early review Eberlestock F1 Mainframe and F2 Transformer

mcseal2

Veteran member
Mar 1, 2011
1,135
122
midwest
I recently purchased this frame along with the F2 Transformer pack, the scoped rifle scabbard, and the J type dry bag. This is just a preliminary review, I haven't put enough miles or use on it yet to give a thorough review. This is more my initial thoughts after a few hours use.

I'll review the frame first here.

The frame is narrower than many others I've tried. It makes it much nicer to use while carrying a rifle slung over my shoulder. The straps secure a load well, and the load lifters work better than on any other Eberlestock product I’ve used. I think it’s due to the solid frame instead of stays in the pack. I spent some time walking with it today with a 50lb bag of cattle mineral on it and experienced no real discomfort or sore spots. It did an excellent job. I really like that the pack doesn't have a tall frame sticking out past my head. That isn't an issue above timberline, but for most of the tags I end up drawing for elk or muleys I'm hunting in thicker stuff like burns and oakbrush. Not having my pack snagging on stuff is a big deal there. The scoped rifle scabbard attached easily and solidly to the webbing and does its job just fine.

After testing the frame I attached the F2 pack and tried it as a daypack. The F2 Transformer pack will zip to the F1 Mainframe. With the F2 zipped on and the pack loaded, the scabbard was compressed to much to get a rifle into the scabbard. The zippers work great if you don’t plan to add a scabbard the the set-up, but don’t work if you do. I unzipped the pack and used the compression straps made to buckle from the F1 to the F2 and it worked fine this way. I was a little skeptical the pack would attach solidly enough this way to not rattle or have side to side play, but it worked fine. The straps are long enough that I know I could put an elk quarter, and think I could put a moose quarter between the frame and pack and carry the first load out that way. Following loads I’d leave the F2 at camp or the truck and just use the F1.

Eberlestock uses a very quiet material for their hunting packs compared to some I tried. The Kuiu Ultra series in particular is a noisy fabric. I like their products, just not that pack.

The F2 Transformer is designed to function as a separate daypack also. In my opinion this just adds unnecessary straps and buckles that add unnecessary weight. This is so a hunter could leave the F1 frame at camp and just day-hunt with the F2 as a daypack. I don’t think I would ever do this, and doubt many other people would also. The advantage of using this set-up is that you can pack meat out on the frame first trip. Leaving the frame at camp takes this advantage away. I plan to remove the shoulder harness as well as several of the straps and buckles from mine after a few more test hikes. Just removing the shoulder harness dropped 10.6oz from the F2, I am sure I can reduce the weight at least a pound without effecting it’s function with the frame. I saw a review on Youtube by Travis Rockwell where he did exactly what I plan to.

If the packframe isn’t necessary for the hunt I prefer other packs like the J34 or X1A2. The X1A2 is my favorite daypack I have tried, and if I need more room or want to be able to pack a quarter first trip the J34 is my choice. Both are lighter weight and great packs, they just lack the solid frame for really heavy loads. In the past I've used my J34 for the first trip on elk hunts, and went back in with my Cabelas Alaskan frame for later loads. That has worked well for day hunts like that. If I was planning lots of longer high country backpack hunts I might go with a Kifaru Duplex and bag, but for what I'm doing I think a 26" frame would be more awkward to get through the thick cover and get left at home a lot. I don't have enough points built up for the hunts like that I want, maybe someday!

I purchased the set-up reviewed here for a drop camp Alaskan moose hunt I have booked in a couple years. We can only take so much weight on the plane in to our hunt and this set-up lets me take only one pack, not a daypack and a big separate frame. I have a mule deer and elk hunt planned between not and then I can test it on, plus lots of conditioning hikes. I think it will do an excellent job and plan to review it again several times between now and after the Alaska trip.
 

ScottR

Eastmans' Staff / Moderator
Staff member
Feb 3, 2014
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I really like it with the dry bag attached or the spike camp duffel. It is small enough that I found I didn't need the daypack concept that comes with the transformer.

Great feedback.
 

mcseal2

Veteran member
Mar 1, 2011
1,135
122
midwest
I have both the dry bag and spike camp, just haven't had a chance to try them yet. I've used the spike camp with my J34 in the past. I wanted to see if I liked the Transformer enough to keep and modify it first off. I think yes so far, I do enough day hunts to justify having the smaller pack with easy to access external pockets for tripod and spotter.
 

mcseal2

Veteran member
Mar 1, 2011
1,135
122
midwest
Loaded up the Transformer on the Mainframe with a scabbard attached and went for a hike yesterday. Nothing major, but about 2.5 miles with a 270 in the scabbard, spotter and tripod in the side pockets, and another 15lbs or so of random gear. It packed comfortable and stayed stable with the Transformer not zipped but just buckled to the Mainframe. I went through plenty of timber without snagging on anything. I like that I can adjust the scabbard to ride higher or lower on the Mainframe, keep the butt of the gun below my head in timber or in open country let it ride a little higher and be easier to draw. So far I'm still happy with the set-up. I'm heading on a scouting trip in a week for a muley hunt this fall and will get it used more then I bet. I might decide to take a lighter pack though since I don't need to take a rifle or pack meat out just glass and gear in. I'll review more when I get it used more.
 

TIN CUP SPORSTMAN

New Member
Aug 10, 2016
1
0
Can anyone comment on the use of the zip in dry bag for use as a "game-bag" to prevent blood transfer to frame/pack/straps? I realize all the issues with putting warm meat into a waterproof bag, no need to go there. Curious to know if anyone does this (with the bag open to breathe) and/or if anyone has best practices for keeping blodd of the packs in bear country. Thanks, Tin Cup
 

mcseal2

Veteran member
Mar 1, 2011
1,135
122
midwest
I haven't tried that. I haven't packed quarters in grizzly country. Mostly when I get my pack bloody I'm tagged out and don't care, I'll clean it at home. I really don't think I'd use the dry bag for meat though. If I'm using the pack to haul meat and wanted to keep it clean I'd put the fabric game bag on and then use a trash bag to keep it in and keep the blood off the pack. You could tie the trash bag open so the quarter would get some air. Even double bagging with trash bags would be a more compact and lightweight method than using the dry bag, and you could burn them at camp or throw them away when back at civilization and done with them.
 

spraynbuckshot

New Member
Aug 20, 2016
1
0
North Georgia
mcseal2, Could you please post a few pictures of the pack with the rifle scabbard attached? I am seriously considering purchasing the mainframe and pack but there are limited reviews and pictures on the net.
 

xpusostomos

New Member
Oct 14, 2016
1
0
Can anybody tell me what is the point of the Transformer pack, when the Eberlestock "Little big top" weighs less (with the straps taken off, and zipped to the mainframe) than the transformer, yet holds twice as much gear.


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Vikingload

Member
Jun 12, 2015
115
0
Powell WY
Great review and I use the spike camp duffel on mine and just use it as a day pack. I love to the ability to be able to take a quarter out on the first load. What I really like about this pack is it's stability. I had back surgery last year and they went through my stomach which cut a lot of my core muscles, this pack gives me the stability I used to have before surgery and lets me hike farther than I could with out the stiff frame.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

mcseal2

Veteran member
Mar 1, 2011
1,135
122
midwest
I'll try to get pics taken. I have the scabbard removed now. I took it off on this last hunt because I really didn't see a situation where I didn't want my rifle on a sling. Highly pressured deer hiding in tall sagebrush made me think I might jump one at short range and want to shoot fast and I took it off early in the hunt.

The little big top wasn't available when I bought mine, it's newer. The transformer I will say can be lightened up considerably. I removed the shoulder harness, belt, cut off in-used buckles, and the whole wide center strap. Using it with the Mainframe exclusively I can't see where I decreased its functionality at all. I would like to have the little big top also and may purchase it before my Alaska trip where I might want to pack more raingear and other clothing for the moose hunt. I might just use the J type dry bag as a pack also zipped to the Mainframe. I've heard several people say they use the spike camp duffle as their daypack with the Mainframe, haven't tried that but probably will. The main reason for the Transformer for me has been the spotter and tripod pockets on the outside, but with the big zipper on the spike camp it might even be easier to access them that way.
 

mcseal2

Veteran member
Mar 1, 2011
1,135
122
midwest
Well I used the pack for whitetail season this year. I like to pack several insulating layers plus a HPG mountain serape into the blind or thicket I'll be hiding in. I walk in dressed lightly, carry the insulating layers in the pack, so I don't sweat walking in. I zipped a Superspike duffle to the Mainframe for this. It worked excellent. It is more pack than I need, but makes it easy to fit the layers plus the spotter, 15x Swaros, and tripod. I like having my glass when hunting whitetail. I like the ability to really evaluate a deer if it's not one I have scouted, or check for broken tines if it's one I do. The spotter doesn't get used much but if one shows up on a different ridge it can be handy. The 15x Swaros get used all the time, having them steady on the tripod in low light is priceless.

I went with the superspike because I found it made in the quiet camo material Eberlestock uses instead of nylon. I like that better if it brushes against brush or the door of the pop up blind, just like it better all around. The size of the superspike also makes it easy to stuff everything back in after dark when I'm trying to be quiet and use no light.

All in all I still like the pack. I hope to draw an elk tag and get to put it to use this fall.
 

mcseal2

Veteran member
Mar 1, 2011
1,135
122
midwest
Can anybody tell me what is the point of the Transformer pack, when the Eberlestock "Little big top" weighs less (with the straps taken off, and zipped to the mainframe) than the transformer, yet holds twice as much gear.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
Way late reply, but I got the Little Big Top recently. I haven't tested it much at all yet, just had it out and looked at it. It's made of a much louder material than the Transformer, more of a nylon. Also there aren't the separate optics pockets so a spotter and tripod would be in with everything else. I think I want the capacity of the Little Big Top for the Alaska trip so I bought it. I don't know that I'd use it in place of the Transformer though unless I need the capacity, like the layout better on the Transformer. Using the Little Big Top with a spotter and tripod I'd likely leave them just inside the side zippers toward the outside of the pack and use extra clothes or something to pad them and hold them there. They would be more of a hassle to put back in and get everything cinched back down tight that way though.

Hope this helps.
 

labrador103

New Member
Nov 7, 2019
2
1
I have been using the mainframe, with the little big top for a few years now and the functionality and comfort is awesome. I like all the pocket on the inside for organization. On another note with using the F1, On light days I will use the bat wings, which are also nice for the day trips in and out of the woods.

Just packed out a large bull with the F1 and little big top. first pack out, removed pack, placed quarter and a bag of meat against frame and reattached the little big top. Meat was secure, no need to stop for readjustment on the way back to truck.

I do enjoy hunting with this pack
 
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ScottR

Eastmans' Staff / Moderator
Staff member
Feb 3, 2014
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www.eastmans.com
Have you guys tried the taller version of the Mainframe? Bigger guy here and I really like the shoulder lift that I get from it.
 

ScottR

Eastmans' Staff / Moderator
Staff member
Feb 3, 2014
6,383
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www.eastmans.com
I had to get permission to post this as it was a tester, and I will see if I can find one of the smaller versions. The pack bag I am using on this trip is 7,000 cui approximately and Brandon’s was 5k approximately. There are a few more updates coming, this will be called the Vapor Series.
 

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