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HOW TO PURCHASE A HUNTING DAY PACK

Before you go out to the store to purchase a daypack for your hunting trips keep these observations in mind:

When you go to the store make sure you have the coat with you that you will be wearing with the pack. Too often we try on a pack in our warm weather shirt, like the fit and buy the pack, only to get to "opening day" and we are wearing our hunting coat. Now we find out that the pack webbing and/or shoulder straps are too small to go over the added thickness of our jacket.
Don't buy a daypack just for looks or price. Buy your daypack for your own trail needs. Think what you want and what you have to carry with you, where you will put your gear in the pack, how easy is it to open and close, how does it feel on, does it sit right on your lower back (not riding high up on your back), are you comfortable wearing this pack, etc. You are making an investment; will this pack be adequate for the next few years? It may be better to take the time, purchase a better pack now, and have the added benefits over the coming years.
Take some time in this process, as the pack you are trying on is not loaded, will it still perform when loaded? Stuff your coat or other available items into it and then try it on. Have someone apply some downward pressure to simulate a load. Make sure it feels right, you are going to spend a lot of time toting this through the woods.
Look at the total construction, does it have a good "hip belt"…. this is critically important as this is what bears most of the load weight. Does it fit comfortably and securely around you without sliding? Is it long and wide enough to secure down on your hips, not up on your waist? Are the buckle ends secured tightly? Can you make fast and easy adjustments?
Are the shoulder straps long enough and well padded? Do they have easy to get to releases so you can get in and out quickly and easily? Do they have adequate webbing to make tight adjustments? Are the shoulder straps contoured in shape to fit around your upper body area or are they just uncomfortable straight straps? Are they stitched down and into the packs back panel, so they will not pull out with a heavy load? Look and see where and how they attach, this is the most common problem with packs, shoulder straps not stitched properly tear out on the trail.
Do you need compression straps to steady your load? Are they on the pack and easy to use? Are they tight when closed?
If it is an extra large daypack does it have a "sternum strap"? This buckle assembly helps position the shoulder straps for comfort and steadies the pack when walking. It should buckle easily just below your collarbone, not down on your stomach.
Look carefully at the packs construction: Is the main material water repellant? Is it a quiet fabric? Is it durable enough to take the abuse of the field? Does the manufacturer off a guarantee? Does it have a "carry handle"? (You never want to carry or hang a pack by the shoulder straps.) Can you wash it?

If you invest a little time to do most of the above, you will most likely never encounter a problem with your daypack on the trail. Always remember to do a thorough inspection of the seams, adjustments, zippers and webbing on your pack before every trip.

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