Hunters in need of a pack for packing out heavy loads of meat, hides and gear need a heavy-duty external-frame pack that's rugged enough to handle big loads, yet comfortable enough to "wear all day". Barney's Sport Chalet of Anchorage has long been an innovator in gear design and one of their signature products is their "Hunter Pack".
The proof of the Hunter Pack's reliability is the fact that most commercial hunting guides in Alaska use it. Many Barney's Packs have been in use for over 20 years, with no failures of any kind. One guide reports that he has packed thousands of pounds of meat, rafts and gear in his Moose Pack and never had a failure. No other brand of pack in Alaska has this kind of longevity or track record.
|6800 cu. in.||25" tall x 20" wide x 13" deep||3 lbs. 14 oz.||Single main bag with three cross-tie straps, draw-cord bag opening, large pocket on the top flap, and two long side pockets.||$404|
|Freighter Frame||n/a||n/a||4 lbs. 8 oz.||Frame with top riser bar, collapsable shelf, contoured, non-skid shoulder straps and hip belt.||$289|
Features and Construction
The Moose Pack consists of two components which are purchased separately; the bag itself, and the freighter frame. Let's talk about each.
The Hunter Pack is but one of several designs made by Barney's Sport Chalet of Anchorage. All of their bags are designed to secure to their freighter frame. But the Hunter Pack, the signature product of the line, is a work of rugged simplicity. It's made of heavy-duty cordura nylon, which is coated with urethane on the inside to make it waterproof. Stitching is heavy-duty nylon. The bag has a large pocket on the top flap, which is roomy enough for maps or raingear. This provides ready access to items you may need in a hurry. The two side pockets are large enough to accommodate spotting scopes, water bottles, fuel bottles and so forth. One of the side pockets has a bellows attachment to one of the seams, with extendable cinch straps designed to allow users to slip long items such as tripod-mounted spotting scopes between the pocket and the main bag, while the tripod is secured by the cinch straps. It's a great system that allows quick deployment of the scope when game is spotted.
The main bag has no dividers in it, and is roomy enough to accommodate large moose quarters or bulky gear. Simply drop the quarter into the bag, and cinch the cross-straps, top opening draw cord, and top flap down snugly and you're good to go.
The Hunter Pack is available only in grey.
Barney's freighter frame is light, but very rugged. Made of aircraft aluminum, the freighter frame is designed to carry heavy loads without the risk of broken welds or bent frame supports. It comes with a folding shelf, secured to the frame by the means of aluminum pins, and a curved riser bar that is pinned and sleeved inside the verticle bars on the frame. The frame is painted with a matte finish, so there is no glare to alert animals of your presence.
The Secret is in the Straps
One of the best things about this frame is its adjustability. The strap system can be made to fit literally any hunter's body size, by simply removing the pins in the appropriate locations and repositioning them. It can be done easily in the field in just a few minutes. The straps are padded and contoured to fit your body; the shoulder straps have a chest strap to keep them from slipping off your shoulders, and they are adjustable for height and shoulder span. The padded, non-skid waist belt has tilt, width, and girth adjustments. Most of the major adjustments can be made on the fly as you are packing, and there are dozens of combinations when it comes to fine-tuning the system to fit your body.
Beware of inferior pack and frame systems that look similar to the Barney's Hunter Pack! There are several such packs on the market, and they are not up to the tough, rugged standards you need in a pack designed for carrying heavy loads of meat and gear. Cheaper bags are easily torn, and seams will separate. Inferior frames are easily bent and rendered useless. Spend the money on good-quality gear and it will last your lifetime.
Although the Hunter Pack is waterproof and can be washed with normal detergent, most hunters want to keep blood out of it while packing meat. Use an unscented trash compactor bag for a pack liner when packing meat. Compactor bags are heavy-duty and will handle multiple loads, and the plastic bag allows the quarter to slide into the bag with ease.
Many hunters prefer to bring moose ribs out on the bone, and it is required in some Game Management Units. On larger moose, the rib slabs will not fit inside the bag. Strap them to the outside, securing them in place with the top flap and the three cinch straps that run across the front of the bag.
Moose or caribou antlers should be strapped onto the pack upside-down, Begin by laying the skull plate atop the bag, and bringing the top flap over the top of the skull plate, cinching it down securely. Ensure that the antler points are facing away from the frame, to prevent them from getting snagged on brush and tree limbs.
The frame's riser bar tends to hang up on limbs if you're moving through heavy alders (hence the name "alder hanger). Hunters intending to pack through heavy brush should consider removing this bar at the beginning of their hunt.
Unless you're using the frame by itself, you should consider removing the folding shelf. If the bag is in place, the shelf is redundant because the bag is designed to carry the heaviest poundage. No sense carrying the extra weight.
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