Confessions of a Pack Junky - Pack Review Introduction

I’ve been working on a few pack reviews the last few weeks.  In doing so, I realized that I probably need some sort of (additional) introduction specifically to the pack reviews.  Something possibly containing some background information and how I came to some of my conclusions in the pack reviews.  I also plan on rolling out the pack matrices I developed for different packs for function and activities.

- I see packs as tools and I like a specific pack for a specific job...  I have become pretty particular about hunting backpacks and what pack I use for a particular hunt.  I have searched for a ‘perfect, do-all pack’ for every season, situation, and hunting application.  While finding some that come close, I haven’t found a ‘perfect’ pack yet.  This is probably why there are so many pack manufacturers out there in the marketplace, and why hunters have everything from fanny packs to expedition sized packs to choose from.

- Packs are a personal choice.  Just because I like one, other people may not...  I have my likes and dislikes about a pack.  Just because I really like features and a model of a pack, doesn’t mean everyone will agree with me.  My likes/dislikes have changed and shaped over time, and I choose packs that fit my hunting style and the equipment I carry while hunting.  I might like a pack due to the way it fits me, but someone who is seven feet tall may hate that particular pack due to the way it fits them. 

Introducing the Pack Matrices:

I developed two different pack matrices as a different way to evaluate and compare hunting backpacks.  The first is the Feature Matrix.  The Feature Matrix has several categories that rate a pack based off the features of the pack.  For example, can the pack haul a bow or rifle, and how well does it do it.  What about the load hauling ability of the pack?  I will also include categories for weight, capacity, and a weight to capacity ratio (oz/cu inches).  The capacity ratio can sometimes give a better picture of whether a pack is too heavy and take some of the subjectiveness out of the weight of a pack.  I left off a couple of categories, durability and quietness, due to the fact that those are both pretty subjective as well.  I will talk about the durability of the pack in each individual pack review as I release it.  I don’t think I’ve ever had an issue with a pack being too loud, so that isn’t something I worry about.

The second matrix is the Activity Matrix.  This matrix is based around what I typically would use a hunting pack for here in AZ.  Here I’ve broken the several categories down between early and late season, rifle and archery, and have included summer scouting and pre-hunt scouting, as each activity may require something a little different out of a pack.  A pack that is a great summer scouting pack may not rank well as a late rifle elk hunting pack, and vice versa. 

Some packs may not score high in certain categories, but that is due to the pack being a more 'specialized' pack.  A good example of this would be the Badlands Diablo scoring low in the meat hauling category.  It wasn't designed or meant to be a meat hauler, but would still get a higher overall score than the numbers dictate in the overall pack review.  I will note in the pack matrix what packs are more specialized and not typically seen as a do everything pack. 
The rankings in the pack matrices are based off my experiences.  One pack may be well suited to a task but I possibly never used it for that purpose because I had some other pack I felt would do a better job and used that pack.  I will still comment on a specific task as if that was the only pack I owned.

Click here for what I’d typically carry in my day pack for a day of spot and stalk hunting.

I plan on going ahead and doing a review on all the packs I own, even if some of them aren't in production anymore or have been upgraded.   Who knows, it might be applicable for someone interested in a deal on used equipment or give someone something to think about as they purchase a new pack for next hunting season...

Ranking of the Pack Matrices:
          4 – Excellent (A)
          3 – Good (B)
          2 – Will Work (C)
          1 – Poor (D)
          0 – No Way! (F)

I will be adding to these pack matrices as time goes on.  I have a couple of new packs that I’m currently looking at for next season.  Hopefully I’ll be able to get those soon and add them to the pack matrices and do a couple of reviews on them.

Click HERE for the Activity and Function Matrix.

Click on the below Matrices to enlarge them.


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