Top photo: Credit: Seek Outside & Kyle Mlynar
We put Seek Outside’s Goshawk 4800 through its paces in the wilderness of southwest Montana. It proved to be extremely versatile, serving as a daypack, an overnight combination pack, and a meat hauler.
Seek Outside’s Goshawk 4800 is a rugged and highly configurable lightweight backpack that is just as well-suited to a two-hour jaunt after work as it is to multiday trips in the backcountry.
This pack’s adaptable compression system allows it to scale from 3,000 cubic inches to over 7,000 cubic inches with ease. Expanding the load shelf and breaking the bag away from the frame can add up to 2,000 cubic inches, making meat hauling efficient.
Additionally, pack up to four water bottles in the side pockets. And there are extra pockets to stash necessary gear. It’s not just the volume this pack can handle, it’s also the weight of the pack itself. Seek Outside is well known for its ultralight backpacking tents, tipis, and stoves, so it’s no surprise that its hunting backpacks fall into the ultralight category as well.
The base Goshawk 4800 model costs $479 and checks in at 3.69 pounds. Fully loaded with accessories, it tops out to just over 5 pounds. As many backpackers know, ounces equal pounds. And when you’re on a hunting trip you’re often carrying more than you would on a summer outing. So cutting ounces on your pack weight is a must. This pack does just that up front.
And yes, we know there are much lighter backpacks. But they won’t carry a 50-plus-pound load or withstand the rigors of hunting. A hunting pack is a different beast altogether.
Now on to the field.
Overnighter to Daypack to Stalker
I used the Goshawk 4800 base model with lumbar support for my time in the field this fall. I elected to not use the frame extensions, as I’m not exactly a tall guy to start out. For accessories, I used two options of hip belt pockets, a lid, and a stuffable Merlin Talon Daypack for quick trips.
This allowed me to pack in everything I needed for two nights in the backcountry with room to spare. My GPS, rangefinder, and bear spray were at the ready on my hip. My kill kit was in the Merlin along with some snacks, tags, and an additional water bladder. And the top lid was filled with the rest of my food.
Once we arrived at camp, the detachable lid was able to be safely stored away. And I was able to traverse the countryside with just the Merlin for nearby hunts. On longer outings, I chose to use the compressed pack and Merlin combined.
Compress All the Things
Seek Outside’s highly adaptable compression system has an easy-to-use Gatekeeper buckle and strap system. It opens with a quick pinch and can be daisy-chained to support a variety of gear configurations.
The same straps that are used to compress the main pack also attach an additional Talon or an optional lid. The base configuration offers six side compression straps and an over-the-top compression strap to pull it all together. I found this compression and attachment system to be very intuitive after a quick glance. And the Gatekeeper buckles are perhaps my favorite part of the overall system. Operating in cold and wet conditions is as simple as a pinch, making operation with gloved hands very easy.
Easy In-The-Field Adjustments
When hunting in the backcountry, your load may vary from your starting weight to a daypack configuration to hauling out heavy meat. I found that the Goshawk 4800 has a variety of features meant to help adjust the pack to changing conditions. It does this very well.
You can adjust the frame height from the default 24 inches up to 28 inches, helping with heavier loads. The dynamic belt system has a dual-buckle hip belt that allows for tightening the bottom and top of the belt to adjust for load carry.
The hip belt also floats away from the frame, making it snug up against your body. This makes for a very comfortable fit for when loads are lighter. And to help with heavier loads, you can add on a field-expedient lumbar support. For my hunts in the Montana backcountry, I utilized the lumbar support and found it to be a great addition.
A Few Qualms
Admittedly, after a few hunts, I really came to rely on the functionality of the Goshawk 4800. But I also ran into a few issues. First, I personally like having a water bladder. And in the base configuration of the pack, it offers only water bottle pockets and lacks any provision for an internal water bladder and port for a hose. This is problematic when on the move.
Second, the dual buckles on the hip belt serve a purpose for sure (and I greatly appreciated them when carrying heavier loads). But I found myself crossing up the buckles quite often. I had to make a conscious effort to connect them correctly. Fortunately, Seek Outside offers a solution to this with a 4-to-1 buckle that is available upon request.
None of these were problems — just annoyances. I found the benefits of the pack far outweigh these minor inconveniences.
The Goshawk 4800 from Seek Outside is a versatile and reliable companion in a variety of hunting scenarios. While big enough to carry everything you need into the backcountry for an epic adventure, it compresses down small enough to be barely noticeable on a day hunt. The adaptable compression system and many different add-on storage offerings are substantial enough to cover any scenario you need while hunting.
The minor annoyances aren’t enough to deter me from taking this pack out into the field for multiple adventures, and I’m looking forward to seeing what other adventures I’m able to tackle with this pack on my back.