4 CHARACTERISTICS OF THE PERFECT DAY PACK

By Joe Arterburn

Fill in the blank. A day pack should comfortably carry everything you might need while hunting for a _________.

The correct answer is “day” but on second thought we would accept “deer,” “elk,” “antelope,” and so forth.

And to carry everything you might need while hunting for a day, you need a pack that ___________.

The correct answer is “has 20 to 35 liters of capacity,” but we would have accepted “is big enough but not too big or too small.”

Curious about what a good hunting day pack should be, I asked the experts at Nexgen Outfitters (nexgenof.com), an online specialty retailer of outdoor gear, who designed their Whitetail Caddy Pack, the first of what promises to be a long line of Nexgen products.

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And when I say “experts” I mean plural. Five of them banded together to field my questions like they designed the Whitetail Caddy, as a team.

A good hunting day pack, they said, should have:

·       Versatility—For hunting a variety of species in a variety of styles, including treestand, blind, and spot-and-stalk

·       Organization—To keep specialized gear handy and easily accessible so you’re not digging through the pack

·       Durable but quiet construction—Made of water- and bur-resistant fabric that won’t rustle, hardware that won’t squeak, and camouflage patterns that blend in and not give you away

·       Comfort—Padded shoulder straps and back panel so you can comfortably carry gear to and from your hunting area, and if you’re a spot-and-stalker, carry it all day

These guys are whitetail fanatics, therefore the Whitetail Caddy name, but they are quick to point out it has versatility for all types of hunting and has proven itself on hunts for turkey, mule deer, antelope, waterfowl, hogs, bear, and predators. “The number one thing is versatility,” they said. “You can see every one of the things we designed will handle multiple species, multiple styles of hunting.”

Pockets are everywhere, inside and out, lending themselves to gear galore: smaller gear in internal pockets, larger gear like spotting scopes and tripods in large side pockets or strapped in with compression straps. Again, they’re whitetail nuts, but when they took the pack turkey hunting they simply used the pockets for slate calls, box calls, decoy stakes. “It’s a super-versatile pack,” they said.

Two things make the Whitetail Caddy unique. First it’s designed not only to carry your gear, but once you get to your location it becomes a self-standing gear caddy, not one of those packs that tip over the second you set it down. Or you can conveniently hang it from the carry/hanging strap. It’s designed to be zipped open and left open on stand or in your blind, allowing easy access to gear in interior pockets.

The second unique difference-maker, as they say, is that the zippered lid serves as a shelf to keep most needed gear close at hand. Great place to set your rangefinder, cell phone, sandwich, rattling antlers, grunt tube, you name it.

Attention to detail shows this pack was designed by guys who hunt, such as camouflaged interior panels, so when the fold-down access pocket is open, there’s no glaring fabric to give you away, and compression straps with unique two-way swivels so you can attach gear across the front or both sides of the pack. It’s also designed to accommodate a hydration bladder.

The Whitetail Caddy, which has just over a 30-liter capacity, comes in Realtree EDGE or Timber camouflage. It is the only pack available in Timber, they said.

Terrence Gordon