Pack on a budget

Newtosavage

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Sep 20, 2018
Messages
6,211
Location
In someone's favorite spot
First time poster, long-time reader on here!

I've been researching seriously for a new hunting pack and I'm just not finding what I'm looking for in my budget. I think it must exist and I'm just missing it somehow. I'd like to spend less than $200. I'm a mobile tree-stand, public land bow-hunter and I'm searching out a pack for that application specifically. I only plan to hunt in TN with this pack; so it doesn't need to scale up for western elk hunts.

Currently I use a Molle II system on my XOP Air Raid and I strap extra clothes and a fanny pack to the stand. This works and is comfy, but it is inefficient. I haven't packed a deer out with this yet. I know I could, but I don't think it would be comfortable or easy to get everything out in one trip. I'm looking for a better way that will allow me to also pack out de-boned deer without having to go to truck to dump gear first and return for deer.

Based on research:

1. I am leaning toward a pack with an expandable load-shelf to pack my stand in and meat/stand out
2. I don't carry much gear or extra clothes; don't really need or want a big pack in the tree, but need the ability to get stand/deer meat out when I'm successful. It just seems like I have to go full frame pack and get a bigger pack than I need or, go with a great small hunting pack that is right-sized but won't pack the stand/deer meat in/out well.
3. I don't care if it is Camo.
4. I don't care if it is waterproof really.
5. I'm open to used packs but don't know where to look really

Does this unicorn pack exist? Hit me with what you have found that fits the bill please!
I spent years as a "mobile tree-stand, public land bow-hunter" as well, and I am trying to figure out what it is you're wanting your pack to do.

Are you wanting to strap your stand to it and then also have meat-hauling capabilities if you're successful?

Here's the approach I came up with, and it's worked very well for me.

I hike in with my stand on my back (backpack straps on my stand) and a small day pack slung over the stand. Total weight with steps is less than 20 lbs. so I can really cover ground without getting sweated up, which is a big consideration down here in SE Texas.

IF (and it's a big IF) I'm successful, once the critter has run off after the shot, I quietly take down my stand and steps and quietly go back to my truck for a frame pack with my kill kit. I drop my stand and day pack, hike in with the kill kit, find the deer, quarter it, load it up and hike back out.

This system has by FAR been the best I've come up with in over 30 years of bowhunting public lands.

Sure, it involves two trips from the truck to the stand location, but how often will you do that? Maybe once or twice a season if you're lucky? And believe me, if you just shot a deer, you won't feel those extra miles at all.

Most of my stand locations are about 1/2 mile to 1 mile in, usually through pretty thick cover. If you're going farther, I can see the appeal to having the ability to pack out the meat and your stand. But for me it's just simpler to hike out my stand and go get my pack frame. That also keeps me from following the deer and looking for blood too soon, which has screwed me a few times. So it gives the deer plenty of time to die while I'm out of the area.

Anyway, YMMV as they say, but that's what's worked for me and I have no plans to change it.

If I go in further than a mile, then I use small pop-up ground blinds and I stay on the ground.
 

RGARNER

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Jan 27, 2021
Messages
116
You should be able to pick up a MR pintler used on the classifieds pretty easy, or even the Mystery ranch pop up. If you want to go really nice, Exo 1800 blems are on sale right now
 

Jpsmith1

Junior Member
Joined
Oct 11, 2020
Messages
12
Location
Western Pennsylvania, Lawrence County
I see what you're looking for as a bit of a tall order.

I'm in kind of the same boat.

For stand hunting, you want to be "light and fast" so a small pack works great.

Then, something is on the ground and you're looking at a 70+ pound pack without a frame or suspension system.

Last season, I ran light with my climber as my "pack" and a Kifaru Stryker waiting in the truck for the pack out if needed.
 

Cmor_15

Junior Member
Joined
Dec 31, 2021
Messages
11
Not sure it anyone has mentioned it yet but camofire.com has packs on there alot. Very good deals on mystery ranch packs alot the time. I run a MR Selway 60 and for pack heavy they are great! Also used an eberlestock x1 for a long time which is great for day hunts but kind of uncomfortable for packing heavy loads out.
 

Cmor_15

Junior Member
Joined
Dec 31, 2021
Messages
11
This pic might help. It is the x1. It can handle a load but it does not support it well. It just hangs off of a guy. My suggestion in the mystery ranch packs they support a load very well!!
 

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htr2133

Junior Member
Joined
Nov 15, 2021
Messages
14
I spent years as a "mobile tree-stand, public land bow-hunter" as well, and I am trying to figure out what it is you're wanting your pack to do.

Are you wanting to strap your stand to it and then also have meat-hauling capabilities if you're successful?

Here's the approach I came up with, and it's worked very well for me.

I hike in with my stand on my back (backpack straps on my stand) and a small day pack slung over the stand. Total weight with steps is less than 20 lbs. so I can really cover ground without getting sweated up, which is a big consideration down here in SE Texas.

IF (and it's a big IF) I'm successful, once the critter has run off after the shot, I quietly take down my stand and steps and quietly go back to my truck for a frame pack with my kill kit. I drop my stand and day pack, hike in with the kill kit, find the deer, quarter it, load it up and hike back out.

This system has by FAR been the best I've come up with in over 30 years of bowhunting public lands.

Sure, it involves two trips from the truck to the stand location, but how often will you do that? Maybe once or twice a season if you're lucky? And believe me, if you just shot a deer, you won't feel those extra miles at all.

Most of my stand locations are about 1/2 mile to 1 mile in, usually through pretty thick cover. If you're going farther, I can see the appeal to having the ability to pack out the meat and your stand. But for me it's just simpler to hike out my stand and go get my pack frame. That also keeps me from following the deer and looking for blood too soon, which has screwed me a few times. So it gives the deer plenty of time to die while I'm out of the area.

Anyway, YMMV as they say, but that's what's worked for me and I have no plans to change it.

If I go in further than a mile, then I use small pop-up ground blinds and I stay on the ground.
Thanks for this post!

If I cannot find an effective way to simply pack out meat on my stand itself, which is my preference.....Then I am considering a frame-pack that I can:
  1. quickly, easily, without fiddling with tons of straps slide the stand between the frame and small pack for the pack-in
  2. remove stand quickly and quietly at the tree for climb and hunt
  3. small enough pack that I can bring it up with me in tree for the hunt
  4. in the case of success, be able to add boned out meat bags in the load sling with my stand for the pack-out

There is a lot of wisdom in your process! That has been my exact mindset and process since I started hunting public. My current stand w Molle II suspension, fanny-pack, and Wild Edge steps is right at 20lbs and I feel like I can really go anywhere and do anything with it on.

I have never quartered or boned out the deer and packed it out though. I've always returned to the truck to dump gear and get my game-cart. I don't care for the cart much; I plan to start de-boning and packing out meat unless I'm really close to the road and truck.

Most of the time I am less than 2 miles and the walk is pretty tame, so I could definitely continue to return to truck to get a dedicated meat-hauler pack. The main reason I'm trying to eliminate trips is time. The last deer I shot, I was only 1.25 miles in and it was a super easy, flat walk. It still took several hours with the trip to truck, trip to deer, cart back to truck.
 
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htr2133

Junior Member
Joined
Nov 15, 2021
Messages
14
You should be able to pick up a MR pintler used on the classifieds pretty easy, or even the Mystery ranch pop up. If you want to go really nice, Exo 1800 blems are on sale right now
I will definitely keep checking!
 

Newtosavage

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Sep 20, 2018
Messages
6,211
Location
In someone's favorite spot
Thanks for this post!

If I cannot find an effective way to simply pack out meat on my stand itself, which is my preference.....Then I am considering a frame-pack that I can:
  1. quickly, easily, without fiddling with tons of straps slide the stand between the frame and small pack for the pack-in
  2. remove stand quickly and quietly at the tree for climb and hunt
  3. small enough pack that I can bring it up with me in tree for the hunt
  4. in the case of success, be able to add boned out meat bags in the load sling with my stand for the pack-out

There is a lot of wisdom in your process! That has been my exact mindset and process since I started hunting public. My current stand w Molle II suspension, fanny-pack, and Wild Edge steps is right at 20lbs and I feel like I can really go anywhere and do anything with it on.

I have never quartered or boned out the deer and packed it out though. I've always returned to the truck to dump gear and get my game-cart. I don't care for the cart much; I plan to start de-boning and packing out meat unless I'm really close to the road and truck.

Most of the time I am less than 2 miles and the walk is pretty tame, so I could definitely continue to return to truck to get a dedicated meat-hauler pack. The main reason I'm trying to eliminate trips is time. The last deer I shot, I was only 1.25 miles in and it was a super easy, flat walk. It still took several hours with the trip to truck, trip to deer, cart back to truck.
Yea, you're gonna have to count on being there a while if you quarter one on the ground. Last one I did, I shot the deer at last light (10 min. of legal light left) and by the time I got the quarters loaded in my pack, it was probably 2 full hours after sunset. And I still had a 2.5 mile pack out to my truck followed by a 2 hr. drive home. That was a LONG night. I think I got home at midnight. My wife didn't care for that too much. She worries about me when I'm by myself, "at my age", doing things like that. LOL

I never bothered with a game cart. Can't bring them into the places I hunt, even though it's pretty level ground. I've seen more than my share of guys expend more energy and time fighting to get a game cart into a spot than it would have taken to just drag the animal out. But they bought the game cart and they are sure it's the easier way to go. LOL No thanks. Just one more big piece of gear I have getting in my way 10 months out of the year.

You'll figure out your method. By the time you get a full deer on your back, adding the stand and stand pack won't be much fun at all. I say this because that last pack out I described included my camping gear, which was about 25 lbs. Together with that buck's quarters and head, that made for a miserable 2.5 miles out to the truck.
 

Felton

Member
Joined
Nov 28, 2021
Messages
86
This is a mystery ranch frame and backstraps connected to a millennium m100u with sticks. Get a small backpack to add to the top of this or carry everything in a chest pouch and pockets. You could also add a few pockets to the belt but I don’t take the frame off the stand when I hunt. It’s too much hassle to take off and out back on.

I have not hauled a deer out with it but in theory I could disconnect the frame from the stand and slide the meat in the meat shelf and reconnect the stand. B497A8A1-268B-4B5D-9A02-F431FC8EEA59.jpeg
 
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RGARNER

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Jan 27, 2021
Messages
116
This is a mystery ranch frame and backstraps connected to a millennium m100u with sticks. Get a small backpack to add to the top of this or carry everything in a chest pouch and pockets.

I have not hauled a deer out with it but in theory I could disconnect the frame from the stand and slide the meat in the meat shelf and reconnect the stand. View attachment 403814
Looks like a solid setup, climbers are no fun to carry if you have any distance at all
 

Newtosavage

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Sep 20, 2018
Messages
6,211
Location
In someone's favorite spot
Looks like a solid setup, climbers are no fun to carry if you have any distance at all
I bought waist belt and shoulder straps for my climber last year. Carries great. What gets me is the bulk. I always forget how much stand I have back there behind me.

I did hang-ons and steps/sticks for over 20 years. Super versatile and compact but they are a young man's game. After my back surgery, I sold them all and bought a climber. I'll just have to do my pre-season tree scouting a little better but I'll be much safer.

As close to retirement as I am, the last thing I need is a tree stand accident that keeps me from enjoying it.
 

Crcusmonky

Member
Joined
Apr 17, 2022
Messages
50
For a quality pack on a budget. The kuiu ventures are very nice, and especially if you can get them on the 25% off sales. Or even the kuiu divide looks promising.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
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htr2133

Junior Member
Joined
Nov 15, 2021
Messages
14
This is a mystery ranch frame and backstraps connected to a millennium m100u with sticks. Get a small backpack to add to the top of this or carry everything in a chest pouch and pockets. You could also add a few pockets to the belt but I don’t take the frame off the stand when I hunt. It’s too much hassle to take off and out back on.

I have not hauled a deer out with it but in theory I could disconnect the frame from the stand and slide the meat in the meat shelf and reconnect the stand. View attachment 403814

Thx! That is sweet; similar to what I'm doing now just a much nicer suspension system than Molle II. Question, do you just leave the belt and all the straps dangling while you hunt? Or do you cinch that down somehow to prevent straps blowing in the wind?
 
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htr2133

Junior Member
Joined
Nov 15, 2021
Messages
14
Yea, you're gonna have to count on being there a while if you quarter one on the ground. Last one I did, I shot the deer at last light (10 min. of legal light left) and by the time I got the quarters loaded in my pack, it was probably 2 full hours after sunset.
Yeah, this is something I haven't been factoring in really. I have no idea the time it takes to debone meat on the ground by headlamp. I might be saving quite a bit of walking by packing meat out in one trip, but I'm not sure how much time I'd really be saving.

By the time you get a full deer on your back, adding the stand and stand pack won't be much fun at all. I say this because that last pack out I described included my camping gear, which was about 25 lbs. Together with that buck's quarters and head, that made for a miserable 2.5 miles out to the truck.

Good point! I figured 40-60 lbs of meat (TN Deer) plus horns possibly, + 20-25 lbs of gear (depending on season) = 60-80+ lbs on the pack-out. I'm not sure I'm physically even able to pull that off anymore. When I start to think through the time to de-bone and the actual weight to pack-out, I must say returning to truck for a dedicated meat-hauler (instead of cart) and just field dressing and quartering the deer may be the happy medium for me....I hope I'm fortunate enough this year to try it both ways at least once :)
 

Felton

Member
Joined
Nov 28, 2021
Messages
86
most of the time I’m in tight cover and the straps blowing in the wind is a non issue, but I attach my sticks to my stand with gear ties. If needed I could lash down the straps with those gear ties.

Some of the straps you see there are not needed and come off, it’s really not that much.
 
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