H2 Gunrunner by Eberlestock: an outstanding hunting pack
by John Markwell
We’ve all done it. You drag the buck X-number of yards and stop. Huffing and puffing you look back to where you left your rifle and other gear, dreading having to traverse the same rough ground two more times in order to retrieve that stuff. And then, you get to repeat the process, again and again. As we all know, this scenario can get pretty tiresome. Having a way to conveniently carry your rifle and other gear in this situation could certainly save a lot of steps, and time.
I recently got a new hunting pack from an Idaho-based company named Eberlestock (PO Box 862, Dept. GWK, Boise, ID 83701; phone: 877-866-3047: online: eberlestock.com). Between my son and myself, we have at least four other packs from this outfit, but my son Brock’s comment upon first seeing the Gunrunner was “wow, this might just be the perfect whitetail pack.” He could be right.
Glen Eberle’s background as an Olympic Biathlon competitor led to his designing the patented, built-in Backscabbard that makes his line of packs so unique. The Backscabbard is an integral part of the pack’s suspension and it allows long guns to be carried vertically between the shoulder blades much like a biathlon rifle is carried. This is more convenient, and safer overall, than carrying a long gun either in the hands or slung over the shoulder (where it constantly is slipping off), especially in rough terrain. Having one’s hands free is a big advantage. Negotiating steep slopes, dealing with gates, leading horses, glassing for game or, in my case, using a walking stick for a third leg, are all simpler and safer when one’s firearm is safely stowed in the Backscabbard.
The larger packs in the Eberlersock line are in high demand by the military and tactical communities and some big game guides actually require clients to show up with an Eberlestock pack for safety reasons. As stated in the company’s literature, all firearms carried in any model of Eberlestock pack should have an empty chamber, period!
The H2 Gunrunner is an ultra light and compact daypack with just enough room for a day’s worth of gear. This pack is about half the size of the ever popular Eberlestock Gunslinger pack (see the web site). The Gunrunner is built on the A2LS Sniper Rifle Scabbard which will carry just about any shotgun or bolt action rifle. The section of the scabbard that extends below the bottom of the pack sack also makes a pretty good seat pad when the gun is removed.
The Gunrunner is built from NT-7, which is a new, soft-finished fabric that is light, quiet, waterproof and tear-proof. As good as the NT-7 fabric is, Eberlestock also completely lines the Gunrunner (and all of their packs) with nylon which is sewn into the seams. All seams are bound and the pack is reinforced with plenty of bar tacking at every conceivable stress point. These packs are so well built they carry a lifetime warranty.
The Gunrunner is a simple open top hunting pack that is loaded with features. The main compartment closes via a drawstring-tightened spin-drift collar. The top flap contains a generous zippered pocket which is accessed by dual sliders. This flap pocket is large enough to easily hold my Steiner 8x40 Night Hunter binoculars, Leica range finder, and a small digital camera. The top flap/pocket is secured with a side release buckle-equipped strap that connects to the bottom of the pack. There are two drawstring-secured, open-top pockets on either side of the pack body that are ideal for water bottles and on the back there is a long open-topped pocket (perfect for a spotting scope tripod) that is protected by the flap pocket. If one should feel the need to add to the capacity of the Gunrunner, there are quite a few PALS-type webbing points sewn onto the exterior of the pack body allowing for the attachment of additional pouches or pockets. The interior of the main compartment has a pocket for a hydration bladder and a sleeve pocket which will accept a pair of shooting sticks. I’d roughly estimate the capacity of the Gunrunner at about 1,100 cubic inches.
The suspension system on the Gunrunner is nicely padded and mesh covered to help dissipate perspiration, even the shoulder straps. There is a sternum strap to keep the shoulder straps comfortably in place. The waist belt is substantial, but not overly “fat,” and should comfortably support any load that can be stuffed into the pack. I do wish the waist belt was detachable. However, the waist belt can be folded around the bottom of the scabbard to get it out of the way if so desired. A signature feature of almost all Eberlestock packs is their grab handles for just picking packs up; the Gunrunner’s grab handle is located conveniently right at the top of the Backscabbard.
The camouflage pattern of my Gunrunner is called Hide-Open Rock Veil (my wife says this sounds like a dress company) and is said to have three focal layers as well as an excellent balance of shapes, and shades of lights and darks. The catalog states the pattern is optimized for open spaces yet works in forests as well. The Gunrunner can also be had in a pattern called Hide-Open Western Slope as well as Mossy Oak Infinity. For those wanting a solid colored pack, Coyote Brown, Dry Earth and Military Green fabrics are offered.
With deer season just around the corner, I’ve been carrying the 3 lb. 10oz. Eberlestock Gunrunner on conditioning walks up to my wife’s cabin (her deer stand). Loaded up with my New Ultra Light Arms Model 20 in .250 Savage and the other gear I normally carry when pursuing whitetails, the load totals right at 13 pounds (less water, snacks and any extra clothing). The Gunrunner handles it with aplomb. My son’s comment on this being the “perfect whitetail pack” has yet to be proven through field use. But, based on our past experiences with Eberlestock gear, I’m betting this new pack will serve my needs well. Should I be lucky enough to bag a big one, having all of my gear and my rifle in the Gunrunner will save me lots of steps when dragging that buck out of the local hills. The Gunrunner retails for $149.
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