing.
It’s like a huge upgrade to everything you know in this category, and it keeps on getting better.
First and foremost, you get access to around 3,100 cubic inches of space, which is roughly one and a half cubic feet.
It’s plenty of room to store spare clothes, additional ammunition, and provisions in.
While this doesn’t come with its own rifle holder, there’s room to augment this bag.
It’s compact and fairly simple in shape, allowing you to make your own add-ons without worry.
The magic is in how much it alleviates the stress on your back.
With dual aluminum frame rods, everything has a bit of suspension to keep your lower lumbar protected.
One of the biggest concerns while wearing any backpack is protecting yourself, as well as the items you’re carrying.
Speaking of lumbar support, it comes with a large back pad that cushions your lower section, so you can walk with comfort all day long.
There is a gun carry boot attachment, but it doesn’t have enough oomph to be viable for a rifle.
One of the main feats of this find is the price; it’s about 29% cheaper from where we found it than the straight-up Tenzing website.
You’ll still get the manufacturer’s warranty even though you’re getting it at a discount price, so there’s no need to worry about that.
You’ll get a channeled cool back panel to assist with airflow.
When you’re hunting for extended periods of time and have five-mile walks in the mix, it gets pretty heated.
One word comes to mind with this pack: versatility.
It has a good blend of being lightweight (nearly 7 lbs is lightweight for a hunting backpack, just so you know), excellent storage capabilities, and ends up being versatile for a shore-side fishing backpack if you need it.
Tenzing tops it in every category, and is by far the best hunting backpack for you money.
#2 Tenzing 2220 Daypack
Tenzing was built around the idea that hunters should be better kitted to carry on with their sport, and we’ve taken notice—it’s not every day you see two of the same brand on such an exclusive list.
Created with robic rip-stop blends of textile and synthetic materials, you’ll get extended durability that is comparable to 1200 D nylon ripstop fabric.
Basically, you couldn’t puncture this thing unless you seriously, really tried to do it. You’re good to go with anything you put inside.
You’re also equipped with a rain fly that’s going to hold off light to medium rain. It won’t suit you in a flash flood, but then again, what will?
Even if the fabric gets wet, it doesn’t soak in the same way as other fabrics do.
It’s built with a high stitch count and tight threading, so you’ll have more staying power against mother nature.
That all comes back to the way this was built and the materials that are used.
It’s considered to be one of the most durable hunting backpack brands out there, and we can see why.
You’ll get a gun boot included with your purchase, as well as a hydration pack slot for you to put your own pack into.
It can hold (roughly) up to about two liters, but anything more than this could end up rupturing your pack.
The only main concern with this is breathability.
There’s a good back panel made of mesh, but it’s not as breathable as the leading model that we just reviewed.
Being smaller, you’d think that a lesser weight and more compact design would be easier to hoist up without being so close to your back.
One other minor complaint came in when people considered the number of compartments.
It’s only got a total of five, but that’s what you get with a 2,400 cubic inch backpack. It’s just how it goes.
You can expect this to last you for as long as the 3000 version of the same backpack, so there’s no concern over longevity.
With Tenzing, every diem is worth it.
#3 G4Free Outdoor Tactical Backpack
You get what you pay for, so before we dive into this, understand that it’s a budget-friendly backpack that will have its quirks.
If you can’t sink the investment for a Tenzing, we don’t blame you, and neither does G4Free.
This is basically your number one backpack for EDC travel.
If you’re not using everyday carry right now, it’s something you can adopt and bring with you on your hunting trip.
It’s things that you wouldn’t be caught without, and in hunting, it can be used for knives, tackle, and sprays or lures that you’re using.
It’s better than digging through your backpack for who knows how long to find the same items.
G4Free made this out of 600D polyester, and for a bag of this size, that’s an amazing amount of stopping power that will help you defend against just about anything.
You can surely toss it around and rough it up quite a bit, and it’ll still hold on just fine.
G4Free crafted this backpack with a very compact design, and it works wonders when you’re trying to pack light for your hunting trip.
Six total compartments span across the entire pack. They’re narrow, btu they get the job done.
For the budget price, it’s plenty of storage. We do wish that the main compartment was a bit bigger, but you get what you pay for.
With 7 liters of capacity, you will have to plan your packing accordingly and not put any oblong items in here if you want to maximize space.
The good thing is that everything is easy to access since you won’t have to do much digging.
The adjustable shoulder strap is comfortable enough, but the buckle is a bit lackluster.
If you have the option to switch it out for a metal one, that would be the best option.
Either that, or affix this to your standard sized hunting backpack for an add-on of additional storage and easy access items.
#4 ALPS OutdoorZ Willow Creek Realtree Edge
Now this is the perfect in-between from larger backpacks, to an EDC-style daypack.
It gets all the perfect balances right.
For one, there’s a kangaroo pouch area, which is basically an empty space between the back panel and the main compartment.
You can pack up whatever you like—tent, sleeping bags, extra rations, and then just pull the straps to tighten everything around it.
Think of it like an expandable backpack with extra storage.
But that’s not the focal point of this bag. It has a total of 17 liters of space, which is a little over 1,000 cubic inches.
It’s designed with a proper bit of camouflage on it from the Realtree Edge lineup.
If you could picture HD printing on your backpack, this would be it; don’t hang this up on a tree while getting situated unless you want to lose it.
The camouflage works extremely well to blend you into the woods, whether it’s winter or summer, so your prey doesn’t see you coming from a mile away.
ALPS is known for inexpensive outdoor gear, and this backpack comes with plenty of cool features for such a reasonable price, but you should be careful of one thing: the hydration pouch.
It’s a good pouch, but it appears to have been an afterthought.
The pouch itself it of questionable quality, so don’t be surprised if it doesn’t last you for more than a couple of years.
It comes with a straw by the way, so you won’t have to buy anything extra when getting this pack outdoor ready.
The last thing we want to talk about is the strap system. If you notice, they’re wider near the shoulder area to allow for extra support.
The design evenly distributes weight across your torso, so you aren’t feeling it all in your lower lumbar.
It doesn’t have a padded belt system for your lower back, so if you still feel like you need one, that will be something you need to provide.
#5 REEBOW GEAR Military Tactical Backpack
Last but not least, we have a tactical MOLLE backpack.
MOLLE stands for Modular Lightweight Load-Carrying Equipment, and it’s built with tactical situations in mind.
You can use this for a bug-out bag, fishing tackle sack, or just about any hunting application that you can think of.
First and foremost, let’s look at the durability.
It’s crafted out of a highly dense nylon that’s water resistant.
Light rain won’t penetrate your bag, but that also means that any moisture that does seep in will take a bit longer to dry out.
It’s designed to withstand harsh abrasion and rough terrain, so even if it ends up skidding down a hillside while you’re wearing it, you’re just going to have to shake the dirt off, and keep on keeping on.
The average lifespan of this backpack is over a decade (most users just report that it’s still going strong).
You’ll have a limited number of compartments, but they’re sizeable.
One of the main features of this backpack is the adjustable straps that allow you to use tension to keep your contents in your bag, and ensure everything is nice and orderly.
Nobody wants a loose-fitting backpack that janks around while you’re trying to walk.
Alternatively, you’re also going to get access to a 2.5 liter hydration pack that comes with your backpack.
It’s optional, but highly recommended that you use it.
If you were to stash everything you needed in this hunting bag, it’s going to weigh down on you, so it’s important to stay hydrated on long hunts.
It’s high quality, and should last you for as long as your backpack does.
Hunting Backpack FAQ
What do You Put in a Hunting Backpack?
Your camo hunting backpack needs a variety of things for your hunting trip to be successful.
These are a few of them:
- Something to kill your scent
- Hunting knife
- Game call
- Flagging tape
- Water/hydration pack
- Toilet paper
- Gloves (cleaning game, single-use latex are okay)
- Pee bottle
- Camouflage face paint
- First-aid kit
- Means of lighting a fire
If you look at most of those items, they’ll be able to fit in most standard hunting backpacks, perhaps apart from the smaller daypack that we included in our list.
At the end of the day, you need everything in your backpack for your specific terrain, hunting game, and your personal preferences.
Consider this a staple list that you can adjust and mess with as you see fit, just be sure to plan accordingly when you’re going into different areas that may hold different threats.
What is the Difference Between Regular and Hunting Backpacks?
Hunting backpacks have a few characteristics that set them apart from standard, run-of-the-mill everyday backpacks.
For one, hunting backpacks usually come with, or have the capacity to host a hydration pack of sorts.
Dehydration is your constant enemy breathing down your neck when you’re in the middle of the wilderness on a hunting trip, so this is a big one.
The other is a rifle holster.
This isn’t a necessity (especially if you look at our list), since it’s best to have your firearms within your line of sight at all times, but it is something you’ll exclusively see on hunting backpacks.
Normal backpacks also aren’t meant to carry the same loads that hunting backpacks are.
You might carry some lightweight notebooks in a normal backpack, but you could be bringing back antlers, knives and ammo in a hunting backpack.
Quite the difference. As such, it needs to be able to hold up against far more stress.
Hunting backpacks will have stronger materials, higher denier ratings (600D, for example, stands for denier), and they’ll just generally be able to take more of a strain.
Lastly, consider the look of a normal backpack. They’re usually bright, primary colors that would give you away in the wilderness.
Hunting backpacks might have some reflective strips on it to accompany your hunter orange, but for the most part, they’ll have high definition camouflage to help you remain undetected when you’re on the hunt.
What Size Pack Should I Choose?
What are you hunting, and how long are you going for?
A small hunting backpack will be okay for a single day trip where you’re planning on leaving before it gets dark, but it won’t be good for overnight use.
Hunting large game will require a larger backpack, as well.
You won’t be storing the game meat in your bag, of course, but you will need more ammunition/larger guns to take them down, and more to clean the game on the spot and prepare it for transport back home.
Factor in what you’re hunting, and how you’ll be handling the entire trip.
A three-day camping and hunting trip is going to require a much bigger bag (55 L or more), and that’s when you start getting into expensive territory.
Why You Need a Waist Belt With Your Hunting Backpack?
Regardless of the design, whether it’s a hunting backpack with rifle holder or a simple daypack, all backpacks are going to pull weight down on your lower back, or lower lumbar.
It’s just the physics of it. Even getting an external frame backpack doesn’t alleviate that stress from your body, it just makes it a lot easier to manage via a suspension system.
Having a waist belt on your hunting backpack that you can hook into your straps will serve you well in distributing weight and pressure across your whole upper body.
These waist belts usually work with two shoulder straps, and a connecting chest strap (or two of them), each hugging your body and pulling weight/support from different areas.
If you didn’t have these, you would just have the weight of the backpack pulling downward and leaning against your lower back.
Doing that also stresses out the shoulder straps, so they’re more likely to tear or tarnish in a shorter time span. It’s just part of smart, safe hunting.
How to Clean Your Hunting Backpack?
Even the best hunting backpacks aren’t dirt proof.
They’re going to need a good cleaning.
You can handle a standard hunting backpack the same as a waterproof hunting backpack; this cleaning method will work on every type of bag.
Your secret weapon is going to white distilled vinegar.
It’s a natural disinfectant, which will kill any harbored bacteria that you bring home with you from the previous trip, but keep in mind that it’s going to have a strong smell.
White distilled vinegar can be used to clean every single part of your hunting backpack.
Air it out and use a scent hider when you’re done to mask the strong smell.
With anything, air drying is best.
If you put a tight-knit 600D nylon backpack into a dryer, it could shrink or contract the fabrics.
Instead, hang it up to air dry when all is said and done, and inspect it thoroughly to ensure you’ve gotten all the dirt out.
Hunting With a Companion on Your Shoulders
Whether you went with a traditional sack or an external frame hunting backpack, you need something to improve your overall carry weight and maximize efficiency when you’re on a hunting trip.
Between rifle holders, additional pockets, insulation, suspension and more, there’s a lot for you to consider before you commit to the purchase for your next hunting backpack.
Fortunately for you, we’ve done all the work, you just have to select which one works best for you.
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