Stone Glacier is known for durable backpacks that can carry heavy loads for hunters. We tested the Stone Glacier Sky 5900 Backpack for this test during the elk season in Colorado.
I had just finished a 6 mile hike through rugged mountains and made the last steps on the way to my campsite when the small herd of elk came into view. As is often the case when hunting, it was the last place I expected a moose. But even with a heart rate while climbing a canyon, I made the 100 yard off hand shot. The nice cow elk ran away only 28 meters from my tent, less than 35 meters from the meat pole.
Yes, this is incredibly lucky and after experiencing some strenuous failures, I’ll take it. Even so, the camp was about 3 miles from the trailhead where my truck was parked. There was a lot to do to get out a few hundred pounds of meat and camp gear.
I couldn’t predict it back then, but my buddy would step up the work 2 days later and drop another cow about a mile from the truck.
In short, I had my work cut out for myself. Fortunately, my backpack – the Stone Glacier Sky 5900 – was up to the task.
In summary: The Stone Glacier Sky 5900 did a tough job with its Xcurve frame. The pack is robust and should hunt for decades. It’s a little heavy at around 5.5 pounds, however, and it’s expensive, starting at $ 659 without some critical components.
Stone Glacier Sky backpack overview
Stone Glacier is a Montana brand that makes all of their products in the United States. And if you look at the customer reviews on the site, the brand is clearly popular. Few products have less than five star ratings.
When the brand approached me to check out a pack for an upcoming hunt, I was delighted. I needed a large pack that could haul in all of my gear for a 5 day backpack hunt and also pull out any meat we had harvested during the hunt.
I had gimped along with one Osprey hiking backpack for a couple of years (which did a hell of a job as it’s not intended for hunting at all!) and was ready for something more apt.
Like some other hunting brands, Stone Glacier sells packs with modular components. You can get the sky with one of two frames of different sizes. The Sky Pack is interchangeable on the frame system and is sold without a lid. And you can add a variety of components, from small organization bags to rifle port systems.
The Sky 5900 has a large main packing body (5,400 cubic inches main bag), a large back pocket for large spotting scopes and two side pockets. The optional lidwhich is a compulsory add-on in my opinion, adds $ 42 to the price and 500 cubic inches of well-organized pack.
My test package came complete with a lid, a small waist belt (I have a 30-inch waist), and internal storage pockets. Time to pull.
Stone Glacier Sky 5900 Backpack Review
I overloaded the pack at the starting point. Thanks to the cold weather and quite a long hunt, I was barely able to get all of my gear inside (and strapped outside) for the 3 mile hike to camp.
My first thought: the 5900, including a top lid (which is an add-on), is just big enough for multi-day moose hunts in cold weather. When it comes to carrying groceries, clothing, camping gear, and hunting gear, this size manages it but packed to the brim with every nook and cranny.
But it’s worth noting that I didn’t use the expandable meat rack for the hike to camp. With more experience, I now realize that this would have been very helpful as it increases the package size to around 8,000 cubic inches. More on that later.
Weighing about 60 pounds including a rifle attached to my back, I set off and was ready to climb about 1,500 feet for 3 miles.
The only thing I don’t really love about the backpack is the lid. Due to the expandability of the backpack (which is great) it needs to be attached with long straps and be pretty loose. It’s pretty floppy when it’s open and I’ve adjusted it a lot and had to put it back in place on a regular basis.
It’s sure not to be fussy, but for me the lid is a critical item for a pack and where I keep my most important parts of the kit, so I found it a bit annoying.
Great Elk Hunting Backpack: Heavy tractor to daypack
As the week progressed, I became familiar with the pack’s ability to move large loads. On this hike to camp (and hikes with subsequent loads), I’m not kidding you, I was surprisingly comfortable with my estimated 110 pounds from two moose quarters and gear.
Yes, my legs screamed with every step, carrying most of my own body weight out of the woods. But my back didn’t exactly hurt. And yes, my shoulders begged for mercy. But it was mostly the sheer weight, not the discomfort of the pack.
The author with a loaded downpack, finally back to the starting point
So yes, this pack can carry a lot more than you probably want. But where it gets really interesting is as a daypack.
Most hunters know that you spend most of your time hiking with a lightweight backpack that contains things like a water bottle, lunch snacks, game bags, and ammunition. It’s just a few pounds of gear and maybe an extra jacket or layers. This is how you spend most of your hunt.
And for this, Stone Glacier created the so-called “bivouac mode”. Simply put, the pack contracts downward through a bundle of ribbons and folds in the material. With the “bivouac mode” the pack is quite compact and is 4,000 cubic inches in size. While it’s still a good sized pack, it’s small enough to carry while quietly slipping through the woods.
Sky 5900 meat rack
But after you pull the trigger, it only takes a few minutes to readjust the straps to turn the sky into a load carrier.
Remove the pouch from the frame, set it aside, and a very sturdy, beautiful meat rack will appear. You can drop your moose quarters on this shelf with the peace of mind that if you tighten the main package’s compression straps around the quarters, they are going nowhere.
It’s worth noting that I could have expanded my pack size for the hike here as well. Next year I will be packing some of my bulky items, like extra clothes, in a bag to load into the warehouse in this expanded hiking area.
You can also use the meat rack to carry other large, heavy items. I could see things like a chainsaw slipping in right there if you had to pull one for maintenance along the way.
Stone Glacier Sky 5900: Who Should Buy It?
If you’ve read this far, you are probably in the market for a great one Hunting backpack. Then this package is definitely for you.
It is certainly a great investment for a backpack. If you get the add-ons like a gun carrier (which I don’t like as much as Kifaru’s gun carrier), a lid, or an organizer bag, check out $ 700 or more. However, I think it would be a worthwhile investment for many hunters.
The Sky 5900 carries heavy weight like a dream. It easily turns into a non-hunting backpack (although it’s quite heavy). And should be used for decades due to its extremely robust construction.
If this sounds like you, read the Heaven 5900 here. Stone Glacier is known for its customer service. So take some time to research the product line and give the brand a call. The purchase price could sting, but not as much as a bad backpack when transporting quarters.
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Stone Glacier Sky 5900 Specifications
- Weight: 5 lbs. 7.1 ounces on center X curve; Bag weighs only 2 pounds. 7.1 ounces
- Storage capacity: 5,400 cubic inches of main bag; 4,300 cubic inches of bivy mode; Expandable cargo bay racking more than 2,500 cubic inches
- Load rating: 150 plus lbs.
- Compatible with hydration
- Full zip for access to the main pocket
- Front zip pocket
- YKK # 10 zipper
- CORDURA 500 and Xpac fabric
- 1 “Duraflex military-approved buckles and webbing
- Made in the USA