Meditations on Hunting Backpacks
by Patrick Smith

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As the founder, chief designer and former owner of Mountainsmith, one of the world’s best known manufacturers of technical backpacks, I spend about 200 days a year camped out testing designs. On almost every one of those trips, I carry a rifle and live off the land as much as the law and luck will allow. I’ve also hunted big game in Africa, Alaska, Canada, and most of the western United States.

For the last twenty years, I’ve carried internal frame packs of my own design on virtually all my hunting expeditions. Experience taught me that, while they were great for mountaineering, climbing and carrying heavy loads long distances, they were far from perfect for hunting. Specifically they
didn’t address the particular problems hunters face:
1. carrying a rifle securely, yet still accessible;
2. toting messy, hard-to secure meat and hides;
3. having a pack that is durable enough to withstand hard usage, yet quiet enough not to scare game,
and
4. using your hunting pack for skiing and backpacking, and as a travel bag without attracting unwanted attention.

I looked at a market loaded with poorly designed hunting pack designs made of materials which didn’t really work for hunters. These included frameless rucksacks which put all the weight uncomfortably on your shoulders, bulky, noisy, uncomfortable packs with external aluminum frames which break at the welds and won’t let you carry a rifle easily; packs made of tough and weatherproof (but noisy) nylon or fragile (but quiet) fleece.
Over the years in my own musings, and through countless campfire discussions with a favorite rambling partner, noted outdoor writer Tim Jones, I began to zero in, step by step, on solutions for the problems with hunting packs. We agreed that an internal frame design was the ideal starting point for a perfect hunting pack. Why? Because this design keeps the weight low on your hips and close to your back for better balance , in addition to providing maximum comfort, greater durability, and freedom of movement.

I started adapting serious internal frame technical mountaineering packs to the needs of hunters. I invented the patented new GunBearer System™ which carries any long gun securely and safely while hiking - yet keeps it handy for instant action. By combining fabrics, I’ve created packs that are absolutely silent, yet amazingly tough and weatherproof. As an added bonus the interchangeable, removable camouflage panels let you choose concealment or high visibility, and remove for travelling or other outdoor sports.
With the basic problems solved, I turned my attention to functional accessories. The patented CargoChair not only gives you a comfortable, dry seat for glassing or sitting by the fire, it also lets you carry heavy loads of meat and hides without messing up your pack bag and the gear inside. In addition, I’ve added a wide variety of accessory pouches and gear bags that add volume and utility for carrying weapons, ammo and small game more comfortably and conveniently than ever before.

Take a hard look at Kifaru hunting packs. They’re made in America entirely of American-made materials, they carry an absolute, iron-clad, no questions asked lifetime guarantee. And, best of all, they are built by hunters, for hunters, to give you a complete system to carry your gear and game anywhere in the field under any conditions.

P.S. - we sell only directly to our fellow hunters, so you won't find this innovative gear in stores!

Patrick Smith