There are times when a frame pack is too big and unwieldy, and a fanny pack isn’t appropriate (when is it not, really?). Times when I want to wear both a backpack and my binocular harness without the risk of strangulation. The Scout backpack from Alaska Guide Creations fills that niche. The backpack’s innovative design allows you to create a sort of harness attaching your binocular pouch directly to the front shoulder straps for a single hunting or scouting rig.
- 1400 cubic inches (~23 liters) of storage
- Ambidextrous hose routing hole for included 3L bladder
- Separate internal hydration bladder pouch
- 3L Bladder with insulated drinking hose and bite valve protector
- Drop down pouch allows carrying a rifle, shotgun, or bow with included straps
- Dual mesh outer pouches for water bottle or accessories
- Empty Weight: 2 lbs 13 oz.
- Empty Dimensions: 22″ tall x 12.5″ wide x 5″ deep
- Made in the USA
The pack is available in six color ways including: Coyote Brown, Ranger Green, Foliage, Kryptek Highlander, Mossy Oak Break Up Country, and Multicam.
MSRP on the pack is $165.
I use the Scout backpack during spring scouting, shed hunting, and turkey hunting outings. I find that with the 3L bladder mostly full I can get away with a layer or two, snacks, and some other equipment like a GoPro and GPS handset fit in the backpack just fine. During turkey season it gets a workout as I pack it to the gills with everything I’m not wearing, and my HS Strut Strut-Lite hen decoy.
If you’d like to be hands free in the woods, the small outer pouch folds down entirely and the velcro pocket serves as a sort of holster. You can use this for the butt of your shotgun or rifle or the cam of your bow. Nylon webbing straps from the bag are unhooked and come back around on themselves to secure your weapon to the bag.
The included 3L bladder is a nice touch and thoughtfully designed. The top is a screw top design rather than a fold over and capture design making it easier to fill from the faucet. The drinking hose comes pre-insulated which helps on cold weather mornings of turkey season in the mountains. There’s also a bite valve protector on the hose which serves as a sort of clamshell protector. It keeps gunk from getting on to the bite valve keeping it nice and clean. Additionally a shut off valve integrated into the hose ensures that water doesn’t dribble all over your shirt as you hike. It was a pleasant surprise as many companies throw in cheap bulk hydration bladders as an after thought. The folks at Alaska Guide Creations really took feedback of hydration bladder niceties into mind here.
The straps for the backpack itself are very thinly padded. Putting too much weight in the pack itself will be evident immediately as the straps start to bunch and cut into you a little bit. If you’re like me and sweat a fair bit, you might also have the problem of the mesh backing used on the backpack and straps get fairly soaked. If you adjust the straps out a little there’s airflow between your back and the bag. However, then you’re not properly wearing your pack. It’s a delicate balance between comfort carrying a load, and overheating.
Another design cue I somewhat question is the ability to carry your weapon on the pack. To be clear I love this feature when I can find it in a pack. I’ve got something similar on my Outdoorsman’s Long Range Optics bag and it’s pretty much the bee’s knees. However on this pack, in an effort to save space the holster is integrated into the outer storage compartment. In order to utilize that, it’s a trade off. You must completely sacrifice the use of the small storage compartment as you need to entirely unzip it and fold it down. In my case, there goes all my snacks and handwarmers.
Another gripe I had was a small one. I wrote the company some time ago as I had their binocular harness in FirstLite Fusion camo, asking if the backpack was going to be offered skinned similarly. Unfortunately they had no plans to offer the pack in FirstLite Fusion. At the time they only offered four colors, now they offer seven. Okay, that’s a lot of choice.
I’ve got a lot of backpacks in my gear room, or so my wife tells me. I think the Scout backpack from Alaska Guide Creations fills a niche for my early season scouting and high mountain hiking adventures. Ever since wearing a bino harness while hiking and hunting it’s unlikely I’ll go back anytime soon. The Scout allows me to clip in my harness without a spiderweb of straps over my body. However, it’s only a fair backpack. There’s room for improvement, and I’d love to see a 2.0 version with a proper hip belt and shoulder straps. These feel like they were trying to reuse the same designs from the AGC Classic Bino Harness we all love so much. Don’t. Please don’t. The amount of weight that goes on your back is generally much more than the little marsupial pouch I use to carry my 12 powers.
However, the Scout strikes a good balance between a scouting backpack used for day hikes and one that makes use of specialty equipment like a binocular harness. Any more changes and you’d sacrifice the light weight that they achieved. I’d recommend this pack if you already have another AGC product as it works very well with their binocular harnesses. It works in a way that’s hard to achieve with just another backpack. This is your spring glassing and scouting platform.