how We test

Outdoor Life - - GEAR -

EVAL­U­AT­ING HUNT­ING packs is ul­ti­mately an ex­er­cise in per­sonal pref­er­ence. One per­son may want a zip­per here or a com­pres­sion strap there, or would pre­fer a strong in­ter­nal frame over a bow or ri­fle car­rier. A pack that fits a shorter, stouter frame won’t fit a taller, lankier per­son. There’s also the mat­ter of use. A Western elk hunter has a dif­fer­ent ex­pec­ta­tion of a pack than an East­ern white­tail hunter. We tested packs with those vari­a­tions in mind, leav­ing plenty of room for sub­jec­tiv­ity but also eval­u­at­ing the ob­jec­tive as­pects of each sub­mis­sion. We mea­sured the ca­pac­ity and weight of each pack and the range of ad­justa­bil­ity of straps and belts, and then awarded points for ver­sa­til­ity (abil­ity to haul a gun or a bow, meat, bulky coats, and smaller items like rangefind­ers and phones). We tested the strength of buck­les, straps, and seams. And then we tested the fab­ric in three dif­fer­ent ways: mea­sur­ing loud­ness with a dig­i­tal acous­tic me­ter, mois­ture re­sis­tance by run­ning each pack un­der a shower for 15 se­conds, and abra­sion re­sis­tance by drag­ging loaded packs along a gravel path. Sub­jec­tive as­sess­ments in­cluded de­sign, fea­tures, whether the pack met the pur­pose for which it was in­tended, the abil­ity to be ad­justed to com­fort­ably fit a wide range of body sizes, and value. The pack with the high­est score— the Kuiu Icon Pro 1850—won our Ed­i­tor’s Choice award. We didn’t award a Great Buy, con­clud­ing that no pack was a run­away bar­gain.

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