Modular Pack Systems

Years ago I was hunting with my buddy in the back country of Utah. We spotted Elk early that morning and took off across a huge canyon to see if we could get into them. As luck would have it we were able to get into the herd and I was able to arrow a nice bull. This point in the story when we realized, we were not prepared.

What I mean by that is, as we left the camp that morning all we had on our backs were our little day packs. We had not figured we would see the elk in that location and figured we would find them much closer. After spotting the elk we were excited and took off without thinking or preparing. As we got to my bull we realized that we had put ourselves in a bad predicament. There was no way we were going to be able to get that big animal out that night with the packs we had on.

My buddy and I decided he would make the long trip back through the big nasty canyon to our camp to retrieve our meat hauling packs and I would start the process of taking care of the bull. By the time Travis was able to get to the packs and back to my location it was getting dark. He said, as he walked up to me, thank goodness for GPS or I would have never found you in the dark.

We finished taking care of the bull, deboned the meat and loaded up our packs. By this time it was very dark and we realized that there was no way we were going to be able to hike out in the dark through the rough canyon. We decided to move away from the carcass and make camp for the night. We hung our heavy packs up in a tree and moved away from them, we found a big tree we could use for shelter and to sleep under. We built a fire between us and tried to get some sleep while lying on the ground with no pad or sleeping bag. We took turns all night getting wood and stoking the fire to keep it burning so we wouldn’t freeze. The next morning we got up (won’t say we woke up because I am pretty sure neither of us really ever went to sleep), put our packs on and hiked ourselves out to the truck. It was a very long night and not one I plan on repeating, at least not that way.

The reason I tell you this story is because it could have all been prevented if we would have been prepared. Our biggest problem is that we didn’t have the right equipment on our backs. Since that time I have done a lot of research on packs and what the best option would be to help prevent this type of situation from happening again. I found what I believe to be the best option. Modular Pack Systems.

What I mean by modular pack systems is, a system that can be added to or taken way from to get what you need out of your pack. There are many different brands of modular packs out there and for the most part they are all good quality packs from companies that have reputable brands. I have used many different packs and they all have their strengths and weaknesses.

Here are some, but not all, of the packs we have looked at that would fit these category of modular packs.

Eberlestock– Eberlestock has a few options to create the modular pack system. Packs like the “Just One Pack”, the “Dragonfly” and the “BlueWidow”. All great packs where the outer tube pockets can be unzipped between them and folded out to expose more cargo space and allows for additional packs to be zipped into them to grow your pack even bigger. Price on their website $330 – $400

Horn Hunter Horn Hunter has a great pack that fits the modular system. The Full Curl System pack is very versatile and can adjust to what you need very quickly. This pack consists of a frame pack that has wings that can fold out and a packing shelf on the bottom, a big bag that has huge cargo opening to store about anything you can imagine and a day pack that has plenty of space and pockets to organize all your gear. This system can be used and connected together in any configuration you want. Frame and Big Bag, Frame and Day Pack, Frame alone or Day Pack alone or all three hooked together. Price on their website $381

Blacks Creek– The Solution Pack is a great backpack that has a modular system to it as well.  It like the Horn Hunter has a frame that can open up and that other parts of the pack are able to hook into to create the pack you need for the hunt you are on. From shed hunting to elk hunting this modular pack is a great option. Price on their website $595

Kifaru– ERM II is a Functional, versatile and durable pack. The pack can expand to 8,000+ ci, but also transform into a functional daypack when needed. The pack also adds 1,200 ci wings to each side. The EMR II allows for mass expansion and/or compression and the versatility that is great for any situation you are in while back packing. Price on their website $383

Mystery Ranch– Mystery Ranch has a few packs that would fit this category. The Marshall, Metcalf and Pintler are all packs that can expand and give you more room to haul out your quarry.  The packs them self can be removed and expanded from the frame allowing space to store or haul anything you need. Price on their website $450 – $595

There are a lot of great packs out there. These packs will all do the job when it comes to being modular enough to handle any situation. From a 50 mile backpack trip to packing out your trophy to anything you can imagine throwing at them. All of the packs reviewed here come from top manufactures and companies in the backpack industry. There are also many packs out there that we did not review in this article which we plan on doing in a follow up article.

Biggest advice is while all these packs are awesome and will do the job for you, the most important thing to do is to go out and try them on. Each of us is built different physically and not one pack will be perfect for every person. Try the packs on. Ask the store if you can put some weight in them and pack them around the store. If they have stairs in the store, go up and down the stairs and see how the pack moves with you. Check out the adjustability of the pack. Can it be adjusted the way you need it to fit your body type. Check out the other features like pockets and organization capabilities. Look to see if there is a warranty on the pack and what it covers. Your putting your hard earned money into this pack you want it to last and have a company that backs their product. Most of all, do your homework. Talk to as many people as you can and make your informed decision, then get out there and have some fun with your new pack.

Although our experience makes for some great memories with a hunting buddy, being able to go from a day pack to a full on meat hauling machine would have been a huge blessing for Travis and I that night we spent on the mountain. If we would have had a modular pack systems we could have gone from spotting the elk with a small compressed day packs on, to hauling it out that afternoon with our meat hauler packs. We would not have had to waste the time and energy running the 4+ miles back and forth to camp to get a different pack. We could have processed the bull, put it in our packs and hauled it out before dark and skipped the experience of sleeping on the ground and almost freezing.

Next time you are looking at packs, remember our experience, and seriously consider getting a good Modular Pack System. It will save you time and defiantly saves you from that bad feeling of being unprepared.

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