skj hone backpack
The SKJ Hone pack; BUY IT NOW. Slumberjack

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Chasing mule deer last year in Idaho’s Sawtooth Range, we made a trailer camp off a Forest Service road, woke up a few hours before first light, then hiked high into the mountains to glass and chase and ultimately pack out two good bucks. Every morning I hiked in with a .308, tripod, DSLR camera, 70-200mm lens, 24-70mm lens, a spotting scope, small camcorder, lunch, water, raingear, a kill kit, and other small essentials should we get lost, injured or shoot a deer. Every day I packed it all in the SJK Hone.

The 2,000 cubic inches or 32-liter bag fits my medium/large frame well. It weighs 3 lbs. 4 ounces–a little heavy–and is built around a single aluminum stay and plastic backboard. It has a carry system for a rifle or bow, but the best part about the pack is what SJK calls the beavertail system. The two front pockets unclip from the main bag, so you can haul awkward-shaped gear, or animal quarters, that otherwise wouldn’t fit in the main bag. With a tripod and spotter, or camera equipment, this is especially handy because you can secure it down the center of the pack, and get at it quicker than if it were lashed to one side. This played out several times on our hunt as we encountered animals after lung-destroying hikes, then had to throw packs, and pull tripods and cameras and guns to get about the shooting.

Without all the extra camera equipment, the SJK Hone has ample room for a minimalist overnight in the woods. The beavertail system means it packs gear like a bag several liters larger and the side-zipper pockets are wide enough hold a spotter. There are MOLLE straps for days.

This year the Hone is my dedicated tree stand pack. Locking the bow into the beavertail system, I won’t have to mess with a pull-up rope, and will have plenty of space for clothing and snacks for all-day, cold-weather sits during the rut. This pack is well worth the $160 MSRP. BUY IT NOW