My first impression of the pack was that it was compact, durable, and had some interesting features. The new carrying handle is a plus as it makes it easy to pick up with gloves or bare hands. The beaver tail design was interesting, but I wasn't sure how it would play out for hunting out West.
|My daughter assisting me in washing the Point before a hunt.|
A newly added feature is the water bladder pouch being in a new spot inside the pack. It has been moved away from resting on your back, to the front of the actual pack. This allows the water to stay cooler longer. It can take some getting used to as the hose can get in the way of packing the pack if you aren't careful, but it was great having cooler water. One key thing to consider is that with the water bladder further away from your body, it also 'shortens' the length of the hose. It just doesn't reach as far now.
One feature that I appreciate more and more on Badlands gear is the magnetic closing pockets. They are super quiet and hold very strong. Having to not worry about zippers or Velcro is great, especially when you are wearing gloves or if you are trying to remain quiet. One tip though, don't let the flap snap back into place as it will make a loud clapping sound. I have made that mistake a few times. The magnets work great!
|The chest strap sits higher on the Point than many other Badlands packs.|
The pack, even when loaded with a gallon of water, first-aid kit, game bags, bow and arrows fit perfectly to my body. I made a few minor adjustments, but the belt held firm even when hiking six miles in uneven terrain. One thing I did notice was that the chest strap is a little higher than it usually is on other Badlands packs. Normally, this wouldn't be an issue, but I like to keep my bear spray there. With the strap now higher, the bear spray was much closer to my face and felt uncomfortable. I'll just have to find a new spot for my bear spray!
|You can see how high my bear spray sits on the Point chest strap.|
|Mounting the bow vertically is ideal, but you have to play around to find the best way to do it.|
|I also mounted the bow horizontally to show an additional option.|
Bow carrying ability is available, but questionable. I noticed one issue that really worked against me. I use a fall-away rest, and with the position of the cam pocket for the bow and the larger back pocket of the Point, you can't lock in your bow without the pocket pressing against the rest really hard (this happens with just about any pack. I mention it as a warning so you don't break the arms of your rest). There was enough added stress that I realized I could not attach it the way it was mean to. I detached my quiver and used one of the side mesh pockets to hold that. In order to attach the bow properly, using the cam pocket, I needed to flip to bow over, so the rest was away from the back pocket, and attach it that way. Even then I had an issue with the bow stick out about 30 degrees at the top because it would not anchor close enough to the pack. I had the back pocket filled with gear and while I know that was the issue, this shouldn't happen.
|The bow pocket (with bow mounted) hits my backside no matter if the pack is full or empty.|
I also noted that the bow-carrying pocket, in relation to the way the pack is built, sits differently than other Badlands packs. I had an issue with the lower bow cam swinging back and hitting my rear as I hiked. No matter what I did to adjust the pocket, I still had an issue getting it just right. I tried using the beaver tail to hold the bow horizontally, but I strongly advise against that. Not only was it more difficult to get through brush, but the bow swings a heck of a lot more. Use the pocket and anchor it properly. I would love to see some pics or video on the Badlands website showing the best ways to mount a bow to each pack. I have worked on some ways to do it, but I can always learn!
The top pocket is one of my favorite features. You can keep everything you might need quickly right there, like sunscreen, an extra shirt, or maybe a sandwich or snack. The sky is the limit! I was able to keep plenty in there. On one trip I stored my lunch and first-aid items and on another it was a dry balaclava, sunscreen (unscented of course), and a spare knife and still had room to spare.
The top loading design is fantastic and allows you to close it up tight and keep the inside from getting wet or falling out. It allows you quite a bit of flexibility in how you carry your gear. If what you have in there is just clothing, you can cinch it right down and keep the pack small. If you have to load it with meat, or have more gear than you anticipated, you can loosen it up to a larger degree. You can't fit everything int here, but it does offer a great deal of room. The design is very similar to the Sacrifice as far as loading and I think that is a major benefit to the pack design.
For hunting in Southern California, I think the pack would work best on short, day hunts, or if you hunt out of a treestand. It would be an advantage on relatively short hikes to a hunting spot. I used the Point on a couple 3-mile hikes in to my spot and 3-miles out and didn't have the room in the pack for any meat or extra clothing. On the shorter one mile hikes it worked just fine. I really enjoyed the way it contoured to my back and how compact it felt when hiking. I will continue to use this for scouting and my day hunts. Badlands continues to surprise me with upping the ante on great, quality gear for hunters and I sincerely look forward to what they have in store for 2014!