Guide Model Fanny Pack
By: Ian McMurchy
I am intrigued with the fact that the military has used web-gear for decades. Only recently has this style of pack become widely available for hunters. I used the Guide Model Fanny Pack on several recent hunts and I can honestly say that it is a winner. Cabela's did a great job of designing a practical piece of gear for the hunter who likes to hike and carry a significant amount of gear comfortably.
This pack is big enough to tote a decent load plus it is very simple to put on and take-off. The act of removing or putting on a pack sounds simple. The fact is that in the field, when we are in a hurry, some packs designs are not user-friendly. This results in wasted time and frustration. I find the Cabela's Guide Model fanny pack to be all about simple and fast to put on - no time wasted at all.
This pack is beautifully made. The stitching throughout is very strong and I did not encounter any flaws or weak-spots. The snaps and buckles on the pack are easy to locate and adjust and they are adequate for any load.
I particularly like the CT 450 Plus material that Cabela's chose for this fanny pack. This cloth is very quiet and tough. CT 450 is also amazingly easy to clean up when you get mud, blood or other messy stuff on it.
I chose my favorite camo, Cabela's own Seclusion 3D Outfitter to match my Microtex hunting clothes. I have hunted from Alaska to Texas wearing Seclusion 3D Outfitter with excellent results. Cabela's really did their homework when they designed that pattern. They also offer Seclusion 3D, Mossy Oak Break-up and Advantage Timber patterns for hunting in heavier cover.
The pack has a large top compartment and a zippered divider, which separates an even larger bottom compartment. If you need a lot of space for bulkier objects the divider can be zipped out of the way so that one big compartment is useable. There is a small pocket, in the inside of the top compartment, for holding easily lost items such as keys or money. Small pockets like this one are invaluable for ensuring small items do not disappear during a hunt. This pocket is also ideal for keeping a spare battery for your laser rangefinder or camera.
I particularly liked the three stout outer straps on the top of the pack. I used them continually for tying down my spotting scope tripod and also an extra vest or jacket. Although I am not sure if they are intended to use as handles I found these top straps to be ideal for picking up the pack and carrying it short distances.
I carried my super compact MT050 Rainwear in the top compartment, figuring that I might need it at any time. There was also room for my digital camera, GPS and a spare bottle of water, as well as my Cabela's Camoskinz shooting gloves and a few rounds of ammo.
The big outside zippers make getting into the compartments quick and easy. The pack features a length of sturdy but flexible rod sewn into the top-flap that ensures a semi-circular shape to the lid and helps hold the flap open.
In the bottom compartment, I carried everything except the kitchen sink. This includes my first-aid and survival kits, a Cabela's Extreme LED flashlight, an Alaskan Outfitter All-Weather Lighter, a Cabela's Instant Bug suit, Bug-proof Cap and Head net, knives, rope, spare ammo, Stoney Point shooting sticks and some zip-lock bags of trail mix and dried fruit. Entry into the lower storage area is through a large oval front flap that allows easy access to gear.
On the outside of the pack, Cabela's thoughtfully placed a water-bottle holder and water bottle that was a blessing during our long days in the field. On the opposite side, a large padded accessory pocket holds more essentials - such as extra gloves, ammo or your GPS, cell phone or radio. The front portions of the shoulder straps have handy Buddy-Lok attachments for custom fitting small holders, available separately from Cabela's.
I found the Cabela's Guide Model fanny pack to be very comfortable during hikes and also when sitting in the small skiff that we used to get to ambush locations during a bear hunt. Despite the amount of gear I toted, the pack rode evenly on my hips and the shoulder straps fitted perfectly so the pack did not shift around. The straps are large enough to ensure that they do not bite into your shoulders.
I found that when I sat down with the pack on my back, I could still recline comfortably, and the pack supported my back nicely. As long as nothing is getting crushed, the pack makes an excellent back support when the user is sitting on the ground.
This is a hunting pack. It is comfortable and carries a surprising amount of gear - over 1300 cubic inches of space. During the hunt I regularly laid the pack on large rocks and used it for a possible shooting rest. The pack adapts to any shaped rock and I found that my rifle rested very securely on top of the pack. Naturally, I popped the top straps open so that the rifle did not rub on the snaps. The pack works so well as a prone rest that I used it for some very long shots on mule deer.
How tough is this pack? After killing my ten-foot plus Alaskan brown bear we moved him into position for a photo shoot. I used the Cabela's pack to hold his huge head into a natural position. The pack was perfect for this job, and it never collapsed or moved during the entire shoot. I have no idea how much weight was involved - his huge head dwarfed the pack but it held up fine.
I have found that the Cabela's Guide model fanny pack works as well on a deer hunt at a friend's farm near my home as it did for my Alaskan adventure. This is a "huntin'-pack" more than a backpack!