I almost didn’t write this review. This was because the Team Elk pack I picked up from Eberlestock during an amazing 4th of July sale has been discontinued and replaced by the new Team Elk pack. So I guess in a way, I felt like I was a day late and a dollar short. Or just a day late. Whatever. It doesn’t matter. I decided to go ahead with the review anyway since I think sharing my reasons for picking this pack and my opinion on its features may be helpful to folks out there who are in the market for a hunting pack.
As some of y’all know, I’ve been using a Eberlestock Skycrane II as my hunting pack for several years and that pack has served me well. However, as I mentioned in that review, it’s a behemoth that I normally break it down into its smaller components and only take the smaller G1 Little Brother pack from camp to the hunting blind. While it certainly has worked well for me, it’s not perfect. One reason is that when it’s all together it’s a really big and heavy pack and as I’ve gotten older it’s gotten to be too much so I rarely combine the components. It’s essentially two packs with the J79 base frame functioning as a camp pack and the G1 Little Brother as the hunting pack. The G1 Little Brother works fine, but it isn’t a load bearing pack and probably wouldn’t provide any utility to help pack out field harvested game. As a result, I’ve been passively waiting for a good deal on a pack that can provide packout utility to replace the G1 Little Brother with.
That’s where the Team Elk pack came in. Eberlestock had it on sale during their 2023 4th of July sale where I was able to pick it up and shipped for about half price. Too good of a deal in my book to pass up.
While the Team Elk pack isn’t the behemoth that the Skycrane II is, it is still a large pack. If memory serves me correctly, it’s a 36L pack which is plenty big to work an overnight pack.
Starting from the top pack we have the lid compartment which is plenty spacious and secured via zipper. I like to place items that I may need frequent or relatively quick access to here while heading to, sitting in, or returning from the hunting blind. In other words, this is where I put easy access essentials which includes things like small snacks, a compass, a power bank, a head lamp, work gloves, moist towelettes, or a lens cleaning cloth. During cold weather, I’ll stuff puffy gloves, a beanie, and hand warmers in here. As I mentioned, there is plenty of room here, but there isn’t a lot of organization.
The top of the lid has plenty of MOLLE webbing and the front of the lid has a small zippered compartment that could be used to store sunglasses in a protective sleeve since the compartment doesn’t include soft protective lining. I found that it’s just the right size to stuff the Leupold LTO Tracker into. It might also be a good spot to stuff a rifle silencer which should fit depending on its size.
Behind the lid, the pack includes a built in rifle scabbard. It’s a long flat compartment that can also be used to stuff other less frequently accessed items when used as a rifle scabbard. In my case, I will be using it as a scabbard for the good ole Fierce Arms Fury LR 6.5 Creedmoor bolt action deer rifle I’ve come to rely on.
Unbuckling the lid and flipping it up exposed the cord secured top access to the primary compartment of the Team Elk pack. The main compartment also has a large U-shaped zippered front access panel. The combination of the two access points which are very large openings make it easy to stuff and organize the pack as well as access and retrieve items from it. The compartment includes four internal sleeves d in addition to another sleeve and a mesh pocket on the inside of the front access panel which work for organization and retaining items that one doesn’t want shifting around.
Since access to the main compartment requires unbuckling straps to fully open either access point, I like to store less frequently used items in here starting with the “oh crap that wasn’t part of the plan” items at the bottom such as emergency calories, water collection and filtering items, a survival blanket, signaling, fire starting items, and equipment repair items. The next layer of items includes less frequently used items such as a boo boo kit and the kill kit. The top layer is made of additional layers of clothing and memory foam pad for those long hours sitting on an old uncomfortable chair.
The outside of the front access panel provides another deep sleeve in which I normally place a notebook case where I stuff a notebook, writing utensils, and the hunting license (and tags). I also keep a weatherproof paper map of the area in the sleeve just in case I end up having to rely on land navigation to find my way around or out of the area.
On either side of the main compartment one will find a large side compartment with zippered access. These side compartments are large enough to fit large hydration bladders. Unsurprisingly, each side compartment has a hydration bladder hanger and tube access. The side compartments can also be used to securely store larger equipment such as spotting scopes. The outside of each compartment also has MOLLE webbing. At this point in time, I use one of the side compartments for a hydration bladder and the other to hold the hunting knife when it’s not strapped to my belt.
On the outside of each side compartment is a small external sleeve that can be cinched tight with the included cord. The size of the pockets is ideal for a water bottle or another container such as a Grayl UltraPress.
At the bottom of the pack is a bow bucket which can be used in conjunction with the vertical strap on the lid to secure a bow to the pack. Alternatively, the bow bucket functions as another small zippered container that I use to keep a spare rifle magazine or extra ammunition.
The load bearing utility of this pack is possible thanks to the Intex aluminum frame and comes into play with the external straps found on the pack. When the straps are loosened, the bow bucket folds down to form a shelf that serves as support for external items strapped to the pack using the included straps. The idea is that one can use this shelf and straps to secure and haul out field dressed harvested animals in game bags.
It should come as no surprise, given this is a load bearing pack, that the Team Elk pack comes equipped with a padded hip belt. The hip belt, like the lid and the side compartments, is outfitted with MOLLE webbing to which I have attached a Leatherman Surge and a trauma kit. Above the hip belt is the fully adjustable shoulder harness which has oodles of padding to provide comfort and lumbar support while being placed in such a way to promote airflow. Having rucked a fair bit with this pack in preparation for the upcoming season, I can say that it is among the most comfortable packs I’ve used and what I’ve come to expect from Eberlestock’s load bearing packs.
I suspect this pack will serve me very well this hunting season and for many seasons to follow. While this version of the pack is discontinued, I’m so impressed with it that I would wager that the new version is likely to be an outstanding hunting pack as well. Certainly one that I would entertain picking up if I was in the market for one and the budget allowed for it as it’s not an inexpensive pack. Due to its price, I will limit my suggestions to folks who are already avid hunters who are looking to invest in a quality hunting pack.