Gear breakdown: Stone Glacier R3 5900 with Xcurve Frame
After owning this setup and using it to pack out a few animals, I now feel 100% comfortable giving it a proper review from my time in the field. Since purchasing the Stone Glacier 5900 Backpack, I have used this setup on multiple day trips as well as plenty of three to five-day pack-in trips. I’ve employed it to haul out three deer, one antelope, one bear and countless miles of camping/hunting without filling a tag. These are meat and potato observations that reflect my use. If you'd like to see all the technical specs, refer to the button below.
- Regions used: Montana (spring bear, archery antelope, archery elk, rifle deer)
- Key features: Lightweight yet a multi-functional designed pack, great from day use to easily 5+ day excursions. The 5900 also has the ability to swap bags within the Stone Glacier line or add options like the Access Bag or Load Cell Dry Bag for more or less total cubic inches.
- Specific setup: Stone Glacier Xcurve Frame with R3 5900 Bag, medium belt, gen 1 carbon stays.
- Additional accessories: Quick Release Weapons Sling, Accessory Pockets, assorted Swing Out and Camp Pockets.
Let’s begin with the backbone
The way the frame stays are shaped, in the Xcurve specifically, makes for a very comfortable setup with my back contour, which is what I would consider to be normal. The frame is exceptionally light yet rigid both vertically and laterally. Additionally, the capability to swap bags out depending on the hunt is also a huge bonus. For instance, I swapped the 5900 bag out for the smaller Avail during archery antelope where hunting within walking distance from the truck was standard. The stays in my pack currently are the Gen 1, which are now obsolete, though I haven't had any issues. Since my purchase, Stone Glacier has revamped them to the new Gen 2 version (stronger with virtually no weak points). The frame also has the load shelf built into the frame, which enables you to completely detach the bag without losing the capability to haul meat. I'm a huge fan of their load shelf design. I prefer to haul meat in the shelf rather than inside the pack so having a well-thought-out load shelf is awesome.
Belt and shoulder straps
The padding on the belt and shoulder straps is definitely sufficient although I wish there was just a smidge more. I never had any issues of hot spots or pressure points, but under heavier loads (80 lbs or more) I could tell that, for me, personally, I would've liked a little more padding — just a personal preference. The reverse pulls on the belt have had no issues of slippage while hiking and the dual 1” webbing straps along the belt are great for fully customizing the fit of the belt. The beautiful thing about the shoulder straps is the ability to change the shoulder strap angle and height of the straps via the Velcro that attaches them to the frame sheet.
I would sum up the bag design as simple, yet highly functional. You can add camp/swing out pockets or a hydration sleeve for added organization, which is something I prefer. The large horseshoe access is nice to get straight into the innards of the pack without unloading everything while still having the top loading option.
The design of the bag was created with the day hunter and backcountry hunter in mind. I use bivy mode mostly (roughly 4400ci) for one to three-day hunts. Expanded (roughly 5900ci with lid, 5400 without lid) there is a ton of room! I'm able to easily get five days of archery hunting gear packed inside the bag (food, water, sleep system, etc. — literally everything!) without having to fully extend the bag. I personally haven't had a hunt where I ran out of room. While there's a lot of room with the 5900, the intelligent design also allows it to be compressed neatly when unloaded at camp. Add the strap webbing keepers for a cleaner look!
Strong sewing, tough Cordura (500D) and highly abrasion resistant. I have had zero issues with the materials they use. Even on my Avail that I used for a whole deployment for daily use in a helicopter, there were no issues with durability in materials, buckles or sewing.
Under a load
Great stability. Best load shelf on the market — hands down — creates a very stable load even with boned out meat bags, which can be "floppy." When properly fitted, the frame/suspension combo is very comfortable. In prior packs I have owned, there were squeaking issues; with this setup, I have had zero instances.
I’m fortunate enough to not have had to use their warranty process — maybe I'm too nice to my gear — but I have read great things from those who have had to use it.
Who it best suits
Hunters who are conscious about weight yet need a very robust setup that can handle whatever you throw at it!
What I wish it had
Let's be honest: no pack is perfect for every user, but this one is pretty darn close. Some things I would like to see added to a future version would be: built in organizational pockets on horseshoe opening portion (similar to the Avail). Small zippered pocket built in or the ability to add an exterior pocket via MOLLE tabs on top (bivy mode specific), deeper side pockets, built in hydration sleeve on the frame. These aren't by any means deal breakers for me, just more or less features that would add a little weight yet add functionally to the style of hunting I do.
This pack is very light, comfortable, well built and has what it takes to hold up to the demand of day hunts to multi-day backcountry adventures. The team at Stone Glacier beats the piss out of their products while prototype testing and this pack is no different; the features are great. I have full confidence in the R3 5900 and Xcurve combo. While it has packed out plenty for me already, I am looking forward to packing out even more amounts of protein with it in the future. If you have any questions in regard to this setup, feel free to add them in the comments below!