The Best Hunting Pack + Rifle Sling Combo
Because we custom designed our rifle sling, the Slik Sling, to specifically meet our high standards for a simple, durable, efficient, light-weight, hands-free, and American-based rifle sling, we may be a little biased about the best hunting pack and rifle sling pairing; however, this article outlines how the evolution of hunting packs and subsequent rifle sling innovations led us to our favorite and most effective pack + rifle sling combo.
The Backstory : Hunting packs underwent an evolution in the early 2000s.
Hunters of the 80s, 90s, and beyond may remember the unwieldy and far from light metal frame backpacks that were the basic option for a hunt. The hunting industry had yet to seriously start designing hunting packs so hunters were left with versions of the old-school backpacking pack (that had also yet to hit the peak of lightweight innovation). If the Jansport brand backpack is familiar to you, then you have probably spent time hunting with a less-than-ideal pack. The Cabelas brand was also a challenging option, hanging far down the back and causing strain. Hunters even used fanny packs. (Image source : https://www.ebay.com/itm/165142047835)
Long hunts and packing out heavy kills finally led to a shift in hunting pack design in the early 2000s. In a nutshell, personal discomfort was the ultimate impetus for the hunting pack evolution. Companies (like the popular Stone Glacier) were started when their owners began personally experimenting with creating a better pack. ‘Durable’ and ‘ultralight’ became buzzwords in the quest for the ultimate meat hauling option. Efficiency was utmost; comfort of movement and load distribution were prioritized. In the words of Stone Glacier’s founder, Kurt Racicot, the evolution of this new type of pack was ‘a slow and organic process of development, testing, and refining.’
Bow and rifle sling design eventually followed as hunters and gear companies tried to reflect the lightweight, efficient qualities of the new packs in the sling options available.
Once the hunting gear industry hit stride on the new ultralight packs, there opened up a new opportunity for breaking tradition on typical bow and rifle slings; the pack evolution directly led to the sling evolution. Maybe once hunters realized how good they could have it with their packs, the traditional (clunky) shoulder sling for rifles no longer felt reasonable. With the massive improvements in packs, there was a clear need for a better way to carry the bow to match that design. For Creative Outdoors owner and designer, Josh Susic, the design of his first modified bow sling was inspired by the lack of good options on the market. Nothing seemed to fit the bill, so, as with the pack evolution, it stemmed from a personal desire to create a product that checked all of the boxes.
Josh created the first Montana Bow Sling through an iterative process of trial and field-testing. The inspiration to create a bow sling that attached directly to the pack was an important shift for the sling industry and streamlined bow carrying. It may have remained a personal project if not for Josh’s hunting partner, Kevin Chase, who was an early test subject for the new sling and whose enthusiasm and encouragement for this improved carry method helped convince Josh to manufacture the bow sling on a larger scale.
From a personalized bow sling to a nearly universal hands-free rifle sling
A common side-effect of user-centered design is that it can trend toward a very specific, very personalized use case. In that tradition, the first iteration of Creative Outdoor’s bow sling was customized to the Stone Glacier Solo pack. However, once it became clear how much extra ease and efficiency this type of sling brought to a hunt, it was equally clear that the design needed to be expanded to fit as many packs (and hunters) as possible.
From there, the bow sling was upgraded to be as universal as possible. With the success of the bow sling, an improved rifle sling naturally followed; the design of the new rifle sling, the Slik Sling, was thoughtfully created to work with packs from all the big hunting brands: Kuiu, Seek Outside, Kifaru, Eberlestock, as well as some popular Bozeman-based ones: Mystery Ranch and Stone Glacier.
Okay but I want to know which rifle sling and hunting pack combo is the best.
We personally created our rifle sling based on our own years of hunting experience as the absolute best way to do a hands-free rifle carry. It gets our vote for best rifle sling because we designed it to be the best rifle sling. But the right hunting pack is the core component of the hunting gear (aside from the gun!) It literally does the heavy lifting. With any good hunting pack, the list of primary criteria to evaluate is: simplicity, efficiency, durability, weight. We also personally placed an emphasis on American companies and customer service.
Our Top Three Hunting Pack Picks
Coming in third for us is the Mystery Ranch Sawtooth 45. It lags slightly behind the other two simply because it is slightly heavier. We consider every ounce important in hunting gear. Aside from that difference, this is another excellent hunting pack.
Neck in neck with our number one pick is the Exo Mtn 3200. Earning high points on some of the most important criteria, the weight of this pack is extremely streamlined and the quality of the materials are top-of-the-line. The customer service for this brand is also exceptional, which is a valuable asset in an industry where wear and tear is common.
As our personal favorite, the ultralight composition of the Stone Glacier Solo sets it apart. The exceptional design and high-grade material put it at the very top of our hunting pack list. We have a personal preference for other Bozeman-based businesses which helped it edge out the Exo Mtn pack slightly (for us).
Finding the best hunting pack + rifle sling combo for YOU
There are a lot of hunting gear options out there these days. If you’ve been tweaking your gear to find the most effective combo, we hope that this article helps point you in the direction of some of the leading options. Ultimately, the perfect hunting pack and rifle sling combo comes down to personal preference and experimenting with your gear in the field, but there are some objective qualities of form and function to prioritize along the way. Awkward packs and awkward carries are no longer a mandatory evil!Try our Rifle Sling Risk-Free!
Here at Creative Outdoors, we place an emphasis on our customers and love answering any installation, setup, or general gear questions you may have to help you achieve your quest for the perfect hunt! Reach out for advice from an expert!