Hunting backpack options for 2022


Photo credit: Luke Dusenbury

The GOHUNT Gear Shop carries Mystery Ranch and Stone Glacier packs and bags. We get a lot of questions every year about what pack to buy for a variety of hunts. In this article we hope to answer some of the most common questions by discussing the frames, sizes and offering a list of the pack we recommend for day hunting, 3-5 day backpack hunting, and 6-10 day backpack hunting. With that, let’s jump into the frames and sizing. 

Mystery Ranch

Chris Porter packing out his bull elk with a Mystery Ranch backpack. Photo credit: Chris Neville

The Mystery Ranch Guidelight MT and Pop-up frames are the two options Mystery Ranch utilizes on their hunting pack line. Mystery Ranch makes, and we sell, within our shop several packs that do not have a frame. Those packs/bags are great for everyday carry and travel, and perhaps short scouting missions, but are not recommended for big game hunting where hunters may be carrying meat out from the field. 

Guidelight MT Frame

The Guidlelight MT is the Mystery Ranch’s load hauling hunting pack frame. The frame is composed of lightweight carbon fiber and composite stays sewn into the body of the frame. Four round rod stays make up the vertical portion of the frame (two shorter ones on the outside of the frame and two taller rods closer to the center that serve as the load lifter portion of the frame). Three flat compositie stays are sewn in at the bottom, middle, and upper portion of the frame. The combination of the straight vertical and horizontal stays give the frame rigidity in both directions but it still flexes somewhat and moves with the body. Frame height at the two load lifters is 25”. Regardless of the size of the hip belt and shoulder harness, the height of the frame is the same across the board. 

The Guidlight MT five piece/point waist belt incorporates the highly functional Redirect system and delivers solid weight distribution and eliminates slippage over your hips, regardless of the load. The hipbelt foam is thick, comfortable, and is among the most comfortable hipbelts I have tried. The forward facing pulls allow you to get a secure cinch on the hip belt. The shoulder harness has a great ergonomic shape and good padding for a comfortable fit even with significant weight. 

Hip belts/packs come in four size options; small, medium, large, and x-large. The shoulder harness is adjustable from 15-20” on the small and medium size packs. The shoulder harness on the large and x-large size packs is adjustable from 17-24”. The video below illustrates how torso height adjustment is done on the Guidlelight MT frame and how to measure your torso height. 

Hip-Belt Sizes

  • Small: 28”-32” waist belt
  • Medium: 31”-36” waist belt
  • Large: 35”-40” waist belt 
  • X-large: 39”+

For people that fall in-between hip belt sizes, we recommend that you size down. The reason for doing so is that when you load a pack heavy it’s critical that you can cinch the hipbelt down to get the weight of the pack supported largely by your hips. If you size up, you run the risk of running out of adjustment to cinch the hipbelt down. In that case, the hipbelt can bump up against the buckles with no room to reduce it further and it can still be loose around your waist. You will want to take some consideration as to the clothing/layering system as well, but as stated, if you plan to carry heavy loads (50lbs plus) we recommend sizing down.

Some people may have a situation where they require a large/x-large torso and either a small or medium sized hip belt. In those cases, the person would need to purchase a size large pack and an additional hip belt that is relatively easy to exchange on their pack. GOHUNT does not sell hipbelts as a stand alone purchase, but those are available if they go through Mystery Ranch directly.

The Guidelight MT frame and bag combinations come with the overload load shelf that sits between the bag and the frame. The load shelf is sewn directly to the bag(s) and then hooks to the frame via straps/buckles. Take a look at the video below to see how simple it is to access and utilize the overload shelf on the Mystery Ranch packs. This feature is specifically designed to allow hunters to load and carry meat or additional gear. 

Pop Up Frame/Packs

Brady Miller packing out an antelope using the telescoping frame of the Pop Up 38.

The Mystery Ranch Pop-up 28 and 38 packs were designed to transition from a daypack to a load-hauling pack by means of a telescoping frame that increases the frame height and an overload load shelf for carrying meat or excess gear.

The overload meat shelf on the Pop-up functions in the same manner as it does on the Guidlight MT frame. It’s sewn into the bottom of the bag and is attached to the frame by straps. The frame of the Pop-up packs are essentially composed of aluminum poles that are adjustable via a flip lock lever. If you are familiar with how a trekking pole or a tripod works with flip lock levers, this is how the frame works on the Pop-up packs. You simply flip open the locking levers to extend the height. The purpose for increasing the height of the frame is to increase the angle of the load lifter straps. Load lift straps run from the top of the frame to the shoulder harness and they function to lift the load off your shoulders so your hips can take the bulk of the weight of the pack. They also pull the pack closer to your shoulder to aid in stabilizing the load near the top portion of the pack. Overall, the pop-up frame allows you to day hunt with a low profile pack and then converts to a load hauler by utilizing the overload meat shelf and the Pop-up Frame to increase the height and offer “load lift.” 

In addition to the unique frame, the hipbelt on the Pop Up packs is different from the Guidelight MT frame. It does not have the five piece configuration and it’s narrower as well. It is relatively thick and well padded but in my opinion it doesn’t fit quite as well and it’s not as comfortable as the Guidelight MT. It’s a nice pack for day hunting, but it’s not ideally suited for long, heavy duty load hauling. It is well built and the cost is less, but it is less capable and comfortable in my opinion. 

Hip-Belt Sizes

  • Small: 28”-32” waist belt
  • Medium: 31”-36” waist belt
  • Large: 35”-40” waist belt 
  • X-large: 39”+

Torso Sizes

  • Small/medium: 15”-20”
  • Large/X-large: 17”-24” 

Once again, for people that fall in-between hip belt sizes, we recommend that you size down.

Stone Glacier

Brady Miller packing out a mule deer with his Stone Glacier Sky Guide 7900 backpack. Photo credit: Luke Dusenbury

Stone Glacier X-Curve and Krux Evo Frames

Stone Glacier primarily utilizes two frames for their packs, one called the X-Curve and the other called the Krux Evo. In short, the Evo is the lighter option built for people who are real ounce counters. The X-Curve frame weighs more than the Evo, but it also offers a few features that the Krux lacks. 

The X-Curve frame consists of four molded, solid, carbon fiber stays. Those stays are curved to reflect the shape of a person's back. The stays are inserted via two sleeves at the base of the bottom two corners of the frame. Two stays run straight up vertically on the edges of the pack. The other two stays run upward through the middle of the pack frame to the opposite top corner forming an X. When looking at the frame the stays are situated in a fashion that looks like this IXI. The hipbelt on the X Curve frame also has an additional portion of Cordura material near the base to reinforce the weight carrying ability of the hipbelt. Frame height is 26”, torso height adjustments are done by undoing the hook and loop (similar to velcro but stronger) on the back of each shoulder strap and moving it up or down to adjust to your specific height. The X Curve frame has a load shelf for hauling meat that sits between the bag and frame. It is sewn directly onto the frame, and is not connected to the bag at all, unless you use the compression straps on the side of the bag with the receivers on the frame. You can use the load shelf and frame without the bag for training or packing meat. The compression straps between the bag and frame does help to secure the load to the load shelf but you can use it without a bag. The load shelf sits about 4” up from the base of the frame, which in my opinion is one of the best features of the pack. The location of the load shelf allows me to secure the weight higher up the frame and keeps most of the weight up and off of my hips. It’s a noticeable difference when carrying very heavy loads, I feel like I can maintain a much more natural and comfortable gait due to the location of the shelf. 

Hip-Belt Sizes

  • Small: 28”-30” 
  • Medium: 31”-36” 
  • Large: 37” plus 

Torso height is adjustable for any height

The Krux Evo frame is also comprised of four carbon fiber stays. The difference in the Evo is that those stays are hollow carbon fiber rods and they are straight. There is no curvature to the frame or stays in the Evo frame. Like the X-curve frame, the stays are inserted via sleeves located at the bottom corners of the frame. Two stays run vertically on the outside edges of the frame and the other two cross in the center, running corner to corner. The Evo frame is 26” in height and the torso adjustments are made by hook and loop (similar to velcro but stronger) on the back of each shoulder strap. Simply undo the velcro, move the shoulder strap up or down to meet your needs. The Hipbelt on the Evo frame is the same shape as the X Curve, but it lacks the extra Cordura reinforcement portion near the base. As previously stated, the Evo is built to be lighter weight. The difference in the stays and the hipbelt is the reason the Evo weights less than the X Curve.

Close up look at the Stone Glacier load shelf with meat quarters. Photo credit: Brady Miller

The Evo has the same load shelf feature as the X Curve, which is great for carrying meat out of the field. 

Hip-Belt Sizes

  • Small: 28”-30” 
  • Medium: 31”-36” 
  • Large: 37” plus 

Torso height is adjustable for any height

In 2022 Stone Glacier also released the Terminus pack. The Terminus is a 7000 cubic inch pack that weighs less than 4 lbs. The frame on this pack is the same as the Evo, (four carbon fiber hollow straight stays). The biggest difference is that the bag is sewn to the frame. The Terminus is an “internal frame” backpack. There is no load shelf with this pack. To address that, Stone Glacier incorporated a 2,200 cubic inch internal sleeve on the inside of the pack against the frame so that hunters can haul meat out of the field. The sleeve runs the full width and length of the frame. I would have liked to see the sleeve stop about 4” before the base of the pack so that the weight of boned out meat would stay higher up the frame and off my hips, but that would have reduced the capacity some. I can fill the bottom portion of that sleeve with lightweight solid items like a stove or perhaps my sleeping pad in a dry bag to offer that lift, which is likely the route I’ll take. The Terminus is ultralight for a 7000 cubic inch pack. They built it for hunters going very lightweight and deep into the backcountry. Best use case scenarios for this pack are probably high country backpack mule deer, sheep, and mountain goat hunters.

Hip-Belt Sizes

  • Small: 28”-30” 
  • Medium: 31”-36” 
  • Large: 37” plus

Torso height is adjustable for any height

Finally, Stone Glacier also makes a couple day packs that do not have a ridgid load hauling frame at all. The Kiowa is 3200 cubic inches, has a waist belt and shoulder straps. It has an internal frame sheet that offers structure but not the rigidity and load hauling abilities of the other hunting packs. The Avail 2,200 is similar, just a smaller version with 2,200 cubic inches. Both are nice options for scouting, day hunting, front country, or everyday carry. 


One to two-day hunting packs


A common question we get is, “what's the best backpack to use for one to two day hunts”?
Check out the above video to see myself and Chris Neville do a backpack comparison on packs best suited for one to two day hunts and a breakdown of all the different backpack features to help you decide which pack is best suited for you to use on your next hunt.

Mystery Ranch Pintler

  • Cubic Inches: 2,502
  • Bare Pack Weight: 5lb 6.4oz
  • Frame: Guidlight MT 
  • Material: 500D Light Plus Cordura
  • Load Rating: 150 lb plus

Notes: 3 zip design for rapid access from the front and top. Two stretch woven pockets on each side. Two small pockets in the top portion of the pack. Four internal pockets for gear organization. Also includes an internal hydration bladder sleeve. 

Shop the Mystery Ranch Pintler here

Mystery Ranch Sawtooth 45

  • Cubic Inches: 2,746
  • Bare Pack Weight: 5 lb 4.8 oz
  • Frame: Guidlight MT
  • Material: 330D Cordura
  • Load Rating: 150 lb plus

Notes: 270° zipper access offers easy access. Includes two internal zip pockets for organization. Two additional internal long pockets on each side of the packs are great for a spotting scope and extra gear. Includes an internal hydration sleeve. One external zip pocket on the top of the pack is great for a headlamp, rain jacket, or kill kit. Two stretch woven pockets on each side hold a water bottle, tripod legs, or a rifle butt. 

Shop the Mystery Ranch Sawtooth 45 here

Mystery Ranch Pop-up 38

  • Cubic Inches: 2,319
  • Bare Pack Weight: 5 lb 4.8 oz
  • Frame: Pop-up
  • Material: 500D Light Plus Cordura
  • Load Rating: 80 lb 

Notes: Two stretch woven pockets on each side. Two compartment lid for gear organization, also works well for a rifle rest. Top opening as well as left vertical side zip access to main bag. Includes an internal hydration sleeve. Compressible external front pocket for tucking away a puffy layer or rain wear. Pop Up frame.

Shop the Mystery Ranch Pop-up 38 here

Mystery Ranch Pop-up 28

  • Cubic Inches: 1,710
  • Bare Pack Weight: 4 lb 14.4 oz
  • Frame: Pop-up
  • Material: 500D Light Plus Cordura
  • Load Rating: 80 lb

Notes: Two stretch woven pockets on each side. Dual zip-top main bag access. One external front facing pocket for quick access to headlamp, killkit or a light jacket. Load shelf and telescoping pop-up frame offer load hauling capability. Nice option for scouting, day hunting, front country or every day carry.

Shop the Mystery Ranch Pop-up 28 here

Shop the Mystery Ranch Womens Pop-up 28 here

Stone Glacier Kiowa 3200

  • Cubic Inches: 3,200
  • Bare Pack Weight: 4lb 1oz
  • Frame: No internal rigid frame
  • Material: 500D Cordura

Notes: Can be strapped to an X Curve frame or Krux Evo frame to offer load hauling capability. Does have shoulder straps and minimalist hip belt so it can be carried on its own. Internal spotting scope pocket. Internal bull back panel is hook and loop (velcro-like) to allow the user to customize storage. Two zippered internal pockets for organization. Built to function as a range bag for tactical shooters or day hunting. Main bag zipper configuration allows the bag to be laid on its back and opened up completely. Load hauling is not recommended unless paired with the X Curve or Krux Evo frame. 

Shop the Stone Glacier Kiowa 3200 here

Stone Glacier Avail 2200

  • Cubic Inches: 2,200
  • Bare Pack Weight: 3 lb 0.8 oz
  • Frame: No internal rigid frame
  • Material: 500D Cordura

Notes: Can be strapped to an X Curve frame or Krux Evo frame to offer load hauling capability. Alone the Avail does have shoulder straps and a minimal hip belt for day hunting or travel carry. The Avail has a compression panel for storing a jacket or rain gear. Five other pockets offer internal organization for spotting scope/etc as well as one side pocket for feet of a tripod. Nice pack for day hunting, scouting, or everyday travel. Load hauling is only recommended when used with the X Curve or Krux Evo frame. 

Shop the Stone Glacier Avail 2200 here

Stone Glacier Approach 1800

  • Cubic Inches: 1,896
  • Bare Pack Weight: 4 lb 2 oz
  • Frame: X-Curve 
  • Material: 500D Cordura & Xpac
  • Load Rating: 150 lb plus

Notes: Ideally suited for day hunting. Large external spotting scope pocket will fit even the largest scopes. Two internal organizational pockets. Front tripod foot pocket. One open top side pocket for a water bottle or a tripod. Large U shaped zipper offers easy access to the main compartment of the bag. 

Shop the Stone Glacier Approach 1800 here

Stone Glacier Solo 3600

  • Cubic Inches: 3,600
  • Bare Pack Weight: 4 lb 9 oz
  • Frame: X-Curve 
  • Material: 500D Cordura & Xpac
  • Load Rating: 150 lb plus

Notes: A 3,600 cubic inch ultralight pack that is ideally suited for day hunting or overnight bivy backpack trips. Efficient packers can get a weekend out of this pack. One small top zip pocket. Main bag access through a top zip U-shaped panel. One large internal spotting scope pocket. Internal attachment points for swing out and camp pockets (not included). Minimal design for going light and fast. Does not come with a top lid. 

Shop the Stone Glacier Solo 3600 here

Stone Glacier EVO 3300

  • Cubic Inches: 3,300
  • Bare Pack Weight: 3 lb 13 oz
  • Frame: Krux Evo 
  • Material: 500D Cordura & Xpac
  • Load Rating: 150 lb plus

Notes: A 3,300 cubic inch ultralight pack that is ideally suited for day hunting or overnight bivy backpack trips. One small top zip pocket. Main bag access through a top zip U-shaped panel. No internal pockets. Internal attachment points for swing out and camp pockets (not included). Minimal design for going light and fast. Does not come with a top lid. 

Shop the Stone Glacier EVO 3300 here


Three to six-day hunting packs


Another common question we get is, “what's the best backpack to use for 3-6 day hunts”?
Check out the above video to see myself and Chris Neville do a backpack comparison on packs best suited for 3-6 day hunts and a breakdown of all the different backpack features to help you decide which pack is best suited for you to use on your next hunt.

Mystery Ranch Beartooth 80

  • Cubic Inches: 5,187
  • Bare Pack Weight: 6 lb 11.2 oz
  • Frame: Guide Light MT
  • Material: 330D Cordura
  • Load Rating: 150 lb plus

Notes: Main back access through the top and a 270 degree duffel style zipper. Zipper configuration makes it easy to access gear or to pack/unload. Comes with the dual pocket top lid. Two side open top stretch woven pockets to store a water bottle or tripod legs. Two internal zipper pockets on the opening flap. Internal hydration bladder pocket. External vertical zippered pocket. The Beartooth is a great option for backpack hunters that love pockets for gear storage and organization. Auto Locking buckles and compression straps make it easy to secure gear or antlers to the outside of the pack.

Shop the Mystery Ranch Beartooth 80 here

Mystery Ranch Metcalf

  • Cubic Inches: 4,335
  • Bare Pack Weight: 5 lb 7 oz
  • Frame: Guide Light MT
  • Material: 500D Light Plus Cordura
  • Load Rating: 150 lb plus

Notes: Two access options to the main bag, one from the top and one vertical side zipper. Internal hydration pocket and comes with the dual chamber top lid. Two stretch woven open top side pockets for water bottle storage or to cradle tripod legs. Auto-locking buckles for securing gear or antlers to the outside of the pack with the compression straps. The Metcalf is the BEST selling pack in the GOHUNT geashop. Great option for day hunting when collapsed or large enough for 5-7 days backpack hunting. 

Shop the Mystery Ranch Metcalf here

Stone Glacier Sky 5900

  • Cubic Inches: 5,900
  • Bare Pack Weight: 5 lb 8 oz
  • Frame: X-Curve 
  • Material: 500D Cordura & Xpac
  • Load Rating: 150 lb plus

Notes: One of the best selling and most diverse packs in the GOHUNT Gear Shop. Main bag access through the top or the beavertail front facing zipper. External vertical pocket for easy access to a spotting scope or other gear that you need quickly. Comes with a top lid. Two open top side pockets for water bottle or to cradle tripod or rifle butt. Internal attachment points for swing out and camp pockets (not included). The 5900 makes a great day hunting pack in bivy mode, but is still large enough for 5-7 day backpack hunting. 

Shop the Stone Glacier Sky 5900 here

Stone Glacier Sky Archer 6400

  • Cubic Inches: 6,400
  • Bare Pack Weight: 5 lb 7 oz
  • Frame: X-Curve 
  • Material: 500D Cordura & Xpac
  • Load Rating: 150 lb plus

Notes: Built for multi-day backpack archery hunters that like to carry the bow strapped to the front of the pack. Top entrance to the main bag, as well as a 30” side zipper. Zipper configuration allows you to still be able to access the main bag even with a bow strapped to it. Internal spotting scope pocket and comes with a top lid. Internal attachment points for swing out and camp pockets (not included). Two side open top pockets to cradle tripod legs or a water bottle. Great option for bowhunters or anyone wanting a lightweight expedition backpack. Large enough for week-long + excursions. 

Shop the Stone Glacier Sky Archer 6400 here

Stone Glacier Sky Talus 6900

  • Cubic Inches: 6,900
  • Bare Pack Weight: 5 lb 10 oz
  • Frame: X-Curve 
  • Material: 500D Cordura & Xpac
  • Load Rating: 150 lb plus

Notes: Two options for access to main bag, top entry as well as a full length zipper in the center of the bag. Two external vertical side pockets large enough for a spotting scope, or other items that you need easy access to. Two open side pockets for water bottles or to cradle tripod legs. Small front open pouch to cradle and secure trekking poles or tripod. Comes with a top lid. Internal attachment points for swing out and camp pockets (not included). The 6900 is an excellent option for multi day backpack hunters that like some added pockets for organization and easy access to rain gear, spotting scope or kill kit. 

Shop the Stone Glacier Sky Talus 6900 here

Stone Glacier Evo 40/56

  • Cubic Inches: 4,000
  • Bare Pack Weight: 4 lb
  • Frame: Krux Evo
  • Material: 500D Cordura & Xpac
  • Load Rating: 150 lb plus

Notes: Internal spotting scope pocket for east access. Top access to the main bag as well as 30” vertical side zipper access. No other internal pockets. Does not come with a top lid. Internal attachment points for swing out and camp pockets (not included). A EVO lid can be purchased as a separate item to add volume, taking this pack to 5,600 cubic inches. Designed to be an ultralight bivy style pack for going light and fast. 

Shop the Stone Glacier Evo 40/56 here

Stone Glacier Evo 6900 

  • Cubic Inches: 6,900
  • Bare Pack Weight: 5 lb 2 oz
  • Frame: Krux Evo
  • Material: 500D Cordura & Xpac
  • Load Rating: 150 lb plus

Notes: Top access as well as full length center zip into main bag. Two large side pockets have full length zippers with dual sliders for quick access to spotting scope and items needed quickly. Two lower external side pockets are open-top for carrying a water bottle or tripod. Comes with a 500 cubic inch top lid. Internal attachment points for swing out and camp pockets (not included).

Shop the Stone Glacier Evo 6900 here


Six to ten-day hunting packs


And last but definitely not least, we get a ton of questions on, “what's the best backpack to use for 6-10 day hunts"? 
Check out the above video to see myself and Chris Neville do a backpack comparison on packs best suited for 6-10 day hunts and a breakdown of all the different backpack features to help you decide which pack is best suited for you to use on your next hunt.

Mystery Ranch Marshall

  • Cubic Inches: 6,408
  • Bare Pack Weight: 7 lb 1.6 oz
  • Frame: Guide Light MT
  • Material: 500D Light Plus Cordura
  • Load Rating: 150 lb plus

Notes: Top entry as well as two long side zip entries into the main bag. Zip access into the sleeping bag/sleep system storage in the bottom of the bag. Includes a quick attach zoid bag for organization. An internal pack divider is great for gear organization for the bottom and top portions of the pack. Removable dual compartment daypack lid that also has shoulder straps that can be used as an approach bag. Two external long pockets for rapid access and sized for spotting scopes. Internal hydration bladder sleeve is included. Stretch woven side pockets for rifle butt, tripod, or water bottle. 

Shop the Mystery Ranch Marshall here

Stone Glacier Sky Guide 7900

  • Cubic Inches: 7,900
  • Bare Pack Weight: 6 lb
  • Frame: X Curve
  • Material: 500D Cordura & Xpac
  • Load Rating: 150 lb plus

Notes: Top entry as well as beavertail zip front access to main bag. Front facing pocket as well for easy storage of items you need access to quickly. Long side zip pocket for spotting scope. Two open side pockets for water bottle storage or to cradle tripod legs. Comes with a top lid. Internal attachment points for swing out and camp pockets (not included). Excellent option for 10 day expedition style hunting trips.

Shop the Stone Glacier Sky Guide 7900 here

Stone Glacier Terminus

  • Cubic Inches: 7,000
  • Bare Pack Weight: 3 lb 15 oz
  • Frame: Internal (Evo stays)
  • Material: Ultra High Molecular Polyethylene blend 
  • Load Rating: 150 lb plus

Notes: Alpine hunting pack designed to be ultralight. Internal frame, with no load shelf. Internal 2,200 sleeve/pocket for carrying meat out of the field with two drain holes at the bottom of the pack to drain blood. Pack material is waterproof and extremely tear/puncture resistant. Top entrance as well as full length side zip. No internal pockets, but does come with a top lid. 

Shop the Stone Glacier Terminus here

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