First Look Review – The Exo Mountain Gear 3500 Hunting Backpack

In this video I walk through my new elk hunting pack, The Exo Mountain Gear 3500, and talk about the overall layout, features, and design of the pack.  To show you how much the gear the 3500 can handle (and why that number is somewhat deceiving), I have the pack loaded with almost everything that I take on a weeklong backcountry hunt.  This is an informal, rambling review, so feel free to skip around…

I will be sure to follow-up with a full review after this hunting season.  If you have any questions about the pack, please let me know in the comments below.

And for more videos of this pack, including a look at how the frame handles a 250lb load, be sure to check out Exo Mountain Gear’s Vimeo channel.

Quick Specs of the Exo Mountain Gear 3500

  • Weight: 76 ounces (Skeleton Frame and 3500 Bag)
  • Capacity: 3500ci for main bag and lid; total capacity 4500-5000ci
  • Materials: 500d Codura with X-Pac waterproof lining
  • Organization: 7 pockets total; reverse-open lid, external stretch pocket/panel, full-length side pockets, 18″ side-zip access to main bag, daisy chain webbing
  • Frame: 25″ height, Titanium
  • Harness: Micro-adjust torso length 16-21″; size-specific waist belt (S, M, L); adjustable lumbar pad; numerous compression and load stabilization straps
Exo Mountain Gear Pack Modes Exo Mountain Gear Frame Design

Here are links to some of the other resources that I mention in the video:

New for Field & Stream: “Pitch Tents, Punch Tags”

I have been published in Field & Stream.  I still can’t believe it, but it showed up in my mailbox, so it must be true!

The article, “Pitch Tents, Punch Tags”, is about camping strategies for hunting elk during archery season and features some great advice from Steve Speck.  Be sure to check it out in the September 2014 issue.

Article Preview

I have to say thank you to the editorial crew at F&S for giving me this opportunity and teaching me so much along the way.  And this would have never happened without the supporters of this blog that inspire me to keep writing – so THANK YOU!


My 2014 Elk Hunting Gear List

In just a few short weeks I’ll be headed West, toward the Colorado backcountry.  This “style” of this year’s will hunt will be much like I planned last year – we are going to backpack into the wilderness with a week’s worth of gear, and have no intentions of leaving the backcountry unless we are loaded down with elk meat.  We will establish a “backcountry basecamp”, but will move to a different area of the wilderness if needed.

Gear selection is obviously critical for this type of hunt, and I get a ton of questions about what I bring for this type of trip.  I have posted my list for this year below, but to learn more detail about the philosophy behind much of this gear, please refer to these previous posts…

My 2014 Gear List

View/Download Spreadsheet on Google Docs

What’s New?

Elk Decoys: Tips and Tactics with Fred Eichler and Montana Decoy

“Should have, would have, or could have…” – We often think that way when things don’t go right in a hunting situation.  After last year’s elk hunt I was left wondering if I should have brought an elk decoy along.  On one hand, a decoy is something that I don’t want to worry about packing, lugging up and down a mountain, or struggle to setup “in the moment”.  It would only complicate things, right?


But, there are numerous situations where a decoy could be well worth the hassle.  And if you can find a decoy that is light, packable, and easy to deploy, then the hassle virtually eliminated.

I spent quite a bit of time researching decoys over the off-season and ultimately decided to go with the “Eichler Elk” from Montana Decoy.  This decoy is lightweight, extremely packable, incredibly simple to deploy, and it looks great!  Another great benefit of this decoy is that it comes with a DVD from the man himself, Fred Eichler.  The included videos cover decoy setups, strategies, tips, and instructions.

The Eichler Elk decoy package weighs 40 ounces, but much of that weight comes from the stakes/poles.  Thankfully there’s another way setup the decoy, which is not only faster, but much lighter.  Since we I will be hunting in areas where we’ll have plenty of trees, I am going to leave the poles at home and bring the included string and alligator clips (as seen in the video above).  The weight of the decoy and clips is only 16 ounces!

FREE Guide & Discount

If you want to learn more about how to use a decoy for elk hunting, be sure to download this FREE decoy setup guide from Montana Decoy’s website.  In the guide you will get…

  • 5 proven elk decoy setups
  • Tips from elk hunting experts
  • Advice on where, when and how to use elk decoys

If you’re in the market for a new elk decoy, use coupon code “ELKGUIDE2014” to save 15% off of any elk decoy from Montana Decoy!

Elk Decoy Guide - Sample Pages

Pursuing Something Greater

I celebrated my 30th birthday last week. I’m not in mid-life or existential crisis territory yet, but this new decade has caused me to reflect on my life – where I’ve been, and where I’m headed.

Every day we make choices – some big, some small – that shape our lives and influence those around us. These choices (even the small ones) matter.

Decision is action. Action is movement. Movement creates momentum. And momentum, when paired with direction, determines our life’s destination.

It all comes back to choice and decision.  What we chose to do, and whom we decide to become; that is the pursuit we call life.

In Pursuit Challenge

Along these lines, I want to invite you to join me in pursuing something greater than a successful hunting season this fall.

Pastor, author, and my friend, Zeke Pipher, has released a new book for sportsmen called, In Pursuit: Devotions for the Hunter & Fisherman. He has also put together a 90-day challenge for men to work through the book together throughout the upcoming hunting season – from September 1 to December 31.

In Pursuit Challenge

To learn more about (and JOIN!) the In Pursuit Challenge visit:

Decide to pursue something greater…