Review: Eberlestock X1A1 Hunting Pack
Use: All purpose for hunting
Well made whether your hunting elk or deer. Abuse is welcome!
The scabbard is very nice when you're dragging something out of the woods and want your hands free.
Main pack allows you to separate the top and bottom, necessary if you want to find anything quickly or keep your food accessible / separate.
Price is a bit high for what you get.
Verdict: I have mixed emotions about this hunting pack. I think the overall design of the pack is sound, but could still be improved, but as always, would come at a cost of weight and overall cost. It does hold up wonderfully. I think it is a durable, general all purpose pack for the archery and/or rifle hunter who doesn’t want an overly large pack for day hunts. If you are in the market for a pack a bit bigger, there is a "Elk" version available. Eberlestock M5 Team Elk pack.
Two years ago at the time of CA January deer season, I bought an Eberlestock X1A1 which two of my friends had owned at one time or another. I saw with my own eyes how much it could hold and I was very impressed indeed.
When I was archery hunting at that point of time, I favored a Badlands 2200. I even owned an Eberlestock J104 but generally I thought it was too bulky for archery hunting. Anyway, I was mostly glassing on my late hunts.
It was quite tiring undoing 2-3 buckles on my Badlands 2200 each time I wanted to set aside the tripod or whenever I wanted to get it out. I could only move 200 to 400 yards each time and they I’d sit down to glass.
With the Eberlestock X1A1 I have a medium-sized pack, smaller than the Eberlestock J104 that has everything that I need. I can now access my tripod very easily, particularly if I used the scabbard on the tripod. The good thing about the X1A1 is that it can definitely contain everything that one needs for a whole day of hunting. It doesn’t really matter if this is already late in the season.
So what exactly is the Eberlestock X1A1 that I’ve been telling you about?
Well, it is a panel loading pack that could hold everything that I need.
It has a divider fitted with Velcros to keep stuff in place. In effect, this makes two compartments out of one big space. The lower part of the main compartment also has couple of access pockets placed above mesh side pockets. These are located on either side.
This pack also has a hip belt. This time it is the usual Eberlestock hip belt type. The webbing belt is exposed and placed on top of the padded belt. With this arrangement, one can carry a scabbard or a holster or any similar implement.
The user can run the webbing belt under a fabric section with PALS webbing. This gives the user the chance to attach pouches for accessories. Another important feature is the adjustable harness. Meanwhile, you will find on one side a built-in rifle scabbard (non-removable) and on the back you will see a bucket pocket for the bow. This feature holds a bow securely and has a “Quick Draw Bow Tether.”
There are a couple of two X pockets placed close to the front main pocket (top). Opposite the side of the pack where the scabbard can be find is a hydration bladder pocket fitted with a tube port (topside) and zippered as well. This pack is not made with a rigid frame but instead it is made with a frame sheet that is very flexible. A padded back panel is built in as well.
This pack proved very adequate when I used it for archery deer hunting (late season), rifle & archery hunting (late season) with others, and also when I went out pre-season scouting. This for me was mainly a glassing pack that I used to bring my 15’s tripod.
It was quite useful to me for scouting, hunting, bow hunts, rifle hunts, and it doesn’t really matter whether I went out early or late in the season because the pack was okay either way.
However, sometimes I am on the fence about the Eberlestock X1A1.
There are times when I feel as if it is really worth the investment. But then sometimes I’m not very impressed by it. This is my general impression of this product. I believe it’s a practical pack that’s well-made. However, with bulkier loads it doesn’t work very well for me.
At first I was hesitant to purchase it. I didn’t know how well it might work when it comes to hauling meat or quarters. As a matter of fact it has no meat shelf or anything that resembles one.
My Eberlestock J104 was a very capable meat hauler so I did not really need another. What I really wanted was a smaller pack that is suitable for archery hunting.
Anyway, I believe this pack can haul meat inside the bucket pocket. However, I don’t feel very comfortable hauling it with a 25 pound load. This assessment came from my observation that given the overall height of the container the load lifters are essentially load stabilizers.
Even as stabilizers, the pack does not fully hold its end. The stabilizers leave a gap near the shoulder blades and can’t really pull the topmost part of the pack close enough to my back as I like.
Meanwhile, the lifters are stitched at an angle to the shoulder straps. This for me is part of the problem which is probably resolved in the newer models. However, I’ve had no opportunity to try out newer styles.
In my book, a pack that has all the gear and optics for a day hunt could weigh anywhere between 20 to 30 pounds. This could change depending on the amount of clothing, water and food that you think you would need. This product is good enough for a 20-30 pound load. But for me I feel doubtful about its capability to carry anything heavier since it is equipped with a flexible frame.
What I am thinking is this…
If it has two more aluminum stays and if the load lifters are modified, then this pack will have no problem dealing with heavier stuff.
The Eberlestock X1A1 holds and releases my tripod when it is placed in the scabbard. What I usually do with the main compartment is use the divider and I place my 15’s at the top part. The hip belt works for me well enough because it can hold many different items.
To summarize, my feelings for this pack is at best mixed. But I reiterate that the overall design is sound and that it is durable as advertised. But there is definitely room for improvement. However, any improvements would change the cost and weight of the product. It is a good pack for a rifle hunter or archery hunter. My overall rating for the Eberlestock X1A1 is a B-.
• Carries rifle or tripod in rifle scabbard
• Awesome modular waist belt that permits you to add pouches or attach holsters, gps or camera cases, or knife scabbards.
• Bucket pocket allows easy carry of bow
• Hydration bladder compatible
• Adjustable torso length
• No internal frame or stays; just a flexible frame sheet.
• When loaded the pack expands away from the body.
• Load lifter straps are more load stabilizing straps.
• Lack of built in straps on the bottom of the pack.
• X pockets are small for more than a granola bar or 2.