Looking for a pack that can pull double duty as a day pack, but also haul a heavy load if you get an animal down? The Sitka Mountain Hauler 4000 Pack does just that. We wanted to test it out and put together this Sitka Mountain Hauler 4000 review. Sitka Gear may not be as well known for their packs as their clothing line, but the new Mountain Hauler 4000 and Mountain Hauler 6200 Pack take a huge step forward.
The Sitka Mountain Hauler 4000 Pack came to market in 2019 featuring a new design, better meat-hauling ability, and a ton of functionality. The Mountain Hauler 4000 and its big brother the 6200, both give you the ability to stay deep in the backcountry for days at a time and come out heavy if you are successful. We tested the Mountain Hauler 4000 over the course of the last year to see how it performed in the field and with heavy loads. I did several backpack trips and heavy load tests with this pack. Below, I’ll go over my likes, dislikes and how it performed with both light and heavy loads.
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Sitka Mountain Hauler 4000 Pack Test Parameters
For this test, 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 trips. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to pack out an animal with this pack, but I did do a number of heavy load training hikes with 40 -100lbs of sand bags.
Sitka Mountain Hauler 4000 Pack Specs
The Mountain Hauler 4000 boasts some impressive specs and offers you a light weight pack while still handling a load extremely well. It features a Nylon material rather than Cordura that you see in a lot of packs these days. Here are some of the Sitka Mountain Hauler 4000 specs:
- 3750-4500 CI
- T-6 6061 aluminum frame
- Adjustable harness
- Multiple size hip belts
- 220-450D silicone coated nylon
- Horn hauler system included
I really liked the horn hauler system, however, I didn’t get the chance to field test it this year. The hip belt pockets are a must if you like to carry things like an elk call, windicator, or anything else small that you might need quick access to.
Sitka Mountain Hauler Hip belt and Harness
The hip belt and harness system are comprised of a three density foam and are both pre-formed, which provides exceptional comfort and adjust-ability. Below I cover what I liked and didn’t like about the hip belt and harness, but overall I was extremely pleased with it.
The hip belt was extremely comfortable for my body type. After testing many different packs I have found that packs with a larger lumbar support pad tend to fit me best. The Mountain Hauler Packs have, what I would consider, a medium to large thickness lumbar pad, so this one was right in line for me. Ideally, I’d probably even like a little bit thicker lumbar pad, but it did awesome as it is.
Sitka Mountain Hauler Frame
The Mountain Hauler frame is made of a super strong T-6 6061 aluminum. I did notice a little flex in the frame with a heavy load (which I’ll cover in more detail below), but I was given no reason to dislike the frame at all during my testing. It performed extremely well with both light and heavy loads.
How the Sitka Mountain Hauler Handles Weight
This was one of the areas that the Mountain Hauler exceeded my expectations. Sitka packs haven’t historically had a reputation as great, heavy load, meat-hauling packs, but the Mountain Hauler Packs do an outstanding job of making a heavy load comfortable. While the bag doesn’t separate from the frame, you do get a dedicated meat hauling shelf that’s included and rolls up nicely inside the bag. This system attaches directly to the frame, keeping all of the weight secured to that frame. This really helps distribute the weight well and keeps the load from moving around on you.
Sitka Mountain Hauler Bag Configuration
The Sitka Mountain Hauler 4000 is equipped with a versatile bag that gives you a good balance of space with organizational pockets in just the right spots. There are two big pockets on the outside which is a great place to put a spotter, tripod or gear you need quick access to. They are large enough to fit an 85mm spotter, but I found that it caused a little more pressure on my shoulders with the weight of a spotter and tripod on the outside of a fully loaded pack.
I loved leaving the spotter attached to the tripod, with the tripod wedged between those two same pockets. This made the spotter easily accessible without having to re-attach it each time I needed to use it.
The Sitka Mountain Hauler also comes with a mesh stuff pocket just under the two outside pockets, which is perfect for a puffy, rain gear, or anything you may need to grab at a moment’s notice. You also get two adjustable mesh side pockets, an additional interior mesh pocket (on the inside of the U-shaped zipper), and a water bladder pocket complete with a clip to keep the bladder from falling down.
The lid on the Mountain Hauler is a great size and features an interior mesh zip pocket with a key clip.
Sitka Mountain Hauler 4000 Accessories
There are a few different accessories available for the Sitka Mountain Hauler Packs. I tested the Sitka Hip Belt Pouch and loved the design and interior zippered pocket. The size is perfect for your calls, wind tester, phone, or whatever else you’d like to put in this pocket. The zippered pocket is super nice for those items that you really don’t want to lose or that you want to keep separate from the rest of your gear. I didn’t get to test the rifle carrier attachment, but I’ve heard it also works well.
sitka Mountain Hauler 4000: What I liked
Load Hauling Ability
There was just a ton to love about this Mountain Hauler Pack. First and foremost, I was genuinely impressed with the way this pack carried a load. I did notice a slight bounce or flex in the frame (towards and away from my back) once I got around 100lbs in it, but the flex seemed to help the comfort level and made the load feel as though it were almost floating.
Another thing I loved about this pack was the massive U-shaped zipper. This was probably my favorite feature on this pack. This zipper is bigger than what you get with the Exo Mountain Gear U-shaped zipper and was more user- friendly to me. The size of the opening made it easier to get gear in and out of the pack as well as keep everything organized when loading. Big win here with this design!
Sitka Mountain Hauler Bag Configuration
The bag configuration of the Sitka Mountain Hauler 4000 Pack is one of my favorites of all the packs I’ve tested so far. The pockets are well thought out and every single one of them is in a useful spot. One downside to having more pockets is that they do add to the overall weight of the pack, but that’s the trade off for getting more organization in a pack.
Sitka Horn Hauling System
While I unfortunately didn’t get to field test the Sitka Horn Hauling system, from the time I spent playing with it, I was impressed. This nifty setup can be quickly deployed and save you the time of having to find some rope or another way to keep your prize antlers attached securely to your pack for the trip out.
Hip Belt and Shoulder Harness
I really liked the design and comfort offered with the Sitka Mountain Hauler hip belt and shoulder harness. The pre-formed hip belt and harness were both super comfortable, and the adjustment was quick and easy. Great setup design here!
Load Hauling: Direct Frame Attachment
I loved that your heavy load is designed to attach directly to the frame of the Sitka Mountain Hauler Pack. This keeps the weight distributed to maximize the design and comfort of the pack. I also loved that the load shelf gives you the ability to keep the weight from sagging down to the lower part of the pack. If you’ve hauled a heavy load, you’ve probably experienced the discomfort of a poorly loaded pack where the weight sags down too low. It’s very uncomfortable to say the least. This Mountain Hauler load shelf does a fantastic job of keeping the weight on the upper 3/4 of the frame for you.
Sitka Mountain Hauler 4000: What I didn’t like
Ok. Here is where I get to nit-pick about what I didn’t like about this pack. We all know there is no perfect pack. It’s just a matter of picking what’s most important to us and what we can put up with. While there was a ton that I loved about the Sitka Mountain Hauler 4000, there were a few things that I wasn’t that fond of. First, my biggest complaint is not being able to separate the bag from the frame. While the interior meat hauling system is a massive improvement over previous models, it’s still less than ideal to have to keep your gear inside the bag if you are hauling a bloody quarter of an elk, deer etc.
While you can pick up a dry bag for your gear, which is recommended, that’s just another thing to have to carry. The other downside to having the meat in the bag is that you use up a majority of your available space to get the meat in there. If you are backpacking and get an animal down, there simply isn’t enough room for all of your gear plus the meat in most cases. If you are day hunting, this is no big deal as there is plenty of space in the exterior pockets and the remaining space inside the pack below the meat. None the less, it’s likely to be a messy situation.
Sitka Mountain Hauler 4000 Material
Another thing that I didn’t care for as much was the noisier material of the Mountain Hauler Pack. It wasn’t much louder than Cordura, but definitely was noisier to me. This really isn’t a big deal most of the time, but there are those times when you sneak in on an animal and need to drop your pack. Taking it off makes a little more noise than Cordura.
The last thing that wasn’t my favorite about the Sitka Mountain Hauler 4000 was the hip belt accessory attachment setup. While it did a great job of keeping everything I put on there in place (Kydex holster and Sitka hip belt pouch), the attachment process was a bit odd. It was difficult to get the holster attached, but I finally did get it. The hip belt pouch went on easy, but was a little more loose than I’d like. Again, both of them stayed put all season long, but I think the attachment system could be improved.
See all the Mountain hauler Features!
Sitka Mountain Hauler 4000 Review: Conclusion
So, would I recommend the Sitka Mountain Hauler 4000 Pack? Absolutely! We all have different needs and wants in a pack, and that’s an entirely a personal decision. Packs fit everyone differently, so what was a great feeling pack for me, may be horrible for you. 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. I know, Sitka isn’t the biggest name in backcountry hunting packs, but this Mountain Hauler Pack puts them on the map in my humble opinion.
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