Using a backpack while hunting in my family can be thought of as just two four-letter words. You get teased about all you can afford is “Shanks pony.” That is if you only use a backpack. We like to ride horses and motorbikes as often as it makes sense. We enjoy that portion of hunting, usually as much as the hunting. But in all the cases where we use horses or motorbikes or side-by-side, we still use backpacks. Whether this is everything, you need to know about backpack hunting or not. It is what we have done and why we use them. 

Why do you need a backpack for hunting

It would be best if you had a backpack to keep your stuff organized. Many packs have different pockets so you can stay organized. You need a backpack so you can keep your rain gear or coat handy, a Camera, scope, coat, stalking shoes or socks, an extra knife, spotting scope, extra water, cooking stove, compressed gas, and the list goes on. It is a pain if you keep all this in a sack because nothing is organized or easily findable. Sometimes you need to be able to get to something quickly. If it is not somewhat organized, you may not get to it as soon as required.

When do you need a backpack for hunting?  

Well, you need a backpack most of the time when you are getting farther than a few hundred yards from your house or truck. If you leave your bag and go farther, you often need what was in that backpack. Rain comes, you harvest something, or need your tag, your scope is needed to see if you can find your animal, or you get busted and have to hunker down in the sun for a while and need a drink. The list of reasons why you need a backpack goes on. There are many cases where you want your backpack when you are not even a few hundred yards from your truck. A few of these may be that you need the load for a rest to shoot from. Or that you need your scope, and you cannot put in on your window mount. You need to take a quick picture, and if you have your pack, you do not have to go back to the truck for it.

Add a fanny pack with your backpack for hunting.

I use a fanny pack way more than I use my backpack. I consider my fanny pack as part of my backpack. When hunting, there are times when a gear is in the way. These cases include:

  1. When archery hunting, the shoulder straps get in the way of shooting.
  2. When riding the horse, the pack is often uncomfortable.
  3. On the horse, we use saddlebags, and I take things from my backpack and put in the saddlebags. Scope in the main compartment on top. Water bottles and rain gear on the sides. Lunch if that is planned as well.
  4. The last little bit on a stalk

But I keep my fanny pack with me in all these cases. In my fanny pack, I have a backup rain gear little tiny $1 plastic rain gear. My good rain gear is just a little too big to keep in my fanny pack so i place them in my backpack. That gear contains:

  • Extra knife, 
  • my phone/GPS, 
  • pen(some states you need a pen to sign your tag), 
  • small snack,
  • extra water bottle, 
  • parachute rope(for tying my tag on and many other things, 
  • flashlight, 
  • extra batteries, 
  • bugle, 
  • cow call, 
  • wind tester, 
  • binoculars(sometimes they cannot fit on your chest when stalking), or
  • Straight or Angled Spotting scope
  • matches, 
  • lighter, 
  • small first aid kit, 
  • nipple cleaner for muzzleloader and archery hunting, 
  • glass cloth for cleaning scope or binoculars, 
  • leather gloves.  

I need all these things even when I do not have my full backpack with me. I attach my fanny pack to my backpack when hiking with the gear. On the horse, I ride with my fanny pack on most of the time.

The fanny pack never gets in my way when I draw my bow. It does not affect where the butt of my muzzleloader or rifle fits in my shoulder. It is key for me to put in my binoculars when having to bell crawl on a sneak or a stalk. Keeps them clean but still very handy.

My phone case is my wallet, and that is where I keep my license and tag. Having this in your back pocket when riding a horse is not comfortable, and I have known guys to lose their wallets by keeping it there. So my phone and wallet as one go in my backpack.

There are two things I always keep on my belt. A rangefinder and a handyman knife. Not sure all the reasons, but I think the rangefinder being at a quick grab is because of my bowhunting times. The knife is because of habit.

Extra uses for a backpack while hunting.

There are times when I wish I had my backpack and not only had my fanny pack. The list that has happened more than once include the following:

  1. Heavy rain or snow came, and all I had was the super cheap poncho rain gear. This most often happens when the weatherman says 0 percent chance of rain or snow.
  2. I would have liked to have my backpack to use as a deadrest to shoot from. This has been especially true when antelope hunting.
  3. The plan was only to go a few hundred yards and ended up going miles. So you are going to need a bigger coat, or more water, etc.
  4. Harvested an animal and did not have my meat saw to help cut it up.
  5. Broke my flashlight and did not have the spare. My headlamp ran out of batteries, and I do not carry an extra battery for that.

I often keep a fishing pole in my backpack. A very small one in my hunting pack because you can happen in a place where you need to go fishing.

Where to use a backpack for hunting

There are places where you cannot ride a horse or a motorbike, and you will need to carry a little more gear on your back. This is the time you still have to have a backpack. We often use a very small tent or tarp when needing to camp in a place where we cannot get the horse, or we cannot keep the horse there. Yes, there are mountains and cliffs you cannot tie your horse up to. There are cases when you shoot something that the animal ends up in a place where you cannot get your horse to. My brothers would ask me why I would shoot it there. But things still happen, and you need a backpack to get the animal to the horse. So even though we love the horses and use them to pack in things we need, there are cases where you just need a backpack.

If you do not have a horse to ride or a motorbike, then a backpack is much more important when hunting the backcountry. But I leave that to the tough guys or the guys whose favorite horse is Shank’s pony. It has been a long time since I had to have a larger tent, tarp, warming stove, and food days that I needed to put in my backpack. These are important, but we usually do not do everything with a pack. Yet, you still have to have a backpack.