On every MeatEater hunt, good backpacks are essential pieces of gear. We use them whether we’re busting cottontails out of a local briar patch or trekking to a remote alpine camp for a mountain goat hunt. The best hunting backpacks are light and sturdy, keep gear dry and organized, and allow a hunter to carry heavy loads of meat and gear efficiently. While we’ve all used a variety of different backpacks over the years, we’re madly in love with the Stone Glacier packs we’ve been using lately. These things are tough-as-nails, technically advanced, and highly versatile.
Kurt Racicot, an avid sheep hunter from Montana, developed Stone Glacier backpacks over the course of years of spent hunting the most rugged terrain on the continent. His goal was to design an ultralight load-carrying system that doesn’t sacrifice durability. Stone Glacier uses the toughest materials available, including military grade X-Pac Cordura 500 bags, heavy-duty UV-resistant thread and Duraflex Berry Buckles. The carbon/composite KruX and XCurve suspension systems are rated at 150+ pounds, more than strong enough to support massive loads such as moose and elk quarters or an entire boned out whitetail. With these frames and Stone Glacier’s load shelf system, hunters can carry meat and gear securely and efficiently. In fact, meat or extra gear can be carried outside the pack bag in the load shelf area.The frames are outfitted with a padded hip belt and shoulder straps that are sized for a customizable, comfortable fit. Pack bags are attached to the frame with straps and adjustable hook and loop systems and compression straps secure bag contents. The Stone Glacier frames are interchangeable with different sized pack bags so one frame can be outfitted with different bags for dayhunting, overnight trips, or extended wilderness hunts. Stone Glacier’s pack accessories add organizational convenience, waterproof protection, and hands-free rifle transport. And yes, Stone Glacier packs are designed and made in America.
The true test for any hunting gear takes place in the field and we’ve been pounding on our Stone Glacier backpacks across the country-and out of the country-for the past couple seasons. They’ve withstood days of rain in Southeast Alaska, hauling 115-pound moose legs in east-central Alaska, extended river trips in South America, and punishing hikes in the high country of Colorado. The loads don’t shift, gear stays dry, the stitching holds up and there’s not a lot of noise when creeping through the brush. Stone Glacier pack accessories allow us to personalize our gear organization. That’s just about everything you can ask for from a hunting backpack. We’re sold on Stone Glacier.
Here are some of our favorite packs and accessories from Stone Glacier:
This new day hunting pack from Stone Glacier is designed for versatility. It has its own internal suspension system so it can be worn as is or the bag can be removed and attached to the KruX frame. Internal pockets maximize organization and the load shelf handles meat packing duties. The Avail is a great choice for hunting small game, turkeys or big game and backcountry skiers and hikers love it as well.
The Solo 3300 can do it all. The 3300 cubic inch bag compresses down for use on day hunts, holds enough gear for overnight trips and expands an additional 2700 cubic inches to for multi-day wilderness adventures. The Solo 3300 is the ideal all-purpose pack for big game hunting. Paired up with the X-Curve Frame, this the MeatEater team’s go-to hunting backpack.
Steven Rinella and Janis Putelis, Sr. pack into the Alaskan high country with their Stone Glacier Solo 3300 packs.
Sometimes, bigger is better. The Sky 5900 compacts down to 4300 cubic inches but expands to 8000 cubic inches to hold everything a backcountry hunter will need for long camping trips in remote wilderness locations. A front-panel zipper allows for easy access to the interior, the top compartment holds smaller items, and additional exterior pockets secure optics and other necessary gear. When the bush pilot drops you off for your sheep or moose hunt, the Sky 5900 will keep you out there as long as it takes.
Steven treks along Prince of Wales Island and packs out his quarry with the Stone Glacier Sky 5900.
Designed to hold GPS units, rangefinders or cameras, the Accessory Pocket attaches to Stone Glacier pack hip belts. One hand access in easy with two zipper pulls.
We’ve found Stone Glacier packs to be very water-resistant but the added insurance of their rain cover is worth having. It doesn’t take up any space or add any weight and it fits snugly over a range of bag sizes. When you get socked in for a few days you’ll be glad you packed it.
It is nice to have two hands-free for trekking poles while hiking in steep country or packing out meat. The weapons sling secures your rifle to the side of your pack and one pull on the upper strap frees your weapon.
Steven’s rifle is secured for the long pack out by the Stone Glacier Weapons Sling.
Keep important gear like electronics, maps, or your sleeping bag dry no matter how nasty the weather gets. The dry bag doubles as a game bag.
These tough, see-through, zippered pockets attach to the interior of the pack and can be removed to hang in the tent for customized gear organization.
Check out Stone Glacier backpacks. They make some of the best hunting packs we’ve ever used.
Brody Henderson is a hunter, fly fishing guide, writer, wilderness production assistant for the MeatEater television show and MeatEater‘s editorial contributor