Stone Glacier Backpack Review - Backcountry packs out of Bozeman, Montana
When it comes to backpacks, I prefer a very simplistic bag design. In other words, I don’t want a pack that has two dozen pockets for organization. Not only does this mean extra weight, I simply don’t need that many pockets. Instead, I prefer to utilize lightweight stuff sacks to organize my gear in my pack. This means less weight and I can adjust the number of stuff sacks as needed based on the gear I will be packing.
I have used numerous packs made by multiple manufacturers over the years but most of them were simply too heavy and came with more pockets than I could ever possibly need. Recently, I decided to go with packs made by Stone Glacier out of Bozeman, Montana. Their packs are designed with the lightweight backcountry hunter in mind. Kurt Racicot, who founded Stone Glacier and has been designing packs for over 15 years, is a backpack hunter himself, and understands the importance of designing packs that have the perfect compromise between weight and comfort.
About Stone Glacier Backpacks:
First and foremost, Stone Glacier packs are 100% made in the USA. At the heart of every Stone Glacier pack is the Krux frame. The Krux comes complete with the frame, waist belt (1-piece or 3-piece), shoulder straps and built-in load shelf. The Krux suspension has a carbon/composite, four stay design that transfers loads very well to the hip belt. It also utilizes a hook and loop system that allows the user to adjust the shoulder harness to the exact height needed.
Once you have the Krux frame, you can pick and choose from the variety of interchangeable bags Stone Glacier offers depending on the capacity needed for your trip. Their bags range from as small as 1700 ci all the way up to 7400 ci. These capacities can also be adjusted up or down based on using the packs in bivy mode (removing parts of pack) or by adding additional pockets for storage. All the bags are constructed of Cordura 500 and X-pac fabrics and 1” webbing and military grade buckles. In other words, they are lightweight packs that do not use lightweight materials.
Although Stone Glacier offers many options, when it comes to extended archery trips, my favorite pack is the Sky Archer 6200. At full capacity it is a 6200 ci pack and has a built-in load shelf for hauling meat. In using the load shelf to haul meat, Stone Glacier offers a 2500 ci Load Cell Dry Bag which is made to fit the shelf perfectly. If you don’t have the load cell, you can simply use a good quality game bag in its place.
Attaching your Bow to the Sky Archer:
My Mathews NoCam bow straps nicely to the pack by using the two large straps located on the front of the pack. With fletchings facing up, I run the upper strap across the bow grip and the lower across the riser near the bow sight. For added measures, I run one of the small straps on the bottom of the pack through the riser. This really isn’t needed but I like my bow to be as secure as possible. The pack also has a long side zipper which offers access to the contents of the pack without having to remove the bow.
Considering I like to strap certain items to the side of my pack, I love the fact that the Sky Archer 6200 has two small side pockets on the bottom of the pack. In conjunction with the side compression straps, these pockets make attaching items to the side very easy. I attach my extra arrows and tent pole on the left side, and my tripod to the right. Having the tripod strapped to the outside not only frees up room inside the pack, but it also offers fast access.
Versatility - Bivy Mode:
Once I reach my backcountry destination and have camp setup, I obviously don’t need the full 6200 ci capacity of the pack while hunting each day; therefore, I choose to convert the pack to bivy mode. This can be done very quickly and not only reduces the capacity of the pack to 4000 ci, but also reduces the weight of the pack. Simply undo the two straps attaching the pack lid and remove the lid. Attach the two straps on the integrated storm flap system in its place and you are good to go.
Stone Glacier offers many accessories for their packs but I really like two in particular: the Swing-Out Pocket and the Hip Pocket. Once I have my pack in bivy mode, I like to use one of the lightweight Swing-Out Pockets to secure small items. The pocket only weighs a little over one ounce and is attached to the inside of the pack via a small strap. The pocket can be accessed very quickly through the long side zipper and is great to store my release, rangefinder, tag, etc in this pocket. I use one Hip Pocket on the right side of my belt to store my camera, cell phone and headlamp.
If I had to choose one word to describe Stone Glacier packs it would be versatile. The amount of available options is incredible when you look at the line of bags they offer, the ability to adjust the capacity of the bags, as well as the available accessories. After using the Stone Glacier Sky Archer 6200 on a recent backcountry archery hunt, I would also have to use one other word to describe Stone Glacier packs….comfortable.
If you are in the market for a new pack, do yourself a favor and look at the Stone Glacier packs prior to purchasing. The Krux frame is one of the best frames I have used and the versatility of these packs is hard to beat.
For more information on the full lineup from Stone Glacier, visit www.stoneglacier.com