The word "tactical" may be overused these days (one company even sells tactical camp chairs, whatever that means), but it definitely applies to the two packs I'm trying out during this year's hunting season, as each features genuine military attributes. Take the T3 Tactical Fanny Pack, for instance. I know what you're thinking—didn't I just say that word was overused? How can a fanny pack be tactical? Here's how: it's made of 500-denier Cordura, so it'll take abuse and last forever. The main compartment holds a pistol, bear spray, knife, GPS, snack, or other necessity, while the outer pocket will fit smaller items like wind-checkers and calls. A third pocket on the inside of the pack accommodates a cell phone, hunting tags, or a small map. Which means this little guy can be a convenient accoutrement to your standard kit—no more removing and rummaging through your backpack for oft-used items—or it can be a standalone piece when minimalist hunting. I took mine on morning bow-hunts and enjoyed the increased mobility from not wearing a full-sized backpack or having my pockets stuffed full. $74; t3gear.com.
For all-day or late-season hunts where a little more gear—e.g., extra layers—is required, check out the Sarcina ruck from Cannae Pro Gear. I say "ruck" because that's what it is, an army-style rucksack: no waistbelt, no fancy comfort features, just a utilitarian pack that you throw on your back and go. That doesn't mean it's uncomfortable to wear; on the contrary, the Sarcina fits snug to the body and holds a fair amount of weight without destroying the shoulders. It's also got plenty of pockets: a side pouch for radio/phone/GPS, a flexible stash pocket for water or bear spray, a wide front pocket with both Velcro and buckles, and a mesh interior sleeve. Two padded rear pockets allow for a laptop and concealed carry. My favorite part of the Sarcina is the wide-mouth, drawstring top, which makes for easy insertion and removal of larger items—just stuff, pull, and go. Speaking of easy access, a side-access zipper allows quick entry into the bottom of the main compartment. Finally, the Sarcina boasts strong Cordura construction and several Molle attachments points, so you can customize the pack with other military accessories. $130; cannaeprogear.com.