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Top Elk Hunting Backpacks Reviewed

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What is the best elk hunting pack?

It is a question that serious elk hunters have debated for years, because the answer can have a significant impact on your hunt.

Hunting Packs For Elk Comparison Table

After sorting through the various entries we narrowed our field down to 5, and review each in detail below. But for those of you in a hurry to find the best pack, here is a summary of our top choices.

Top Choice
Badlands 2200 Camouflage Hunting Backpack - Meat Hauler - Rifle, Bow, and Pistol Compatible and Hydration Compatible
Eberlestock Team Elk Pack
Badlands Superday Camouflage Hunting Backpack - Bow, Rifle, and Pistol Compatible, Approach Camo
ALPS OutdoorZ Commander + Pack Bag, Briar
HORN HUNTER Full Curl System, Stone
MSRP
$234.99
$329.00
$199.99
$159.99
$305.99
Our Rating
4.8
4.6
4.4
4.1
3.9
Material
KXO-32 Fabric
NT7 Fabric
100% Polyester
Durable Nylon Rip Stop Fabric
Brushed Ripstop Boss/Polyester
Suspension System
ThermoMold
Fully Adjustable Shooter’s Harness
ThermoMold
Secure Lashing System
Molded Foam
Total Volume
2250 CI
3100 CI
1440 CI
5250 CI
5500 CI
Number of Pockets
6
6
7
3.2 in
8.5 in
Top Choice
Badlands 2200 Camouflage Hunting Backpack - Meat Hauler - Rifle, Bow, and Pistol Compatible and Hydration Compatible
MSRP
$234.99
Our Rating
4.8
Material
KXO-32 Fabric
Suspension System
ThermoMold
Total Volume
2250 CI
Number of Pockets
6
More Information
Eberlestock Team Elk Pack
MSRP
$329.00
Our Rating
4.6
Material
NT7 Fabric
Suspension System
Fully Adjustable Shooter’s Harness
Total Volume
3100 CI
Number of Pockets
6
More Information
Badlands Superday Camouflage Hunting Backpack - Bow, Rifle, and Pistol Compatible, Approach Camo
MSRP
$199.99
Our Rating
4.4
Material
100% Polyester
Suspension System
ThermoMold
Total Volume
1440 CI
Number of Pockets
7
More Information
ALPS OutdoorZ Commander + Pack Bag, Briar
MSRP
$159.99
Our Rating
4.1
Material
Durable Nylon Rip Stop Fabric
Suspension System
Secure Lashing System
Total Volume
5250 CI
Number of Pockets
3.2 in
More Information
HORN HUNTER Full Curl System, Stone
MSRP
$305.99
Our Rating
3.9
Material
Brushed Ripstop Boss/Polyester
Suspension System
Molded Foam
Total Volume
5500 CI
Number of Pockets
8.5 in
More Information

If it doesn’t fit right, or isn’t comfortable, or is too heavy, or fragile, or isn’t strong enough to pack out enough meat it can literally ruin your hunt.

And to make things harder, there are continually new packs coming on the market. That is why we took a look at the latest packs for you, to help you zero in on the best elk hunting pack for your needs.

Badlands 2200 Camouflage Hunting Backpack

One of the biggest problems we all face is overstuffing our bags, then feeling our shoulders screaming out to us after the trip is over. 

Badlands crafted this backpack with a ThermoMold padding system that helps you carry everything just a little bit easier.

That, and they included a rifle/pistol mount on the side of this backpack so you don’t have to keep it on a sling for your entire journey. 

Utilize the chest compression straps to keep this in place, and retain your center of gravity. Your COG is important when carrying a backpack. 

Paying attention to it takes the strain off your lower lumbar, but it also reduces the risk of injury in almost every fashion you can imagine.

Badlands crafted this out of KXO-32 fabric, which comes with a waterproof property to repel rain while you’re in the middle of a hunting trip. 

No water gets in through top top. If you want to have a laugh, you could be drinking water from the two-liter hydration pouch while walking through a rainstorm.

I like it when something lasts a long time, but we all know that nothing lasts forever. 

Well, Badlands is doing their best to actually overcome that by ensuring an unconditional lifetime warranty with this backpack.

Go ahead and put it through its paces—it’ll stand the test, or get replaced. You’re in good hands here.

Benefits

  • Unconditional lifetime warranty, backed by the manufacturer
  • Extremely durable KXO-32 fabric construction
  • ThermoMold carry option for reduced fatigue

Eberlestock Team Elk Pack

Big game hunting always requires more gear than chasing down pheasants. 

I respect all hunters, but if you chase down elk, then you know how difficult it can be to lug all that gear around.

Thankfully, Eberlestock makes it a bit easier with the M5 tactical elk hunting backpack, primarily due to the front and top load spots. 

When you have this much gear on your back, you have to have as many access points as possible to always have your gear at the ready.

They thought of everything. There’s a hydration pouch pack along the side, and on the other, a place for your spotting scope to sit close by your side. 

Heavy loads on your back can lead to lower lumbar aching and eventual back damage.

Nobody wants that to happen, so Eberlestock included ultra padded straps to give you a helping hand when and where you need it most.

You get a total of fifty liters of capacity for maximum storage. 

While there isn’t a meat shelf, there is plenty of space for your tactical gear, and everything that you’ll need to use to clean up the kill.

With a decent woodland camouflage pattern to it, you end up with a stealthy pack that’s built with tough materials, and is poised to be the last hunting backpack you’ll ever need.

Benefits

  • 50 liters of capacity for heavy duty storage
  • Two loading options for easy access to your must-have tactical gear
  • Pockets designated for spotting scopes and hydration packs

Badlands Superday Pack

Hunting bags need to have some serious room, but Badlands was able to make this pack work without being the biggest and baddest in the room.

You get 32 liters of space, which is arguably enough to get the job done, but it is on the lower side. 

That’s because there’s no fussy design with this pack: you have a main compartment and seven pockets, and that’s it.

If you notice the back straps, they’re designed to take the weight off of your back and more evenly distribute them across your back and shoulders, resulting in a lowered risk of injury.

The easy access waist belt pockets come in handy multiple times while using this backpack, whether it’s just to pop your cell phone or miniature GPS device into.

Utilize the hydration pack to store up to two liters of water for those long hikes to the hunting or camping spot as well.

One little bit of buyer’s advice: the Approach color is the best camouflage out of the four available styles, but the Solid Earth camo is about forty dollars cheaper. 

It’s not going to work well in most woodland environments, but it’s a way to budget a little lower for this top-of-the-line backpack.

Benefits

  • Easy to clean polyester fabric blend
  • Ultralight empty carry weight
  • Medium use; 32 liters in total

ALPS OutdoorZ Commander

Out of all these packs, I have to be objective when I review them, but the ALPS OutdoorZ is perhaps my favorite. 

I’m a big fan of the way they hung the meat shelf, but it’s not the star of the show.

For your lower lumbar, there’s a full 180° cushion that grips onto your back to even out the pressure of carrying a heavy bag. 

Between that and the padded shoulder straps, I don’t think I’ve ever been more comfortable with 45+ pounds of gear on my back.

Pair that with the supportive rifle mount next to the two external packs, as well as a pistol holster, and you have the most tactical elk hunting backpack that money can buy.

Speaking of which, Amazon Prime members receive a crazy 40%+ discount to the list price, making it one of the most affordable, high quality elk hunting bags out there.

The empty weight is a little hefty, being just over seven pounds. 

It’s ironic that it needs a higher weight to help prevent back pain from a heavy carry weight, but it gets the job done nonetheless.

Take full advantage of the hydration pocket to help you on the trail to the hunting ground, while the briar colored exterior assists you with staying hidden in fall woodland areas.

I don’t recommend going for the coyote brown pack, since it spikes the cost by a considerable amount, and looks fairly similar to the briar style.

Benefits

  • Side rifle holster beside two miniature compartments
  • Includes a rear meat shelf
  • Padding for lower lumbar support and shoulder strap aid

Horn Hunter Full Curl System

Last on the list is a high capacity pack that’s going to let you lug around more than you’ll ever need. 

This beast holds onto 90 liters of total space, which is plenty for everything you need on your hunting trip,

High capacity requires high durability, and this pack includes H3 tube framing for maximum durability as an internal frame.

When you’re lugging 90 liters worth of items around, it’s not exactly going to be easy on your shoulders. 

Thankfully, these straps are not only adjustable but have a clip in the middle to fasten to your midsection, reducing the strain on your lower lumbar.

While its empty carry weight is already pretty big, that’s what you have to trade off for high amounts of storage like this.

This isn’t designed to fit a rifle on the side, though it’s still possible to nestle one in here. Some online tutorials will teach you how to augment 

Benefits

  • H3 tube framing cuts down on back strain
  • Adjustable shoulder straps for all heights
  • Impressive 90 liter size

Hunting Backpack FAQ

elk bull in the wood

How Much Does it Cost to go Elk Hunting?

On average, given the number of elk available and the fact that they’re mostly only huntable on private land, you’re looking at a high cost.

Many places, as reported by Field & Stream magazine, can cost you around $4,500. 

Some of these include six-day stays, but others are a little less plentiful, offering a decent package but not what I would call worth it for the money.

That’s just the trip though. You still have to get your elk hunting license, which is usually issued by a lottery system. 

Even then, if you’re chosen (roughly a 78% chance), you still have to pay for elk licensing fees. These can range around $900+ depending on where you are in the United States.

Your other option is an elk hunting drop camp. 

These can range from about $1,000 to $1,600, and grant you up to three or four people and 8-12 days, depending on the camp you’re able to find. 

This is the most economic option, but it’s best done when you bring some buddies along for the ride.

What do You Need for an Elk Hunt?

Patience, and a ton of time. You’re likely going to go on a multi-day hunting trip if you commit to this, so be sure to take time off of work beforehand.

That, and plenty of gear. You should plan ahead as if you weren’t going to have any meat at the end of your trip. 

You need to have your license in order, and a game plan to get the meat out of there as soon as you’ve completed your kill.

Some hunters will have a buyer set up beforehand to make back some of the money off of your hunting trip costs. 

It’s not about the business opportunity, it’s about the hunt, but it doesn’t hurt to make back some of what you spent.

How to, and What to Pack for Elk Hunting?

elk hunter with backpack

This is a brief list of the essentials you’ll need. Keep in mind that most elk hunting trips will be overnight for multiple days at a time.

  • First-aid kit
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Cooking
  •  pot[
  • Thermos
  • Lighter
  • Hunting knife
  • Water purification system
  • Rope
  • Laser rangefinder
  • Guns and ammo
  • Pillows/comfort during camping
  • Tent and stakes
  • Binoculars/monocular
  • Emergency rations
  • Portable solar panel
  • Toilet paper
  • Hunting toilet

These are just some of the essentials that you’re going to need.

Elk Hunting General Information

Elk Hunting Gear

Elk Hunting Backpack

Well, it’s why we’re all here, right? 

An elk hunting backpack has more than enough storage for game meat, but it’s also going to let you bring along enough provisions for multiple days of camping. 

Where else do you find 90 liter backpacks? Practically nowhere.

Gun Sling + Stock Pads

I’ll tell you one thing—you shouldn’t be using a crossbow to take down an elk. You need power, and with great power comes a serious kickback if you aren’t prepared for it. 

For that, you need a sling that’s going to help you hold your rifle in place, but you also need a stock pad to help absorb some of the blow from each shot where it counts. 

A good stock pad can reduce around 70% of the impact you normally feel on your shoulder, allowing you to snap into the next shot quickly and with effective aim.

Hunting Boots

A proper pair of hunting boots don’t just protect your feet from punctures—they’re temperature controlled, and fitted with enough traction to get you through the muck and the mud, and I mean that literally. 

When you’re standing still trying to get a shot on your elk, you need control in your footing so you can have control in your aiming.

EDC Kit

Everyday carry items are fairly straightforward. 

They can be survival-based or simple utility items that help you in a pinch, but the end goal should always fit the situation you’re going into. 

Your EDC kit should be easily accessible, so consider putting it on the external pocket of your soft gun case, or on your elk hunting backpack’s outside pockets.

What Kind of Backpack Should You Buy for Elk Hunting?

One with a meat shelf, plenty of storage (measured in liters) and one with ample camouflage. 

Truth be told, you can’t always hit all those marks on your shopping list, but you can determine which ones mean the most to you.

I’m not a fan of meat shelves, but a high liter capacity storage is the way to go. 

If you can package up your meat right with supplies, you can bring some of it home there, and leave the rest for nature.

For elk hunting, that’s how you have to do it. I would tow a whitetail on a game cart, but that’s about as far as I’d be willing to go. 

Take what you can, and leave the rest for nature.

Elk Hunting Backpack Video

Here is a great video where an elk hunter shows what he puts in his backpack for a 7-day elk hunt:

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