Caribou Gear

First / Worst Packout Learnings

wllm

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 9, 2015
Messages
14,130
Location
Boston
I’ve learned the hard way that it’s really hard to fight gravity with a heavy pack/ when packing a heavy load down hill it’s very easy to get ‘pulled’ towards streams/steepest faces of a slope. You really have to fight to side hill and stay out of the hell holes.
 
Last edited:

Big Sky Guy

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 10, 2018
Messages
262
As silly as it sounds, my first packout was a couple weeks ago of N America’s largest land mammal. I ended up doing one bison front quarter and one hind quarter in 2 separate loads. It was…heavy. Yikes.

Previously the deer / antelope I’ve dealt with have been within dragging distance of vehicles, and the elk and moose have remained damned elusive.

I learned quite a bit on that pack out. I used an Exo K2 frame. I was disappointed in the constant slipping of the belt, which put much / most of the load on my shoulders. I had previously practiced with 90 pound loads on this pack but it performed way worse with the extra weight of a bison hindquarter (120+ I would guess). I also realized that the pack didn’t have straps long enough to to wrap around a bison head, and that having only two frame-specific straps was woefully inadequate when I tried to pack a 100+ bag of burger meat (slippage). My friends who had an SG and Barney’s pack and I all unanimously agreed that my frame sucked for the task relative to theirs.

I strongly feel that nothing compares to reality of in field experiences. So what first/worst experiences have you had with meat pack outs that changed your view? What helped change your gear choices?
Did you not have the pack attached to the frame? When the pack is attached the meat can’t really slip that far before hitting the pack. I have an Exo K3 with 4800 pack and have been happy with it. They make a crib hauler that I’ve used and quite pleased with it if not using the pack.

One thing I don’t think is often considered enough by male hunters is our physical build and abilities. As men we want to be strongest etc. We hear from a friend or read online of guys packing out 80, 100, 120lbs etc. so think this is the “goal.” I only weigh 140 so a heavy load for me is around 60 lbs. (over 40% of my body weight). I prefer those 45-50 lb loads when possible as while it’s “heavy” I can hike for a long time and fairly good pace and don’t feel strained. Like Randy says “you’ll run out of health before you run out of money,” it’s just not worth risking the future of my legs etc. to get a heavier load.

In all my pack out experience I’ve learned:

1. I’d rather do more trips (I like shuttling when feasible) with less weight rather than less trips with more weight. You didn’t say how far you had to go but unless I could see the truck no way I’m packing out that much. In mountainous terrain the risk for injury is always real, add on that extra weight and strain it’s just safety and common sense. I learned I’m not the biggest or strongest when I was in high school so I have no need or desire to “test my limits” and relearn that by trying to pack out 80 or 90 pounds and risk serious knee or ankle injury etc.

2. Many hands make light work, or many feet make less weight. Friends are great.

Most I’ve confirmed with a scale was packing out a mulie 5 miles and that was right close to 75 lbs. which is over half my body weight. That was with a Kelty cache hauler and in that instance I would probably still do that trip in one load given the distance.
 

MTLabrador

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 16, 2020
Messages
3,222
Location
Montana
I’ve learned the hard way that it’s really hard to fight gravity with a heavy pack/ when packing a heavy load down hill it’s very season to get ‘pulled’ towards streams/steepest faces of a slope. You really have to fight to side hill and stay out of the hell holes.
That’s the truth. Beware the steep drainages on north slopes, the elk trails stay away from them for a reason.
 

Hem

Well-known member
Joined
May 20, 2009
Messages
2,754
Location
Three Forks, Mt
I might add, for years I used a stripped down kelty Super Tioga external frame which had a head rack extension and a metal waist belt buckle. I preferred putting as much weight as possible as high as possible....just had to be careful not let it get in front of you on the downhill. ;)
Sadly, I broke the frame training with a 80lb section of railroad rail.....also included in top ten dumbest things.
Still miss that frame.
 

wllm

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 9, 2015
Messages
14,130
Location
Boston
I might add, for years I used a stripped down kelty Super Tioga external frame which had a head rack extension and a metal waist belt buckle. I preferred putting as much weight as possible as high as possible....just had to be careful not let it get in front of you on the downhill. ;)
Sadly, I broke the frame training with a 80lb section of railroad rail.....also included in top ten dumbest things.
Still miss that frame.
Definitely worth it to place meat in whatever system you use strategically. My biggest mistakes with my SG has been not hiking up the loadshelf as high as possible.

Like you said high as possible.
 

Hem

Well-known member
Joined
May 20, 2009
Messages
2,754
Location
Three Forks, Mt
Definitely worth it to place meat in whatever system you use strategically. My biggest mistakes with my SG has been not hiking up the loadshelf as high as possible.

Like you said high as possible.
Yep..don't know if that thought process has been lost in the last few decades. Seems like the design of most packs these days disregards that notion. It makes a difference in my mind.
 

RobG

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 10, 2010
Messages
5,387
Location
Bozeman, MT
Yep..don't know if that thought process has been lost in the last few decades. Seems like the design of most packs these days disregards that notion. It makes a difference in my mind.
Huge difference. My first mistake was to just thrown the meat in my pack so all the weight was at butt level. Now I strap the bulk of the weight about level with my shoulder blades. Second mistake was to think I had to get it all out that night. Now I take a reasonable load out and then sleep in the next day and get the rest.
 

ccc23454

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 22, 2010
Messages
2,327
Location
Wyoming
Here's a good one for you not to do... Last year had to pack out a 6pt herd bull I had been hunting for days is some of the nastiest country possible (was already worn out before I shot him). I decided to hike all meat to a lower spot on ridge that would be in better spot for bears and my hike in next day. Decided to make two trips, big mistake! Got first half loaded did the side roll to get pack on my back, one monster squat and I was vertical. Tightened everything down got it comfortable (I have packed several HEAVY loads before and am a larger person so nothing new). Now to the part that sucked... Took one step to get over some rocks and placed my trekking pole to gain leverage and then it happened: the trekking pole clamp collapsed under the extreme load. So as it goes the weight shifts forward and luckily my face was there to brake my fall. So after realizing it was just minor bleeding and I was fine unlike my rifle scope also hit previously mentioned rocks and was shattered. The worst part was trying to get out from under that pack and regain my wits. I got it done but it was a challenge that hurt like hell. The only true lessons is good gear, good boots, knowing your physical limits and lots of Paracord and even with everything right sometimes [email protected] just goes wrong.. be safe
 

2rocky

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 23, 2010
Messages
3,552
My first pack out was with a frame I later learned was a women's size....
wtbp1996.jpg


Had I known better I would have wrapped everything tighter before slinging it on the pack it did waller around on me a bit.
 

Jwill

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 7, 2011
Messages
1,439
Location
Virginia
Thinking you can pack out downhill from a late season elk sanctuary area is a good way to get cliffed out and get to do some steep uphill backtracking in the dark.
 

Sytes

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 25, 2009
Messages
10,183
Location
Montana
Least amount of trips increases the valued desire for misery.
Riddle that sage lesson...
 

elkmagnet

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 14, 2011
Messages
4,440
Location
Hodale, Idaho
15 to 20 years ago we took the first 5 elk I remember shooting out of the Frank church wilderness. We gutted them and took them out whole. One year 3 guys spent 3 days dragging one cow elk. Every year a new guy wanted to join in our successful hunts. None of them ever came back for a second year.

When we did start quartering we still didn't have packs. Only fanny packs. So we would just throwing a hind over our shoulder and go. We would string some 550 cord between the two fronts and wear them around our neck hanging down like breast, cup them in your hands and go.
I cannot put into words how much pain we could have avoided if we just knew what we were doing. I was tuff as nails though!
 

brockel

Well-known member
Joined
May 13, 2016
Messages
3,308
Location
Baker,MT
Here's a good one for you not to do... Last year had to pack out a 6pt herd bull I had been hunting for days is some of the nastiest country possible (was already worn out before I shot him). I decided to hike all meat to a lower spot on ridge that would be in better spot for bears and my hike in next day. Decided to make two trips, big mistake! Got first half loaded did the side roll to get pack on my back, one monster squat and I was vertical. Tightened everything down got it comfortable (I have packed several HEAVY loads before and am a larger person so nothing new). Now to the part that sucked... Took one step to get over some rocks and placed my trekking pole to gain leverage and then it happened: the trekking pole clamp collapsed under the extreme load. So as it goes the weight shifts forward and luckily my face was there to brake my fall. So after realizing it was just minor bleeding and I was fine unlike my rifle scope also hit previously mentioned rocks and was shattered. The worst part was trying to get out from under that pack and regain my wits. I got it done but it was a challenge that hurt like hell. The only true lessons is good gear, good boots, knowing your physical limits and lots of Paracord and even with everything right sometimes [email protected] just goes wrong.. be safe


I’ve thought about my trekking poles doing that exact same thing on me. So far I’ve been lucky but my time is coming. Especially when I’m leaning on them to catch a break
 

np307

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 25, 2018
Messages
625
Location
North Carolina
I learned last year packing out my buck to be a little more careful. I made it back to the actual trail so I decided to pick up the pace an extra notch. One wrong foot placement and I went base over apex. Thankfully I let myself fall instead of trying to catch myself and tearing an acl or breaking my arm and my muzzleloader survived with no damage. Definitely puckered up for a second though.
 

TheTone

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 14, 2002
Messages
4,302
Location
ID
First elk I had to actually pack out was 2009 or so? It was a small spike that I thought was around 2 miles from the road. After a couple friends showed up they told me it was only about 1/2 a mile. Awesome I thought but the pack out totally kicked my butt and I had been in complete denial about my fitness level. Taught me a huge lesson and I weighed about 40-50 lbs less before the next fall
 

Latest posts

Forum statistics

Threads
100,399
Messages
1,587,185
Members
31,512
Latest member
fadilale
Top