It’s not easy picking a backpack. With so many variables and the cost of a high quality pack, it’s tough to know which one to pick, so we set out to test a bunch of packs with heavy loads and experimented with how each of the features worked in the field. We hope this helps you find the best backpack for hunting based on your personal needs. The Blacks Creek Alt X Ultra pack, equipped with either the Blacks Creek Talon Frame or the Blacks Creek Grip Frame, is one of those meat hauling, internal frame backpacks that should be considered.
I really like the bag design and functionality of the Alt X Ultra pack with its ability to compress down to day pack mode when needed or being able to completely remove the bag and attach the Run and Gun day pack. Lots of options with Blacks Creek packs!
Blacks Creek alt X Ultra Pack Review: Test Parameters
There really isn’t anything better than just getting out there and using the pack in the field in real world conditions. I used this pack on multiple heavy load training hikes, scouting trips, hunting trips, and backpacking hunting trips. I got to pack out an elk with this pack, as well as do a number of heavy load training hikes with 40 to 100 pounds of sand bags in it.
Blacks Creek alt X Ultra Specs
The Blacks Creek Alt X Ultra offers a ton of space in a fairly light weight pack. It features 500D Cordura material and can be paired with either of the Blacks Creek Packs Frames: the Blacks Creek Talon or the Blacks Creek Grip Frame. Here are some of the Alt X Ultra specs:
- Alt X Ultra Bag: 2.8 lb
- Grip Frame: 4.3 lb (7.1 lb with bag)
- Talon Frame: 3.6 lb (6.4 lb with bag)
- 6000 CI
- 2 horizontal and vertical frame stays and frame sheet
- Adjustable harness
- Adjustable frame height
- 2 size frames (Grip and Talon)
- Multiple size hip belts
- Modular design (switch bags)
Blacks Creek alt X Ultra Pack Review : Hip Belt and Harness
The Blacks Creek Talon and Grip frames come with the same hip belt and both shoulder harnesses can be adjusted to fit your needs with vertical adjustments. Blacks Creek also has some additional shoulder harness pad straps (shown in the pictures above) that can be added for additional adjustment or cushioning. Both frames also come with butterfly wings to aid in comfort. The Blacks Creek Talon and Grip frames are equipped with high density foam that is durable and long lasting. It doesn’t feature a dual density foam as some others I’ve tested. We’ll talk more about that below.
Blacks Creek Pack Review: Talon Frame
I really liked the way the Alt X Ultra bag was laid out. The frame layout is well thought out and extremely durable. Bat wings and three compression straps keep the load from swaying, while a lower “saddle” compression strap secures the load vertically. The Grip and Talon frames have a fairly rigid feel to them, and I would say they are closer to a pack frame feel than others I’ve tested.
One of the awesome things the Blacks Creek Grip and Talon frames offer is the ability to quickly detach the bag and use the frame separately as a load hauler. In the picture above, I removed the bag for a training hike and attached a couple of sand bags to the frame, and just left the lid on to carry a few supplies. Pretty sweet feature! There were a few things I liked and didn’t like about this setup which I’ll cover below.
How the Blacks Creek Alt X Ultra Pack Handles Weight
I loved a lot of things about the Alt X Ultra bag and its design and really hoped the frame would be a good fit for me and comfortably haul a heavy load. I experimented with multiple heights, added lumbar support, and even added the extra pad cushions from Blacks Creek, but was only able to achieve a comfortable load up to about 70lbs. Above that, I simply couldn’t keep the pack from sliding down onto my glutes. This in turn created extra stress on my shoulders and restricted my leg movement, ultimately making it uncomfortable for me with a really heavy load.
Now before you take that as me saying this isn’t a good pack, I want to reiterate that not all packs fit everyone well. Through all of my pack testing, I’ve noticed that packs with a large lumbar pad feel the best for me, and the Black Creek frames simply don’t offer as large of a lumbar pad as others. I believe that is the primary reason for any discomfort. I was truly bummed that I couldn’t get it to be more comfortable with a heavy load because otherwise I really liked all of the other aspects of this pack.
I will say that the Black Creek packs are durable and showed no signs of wear. These packs are made to last, and the folks at Blacks Creek stand behind their products. If they fit your body type, you’ll likely love these packs. Unfortunately for me, I simply couldn’t get there with the fit on heavy loads. I really wanted to love this pack.
Blacks Creek Alt X Bag Configuration
I absolutely loved the bag configuration of the Blacks Creek Alt X Ultra pack. The Alt X is a great blend of well-placed pockets and space for your larger items. The versatile side pockets are super useful, and the compression of the main bag allows you to use this bag on trips over a week long, as well as on day trips by just using just the outside pocket. The interior pockets are also well thought out as there are many different sizes for all types of gear.
Dual Compression Straps
The Blacks Creek Alt X Ultra dual compression straps are also a unique feature to Blacks Creek packs. Each compression strap has two different buckles attached to it. This allows you to compress the meat to the frame without smashing the contents of your bag. The second buckle acts as a separate compression strap for what’s in your bag. Pretty slick setup. It took me a bit to get used to the Blacks Creek dual compression straps, but once I did I liked it.
If you like having your gear further organized, you can pick up something like the VIAM Outdoors G3 Gear Grabs and organize your gear in those, then throw them in the main bag. If you are someone who likes to have a bunch of pockets integrated into the pack for organization, you may want to look at one of the other Blacks Creek packs as this Alt X Ultra isn’t really designed to have a ton of pockets.
Blacks Creek Alt X Lid
The lid on the Blacks Creek Alt X features a great size, ready for all of your quick-access items. I found myself stuffing things like my food and gloves in there.
I love the small pocket on the underside of the lid for your keys or wallet. Great feature!
Blacks Creek Alt X Review: Pack Accessories
Blacks Creek packs offer you a number of great accessories to complete your pack for just about any hunt. I’ve had the chance to play with some of them. You’ve got the option to add:
- Blacks Creek Knick Knack Hipsacks
- Run and Gun Day Pack
- Hip Belt Holster
- Perfect Pocket Pro
- Perfect Pocket
- Rain fly
- Shoulder straps
- Padded optics pocket
As you can see, there are a ton of different accessories available for Blacks Creek packs. They all have their place, but for me personally, I find myself always taking the Knick Knack Hipsacks. I also really like the Run and Gun day pack for those times when I need to drop camp and keep hunting. I’m a bit OCD so I love that strap keepers are included with Blacks Creek packs.
Blacks Creek Alt X Ultra : What I liked
Alt X Bag Configuration
There was a ton to love about this Blacks Creek Alt X pack. First and foremost, was the way this pack was set up. The Alt X Bag is a great balance of pockets and space for all kinds of different uses.
Blacks Creek Alt X Modularity
Another awesome feature of Blacks Creek packs is their modular approach. You can change bags from one to another in a heartbeat. The two zippers on the side make this a breeze if your hunt changes and you need a different bag.
Blacks Creek Alt x Ultra Versatility
Being able to compress the main bag down to nothing and use just the outside bag is awesome. Doing this doesn’t eliminate any pockets, so you still have access to everything you need. This really is a do-it-all pack if you can only have one. The option to leave the main bag behind and throw on the Run and Gun day pack to lose some weight for your day away from spike camp is a pretty slick setup.
Blacks Creek alt X Knick Knack Hipsacks
The Knick Knack Hipsacks are some super handy attachments to Blacks Creek packs. They are much larger than others I’ve tried, and feature a number of interior pockets to keep small items organized. These are a great add-on to Blacks Creek packs!
Blacks Creek Alt X Ultra Pack Review: What I didn’t like
Lack of Molle Webbing
If you are someone who uses molle attachments, Blacks Creek packs might not be your best option. They don’t feature places on the exterior of the pack to attach molle accessories, so you are out of luck there. I personally don’t have any molle attachments, so it didn’t bother me, but I know a lot of guys like to have that option. Molle webbing adds weight though, so it depends on your personal preference.
Blacks Creek Alt X Ultra Load Hauling
As I mentioned above, during this Blacks Creek pack review I was unable to get the comfort I wanted with loads over 70lbs. I believe this was due to a thinner thickness lumbar pad more than anything. For me, the lumbar pad simply wasn’t thick enough to keep the pack from sliding down onto my glutes, causing discomfort and restricting the muscles in my legs from moving as freely as they should. I was REALLY bummed about this because I really wanted these Blacks Creek packs to fit me better.
Blacks Creek Alt X Ultra Pack Cushioning
Another thing I felt could improve the overall comfort of these Black Creek packs would be to add some softer foam in the harness and hip belt. On the other hand, I totally understand why Blacks Creek decided to just go with the one layer of high density foam – durability. The softer, less dense foam tends to not last as long, so it makes sense, but because of this, the pack wasn’t quite as comfortable as it could have been. It’s a trade-off of course.
Blacks Creek Alt X Ultra Review: Conclusion
So would I recommend the Blacks Creek packs? Well, that would depend on your body type. We all have different needs and wants in a pack, but finding one that fits you well is the most important thing. Packs fit everyone differently, so what was a great feeling pack for me may be horrible for you and vise versa. If at all possible, it’s always best to try on a pack before deciding if it’s best for you. They are kind of like boots; they fit everyone differently.
Blacks Creek makes some amazing backcountry hunting packs that are sure to last you a very long time. They have a number of different bag configurations as well to fit your exact needs.
Check our Blacks Creek Alt X Ultra Video!
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