Outdoorsmans Hunter Pack System Review

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Outdoorsmans Optics Hunter Pack System


Editor: Randy

 


Basic Description:

 

Specially curved, flexible  frame pack designed to give you the stability of an internal frame but the carrying capacity of an external.

Just The Facts:

The Outdoorsmans Optics Hunter Pack System was designed for a hunter to adequately carry their tripod, spotting scope, and large binoculars. The carbon fiber rein-forced polypropylene frame is rigid enough to handle a 200 lb. load, yet has enough flexibility to twist with your body while climbing or twisting through brush. The frame itself only weighs 2 lbs with the complete pack at 7 lbs 3 oz.

There are 8 different attaching points on the frame for the suspension system so that this pack will fit anyone from 5’2″ all the way up to 6’10”. Underneath each pack bag is a load carrying system that is part of the frame. This is ideal for meat packing or caching food and water for longer hunts. The Outdoorsmans has built into the frame a V- notch rifle rest that allows for a solid shooting rest from the sitting position due to the solid base of the frame/pack system. The rifle carrying system is built right into every pack and will securely
hold any size rifle, bow, or muzzleloader. The size of the pack at 4600 cubic inches isn’t condusive to multi-day backpack hunts. It can be purchased in Real Tree Max 1 camo. This pack system was built so that each of it’s built in components would complement each other and contribute to the ultimate in balance and load control.


STORY:

I was asked to field test the Outdoorsmans Optic’s Backpack earlier this winter. With plenty of snow on the ground in southern Utah I was limited to cramming 75 lbs of weighted sand bags into the pack and hiking for several hours each weekend in the low foot hills around my home. This gave me a good feel for the pack as to how it fit my body and what adjustments needed to be made for it to ride comfortably.

However, as the months of early spring have blown in I scheduled some tough scouting trips for desert sheep into a region of very rugged country. I wanted to purposely “abuse” the pack as much as my body would physically stand for! I’ve definitely put this pack to the test during the past month in difficult terrain and under some very ugly weather conditions this spring.

The Outdoorsmans Pack, because of its large, thick hip belt and shoulder pads is quite comfortable. For me, however, it did take some adjustments so that it fit my body correctly. I found that I really had to cinch the shoulder pads down and pull the load lift straps as far as possible so I could to bring the load against my back. This kept the bottom half of the flexible frame from digging into my lower back/glute muscles when I had a lot of weight in the pack…75 lbs plus. You can also easily move the pack up and down on the frame at various attaching points to help fit your height and build. Overall, this pack is very capable of standing up under really heavy loads. Beneath the pack bag is a load carrying system that is part of the frame. This is nice for meat packing or caching food and water for those long hunts. As I looked at this feature I didn’t feel like the meat sack on the frame was big enough for my needs to place a deboned animal in. However, you could attach quarters and your own meat sacks easily to the frame for packing.

In that the Optics Pack is only 4600 cubic inches, I found that it isn’t big enough if you are going to be spending multiple days backpacking out in the wilderness which is often the case with me. For a two day trip I really have to stuff the pack’s bag to get in my sleeping bag, food, small stove, and few other necessities. I had to lash my one man tent onto the bottom of the frame with a couple of makeshift straps of my own . The Outdoorsmans strap may have been big enough to secure a small sleeping pad but not for a tent. To fit my extra clothes on the pack I used an attachable “pod” from Outdoorsmans that attaches to the outside.  I can cinch the pod up very compactable with a series of draw strings. To attach and detach the pod you have to use what I felt were cumbersome little clips that slide through the top and bottom of a daisy chain. I felt the clip could have been designed better. As I’ve gotten use to the clips I can say that they work a little better than what I thought initially. I really liked the large outside pockets on this pack to put my spotting scope and tripod in. A small strap on each side closes these pockets off so you don’t lose anything. Two small pockets on the bottom sides of the pack can be snapped shut to secure a radio, camera, or other “possibles” that you may need. I have always preferred to carry a Nalgene bottle, with an electrolyte mix in it, within one of these pockets on my other backpacks. The pockets on this pack were not big enough to do this. I can fit a smaller water bottle in these pockets however. The top pack lid is cleverly angled so that when you cinch it down it covers the top of your pack completely. Nice job guys with this feature!

As stated earlier under “FACTS,” the Outdoorsmans have very conveniently built into the middle of the pack bag on the outside,  a system to attach your rifle. It distributes this extra weight very nicely so you don’t find your pack lopsided. However, with the pod attached, if I had to get to my rifle off the pack in a hurry, it would not be a “one snap” process. Without the pod it would work just fine. The V- notch rifle rest designed in the top of the frame allows for a solid rest while shooting from the sitting position due to the solid base of the frame/pack system. I’ve tried this out while target practicing and it works quite well. Some hunters believe that with practice this rifle rest is easier, faster, and more accurate than many of the seated bipods on the market.

On the inside of the bag there is a hydration bladder compartment, with a small hole in the back where you can slide your sip tube out then across one of your shoulder straps. I do wish there was a small clip or Velcro strap to keep the tube secure. Outdoorsmans has attached some clips on the pack that will keep the extra length from you waist belt or shoulder straps from “flopping around” loosely so that they don’t  snag on  branches.

The Outdoorsmans advertises that “they are constantly working on new designs and upgrades to the pack bag to address the various demands of hunting.” The best part of their pack design is that once you own a frame you will only need to buy the new bag when they come out with a different design because the pack bags will always be completely interchangeable. I like the thought process for this design a great deal because I would personally prefer a larger cubic inch backpack bag when the Outdoorsmans comes out with one. I need the extra cubic inches for additional gear on my long backpack excursions.

I’ve found the material on the Outdoorsmans pack to be very tough and durable. The zippers have held up to my heavy loads.  Quality service and material is always very important to me when purchasing expensive gear. In the past I have found that the Outdoorsmans has always provided excellent service when I have sent various items back to them to be worked on after a lot of use.  At $399.00 for the Optics pack on the Outdoorsmans website you should expect an excellent warranty.


What They Could Do Better

 

  • Design a larger water pocket bottle on one side of the pack.
  • Design an easier clip system to attach and detach the pod accessory to the pack.
  • Attach a larger draw strap on the bottom of the pack frame so that it will secure a tent or large pad.

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Comments

  1. Tyler Dominguez says:

    They do have a long range version of the pack. The frame and harness are the important parts to me. I’ve been using a Bull pack for elk hunting and considering the optics pack recently. Great review sir, and lately I have put my sleeping bag in a dry bag compression sack and strapping it to the top of all my packs which frees up quite a lot of room in my pack. Thanks again.

  2. Tom Barwick says:

    I spoke to a customer service person at Outdoorsmans last week about the pack I recently purchased – True Timber – Outdoorsmans Hunter\Optics Hunter Pack System . We discussed some problems I noted with the pack waist belt sewing that had ripped. The rep and I discussed the belt with the pack in front of me. He described two plastic tabs with straps attached to the belt that were not in slots on the frame and I believe it was set up that way when I received it. I thought they were to attach extra gear but he said it was extra support for the waist belt. Perhaps that was the cause of the sewing failure. He advised that I return the waist belt and Outdoorsmans would replace it. The company refused to send a shipping label or pay for the costs of shipping it to them (almost $10) despite the fact it could be a product failure. They did agree to ship the replacement part at their expense.

    Here is the rest of my critique of the pack. It is a good pack with lots of room for the extended hunting trip we were on into the Rockies. It had convenient access and room for everything I needed for the hunt. Everyone who saw the pack liked it. I did not have a spotting scope but I can see how the pockets make carrying that gear convenient. Those pockets offered more room for other gear and helped organize items.

    I thought the bow cam sack/rifle stock sack at the bottom rear was inadequate for my bow, especially for a parallel limb bow. Despite the rep’s insistence that it was adequate I still think it is not. I went back and looked at some videos on YouTube illustrating the use of the pack and maybe I was doing something wrong in packing on my bow – maybe not because it is unclear how a bow was attached using the sack/bucket.

    I hate the velcro used to close the flap on the bottomand prefer a snap on this feature like the ones used to secure the other pockets/compartments. With that I think the flap would then secure the lower limb of my bow and prevent the bow from settling down on the pack. I cinched the bow on tight with the compression straps. In the end I really did not have a problem even without the sack/bucket, except getting the bow off required removal of three snaps and straps. I just thought Outdoorsman might re-think the use of that flap for some bowhunters as it would be a nice feature to snap it up with shorter bow risers/parallel limb bows.

    The zippers in the top flap were difficult to pull open when the zipper pull was pulled to either full close or open positions as the zipper threads tended to bunch up in the corners, especially with gear in the pockets. The zipper system looks sturdy enough but the colder my hands became the harder it was to open/close them. The smiley zipper located at the bottom of the pack and the pocket on the back worked just fine.

    Shoulder and waist belt straps/cinches seemed to slide (loosen) when wet requiring frequent tightening for the most comfortable pack fit. Maybe it was just me or my sweat, but it was bothersome, especially when tired or climbing in a tight spot. The rep suggested using the strap/cinch clips. One of the small ones fell off before my trip so I was cognizant about that during the hunt. Also, once the excess waist cinch straps were in the clips it was more onerous to re-tighten them when they loosened anyway.

    I thought the Outdoorsmans pack rain cover/fly was just too small. With the pack fully loaded it did fit circumferentially, but was a pain getting it over the pack and did not extend to the frame on the sides with gear on the back. It might be fine for a pack without attachments onto the outside of the frame. A fellow hunter had purchased one from another manufacturer that was plenty big for his pack and appeared much easier to put over his the pack when the rain storms came up suddenly.

    Again maybe its me, but while I appreciated the quality of the water bladder itself, I did not like the Eberlestock mouthpiece on my bladder I purchased through Outdoorsmans. It did not look like anything on the instructions that came with it. It did not take me very long to put a hole in the spongy covering on the mouthpiece, which caused it to leak. I replaced it with a Camelback mouthpiece.

    And if it the water tube was to go through the hole in the sleeve for the bladder – and I thought that was what it was for – it did not fit through the grommet. Maybe that was not what the sleeve was for – nor the grommet. Anyway it made it difficult to fill the Eberlestock bladder and so I also jerry-rigged a Camelback snap that allowed me to remove the mouthpiece and attach my water filter pump directly to the hose to fill the pack without removing it from the pack.

    Like the above review, I wished there was a tie-down for the tube on the shoulder strap and so jerry-rigged a fix simple enough. Its a detail.

    Finally our group used a variety of packs, some issued to Marine Recon units, Kuiu, and Tensing. This was the only one with an external frame. I like the frame and what it can do for many reasons. I found it just hard to sit with the pack on on a slope or incline for the moments you need to catch your breath on a steep climb, without loosening the shoulder and waist straps due to the bottom shelf of the frame itself. Everything has a trade-off perhaps.

    Lastly, I talked to two people at Outdoorsmans about the waist belt, neither were very friendly and were mostly defensive, gruff and condescending. Perhaps it is an image they like – good ole boys who don’t put up with a lot of _ _ _ _ . My .02 is they need to improve on customer relations. There are a lot of good packs out there, Like someone once told me, don’t beat yourself up re-inventing the wheel, just copy the good stuff. Next year another company will incorporate Outdoorsmans’ good ideas in a different pack with a better price and friendlier service. Then I would buy my pack from them and not Outdoorsmans.

    I will continue to use the pack and make these comments in an effort to suggest improvements to their system. and service I certainly appreciate the new waist belt.

    • I would be defensive and condescending to you to if you called me up and told me this story!!!! Sounds like you couldn’t even tie your own shoes if someone didn’t do it for you. Also sound like you don’t belong on the mountain. You might be best suit back east and just sit in a tree stand all day! Get a life Tom Barwick! you’re probably that guy who’s got to go buy all the top latest and greatest expensive gear but then go busting bucks and bulls down wind with your fat ass huffing and puffing and stopping to eat your burger king right in their bedding area spooking the whole heard for the serious hunters out there! Why don’t you stay home and watch the outdoors channel!

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