Pack for Packrafting & Backpack Hunting

Outdoorsman3830

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May 5, 2012
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Cheyenne, WY
I've never strapped a packraft on a pack before, but plan utilizing one next year after buying one and getting some experience. I'm looking for a pack with 6,000 cubic inches minimum for a 2 week backpack hunt. I plan on hunting an area about 12 to 15 miles from the nearest road and about 5 miles from the river. Its a river that can be rafted down to the road. I figure the raft could make packing out a big bull elk much easier and more enjoyable experience. I'd raft it whether I harvest a deer/elk or not.

From experience, strapping a fairly large piece of gear to the bottom of a pack throws the balance off a bit. So, I'd really prefer to keep the raft strapped with very little of it hanging below the pack's frame.

The Pack Raft I plan on using is the Denali Llama

Here are the packs I'm looking at:

Barney's Freighter Frame with the Alaska Hunter Bag, Pinnacle Bag, or Yukon Bag
Kifaru Bikini Frame with the Highcamp 7000 Bag, plus a few accessories

I feel the Barney's will provide the best performance when hauling a packraft or simply hauling out an elk. I know the Kifaru will perform exceptionally well under heavy loads at close to half the weight. However, I would much rather have a stable load where I won't have difficulty strapping a raft and elk or deer to.
 

todd kelly

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PM luke M., He will be your best resource for all the packrafting info. There are also some good videos he has made that will give you a good idea of what you will need, and what works. I watch them all the time.
 
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Outdoorsman3830

Outdoorsman3830

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Already done so. He has made some great videos and used the Barneys frame and seemed to have loved it (except the hip belt which can be fixed). So I'm definitely waiting to hear his opinion and I figured I'd see what others say.

Thank You Todd,
 

O'Really

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Feb 24, 2013
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If you go with the Barney pack, I'd suggest getting either the Yukon or Pinnacle bag for your purposes.
 

Aron Snyder

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Already done so. He has made some great videos and used the Barneys frame and seemed to have loved it (except the hip belt which can be fixed). So I'm definitely waiting to hear his opinion and I figured I'd see what others say.

Thank You Todd,

Talk with Larry Bartlett, he does this for a living.
 

Yukon

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Jun 19, 2012
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Marsh Lake, Yukon
Also Check out the pr-49 from Larry at Pristine Ventures. It is more weight and money then the denali llama but I think you are getting a lot more raft with it. Pretty cool videos on the Pristine Ventures website. I will be buying one once I get my optics sorted out.
 
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Outdoorsman3830

Outdoorsman3830

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PR-49 looks like a sweet raft. The video with the caribou and pack loaded in the raft looked like the right amount of room. The Pinnacle Pack is the main Barney's pack I'm looking at. I'll try and get in touch with Larry Bartlett.

The only downside of the Barney's is that I have to get the Hip-Belt tailored or make my own. I have the equipment and materials to make my own hip-belt, but it would be nice if they offered various sizes for guys like me and Luke Moffat who have smaller waists. The Pinnacle Pack looks like the best option for my future hunts in Central Idaho and eventually the occasional trips up to Alaska.
 

Yellowknife

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Fairbanks, Alaska
The only downside of the Barney's is that I have to get the Hip-Belt tailored or make my own. I have the equipment and materials to make my own hip-belt, but it would be nice if they offered various sizes for guys like me and Luke Moffat who have smaller waists.

The strap on the Barneys hipbelt attaches several inches back from the end of the padding, if that makes any sense. I don't see any good reason why the padded part couldn't be shortened 1-2" on each side pretty simply. Might not look as good as factory, but should then work for smaller waists just fine.

If you are looking at two weeks of food + raft, you need volume, and the Pinnacle has that in spades. The wide x tall external frame will also stabilize it quite well. Biggest drawback IMO isn't the weight, so much as the fact that it doesn't compress all that well for day hunting. Somehow, a few thousand Alaskans seem to manage ok with it though.

Yk
 
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Outdoorsman3830

Outdoorsman3830

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I'm pretty confident I can add some extra webbing and buckles for compressing the pack better. It won't change the width and height of the frame, but at least I wouldn't have to worry about gear shifting from side to side as much. A big frame won't bother me. I never bothered trying to stalk in on a buck or bull with a fully loaded pack on.

When I talked with Barney's, they said it could be shortened for an additional price. I think I will take it in to a local tailor or do it myself depending on the difficulty and to ensure it shortened enough so I don't have to do it a second time. If I make a custom one, it will look real sharp in the end since modifications can sometimes leave an undesirable appearance.

Thank You for the Advice,
 

Larry Bartlett

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hey dude, I would strongly consider going with an Internal frame backpack for starters, and here's a few points:

1. Once you get to where you're going and begin your float, the Alpacka material can easily chafe where the frame and buckles rub your boat. The Alpacka's don't have a lot of security points for lashing things tightly to the rig.

2. I've got a Barney's frame with a Pinnacle bag and a couple of others...lots of capacity in those bags.

3. Be cautious if you plan to raft anything more than a class I river with the Lama with anything more than a deer and backpack, because tube diam. will decrease your whitewater performance...wave splash, tube suck in converging currents, tip-prone behavior. These boats are great for their inherent weight savings, but load haulers they are not.

4. If you decide to keep your Lama and use an external pack, load this rig with your packframe and apply either two layers of tyvek tape where frame components touch the material, or apply some material with glue as rub guards to prevent injury downriver.

5. Unless you're hiking strictly in alpine terrain, don't trek with your alpacka attached (inflated) to your backpack like Mofat has done. You'll notice when he did this he was entirely above treeline. In ID country, you'll have to deal with brushy dry brush and rocks...both a bad idea if your boat comes in contact. In this case, you're better off stowing your inflatable inside the pack or at the very least between your frame at the back (just beneath the pack body).

Hope this helps, man. Much of this stuff I've learned the hard way...might save you some grief!

larry
 
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Outdoorsman3830

Outdoorsman3830

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I wouldn't attempt packing the the raft inflated on the outside of my pack for all of the reasons you stated, Idaho is too rocky and brushy. The PR-49 looks like a much better option for packing out a deer, elk, bighorn sheep, or goat.

For 5 to 7 day hunts/scouting trips I have usually utilized around 5,000 cubic inches. So, I'd safely say 5000 to 6000 cubic inches for all my backpack hunting gear for 10 to 14 days plus additional space for the packraft and spots to strap the oars/paddles on the sides.

The Kifaru Bikini Highcamp 7000 is definitely a realistic option since the raft can be strapped in the load cell space. Other pluses of the Kifaru is that it is more budget friendly, about half the weight, more versatile, and requires no hip-belt modifications.

How would you load a PR-49 in a Kifaru Bikini Highcamp 7000 (Duplex frame is also an option)? Would you utilize the Load Space or the Bag's Interior?
 

luke moffat

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Feb 24, 2012
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5. Unless you're hiking strictly in alpine terrain, don't trek with your alpacka attached (inflated) to your backpack like Mofat has done. You'll notice when he did this he was entirely above treeline. In ID country, you'll have to deal with brushy dry brush and rocks...both a bad idea if your boat comes in contact. In this case, you're better off stowing your inflatable inside the pack or at the very least between your frame at the back (just beneath the pack body).

You mean like this Larry?? :D

IMGP1348.jpg


HAHA....that was cause it was only about .3 miles from the lake we hiked into and use the raft to fish from to the river we were floating out, I hope atleast, no one thinks I carry that raft around like that normally....just when I'm being to lazy to deflate and reinflate again and isn't only a several hundred yard portage and minimal brush to where I am going. Otherwise you are time and frustration ahead big time by deflating for sure.

When looking for a pack for packraft hunting think VOLUME!!! I have only floated out 2 animals via packrafts (one was half a sheep with a Denali Llama) but you'll quickly cube out a pack when you take all your hunting gear, plus raft, paddles, pfd, repair kit, pump or inflation bag......then you tip over an animal...you'll want all the space you can muster.

Here is a Timberline 1 (rated at 7200 cu in) and the same raft shown above in my normal carry mode for a 5 day trip with my wife. Granted she had the food, PFDs and other bulky items and I opted to leave the spotter home on this trip but you can quickly see how fast a packraft maxes out your pack and I didn't even add an animal into the equation on that trip yet:
IMGP1275.jpg


Having used a Denali Llama for packing out half of sheep and gear from a sheep hunt we killed a 26 miles pack I can say that atleast the "Big Rig" from Larry Bartlett is MUCH prefered for carrying an animal of sheep size proportions even with two people all their hunting gear and an animal than a Denali Llama with one person and a half a sheep and all the backpack hunting gear. I hope to put a PR-49 to use once all the ice and snow goes away (which doesn't look like its happening anytime soon right now ;) ) But the Big Rig/PR-49 is worth the extra weight haulin' in when rafting out game is on the agenda for sure.

Larry B has likely packrafted out more animals than anyone else so he'd be my first resource for what you are wanting to do with elk which is a totally different ball game than caribou or sheep or deer.

Hope that helps....
 

Larry Bartlett

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xactly, Luke. You da man, bro. Love the pics, glad you document so many of your trips.

larry
 

burgerta

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Oct 26, 2012
Messages
50
Great converstion here guys... I am in the same boat as Outdoorsman for a hunt I would like to persue in 2014... Im still searching for a location for this idea but its along the same lines as Outdoorsman and what you guys are discussing.

Last fall I used Larry's Big Rig and Shiz Niz combo to pack out/float out a 65" Moose in AK, so an Elk is definately within reach. The reason I say pack out/float out is that we did not ride in the boats and paddle but rather hiked/waded a shallow creek while we hunted and once we had moose meat to handle, the boats did the work while we just hiked along like we were walking a dog on a leash... It worked great even though we had a few follies and blew out a tube but it was a learning experience "the hard way" and in the end we proved to ourselves that there is backpackable gear capable of the task. Just need to fine tune the set-up.

When my partner I packed for last falls trip we were fairly lightweight but we invision having floatable water right from the start so we had several small drybags and 1 packframe(for meat packing). When the Super Cub landed at headwaters of the creek we would float there was NO WATER...Uh ohh, follie #1...

In hindsight I wish we packed backpack style...A good backpack loaded with the food gear and boats would have been much better than our system.

So, now I see the potential and I am kinda starting a quest to get together a Moose Float hunting gear list that is backpackable. I am going to have to be a weight weenie and its gonna be heavy in the end but I think its within reach...My biggest question so far is what Pack? so keep up the converstaion :)
 
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Outdoorsman3830

Outdoorsman3830

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Cheyenne, WY
I'm still looking into this trip. I'll go into more detail on the trip I'm considering. So its about 15 miles of hiking downstream to the mountain I'm most interested in hunting. From there, it is 5 more miles downstream to the middle fork of the salmon river. Packrafting the river is a fairly long trip and may not be a viable option seeing as it is a 60 mile raft trip to the road from there are a lot of class 3 and a fair number of class 4 rapids. The distance and the rapids concern me. First, I would not raft the river with an elk unless I have rafted it before. Second, I need to know how long it will take to raft and take extra precaution in keeping the meat cool.

In order for me to seriously consider this option I must not only research this trip, but prepare for it and actually raft it. This trip will not realistically take place for a minimum of 3 to 4 years. Once I have the necessary experience, I will be able to evaluate the option before jumping into it.

As for a pack, I'm undecided still. I need a lot of capacity. Its going to be a heavy pack in regardless of the pack I choose to use. I don't think I good go wrong with a Barney's, Kifaru, or Mystery Ranch. I have had first hand experience with Mystery Ranch and know for a fact that their packs are bombproof. They are built incredibly durable. I seriously doubt a Mystery Ranch would fail in the field, which is crucial to the type of backpack hunt I'm planning.

I plan on starting to learn the area this fall and will be applying for a sheep tag in the unit every year until I get the chance to take down a big ram, preferably with my bow. When I don't draw I will focus on mule deer primarily, while scouting for sheep and goats. I will also carry an elk tag in my pocket, just in case I come across a 325 plus bull.

Maybe I'll get lucky first year out and take down a big buck, bull, or ram. I'll go into more on packs at a later time.

Thank You for all of the advice so far!
 
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Outdoorsman3830

Outdoorsman3830

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Cheyenne, WY
So, I think I've finally decided which pack I'm going to start using this fall and hopefully its the right pack for future packrafting also. I'm going with a 26" composite stay duplex frame with the Longhunter bag. I'm also going to equip the pack with the Longhunter Lid, one Long Pocket, a grab-it, hunter gunbearer, and have the horizontal and vertical lash straps available. I may add more pockets later, but that should fit my system perfectly for bowhunting or rifle hunting, short or long trips, packrafting or not, and anything else I typically use my pack for.

Right now foresee my self strapping the PR-49 Packraft to the bottom of the pack with lash straps and then most of the related accessories inside the pack except for the paddles, which will be mounted on the side of the pack. The Longhunter's capacity should fit everything for 2 weeks, plus a packraft. It will be my first Kifaru and I've been interested in trying one out because of the phenomenal reviews. Also, I think the hip-belt looks extremely comfortable and it seems like the majority who have used it would agree.
 

burgerta

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Oct 26, 2012
Messages
50
As far as a Pack I think you are one the same line as I am thinking. I am thinking if I had to buy a pack for a packrafting hunt right now I would get a DT-2 with a heavy load out kit and also a Ribz front pack to try and get some weight in front of me and help try and balance the load as best I can. Then Propbably experiment with rolling up the rafts in different shapes and figure out the best way to get the load of the rafts up against my body with the heavy load out kit. Thats a different method than what I have seen most use, usually I just see people lash the raft somewhere on top of the pack once its loaded. I am looking at potentially taking a PR-49 and a Big Rig for getting into moosey creek and floating a LOT of meat in shallow waters that I can wade out...
I would not attempt calss 3 and 4 with a deer load let alone a Elk...Rafts like the Pr-49 and Big Rig are little tankers capable of a lot of things normal packrafts are not. But I am willing to bet there is a very small community of extreme boaters that are capable of safely navigating that kind of whitewater with big game meat on board. I would not do it...But hey thats my ability level speaking and I do not know your ability level, it sounds like a great adventure if you really work at it and pull it off. Keep me posted!
But please be safe and prepared for what could go wrong!
 
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Outdoorsman3830

Outdoorsman3830

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Packrafting most of the entire length of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River is a long shot at best, but there is that slight bit of potential. Getting flown in and out of the unit is probably the easiest option and relatively affordable, but maybe not as exciting as taking on the rapids. I'd really love to spend 10 days hunting and then slowly raft and fish my way out if I don't have a tag on anything. It would make for the perfect scouting trip, but complicates the hunting trip a bit.
 

luke moffat

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I think you'll be satisified with that pack and its a great canidate for a packraft hunting pack given its volume.
Do you have rafting experience? I would not want to run Class IV rapids in an empty boat let alone float anything in it due to my rafting skill leave. An elk and in Class III will be a LOT to muster especially if you are not used to packrafting or have limited experience. I would highly suggest running some tamer rivers/creeks prior to even scouting your intended route.

Burgerta, I have thought about the putting the raft inbetween the frame and the pack. But its not really practical for me cause a raft is bulky and not really weight dense. This means you'll be pushing your 50+ pound pack further away from your bag to get a 15 pound raft closer to your back. Personally I found the opposite to work well by strapping the raft either under the lid or to the to the back of the sleeping bag compartment. Would rather put the bulky 15 pounds further from my body and keep the bulk of the weight (my packbag) as close to my body as possible. Just what I have found works best...hope that helps.
 
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