When a top outdoor gear manufacturer partners with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to develop the ultimate pack systems, elk hunters have reason to celebrate.
by Mike Disario for HuntDaily
One thing we have learned through years of evaluating hunting equipment is that purpose-built gear developed and field-tested by fellow hunters who truly know their game always stand tallest among the competition. That’s because too many products are conceived with a general idea and a CAD program rather than the mud-and-muscle lessons first learned in the field. Little wonder we were excited to learn earlier this year that ALPS OutdoorZ entered into a corporate partnership with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
Over the last several years, ALPS Brands founder and president Dennis Brune and his team have been knocking out some exceptional packs designed specifically for extreme hunting applications. We’ve tested some of these models and they’ve all scored aces in our book. Ditto for the company’s recent line of NWTF-branded turkey gear (another conservation organization near and dear to the hearts of the ALPS crew).
The new RMEF Gear by ALPS OutdoorZ carries on the tradition of a top-flight company working closely with the experts from top-flight conservation organizations to design, field test, and deliver to passionate hunters a range of products intended to meet the needs and specifications of their particular hunting requirements. In the case of the new RMEF Gear, these products focus on the special needs of elk hunters—specifically, the kind of “day hunt” gear that hunters and professional guides want when working from a permanent or spike camp setup. (For the backcountry wilderness hunter, ALPS OutdoorZ makes a full line of extreme-level backpacks and pack frames.)
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When you a want a fanny pack today but a daypack is what you’ll need tomorrow, the all-in-one answer is the Switchback X.
The Switchback X is a harness-style fanny pack with a robust 800 cu/in capacity that allows you to carry a heavier load than most fanny packs without placing undue strain on your hips. This is perfect for those fair-weather day hunts when lightweight maneuverability is the key and only the essentials are required to take into the field. The fully padded and adjustable shoulder straps and waist belt allow the Switchback X to fit any body style and adjust according to the clothing you wear.
Now here’s the cool part. The fanny pack “lid” converts to a spacious 1900 cu/in daypack. We’ve all had those morning that start with ice in the coffee pot but by mid-day we’re boiling in the high-altitude sunshine. With the Switchback X, the convertible daypack offers a place to stow your warm-weather gear. No more tying jackets around your waist that can snag brush or cause noise when moving through the timber. Of course, if you need a little extra storage space to begin the day, the daypack stands ready.
For the ultimate day-hunting rig, the Switchback X tops the charts.
Ridge Stalker X
Binos are essential when hunting in elk country, and when you’re working in close timber, they need to be readily accessible. They also need to be protected from the elements and carried so that they won’t hang up as you work your way through brushy country.
These are the solutions the new Ridge Stalker X bino harness delivers. Featuring a padded back panel and fully adjustable straps, the Ridge Stalker X is built to keep your binos close and secure to your chest over a full range of body motions. The ballistic fabric case is fleece-lined to protect uncovered lenses (negating the need for awkward and time-robbing lens caps).
Aside from the easy-carry design and security, the other feature we like about the Ridge Stalker X are the quick-release buckles on the lower back straps. These not only allow you to easily remove the harness, but it makes putting it on over heavy clothing a cinch. Contorting to get into a bino harness is a thing of the past.
You’re not always hunting while cruising through elk country. Professional guides, for example, spend considerable time in the field during the pre-season, scouting the best territory for their clients. This is often optic-heavy work, requiring spotting scopes, binos, and even DSLR cameras or video cameras. Then there are folks who simply enjoy seeing and documenting elk and other wildlife during the off-season.
For these elk country specialties, ALPS OutdoorZ and the RMEF developed the Raptor X. This is an optic-oriented pack built with the same rugged nylon ballistic fabric as the other packs seen here. It comes with a large bottom compartment with divider panels for stowing camera bodies and lenses or prosumer-level video cameras. The upper compartment is perfect for holding your day-tripping gear and accessories. There’s even a zippered back panel compartment large enough to accommodate most laptops. A side storage pocket is the perfect place for your spotting scope or tripod, which can be secured in place with two compression straps.
Unless you’re fortunate enough to live in or close to elk country, elk hunting usually requires cross-country travel. Here is where the new Journey X hits the mark. The Journey X is a purpose-built luggage solution for those travelling to western big-game destinations via road or air. Made of a 1680D nylon ballistic outer shell fabric and including roller wheels, a retractable handle, luggage skids, and four grab handles, consider this an “airline survival” pack.
The Journey X offers a healthy 4900 cu/in capacity, and comes with two front zippered pockets for storing must-haves. Inside the nylon-lined compartment is a zippered panel that’s great for keeping your “go-to-town” clothes separated from your hunting duds, and there’s a zippered pouch attached to the front panel to hold essential toiletries.
In sum, the Journey X is the kind of luggage piece every travelling hunter can appreciate.
It’s tough to beat a stout, lockable case for transporting your rifle, but hard cases are usually big, bulky, and if you’re heading into the backcountry by horse, they are a no-go. Even when heading out in the morning from camp to your hunting area in a truck, a hard case can be an awkward space-robber. For these reasons, soft-sided gun cases are still part of the big game hunter’s repertoire.
For soft-case protection, you’ll be hard-pressed to anything better than the RMEF-branded Defender and Huntsman cases. These combine both open- and closed-cell foam paneling for maximum impact absorbency while the polyester lining provides essential wear-resistance. Each case includes a side zipper pocket with two internal zippered mesh pockets. These are great for stowing ammo, a lens cleaning kit, or a cleaning rag and small bottle of CLP.
The Defender is sized for longer rifles, with its 50×11-inch dimensions. The Huntsman measures 48×9.5 inches. One of the unique features we like about the Defender is that it has molded foam sections that encase your scope for added protection and to help keep your rifle positioned in the case.
When experienced hunting and wildlife enthusiasts combine their professional talents with their passions, good things are sure to happen. That’s certainly our perspective on the ALPS OutdoorZ new RMEF Gear. In this case, not only do serious elk hunters benefit from equipment that will help them in the field, they get to support the sport they love. As ALPS Product Manager Zach Scheidegger put it, “We were excited to take on the challenge of designing a line of gear worthy of the RMEF name. Knowing that part of the proceeds benefit RMEF made us strive to make these products the best they could possibly be.”
article copyright © 2017 by HuntDaily.com; promoted by ALPS OutdoorZ