Outdoorsmans Pack System Review

July 28, 2012 in Backpack Reviews, Outdoorsmans

Who would have thought that Mexican beer, British gin, and a tough mountain lion hunt would play a major role in the development of the only full-featured, external frame hunting pack made in America? But after each fruitless day of trailing lions, Floyd Green and Dale Evans sat around the fire, scheming to make the ultimate hunting pack. Coincidentally, they were the perfect pair, combining their decades of carrying packs in the field with Floyd’s years of experience in the hunting gear industry and Dale’s expertise in polypropylene engineering. After a solid week of brainstorming, the Outdoorsmans Pack System concept was born.

The Outdoorsmans Pack System

External Frame

The basic external frame concept started to go out of fashion more than a decade ago. A new generation of “sexier”, less-expensive internal frame packs made in the Far East were becoming the rage. While these type of packs all have their place as well, there’s simply no denying that an external frame can carry a heavy load more efficiently. The vertical rigidity reduces the demands on your back and more effectively distributes the pack load. After many miles, the reduced toll on your body adds up.

External frames don’t allow the backpack to ride directly against your back, so there is greatly improved ventilation, keeping the body cooler and conserving precious fluids. However, this advantage was also the greatest downfall. With the load sitting farther away from the body, the pack was less stable in rough terrain, and as hunters, we don’t have the advantage of well groomed trails everywhere we want to go.

This Outdoorsmans polypropylene frame crushes this obstacle with a unique curvature that shadows the natural contours of your back, while still allowing adequate ventilation. Let’s take a closer this unique frame.

  • The vertical side bars deliver tremendous vertical strength and rigidity, making it fully capable of handling a 200-1b. load.
  • The main body is a thinner “board”, allowing for the horizontal flexibility that is so desirable in an internal frame backpack.
  • The bottom shelf of the backpack helps to reduce excessive twisting of the frame at the hips, which is a great relief to your lower back.
  • The shelf also protects the bottom of the pack from general wear, especially during the inevitable fall during steep descents in loose terrain, adding years to the life of the bag.
  • The polypropylene frame itself weighs just under 2 lbs.!
  • It has a v-notched built-in shooting rest at the top of the frame, perfect for getting just enough clearance above the tall grass or sagebrush.

 

The Optics Hunter

One of the most versatile hunting backpacks on the market today, the Optics Hunter incorporates the Outdoorsmans frame, and offers a 5400-cu.-in. carrying capacity – good enough for a 3-5 day excursion. However, if you need a little more room than the base 5400, the 2000-cu.-in. Accessory Pod ($79.99) can be easily attached. The Accessory Pod is meant to affix to the back of the main pack, and is specially designed to carry a spike camp tent, sleeping bag, stove and fuel in a convenient and accessible compartment. Now you’re good for a week or longer.

An Intelligently Built Backcountry Backpack

Here are a few ways this system is engineered specifically with the needs of a hunter at the forefront:

  • The pack can be attached or detached from the frame in a matter of minutes, converting it to a true pack frame.
  • Underneath every pack is a handy meat lashing system that can be expanded to easily handle an elk hindquarter.
  • Each of the backpack bags is built with a pull-out nylon liner sack that allows for easy clean-up if you need to haul meat inside the pack, or if your peanut butter sandwich gets demolished.
  • At an amgazing 7 lbs., 3 oz., this pack is among the lightest and best-engineered packs available on the market, coming in 1-2 lbs. lighter than many other western hunting backpacks.
  • Three horizontal compression straps can cinch the load down, so that it can easily be used on long day hunts.
  • A lightweight drop-down gun butt scabbard holds your rifle securely in place for hands-free hiking.
  • The lid is split into two pockets, one of which I use for a pair of 15x binoculars. The other I use for maps, GPS, flashlight and anything else that I may need quickly.
  • A nice blaze orange flag can be pulled out instantly for easy visibility when packing out meat or antlers.
  • Two vertical pockets run the full length of each side of the pack, offering easy access to your tripod, spotting scope, trekking poles, or glassing stool. Basically, everything you need to sit down and get to work finding a big bull can be accessed without ever digging into the main compartment.
  • An array of pockets, belts, and lashing points assure that you can have any piece of gear exactly where you want it at any time.
  •  
Outdoorsmans Optics Hunter Pack
Material Ballistic cloth
Weight 7 lbs., 3 oz.
Colors Realtree Max-1, Sonoran Brown
Capacity 5,400 cu. in.
Purpose 1-5 day hunts
Price $399
Contact www.outdoorsmans.com, 800-291-8065

 Fully Adjustable Suspension

I’m a firm believer that just like your favorite hunting boots, the way a pack fits you is absolutely critical. Human beings are built in a ridiculous array of shapes and sizes, especially in the torso region. Unlike feet, the dimensions of our upper bodies can fluctuate dramatically during the few months of a hunting season or by the end of a 10-day backcountry hunt.

The Optics Hunter meets this demand by offering dozens of lashing points for the suspension system. You can move the hip belt and the shoulder harness independently and in every direction, so if you’re 5’6” with a 44” chest or 6’3” with a 42” chest, you can adjust the pack for the perfect fit.

I will warn you, this takes time if you really want the best results. You can start with generic settings for your height and torso length, but don’t assume that just because it “feels good” that you have found the best fit possible. It only takes minutes to make an adjustment, so hike with the backpack during some off-season training and try moving the shoulder harness up or down one notch to see if you achieve a better fit.

Made in the USA

The Outdoorsmans Pack Frame delivers in every respect – function, design, and quality. Last but not least, the Outdoorsmans frames and packs are all made right here in the United States.

A Note on the Outdoorsmans Long Range Hunter

The Outdoorsmans famed Long Range Hunter, which was one of the more innovative packs of its era and is still cutting edge, is currently undergoing a new redesign, so is temporarily unavailable. Stay tuned for more information on this within the next few months. The Long-Range Hunter traditionally was a 7000-cu.in. pack.