Re: hello from WA
That is a loaded question, especially for a WA hunter! I say that because anytime you are going on an extended/overnight trip in our state means you are walking up-up and more up. There is going to be a lot that goes into choosing your pack. Starting weight, what you are willing to pack out, size, so on and so forth. IMHO I would say a good size for a 3-5 day pack is 4500-6000cu/in. I want to be as light as possible going in obviously, and I don't want to kill myself packing something out. Chances are if you are doing any serious back country hunting in this state, you are hiking at least five miles in very steep terrain. I'm sure some people have areas that are closer than that...and I would love to become their friend haha. But in all seriousness, I have been ten miles in with people who have had tried to pack out everything at once, and had their frame break....and they said it was the most painful and miserable experience they have ever had.
I went with the Crooked Horn High Country Extreme II pack. I liked that it had one BIG compartment which you could separate meat from gear with a drawstring. Plus the frame seems beefy. I have used it on 4 pretty rugged trips now, and it is as comfortable as you will expect a pack to be, especially when it is loaded down with 100lbs. I DO NOT like that when my rifle is strapped to the pack, it extends below the bottom of the pack. It makes it a pain in the ass when you just want to have a quick break because you either have to take it off or sit at a funny angle. I have a couple of buddies that use the Badlands 4500, and both their packs have busted (last time their let their packs get over 100lbs haha). Even after that happening, they still use them because they are so comfy they say...they just dont pack as much out on the first trip anymore. It is really going to come down to what you can budget. I think it is worth it to buy gear right the first time, and not just "get by." However in saying that, I would not personally buy a $700 pack just because that it the best money can get. I think being flexible with your budget and doing careful research, you will get it right.