Is the Badlands Monster fanny pack worth the money, and if so, why? While this pack has been around for several years and has undergone minor evolutionary improvements it remains a top player for people who demand versatile, light-weight gear for hunting, mountaineering, or hiking. Why are we at LocaCarnivore reviewing one now? Simple, we had tried to rely on pockets and pouches to carry smaller items for years, but once we saw the Badlands Monster Fanny Pack, we knew just how wrong we had been.
Loaded for Bear, or Whatever…
Here’s a quick rundown on all the gear I take on a typical hunt. Slung from my pants belt: ammunition carrier, knife, bone saw, and sidearm. Into various pants and coat pockets I shoved extra gloves; plastic shopping bags for small game or organ meats from larger critters; spare boot lace (both for a boot lace blowout, and to open Koni-Bear traps in an emergency); extra hat(s); extra gloves; keys; hunting licenses; and a phone. In my nifty, “they don’t make ‘em anymore,” orange hunting vest, I crammed a rangefinder, game calls, game bags, an extra clothing mid-layer, more ammo, zip ties (for attaching carcass tags), exam gloves, and more hats or gloves. Hey, when you hunt the Rocky Mountains, you tend to collet hats and gloves—each with its own special purpose.
Enter Badlands Monster Fanny Pack
I never liked such a set up. Outer clothes covered the items on my belt which meant I dug through several layers to get what I wanted. An inconvenience when I needed a skinning knife, a possible threat to life if I needed my sidearm. In addition, if I wanted something from my hunting vest’s large rear pocket, I had to take the vest off before I could access those items. While the vest’s mini-back pack would hold quite a bit, it made the vest heavy with all the weight suspended from just my shoulders. The stuffed pockets on my pants and outer rain shell didn’t get a Nobel prize for efficiency, either.
I had gone on this way for years until I stumbled upon a Badlands Monster Fanny Pack. I had used a conventional day pack from time to time, but this did not meet my needs, either. The pack covered my orange vest’s rear half, which created safety issues—other hunters might not see me which could have fatal consequences. It also created regulatory compliance issues if I wore the pack while hunting in jurisdictions which mandated you could not obstruct the vest. Not to mention it’s almost impossible to sling a rifle over a pack’s shoulder straps.
I had an epiphany when I examined the Badlands Monster Fanny Pack. It could hold as much, or more, as my hunting vest’s rear pouch, but since it sat on the waist and not on the back, it would not obstruct my orange vest. I had to buy it. Although the price , $189.99 retail, almost gave me a palsied fit.
How it Works
The Badlands Monster Fanny Pack is based on a wide, padded waist belt supplemented with a three-point suspension harness. The large center pouch has a long stiffener made from an undisclosed composite material which bows over the pouch’s top. This bow keeps the center pouch upright and pulled in tight to the body. Smaller pouches radiate out right and left from the main pouch along the belt. These pouches can hold numerous things.
The waist belt and front suspenders feature quick-adjust buckles. It is simple and easy to get the right tension for each while the pack is worn. The rear suspender is less so. To adjust it, remove the pack, open the main compartment and use the clamp-style buckle to adjust the length. This system requires the user to take the pack on and off as many times as necessary to get a good fit—not the best solution here, Badlands.
And Now the Bad News…
While the pack is well designed overall, there is one problem which needs some rework. The “Y” shaped shoulder yoke which joins the front and rear suspenders has significant issues. When I looked at this feature in the store, it appeared well thought out. I found the yoke’s thinness attractive because it shouldn’t interfere with a rifle sling, unlike the thick, padded shoulder straps found on most traditional backpacks.
When I began to use the pack, however, the designs flaws became apparent. The yoke is not cut well. It puckers and balloons away from the user’s shoulders at the back and does not lie flat. This creates pressure points along the users’ shoulders and neck and I, at least, could not find an adjustment which would solve this problem. On the plus side, the yoke does not interfere with anything slung over it, such as a rifle or binoculars. Although, it is slippery, which necessitated a new, non-slip sling for my hunting rifle. Badlands should have used a more common four-point suspension harness similar to what is found on military load bearing web gear. Instead, in their zeal to reduce weight, they chose this ill-conceived three-point system.
The yoke has one other feature which Badlands ballyhoos but which proved less than optimal in the field. The yoke is also a pouch which holds a second, folded up pouch made from nylon mesh. This mesh pouch is intended to hold a hydration bladder, so the user doesn’t need a separate hydration system. This bladder pouch has some problems, however. While it may function in warm weather, it is useless in conditions below freezing since it does not insulate the bladder and the water in it will freeze. In such conditions, I put my hydration pack under my parka and thread the drinking hose under my armpit. Is keeps both the bladder and tube warm enough. Even though one can attach the pouch’s base to the rear suspender strap, the bladder flops up and down a bit on the user’s back if they run or jump.
The yoke could also use a D-ring or some MOLLE webbing to provide a place to anchor other, longer items such as snowshoes or an avalanche rescue shovel. The whole pack would benefit from more MOLLE loops, as well. As it is, you get just a single, vertical ribbon on the main pouch.
In the Field
Despite the Badlands Monster Fanny Pack’s design miscues, it works well once you have it adjusted. I had just one chance to wear this pack during Montana’s general elk season. It didn’t obscure my orange hunting vest to any great degree and freed up my pockets and belt. The pack did interfere with my sidearm’s holster so I had to dig out an old chest holster which I despise, plus leave my bear spray behind. A significant issue when you are in grizzly country. After the hunt I put together a new system based on High Speed Gear’s mini-chest rig which allows me to carry the handgun and bear spray plus other essentials when I wear the Badlands Monster Fanny Pack. I’ll leave the chest rig build for another article at a later date.
Sidearm issue aside, the Monster Fanny Pack interfaced well with my other gear which included a hydration pack and binoculars. When combined with the neck lanyards for my rangefinder, binoculars and game calls, the whole set up had a bit too many straps which if not layered well became a tangled mess. The aforementioned chest rig has reduced this problem by a large magnitude.
After elk season closed, I took the Badlands Monster Fanny Pack along with the High Speed Gear chest rig on numerous snowshoe treks to shake out any bugs which remained. So far it has proven effective in this role and provides an added benefit: the pack secures my parka’s bottom hem and prevents cold air from migrating up my back beneath the parka. In a roundabout way, one could claim the Badlands Monster Fanny Pack keeps you warm.
Also, it should make an excellent upland bird hunting pack.
Watch the video!
Is the Badlands Monster Fanny Pack worth the money? All in all, we’d give the Badlands Monster Fanny Pack a qualified thumbs up. Its benefits outweigh its faults and we’d recommend it to anyone who wants or needs a low-drag, small pack—if you can afford it. Did we mention the price?
What We Liked About the Badlands Monster Fanny Pack
- Good capacity for such a small pack
- Interfaces well with other gear
- Rugged construction despite its light weight
What We Didn’t Like About the Badlands Monster Fanny Pack
- Gimcrack hydration bladder pouch
- Suspension harness yoke
- Gimcrack rear suspender adjustment
- Supposed holster loop doesn’t accommodate any holsters we tried
- Needs way more MOLLE ribbons and D-rings to attach extra gear
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