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Happy Camper
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Getting prepared now for this Fall's Elk Hunt! :) So I'm shopping for a frame pack.

Everywhere I'm seeing only a few types, even at MidwayUSA. All just around $70-80. They all appear to be made in China. I would prefer a higher quality and don't mind paying for that. None of the high end pack manufacturers I've looked at (so far) have a pack frame offering. Usually higher end = internal pack frame.

I'm looking at the Alps Outdoorz pack, which IMO seems to have the best overall features. This one:

ALPS Outdoorz Commander Frame Backpack

The Cabela's packs are made in Vietnam... looks nearly identical construction-wise to the Alps pack. IMO the pack isn't worth another $50 just because it says "Cabela's" on the side.

I'm wondering if there are better packs out there? Even a USA- or other "not" China-made pack?
 

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Happy Camper
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·

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Frame type packs are not the ones I've used on the AT, and all mine are internal frame ones now, other than one old clunky 40year old pack frame one I still have that was a cheapy to start with. But over all the one you showed had some very nice features. It has all the features required to get a good fit by the looks and that's the most important thing,,a good fit.

I did use pack frame types when I was out West fighting forest fires back in the day and they are pretty nice for real heavy loads and the only way to go for carrying firefighting gear or game. One thing that is a bit of a pain is that the lower cross bar on every one I'd ever used seemed to dig into my lower back when traversing steep grades, not sure if it was my hiking style or all the different packs I used just dug in??? Don't know. I did cure that with a simple piece of the foam pipe insulation,,and that took care of it, a short pieceand cable tied on crossways and bingo,,no more digging into my back bone.

I sure got to say that the price on the one you put up is very reasonable and I'm rather surprised at the features for the $ ,,it has allot of good and necessary features . As an example the last internal frame pack I bought that was 235ish and that was on sale,many many years ago, it's a Lowe Alpine. I also have a North Face and EMS packs both which are quite nice and those were in the 175 range even longer ago,, so If it fits you right it sounds like a good choice, especially for the $$$. Just make sure it has good carrying capacity , the frame doesn't dig into you, and it fits properly,,those are the most important things , internal or external frame alike.

I'd recommend going to a hiking shop( EMS, Campmore or someplace that) that have people that can fit you for a pack properly,,sometimes it's well worth the few extra bucks to get a proper fitting pack.

Nothing ruin's a trip much like a ill fitting pack,,especially 20 miles up on some mountain side way out in the back country with a pack that beats ya up,,that really sucks,,and frankly can be dangerous. A sloppy fitting pack can throw you off balance pretty easy and it ain't good getting hurt in the back country. I had a EMS (Eastern Mt Sports) and one other pack I returned because of that,,never could adjust either one properly and felt like I was going to take a header a few times when they shifted around,,not good!!! Brought them back after the first test hike,,,

Got good ones now though,,but now being hurt I can't use the >600-700 bucks worth of packs I do own,WTF???? The damn Lowe Alpine is brand new and never even got used and still has the tags on it for Christs sake,,and that one was 235 on sale at the time and the new model just like it is now around 350ish. It's a shame it never got used,,,,

If anybody needs a brand new internal frame 55-65 cu ltr expandable pack,,I'll give ya one hell of a deal on it if you do. I sure as hell can't use it now,,,, and I sure hate to see it just go to waste. I'm 5' 10" 180 with a 20" torso, so that will give you a good idea on sizing. It's defiantly a pro quality pack and a dandy if anyone can use it.
 

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Happy Camper
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I may not have been too clear... pack frames are specifically for packing big game out of the back country. NOT for backpacking trips! I have a really good Kelty internal pack frame that has been lightly used, and of course the old alice pack frames. Kelty is a GREAT pack, paid I think $200 for it. The alice packs... well... they are alice packs and let's just leave it at that. Neither of which would be good to carry a quartered elk back to camp ;)


This one is only $55 and looks well built from a place in Montana. Note the under-frame cushion that can be pulled out for sitting down. It just looks a bit small to me, perhaps better suited to packing out smaller game like mule deer:

Amazon.com : Crosshair Bags Freighter Pack Frame : Outdoor Backpacks : Sports & Outdoors

Crosshairs Freighter Pack Frame



Other frame packs:

Allen Pack Frame Backpack Padded Shoulder Straps Hip Belt Mossy Oak

Eberlestock Mainframe Backpack

Crooked Horn Outfitters® High Country Extreme II Backpack - 142470, Hunting Backpacks at Sportsman's Guide


Cabela's packs... very expensive and looks very similar to the $80 jobs...

Search Results : Cabela's
 

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From what you've shown in you're links, the first one still looks like it has the best features so far, and at a decent price.

I've had a couple Kelty's in the past also, both smaller sized internal frame ones, around 45 cu ltr ones, and I had issues with stitching failures on both and both were returned to Eastern Mt Sports for a different packs. The one larger one I used for climbing and rescue only was fine, but it didn't have the features I was looking for in a "expedition type" pack, but great for climbing and rescue.Not enough external pockets or a internal water bladder pocket, which was not to handy on the AT but great for rescue situations where your bushwhacking.

So far it seems I've had the best luck wear wise, comfort, and adaptability with the Lowe Alpines. And I used a pack every single day for well over 12 years and 2 end to end trips on the AT and one end to end on the Pacific Crest Trail along with multiple Long Trail adventures and they have been used for a suit case substitute for years. There,, My favorites with North Face being right up there with them, both top of the line IMHO.

I've had the chance to try out several over the years and found the Lowe's worked best all around for me in the long run. Definitely the most comfortable, but also the heaviest overall, but only by a few oz over the larger North Face and Keltey ones. I love there "cool air" suspension system,,your back won't get soaked from sweat so bad on hot days like many others do and there just the most comfortable I found for caring heaver weights.

I carried a consistent 60-62 pounds while on the AT while working with the Forest Service, but that was due to being on patrol and having to carry extra rescue/first aid gear and tools. Otherwise it was around 50 on a normal long distance hike when I wasn't working, and that would cover me for >2 weeks in the back country without having to come out for supplies. But I was a light weight packer and mostly used hammocks and rain fly's instead of using tent's or trail shelters so my total "shelter" weight was less than 1 1/2 lbs and most my chow was dehydrated and cloths were all hiking specific light weight fabrics, so I was able to keep things lite. When I was in the Hundred Mile Wilderness in Maine I took my time to enjoy it and stayed in for 3 weeks with no issue with supplies.

I guess were kinda getting into,,,"whats the best handgun caliber" kinda debates here but with packs.

It's still all about what works best for you and what fits you right,, when all is said and done. Everything has plus's and minus's. No doubt a pack frame type is obviously the best for you're hunting adventures though and the first one seems to have the best overall features so far.

There was a Canadian firm that made dandy pack frames back in the day, but I'll be Damned if I can remember the company name right now???? They were a small family owned business but made great products that were wicked rugged and well refined.
 

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Jerry – this is an alternate plan B.

It's taken me and two horses to get out one full-grown elk. The panniers can probably be purchased although we made our own.

What we would typically do is visit the closest farm with horses and generally a deal could be made for a couple bottles of excellent scotch. Good horses are not needed, something with 1 foot firmly in the glue factory works well.
 

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Happy Camper
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
HAHAHA I'll have to pack liquor with me now. Fun stuff! :)


Well it just so happens there's a shop here - Sportsman's Warehouse: America's Premier Hunting, Fishing & Camping Outfitter - that I've never heard of before. Kind of like a Cabelas/Gander Mountain store. They have both frames in their showroom. I stopped by at lunch... went with the Kelty since I learned that company is right here in Colorado about an hour up the road from me. :) AND a lifetime warranty. AND made in the Philippines, NOT in China... so I get to support a friendly country and of course my wife's family lives there. :)

And at work, I had that pic open of the Alps OutdoorZ pack... a guy walking by my desk said "hey I have that same pack... want to buy it?" I tell you, some days things just click. So now we have all the packs we need.

I'm going to load something on it this weekend and go do some hiking around Garden of the Gods to get the feel for hiking WITH a load. May help me get back in shape faster too! :D

On to the next item on the shopping list... a bear load for my .357 Magnum. I'm probably taking my 12 Gauge From Hell rifle, which is certainly overkill, but may also take my .357 mag with me. The guide said that .45 ACP is good enough for the bear around there "just in case". So decisions, decisions! We are limited to 110 lbs. per person due to the horseback trip to base camp. I can shave off a few pounds by not going with a pistol. I don't know what I'm going to do yet. But if I *DO* take the pistol, I'm going to load up some heavy loads for bear. At the store they have a "Bear Load" for .45 Colt, which is a 325gr load. Time to do some research on heavy loads! :)
 

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Well how about that shit,,ya got to love it when stuff like that happens. What were the odds of that happening??? Hope ya bought a Power Ball ticket today !! You're lucks running good today.

I'm jealous,,you don't know how much I'd love to go for a hike again or especially for a good back country hunt. Man I miss it,,,,,

Oh well, I do get out on the wheeler often and I'm in 2 clubs so that sorta makes up for it , it's not hiking ,,but it gets me out in the woods at any rate. Even for the occasional over nighter.
 
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