For most beginner hunters, a good backpack is probably not the first piece of equipment that comes to mind when thinking about gearing up for the upcoming season. But as any seasoned hunter will tell you, your hunting backpack is actually one of the most important parts of the survivalist’s repertoire. Whether you’re using a composite bow or a long rifle, it’s important to remember that the hunt is only half of it.
The other half? Hiking out with as much meat as you can carry.
One thing is for sure:
You don’t want to wait until you are cleaning your kill to start thinking about how you are going to get it home. Considering that the average pack-pout weight of a field-dressed buck is about 102 pounds, it’s not something that you are going to want to take lightly.
The best daypacks for hunting not only give you a way to get all that delicious meat back home and into your freezer, but they also provide innovative and easy-to-use features that make the whole hunting experience more enjoyable. We’re counting down the 6 best lightweight daypacks for hunting, and then we’re going to dive head-first into a detailed guide on how to choose the best hunting backpack for you.
|Best Feature||Accomodates||Pattern||Hydration Pocket Capacity||Total Volume||Pros||Cons|
Best Lightweight Daypack
|Bow/Rifle/Handgun||Realtree/Mossy Oak||2-3L||2700 CI||
Best Daypack for Pistol Hunting
Best Daypack for Elk Hunting
|Long Rifle/Pistol||Mossy Oak||n/a||1853 CI||
Best Multipurpose Hunting Backpack
|Shotgun/Bow/Pistol||Multicam/Rock Veil||2.5Lx2||1830 CI||
Best High Capacity Pack for Hunting
Deer Hunting Back Pack
|Bow/Rifle/Handgun||Wetland Karma/Blind Spot||n/a||2300 CI||
Best Day Pack for Bow Hunting
|Bow/Rifle/Handgun||Realtree/Mossy Oak/Max1||n/a||2400 CI||
ALPS OutdoorZ PURSUIT Hunting Pack – Best Lightweight Daypack for Hunting
|ACCOMODATES||Bow, Rifle, Handgun|
|PATTERN(S)||Realtree, Brushed mossy oak|
|WEIGHT||4 LBS, 1 OZ|
|BEST FEATURE||Front shelf pocket|
We can say this from the get go: you are not going to find more features in a hunting backpack that is under $100 than you will with the PURSUIT pack by OutdoorZ. While this wasn’t the largest, toughest, or most durable pack that we looked at, it certainly had the best balance of cost to functionality, and for those of us out there that don’t want to spend hundreds on a hunting pack, that’s a huge relief.
Speaking of features, let’s go down the list. The first think you will notice is the large front-zip shelf pocket, which opens up to reveal a plethora of pockets, both mesh & zip up, giving the user immediate access to a well-organized selection of gear. Everything from phones, keys, knives, snacks, & medical equipment, all ready to pull at a moment’s notice. It is especially helpful when hunting with a partner, who can access all this stuff without having to dig through the main pocket.
The main pocket itself is large enough for almost everything that you need for the hunt, however, it is not quite large enough to pack out any significant amount of meat. In fact, the PURSUIT pack simply isn’t really designed for pack-out of meat, as it also doesn’t have the external frame that is required of a good hunting pack in order to support that kind of weight (which can be over a hundred pounds, as anyone who has scored even a small buck can attest to.)
Big guys like me might be better off looking for a larger pack, as this one is just a bit small for people with bigger frames. Personally, I had to loosen the pack straps all the way in order to get the hip belt to sit at the right place on my hip. In fact, I eventually took the hip belt off altogether (it is fully removable, by the way) just to make the pack more comfortable.
You won’t have any problems carrying a bow or rifle with this pack, which utilizes a remarkably easy strap connection system that also works well for arrow quivers & antlers.
- Great price
- Fold-down shelf pocket for easy access
- Not designed to carry heavy loads, like pack-out meat
- Not ideal for taller hunters with longer torsos
BADLANDS 2200 Camouflage Hunting Pack & Meat Hauler – Best Daypack for Pistol Hunting
|ACCOMODATES||Bow, Rifle, Pistol (2x)|
|PATTERN(S)||Approach, Approach FX, Earth|
|WEIGHT||5 LBS, 15 OZ|
|WATERPROOF?||No; Rain cover included|
|BEST FEATURE||Molded foam suspension|
For a lightweight hunting backpack that is designed to carry a little bit more weight than your average daypack, the BADLANDS 2200 is one of the most comfortable options on the market. This is no doubt thanks to the molded foam suspension system and backplate, which provide one of the most plush experiences while keeping strap suspension as tight as it needs to be.
Here’s something we loved about the 2200 that you don’t see every day: a large and yet strikingly discreet back-panel access pocket. Not only does this give you a completely different angle at which to approach you packed gear, but in those situations when you are better off not making any noise, you don’t have to be swinging your pack around in order to get access to the pockets.
The house camo here looks effective enough. It’s halfway between traditional tree print and the newer digital type patterns. They claim that it has been designed to perform well in a number of lighting conditions, which could be a big relief for anyone who has older camouflage patterns that are only designed to work well in low light.
Our biggest complaint about this pack is that the main pocket does not feature any organizational pockets. This makes sense for a pack that is designed to carry freshly cleaned meat and not much else, but having the option of individual storage compartments for clothes and gear is always a big plus in our opinion.
It also doesn’t seem to fit very well on women, although it is advertised by the manufacturer as a unisex pack. Perhaps this is because the molded style of the back panel is just a bit too rigid to conform to the contours of a smaller frame. All in all however, this is a pretty comfortable pack for people with average frames.
- Molded suspension system provides high degree of comfort
- Double pistol boots
- No internal organizational compartments
- Not the most ideal fit for women
Allen Remington TWIN MESA Hunting Daypack – Best Daypack for Elk Hunting
|ACCOMODATES||Long rifle, Pistol|
|WEIGHT||4 LBS, 1 OZ|
|BEST FEATURE||Front shelf pocket|
Considering that the TWIN MESA pack is made by the folks over at REMINGTON, it is perhaps no surprise that its primary function is to provide a secure and comfortable carry for your long rifle while you hike in and out of the wilderness. And it served this function well. Although it can take a bit of time to get everything setup properly and to familiarize yourself with all the different straps and components, once you get it setup properly, it provides a remarkably stable carry for even extra-long rifles. Unfortunately it is not particularly well-suited for anything else (bows, crossbows, pistols) though we have managed to secure a crossbow to the exterior without too much trouble. It’s just not what this pack is designed for.
For a budget-level pack (less than $100) the TWIN MESA delivers a surprising amount of comfort. The back panels are plush and the straps are all six-point adjustable. It certainly isn’t the most breathable pack on the market, but for short treks you aren’t going to have too much of an issue. And let’s face it … if you’re shopping for a new daypack for hunting, then chances are you are no stranger to sweat to begin with.
Organization is pretty good on the TWIN MESA. We count five exterior zip-up pockets, which works great for keeping all your smaller stuff in order. A few of them are big enough for raingear or a beanie as well, preventing you from having to access the main compartment, which is just a single pocket with not much internal organization to speak of.
While the rifle carry straps are effective, the system itself is not designed for quick rifle access. That is to say that it is not so much a “run-n-gun” system as it is a carrying system for longer hikes. If you find yourself close on the trail of your prey, you’ll just have to keep the rifle in your hands, as you should probably be doing anyway.
The subdued colors of this particular mossy oak-style camo means that this pack does well in bright light conditions, where some ‘glossier’ packs don’t perform quite as well.
- Secure long-rifle carry system for longer hikes & treks
- Quite comfortable
- Not very breathable back-panel fabric
- Rifle storage system can take a while to figure out & operate
EBERLESTOCK X2 Pack – Best Multipurpose Hunting Backpack
|ACCOMODATES||Pistol, Shotgun, Rifle, Bow|
|PATTERN(S)||Multicam, Rock veil, Western slope|
|BEST FEATURE||Highly versatile strap options|
We have to admit that this pack blew our minds a little. While it might be a little bit large to be technically considered a “daypack”, it is still lightweight enough to go head-to-head against any of the other packs on our list without skipping a beat.
Why were we so taken back?
Probably because of how versatile we found this pack to be. It has more organizational options and better weight distribution than almost any other pack that we looked at, all while offering compatibility for every kind of hunting you can think of (pistol, shotgun, rifle, long bow, crossbow, the list goes on.)
The biggest difference between the X2 and the other packs on our list is probably the weight capacity. This pack will have no problem with loads exceeding 100 pounds, and it has a rigid enough frame which means that it can handle it without putting undue stress on your back or waist.
The meat shelf is significantly larger than it is on the other packs, which is another indicator that this was meant for serious meat harvesting.
The overall capacity is about 30 liters, which isn’t significantly larger than its competitors. However the presence of all those straps and webbing makes it incredibly easy to lash all sorts of items to this pack, from tents to sleeping bags to guns. This means that the X2 is actually capable of serving as more than just a daypack. We imagine that it could handle 2 to 3 day hunting trips with style and grace, but still is light enough for smaller one-day outings.
Buyers should be conscious of the torso length when considering this pack. The torso length on the pack is not adjustable, which means a lot of taller hunters will not be able to get this thing to sit perfectly. Now if Eberlestock added an adjustable torso length to this pack, it would certainly become the best lightweight hunting daypack in its price range.
- Lots of pockets, mesh, webbing, & storage options
- Ideal for any type of hunting
- Not for hunters with longer torsos (18.5” & smaller)
- More expensive than the other packs on our list
Allen Company Deer Hunting Back Pack – Best High Capacity Pack for Hunting
|ACCOMODATES||Bow, Rifle, Handgun|
|PATTERN(S)||Wetland karma, Woodland blind spot|
|BEST FEATURE||Front shelf pocket|
In terms of high-capacity packs, Allen’s Company Deer Hunting Backpack is one of the leading options on the market. With all the storage space you would need for hunting trips, ergonomic straps ensure that the pack is secured in place with the weight evenly distributed.
One of the main reasons this bag is so popular is the amount and placement of pockets and pouches. Organizing your supplies is a crucial factor in a successful hunting trip, and the well-placed pockets on this product make it easy to reach core items with this pack.
This bag is also compatible with a hydration bladder, a crucial addition for longer trips removing the need to open and close your bag for a water bottle. The retractable carry system fits both guns and bows, adjusting to the size of the rifle or the compound bow in use.
One feature that is often overlooked when purchasing a hunting pack is the quality of the zippers. This pack offers quiet and reliable zippers ensuring that you can easily access pockets and pouches within the bag without making much noise.
With a wide range of crucial features, this product comes at a premium price. However, after testing, it is clear that the price is justified. One of these premium features is the shoulder strap design. The grip on the shoulder straps ensures the pack is held firmly in place, whilst the breathable mesh across the back and on the weight straps guard against overheating.
- It fits core hunting gear with room to spare
- The rubber design of shoulder straps holds them in place
- The retractable carry system adjusts to rifles or compound bows
- High price point
BLISSWILL Hunting Daypack for Rifle, Bow, Gun – Best Day Pack for Bow Hunting
|ACCOMODATES||Bow, Rifle, Handgun|
|PATTERN(S)||Realtree, Mossy oak, Max 1, Kryptek highlander|
|WATERPROOF?||No; Rain cover included|
|BEST FEATURE||Front shelf pocket|
The BLISSWILL Hunting Daypack has several features that make it ideal for bow hunting. With an expandable pocket that fits compound bows across a range of specifications, this pack is made with soundless fabric allowing for quiet access to gear whilst on the move.
Padded, adjustable shoulder straps mean that weight is not an issue. Sternum and waist straps also help ensure the pack is kept securely in place. There is also a mesh back providing a breathable, ergonomic design.
A compass is included with the bag providing a crucial aid to navigation whilst hunting. This feature is built into the sternum strap, ensuring it is always easy and accessible. The build quality of this pack makes it a standout choice, with durable and reliable zips ensuring continued access to pockets and storage spaces.
There are also some crucial safety features included in this pack. A removable orange cloth can be attached using velcro to the pack’s exterior, increasing visibility if necessary. There is also a lifeguard whistle included with this kit, making it easy to alert others to your location. This is built into the sternum strap across from the safety whistle for quick and easy access.
The waterproof functionality means that this pack is suitable for various weather conditions. For bow hunting, this pack is almost unbeatable at the price point. Realistic camo, ergonomic straps and crucial safety features pair well with the adjustable pocket to fit compound bows of all sizes.
- Expandable pocket means this versatile pack fits compound bows perfectly
- Adjustable shoulder and torso straps secure the pack in place
- Lightweight pack at only 1.4 kg
- D rings would be a useful addition
There’s nothing like field testing a brand new hunting daypack, especially in 2023 when so many manufacturers have seemingly found out how to create a product that is equal parts comfortable and functional. The best hunting daypacks of 2023 are all remarkably high-performing, and more comfortable than ever.
If what you’re looking for is an all-around great value lightweight hunting pack, then you should take a serious look at the ALPS OutdoorZ Hunting Pack. Not only is it a great price, but the fold-down hunting shelf provides some of the best in-the-field organization that you can get.
More experienced hunters might prefer something like the EBERLESTOCK X2. You are going to be paying a little bit more, but the added features, storage space, and weight capacity are more than worth it for the dedicated hunter.
Deep Dive: How to Choose a Daypack for Hunting
You can’t take just any old backpack if your goal is to have a hunting trip that is as comfortable as it is successful. So buying a new hunting daypack for yourself is probably a good idea, especially considering the innovations and extras that have hit the market in 2023.
Here is a guide on what to look for in a hunting pack.
No matter your budget, there is a list of noteworthy features that you need to go through when in search for a reliable hunting daypack. Depending on the environment, type of game you hunt and weapon you will hunt with, you will have to give up certain features over others.
Manufacturers mostly use some of these materials: nylon, mesh, tricot and canvas or combining them to make more durable or decrease manufacturing cost.
Non-essential at first but turns out really important when you are out in the field or need to use it with gloves or in low light conditions.
- Compartments and pockets
The way your backpack is organized will directly affect the way you will be able to stack your things inside and total storage capacity.
- Cargo volume
Check our comparative table for more info. But I would say shortly – the more the better. The total volume a pack has the more stuff you can put inside.
- Size & Weight
Consider this only when you know whether you go on the lengthy several-day hunts or go for smaller one-day game hunting.
It should stay close to your body as much as possible and should leave no space for unnecessary movements.
Don’t be confused by imported fifty-dollar backpacks designed for cheap mass production.
Pockets, Storage, & Organization
One thing you will see in common between most of the hunting packs on the market is a plethora of pockets and storage compartments. These allow for a highly specialized level of organization that a good hunter requires.
External Pockets are ideal for the storage of things that might need to be accessed in a hurry. These items might include:
- First Aid
- Rain Gear
Internal Pockets are usually larger and less compartmentalized. This is because they are often designed to carry animal meat which doesn’t usually need to be accessed in a hurry. Internal pockets are also good for:
- Additional Layers
- Tents or sleeping bags
A Hydration Pouch is also available on most good hunting packs. This is a specially designed pocket that holds a 1-3 liter water pouch, like a Camelbak or other hydration pouch. Look for a hydration pouch that allows you to remove and replace the water pouch without disturbing the rest of your gear.
Gun & Bow Holders AKA Boot Holders
Any hunting pack worth its salt is going to have some method of carrying your firearm, whether it’s a long rifle, crossbow, or composite bow. Most feature straps and hooks designed to hold a gun’s boot or case. Other packs that are designed for rifle hunting feature a specially designed sling into which the rifle’s butt can rest, while the barrel points upward. This is one of the safest ways to carry an exposed (not in its case) rifle or gun.
Pistol Boots are often available on hunting packs near the hip area, providing quick access for pistol hunters.
Bows and Crossbows are quite easily attached to most hunting packs with the various straps that are sewn onto the exterior layer of the pack. Some long-bow focused daypacks have begun to hit the market recently, but unfortunately none of them are on this particular list.
Waist Belt / Hip Straps
The more weight you plan on carrying, the more you are going to want a good waist belt with your hunting pack. Waist belts take a considerable amount of stress off the back and shoulders, giving you a more comfortable carry, especially when you have a pack full of elk meat.
Removable hip belts are slowly becoming the standard in the world of hunting backpacks, because they allow you to get rid of the pesky straps for Run-n-Gun style hunting when they might be bothersome. Then, put them right back on when it’s time to pack out your winnings.
Because there are almost no completely waterproof hunting bags out there, you want to make absolutely sure that you have a good rain cover with you. These covers are cheap, lightweight, highly packable, and provide great waterproofing at a moment’s notice because of how easy they are to use and how quick they go on.
One cool thing about rain covers is that you can quite easily restore the waterproof rating by throwing them in the wash machine with one of several wash-in waterproofing agents.
Bonus Guide: What Gear to Bring on a Hunting Trip
Although the specific contents of your hunting pack will vary depending on a whole host of factors, there is a widely agreed-upon list of items that you should make sure to have with you every time in order to insure that you will have the safest, most comfortable, and most successful hunting trip possible. These items include (but are not necessarily limited to):
- Water (& water purification system)
- Safety vest or safety harness
- Headlamp or Flashlight
- First aid kit
- Rain Gear (& Waterproof Pack Cover)
- Rubber Gloves (for animal field dressing)
- Survival blanket
- Game bags (or heavy-duty trash bags)
- Fire Starter
- Game Call
Safety Tip: remember, anything can happen out in the wilderness. Even if you are only planning on being out for a single day, it is a good idea to keep all the essential safety equipment in your pack in case you are forced to spend more time in the wild than you anticipated. First aid kit, emergency blanket, and a water purification system are all essential to any daypack.
Frequently Asked Questions
The inventory of your hunting backpack will vary significantly based on a few factors, including how long you are planning on being out and what kind of hunting you are looking to do. For a more complete explanation on what exactly you should bring with you on your next deer hunting trip, check out the above Bonus Guide section on What Gear to Bring on a Hunting Trip.
The best way to pack your hunting daypack is to keep in mind exactly where each item is, and exactly how and when it will be necessary to access that item. For instance, things like your rangefinder, survival knife, or GPS unit might need to be accessed quickly and easily, so store these items in easy-access pockets, perhaps the ones you can access while you are still wearing the pack. Another thing to consider is how loud the pack might become if you are digging through it for an item while your target animal is close-by. For instance, digging for that rangefinder might cause enough noise to scare the animal off completely, so keep it where you can get to it. When using a built-in rifle sling like the ones featured in many of the packs that we looked at, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with how the sling carry system works before taking it out into the field. They can be more complicated than they look, and it’s best to have it all figured out in the safety and light of your yard instead of a dark forest.
While there are some waterproof day packs on the market, it is not a super common thing to see. That’s generally because waterproof materials are not always the best ones to make weight-supporting backpacks out of. In addition, these kinds of materials are hard to sew things into without ruining the waterproofing, so things like external pockets and straps wouldn’t work as well. To get around this, most hunters simply utilize a separate waterproof pack cover for bouts of inclement weather. They are small, lightweight, and can fit easily into an external pack pocket for quick access when the weather goes bad.
Hunting packs are great for travel, whether you are taking a long drive across the country or flying to the other side of the world for an even bigger adventure. Because hunting packs are designed to have many pockets and high levels of organization, they are actually ideal for all kinds of travel. But be advised: camouflage is not designed to work in airports or bus stations. In fact, it tends to have the opposite effect altogether.
It might be understandable why there are some people out there that are against hunting for environmental concerns, but the science behind the topic is actually quite revealing on how beneficiallicensed hunting can be for the environment. For instance, it is estimated the through licensing fees, sportsmen and sportswomen contribute nearly $8 million a day to national and local wildlife agencies, which pays for the large majority of conservation programs that are active today. (the statistics is updated every 5 years - 2006, 2011, 2016, and next data update will be in 2021).
How big of a hunting backpack do you need if you are going to be out for more than just one day? Can any of the backpacks on this list be used for a longer hunting trip?
If you are planning on being out there for a couple of days, there is no reason that one of the packs on our list would not be able to suit your purposes. Hunting is all about traveling light, after all, so with some careful planning and packing it should be no problem to fit everything into a single backpack.
This is made all the easier by properly setting up your home base camping site. Here you can keep all your backup supplies, layers, tools, and beverages, without having to haul them with you as you track your target through the leg-burning mountains. This means that you actual backpack will be fairly restrained in terms of what it is carrying. Medical supplies, ammunition, and a rifle or bow holder are all must-haves. On top of that you are going to need to fit a water bladder, survival blanket, flashlight, and of course enough nutrition to keep you going as long as you need to.
Our team’s opinion is that the EBERLESTOCK X2 would be the most appropriate for an extended jaunt through the woods … it is one of the largest packs on the list and has a lot of different pockets for high-level organization and quick access.
I’m a really big fan of the Tenzig pack. The craftsmanship simply can’t be beat from what I have seen in previous backpacks, and now I think I have finally found the one that I’ll be using for many seasons to come. It’s durability is apparent from the moment you take it out of the box, but you aren’t really going to appreciate it until you put it on and realize how comfortable it is, even when totally loaded up.
The bow and rifle holder is maybe the best part. It’s a far simpler operation than what I have seen on even the more advanced (expensive) hunting packs. The fact that you can basically click in and click out of it at the drop of a hat means that it is great for run-n-gun style pursuits, which I always find myself getting into every now and then.
The big question for me what how big of a water bladder this thing could support. There is a sewn-in compartment along the back panel that I assume is for an H20 bladder, but it looks like it maxes out at about 2 Liters in size before it starts to stress the pocket out a bit. Otherwise, my 3 Liter bladder fits fine in the main compartment.
Not a ton of pockets like some of the other models on your list … but overall I’m pretty pleased with it.
I’m new to hunting so sorry if this is a dumb question, but are these backpacks meant for carrying camping gear? Or are you supposed to actually dead animals in them?
First things first, welcome to the sport of hunting! Even experienced hunters are always finding new things to learn about their favorite pastime, so you should never feel bad asking questions.
The answer to your question is that all the backpacks on our list are a bit different, but there isn’t a single one of them that can’t be used for a number of different purposes. Some hunters aren’t going to be far enough out to have to worry about field-dressing an animal, so they don’t have to be concerned with the question of how they are going to pack the meat out of there.
However most of these packs could be used quite effectively for the transportation of cleaned meat, animal sections, or even trophy-size heads and antlers. Similarly, the smaller packs can function just as well at keeping your survival and hunting hear organized and easily accessible at all times, even if you aren’t going to have to be doing a whole lot of carrying.
I take most of these things but also take a compass, extra batteries (for flashlight and gps) and I print out a copy of a map of the area I am hunting if I am able to.
I also take extra ammo for my concealed carry and if it is rifle season then extra for my hunting rifle. Before I got my concealed permit that allows me to carry a pistol while archery hunting- I kept a small whistle in my pack. If you were in an emergency and cellphones not an option – you need something to signal for distress that takes little energy/effort that can be heard long distances.
Extra hats and extra safety orange are also in my pack. They are all light weight but have come in handy for me in the past- I haven’t had to struggle to take my orange off to throw on rain gear – just put the rain gear on then the extra orange vest!
One thing too I started when I was big into hiking (especially going off trails) at local state parks that I now do when hunting is an index card on my dash for incase of emergencies. I always put my name, cellphone number, emergency contact, and a generalized area where I plan on starting my hunt along with the date and time of departure and date/tine that I planned on returning. It’s best if your emergency contact is someone who has been out in the woods with you before- they will be able to give a bit of insight to how you think and react if something goes wrong. The date and times are important because then game wardens and law enforcement know how long you have been out and have truly been “missing”. Called me paranoid but I always try to plan for worse case scenarios. I have never gotten “lost” in the woods, but worry about being out alone and getting injured. There are always uncontrollable unforeseen circumstances- tree branches falling a day after a bad storm, slip and fall and hit your head, even severely sprained ankles. I have talked to a lot of game wardens that work out at our state parks and they have commented on my ICE cards and have started using the idea themselves when off-duty. They have had to do minor search and rescues and said it would have saved them a lot of time and energy to have a starting point since there are a lot of different trailheads to choose from at each parking spot.