For years, hunters have strained their backs carrying large backpacks on their expeditions. Though they have plenty of room to carry gear, oversized backpacks can pose a serious challenge when hunting from up a tree stand or going on a scouting day trip.
This is where the hunting waist pack comes in. In this guide, we cover all you need to know when choosing the best one.
What is a Hunting Waist Pack?
A hunting waist pack, also known as a fanny pack or a lumbar pack, is a small-sized pouch used to carry essential items like water, food, a first aid kit, and mobile phones.
Depending on the type of hunt you’re going on, a hunting waist pack can be used with a waist belt for long hikes or with shoulder straps and harnesses on steep climbs.
They are durable, easy to carry, water-resistant, and quite comfortable – especially for hunters with lumbar or back pains. Hunting waist packs are made in camo for bowhunting and in khaki for predator or scout day trips.
What is the Advantage of Carrying a Hunting Waist Pack?
The small size of a hunting waist pack may deter some hunters from using it, however, they have gained popularity in recent years, and here are a few reasons why:
Hunting waist packs are compact which makes them lightweight and easy to carry uphill. Most packs feature a waist belt to help distribute the weight evenly across the back and hips.
You can find hunting waist packs with special features such as better fitting systems and load lifters, which further optimize the weight and conserve the hunter’s energy.
Even with multiple storage compartments built-in, a hunting pack does not feel heavy, cause heat exhaustion, or strain the hunter’s back.
This is especially helpful for saddle hunting and scouting trips where the shooter needs a hunting pack that carries all the necessary gear but is light enough to carry on a climb.
Large hunting backpacks can cause the hunter’s back to overheat and sweat profusely, which may lead to loss of hydration and energy.
While larger packs may be necessary for western-style hunting, saddle hunters, still-hunters, and whitetail hunters on-ground have a better chance of scoring a hunt while wearing a more compact and lightweight hunting waist pack.
This is because they are generally designed to slightly suspend off the back which reduces perspiration and improves airflow.
Also, most hunting waist packs are equipped with air mesh fabrics which help minimize sweat build-up, reduce body odor, and improve energy levels.
A hunting waist pack is the definition of comfort with its small size, lightweight durability, and better airflow. It’s supported by the lower back which is a human’s natural center of gravity so it’s almost effortless to carry the gear up a climb or hunt for whitetails on the ground.
Most hunting fanny packs feature a rigid frame, adjustable back pads and waistbands, padded shoulder harnesses, and reinforced straps that reduce muscle soreness and conserve the hunter’s energy for a longer time.
Hunting waist packs are quite inexpensive compared to the more traditional large gear backpacks. Waist packs can cost as little as $25 and function well for an all-day hunt.
Of course, hunting lumbar packs with special features built-in like an adjustable fitting system, extra compartments, and better waterproofing can come with a higher price tag, but very few cost more than $150.
They are recommended to novice hunters who would benefit from wearing a small pack to transport their essentials.
How to Choose a Hunting Waist Pack?
Hunting waist packs are available in many styles – from day-trip packs and packs with built-in hydration systems to expandable packs and packs with extra pockets.
So, how can you choose a hunting waist pack that is best for you? Here are a few things to consider when zeroing in on a hunting waist pack:
Consider the Use Case
There are a variety of hunting packs available and each bag is designed for a certain discipline of hunting. It is important to consider where the hunting pack will be used so it can perform efficiently and not leave you at a disadvantage.
Traditional western hunting is more than a day’s worth of work and requires a hunting pack that can carry all the gear needed to stay alive and come back home with a big game.
Before you book the hunting expedition, look for hunting packs that have sufficient compartments to store clothing, food, water, and GPS/comm systems, along with extra back support for improved comfort. It’s also important to make sure it is waterproof.
If the moon is up and it’s time to hunt for whitetails, you might want to consider still-hunting or saddle-hunting. It removes the need to lug a huge hunting gear equipped with scopes, binoculars, and GPS units.
Instead, all you will need is a small lumbar pack that comfortably fits around your waist, and has enough room to store a range finder, tree tether, water, compass, rope, and extra carabiners.
If you’ll be hunting whitetails at a close range, make sure the hunting pack is camouflaged and makes minimal to zero noise – even the zippers must be silent, or else the game may get spooked.
Hunting waist packs also work well in a scouting trip where you’ll be hunting only at a specific time of day. Make sure it has a hydration system, and compartments to house essentials like a mobile phone, a first aid kit, ID, a GPS, and miscellaneous gun supplies.
Whether you plan a month-long hunting expedition or a day or two of scouting, make sure the pack is durable and comfortable to wear.
Look for Storage Compartments
Pockets are a hunting waist pack’s best feature. The roomier they are, the better your hunting gear will be. Look for lumbar packs that have built-in compartments to pack a range finder, a pair of binoculars, gloves, a first aid kit, a compass, and fruits for snacking.
Make sure the hunting waist pack you choose is also equipped with a hydration system so packing a water bottle or two isn’t an inconvenience. If you’re planning a hunt during monsoon season, pick a hunting pack that has watertight zippers so your gear doesn’t rust, turn soggy, or grow mold.
You may also want to consider a pack with a bow holder.
Find the Right Harness
Hunting waist packs are designed to be carried around the waist with a waist belt or on the shoulders through two external waist straps.
Traditional larger hunting backpacks have a few different harnesses attached in an attempt to distribute the weight of the bag, but these packs can still be quite heavy.
Carrying such a heavy pack doesn’t bode well if you’re going out for a day hunt or plan to sit in a tree to get a better view of the hunting field.
In such cases, it is best to get a hunting fanny pack that has an adjustable waist belt to comfortably position at the lumbar and two adjustable shoulder straps to fit it well.
Ergonomic comfort is key to easy carrying a hunting waist pack. Look for packs that have shoulder straps that are adjustable horizontally and vertically, a padded waist belt with adjusting guides for fatigue relief, and an adjustable back pad for additional comfort.
Hunting waist packs are small in size but are equipped with many features to enhance the comfort of the hunter. Besides the essential considerations already mentioned, you can look for glove-friendly zippers, watertight pockets in case of rain, brushed fabric if you’re whitetail hunting, or external compression straps to attach jackets, sweaters, or large sheets.
What to Carry in a Hunting Waist Pack?
Don’t be fooled by the small size of the hunting waist pack; it can carry a lot of hunting gear. But, before you load it up, here are a few essential items to check off the list so your hunting trip is facilitated well and nothing is left behind.
The most essential item to pack is water. It is recommended to pack more than one bottle just in case the hunting trip lasts longer than expected. Aside from water, it is advisable to pack a juice bottle for times when having a proper meal isn’t sufficient for hunting.
Nutritional Food Source
Always pack protein-rich food that is easy to munch on and does not need a proper table setting. Also, make sure it is ready-made, i.e needs no cooking. Some examples of hunting-friendly nutritional food sources include protein/granola bars, crunchy fruits (apples, pears, guava, etc), and even chocolate bars.
When you’re out on a hunt, knowing where you are located and where to go allows you to move quickly through the hunting area. In this time of technology, mobile phones are prioritized but they are at risk of shutting down if the battery dies and they depend on data signals for effective transmission.
Instead, pack a compass or a map of the area. These are easy to use, compact and accurate.
On a hunt, the hours may seem short and the day quickly turns to night, so to be able to continue catching game at every time of day, make sure to pack a flashlight and extra batteries.
Hunting is risky and hunters are always in danger of becoming prey themselves, getting lost in the forest, snagged at a bush, or even robbed at a campsite. So, for your safety, make sure to pack a pocket knife. It also helps when cutting fruit for a small snack.
First Aid Kit
Scratches, snags, and blisters are quite common while hunting and it’s easy to leave a small cut as it is – especially if it isn’t painful. However, a small cut can turn into an infection so make sure to pack a first aid kit that has enough bandages, antiseptics, and burn treatments for your entire trip.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a hunting waist pack necessary?
Yes, a hunting waist pack allows easy transport of essential items like water, mobile phones, a compass, and a flashlight. It works best for scouting day trips, still-hunting, or saddle hunting where hunters need a pack that is spacious enough to carry the gear but small enough to fit through narrow spaces.
Are all hunting packs made the same?
Generally, hunting packs are designed in many styles to accommodate a large range of hunting disciplines and their specific needs; however, all of them are typically durable, water-resistant, spacious, comfortable, and harnessed with waist belts or shoulder straps.
Are waist belts better than shoulder straps in a hunting waist pack?
It’s generally a matter of personal preference. A hunter with back pain may benefit from carrying a lumbar waist pack whereas a saddle hunter may need a hunting waist pack that has built-in shoulder straps so it doesn’t snag on bushes while climbing. Usually, hunters go for a hunting pack with a waist belt for extra room.
Is a hunting waist pack the same as a fanny pack?
A hunting waist pack, in layman terms, is known as a fanny pack because of its small size and wrap-around-the-waist design. It, however, has more room for hunters to store essential items like extra ammo, clothing, food sources, etc. Many hunting waist packs come with built-in hydration systems as well.
Hunting waist packs ease the experience of being in the wild scouting for game and keeping essential items organized so they are out of sight and out of mind. Knowing how to choose one, what to consider, and how to load it up properly can increase your chances of a successful hunt.