Let's be honest here. Western hunters understand backpacks, but whitetail hunters generally don't. This is partially out of necessity, considering it's dangerous and stupid to strap on a low-quality pack for a serious mountain hunt.
But what about a whitetail weekend at the hunting shack or just an afternoon hunt on the back 40? How important is a good pack in that situation?
To a diehard whitetail hunter like myself, it's very important. I use a pack for every hunt, whether it's a morning in a turkey blind, a 5-day public land whitetail hunt where I need to carry gear in and out for every sit, or something farther-flung requiring an expensive non-resident tag.
I've gone through a lot of packs and found that most of them are designed by western hunters for western hunts. Too many of the whitetail packs out there seem to be nothing more than an afterthought, thrown together to service the market.
That is why it was such a nice change to start using backpacks from ALPS OutdoorZ, or more specifically, the company's Extreme Packs lineup. Several packs fill out this product line, and each has a hunt-specific role.
To get the scoop on the designs behind the packs I reached out to Marketing and PR Manager Justin Leesmann and Product Manager, Zach Scheiddegger.
I asked Leesmann what the impetus was for the Extreme line development and he had plenty to say.
"We set out to cover everyone," Lessmann said, "from turkey hunters to western hunters, and everything in between. We knew we had to set ourselves apart from the competition, so our goal was to develop a really great product at an affordable price. We also knew we needed to guarantee our products and stand behind them."
Leesmann's mention of price point is important because it's easy to overspend on a pack. This happens often with western first-timers who embark on an inaugural elk or mule deer hunt with an expensive pack that may or may not suit their needs.
ALPS' prices ensure that the same hunter can buy a pack for any destination hunt, and one for at-home deer and turkeys, while spending the same amount of dough that would cover only a single pack from many companies.
To further elaborate on the Extreme backstory, Scheiddegger said, "We already had specific hunting packs for different scenarios in our ALPS OutdoorZ line, but with the new Extreme packs we wanted to not only offer quality at a reasonable price, but we also wanted to design packs that can seamlessly transition from one style of hunting to another. And we wanted to create packs that would appeal to everyone — even those underserved hunters in the South and East."
Those hunters and many others would do well to check out my personal favorite — the Crossfire X. This pack is sized perfectly for whitetail hunting, and is ideal for daylong spot-and-stalk adventures out west. It features a vented back, Lycra shoulder straps, a drop down pocket for carrying a bow, and a host of other goodies.
Easily my favorite part of the 2325 cubic-inch Crossfire X is the fact that it has a removable accessory pocket, which is ideal for that point in a stalk when you want to ditch the pack but keep binos, rangefinder and other red-zone equipment close at hand.
Throughout the Extreme pack lineup, you'll notice a few common traits which I've come to appreciate. One feature that really stands out, however, the streamlined design. I hate putting on a pack that is covered in straps, bungee cords, buckles and other add-ons that dangle, clank, catch on brush, and otherwise make me look like I've got a dead, camouflage octopus stuck to my back.
I want straps, pockets, bungees and other features for gear, of course, I just want them to be in the right places and not in a spot where their rattling might cost me an animal. That is one of those things that is hard to understand while backpack shopping in a big-box store, but it's very easy to comprehend once you get in the field.
Whether you're an elk junkie, a deep-woods whitetail hunter, or something entirely different, it's a good bet that you need a quality backpack for your year-round bowhunting pursuits. If so, consider checking out the Extreme Packs line from ALPS OutdoorZ.
You're very likely to find one — if not more — packs that are ideal for your style of scouting and hunting.