Review: SJK Gear Hone Backpack | Hatch magazine


Let’s take day which goes out of the way in relation to outdoor activities.

cAMP it is the place in nature where you play and sleep. If you don’t sleep there, it’s called day camp. There is no such thing as (or urgent need for) a sleepy camp. It’s redundant since we already have a perfectly good word for the outdoor sleeping spot… it is camp. I’m not sure how sleepy camp ended in English. Continued infantilization of language perhaps.

I will admit that sometimes you end up sleeping in a day camp, but this has an easy solution, “We went to day camp but suddenly found ourselves surrounded by angry bees, so we got stuck inside and ended up staying at camp for a few days.”

Now, if you’re going on a day camp or just spending a day in the woods, then you need something to carry your stuff. And this something is a day bag. Whether scouting, hunting, fishing or hiking, daypacks have enough room to carry all your immediate needs, but remain light enough not to weigh you down.

I needed a new daypack and SJK Gear was kind enough to send me their Hone Backpack to try out. While they call it a backpacking, due to its size and weight – 3.3 lbs. and 33 liters – I really think this falls into the day pack category. Of course, the first thing I did was gear up for a weekend fishing trip. “I took that daypack out for a fishing trip, but found myself on an island surrounded by angry brook trout, so I ended up using the pack for a few days.”

WHAT WORKS

Packability

Daypacks are challenging stuff. Too small and they’re useless, too big and you end up filling them with things you don’t need. I gravitate towards a slightly larger option as I tend to overpack and the Hone fits my needs perfectly. He carried two rods, reels, fly fishing equipment, waders, boots, a change of clothes, simple food and water. It was well loaded but instantly comfortable when I slung it over my shoulders with no dead space under the straps. Once closed, it stayed put. Under load and with the lap and chest straps secured, I had no problem moving quickly or bending over. The pack stayed where it needed to be, and the combination of the aluminum stay and HDPE frame sheet kept the load manageable.

Unusual in daypacks, there’s a second, smaller pack—they call it the Beavertail—that attaches to the main pack via compression straps and secures a rifle or rod between the two. At the bottom is a pouch that holds the butt of the gun, the bow, or in this case two rods. Additionally, the lower straps on the beaver tail can be tightened while the upper straps remain loose to create a shelf for loading in large items or in rooms full of animals. Although I didn’t try it, my guess is that you could put a small tent and a bag in there.


SJK Gear Hone Backpack

Photo: David N. McIlvaney

Gear retention system

Some will say that the option to carry a rifle is not necessary or useful in a daypack and that a shoulder sling is better. Of course. But for rod cases that are painful to hold, it’s unbeatable. I have other packs that carry bars along the sides which work well, but I found this to be less bulky and felt the bars were a bit more secure.

There are two tail pockets with a groove that can be used as a rifle rest, as well as two large side pockets and two smaller pockets on the hip belt. The main compartment has a clamshell opening which allows easy access to the interior, although you will need to remove the beaver tail to fully open it.

WHAT DON; T

Building

Light and reasonable weight means certain sacrifices. I would have liked stronger shoulder straps to be attached to the pack instead of the 2” mesh, as I have had light packs fail there before. I think it would have benefited from being a bit longer. It’s 21.5″ long with a width of 15″ and depth of 11″ and with the hip belt fastened properly, the pack sits lower in the back. Adding a few inches would have allowed the shoulder straps to fit in as well in the body of the pack vs. the top like they do now and have something to grab a rain cover on. Stronger double chains on all compartments would be great. There’s a lot of apple strap, but for me that’s just about For a hunting pack, I don’t want a lot of things jumping around the outside of my pack.

Under load and in warm weather you will sweat, and the back panel is simply not designed to remove and disperse excess moisture, and I felt this after an hour of walking.

Calmness

Some have said that the material isn’t extremely comfortable – bowhunters be warned – and with the hip pockets full, your arms will rub and make noise. But how often are you chasing with a full pack? I really think this is not an issue. I’ll take it to the woods during deer season, so I may change my mind about that. But I doubt it.

SEEMS

It’s a nice package, but it would be much more versatile and attractive in a solid color. Camo on a field pack is overrated and I feel like an idiot walking through an airport with a camo pack. SJK Gear reached out to say that they are constantly evolving their packs, so maybe some solid colors are coming.

THE LAST WORD

The Hone is an affordable – retailing at $169.95 – and solid, lightweight pack with a well-thought-out option to carry a heavy load and tough gear that’ll cover you for a day on a deer stand or on a weekend fishing trip. I am very happy to add it to my collection of useful things. As I write this, I’m packing for a few days of salmon fishing in Mörrumsån in Sweden.

I only have to deal with airport sightings.



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