Just back from my 12 day moose hunt on the Alaska Peninsula; quite an adventure. Before the trip, I toyed between a Mystery Ranch NICE 6600CU pack or the Barneys freighter frame and pack. After doing a great deal of home work, I chose the Mystery Ranch. I had the pack fitted to me twice, then trained with the pack religiously once per week, loaded with 75lb’s, walking 4 miles and doing a ½ mile of incline hills months before the trip. Along with my regular running regimen, I felt I was ready for “bivying” out on the Peninsula.
On the second day, my partner shot a beautiful 62”+ bull in 2’ to 3’ of water, and we set out on the prodigious task of butchering and hauling. I carried the first three loads myself while he continued to butcher. EVERY 1.5mile load was over 100lb’s, and probably 115lb’s +. I could not lift the pack off ground myself, thus my partner had to help lift and load my pack. I’m 6’1” and weigh 187, and in “hauling” shape.
After the 3rd load, I felt like the pack was literally dragging on the ground. The pack/frame kept wanting to ride lower and lower, and although I had plenty of energy, the pack wore on my rear end. I had to continuously stop and adjust the pack higher. I just figured it was part of the work. On the 5th load, I asked my partner if I could try his Cabela’s Alaska freighter frame and pack. I slipped it on and it was incredibly different. The same heavy weight, yet the frame road higher, and I didn’t get that “ass dragging” feel. There simply was no noticeable flex in the frame and how it rode on my hips. I actually think the frame made my hauling about 20% easier. I’ve thought about that number quite a bit before assigning the figure. Undoubtedly it was SIMPLY easier to haul.
Now I love my Mystery Ranch pack, and it’s going stone sheep hunting with me next year. Yet for pure hauling, I personally would go with a freighter frame; PERIOD. In addition, my buddy’s frame made short order out of our routine 1/2 mile water hauling (from the lake) trips, and I loved the shelf for hauling other items. Thus I‘m going to go ahead and buy a Barneys Frame and Pack. Hauling 115lb’s+ is simply a different game when compared to hiking with 75lbs.
I’m a novice compared to guys on this board, but this is my experience. Yes, I was surprised in the difference between the two frames/packs.
The hauling wasn’t fun, but it was challenging, thus it made for part of the experience, which I enjoyed. I like work. If anyone has any questions, feel free to email me.