Originally Posted by mcseal2
I bought my J34 the same place as the last guy and love it. He was great to deal with also and has good videos showing the packs. I got the spike camp duffle for packing and storing camp also. I have the Cabelas Extreme alaskan outfitter pack also and it is nice, but I like the eberlestock much better for hunting. I take the frame from the cabelas pack and keep it in the truck for packing meat out after the first trip with the eberlestock.
If you get the frame pack, it will be bulky and not real comfortable to hunt with. The beauty of the eberlestock is that you can drop camp, zip it up and tighten the straps, and you have a good comfortable daypack to hunt with ready to go. Take a few trash bags to put meat in and you can use the main mesh compartment to pack out some meat the first trip, while packing camp in the duffle.
I still like a external frame like the cabelas pack has better for packing heavy quarters. The eberlestock's design puts the weight further off your back and lower because it's made to pack a rifle close to your back. It's a great design for "one pack for everything" idea, but I think a frame pack is still more comfortable for packing meat. That's why I drop the eberlestock at the truck with the first load and use the frame for the rest.
I'd buy the eberlestock and then try to find a decent frame also. Don't forget to put plenty of bungie straps and cordage on the frame for securing meat, and add a way to carry water.
After re-reading my earlier post, I just wanted to clarify that I think the eberlestock is great, and packs meat really well if it is "empty" of other weight like a pack frame would be. I used mine to carry a 50lb bag of mineral and 2 gallons of deer attractant plus water about a mile into a hunting area a few days ago. It packed the 80+lb load in 100+ degree weather as well as anything could I think. The eberlestocks can compress a load to your back pretty decent when empty of other gear also. It's when you start comparing their fit to a pack that carries everything right against your back to one that has a rifle in between that eberle's look bad . The thing to remember is that the eberle can work that way to if it's empty and on an equal playing field.
Bottom line is that an eberlestock can pack the things you want to take up the mountain comfortable, and also pack what you shoot off the mountain. It may not pack both together the most comfortably, but if camp + gear + meat are coming off together comfortable is not really an option. Also to my thinking one real tough trip out beats 2 or 3 when it is possible. Getting to the truck after a bad haul and knowing you have to repeat it is tough. Sometimes it can be avoided hunting deer size game.
I've not tried the other top end packs so I cannot say good or bad about them. I've seen zippers fail on a Badlands pack so dust coated everything inside it on an ATV ride, but that is the limit of my experience with other brands. I'd try to find somewhere to try several and decide from there.