Since hunting packs have a wide variety of properties, it can be hard to find the best hunting backpack for all situations. For example, on longer trips or if you’re going to be carrying a lot of meat or gear, you might want a bigger backpack. On the other hand, if you are going for a short trip or are not going to carry a lot of gear with yourself, then the best hunting backpack will be one that is smaller. If you have trips in which the weight you carry varies widely, you might want to look into getting a few backpacks to always be comfortable. I have covered the recommended backpack volumes and a list of things that you should look for in the best hunting backpack down below. However, if you are more interested in the bags themselves, then click here or scroll to the “Best Hunting Backpack Reviews” section.
Table of Contents
Properties to Look For:
As mentioned before, for those that are planning on going on small trips or don’t carry much gear and meat, I would recommend around 2000 to 4000 cubic inches. However, if you are going out for long trips and/or tend to bring a lot of gear with you (like in winter for example) you’re better off with something larger, like 5000-6500 cubic inches. And while more space is better if you use it, carrying a large backpack that is not loaded properly can be uncomfortable as carrying extra bulk is not really fun.
There are 3 prevalent frame styles in hunting backpacks: internal, external and frameless. Frameless bags are best suited for low weights and are typically also the lightest of the bunch. They are mostly the simplest designed as most of them have 1 big main pocket with some webbing or cordage straps. Frameless bags have most of the load is supported by shoulders.
Internal framed backpacks are a step up from frameless and can carry more weight. One of their benefits is decreased shifting of the load as it is typically closer to the wearer. Since it is closer to you though, you will get sweatier with this frame as opposed to an external frame.
Finally, external framed backpacks are designed for the heaviest loads. They feature an external frame, typically made from aluminum, which helps to support your load by placing most of the weight bearing on your hips as opposed to your shoulders. They shine best at 40 lb. + weights. Since the back of the backpack is not touching your back, you will get the added benefit of improved air circulation which will keep you comfortable during long trips and when you get sweaty.
If you got the best hunting backpack that is built well and has all the features you want but it doesn’t fit you right or is uncomfortable, it would be worthless. And while hunter friendly strategically placed pockets on your backpack are useful to have, comfort should prevail. Some of the things that you should look for are adjustable belt and straps, padded straps, ventilation and proper fit. Proper fit is important as the majority of the weight of the backpack, roughly 80%, is supported by your hips. For women, it’s also beneficial to get women specific style as they typically have smaller frame sizes and have hip belts and shoulder straps that are made with the female form in mind.
|Size of Pack||Length of Torso|
|Extra Small||< 15.9”|
|Small||16” – 17.9”|
|Medium||18” – 19.9”|
Other Important Features
The Brand is important as you don’t want to be purchasing a hunting backpack from some random seller in China who threw together a raggedy bag and called it a hunting backpack. After all, how can you expect to get the best hunting backpack from an unreputable manufacturer? As such it’s important to look for brands that have well-received reviews across the board, such as Osprey, Tenzing and Badlands. The best brands will also have a lifetime warranty which shows their care for their customers as well as their confidence in their product.
Weight also plays a role if you’re focused on packing light. While the framed backpacks will aid you in carrying heavier loads, the frame itself will add bulk to the bag. Meaning if you only want to bring a few essentials with yourself, you should consider a frameless backpack.
Loudness is also important, especially for hunters. Some backpacks make noise when you move, and that can alert your game that you are near.
Loading style is yet another thing you should look for. A panel loading bag will enable you to access all of your gear at once while top loading backpacks will enable you to put more stuff in it.
Water resistance can be beneficial if you are going to encounter rain. While the bag itself won’t be waterproof, many backpacks offer a protective rain cover which will make it waterproof. The bag itself can only be water resistant. And generally speaking, it’s not always good to have really water resistant bag as that could mean less potential ventilation.
Finally, durability is the last but not least thing that you should consider when you are choosing the best hunting backpack. While most of the manufacturers will offer a lifetime warranty, you still don’t want to be sending you backpack away and be left without one.
Best Hunting Backpack Reviews
Badlands 2200 – Best For Short Trips
First up on the list is Badlands 2200. As its name implies, it has a 2200 cubic inch storage capacity (2250 to be exact) which is a little bit on the low side but should be fine for short trips. This is Badlands most popular hunting backpack and the one that made them a trusted name in the backpack market. But is it all that great? Let’s take a closer look.
This backpack is often touted for its comfort that it brings with it when you are carrying heavy loads with you. This is because it features a T-6 internal frame which is made from aircraft grade aluminum. As covered before, this frame helps to transfer the weight of the bag to the hips so that you don’t injure or hurt your spine. This makes the 2200 a good choice if you are hauling meat. Talking about meat, it also has a built in orange meat shelf which will make transporting your haul easier.
Another good thing about this backpack is its ability to organize your things. It features 8 pockets that you can use to store all of your accessories in, a hip belt pistol holder and a 2L water reservoir. It also comes with a boot for your rifle to carry with you during your trips. Unfortunately, however, it does not come with a boot for a bow, so if you are going bow hunting, you need to purchase the bow boot separately. It will set you back about 20 more dollars.
The Badlands 2200 comes in at 5 lb. 15 oz. which isn’t terribly light but isn’t heavy enough to complain about. Considering it features an aluminum frame, that was to be expected. If you are going to be encountering rain during your trip or if there’s a chance that your hunting backpack will get wet, you will want to also invest in a rain cover which is sold separately as the bag itself isn’t waterproof. The backpack also comes in 3 different camo options: Realtree AP-Xtra, Approach Camo and Lost Camo. To see them, click here.
If your backpack breaks or has any issues at all, you can always count on the Badlands unconditional lifetime warranty to have your back. That alone is worth giving this hunting backpack a chance if you are looking for the best hunting backpack for short trips. All in all, the Badlands 2200 is a great hunting bag.
Tenzing TZ 6000 – Best For Long Trips
The first thing that comes to mind when seeing this pack is that it is big. Weighing in at 7 lb. 10 oz. and with 6013 cubic inches of space available, this pack is great for long trips and those who are looking to carry a lot of meat and gear. Some people have even reported carrying 500 lb. of meat without any issues, which says a lot about the quality and the weight distribution. The weight distribution is properly balanced thanks to its internal frame structure which is made from aluminum. It features 2 rigid aluminum frame stays which you can remove if not needed. The sheet frame though is permanently mounted in it.
The TZ 6000 features an adjustable torso suspension and padded hip support. This, in addition to its 5 lateral compression straps, further helps it to remain comfortable for long trips and at heavy loads. And in case you get sweaty or if the weather is hot, the bag also has an air cooled back which is greatly appreciated for someone like me who sweats a lot. However, you don’t have to worry about your backpack getting wet if you are out in the rain thanks to its built in rain cover. Other companies make you purchase the rain cover separately so it was a nice gesture by Tenzing to include it in the package from the get go.
The backpack also offers a plethora of different pockets so that you can organize and sort all of your gear without any issues. The 12 compartments include a main compartment, a meat compartment, 2 expanding side compartments, 2 face compartments, 2 hip compartments, a sleeping compartment, 2 mesh compartments and a top compartment which doubles as a fanny pack. The top compartment is actually an ingenious idea; it has a built it waist belt so that you can carry small things with you and carry it like a fanny pack. The fanny pack measures in at 9” x 11” x 3” which should fit a few small things. One small annoying thing I’ve found is that the side pockets on the waist straps are annoying to keep in place when you are trying to don the pack.
The expanding side compartments are great if you want to bring a scope or a tripod with you. There is also a slot for a 3 L hydration pack in the bag which is pretty standard. Finally, the TZ 6000 also includes boots for both bows and guns. So whether you are a gun hunter or a bow hunter, you can use this backpack immediately upon purchase.
But, as with all things, this bag does have some cons. While it does have a lifetime warranty, the bag itself is manufactured in China meaning that if you were to return it for a repair it would take longer as opposed to something made here in the USA. Additionally, the waist straps are too big for normal and small framed women, so if you fit into that category, you should look into the other bags. But that is basically it for the cons. The only other thing I can think of is that the bag may be a bit too big with its 6013 cubic inches of space and if that’s the case for you then you might want to look into its 5000 cubic inch cousin. Regardless of the size you choose, the Tenzing can definitely hold the ground as one of the best hunting backpacks.
ALPS Mountaineering Commander – Best Budget Pick
Even though it says mountaineering in its title, don’t confuse this for a hiking only bag. After all, if you’re out hunting, the ability for your pack to carry heavy loads comfortably is as important as for those out hiking. The Commander is an external frame backpack features a 5250 cubic inch pack bag and the Freighter Frame. The whole package itself weighs around 7 lb. 5 oz. but you can choose to remove the frame if you are not going to be carrying loads that are unusually heavy or for super short trips. Removing the frame will put it at a much lighter 2 lb. 3 oz. weight.
Material wise, the bag is made from ripstop synthetic and the stays are made from aluminum. The clevis pins are also made from steel which is beneficial in avoiding the “aluminum bend” that heavier loads can cause. Do note that the spring rings that are used in retaining the clevis pins can get annoying but that can easily be fixed with some hairpins.
It also has a good amount of pockets with 2 side accessory pockets, a main pocket, 1 front pocket, 1 spotting scope pocket. The bag also has a built in rifle holder and a hydration port. Not too many pockets but should be enough to sort your gear while out on a hunt. Since this is a top loading backpack and the top features a spindrift collar, you can overstuff your backpack if necessary. Regarding overstuffing, if you are planning on bringing a sleeping bag you should load it first before loading the top compartment as the flexible floor divider causes the sleeping bag compartment to be intruded by the top compartment.
There are also webbing loops located on the front which will allow you to attach some extra gear. Regarding harsh weather, this bag is not waterproof, and as such you might want to purchase a separate waterproof cover for a few dollars from Walmart. If you are not going to experience any rain, however, then you don’t have to worry about this.
An improvement that I would recommend is to get MOLLE II desert shoulder straps to replace the ones that come with the bag itself. This is because the built-in straps attach to the back side of the waist belt as opposed to the frame. While it’s not a big deal, at heavier weights and longer trips this can get pretty annoying. This backpack is also engineered at a recreational standard, so I would recommend not going over 80 lb. for too long to prevent any issues. After all, it’s a budget pick so you can only expect so much from it. As you guessed it is made in China, which is why it is significantly cheaper than its competition.
However, with all that considered, it is definitely one of the best hunting backpacks when you consider the value that you are getting from it. If you are on a lookout for a hunting backpack that won’t break your wallet, then the Commander is an excellent choice to consider.
The Summit is the successor to the Badlands 4500 bag, with a couple of improvements. Firstly, the bag is now 5400 cubic inches big as opposed to the 4500 cubic inches. However, it is also around 3 pounds lighter as the Summit weighs in at only 6 lb. 1 oz. How can this make sense? Well, this is due to the new polycarbonate frame that Summit uses which makes it much lighter. Lighter and more storage space – you can’t complain about that. The bag also compresses nicely when you have a smaller load which makes it more comfortable to carry if it’s not filled.
This is another great top-loading pack for those who are out on long trips due to its vast storage capacity. It is also tough – made from 900 Denier Ripstop fabric, this backpack will survive a lot of abuse before you need to replace it. And for its price it better be durable, this is a premium product and as such I expect premium build quality and materials. I don’t like to waste money buying overpriced crap and I’m sure neither do you. Best of all, backed by an unconditional lifetime warranty from Badlands, you won’t have to worry about getting another pack after you get this one.
The bag itself features 7 pockets and can carry both bow and rifles. If you want, you can attach both your tree stand and a bow if you desire, as this bag can carry both comfortably. However, something to note about side pockets is that the lower elastic pouches on this bag have a compression strap running through them. This can get quite annoying at times but most of the time it shouldn’t be much of an issue. The hip pockets also can be quite small when you cinch down the belt which will give you enough room for a phone and some shells, but not much more.
Another thing that I would say could use improvement is water resistance as the bag itself can let water through in medium to heavy rain. And while it DuPont water repellent coating is not bad in light rain, for heavier rain I’d recommend getting a 30 gallon contractor bag and cover the backpack to make it water proof. Finally, in regarding to sizing, this pack tends to run somewhat big so if you have a waist below 40”, go for the medium size.
Last on the list but definitely not the least, the Badlands Summit is a great bag which, coupled with its unconditional warranty, will serve as a great hunting pack for years to come.
So there you have it, a review of the top of the line hunting packs so that you can find the best hunting backpack for you. They are all great choices, and are all worth considering. Regarding my personal opinion, I would go with the Badlands Summit as I like knowing that thanks to their great customer service and an unconditional warranty, I can get my pack fixed up whenever I want without any issues.