Best pack for toting meat?


Jul 5, 2015
Newark Ohio
Next season will be my first elk hunt(s).... I'm gonna try for a bull archery tag with a guide and if possible time it right that if I am unsuccessful that I can catch a rifle season over the counter in possibly Colorado or Idaho.

Bonus info - 33 yrs old and very active but I had a microdiscectomy ( which prohibited this hunt from happening this year) in May ---struggling with tight tense back muscles as well as the off and on nagging pain.

I already have an Idea on how I'll negotiate a kill if lucky enough to do so but----

???????Do the majority of elk packed out come out in your gear packs or do you carry a plain frame pack with no gear for hauling meat. Does anybody leave a simple frame at the truck and take it out only after a kill is made???What's the preference and why?

The wife is wanting to know which pack to look at as a christamas gift. And I figure I'll ask l the people who have the experience...


Veteran member
Nov 30, 2014
I have a Kuiu 6000 ultra. I packed out 5 antelope, 2 deer, and 3 elk so far this year with it, I'd buy that pack again in a heart beat! Works great as a day pack, and when something hits the ground you can put as much in it as you can handle. I've had around, or over a hundred pounds in mine multiple times with zero problems.

Umpqua Hunter

Veteran member
May 26, 2011
North Umpqua, Oregon
I've also moved to using a Kuiu day pack (Icon Pro 1850). It uses the exact same carbon fiber frame as the larger packs. It has a meat sling that can easily handle a quarter of elk.

In the past I always used a meat pack frame, but have since moved to using a daypack able to haul meat so I don't waste a trip.
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Veteran member
Mar 31, 2011
Colorado Mountains
Youll get all kinds of opinions on this, none right and none wrong. It really depends on the kind of hunting you'll be doing. If you will be close enough to camp or the truck, then throwing what you can in your daypack and grabbing a larger frame pack back at the truck works and I did that quite a bit years ago.

I started with Badlands & Eberlestock daypacks. I could usually get a quarter in one then hike back to the Truck where I would grab my Cabelas Alaskan frame pack to finish the job.

I then switched to bigger Eberlestock packs like the J34 & the Bluewidow. Now I could pack even more into the pack to save a trip or two, and also use it for backpacking trips.

Then I decided to jump up to a Kuiu pack that had more of an emphasis on backpacking but could be cinched down into daypack mode. This allowed me to be able to pack out even more at one time, sometimes a whole animal and have a functional backpacking pack. I backpack a lot in the summer so this seemed to work out great at the time. I really disliked cinching the pack down as it made it hard to get into and had straps hanging everywhere. The Kuiu also felt like a brick sitting on my lower back which I never could adjust away.

My final move was to a Kifaru hunting duplex frame with an EMR2 bag for backpacking and a cargo panel with different pockets for day hunting. This seems to work perfect for me and the options are limitless. You can basically build the pack with as many or as few pockets, accessories etc as you want. I keep the bag on the frame all summer for backpacking, then switch to the cargo panel for day hunts in the fall. I run two large belt pouches on the back of the cargo panel, then a medium belt pouch on the right side of the belt with a holster under it and a water bottle holder & mini belt pouch on the left side of the belt.

The downside to the Kifaru is the price. I can justify it because I use it year round and it's allowed me to sell other packs and go to just one. I'm not sure the price would be justified for one trip a year or less out west? That's up to you I guess. You get what you pay for and in my opinion Kifaru is one of if not the best on the market. Much better than a Kuiu :p


Veteran member
Apr 23, 2016
the only BEST pack,I can come up with is , the one on a buddies back instead of your own.:D


Oct 12, 2015
Loveland, CO
Some great packs have already been mentioned, but I'll throw out an excellent budget-friendly one that I rely on every hunt to get the job done. It's the military surplus MARPAT pack made by Arcteryx, which I bought on Ebay for under $50 used: . I have packed out multiple 100 lb loads of meat over some pretty rugged terrain, and have found it to be very comfortable, or as comfortable as a crapload of weight can feel. I have packed out a couple full mule deer with one trip (de-boned). It weighs about 10 lbs empty which makes my hunting pack around 25 lbs loaded up, but I am perfectly OK with that since I can find myself miles from the nearest road. The pack can carry as much as I can stuff in it, far more than my body can physically handle. You would be surprised with the hardy construction of this pack. After all, the USMC has relied on it.

My wife prefers to hunt with a small daypack and retrieves an old external-framed pack back at the truck after the first load for the subsequent trips (of course I carry most of the weight). For efficiency and a heavy first load, I would recommend going with a very comfortable and supportive large hunting pack, assuming your back is OK with the sustained weight. I will never go back to a small daypack under any circumstances with the type of hunting I do. There are so many things to worry about when hunting, safety included, and I see no reason to have to worry about the logistics of getting the meat out once the animal is down.


Active Member
May 18, 2015
Eastern Oregon
Check out the Blacks Creek lumbar pack. I think it's called the "cure". There is a good demo on their web site. A buddy has one and likes it. I'm thinking about going that route, I like the lumbar idea. BB


Very Active Member
Jun 16, 2015
For what it's worth, I had a microdiscectomy 16 years ago at L4-5 and L5-S1 which I reherniated along with another shortly after and have been living with 3 herniated discs and other back problems since. I hauled out my first elk this year with Matt with my tenzing6000 packed as full as we could get it with no issues.


Veteran member
Dec 24, 2013
South Dakota
kifaru!! I own a duplex timberline 1 and absolutly love it. Had to make a few adjustments after packing out a bear this year but after that it carries weight very well. Packed out an elk 6 miles this year an antelope and mule deer and will never buy anything different


Active Member
Oct 14, 2015
Colorado Springs
I had that Alps Outdoorz pack and it was a pretty nice pack, especially for the price point! I gave it to my dad and bought the KUIU Ultra 6000. There is a significant difference in quality and how the pack handled all our weight on our last hunt. Had roughly 50-60 pounds in there and could barely tell it was there. It is an awesome pack that I would buy over and over again.

So, +1 for the KUIU!


Jun 30, 2013
So Cal
Having used every Sitka and Kuiu pack I am 100% sold on EXO Mountain Gear. Defeinitly worth a look.

I found the Sitka to not be versatile enough and the KUIU had too many pockets and options for me (some like all the pockets and straps etc.) Plus I found changing the bags a bit cumbersome. The EXO is simple, spacious, handles a heavy load with ease and compresses to almost nothing when empty.

Another thing i like it the torsional flexability the back has. As primarily a bow hunter this is a huge advantage when drawing a bow with the pack on. It's still vertically extremely stiff and can carry a ton of weight as needed.