With so many hunters in the household, there’s always a bit of a fight when it comes to trying out new gear. I’m not going to lie – Jess often wins these fights. I am just not as competitive as she is.
But when our new Paladin Custom Apex Modular Rig arrived in the mail, I was instantly in love and was determined this was one fight I was going to win.
Why the insta-love?
Two words – quick release!
A place for everything and everything in its place
To truly explain why I love the Apex Modular, I probably need to explain what I don’t love about other hunting packs – and that’s the configuration and lack of simple weapon storage.
Over the years, I’ve tried many different hunting packs and most are essentially just big back packs with slight variations and improvements. They might be good for distributing the weight across your back but less than ideal if you actually want to access your gear without first taking the pack off (unless you’re a contortionist, which I promise you, I am not!).
The other thing I have disliked about most packs I’ve used is a lack of a simple weapon storage system. While there are definitely packs that incorporate slings or boots into the design for storing your bow or rifle, I have always found them next to impossible to access in a hurry. And if you’ve ever been out in the field and stumbled across a monster trophy animal, you’ll know you often have limited time to act.
This means that I usually end up carrying my rifle slung across my shoulder or my bow across both shoulders, which can get incredibly tiring on the long, spot-and-stalk hunts we tend to do.
Hunting in New Zealand earlier this year, we hiked around 20kms a day trying to stalk in on animals. Now I wish I had shoulder definition like Sarah Bowmar but unfortunately, that’s still a work in progress.
The Apex Modular Rig combines a day pack and bino pack in front and a quick release rifle or bow panel in the back. The premium pack comes with a cool utility belt that makes you feel just like Batman – and has plenty of room for all your hunting, snacking and superhero essentials!
Field testing the Apex Modular Rig
It’s one thing to try out a pack in the comfort of your living room, but how does it do out in the field?
I got to put the Apex Modular Rig through its paces over 15 days hunting in South Africa.
The first time I wore it in the field, we were bow hunting for springbok in the Free State.
You start by strapping your rifle or bow to the pack. I’m not going to lie – it took me about five minutes to strap my bow in (I may or may not have needed Dad’s help) the first few times but only because it was an unfamiliar system. It’s definitely easiest to do before you put it on! The more you do it, the easier it gets. By the end of the 15 days hunting, I could load my bow into the pack almost as fast as I could get it out.
Then you put on the vest, which is pretty easy to use. Simply place it over your head, clip yourself up and pull the side straps to adjust to your size. The vest has multiple zipped pockets that make it really easy to grab your essential gear (you know, like Snickers chocolate bars) in a flash. The bino pack sits on your chest, and has a magnetic flap meaning noise is kept to a minimum. The system is completely modular, which means you set it up in the configuration you need. I didn’t wear the utility belt because all my gear fit in the front pockets. But if you were going for an overnight or extended hunt, the extra 10L storage would definitely come in handy.
I only really had two minor criticisms – the fit and the zip.
I had the straps tightened as far as they could go, but it was still a tiny bit big for me. This meant the vest moved a little more than I would have liked it to. This also meant that, if I didn’t have enough weight in the front pockets, my bow pulled the pack down a little too far on my back.
Because the zips were new, they were a little noisier than I would have liked. I’m hoping this calms down a little bit with use – or maybe I’ll try waxing the zipper. Neither of these cons were enough to turn me off all the benefits of the pack.
The key benefit to this pack really is how quick and easy it is to get your bow off your back and into position ready to shoot. Think Quick Draw McGraw. Grip your bow/rifle with one hand, pull the quick release strap with the other, and you’re ready to go in less than 3 seconds. That, and the fact that your hands are completely free and your shoulders aren’t on fire!
Because the load is distributed across your whole body, not just across your back, I found it felt lighter and more balanced than other backpacks, even though I was carrying the same weight.
The pack itself is made from heavy duty material, meaning it’s pretty durable. We hunted all kinds of terrain in South Africa, primarily in the Free State and Limpopo. It didn’t matter whether I was jumping off rocks or crawling through bushes, my bow stayed firmly in place. It never once got caught or came off my back except when I wanted it to.
Here’s a short list of all the things I loved about the Paladin Custom Apex Modular Rig:
- It’s very easy to use
- It keeps your hands free to do anything – climb, crawl etc
- The quick release is very handy and almost silent, which is great if you are stalking up on animals
- It has loads of room for everything you need in a day hunt
- It’s super comfortable
- You can jump around, run, crawl and do pretty much anything in this pack and your bow/rifle will not come off
- It’s lightweight
- The pocket has a handy rope attachment for your GPS
- There’s a pocket for a hydration bladder
- The modular system is great and you can set it up however you want it. There’s also the option of taking the back off and using the straps to attach a backpack for an overnight or extended hunting trip
The Apex Modular Rig comes in two colours – coyote (a tan/sand colour) and multicam (camo). Choose from three configurations – basic ($399 AUD), intermediate ($449 AUD) or premium ($625 AUD).
For ease of use, comfort and suitability for bow hunting (or rifle hunting), I rate the Paladin Custom Apex Modular Rig 9/10.
For more information go to https://paladin33.com
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