3500 vs: 5500; which one?
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3500 vs: 5500; which one?

posted in: Info | 9

Deciding between the 3500 or 5500 can be a tough choice and we get this question almost daily.  As a general rule our recommendation is if your average hunt is 5 days or less go with the 3500.  If you consistently do 5+ day plus hunts then you will be better suited with the 5500.  One thing that differentiates us is that because of the load shelf design the capacity to haul out meat does not change between the two bag sizes since its on the same frame.  The only thing we are talking about here is how much gear do you need to haul.

Our bag ratings are also extremely conservative, the 3500 has 4700 ci of use-able gear space while the 5500 is closer to 7000.  It’s one thing to consider when comparing our pack weights to others.

The gray area comes in to affect when you take into account how much gear you personally pack.  Some guys are very minimalist and can hunt 10 days out of a 3500.  Others like to pack a lot of extra stuff for the just in case and need all the space a 5500 offers for a 3 day hunt.  Or some guys do a lot of late season hunts where even though it may only be a 2-3 day hunt the amount of extra clothes takes up a lot of space.  Or maybe most of your hunts are under 5 days but once a year you do a week long backpacking trip (in this case I would recommend the 3500 and put your extra food in a dry bag in the load shelf)DSC06364small

Another thing to consider is if you want to get a 5500 but are concerned that it will not compress up as nice as the 3500 for day use.  Because of how we designed this pack the two bags compress to the exact same size so the 5500 when day hunting works and functions extremely well.

Since the layout between the two bags is 95% identical this is purely a decision on how much space you need for your gear.

From an actual size perspective the 5500 is 3″ deeper (10″ vs: 7″ on the 3500), the same width and 10″ taller.

Here are some bullet points to help you make that decision:

Go with the 3500 if:

  • Average hunts are under 5 days
  • You spend a lot of money to save every ounce you can in your pack
  • You pack from a minimalist perspective (a less is more attitude)

Go with the 5500 if:

  • You do multiple week long trips every year
  • Your pack weighs more than 45lbs on a 3 day hunt (good indication of how much gear you are packing)
  • You aren’t as concerned about the extra 7oz and prefer the extra space
  • You do a lot of late season hunts where bulky clothing is required




  • Rob McConnell

    I choose the 5500 because I like the extra room, and the weight doesn’t bother me. But I love the HUGE side pockets for my scope/water/rifle/tripod..what ever, it all fits.

  • Invictus

    5500 all the way. The 3500ish of my Eberlestock Gunslinger gets eaten up QUICK with gear for Alaska. Add in meat transport needs and even 5500 starts to look a bit small.

    • Exo Mtn Gear

      One thing to consider is our 3500 is closer to 4700ci in pack volume and that is just for your gear. Throw in the meat is carried in the load shelf area and you have a lot of space.

  • Spencer

    I love my 5500! You can always compress it down, but you can’t make your pack bigger!

    • Exo Mtn Gear

      Definitely a good argument for the 5500.

  • Jacob Levi

    Just bought the 3500. I love it! Was using the Eberlestock Gunslinger and it wasn’t very practical for hunting. I would suggest it to anyone who is looking for a quality pack.

    • Exo Mtn Gear

      Glad you are loving the pack Jacob. Good luck on your hunts.

  • MikeP

    Hi, what is the weight and volume of just the lid? Can it be run with only the frame and horn hauler?

    • Exo Mtn Gear

      Its 440 ci and weighs 5.6oz.