Like all you guys have said about the better backpacks....

Yaada_205

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Oct 23, 2014
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11
Its just best to jump up to the higher end packs, ie Kuiu Kifaru EXO, etc....

I have an Eberlestock Blue Widow that I got several years ago, and just in only 2 times of being used, no meat hauling, only gear.... the shoulder straps dug in to the front of my shoulders. Had I hauled meat, I would have been punished. But at the time it felt great! And at the time, I could only budget for it.

Now... finally took the leap of faith and I upgraded to the EXO K3 Frame. Wow, what a difference. All you guys were right!!! Yes I should have listened but then again, just couldnt afford it or see myself spending that much money.

So for you guys that are new looking at what pack to get, and if you can afford it, just get the higher end backpacks. Dont get me wrong - Eberlestock makes a solid pack, especially if you need it in a pinch walking through Sportmans Warehouse....but if you have the time to research and get prepared, or can save up, get the higher end bags. If you decide that later, its not for you, you can always sell those bags, you'll get at least most of your money back.
 

ElkNut1

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Feb 25, 2012
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Idaho
Yes sir, I've used about everything out there, nothing beats the EXO Pack for it's versatility & flat out packing ability from 20# to 125# -- Zero issues for all of us!

ElkNut
 

Marble

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May 29, 2019
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976
Like most things gear related, cheap things cost too much.

I packed out an entire 4x4 mule deer buck, quartered and partially boned in my kifaru last night. One guy at camp was amazed and couldn't belive it. When he got an idea of the cost he shook his head and walked away.

And, no aches or pains today from the pack out. That won't happen with a low end pack.

Good packs can make or break a trip.

Sent from my SM-G986U using Tapatalk
 

Rwatwood

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Aug 13, 2018
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ID
Packs have came a long way from when I was first hunting with my dad as a kid. I still remember having an old camo backpack for hunting and roughing out a small load to the pickup just to get a giant and uncomfortable pack frame to go get the rest.
I currently have a Initial Ascent pack and am tempted to try something different. I love the pack for heavy loads but for day hikes and bow shoots it’s almost too stiff. I do wish the hip belt was a bit less stiff.
 

mlgc20

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Oct 29, 2018
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Dallas, TX
A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of packing out my daughters cow elk in my EXO pack. It’s a K3 bag on a K2 frame. The pack performed great. I was so glad I spent the money on a quality pack.

The thing that surprised me the most was how easy it was to clean. Both the pack and frame had a lot of blood. When I got home, I removed the bag from the frame and sprayed them with the garden hose. Ready to go again.
 

mooretitan

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Nov 28, 2018
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174
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CA
I have packed out two bucks this year. Both were qrt bones left in. Not sure how much each weighed but it was enough. I felt the weight on my legs and that was it. The fulcrum just rocked. Opened the big bag up and put the meat right in. I had room room if I needed it. The thing was not one time did my neck, shoulders or back ever hurt. You guys who carry that plus camp out are crazy
 

Pullmyfinger

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Sep 1, 2019
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32
OP,

I agree with the higher end packs.
After I got out of the Army I saved and saved, with the goal of buying a McHale Inex Alpineer back pack.
I think it was around $600 back in 1995 when I bought it.

I still have that pack.

When I was younger, a pack like that seemed unobtainable. But I saved, and then waited almost 8 weeks for it to be made and shipped.

Fast forward to now. I decided to break down and order a couple of Kifaru packs to suit different hunting needs.

Money spent of certain items is money well spent.

I decided on Kifaru for a few different reasons, but there are also some other companies that produce items that are worth my business.
But for packs, Kifaru gets my money/ support. They are a "GO" at this station.

Something about a backpack flips different switches than other types of purchases do.

Edit: I wish a company would use McHale & Company's "bypass shoulder harness". It used to be patented back in the day. I'd imagine that patent has expired by now.

I'd gladly pay extra for that type of shoulder harness.
Assuming the waist belt was up to the task and could complement that shoulder harness.
 
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Chunkymunks2

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Oct 22, 2020
Messages
18
I see people talk about other packs being more comfortable than Eberlestock and I always wonder how many bought the upgraded hipbelt and straps. I’ve read many that do that say it’s a night and day difference. Has anyone on this thread done that on a mainframe and still think am exo, SG, or Kifaru is more comfortable with heavy loads? I’m looking for another pack and was considering a mainframe with the little big top and the upgraded straps.
 

Loper

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Jul 1, 2020
Messages
92
I recently got back from my first elk hunt and spent 7 days with my pack on. I was using an Eberlestock mainframe with the bat wings and was mostly day hunting with a relatively light load likely between 20-28 lbs (no elk pack out). My buddies had Mystery Ranch and Kuiu packs.

My cardio and muscles were fine even after hiking up to 18 miles some days. My buddies however weren’t in as good of shape and were complaining about sore leg muscles, but didn’t voice any concerns about the back or shoulders. My legs were good, my only complaints on some days were my neck and shoulders.

While I like the Eberlestock mainframe and bags for their versatility and price, I can’t help but wonder if I would have been better served with a more high end pack. Then again my discomfort was just that discomfort, not pain, so it really makes me think if an extra $250-$300 to feel comfortable is money well spent. However, if I had a heavier load the discomfort likely could have turned into pain.

I’m new to western big game hunting and live in the East, so take my thoughts with a grain of salt.
 

Chunkymunks2

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Oct 22, 2020
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Thanks for your input Loper. I’ve been trying out different packs and one of the important factors in comfort is having the bag on your hips in he right spot (center of pad on the Iliac crest cupping over it) and it being long enough to have the pads cover the ASÍS comfortably. After that it’s having the harness in the right elevation so the straps just barely stabilize the load. When that’s set up right the load lifters take the top pad pressure off the shoulders but still allow lateral stabilization. I just did a 20+ mile backpacking trip with a vanquest markhour 45 loaded to 60 lbs and one other tip I learned is if your waist belt isn’t comfortable enough buying a cheap back brace from Walmart can allow you to tighten the hip belt with much less discomfort so the load can be on the hips.
 

Loper

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Jul 1, 2020
Messages
92
Thanks for your input Loper. I’ve been trying out different packs and one of the important factors in comfort is having the bag on your hips in he right spot (center of pad on the Iliac crest cupping over it) and it being long enough to have the pads cover the ASÍS comfortably. After that it’s having the harness in the right elevation so the straps just barely stabilize the load. When that’s set up right the load lifters take the top pad pressure off the shoulders but still allow lateral stabilization. I just did a 20+ mile backpacking trip with a vanquest markhour 45 loaded to 60 lbs and one other tip I learned is if your waist belt isn’t comfortable enough buying a cheap back brace from Walmart can allow you to tighten the hip belt with much less discomfort so the load can be on the hips.

Thanks ChnukyMunks. Good advice.

I have the standard harness and hip belt and saw your post about the upgraded ones. I’m guessing that probably would have helped as well.

I was hiking/hunting with a former military guy who has put in a ton a Of time rucking. Towards the end of the trip he was saying that in his experience one body part or another is almost always going to be fatigued or uncomfortable during a long hike with a load. He mentioned that continually adjusting and distributing the weight to a different area can help alleviate short term discomfort. When your shoulders get sore, loosen you harness or load lifters some and transfer more of the weight to your hips. After some time when you hips or lower back get tired, loosen your belt and cinch down the harness.

I didn’t get this advice until the last day of the hunt so I didn’t get much time to test it out. Not sure if this has a ton of merit or if there is an optimal method or pack that evenly distributes a load so it isn’t necessary to continually shift weight.
 

CO-AJ

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Apr 23, 2020
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Colorado
I have 2 Eberlestock's and 1 Exo, yes the Exo is light years ahead of the Eberlestock. I use the Eberlestocks for a day pack, my profile picture is one of my Eberle's. For multi day trips or heavier hauling the Exo gets the nod and performs above and beyond everytime.
 

Marbles

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May 16, 2020
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554
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Anchorage, AK
I see people talk about other packs being more comfortable than Eberlestock and I always wonder how many bought the upgraded hipbelt and straps. I’ve read many that do that say it’s a night and day difference. Has anyone on this thread done that on a mainframe and still think am exo, SG, or Kifaru is more comfortable with heavy loads? I’m looking for another pack and was considering a mainframe with the little big top and the upgraded straps.

What I have seen with the Elberstocks I have looked at is too short of a functional frame to shift the load properly to the hips. Personally I will never by a pack without load lifters again. I would prefer to take the Gregory Baltoro I use to have hunting over the Elberstock mainframe a friend used two summers ago. I loaned him my Exo and he ditched the Elberstock and bought an Exo soon after.

If you are on a budget and need to haul heavy loads, get the Gregory Baltoro as it at least functions properly from a load bearing perspective.
 

jdwerther

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May 14, 2018
Messages
13
I AGREE! I started with an Eberlestock Just One. Spent 4 seasons with it. Didn't know it sucked until I upgraded to a MR Pintler. 3 seasons on that one. After using the Pintler with significant weight I've learned I have somewhat of a curved back.

Guess what. I'll be buying a Kifaru this summer. Should have just gone straight there. Thank fully I live close and can get the frame custom fitted.
 

Chunkymunks2

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Oct 22, 2020
Messages
18
Thanks everyone for the input. Loper, I have shifted my load since hiking during my scouting days as a kid. It was partially done out of necessity. Some of my trips I hauled 100lbs for multiple days with jansport external and internal framed packs. Without shifting my load my hips would bruise so i traded it for some shoulder discomfort. With higher quality bags I do that less but usually have to do some with most trips. I honestly think the hip belt shape/size/quality is the most important factor with all of us being different shapes some of us are more prone to having certain areas more sore than others even if we all had what was considered by most the “best” pack unless the hip belt fits us just right we wouldn’t know how comfy a pack is and secondary to that the load lifting ability. I read somewhere a guy using a kifaru belt with different bags and it really made a difference. One of my disappointments with Eberlestock is most of their packs don’t have high enough load lifters.
 

Chunkymunks2

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Oct 22, 2020
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Marbles, thanks for your input. I’m curious if your friend had the regular or tall mainframe. The tall one has some pretty good load lifting ability and the regular does too if your torso is 18 and under. I was surprised when I fit the regular properly that it came up decently high especially compared to a pack like the warhammer which has no real load lifting ability and is 4-5 inches shorter than the mainframe.
 

Marbles

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May 16, 2020
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Marbles, thanks for your input. I’m curious if your friend had the regular or tall mainframe. The tall one has some pretty good load lifting ability and the regular does too if your torso is 18 and under. I was surprised when I fit the regular properly that it came up decently high especially compared to a pack like the warhammer which has no real load lifting ability and is 4-5 inches shorter than the mainframe.

I'm going to guess he had the regular. The top of the frame sat a little below his shoulders when loaded. While the Elberstock frame is much larger, functionally my S/M Osprey frame for 16 to 20 inch torsos gave more lift even though it is an inappropriately small frame for our torsos length with only about a half inch above the shoulders when loaded with 30 lbs.

The 25 inch EXO K2 frame gave both of us adequate lift, but the 26.5 inches on my K3 frame is where I start getting good lift with large loads. So, while an extra 3.5 inches on the tall Mainframe would get it into the light load functional area, I don't see myself wanting to put 40 lbs on it all day, much less the 120 lbs I have comfortably carried on the K3.

Both of us are about 5 ft 10 in, so not what I would consider tall.

For someone with a short torso the Elberstock would probably work better.

The Elberstock is better than an ALICE frame, and once upon a time I though an ALICE pack was awesome. Then I got an Osprey, then a Gregory, and now I use packs that 5 years ago I would have teased people for having payed too much for them..
 

Chunkymunks2

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Oct 22, 2020
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I'm going to guess he had the regular. The top of the frame sat a little below his shoulders when loaded. While the Elberstock frame is much larger, functionally my S/M Osprey frame for 16 to 20 inch torsos gave more lift even though it is an inappropriately small frame for our torsos length with only about a half inch above the shoulders when loaded with 30 lbs.

The 25 inch EXO K2 frame gave both of us adequate lift, but the 26.5 inches on my K3 frame is where I start getting good lift with large loads. So, while an extra 3.5 inches on the tall Mainframe would get it into the light load functional area, I don't see myself wanting to put 40 lbs on it all day, much less the 120 lbs I have comfortably carried on the K3.

Both of us are about 5 ft 10 in, so not what I would consider tall.

For someone with a short torso the Elberstock would probably work better.

The Elberstock is better than an ALICE frame, and once upon a time I though an ALICE pack was awesome. Then I got an Osprey, then a Gregory, and now I use packs that 5 years ago I would have teased people for having payed too much for them..
Marbles, I'm curious besides the load lifting what makes the K3 that much better? Is the hip pad better, back padding? What makes it more comfortable and stable? I appriciate you comments.
 

jKsled

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Oct 26, 2020
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29
As author of a thread on a cheaper pack... I don't disagree. I'm a gear-head as much as the rest of you.
But with a young family, living 1200 miles from the mountains, and LOTS of other gear to buy before next year, I'm forced to keep myself to a tight budget.

Exo packs are definitely my favorite looking around online - they're just plain out of my price range.. (along with many other brands).

There is no doubt that the top tier bags are more comfortable. However, it's only part of the gear necessary for backcountry hunt and there are many other areas that can affect your comfort - sleeping, warmth, food & h2o, weapon, etc..

As much as I wish I could drop all my budget on a brand new exo k3 system, it just isn't feasible at this time, and I believe that is the sentiment driving most of the questions on cheaper packs.
 
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