I am planning to buy what will be my first pack for hunting sometime in the next 4-6 weeks, and I'm looking for advice on different brands/types of packs from more experienced hunters.
I expect to tag along as a non-hunter (or carry a SxS for grouse) on a Kenai Peninsula caribou hunt in the coming season. I want to be able to carry my gear plus help pack out meat, if possible. I do not know, as of yet how long we'll be out, but I suspect that three days will be the max.
I have quite a bit of backpacking experience, but this will be my first pack specifically for hunting. I currently own a couple of internal frame packs, my primary pack being a Gregory Baltoro (75L/4500ci) but I'm not sure I want to turn that into a hunting pack, or if I even can turn it into a hunting pack. I'm actually looking at some of the higher end lumbar packs, which would be great for small game/birds, but probably won't work for this trip. =( (I much prefer a smaller lighter pack with less stuff, but I don't how well that style works with hunting.)
A few features that I already know I am looking for are: Made in USA (this may not be possible, but I'm willing to pay a premium and/or make other trade-offs); rifle carrier-maybe (I carried a rifle for a few years in the Army so I don't HAVE to have it but it may be nice.) (On that note, some of you may recall the old TA-50 Medium Alice packs that had a pocket inside for the PRC77 radio (I always carried one of those, too) I'd like some feature/pocket that would let me strap in my ham radio and possibly carry a disassembled antenna & tripod.); lastly, hyrdation bladder compatible.
What have you guys used that has worked well and helped make your hunts easier or more successful?