Military Packs for Hunting?


Well-Known Member
Jul 14, 2011
Was looking really hard at Badlands and other assorted packs for the upcoming deer season, and then I got to thinking (dangerous, I know) how would a military surplus pack hold up for packing in and staying for a night or two, and hopefully packing meat out?

Seems like it should be fine but I have searched multiple forums and couldn't find too much info on it. The packs I am looking at are the new Molle systems and the 2nd Generation marpat arcyteryx. Both can be bought used on ebay for about $100

Here are a couple links.


Digital ACU US ARMY MOLLE II ACU RUCKSACK Complete Back Pack w/ 2 POUCHES | eBay

What do you think?
I have the MOLLE II one, and you can really load that frame with weight. I would check out a local surplus store to see how well they will fit your body. I used the Cabelas Alaskan guide pack in AK for hauling around caribou meat and it works great also, since its super easy to remove the pack part, and has a cool meat holder built in (for use with the game bags).
I have used the Army's MOLLE II in the field and hunting. It's heavier than commercial packs and might not be as adjustable if you have a longer torso. It is also made to get wet and drain (vs to be waterproof). I do think the ACU pattern is the worst camo pattern out there. You will also have the "US" painted on the sustainment pouches and the main pack.

I think the load limit on the frame is something like 200lbs. I've never approached that weight when packing.

Hope this helps
I have put hundreds of miles in with one. I don't have a lot to complain about. I'm 5'7" and 210 lbs, and it does ok. There isn't a whole lot of adjustment on them. I have carried well over 100#'s in mine for extended distance. It will hold a lot of crap, lived out of it for several days many times without a resupply. If I had my choice would it be what was issued to me, probably not. But have I went out and purchase a commercial one to replace
I took it on an elk hunt a few years back and packed out a lot of meat in two trips, if I get to go this year ill take it with me again.
As far as ACU camo is concerned, when I gets dirty it actually serves you better. Or do as I do a lot of times and paint it. Too easy!
I rock around with one of the old large ALICE packs with steel frame. It is pretty tropical where I live and hunt down here in Oz and I like the fact the frame sits off my back to help keep cool (overheating is a real danger down this way). There is no need to carry much in the way of cold weather gear, so not to much bulk, but a raincoat is essential!

I have found the material to hold up alright, though the rocky areas do scuff it up a bit and will wear through eventually.

Having used the ALICE for a while now, both for my ex work and pleasure, I dig it! (just get better strap and kidney pad kit)
I'd be sniffing around for a used Dana Design Terraplane or Alpine. Should be able to find one around $100-$150 and they are about as good as it gets.
For packs, I buy within my price range. I've done many 3 day'ers with old one compartment bags before there was ever a specialty market for packs. I'll pack out heart & liver and a little meat but usually go back to base and get a pack frame for hauling meat. Alice packs squeak and are a little heavy but very rugged. You can buy comfort but unless it's ultra cheap, most will do the job if your not hauling all your meat in it. Go ahead and try the military pack and then you'll know.
Eberlestock packs are nice, not all are the same. Especially when carrying a heavy load. I used a Gunslinger 2 to haul a Barrett and a manpack radio up a steep mountain once...and I mean once! That pack is not made for heavy loads.

I did use my large molle to pack out a deboned elk a week ago, handled it like a champ. I was the weak link in that chain.
Nice point for sure. What about any of the larger EbS? I have aGS2 as well but have never loaded it down like you say.
I have 2 old large ALICE packs with steel frames. I dont use them for hunting just training. I got them for my self for 25$ a peice on ebay. THe new issue pack SUCKS ***! Its very uncomfortable and ACU is a big joke. The old pack worked just fine and it carries a lot of gear but you have to know how to pack.
I have a couple of the old Army packboards. I replaced the canvas that went against your back with a mesh and put good straps and waist belt on them. I have packed all sorts of heavy stuff on them over the years. for meat, lash on the game bag with the side hooks and go. Old school but it works. I got my first one over 50 years ago and still use the same style.
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