A successful bow hunting trip relies on bringing all the gear you need for this type of hunting. You should be able to carry your bow, arrows, binoculars, tree stand, release aid, scents, rangefinders, and so much more safely in a backpack. But what else should you look out for in a bow hunting backpack?
Bow hunting requires several moving pieces used together. The right backpack for this sport ideally has a bow attachment, excellent organization, and a comfortable fit. It should also be durable, have enough space for your gear, and have room for hydration.
Read on below to learn more about finding the best backpack for bow hunting
Table of Contents
Choosing the Best Backpacks for Bow Hunting
The nature of bow hunting means that one must always have the right tools and gear out on the field.
Backpacks are the preferred way to carry hunting gear around, but bow hunting backpacks are very different from backpacking packs. A bow hunter has very specific needs, mainly the ability to carry specific gear intended to help them notch that tag.
But what exactly should you be looking for in a bow hunting backpack?
A bow attachment is what separates a bow hunting backpack from other hunting packs. It should be the first feature to look for when shopping around for the best backpacks for bow hunting.
Not all bow hunting backpacks come with bow attachments, but having one simply makes everything so much simpler. It sets you up for success because it’s one less thing to think about. Having a bow attachment feature keeps your hands free and enables you to locate and deploy the bow quickly as well as safely.
Organization and Access
There’s nothing worse than working hard on stealth while trying to dig for your gear – then losing the shot.
The best bow hunting backpacks have intuitive pockets made precisely for this sport. These include a quiver, which is used to hold your arrows and other archery essentials such as ammo, bolts, javelins, darts, or projectiles.
A bow hunting backpack should also have separate compartments strategically located for you to conveniently (and quickly!) find your gear, such as:
- Release aid
- Masking tape
- Field dressing kit
- First aid kit
- Extra layers or rain gear, depending on the season
- Bug protection
- Flagging ribbon
… and other necessary tools. Knowing where your things are at all times is vital for a successful hunt. Invest time in researching each compartment in the design of a potential bow hunting backpack.
Furthermore, a hunting backpack should have a secure weapon-carrying system. This is beneficial for bow hunters who use any weapon, such as a rifle, while out on the field.
You may have all the important features in a bow hunting backpack, but they don’t do much if it’s uncomfortable to wear and hinders your movement. When bow hunters are out on the field, you have to stealthily stalk your prey at a close range – then go in for the kill. It will be difficult to concentrate on the shot if your pack is causing you pain or your limbs are shaking.
Keep in mind that bow hunters typically have to carry around 50 to 100 pounds, sometimes, even more, when you’ve got heavy meat in your pack. Imagine traversing a steep incline with a heavy pack at high altitudes. You definitely need all the comfort and support you can get.
That’s why choosing a comfortable fit with adequate suspension systems is essential for a bow hunting backpack. Look for a pack with the following features:
- Ventilation: Breathable fabric that encourages airflow behind the backpack will prevent sweat and discomfort. The shoulder straps and back panel should have built-in ventilation. This provides the added benefit of cushioning to reduce pressure on heavy-weight points such as your shoulders and lower back.
- Shoulder straps: Thick, wide, adjustable, and padded straps make your pack comfortable even when you’re carrying heavy loads. Foam padding prevents the fabric from rubbing against your skin and protects your shoulders.
Additionally, shoulder straps are where the load lifters are located. These play a critical role when carrying heavy weights; once tightened, the load lifter pushes against the frame and will raise the shoulder straps up the shoulders, thus distributing more weight onto your hips.
- Compression straps: Compression straps are incredibly important for bow hunting backpacks. They play several roles: secure all your gear in place, secure the meat so it stays in place, and compress your backpack when you’re carrying a light load. Compression straps are also versatile; they can help attach other extra tools such as capes or antlers.
- Hip belt: Hip belts are vital for stabilizing the load toward your center of gravity. Considering how heavy hunting loads typically are, hip belts are critical to improving your overall balance. Many hip belts in bow hunting backpacks are equipped with pockets where you can keep other tools such as a pistol, GPS, and loops for attaching gear.
Hip belts must be padded and adjustable. They must not ever slide off or cause bruising
- Frame system: Hunting backpacks are usually designed with either an external or external frame. Frames are a type of harness or suspension system whose main purpose is to help you carry heavier loads more comfortably. There are pros and cons to each that should be carefully understood.
Most hunters prefer external frame packs as they provide the most support. There are some downsides to consider though, such as the fact that they are rigid and thus, weigh more. On the other hand, internal frame backpacks, also known as frameless packs, are more convenient to use.
Those who prefer frameless packs are usually after the bag’s versatility. The lack of rigid structure in frameless packs allows you to use it in settings other than hunting. However, frameless packs will not be able to support loads as heavy as external frame packs.
Having said that, external frame systems are best suited for serious bow hunters. Meanwhile, internal frame packs are ideal for novice or hobby hunters who only need to carry light loads under 50 pounds.
- Torso height: Choose a backpack based on your torso height, and consider the load you expect to carry during your bow hunting trip. Keep in mind that the best bow hunting backpacks should help minimize weight on your shoulders and transfer it to your hips – it can’t do that job well if the frame isn’t tall enough.
Light loads will work just fine with a shorter frame. On the other hand, a heavy load will be more comfortable to carry with a tall frame.
Below is a general guide (in inches) that you can use to determine the frame height that can fit most males, based on your expected load:
Up to 30 lbs.
More than 50 lbs.
20+ (very tall)
How to Measure Your Torso Height
The torso length is the distance between your C7 (the protruding bone at the base of your neck) and the end of your back. You may ask a friend to help you measure for better accuracy.
What You’ll Need:
A soft measuring tape will help you accurately determine your torso length. Recommendations from Amazon are found below (note: we earn a small commission if you decide to purchase any of these):
Have a friend hold the tape starting at the C7. Locate the top of your hip bones, then connect these two points through an imaginary line. The length between the C7 and the top of your hip bones is your own torso length.
Note on fit:
When fitting the pack, the shoulder straps should be in the front enough that you can put the load lifter strap between the collar bone and trap, sitting at a 45-degree angle. Meanwhile, the waist belt should be located in the middle right above the hip bones.
Load Carrying System
A load-carrying system refers to how the pack carries your load, or in other words, the remains of an animal you’ve hunted. There are two kinds of load-carrying systems available in hunting packs: the load cell and the load shelf. Load cells are a separate compartment for the remains, located inside the backpack. On the other hand, the load shelf is located between the external frame and the backpack.
The load shelf is the most popular load-carrying system among hunters because it separates blood and raw meat from the rest of your things. However, load cells that are made from non-absorbent and light fabric will work well since it segregates the animal’s remains from your belongings.
Bow hunting is an activity that will expose you to rough terrain, unpredictable weather, and thick forests. It’s extremely important to have a reliable backpack that is built to withstand the environment and the elements.
The accepted standard for durability in bow hunting backpacks is at least 500D Cordura nylon fabric. This rugged and ultra-tough fabric is water and tear-resistant, plus it can withstand the abuse that comes with hunting. Other popular and effective fabrics used in hunting bags are microfleece, fleece, and nylon packcloth.
Recently, there has been a rise in the use of high-tech materials seen in hunting bags. These include Spectra X-Grid, and X-Pac laminate.
However, there’s much more to a hunting bag’s durability than the fabric used in the pack. Look for heavy-duty zippers, welded seams, and superior stitching.
YKK zippers are the gold standard for quality hunting bag hardware. The zippers should also be large and easy to grip even when you are wearing gloves.
If your backpack has all the bells and whistles that you need but isn’t waterproof, you can make up for this by using a rain cover.
The best bow hunting backpack should always have the right capacity for your needs. It’s advisable to estimate around 2,000 cubic inches for each day.
However, the season you’re hunting will play the most important role. For example, if you are elk hunting around December, you’ll need more space because of extra clothing to keep you warm. You will also need cold-weather hunting supplies, both of which will take up more space.
On the other hand, if you are hunting in July, you can make do with a smaller bow hunting backpack.
Follow these general guidelines for choosing a pack of the right volume. There is no right or wrong answer – only a backpack that can either fit your needs or not.
No. of days
3,000 – 4,000 cubic inches
4,000 – 5,000 cubic inches
5,000 – 6,000 cubic inches
6,000 cubic inches +
Last but not least, keep in mind that these guidelines are suggestive. Many experienced hunters use ultralight gear and have minimalist packing styles, enabling them to use a much smaller backpack than the average. On the other hand, hunters who prioritize having bulky or comfortable gear will need plenty more space even for short trips.
Dehydration can be fatal. Always prioritize having adequate water with you, no matter how long your hunting trip is. Only ever buy a bow hunting pack that either has a hydration bladder or space for a water bottle. Alternatively, it should at least be compatible with one that you already have or plan to purchase separately.
Don’t underestimate the importance of having enough hydration for the length of your trip.
Hunting backpacks are generally heavy-duty and use heavy hardware. Additionally, more pockets and a larger volume will also contribute to a heavier pack weight. If you need a 4,000 cubic inch backpack or more, it’s likely that the pack will weigh at least 4 pounds when empty.
The best backpack for bow hunting will ensure that you are able to maximize the carrying space, no matter what the weight. It is recommended to choose a pack that’s as light as possible, provided that it has ample space and meets all the other requirements.
How much you should be spending on a backpack is a personal choice. How much are you really comfortable spending on the most important bow-hunting accessory?
For some, a backpack is a utilitarian need that is necessary for hauling equipment. While for others, a backpack is the most important accessory for missions you’re passionate about. If you’re the latter, you’re better off investing in a backpack made by a reputable brand, and one that is designed to last you a long time.
Just remember that a budget-friendly bag doesn’t necessarily correlate to poor quality. There are many affordable bow hunting backpacks that don’t have to break the bank.
Last but not least, investing in a bow hunting backpack with a generous warranty is always recommended. Many things can happen to your backpack when you hunt, so having a warranty is an assurance from the manufacturer that if the product has a defect, they will repair it or give you a refund.
Different manufacturers have different types of warranty. It’s always best to go with a brand that offers a lifetime warranty, whenever possible.
There are many top-notch bow hunting backpacks in the market. To make finding what you need simpler, check out this list below of popular products. Click on the links to read more about their specifications, pros and cons, and customer reviews.
ALPS Outdoorz Pursuit Backpack: The ALPS Outdoorz Pursuit Backpack is the ideal companion for hunts in rough terrain. The bag has a total storage capacity of 44L, equivalent to 2700 cubic inches.
Each side has a quiver holder so that your bow is secure and organized while keeping your hands free. The main compartment is spacious enough to keep everything you need for a successful hunt. The bag is designed for maximum comfort as well, thanks to the padded waist belt and center aluminum stay.
The ALPS Outdoorz Pursuit Backpack comes in a range of camouflage colors and prints too. An orange detachable rain cover can be deployed within seconds in case of rain. It’s already hydration compatible and comes equipped with several attachments for added accessories, such as webbing loops, a front lashing system, a drop-down pocket for a bow, or your gun.
Among bow hunters, the ALPS Pursuit pack is one of the most popular backpacks. It’s a reasonable price point considering all the important features it already has, so you have more time to focus on hunting and enjoying your time in the backcountry.
AUMTISC Hunting Backpack: The AUMTISC Hunting Backpack is a versatile bow hunting pack that you can also use for numerous outdoor activities. This 40L capacity pack is equipped with a rifle holder which can also be used to securely store your bows. The bottom zipper pocket can also keep additional bows or guns.
Ergonomic design plus soft, thick padded shoulder straps make hunting more comfortable even if you have to stalk long distances. A padded waist belt and an adjustable shoulder strap add to your comfort, even when the bag has been packed with a heavy weight. It also has convenient features including mesh side pockets, tear-resistant fabrics, and sturdy zippers with easy-grip pulls.
The AUMTISC Hunting Backpack is one of the most affordable bow hunting backpacks out there. This is a perfect choice for hobbyists or those who are just starting to discover the wondrous world of hunting.
Badlands Superday Hunting Backpack: The Badlands Superday Hunting Backpack is an ultra-tough choice for bow hunting. It’s constructed out of KXO-50, a new fabric that is super durable, quiet, and lightweight – perfect for those excursions in the woods.
This bag was created to be comfortable and convenient for hunters. The molded memory foam suspension system becomes softer with age. Meanwhile, the harness conforms to your unique body shape.
The Badlands Superday Hunting Backpack has a waist belt with reverse tightening abilities, enabling you to pull it inwards instead of outwards for a more accurate fit. Have peace of mind that your gun and bows are always safe and protected: the detachable boot plus batwing straps keep your hands free. In addition, it also comes with an integrated pistol holster located on the hip belt.
Seasoned hunters will appreciate all the features in this backpack. It’s on the higher price spectrum, perfect for hunters who see the value of investing in a pack that does everything it should. Other excellent features found in this hunting bag include a 2L hydration reservoir, bedroll straps, several organizational pockets, and water-repellent coating.
Mystery Ranch Metcalf: The Mystery Ranch Metcalf is one of the best bowhunting backpacks, especially for serious hunters who enjoy spending several days in the mountains. It’s available in three sizes, from small to extra-large, to accommodate hunters of varying body frames.
This pack is a high-performance choice that’s got the features you need for successful hunting and stalking. Built with a light frame that is strong yet dynamic, it's designed to keep you comfortable even when carrying meat behind you. The bag is made with 500D Light Plus material, which is robust, tear-resistant, and has extremely high tensile.
The Mystery Ranch Metcalf boasts a five-point waist belt, which offers superior weight distribution while staying put firmly on your hips. Meanwhile, the Overload feature lets you place most of the weight close to your back so that you can stay comfortable even during long treks. Compression straps are found on the side, front, and bottom as well – and they provide a rifle and bow carry system too.
The bag has other fantastic features, such as pockets for water bottles, a tripod, and a rifle. The removable lid has zippered pockets for smaller gear, while the auto lock buckles prevent any kind of slippage. For all your mountain hunting needs, count on the Mystery Ranch Metcalf to support you.
MYDAYS Hunting Backpack: Outdoor and hunting enthusiasts will do well with a backpack that can support all your adventurous pursuits. The MYDAYS Hunting Backpack has many multi-purpose features that you can take from the woods to the mountain, and everywhere else in between.
The pack’s exterior has several MOLLE attachment locations so you can hang other gear, while each side has a quiver pouch for easy access. The padded, spacious main compartment opens flat, enabling you to pack effortlessly. Keep your bows and weapons secure in the padded weapon compartment for peace of mind.
The MYDAYS Hunting Backpack is constructed out of high-end 600D polyester fabric for durability and reliability. PVC coating adds to its longevity, though it stays quiet for stalking. Its ergonomic design ensures your comfort: it has breathable padding plus an adjustable shoulder strap and chest strap.
This is the only pack you’ll need for hunting, camping, and hiking. Given all its amazing features and multi-purpose design, this is a wonderful investment.
Eberlestock Vapor 5000: If being fast and light is a priority, you shouldn’t go wrong with the Eberlestock Vapor 5000. This is the medium version of the brand’s ultralight series, which can accommodate 5000 cubic inches. Aside from being extremely lightweight (just 2 pounds) for its features and size, it boasts a lightweight mainframe pack system.
This backcountry hunting backpack has useful extended stretch bottles which can fit drinks, tripods, and other gear. Its quiet fabrics enable you to stalk successfully, and the various camouflage colors keep you hidden. The fabric is a 450D Aramid reinforced ripstop, one of the toughest materials out there.
The Eberlestock Vapor 5000 also features a 140D dual stretch fabric in the center front panel for efficiently organizing items you need quick access to. Meanwhile, the detachable Duraflex buckles let you expand the pack all the way from its frame for the convenient hauling of meat or heavy loads close to your body.
Blisswill Hunting Backpack: The Blisswill Hunting Backpack is proof that there are versatile, quality hunting packs that are affordable too. Made with premium waterproof soundproof material, hunters can act with speed and efficiency at all times.
A premium strapping system enables you to haul heavy meat loads with ease. The expandable pocket provides secure storage for your bow or gun. The bag’s ergonomic design all throughout helps make sure you are comfortable when carrying your hunting gear: these include a padded mesh back panel, breathable waist belt, adjustable sternum strap, and padded shoulder straps.
The Blisswill Hunting Backpack also comes with a distress whistle, in case of emergencies. World-class craftsmanship can be seen in the precision stitching, while the bottom fabric is made from durable and wear-resistant fabric. This is a hunting backpack that is designed to last you many years of use.
The best bow backpacks for bow hunting will fit your needs to the T. Investing in the right pack is one of the most important decisions you can make: you’ll see what a big difference it can make in a successful hunt.