EXTREME HUNTER by Spika
It had been a long time since donning a backpack for a hunt; my habit of ‘travelling light’ has seen me for the last six years with just a five-pocket bum-bag and a subsequent sweatless back and shoulders free and fresh for drawing a bow. But a New Zealand hunting trip is on the cards this year. With a helicopter drop to the hut and day walks in the snow, the minimalistic approach just wouldn’t cut the mustard this July!
Enter the Spika ‘Extreme Hunter’ pack. Spika boasts the ultimate in comfort and durability in their gear, and this impending trip would certainly push myself and my gear to its limits. But first up, a test run up the ‘not-even-hills’ as the kiwis would call our mountains of the Sunshine Coast hinterland, and then a walk through the scrub in the searing heat of the western Queensland flat country.
The Extreme Hunter consists of 45 litres of carrying capacity, sufficient for a day, or even overnight hike for a light traveller. With 2.25kg weight as empty, there was plenty of weight allowance to load up with the important stuff. In the Aussie heat, this was predominantly water. (2 litres of the stuff in the hydration bladder, and a few extra bottles thrown in).
The padded shoulder straps were comfortable, with easy adjustment simply by pulling down on the tail straps. The reverse back padding with metal back support gave the pack structure, and allowed room for air flow through the back, without compromising capacity. Just as comfortable was the padded waist belt with a quick release buckle. I was relieved to find that the ‘Extreme Hunter’ also served well for the ‘Extreme Huntress’. The waist harness sat on the hips at the right height, with plenty of room for adjustment, even for a small framed or narrow waisted hunter. A pocket on each side of the waist strap was perfect for items that need to be reached quickly. For the bow hunter; a perfect rangefinder-sized compartment, for the rifle hunter; ammo or magazine storage. And of course a camera in the other!
The closest I would get to testing the waterproof quality of the pack was the litres of sweat dripping from my hair, but it was handy to know of the wet weather features of the pack, including waterproof zips and a blaze orange rain cover (although it would be a shame to cover up the nice looking Realtree camouflage print!
The most handy feature of the ‘Extreme Hunter’ was by far the firearm compatible pocket. The rifle slides into the pocket, is cradled by the buttstock holder, and secured by the adjustable Velcro tab. These zip away when not being used. The rifle felt surprisingly secure, so much so that I could not even feel that I was carrying it. The downside, I clumsily discovered when walking under low branches. Don’t forget to duck… you might have a rifle barrel protruding from your pack!