I am not sure about you, but I have spent most of my adult life figuring out how best to carry loads on my shoulder and hips. This obsession for safer and more comfortable weight carrying equipment has led me to spend lots of money and to have several backpacks and bum bags in my shed and under my bed.
I have over the years carried my gear in Vietnam era backpacks, an ALICE pack, Allen backpack, Patagonia packs (one of my favorites which I bought in the mid-1980s), Berghaus packs, Macpac, REI day pack and Ebelstock – I am sure I have forgotten a few others! All of them have served a function but have not hit the sweet spot for my hunting needs – that is until I started using the ‘Badlands Monster Waist-Pack Style Hunting Pack’.
A very close mate of mine hunts using this Pack and swears by it. On undertaking my own research on the Pack, I was struck by the Badlands Promise:
At Badlands we solemnly swear:
To sweat the small stuff, so you sweat a little less. To put a big weight on our shoulders, so your load is a little easier. We swear to always be unconditional. Unmistakable. And a little bit crazy about everything you're crazy about.
So what's that mean? It means our gear is so well-built, we can cover it by our legendary Unconditional Lifetime Warranty (emphasis added).
My mate has taken Badlands up on their warranty and they fulfilled their promise! What more can you ask of gear that you use to hunt with? Mind you, for the price you pay for one of these packs in Australia ($305.00) you would want a lifetime warranty.
I have had this Pack since September 2021 and have used in in a variety of situations including day long hunts in the High Country, bow hunts on private properties, and bushwalks in hilly country.
What separates this pack from all the other packs that I have used is the yoke system which spreads the waist load not only across the hips but also distributes it evenly from the shoulders. An extra benefit of this system is how stable it is. The combination of weight distribution and stability makes the Pack very comfortable and safe to use – especially when traversing hills or walking across uneven ground.
I won’t go through the detailed specs of the Pack because you can find these details here: https://themerchants.com.au/collections/badlands/products/badlands-monster-waist-pack-style-hunting-pack.
I will say however that pack is designed in a manner that permits you to carry everything you need for a day’s hunt. This is because, it comes with a small pocket on the yoke part of the harness for a 1 litre bladder; has a main bum pack (which permits you to carry extra bottled water, first aid kit, wet-weather gear, and snacks for the day); two front of the waist pockets (to carry a small camera, snake bite gear, emergency beacon, and a folding knife); and two smaller waist pockets at the rear (that permit me to carry my disposal gloves, marking tape, string, emergency whistle and compass). A very useful touch are two small pockets that are between the belt and the front pockets that permit me to carry my powder puff and fox whistle.
When hunting in the High Country, I have found that some of my other packs and bum bags make too much noise when I move through the bush. The Badlands KXO-32 Fabric is not only quiet.
The stitching on the Pack is very good – much better quality than the stitching on my Ebelstock pack. An extra bonus is the large tabs on the zippers which permit you to easily open the zips while wearing gloves or by touch in poor light.
I have also managed to attach a folding shooting stick under the Pack and found that I can attach a jacket on the top of the Pack. The harness systems on the bottom and top cinch well and so far, I have not had the jacket or the shooting stick fall off the Pack.
I also purchased the 1 litre water bladder which I have found very useful for providing water for my companion English Pointer hunting dog. The nozzle on the bladder provides a strong enough flow for my dog to drink comfortably.
Since I suffer with some musculoskeletal injuries, I sought the guidance of my physio to ensure that I was wearing the Pack in a safe and comfortable manner. His advice to me was to ensure that that waistbelt was seated just above the hip bone to stop the belt from impeding my natural gait and to ensure that the load was being taken up by my hips. He also encouraged me to cinch the chest strap tight on the Pack to ensure that the Pack did not move around. When I was fitted, I was surprised that the belt sat higher than I what I am used to. Just goes to show how useful it is to have someone extremely knowledgeable about load carrying and physiology to ensure that your pack is appropriately fitted. And cinching the chest not only added to my comfort but also ensured that the shoulder straps did not interfere with bringing my rifle comfortably and efficiently to my shoulder prior to taking aim. Furthermore, the shoulder straps and the chest strap do not interfere with my bino use.
Much of my hunting is done in the High Country and consequently, I have learned the importance of wearing a lot of blaze orange. So, the only modification I have made to my Pack is to sew some blaze orange on it.
I should add that I purchased the Pack online from The Merchants which is owned by Roger Maroun. Roger chatted with me at length about how the Pack might work out for me with my musculoskeletal challenges. I found his advice and his willingness to assist me to be outstanding.
Having hunted with the Pack for the last 12 months almost on a weekly basis I can confidently say that I will not be searching for another Pack. This is because the Pack fits all the gear I need for a day of hunting, and is safe and comfortable to wear. I have not done a single hunt during which I developed back or neck pain. I can’t say this about the other backpacks or bum bags I have used.
NOTE: This review reflects my personal views as a hunter and is not intended to provide advice on load carrying, safety, or OHS issues.
By Ossie Oswald