Qualities of an Ideal Bow Hunting Backpack
Most anthropologists agree that bowhunters have been around at least since the end of the Pleistocene epoch, the last Ice Age that ended 12,000 years ago. Back then, hunters clad in big game hides used primitive bows, made of sturdy hardwood strung with wild game sinew. When drawn back, the primitive hunter could release imprecise arrow shafts fixed with fragile flint broadheads.
Modern bowhunters enjoy the luxuries of complex compound bows with state-of-the-art cam systems and arrow shafts of near perfect straightness, cables that pull back with upwards of 90lbs in weight, and aircraft aluminum broadheads so sharp that, when you finally release that arrow, it feels like you’re slicing through the air itself.
Some modern hunters take it a step further, taking advantage of the upgrades not only in bow technology but also pack technology. Investing in a quality bowhunting back provides comfort in the field, ensures the best possible opportunity at a successful and memorable hunt, and relieves a hunter of the burdens of carrying a bow by hand deep in the field. For hunters looking to purchase a top-notch bowhunting pack, it’s important to know what to look for.
When choosing a bowhunting pack, there are a couple of facets to consider. Are you a single day whitetail hunter who needs a pack solely to carry gear to your stand? Or are you a multi-day western mountain hunter who needs a pack to lug all the gear needed for an extended hunt?
The answers to these questions will steer you towards your ideal pack. Look for a smaller pack if you’re a day hunter. This will be a pack that is lightweight and versatile. It should be able to hold all your gear comfortably without packing items in unnaturally. A comfortable hunting pack will be one you can carry for extended periods of time without any pains or aches.
Multi-day bowhunters need larger packs. These packs will be large enough to carry food, water, clothing, bow, sleeping bag, tent, and hunting gear adequately. For packs of this caliber, comfort is a must. No one wants to be heaving around a backpack that carries weight unevenly for days on end. It can turn what should’ve been a fun pursuit into a regretful adventure. And when it comes to hunting, you should be alleviated of gear discomforts that will ruin the experience.
After you’ve determined the general size of the pack you’ll need, you need to break it down even further, looking at the fine details of what makes a quality bow hunting backpack.
Choose Bowhunting Packs Based on Performance
It’s essential that you treat your bowhunting pack as an indispensable tool in your hunting arsenal. In some ways, researching the functionality of a bow hunting pack is as important as researching the engineering of a new bow, the straightness of arrow shafts, or the sharpness of broadheads.
Consider how you want your pack to perform. You will want it to have compartments for all of your gear. For a bow hunting trip, this will include your bow, arrows, release, range finder, field dressing kit, calls, food, map, first-aid, and anything else you may need. That’s a lot of gear.
Luckily, the best pack makers know this. Their packs include multiple pockets to keep your gear organized. Some even include waist belt pouches and drop-down bow slings with secure attachment systems.
The Pioneer 2100 provides an excellent example. This pack is built rugged and specifically with bowhunters in mind. It has a built-in water bladder compartment and drinking tube connectors on both shoulder straps so that, on those dogged days of bow hunting where the miles seem endless, you can stay hydrated. It also comes with a drop-down cam pouch and a secure butterfly attachment system to hold and support your bow hands-free while you hike. Stalking into bow range of an animal is tough. With a loud pack, it’s nearly impossible. That’s why the Pioneer is built with silent Tricot fabric.
Packs of impeccable quality will imitate this for maximum performance in the field. But for a pack to be truly functional, it's going to need to be constructed specifically for hunters on the move.
Choose Bowhunting Packs for Comfort and Mobility
All the qualities that make a pack useful in the field will amount to nothing if the pack is not comfortable and mobile.
Imagine creeping into bow range of a bull elk, so close that you can see air leave its nostrils in a cool, foggy mist. Or imagine stalking into a mule deer buck’s bedding area, so close you can count the hairs on its back. These are the encounters bowhunters live for. It’s those crucial moments that decide whether you’ll leave empty-handed or cut a notch into your tag. When you’ve come that close, the last thing you want is an aching sweaty back impacting your concentration, or worse, your limbs shaking so bad from overexertion that you can’t make an accurate shot.
Packs built for mobility alleviate you of these hindrances. They also allow you to close the distance in rough terrain, change strategies dynamically during your hunt, and ease the strain of carrying all the weight of your gear on your back.
A proper bowhunting pack should be built with ventilation systems. Packs that don’t allow for breathability between your back and the fabric of the pack make for sweaty, uncomfortable conditions. That’s why products like Vanguard’s Pioneer 1600RT have built-in air ventilation systems that allow airflow between your pack and back through breathable mesh-lined padding along the back and shoulder straps. The padding also cushions the hunter’s most vulnerable points of weight bearing, namely the lower back and shoulders.
The Pioneer series also comes equipped with adjustable straps to fit any hunter’s body size. With a well-fitted pack, you can avoid problems like back pains and uneven weight distribution. Adjusting the straps on both shoulders and the waist belt creates a snug fit and distributes weight evenly between your shoulders and back. The more muscle you have to put into lugging your gear around, the quicker your stamina will fade. Packs built like the Pioneer series empower the hunter to work at maximum performance.
Invest in A Pack That Lasts
Packs can be a big investment, so it’s imperative that you buy one durable enough to last. Especially when it comes to hunting in harsh terrain, in thick woods, or in adverse weather conditions, the need for a durable bowhunting pack becomes undeniable.
A durable pack will be water resistant and constructed with tough materials to prevent rips, tears, and breaking zippers. This will save you a lot of sewing and patchwork effort in the future.
You can buy a rain cover separate from most packs, but others, like those in the Pioneer 2100, have a built-in rain cover. Simply unravel the cover from its compartment and fit it over the pack. The blaze-orange rain cover also keeps you noticeable and safe in the field. Additionally, the Pioneer series comes equipped with top and side Hypalon reinforced handles and anti-scratch bottom material to prevent wear and tear.
Putting It All Together
By following the guidelines detailed above, you will end up with a pack that is versatile, reliable and suits your specific needs. Bowhunting can be strenuous and demanding, but the effort is worth the reward. Purchasing a bowhunting pack is no different. Putting in the effort to dissect the specific qualities of the pack you need will lead you to the ideal fit.