Alaska Sheep Season 2020: New Gear Review

Nick Muche

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 21, 2012
Messages
3,363
Location
Alaska
I have a Barneys, that I use strictly for hauling bait in the spring. For backpack hunts, the Kifaru is incredible. I can't imagine wearing a Barney's for days on end, it's just not near as comfortable as a Kifaru.

Surprised to see others have had issues with Leukotape! First time seeing anything about allergic reactions was from my wife, and here there are others who have experienced it as well. I have no issues with it and will continue to use it, but those who have not used it much should certainly be aware.
 

Marine4life

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2017
Messages
265
Location
Missouri
Thanks for the great gear review. Although I am a one time sheep hunter it helps me prepare and remember if the opportunity comes around again.
I will say I am a bit surprised that not everyone knows about Leukotape. Maybe it’s a Marine thing for those of us with baby feet. My guide also developed a blister and when I pulled my 1/4 role (save weight) out of my pack he hadn’t heard of it either.
I don’t mess around anymore and prepare both heels before I ever hit the mountain and it generally stays on the entire hunt.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Yellowknife

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 9, 2012
Messages
1,684
Location
Fairbanks, Alaska
I have a lot of miles on both a SG and a Barneys. For most recent sheep hunts I use the SG for the lighter weight, but on this years trip I picked up the Barneys again for the volume capacity. I have zero issues with comfort with the Barneys. Fits me great. Hauls great. And is very very stable with a heavy load.

Having to undo the straps on the SG is a thing. But so is having the fish around for that one thing that has gone to the bottom of a Barneys Pinnacle's truck size main bag. I will continue to use both as the need arises.

I've also torn stitching on both at various times and both have patches. Durability has been pretty even up.
 

Wildwillalaska

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2017
Messages
201
Location
Kenai, Alaska
Josh—thank you for the write up and cannot believe the two things I wanted most for my Barney’s pack exist, and never realized they added the, even between several trips in this summer and fall (picked up some puffy pants there just today). A buddy bought my old pack in 2018 and I grabbed one of the new frames and bags with the updated belt. Using it on the recent moose hunt, I was really, really missing my hip pockets. So nice having snacks easily at hand. Being a bigger guy, I eat and eat often. Certainly more often than I take full breaks. So really like having conveying access to hydration and food without having to stop a d take my pack off. So after missing my snack pockets, the next big thing I was wishing I had as the bag slid down my ass when loaded. was a lumbar pad. Was literally thinking several times on this recent trip, man, I really miss the lumbar pad of my SG. And here it was I coulda had both—as silly as it seems, these two little additions are really such a big deal.

I love my Barney’s bag and Ive tried to dislike my SG after I struggled with getting the belt tension just right the first trip I used it. Talking with SG they helped me sort the issue and it’s non-existent. We picked up a Kifaru pack when in Reno for my brother to use on our early season hunt, and my wife carried it on her late season hunt. I carried it some as well, and really do think the Kifaru suspension is overly comfortable. More robust padding, etc., but swapping back and forth with my brother, I still couldn’t hate my SG. I did get the biggest bag they make as I like having some separate pockets and liked that it is laid out similar to ,overly familiar Barney’s bag. I do not see any use for me personally to the load shelf system on the Kifaru or SG. I want everything in the bag and cinched tight. Maybe for lighter loads and smaller bags, but even then, the whole idea of moving the whole bag load away from my core just doesn’t do it for me.

I couldn’t even complain about my SG or the Kifaru for heavy loads. Brother and I decided enough shuttling once we finished with glaciers and Boulder fields, humping everything for the last several miles in one load. He had about 120# and I was closer to 140# and while it sucked, it wasn’t the packs fault, given the weight they both were as minimally uncomfortable as I could have hoped. I can’t get used to all the webbing loops and hanging pockets and stuff off the kifaru—get that it allows folks to set it up more closely to their individual desires, but not my favorite scenario. Just a personal taste preference as each of the pockets on the pack brother/wife carried performed flawlessly. Still just can’t hate my SG and next sheep or any mountain hunt it’s what I’ll likely carry again. But Moose, big brownies, and wife’s bis0n, it will be the good ol’ Barney’s every time without even a second of thought.

Peak Refuel—if you haven’t had a chance to try the Bison Mashed Potatoes, encourage you to do so. There are a couple of Backpackers Pantry I love, still think Mountain House makes the best tasting lasagne, but for everything else, Peak has it nailed. And best of all of them, hands down, is the Bison Mashed Potatoes. Have order more three times now after running low and this last order was to supply for next year since wasnt sure if the Chad Mendez deal was limited to this year or would change—so had to stock up. And to top it off, since we’ve already noted I’m a big guy that needs to eat—the Bison meal has 1120cals per bag.

Leukotape—never leave home without it. I’m a big guy, and my calves seem to try and rip my big toes off. Probably part of the reason I have what my brother calls freak calves is a I have always pushed off too much with my toes. So usually within a couple weeks of spring hiking, I get “turf-toe” in at least one if not both big toes. Super easy wrap fix with the leukotape that makes a world of difference. So I use it even before or addition to blisters. Word of CAUTiON—remove the stuff carefully, especially with soft feet. Last year in the sierras after long consecutive days of packing, finally got a shower and had been hard at it for almost 20 miles that day and my feet were a little soggy. As showering I reach down and rip the mid-foot anker wrap from the arch area of my foot and, well the tape was stronger than my skin, tearing the sole of my foot right at the mid arch area all the way through the skin layers to meat. Hurt like hell—not just then, but for rest of that trekking trip and couple weeks after I got back to Alaska.

Swaro ATX/STX—usually suck it up and carry my 95mm objective. This year since I was overweighted trying to make sure my brother was able to ease in a bit on his first sheep hunt, so brought the 65mm objective to save the weight, which isnt insignificant. Have used Swaro almost exclusively (Basically for everything but rangefinder, and this year trying out Lieca range binos), and in all that time had never experienced an issue or failure. Had to happen sooner or later—so might have well expected it would be on a sheep hunt where we spend so much time on the glass. Anyway, with all the rain, I guess the objective had lost pressure at some point and by the time we were little over half way through the hunt, it had fogged up from all the rain. So need to send it back for Swaro magic, which one thing thats so nice about Swaro is I’m not sweating it. I’ll get it sent off sometime here soon, and no stress as a I know theyll take care of it. So, minor hiccup and horrible time, but guess all gear subject to failure at some point. And Josh, the 95mm is simply badass. I hate carrying it, did for both 2018 and 2019 sheep hunts and glad as did. And again for wife’s late season hunt. But man is it bulky and heavy. Going to try and ignore that the 115mm even exists, but bet it’s cool.

Simple things for me this year that I was super impressed with was going to an MSR pocket stove and ti mug over the jet boil. I’ve always been a huge jet boil fanboy, so can’t believe I’m admitting that, but it was a significant improveKent. Next was my Crispot Brikstal stiffs, love these boots. So comfortable and light compared to my previous boots. And then the little kestrel ti knife. Still. Fought my havalon expecting my brother could use it, but I ended up doing all the cutting and every animal this year, most of the work was done with that little dude. blades are all the same, it’s just I like the thin profile with square edges of the handle, give a secure feeling in hand.
 

Wildwillalaska

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2017
Messages
201
Location
Kenai, Alaska
So now I have to go ask Kevin to mail me pockets and lumbar pad. One thing I really would love to see Barney’s do it add a bag option constructed from x-pack. Really like that stuff.
 

SLDMTN

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 30, 2015
Messages
1,174
Location
Palmer, AK
One thing I really would love to see Barney’s do it add a bag option constructed from x-pack. Really like that stuff.

Check out Wrangell Gear, they make what you’re looking for.


I have zero experience or affiliation with them but I saw them pop up awhile back.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Wildwillalaska

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2017
Messages
201
Location
Kenai, Alaska
I stumbled upon them a while back as well--but every time I have checked back it has seemed things were still in the "coming soon" phase and didn't see where they had already started production. Think it is a smart item, but still wish it were something Kevin would do. I love the Barney's bags and how they are laid out, how the spotter pocket easily fits a 95mm ATX, etc. They used to have a couple fabric options, and with the x-pac being perfect for our wet climate up here--at least during hunting season--just makes sense. I had a ULA pack made in the x-pac for my longer trek in the sierras last year and when I can get more time out of the office to do at least a larger portion of the PCT, plan to take it again. The fabric is very light, very waterproof, and pretty darn durable. Made sense that Kifaru started working it into a couple of their packs.

If Wrangell Gear gets them up and going where they are available, I sure as heck would love to check one out.
 
OP
adventure907

adventure907

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 6, 2014
Messages
645
Location
AK
Josh—thank you for the write up and cannot believe the two things I wanted most for my Barney’s pack exist, and never realized they added the, even between several trips in this summer and fall (picked up some puffy pants there just today). A buddy bought my old pack in 2018 and I grabbed one of the new frames and bags with the updated belt. Using it on the recent moose hunt, I was really, really missing my hip pockets. So nice having snacks easily at hand. Being a bigger guy, I eat and eat often. Certainly more often than I take full breaks. So really like having conveying access to hydration and food without having to stop a d take my pack off. So after missing my snack pockets, the next big thing I was wishing I had as the bag slid down my ass when loaded. was a lumbar pad. Was literally thinking several times on this recent trip, man, I really miss the lumbar pad of my SG. And here it was I coulda had both—as silly as it seems, these two little additions are really such a big deal.

I love my Barney’s bag and Ive tried to dislike my SG after I struggled with getting the belt tension just right the first trip I used it. Talking with SG they helped me sort the issue and it’s non-existent. We picked up a Kifaru pack when in Reno for my brother to use on our early season hunt, and my wife carried it on her late season hunt. I carried it some as well, and really do think the Kifaru suspension is overly comfortable. More robust padding, etc., but swapping back and forth with my brother, I still couldn’t hate my SG. I did get the biggest bag they make as I like having some separate pockets and liked that it is laid out similar to ,overly familiar Barney’s bag. I do not see any use for me personally to the load shelf system on the Kifaru or SG. I want everything in the bag and cinched tight. Maybe for lighter loads and smaller bags, but even then, the whole idea of moving the whole bag load away from my core just doesn’t do it for me.

I couldn’t even complain about my SG or the Kifaru for heavy loads. Brother and I decided enough shuttling once we finished with glaciers and Boulder fields, humping everything for the last several miles in one load. He had about 120# and I was closer to 140# and while it sucked, it wasn’t the packs fault, given the weight they both were as minimally uncomfortable as I could have hoped. I can’t get used to all the webbing loops and hanging pockets and stuff off the kifaru—get that it allows folks to set it up more closely to their individual desires, but not my favorite scenario. Just a personal taste preference as each of the pockets on the pack brother/wife carried performed flawlessly. Still just can’t hate my SG and next sheep or any mountain hunt it’s what I’ll likely carry again. But Moose, big brownies, and wife’s bis0n, it will be the good ol’ Barney’s every time without even a second of thought.

Peak Refuel—if you haven’t had a chance to try the Bison Mashed Potatoes, encourage you to do so. There are a couple of Backpackers Pantry I love, still think Mountain House makes the best tasting lasagne, but for everything else, Peak has it nailed. And best of all of them, hands down, is the Bison Mashed Potatoes. Have order more three times now after running low and this last order was to supply for next year since wasnt sure if the Chad Mendez deal was limited to this year or would change—so had to stock up. And to top it off, since we’ve already noted I’m a big guy that needs to eat—the Bison meal has 1120cals per bag.

Leukotape—never leave home without it. I’m a big guy, and my calves seem to try and rip my big toes off. Probably part of the reason I have what my brother calls freak calves is a I have always pushed off too much with my toes. So usually within a couple weeks of spring hiking, I get “turf-toe” in at least one if not both big toes. Super easy wrap fix with the leukotape that makes a world of difference. So I use it even before or addition to blisters. Word of CAUTiON—remove the stuff carefully, especially with soft feet. Last year in the sierras after long consecutive days of packing, finally got a shower and had been hard at it for almost 20 miles that day and my feet were a little soggy. As showering I reach down and rip the mid-foot anker wrap from the arch area of my foot and, well the tape was stronger than my skin, tearing the sole of my foot right at the mid arch area all the way through the skin layers to meat. Hurt like hell—not just then, but for rest of that trekking trip and couple weeks after I got back to Alaska.

Swaro ATX/STX—usually suck it up and carry my 95mm objective. This year since I was overweighted trying to make sure my brother was able to ease in a bit on his first sheep hunt, so brought the 65mm objective to save the weight, which isnt insignificant. Have used Swaro almost exclusively (Basically for everything but rangefinder, and this year trying out Lieca range binos), and in all that time had never experienced an issue or failure. Had to happen sooner or later—so might have well expected it would be on a sheep hunt where we spend so much time on the glass. Anyway, with all the rain, I guess the objective had lost pressure at some point and by the time we were little over half way through the hunt, it had fogged up from all the rain. So need to send it back for Swaro magic, which one thing thats so nice about Swaro is I’m not sweating it. I’ll get it sent off sometime here soon, and no stress as a I know theyll take care of it. So, minor hiccup and horrible time, but guess all gear subject to failure at some point. And Josh, the 95mm is simply badass. I hate carrying it, did for both 2018 and 2019 sheep hunts and glad as did. And again for wife’s late season hunt. But man is it bulky and heavy. Going to try and ignore that the 115mm even exists, but bet it’s cool.

Simple things for me this year that I was super impressed with was going to an MSR pocket stove and ti mug over the jet boil. I’ve always been a huge jet boil fanboy, so can’t believe I’m admitting that, but it was a significant improveKent. Next was my Crispot Brikstal stiffs, love these boots. So comfortable and light compared to my previous boots. And then the little kestrel ti knife. Still. Fought my havalon expecting my brother could use it, but I ended up doing all the cutting and every animal this year, most of the work was done with that little dude. blades are all the same, it’s just I like the thin profile with square edges of the handle, give a secure feeling in hand.

Will, very good insight into the different nuances of the various packs, much appreciated.

After just packing a goat off some random mountain on Kodiak, I can affirm again that the lumbar pad is worth it's weight in gold on the Barney's packs. No more raw hip bones, it does wonders from keeping that hip belt from sliding down.

Josh
 

cwh

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 24, 2013
Messages
130
Josh,
Glad that you were not a fan of the stone glacier, as I ran your old pack for a couple of sheep hunts this year :) I love the thing.

That lumbar pad on the Barney's pack looks promising. Might have to get one of those and see if it makes the pack work a little better for me.

I think I had zero mountain house this year. Maybe one Lasagna - otherwise, stowaway gourmet and Peak refuel. Amazing difference.

The sig vs vortex rangefinder battle continues in our camp. Vortex hasn't won a round yet, but for some reason they still seem popular.
 
OP
adventure907

adventure907

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 6, 2014
Messages
645
Location
AK
Josh,
Glad that you were not a fan of the stone glacier, as I ran your old pack for a couple of sheep hunts this year :) I love the thing.

Right on man, glad to hear the pack is working well for you. Hope you had a great sheep season and you packed out a ram or two!
 
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