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When looking for the best hunting backpack that's going to enhance your hunting experience, you need to make sure the type of hunting backpack matches up with your style of hunting.
Think about it! A good hunting backpack is basically worthless if it's not going to do what you want it to do. You're not going to rely on a fanny pack to get you through a 5 day elk hunt, and you're not going to rely on a frame pack to house your turkey calls and decoys. Those things just don't match up!
I'm going to keep the list below relatively simple and straightforward - outlining the most popular hunting backpack types, as well as some high-level facts and features.
The list below summarizes several different types of hunting backpacks you might be interested in before your next trip.
Frame or multi-day backpacks are the Cadillac of hunting backpacks as they come equipped with all the bells and whistles.
Now, before you go out purchasing one of these well-designed and expensive packs you need to understand if it's right for you or not. First, they obviously have an exterior frame built in to help you evenly distribute the weight - something you're going to need if you're hunting for extended periods of time.
One unique thing about many of these backpacks is the integration of shelf space between the pack and the frame. By allowing the pack to disconnect, you can keep the heavier big-game quarters closer to you body without getting in the way of your gear.
Standard Volume Expectations: 1,500-3,000 cubic-inch range (multi-day), 2,500-6,000 cubic-inch range (frame)
Day backpacks are utilized by most whitetail deer hunters, no matter where they are the United States.
These packs are the perfect hybrid hunting style backpack that can be used for pretty much anything... if you find the right one. This particular style of pack offers the most versatility with the greatest selection, meaning you can find one that matches your desired price point.
Before you go out and find one you like, I would recommend checking out the best hunting backpack brands as you'll find the most options here.
Standard Volume Expectations: 1,000-2,500 cubic-inch range
Scouting backpacks are a great solution for final stalks, scouting before the season, and even searching for antler sheds during the early spring months.
Due to the limited size of the packs, they are only able to carry the essentials. However, many of these stalking packs can be easily nested into multi-day packs. This allows you to pack your most needed gear in your stalking bag, place the pack in your larger hunting backpack, and only pull it out in the final moments of the hunt.
Standard Volume Expectations: 500-750 cubic-inch range
Turkey backpacks and vests are some of the most specialized packs on the market, making them useful for one thing and one thing only - chasing turkey!
These packs have several easy-to-access pockets that are custom designed to hold box calls, mouth calls, and even slate calls securely in place. They also come equipped with rear pouches to hold decoys and a big ol' tom once the hunt is over.
Today, the top hunting turkey backpacks come equipped with integrated seated cushions and retractable kickstand frames that let you set up anywhere you'd like.
Standard Volume Expectations: 400-2,200 cubic-inch range
Duck hunting backpacks have a few different designs. One being a standard style backpack, with the other mirroring a tackle style design.
Most duck hunting backs are going to be waterproof and/or float as duck hunters are often hunting in wet conditions and near water. Furthermore, the main compartments make it easy to access additional shells.
For some duck hunters that spend their time in flooded timber, there are a few manufactures that specifically design packs to be hung from a tree, ensuring your gear remains dry and easily accessible.
Standard Volume Expectations: 1,000-2,000 cubic-inch range
A hunting fanny pack is not the most popular style of hunting packs, but they do serve a large benefit for a select group of hunters who know how to utilize them.
All in all, hunting fanny packs are really built for minimalist style hunters who want to stay agile and keep their pack light. As a result, you're only able to hold the bare minimum in most of these packs.
Fortunately enough, there are some hunting backpacks with expandable pockets that allow hunters to carry extra clothing, hydration packs, and gear if needed.
Standard Volume Expectations: 500-1,100 cubic-inch range
Binocular packs are starting to become one of the most focused pack styles on the market, as each individual hunting backpack brands tries to perfect the model.
As you'd expect, today's binocular packs do way more than just hold your optics. Most now come with accessories packs or attachments that hold everything from phones to rangefinders, and even your handgun.
Personally, I think there's a limit to how much additional gear you want to attach to your bino harness, but to each their own.
Standard Volume Expectations: N/A
Rifle/bow hunting backpacks really started to become popular a couple of decades ago as the special designed compartment caught the eye of many hunters.
Most of these backpacks are designed in a similar fashion, with your bow or gun held vertically outside of the main compartment. The only difference is really the exact location - some keep your weapon between you and the pack, while others are on the exterior of the pack.
The most important part of these packs it the fact that your hands remain free to navigate difficult terrain or carry out gear and/or your kill with ease.
Standard Volume Expectations: 2,000-3,000 cubic-inch range
For a blog about How To Pack A Hunting Backpack we have that too!