30. April 2010 04:51
When you’re looking to put the road behind you and the steep slopes of the Rockies under your feet your gear can make or break your hunt. Comfort, durability and function play major roles in your gear and your pack shouldn’t be any different. After using several different packs I have found that you get what you pay for. If it’s cheap it will probably destroy your back and shoulders because it simply isn’t designed with the hunter in mind. As you’re slowly and quietly ascending the rocky, brush covered slope, getting closer in range to that monster muley, the last thing you want to have happen is get busted because you’re fumbling around with your gear. Most of us have specific places where each necessary gadget belongs in order to provide ultimate accessibility but how does someone who has never been in the “where’s my rangefinder” situation know where to put a strap or sling for one. Don’t just buy a pack because it has a high price tag. Research the product. Does its designer hunt, fish, backpack, or even get out of their downtown office? You can get a pretty good idea of how the pack’s basic functions will perform in the store but unless you go to Cabela’s on a regular basis with a full set of camo and 10 pounds of gear to tote around in the pack around the store for a test drive, you really don’t know the pack’s performance until you bring it afield. Things like zipper accessibility, buckle release and strap maneuverability should already be figured into the equation before it ever hits the shelf.
I had been given a TimberHawk pack and thought I would give it a try but when I fell in love with it, I actually started doing my homework. Finding out that the founder and main designer lives in Utah and is a natural born hunter only raised my confidence in the packs. During an elk hunting trip in the Wyoming Range mountains I was carrying my gear in the old school Spike pack which is designed smaller and more light-weight specifically for day trips. As we crossed an open meadow I found a certain type of mushroom I had been looking for all year. It’s been a family tradition for years to go mushroom hunting as my great-grandpa, grandpa, dad and now me (there weren’t any other boys to follow) love to eat them. I was so excited to find this 2lb monster I just couldn’t leave it. I strapped it to the pack using the straps designed to carry a bow and started hauling it around the mountains. I’m sure I looked like an idiot but the mushroom tasted great and the pack had enough options on it that I was able to strap it down and go. These same straps have also been used to carry out multiple moose, elk and deer sheds, coats and hoodies, and even a cow elk skull. Whether they were designed for that or not isn’t the point. The simple fact that the thought was there to put straps on a pack that you can use instead of putting the item in one of the compartments is brilliant. One day that pack will carry out the head of a bull elk and whether it happens next season or three years later, that pack will still be in use and will most likely still be in one piece. This is the confidence you need in a pack so you can focus on your hunt. I also dare each and every one of you to take a mushroom the size of a basketball into a Bass Pro Shop and ask if they have something that will carry it!