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Thread: Frame and Pack Recommendations for Chugach Sheep Hunt

  1. #1
    Member AK_Kid's Avatar
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    Default Frame and Pack Recommendations for Chugach Sheep Hunt

    So, I drew DS 137 this year (yes, the Gods have indeed smiled upon me) and will spend up to two weeks hunting sheep in the Chugach. I'm planning to upgrade my frame and pack because my old Kelty is showing her years and doesn't quite have the storage capacity I would like.

    As much as I'd love to drop $600 on a frame and bag from Barney's, I would prefer to remain married. Do you guys have any recommendations for a sturdy, quality frame and pack in the $200-$350 range? I would prefer a pack of around 4,500-5,500 cubic inches, and I would think a rifle pocket would be a major selling point since this will be a hike-in. The Cabela's Extreme Alaskan Outfitter caught my eye (4,700 cubic inches, under 8 lbs., under $300). However, I thought it best to check with those who have real experience before purchasing.

    Thanks in advance for any feedback.

  2. #2
    Member Matt83's Avatar
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    Saw this on Amazon, am most likely going to buy it for a future sheep hunt...

    http://www.amazon.com/ALPS-OutdoorZ-...nal+frame+pack

  3. #3
    Member AK Troutbum's Avatar
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    I have the Cabela's pack/frame. I can't remember the name of the pack, but it's the light wt. one (around 7 lbs.) and I think is around 5,000 CI. I've had it now for about 8 years, and have used it on many hunts without any issues. Packed many moose and caribou quarters with it, and used it on a sheep hunt a couple years ago. For the money, I think it's a great pack. It's definitely not the pack that the Barney's is, but then again, it only cost around $250.

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    Member Bighorse's Avatar
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    Just tell your wife how tight your glutes will get hauling the loads a Barney's can handle. Grin!

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    Member 4merguide's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt83 View Post
    Saw this on Amazon, am most likely going to buy it for a future sheep hunt...

    http://www.amazon.com/ALPS-OutdoorZ-...nal+frame+pack
    I upgraded my son's pack with this one, a fellow worker also bought one, and another buddy as well. Read good reviews about them too. Seems like a good pack for the $$$. Sportsman's in Anchorage sells them.....
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

  6. #6

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    I just bought a Full Curl Combo Horn Hunter pack. I am using lightweight dry bags rather than the add on bulk pack. I am very impressed by this pack. It is a hybrid with a rigid frame in a frameless style design. Here is a web page with some pictures.
    http://forums.bowsite.com/tf/bgforum...395705&forum=2

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    You have time, but not much...

    I'd be scouring craigslist and ebay for a used Dana Designs internal or external frame pack. Internal pack models terraplane, alpine, and astralplane. External models longbed, shortbed, terraframe, and T1.

    You'll want 6000ci or more - a couple of the dana externals aren't that big, but with the frame you can easily beverly hillbilly your way to more capacity. The terraplane is the answer.

    You shouldn't have to give more than $200 for a real nice one. Look up the old Dana sizing chart online and know what size you need first.

    Done this way, and you'll end up with a pack that's every bit the equal of ANY hunting pack out there today. Do not fall under the spell of "camo is better" - for hunting gear, camo is an excuse to charge more for an inferior product, and that goes for everything from clothes to packs.

    If the color ain't earthy, spray paint works great.

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    Member hodgeman's Avatar
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    Go directly to Mystery Ranch and order a NICE 6500 or a Grizzly. Vek's idea of a used Terraplane is a good one but availability can be spotty- if new is your only option then MR is pretty darn good.

    Yes it's more than $250 but it's worth it....sell off some seldom used piece of equipment or dust collecting rifle to make it up to the wife. Borrow one from a buddy if need be.... a cheap, econo pack is inviting disaster IMHO. Your old Kelty may be a better pack in many regards compared to a newer one.

    Do not skimp on the pack. 5000ci is TOO SMALL. I took a 6000ci last year and it was TOO SMALL. 6500ci is where you want to start looking. Unused space is air...and it weighs nothing. Be aware that many packs list capacities with the extension collars fully extended and many packs carry like crap with a full extension collar sticking way up past where the frame will support them.
    "I do not deal in hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough..." Col. Stonehill, True Grit

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    Member ruckus's Avatar
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    I took a newer Kelty pack frame and pack because it is what I had. It was full going in. It was a good thing I did not tag out. Don't know what I would have done with the sheep. Needless to say the other shoe dropped when I went mt. Caribou hunting in the Talkeetnas. Got a nice bull too far from camp and packed meat until the pins popped and a nice line was worn into my shoulder. Went right out and bought a Barney's. The kids may have to go to a community college now, but I should not have to buy another back pack. Keep an eye out. There is likely a hunter who has gotten to old to go into the sheep hills or a military guy who caught the buy but is going to the deep south. If you are in the right place at the right time you can get a deal on a great pack.

    I got the barney's and am not looking back.
    "Next time you feel important, try telling someone elses Chesapeake to do something"-- anonymous

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    Member CtP's Avatar
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    I have a Tenzing TZ 6000 headed my way after winning a photo contest. It's my first hunting specific pack, coming from an Osprey Aether 85L. The Osprey has served me well but it is more of a backpackers pack.
    The TZ 6000 is right around $400. has a rifle sling the folds out of a small pocket, that will hold the butt end of a rifle or compound wheel of a bow.
    It has a lot of nice features and weighs in right at 7 lbs.
    There's a video on you tube where the designer points out the features with some close ups.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tc0B4mm-9xM

    I'm looking forward to schlepping it into the Chugach as well.

    The Aether 85L is for sale!

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    Ak Kid first congrats on the permit. Question, how many people are you going on this hunt with that will help determine pack size meaning one sheep for 2 guys or one sheep for three guys...ect... I have guided and hunted the park for a lot of years including in the area you drew and it can be a loooong hike and lots of days. You are going to want the biggest pack you can get and I completely agree that 5000 is small.I would go on a park hunt with a packer and a hunter... myself and the packer have Barneys packs and the hunter would carry most of his own gear in his pack and our packs would still be stuffed after a kill and have lots of things hanging off of them.You can save some space on the way out by dumping food and such(law permitting..)..well that is if you have a sheep..Also you will want a sturdy pack..a sheep...camp....food....cloths..personal gear for two weeks all add up to a lot of weight and I sure would hate to break a cheap frame 17 miles back in and still have to get the gear and sheep out.I would check around as much as possible and or beg borrow and steal to get as good a pack as you can this might possibly be the last park hunt you draw..maybe not depending on your luck.... Awesome permit for sure....here is a pic of a park ram for ya

  12. #12
    Member c04hoosier's Avatar
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    You asked specifically about the Cabelas Extreme Alaskan Outfitter. I have this pack and have used it sheep hunting so here is my rundown on it. First I have used it on three, what I would consider "full length" sheep hunts, i.e. 6-10 day backpack style hunts and a few shorter hunts as well. During this time, it has carried out (parts of) two sheep as well as camp, rifle, etc. Overall it has held up pretty well considering what it has been asked to do, and given the price point. On the first hunt, a Delta walk-in trip, the waist pad started to tear on day 2 or 3 of 6. Some duct tape prevented it from getting any worse but it was not optimal for the rest of the hunt. I sent it back to Cabelas and of course they replaced it free of charge. The 2nd and 3rd hunts didn't see any major problems but the waist pad did start to rub in the same spot again...seems the velcro that holds the pack to the frame was rubbing the pad and the friction was wearing through the nylon. On the 3rd hunt, the seams that hold the top of the pack to the frame started to pull out a little but not enough to cause a failure at all. No other problems noted with regards to holding up.

    There are a few nice features to the pack: the rifle holder is handy, but you can get that on other brands as well. There is a built in rain cover so no worries about a separate rain cover falling off and blowing off the mountain. I like the fact that there are no pins holding the pack to the frame...just nylon loops that slide down over the top of the frame, and velcro to secure everywhere else. No pins to snap but as noted above the velcro did try to wear through the nylon waist belt. Also, if you take the pack off the frame there is a flexible freighter shelf with a nifty cargo strap system that is handy for hauling meat or whatnot.

    Now on to what I don't like about it: my number one complaint is that there is no way to access the bottom of the bag, other than from the top of the bag. Of course what you are looking for is ALWAYS at the bottom, so you have to dig everything out to find it. Also, the 4700 c.i. is only marginally big enough for a week-long hunt, assuming you have at least one partner. Also, if the pack is not full there is really no way to cinch it down so it just becomes floppy and not all that stable which can get annoying (or dangerous depending on how much spider-monkeying you have to do).

    So my overall rating is 3 out of 5 stars. If I had to do it again, I would probably look elsewhere and/or pay a bit more, but it has done everything I have asked it to do. And since I already own it, I will continue to use it. Hopefully this fall it will help me haul out an elk.

    Hope that helps.

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    Here are two used Barney's packs on Craigslist. Maybe you can talk them down some?!

    http://anchorage.craigslist.org/spo/3011568644.html

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    Member AK_Kid's Avatar
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    Great information, guys. Thanks.

    I have hunted moose and 'bou since I was old enough to carry a rifle, typically via plane or ATV. However, this will be my first sheep hunt, so the insight is much appreciated.

    I'm more meat hunter than trophy hunter, and I prefer to hunt with my dad, who, now in his mid-60s, just isn't going to be chasing me across the high country with a fully loaded pack. For those reasons, I'm not certain how often I'll go chasing sheep in the future. This is more of a once-in-a-lifetime hunt opportunity. Hence my reluctance to spend big on a pack that may or may not get regular use in the future.

    I'll be going with one buddy, so gear (and meat, hopefully) will be split between the two of us. Since I'm not after the best trophy I can find, but rather any legal ram, I'm not planning to trek into the most remote portions of the Park. We'll be 6-8 miles back from our start location. Thus, we should be able to pack out a full load in a day and be back in to recover whatever gear we left behind the following day. And yes, we're in pretty decent shape.

    One more question - I have been focused on external frame packs, simply because they are what I have always used to pack moose. Should I be giving more consideration to internal frame packs?

    Again, thanks.

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    Member hodgeman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AK_Kid View Post
    One more question - I have been focused on external frame packs, simply because they are what I have always used to pack moose. Should I be giving more consideration to internal frame packs?
    Depends... nothing hauls a heavy load like an external but if you've got significant bushwacking through alders I'd prefer an internal's narrower profile and lack of things to hang up in brush. The only thing that sucks worse than bushwacking through alders is doing it with a big external frame pack on... If your hunt area has a good trail to above treeline then external would be my choice.
    "I do not deal in hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough..." Col. Stonehill, True Grit

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    Any legal ram is a trophy and they usually don't make full curl or 8+ without sticking to the more rugged recesses. "Easy sheep" are not something that one finds very often at all. Perhaps it is getting better but only a few years ago I know people who scouted

    I personally prefer an internal frame for sheep. Something like an Osprey Aether, ArcTeyrx Bora, Gregory Whitney etc will get the job done for you and may be had used. A Kifaru Timberline would be a great pack but out of your stated budget.

    The used Barneys hunter bag linked to by PacWest would be hard to beat for a do-it-all AK pack. You will replace any $300/pack every 3-5 years where the Barneys will last 4-6x as long. In the end the Barneys has about the cheapest total cost of ownership out there.

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hodgeman View Post
    Depends... nothing hauls a heavy load like an external but if you've got significant bushwacking through alders I'd prefer an internal's narrower profile and lack of things to hang up in brush. The only thing that sucks worse than bushwacking through alders is doing it with a big external frame pack on... If your hunt area has a good trail to above treeline then external would be my choice.
    Great points on the Alders! I will say that there are several internal frame designs that haul seriously heavy loads quite comfortably now days. I am hearing great things about the latest packs from Kifaru and Mystery Ranch has a history of load hauling as well though their bare packs are on the obese side. My McHale pack hauls the same weight my old barneys pack did and is MUCH more comfortable and stable doing it. The only use I have for an external frame pack is for odd shaped bulky items that are easier to lash to a frame than put in a bag. I will likely own just a Barneys Carnivore frame at some point.

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    I went throught this same process a couple of years ago when I drew a DCUA sheep tag. I went with the Cabela's Extreme Outfitter. I've been satisfied although it's not a perfect pack. The lack of bottom access can be annoying, and it's size meant that I had to strap the horns to the outside of my pack on the hike out, even with my partner carrying half of the meat. Also, I blew out a zipper on one of the side pockets on the second day of the hunt. Cabela's was great about it and sent me a whole new pack, but it made it a bit more of a pain to use for the rest of the hunt. Other than that it's been great for all kinds of hunting and even some summer hiking trips over the last 3 years. I've packed out a few caribou, and a moose as well as the sheep, with no problems with the frame. I don't use the freighter shelf to save weight, but it's worked great without it. I didn't have the problem that hoosier did with the velcro, but it's a good one to be aware of. Also, on the ALPS pack linked to above, my brother brought one of their tents on his DCUA sheep hunt and it leaked so badly during a 3 day rain storm that they had to cut a hole in the bottom to let water back out. He'd used the tent for about a year with no problems, but it hadn't seen that kind of severe rain before. Also, a co-worker owns another model ALPS pack, and wore a hole in it packing weights on a 3 mile training hike we did this spring. He had them wrappped in towels, but apparently an edge came unwrapped and wore a hole through his pack very quickly. I'm not condemning the pack linked earlier by any means, but I'm a little wary of the ALPS brand. Best of luck on your hunt! It should be a great experience!

  19. #19
    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    ALPS gear in general is designed to outfit urban boy scouts on very occasional trips to parks. The lone exception that I have found in their gear line is the ALPS mountaineering lightweight cot. It is not truly light weight and isn't for back pack use but for boat/wheeler/car camping it ROCKS.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AK_Kid View Post
    So, I drew DS 137 this year (yes, the Gods have indeed smiled upon me) and will spend up to two weeks hunting sheep in the Chugach. I'm planning to upgrade my frame and pack because my old Kelty is showing her years and doesn't quite have the storage capacity I would like.

    As much as I'd love to drop $600 on a frame and bag from Barney's, I would prefer to remain married. Do you guys have any recommendations for a sturdy, quality frame and pack in the $200-$350 range? I would prefer a pack of around 4,500-5,500 cubic inches, and I would think a rifle pocket would be a major selling point since this will be a hike-in. The Cabela's Extreme Alaskan Outfitter caught my eye (4,700 cubic inches, under 8 lbs., under $300). However, I thought it best to check with those who have real experience before purchasing.

    Thanks in advance for any feedback.
    Gimme a Break:

    I can't believe that this is now the goin thing. A pack that weighs 7, to 8 lbs. EMPTY.

    I knew that the new ones I've seen at SW, with all the straps, foam, buttons, and zippers, were too heavy, but I had no idea it was that much.

    I consider that to be totally impractical.

    Sheep hunting is a Lightweight proposition. 7 lbs. is a lot of pounds to carry unnecessarilly.

    Smitty of the North
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    Has it ever occurred to you, that Nothing ever occurs to God? Adrien Rodgers.
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