Slumberjack is not a name that is synonymous with people new to backpacking. In fact, mentioned Slumberjack to your friends and they may look at you with a question mark face. The truth is, Slumberjack (SJK) has been around for over 50 years producing top quality products for outdoors men and women. Every product they have is spot on in manufacturing, quality and craftsmanship.
For nearly 6 months I have been using and abusing their Hone backpack. It’s a 3lb 4oz pack that can carry a rifle or bow in addition to its’ 2088 cu in storage space. Capable of accommodating a hydration bladder and even containing an integrated rifle rest for improved accuracy, the Hone is an ultimate camping and hunting pack.
The amount of space inside this backpack is extraordinary. With the compression panel a small or large amount of gear can easily be taken from one spot to the next. Small internal items all the way to large blankets are seamlessly held. With the aluminum frame sheet, it’s all carried comfortably just above or on the hips. Even the integrated hip belt contains two storage pockets of remarkable size.
I took this backpack with me on every camping trip over the last 4-5 months. For a 5-day trip I could carry all necessary items, including food. My scout-type rifle fit comfortably into the weapon retention system and the hip belt held all the necessary ammo and cleaning kits. Even my foldable bow saw was able to be carried between the compression system.
I did not carry a sleeping back for the majority of the trip as it was a bit too bulky and it was a very mild winter. However, a wool blanket accompanies me everywhere. I use it not only as a sleeping accoutrement but as a jacket during the colder months. It is one of the most invaluable of my tools.
During February the Appalachian trail was calling my name. With a tarp stowed away next to my cooking kit, I took off into the woods with only my belt kit and all the supplies I would need in the SJK Hone. The first week of my trip I took the SJK Big Timer Pro Sleeping bag and enough food for 7 days. The second week of this trip would just be the backpack and whatever food I saved or hunted for. It was a trip worth making to improve skills.
I took out into the woods with everything packed. The sleeping bag attached to the bottom was not small enough to really strap close to the backpack. Retention straps would still weave into the sleeping bag’s own compression straps. With the weight of the gun, ammunition, food, clothing and all kit contents, it was at about 30% on my body weight to start. There were a few redundant tools like a collapsible bow saw, foldable saw, and hatchet. So, I knew when I met up with the group at the second leg of the trip I would need to unload a bit.
The Climb Out
Comfort is a key to long trips while using a backpack. The right placement and fit are essential and the Hone delivers on both. With the hip straps it stays perfectly secure with easy access to the two pockets. The chest strap also is able to cinch the shoulder straps closer together.
Every movement the pack stayed close to the body and perfectly in place. While the lower end of the pack was filled with 19lbs of goods there was no protrusions poking into the back thanks to the aluminum backplate. The only annoying thing was the loose moving backpack near the bottom bumping into the back of my knees.
My travelling buddies said I was easily lost in the woods with the Kryptek camouflage. This trip fell at the end of winter and beginning of spring; one of the most difficult times to find proper camouflage. The color was perfect for this ‘in between’ season. Both the brown and white colors blended well, however, the lack of foliage green was the only reason I was spotted while moving.
Camping down for some time meant that unpacking was necessary, and a breeze. Even though there are a lot of pockets it’s not overwhelming with small containers and separations. The main compartment is just that, a main compartment. While one of the compression pockets does have multiple areas to store goods it’s clear cut, organized, and not overwhelming. The secondary compression pocket made for a perfect glove or shemagh storage. In between is a recess that makes a rifle rest. Unpacking was fast and simple, only a few zippers and proper packing management. All of my travel companions were amazed at the amount of storage possible, and it wasn’t even full.
Weight and comfort was an important factor in the second half of the journey. We met with a few other friends who preferred the comfort of a room on wheels than the natural beauty. I left them with the SJK Big Timber Pro sleeping back and excess tools in order to set off on my own. With only 10lbs of gear, 7lbs of rifle, and an extra 3lbs from the Hone itself the second half of the trip was well underway and only consisted of hiking and tarp camping.
With the excess weight removed camping and travelling was made extremely comfortable. I quickly noticed how effective the self-canting shoulder straps are. The two loops would make it convenient for radios if needed. On a solo trip, it was pointless to carry a radio. A little more weight would still have been comfortably held by the straps.
After a few nights it became clear that when hunger hit the precision of packing went out the window. Stuffing it all into one or two compartments was easier than making it perfectly balanced in the pack, and to be honest the Hone fluffed out comfortably. Using the compression straps was more than enough for keeping things in place. It also was a benefit for the integrated rifle rest. While nothing was hunted, it was commonly used to sight out the path from a higher altitude.
At $160 it’s a moderately price option for the quality, dimensions, and options integrated into the pack. Finding a comparable pack brought the price up significantly. With the addition of multiple camouflage patterns there’s a perfect design for everyone’s needs. Comfort seems to come first and design is a close second.
In my opinion, this pack is perfect for a medium game hunter who has a decent amount to carry back. With enough internal room and compression section, trophies will not be left in the woods. It will be a little difficult to carry both a rifle and a trophy since they utilize the same compression straps, but not impossible.
For the price, there is no way someone could pass up an opportunity to try this outstanding pack.
Link to the SlumberJack Hone