Best Backpacks of 2021 – Stone Glacier



best hunter
By: Austin Miller

At Eagle Cap Outdoors we strive to provide unbiased opinions on gear and what truly works in the field for all hunting, hiking and whatever else you might find yourself using these products for. With that being said the team wanted to do a pack review. Packs can be very individualized and different for everyone. There are a lot of other people out there that do pack reviews, but we wanted to tailor this review specifically to the tall guys in the industry. As a tall guy myself, I feel like we get the short end of the stick most times because when companies are manufacturing items to sell, 80% of the clientele is considered average height. Nowadays companies are starting to catch on that there is a market for us taller folks and adjustability in the gear we love so much.

I’m 6’ 5” and about 215. Finding gear and packs can sometimes prove to be hard. There are a lot of companies that are taking this into consideration and it’s a breath of fresh air.  With the coming reviews we will be focusing on the packs suspension, frame construction, pack lay out, adjustability & functionality, and how well it carries a load.

PACKS:

Stone Glacier Sky Archer 6*

Kifaru Hoodlum

Mystery Ranch Marshall

Exo K3 6400

Kuiu Icon Pro 7200

Selecting the right pack can be a daunting task these days, with as many manufactures that are on the market to choose from. I’m 6’5” and have a pretty slender build at 215lbs. I have a hard time finding gear that works well with my height specifically when it comes to packs. I get asked a lot about packs and it was time I tested all the top brands on the market today. First up!

STONE GLACIER

Stone Glacier

Stone Glacier is a fairly new company that popped up somewhat recently. Lately I have been seeing their stuff all over! From packs to tents, hunting cloths, sleeping bags, etc….  They have been picking up traction in the hunting world and their packs caught my eye. They were kind enough to jump on board with the review we were putting together and sent a pack to be tested.

SKY ARCHER 6200ci with Xcurve frame – (I believe this exact model is discontinued) Updated model is Sky Archer 6400ci.

Right out of the box I liked how everything looked and felt. The fabric seemed very durable, zippers and construction of pack as a whole seemed well designed. I started by examining everything inside and out. With this pack you have one main pocket with a side zipper going top to bottom (quick and easy to get access.) Comes with a top shroud with one zipper across the front. Inside the main pocket you get a couple different mounting loops/webbing to run a hydration sack (sold separate for $24) and different storage bags you can tether together, also sold separate. Makes for a sleek and simple pack setup. Getting this pack set up the way I like it took about an hour, I adjusted shoulder straps, waist belt. All that was left was to load the rest of my gear. The pack I was using prior had a lot of internal pockets so I was used to everything having a home. With the Sky Archer being one big pocket I needed to put things into dry bags and stack everything inside the pack to keep it organized. When it came time to loading my spotting scope there wasn’t a good space for it (with the Sky Archer 6400ci, they have a built in sleeve for the spotter). I got on their website and ordered a spotting scope sleeve for $39. I run my sleeve just inside the main zipper with my tripod strapped on the outside of the bag. The spotter sleeve is sold separate and can be mounted to the outside of the bag, but I found it a lot easier to just put it in the pack. This pack is very versatile from stays in the backcountry or just day hunts from a basecamp. The pack weights in at 5lbs 4.48oz with medium frame, whatever the event this will cover you. With a basic overview of the pack, lets dive in to how it performed.

best backpack of 2021

First thing I noticed when getting the pack on was the waist belt had a hard time tightening. When you would pull on the cinch straps it would initially tighten, then fall back/loosen to where it started. The only way to get it tight would be suck in your stomach while tightening so there was no resistance. When trying to loosen the hip belt it wouldn’t loosen, I had to feed the straps back through the clasps. This was not something I was used to with other packs. Every other pack I have worn you could just pull out on the tensioning clasp and the belt would loosen up. The comfort of the hip belt felt okay at first, but after my first 12 miles my hips were rubbed raw. bruises I have put a lot of miles in with heavy packs and have never had this happen before. The waist belt didn’t wrap all the way around my hips like I would have liked. I think a different fabric on the inside of the waist belt would have performed a lot better. The suspension on this pack I did not like, it was not comfortable to me being as tall as I am. I loaded the pack with some weight (about 100lbs) to see how it would handle and went for a hike. The pack handled the weight no problem, but I couldn’t. The frame is constructed of carbon fiber, which allows for a weight rating of 150lbs; matched with the built in load shelf you have everything you need to get your game off the hill. The suspension on this pack was no doubt was the biggest issue for me. I’m not sure if my height/body type has something to do with this, but it was not what I had hoped for when using this pack. The bag and components were very well made. I like them and how they functioned in the field, sleek and simple. All fabric is cordura 500d and X-pac, making the bag perform exceptionally well, the pack itself isn’t waterproof and I would recommend getting a rain cover for those heavy storms. The back half of the bag wasn’t the same as the face fabric, they instead used plastic/water repellent fabric on back of the bag and this was continued on the meat shelf for when you are packing meat out. I thought this was an awesome feature, makes for a really easy clean up! Stone Glacier offers a lifetime warranty on all their products, rest assured you wont have to worry if something happens to go wrong.

Best Backpack

Chris, another member of our Eagle Cap Outdoors team, had the chance to wear this pack for a 5 day Oregon deer hunt. He’s about the same size and body shape just a touch shorter standing about 6ft. I was able to review with him what he had thought of the pack after his trip. I hadn’t told him my thoughts before he used it and when he came back he shared the same likes/dislikes as I mentioned above and was unfortunately left with the same raw hips as I was.

All in all, if they could redesign the suspension on these packs I think they would have a solid product that everyone of any size would love to wear (stone Glacier does offer two more styles of frames that could be the ticket, but I was not able to test them this go around – The Krux EVO, R3 frame). For me personally, it didn’t fit very well and is not a pack that I would highly recommend. I definitely couldn’t see myself taking this on a backcountry hunt purely from a comfort standpoint.

You can find a great deal on the Stone Glacier at BlackOvis:  SKY ARCHER 6400 with Xcurve frame

Stay tuned for other pack reviews…

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