Crooked Horn Outfitters Master Guide Backpack II Review:
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The Masterguide II pack is a very well thought out pack. I can tell from the quality of the waterproof fabric (yes I said proof, not resistant) to the zipper pulls used that Crooked Horn put some long hours of testing into these packs. I am confident that I will have this pack fifteen years from now and it will be just as functional as it is today. .
The zippers on this pack are heavy duty and twice the size of any other pack I have seen. Each zipper pull has a length of parachute cord through it, which allowed me to easily open zippers with gloves on. The shoulder straps are of a heavy nylon strapping with excellent padding over the shoulder area. The shoulder padding is actually curved so that it fits around your shoulders like it should. This attention to detail you will find throughout this pack. It also has a waist belt to offset the weight being carried and stabilize the pack when it is loaded. This combined with the chest strap that locks the two shoulder straps together makes it easy to carry a heavy or bulky load. It also has a handle on the top portion that makes it easy to carry and/or hand from a branch or tree stand peg. The zippered compartments are laid out nicely. On the top of the pack is one of the main zippered pockets that is a half moon shape and fits a spotting scope, binoculars or other items very nicely. The other main zippered pocket has a large opening that has a quite a bit of room for additional items. This pocket also has a flat layer of nylon that runs the length of the pocket that allows you to put an piece of gear behind the fabric and not have it rub directly on other equipment. There are 3 other small zippered pockets in the pack. Two of those can be reached while wearing the pack if desired, this is handy for items that you need to remove frequently while hunting like gloves, snacks, or GPS etc. The other pocket is located in the front and is perfect for maps or licenses. This pocket even has an inside security pouch that I found worked perfect for a passport and other key documents while traveling to your destination. There are two additional small pockets that have a Velcro flap closure, these are designed for a knife or a small flashlight and can be easily reached even when the pack is on. I had one drawback with the Velcro closures and that was that they were a bit loud when opened in the field or sitting on stand. On the other hand I don't have a better solution to solve the noise issue of the Velcro.
The outside of the pack has several nylon straps with quick connect closures. These are placed on both sides of the pack and they work great for strapping more items to the pack. I used the straps to take an additional layer of clothing with me hunting and not have to worry about putting that bulky item in the pack itself.
One of the best functional features of this pack is the gun/bow holder. This simple design easily deploys from two quick connect closures and folds out to form a perfect pocket for a gun butt or bow. Once the butt of the gun is in the pocket it can be lashed to the pack using two adjustable nylon straps with quick connect closures. This really snugs the gun tight to the pack and allow for a hands free carry of your rifle or bow. I used this feature every day on a recent trip to Alberta, as we made our trek over muddy bogs on the Argos to our location.
Bottom line, if you want a pack that is as rugged as it is versatile then this should be your next piece of gear.
Reviewer: - Kevin Mayer
Review Date: - 7/27/2009