One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced since starting to saddle hunt in 2021 was finding the best pack to keep all my gear organized. There are tons of great options on the market at a wide variety of price points, so finding the one that best fits you needs can be challenging.
The goal of this article is to narrow those options down to a handful of the best saddle hunting backpacks so you can spend less time researching and more time in the field.
Top Picks for 2023
- Best Budget Option: TideWe Hunting Pack
- Best Overall: KUIU Venture Divide 2000
- Runner Up: Eberlestock X2
- Another Great Option: Trophyline CAYS 2.0
- Another Great Option: Mystery Ranch Popup 28
- Perfect saddle hunting pack under $100!
- Flaps/buckles on front are perfect for strapping in a platform
- Straps on bottom of pack will easily hold climbing sticks
- Comfortable padded straps and back for those long hikes into your stand
- Two large internal pockets with dividers will hold all your accessories
- Capacity: 2,200 cubic inches
- Weight: 3.7 lbs
- Dimensions: 21”x12”x10”
- Multi-pocket design
- Designed to carry your bow or gun
- Built in rain cover
While I’m not going to say the TideWe Hunting Pack is the best saddle hunting pack on the market. I do believe it’s the best you’re going to find for under $100. In fact, it retails for just $69.99 and fits all my saddle hunting gear and camera arm perfectly with room to spare.
The the TideWe pack’s 2,200 cubic inch capacity is probably overkill for half-day deer hunts, but I like having the extra room for extra layers when needed. The roomy storage is divided up by a variety of pockets to keep all your gear separate and easily accessible.
The two main compartments will hold all your big stuff like extra clothing, your saddle ropes and more, while the internal pockets, side pockets and belt pockets are great for smaller stuff like your wallet and keys, bow release, Thermacell, grunt call, drink and snacks.
Be sure to check the pricing at TideWe before buying from Amazon.
TideWe is always having sales. At of the time of this writing, you can use promo code HC15 for an extra 15% off.
If you’d like to see my review of the TideWe Hunting Pack, as well as how it handles all my saddle hunting gear, check out the YouTube video below.
KUIU Venture Divide 2000
- Capacity: 2,000 cubic inches
- Weight: 4 lbs 5 oz
- Dimensions: 21″ x 13″ x 10″
- 330D HT & Waterproof Cordura
- Polycarbonate frame with dual aluminum stays
- Adjustable suspension and removable waist belt
- Rating: 5.0
If you’re looking for a great pack in that $200-225 range, then the KUIU Venture Divide 2000 is a great option for a saddle hunter.
If you like the layout and function of the TideWe (which I do), then the KUIU Venture Divide 2000 feels like a similar pack but with next-level quality and design. It’s built to the high standards you would expect from KUIU.
They feature sturdy 330D Cordura ripstop fabric, an internal aluminum and polycarbonate frame to support heavy loads, and multiple compression straps to hold all your gear in place. Like the other packs discussed, the Divide 2000 has plenty of pocket options to keep all your hunting gear organized and easily accessible.
The KUIU pack also has a removable waist belt when you only need to use the shoulder straps.
Check current price at:
Eberlestock X2 Pack
- Capacity: 1,800 cubic inches
- Weight: 5.0 lbs
- Dimensions: 22″ x 14.5″ x 16.5″
- Built-in aluminum Intex frame
- Oversized compression straps
- Rating: 4.8 out of 5
If you have more money to spend, and you want the best, then the Eberlestock X2 pack may be for you.
When you search saddle hunting packs in many of the various saddle hunting forums and Facebook groups, you’ll see the Eberlestock mentioned as much or more than any other pack.
It’s a great size at 1,800 cubic inches, and it has plenty of pockets, straps, and Molle webbing to keep all your saddle hunting gear organized.
One thing that separates the Eberlestock from the cheaper TideWe is the integrated Intex II aluminum frame that makes it possible to pack out heavy loads when needed. The oversized compression straps are great for securing your platform and/or climbing sticks.
Check current price at:
Trophyline CAYS 2.0
- Capacity: 1,950 cubic inches
- Weight: 3.6 lbs
- Dimensions: 20″ x 12.5″ x 7.5″
- Molle attachment system
- Designed specifically for saddle hunting
- Front Platform pocket with snap closure when not in use
- Amazon Rating: 4.7
If you’re looking for a quality pack designed specifically with the saddle hunter in mind in the $150 range, then the Trophyline CAYS 2.0 pack may be the perfect fit for you.
Surprisingly, the Trophyline CAYS 2.0 is the only pack on our list designed specifically for saddle hunters, and you can easily see that in the way it’s laid out. If I wasn’t already completely happy with my TideWe Hunting Pack, this would be my next choice. Again, I’m not saying this pack is necessarily better than many others on this list, but I think it’s the best in that $150 price range.
The Trophyline has a front kangaroo pocket made specifically for holding your saddle hunting platform, and compression straps on both sides to hold your climbing sticks. The main compartment of the pack is accessible from the top, which is nice because it allows you access to your gear even while your platform and sticks are strapped in.
The pack features 20 useable fleece-lined pockets, which is nice for keeping your gear organized and accessing it as silently as possible. Two of those pockets are the long, narrow side pockets that are great for a spotting scope or a camera arm if you film your hunts.
Check current price at:
Mystery Ranch Popup 28
- Capacity: 1,710 cubic inches
- Weight: 4.9 lbs
- Dimensions: 21″ x 11″ x 10.5″
- Pop-up frame converts this daypack into a load-hauling system
- Will haul loads up to 80 lbs.
- Bottom, front and side compression straps
- Amazon Rating: 5 out of 5
If you have little more money to spend, and want a great pack with a pop-up frame that can pack out loads up to 80 lbs., then the Mystery Ranch Pop Up 28 may be the perfect pack for you.
I mentioned earlier about the popularity of the Eberlestock X2 pack among saddle hunters, and the Mystery Ranch Pop Up 28 is right up there with it. It’s a high-end option, with the highest retail price of any on my list, but has a lot of great features not found in the other packs.
The main thing that stands out about the Pop Up 28 is its unique pop up frame that allows the daypack to be converted into a load-hauling system that will handle up to 80 lbs. That’s perfect for those saddle hunters hunting way off the beaten path who need to quarter and pack out their deer.
When not hauling out meat, the space between the frame and the pack is the perfect place to pack your platform, and the compression straps on each side will hold your climbing sticks firmly in place.
The lid to the main storage compartment zips open to allow easy access into the pack, and a variety of pockets will keep your gear neatly organized in the pack. Like the KUIU pack, the Mystery Ranch is offered in multiple sizes (small to XL) tailored to your waist and height for a perfect fit that will keep you comfortable on those long packs in and out.
At the time I write this (October 10, 2022), Black Ovis has this pack marked down over $100, but has limited sizes available.
Check current price at:
Features to Consider
One of the first features to consider when searching for the best saddle hunting pack is the overall capacity of the pack. You’ll need to take into consideration how many days you’ll be hunting at a time, and how much gear you’ll be packing for those days. Most of you are probably whitetail hunters like myself who’ll only be hunting half days or the occasional full day hunt during the rut. If that’s the case, and you’re not packing too many additional layers of clothes or a bunch of camera gear, then most any of the packs on this list should be sufficient.
Some of the larger packs on this list may be overkill for those of you hunting mostly half-day hunts in climates that don’t require a lot of extra layers. Personally, though, I like a larger pack even though I rarely use all the space. It’s there if I need it, and it doesn’t have a major impact on the overall weight of my setup.
My top saddle hunting backpack picks range from having no frame at all, to having an internal frames, and even one with an external frame (the Mystery Ranch Pop Up 28). Whether you need a frame pack or not really depends on what you plan on hauling with it. In most cases, deer hunters just packing in their saddle hunting gear can get by without a frame. However, a frame can add an extra level of comfort and support.
If you plan on hauling your kill out as opposed to dragging it out, then you’ll definitely want a pack with a frame to help support the extra weight.
All of the packs on my list are in the 2.5 to 5.0 pound range, so overall weight isn’t too much of an issue, but some saddle hunters take weight savings very seriously. For those folks, looking at the weight of a pack can be important to their overall setup. While the 2.5 pound difference between my lightest option and the heaviest option may not sound like much, it can add up. And the longer you have to walk with that pack on your back, the more you’re going to notice that 2.5 pounds!
Molle Webbing and Compression Straps
To me, what really separates a great saddle hunting pack from regular hunting packs is the availability of Molle webbing and compression straps to keep your gear strapped down and in-place. Saddle hunting requires unique equipment, and that equipment takes special features on a backpack to haul it all in a way that is comfortable and easy to access. That’s where the Molle webbing and compression straps come in handy.
With the rise in popularity of saddle hunting, it’s only a matter of time before more packs dedicated to that hunting style begin to hit the market. Until then, though, we’ll have to make the best of what we have available. Fortunately, there are several great options available that make it easy to keep your saddle hunting gear secure and organized at a variety of price points.
My overall choice for the best saddle hunting pack is the TideWe Hunting Pack based on my personal experience with the pack, the way all my saddle hunting gear and camera arm fit neatly in the pack, and the very affordable price point. There’s no doubt in my mind that the Eberlestock, Trophyline and Mystery Ranch are higher quality, but I’m not sure they have enough added value for my needs to justify the price difference.
Hopefully this article will help you decide which saddle hunting pack for your specific needs. If you end up buying one, whether it was one on our list or not, we’d love to hear about which one you chose and why in the comments section below.