I have been intersted in an Eberlestock
pack from some time now.
I wrote to a forum member who distributes them and also called Eberlestock to ask for some advice on which particular model might suit me best.
"Unfortunately" they both said that the Gunslinger would suit my needs best.
However, I haven't seem great reviews of this pack and got the impression that the Skycrane and Phantom have had a better reception.
Now, I don't like to make a purchase based soly on what I'm told is best for me, but when I don't have the possibility to access the object for inspection sometimes it's the most valuable input I can get.
At the same time, it's hard when you have formed idea about what you want and don't want in a product, to just disregard people's advice who are in a better position than you are to make evaluations.
I need a pack for general and apline hunting.
When hunting chamois in the Alps, you need a pack that you can climb rock and ice with strapped to your back, that will hold spare (bulky) clothing, and take a whole 55lb carcass back down the mountain.
Your hands need to be free to climb, hence the locals traditionally use break open single shot rifles than can be pulled apart and stored in their packs for climbing, and why I want a pack for a bolt action rifle.
I like the Operator and the Phantom packs.
I don't like a single compartment top loading pack like the Gunslinger.
I like to segregate my equipment into different pockets and compartments so that each category of gear is easily accessable without disturbing the rest.
The fact that the Gunslingers scabbard is not removable is a bit of a hassle for me, meaning that I have to store the gun in another case while in transit. Same goes for the Operator.
The Phantom has a removable scabbard that could double for vehicle transport.
Basically between the Operator and the Phantom I can see the you get more space and pockets for the same weight (for an extra $100 spent).
Unfortunatly Eberlestock don't show the measurements on their website so it is hard to get an idea for it. From the photos, it seems like they are very close, with neither being a really big pack.
The day pack I use at the moment is a Camelbak BFM which is ok. It won't hold a chamois if there is anything else inside the pack, but it is nicely broken down into compartments and very (incredibly) tough with good external compartments but overall it is just a little bit small.
What I'd like to ask anyone who has used either the Phantom or Operator alpine hiking and light climbing, I suppose similar to your sheep or mountain goat hunting, whether they found it to be too big or bulky as a day pack.