How to Attach Your Rifle to Your Backpack for Easy Carrying 

 July 29, 2023

By  Keith Terrell

In the realm of outdoor adventures, the right equipment can make all the difference. Whether you're an avid hunter, a passionate hiker, or an enthusiastic camper, there may come a time when you need to take a rifle with you on your expeditions. But how do you make sure that your firearm remains secure, accessible, and yet unobtrusive while you are out in the wilderness? This is where attaching your rifle to your backpack comes into play.

The best way to attach a rifle to your backpack is to use a special rifle sling or rifle carrier, which can be securely attached to the backpack and distribute the weight of the rifle evenly. Alternatively, some hunters use neoprene koozies or other homemade solutions, but these may not be as safe. It's important that you choose a backpack that is compatible with your preferred method of securing your firearm and that you ensure it is secured properly before you set off on a hunting trip.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the art of safely attaching a rifle to your backpack so you can move freely and confidently through nature while keeping your hands free for other tasks. We'll go over the various attachment methods, discuss the most important safety precautions, and provide practical tips to help you fit your rifle optimally in your backpack.

Horizontal Attachment Options

When it comes to attaching a rifle to your backpack, there are two main options: horizontal and vertical. In this section, we will discuss the various options for horizontal attachment.

Imagine you are going on a hunting expedition in the wilderness. You come across a river, and you need both hands free to keep your balance and cross it safely. With a horizontal rifle attachment, you have your arms free to do just that.

One of the most popular options for horizontal rifle attachment is the use of a tactical rifle sling. Tactical rifle slings are made of durable materials such as nylon webbing or Mil-Spec tubular webbing, making them strong enough to comfortably support the weight of your firearm. Not only does this type of sling keep your hands free, but it also keeps your rifle close and secure to your backpack. However, it's crucial that you choose a high-quality sling that is specifically designed for this purpose.

Think of using an inferior tactical rifle sling as putting cheap tires on a race car. Ultimately, you get what you pay for, and selected tires can cause the car to lose control on the race track. If you want optimum fixing and safety results, spend more money on the right equipment and accessories, even if it means cutting corners elsewhere in the budget.

Another option for horizontal attachment is chest straps and buckles. These devices are often included in backpacks for hunting or sold separately as accessories. They act as harnesses that attach to both sides of your backpack and rest across your chest while securing your firearms horizontally on your back.

On the other hand, hunters argue that chest straps can be a nuisance when they want quick access to the contents of their packs or freedom of movement on hunting trips. The chest strap often gets in the way and makes it difficult, or worse, it can accidentally come loose and cause you to lose your gear.

Using Chest Straps & Buckles

Chest straps are a great option for horizontal attachment if you're looking for security and stability on longer hikes or climbs. Here's what you need to know about using chest straps and buckles.

Picture yourself climbing a steep rock face or hiking through narrow, bushy trails. A tight-fitting chest strap with buckles might be just what you need to ensure your firearm stays firmly attached to your backpack.

Chest straps usually have two straps so that the weight can be evenly distributed across the shoulders, preventing injury from carrying heavy firearms in one place during a long trek. Properly adjusted ratio straps minimize pressure points and ensure a comfortable fit no matter how long you carry your gun.

However, some hunters argue against chest straps because people with smaller builds may feel crushed when putting on this type of harness. In addition, hunters with broader shoulders claim that the fit can become uncomfortable over time as many models have limited adjustment.

Some models of hunting backpacks have built-in safety devices, such as chest strap models. These are a higher quality option for serious hunters and are tested for harsh conditions such as longer hikes or mountain tours in harsh weather conditions

While chest straps and buckles provide excellent security when it comes to horizontal rifle attachment, there are a few important details to get right if you want a successful system. In the next section, let’s discuss vertical attachment techniques—in particular, the use of handlebar attachment rings on your backpack.

Tactical Rifle Slings Options

When it comes to attaching your rifle to your backpack, tactical rifle slings are an excellent choice. They can be worn over the shoulder or attached to the backpack for quick and easy access to the firearm when needed. There are a variety of tactical rifle slings available on the market differing in design, material, size, and functionality.

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One popular option is the Vickers Combat Applications Sling (VCAS) designed by renowned firearms instructor Larry Vickers. The VCAS is made of high-quality nylon webbing, has adjustable straps, and can be worn with a variety of weapons. The sling also allows the user to quickly switch between different hanging positions without the need for extensive training.

Another option is the Blue Force Gear Vickers 2-Point Sling (VTAC), which is fully adjustable and made of high-quality materials carefully designed for durability. This tactical sling can also be used for hunting and other outdoor activities.

In addition to these more traditional options, slings such as the Spec-Ops Brand Combat Master Gun Sling offer exceptional versatility, allowing you to not only carry your weapon over your shoulder but also attach it to your backpack or a belt loop. Thanks to its patented buckle system, you can clip off or snap on the gun with ease.

The Blackhawk Storm Sling VTAC is another great example, providing a stable shooting platform and making it easy to secure and release your weapon with one hand even when wearing gloves.

Some hunters may wonder if a wider sling would cause more problems when attaching to a backpack. However, if you choose tactical straps such as the Viking Tactics Wide Padded Sling or the Magpul Two-Point Quick Adjust Sling, both of which offer extra padding due to their wider structure, you should not have to worry about a comfortable and safe attachment to your backpack.

Overall, tactical rifle slings are a great option for hunters who value quick access to their firearms while keeping their hands free for other outdoor activities. Withso many options available on the market, it is important to choose the ones that suit both your needs and your budget. Let’snow explore vertical attachment techniques, another useful method of attaching guns..

Vertical Attachment Techniques

Vertical attachment techniques allow for a streamlined carry technique that keeps your rifle out of the way as you wander through the terrain. These attachment techniques differ from horizontal attachment (covered in the previous section) in terms of size, shape, utility, and purpose.

A popular vertical attachment technique is the use of handlebar attachment rings. These rings attach directly to your pack and provide a secure place to clip your firearm so that it doesn't jostle around when you move. They require minimal investment, are easy to use, and do not complicate packing and unpacking.

Another option is the Eberlestock ButtBucket Rifle Holder where a butt bucket holds the rifle butt securely while two straps hold the fore-end at an angle against your backpack. The ButtBucket provides excellent support for long hikes with heavy loads.

The Blackhawk Stalker Drag Mat is another vertical attachment tool that doubles as protection for your rifle when you place it on uneven ground. It can be secured horizontally with additional straps/buckles if required, making it a versatile and flexible product that encompasses multiple functions.

On the other hand, products such as the Kifaru Gunbearer take into account the attachment of shoulder straps to oversized hunting backpacks by tying gunbearers directly to a supportive hip belt. This system stabilizes the weight and balances any loaded backpack without draining energy from the wearer's core muscles.

Vertical attachment is similar to wearing a backpack where you can lift your hands, climb mountains, and rummage through bushes without getting tangled along the way.

Key Takeaway

Vertical attachment techniques for carrying a rifle while hiking through terrain are more streamlined and efficient compared to horizontal attachment techniques. There are several vertical attachment options such as handlebar attachment rings, Eberlestock Butt Bucket Rifle Holder, Blackhawk Stalker Drag Mat, and Kifaru Gunbearer, which cater to different hunting needs. Research and try different options to find the one that suits your hunting needs without compromising on safety or comfort.

Using Handlebar Attachment Rings

The method of using handlebar attachment rings is particularly advantageous for hunters who prefer vertical attachment options. By attaching your rifle vertically, you prevent any interference when walking through dense vegetation or climbing steep hills.

Handlebar attachment rings provide a flexible and convenient way to attach your rifle to your backpack. You can attach the rings to the side or front of the backpack where they are easily accessible. To attach the rings, pass one end of the strap through the ring and then through the opposite buckle. Once you’ve passed the strap through both buckles, adjust it until it’s tight enough to hold your rifle securely.

I once went hunting in a dense forest where I had to climb steep hills, cross rivers, and fight my way through dense undergrowth. At first, I was hesitant to carry my rifle vertically for the fear of damaging it or getting tangled in the vegetation. However, after learning how to best use the attachment rings on the handlebars, I found it easier to carry my hunting equipment without risking damaging or tangling my rifle.

What makes handlebar attachment rings an excellent option is the ability to position your rifle at any angle that suits you best. Whether you're climbing a hill or traversing rough terrain, you can easily access your rifle without having to set down an entire backpack. You also have a better sense of control over your weapon when you carry it vertically than horizontally.

The main disadvantage of using handlebar attachment rings is that they do not work well with all types or shapes of rifles. Some rifles have protruding parts that can hinder movement when carried vertically. Also, if you don't tie the ring straps properly and tightly enough, they can become loose and cause the rifle to slip or tilt awkwardly, which can be dangerous.

Safety Measures for Rifle Attachment

When transporting firearms, it's important to prioritize safety. Improperly attaching a rifle to your backpack can cause accidents, damage your weapon, or even get you in trouble with the authorities. Below are some essential safety measures to consider when attaching your rifle to your backpack.

  1. Consider whether the attached firearm and associated equipment will increase the overall weight of the backpack beyond what is safe. When buying a hunting backpack, always look for  the maximum weight limit recommended by the manufacturer.
  2. Make sure the rifle is unloaded before attaching it to your backpack. You don't want your rifle to accidentally discharge when you are walking around with it.
  3. Ensure that the trigger guard cover locks securely over the trigger to prevent accidental discharges. When carrying long rifles vertically on a backpack, keep the muzzle end away from other objects that could accidentally discharge the gun.
  4. Check that the horizontal and vertical attachments are securely connected to prevent slippage. You can check this by making several bending movements or deliberately shaking the gun a few times to make sure nothing comes loose.

Product Recommendations for Easy Rifle Carrying

Choosing the right backpack and rifle attachment system can make all the difference when it comes to carrying a rifle easily and safely. After researching and testing various products, here are some of the best recommendations for hunters or hikers looking to carry their rifles on their backpacks.

The Eberlestock X2 Pack is a premium option for hunters who need a supportive and highly adjustable backpack with a rifle scabbard. Designed for easy access, comfort, convenience, and durability, this pack features Hydrolok zippers, a rain cover, and a spacious capacity for organizing your hunting gear. The backpack's sturdy frame ensures optimum weight distribution, so you can cover longer distances without experiencing back pain or discomfort.

If you prefer to carry your rifle close to your body with a sling system, the Kifaru Gunbearer is an exceptional accessory to balance your weapon safely. Made from high-quality materials, the Gunbearer attaches directly to your shoulder straps or waist belt and keeps your gun in place while leaving both hands free. This product also features pockets that provide additional storage space for small items or ammo.

Another important product recommendation is the Sitka Gear Bino Harness System. With this system, you always have your binoculars or rangefinder within reach when hiking without having to remove your backpack. It has comfortable straps that can be adjusted to any body size and a side buckle that allows it to be opened with one hand.

Many prefer to attach their rifles to the side of their backpacks, but front attachment systems like chest rig attachments can also be quite practical. The VISM Chest Rig Attachment from NcStar is one such option that not only provides attachment points but also comes with extra pouches so you can carry other essential gear along with your firearm.

Depending on whether you prefer a vertical or horizontal attachment, the Stone Glacier Skyscraper Combo is a premium vertical attachment combo that features Mountain Approach Camo and scope support. It's designed to be comfortable while allowing quick access to your rifle, supported by an incredibly adjustable load-bearing frame.

Carrying a rifle in a backpack is like carrying a lunchbox. Not only does it need to be stored neatly, but it should also be easily accessible when you are hungry (or need your rifle). A reliable backpack should allow easy and secure attachment of the rifle and support you in your outdoor activities. The goal is to ensure that you're prepared, comfortable, and ready for anything that might happen.

Other recommended backpacks are the Badlands Superday Hunting Backpack, which stands out for its spaciousness and organization, or the Mystery Ranch Metcalf, which is ideal for carrying heavy, oversized loads such as game or meat thanks to its adjustable fit and carrying system.

Choosing the right product depends on your needs, preferences, budget, and the convenience of fitting and removing it at your whim. Therefore, you should carefully consider all options before purchasing. All of the products listed above are highly durable and have been carefully designed to provide optimal functionality, accessibility, support, and convenience at the best possible price. Ultimately, your main focus should be on safety, ease of use, and comfort when going on long hikes or sitting on a tree stand to hunt your prey.

About the author

Keith is a one bag traveler and the owner of Backpacks Global. His go to backpack is the Osprey FarPoint 40.

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