Lenny and I have no problem admitting that when we started this project we had no technical background or experience in designing a pack. What we did have was years of experience in backcountry hunting, we knew what pack features worked and didn’t, but most importantly, we were determined to create a pack that would stand up to extreme conditions and loads, but was also comfortable throughout each phase of the hunt.
How You Pack Weight Matters
One issue that seemed to come up again and again was how to keep the distribution of weight in the middle of the pack. In our minds, frankly there is nothing more important than where and how the weight is packed. 60 pounds can feel like 100 if the weight is low and pulling away from your body. Vice versa, you can very easily make 100+ lbs feel like 60 when the weight is riding secure and snug to the middle of your back. Take a look at pack frames from the 1950′s, notice the meat shelf that sits up high well above the hips, they did this for a very good reason. The weight will be transferred straight down into the hips and will ride substantially better. On the flip side of that, when weight falls below your hips, the pack will naturally want to pull back causing excessive pressure on the lower lumbar and shoulders.
We have a handful of design aspects of the Exo Mountain Gear pack that are designed specifically for weight distribution.
- Tapered bag: the main bag is tapered towards the bottom to prevent items from falling to the bottom of the pack
- 45 degree angled compression straps– (4) 1″ Compression straps located on the side of the pack pull the load upwards toward the middle of the back
- Wedge design– The main bag when removed from the frame panel stays attached at the bottom. This forms a triangle wedge and keeps heavy items like boned out meat from sliding down, keeping it up in the middle of the back where it belongs.
The picture below demonstrates the comfort of our pack in action. Kody is packing out a great Colorado bull, with roughly 130 pounds on his back. The majority of the meat is riding right in the middle of the back, not sitting down below the hips.