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


Senior Member
May 16, 2020
Anchorage, AK
Sorry OP, not trying to hijack or turn the thread into bashing Elberstock.

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.

Keep in mind that I have never personally put an Elberstock on my back. So take my opinions with a grain of salt. I have nothing against Elberstock as a company, but I don't think they represent good value for the money when it comes to packs.

The only value I see to a frame (internal or external) is to shift the load to your hips. If a pack fails to do this than it is not worth its weight and you might as well use something lighter. My primary objection to the Elberstock Mainframe is its complete failure at this. Most of the other things are personal preference and fit (the Elberstock packs appear to be durably constructed so this is not an issue).

Other things I did not like about the Elberstock, from looking at it and talking with my friend who was using it follow.

1. It is heavy (my friend put his at 10 to 11 lbs empty, I have not weighed one personally)
2. The bag design strikes me as good idea fairy in nature. The scabbard is one example, it adds weight but no real value as it makes the rifle harder to access than simply lashing it to the pack.
3. The literal shelf at the bottom of the frame. It encourages the loading of weight far too low on the frame, it adds weight, and it removes the advantage of compressing the pack down to be used as a day bag. (the Elberstock M1 frame would fix this).
4. When I was looking at his pack to see if I could adjust the hip belt lower on the frame I got the impression that the frame was not made with actual use in mind. This was over a year ago, so I cannot give details as I did not really try to remember them. The load lifters appeared to be just decoration to me and did not look functional.

My friend, who spent that entire summer telling me the Elberstock was a good pack and I was just being elitist because I had spent too much money on my pack bought an EXO after I loaned him mine and the next summer told me "thank you" for getting him to spend the money. Unfortunately, that answer leaves the details as to why to the realm of magic, but not having used the pack I cannot truthfully say more. I will point out that this friend was a Marine grunt in his past life, so I have to assume the Elberstock was better than what he was using in the Corps around 2013.

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.

I understand this. My philosophy has become either buy the product that I actually want, or get the cheapest thing that will work as it will hurt less when I replace it. Unless, I will still have a use for the middle of the road product once I get what I really want.

@Chunkymunks2 I don't think Elberstock's represent good value for the money, nor that they are in the budget realm if money is part of the concern.

Looking at Elberstock's web page
F1 Mainframe $279 at 4.5 lbs
Little Big Top bag $299 at 3.5 lbs (3900 cubic inch)
Lid $49.95 at
Total $627.95 at 8.9 lbs.

Frankly, there is nothing budget about $628. In fact one can get an EXO or SO system for less.

EXO K3 3200 (3690 cubic inches) $619 at 5.1 lbs. (Comes with the lid)
EXO K3 frame only $375.

Seek Outside Goshawk 4800 with lid $538 at 4.1 lbs
Seek Outside frame only $329

Gregory Baltoro 85L (5370 cubic inch) with large frame $349 at 5.46 lbs.

For budget, but better than military surplus I would recommend the Baltoro. Most backpacking packs shift weight to the hips if sized properly. However the Baltoro has a reputation for hauling heavy loads well, which is why I recommend it over something like an Osprey.

Getting an EXO or SO frame and putting an ALICE bag (with a few slight mods) would be another budget option that could be grown latter. This is where my money would go if I was doing it over again (unless I found a really good deal on the Baltoro).

As a side note, I list EXO because I have one. I list SO because I want one. This is not to discount SG and Kifaru, I just know less about their systems.

As I had a Baltoro 65 (which I believe to be a more functional pack than many packs marketed to hunters or "tactical" community) I will compare it with the EXO. The Baltoro is stiffer on my back, it does not really get comfortable until loaded, it does not compress down into a day pack, it lacks a shelf, my head would hit the frame when looking up. The EXO just feels better on my back. The EXO is also laid out better for access to equipment and balancing simplicity with features.
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Senior Member
Aug 7, 2017
Hawaii and Utah
If you buy the most expensive backpack you can find, it will carry the load for you, right?

Joking aside, I went from walmart brands to Badlands then decided I need to find out how the top shelf packs handle game hauling. I now own a SG and have never regretted spending the money. I think we all wish we could start with the best but life and budget doesn’t always allow us to spend the thousands it costs for top shelf gear.

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Senior Member
Aug 23, 2014
oregon coast
i think for a budget option, the horn hunter full curl is a good option.... it does the job, but it's heavy and clunky, but it hauls weight well. right now i own mystery ranch, EXO, and a seek outside.... all around, my EXO just fits me well, light as it practically can be while maintaining adequate integrity.... comfortable in hunting mode and hauling.... love the pack.

the MR isn't going anywhere either, it's a great pack and i already own it.... the Seek Outside is a great, well constructed and thought out pack, super versatile (i have the peregrine) but it just doesn't fit me great.... it's not the pack's fault, but pack fit is personal.... that one is on the chopping block.

high end packs are a VERY good investment, but just buying a high end pack doesn't automatically mean it will fit you right. if you are on a budget, buy used, then someone else takes the hit, and if it doesn't work for you, sell it for what you paid.... it's a pretty risk free endeavor...

i also still have my horn hunter, it's worth more just having than i could get out of it.... if you buy a lower end pack, and don't like it, you can pretty much figure on eating the whole cost, they have no real resale value.

i think packs are one of the most key pieces of gear, it has to be reliable, comfortable, and do the job well or your hunt will suffer.... it's ALWAYS on your back, it's important. i think good footwear and packs can make or break a hunt.....