The AKEK Alpha 3200 backpack packs more tricks than a magician. It is a wildly capable tool with a couple of minor downsides.
Hunting backpacks have a tough job. Primarily, they need to be very durable and haul extremely heavy loads. But with these packs, the devil is in the details.
Big-game hunters need to carry a bow or firearm comfortably but with the ability to access it in seconds. They need to haul a lot of gear but also have a space to carry meat in the event of a successful hunt. And they must have access to many small tools like calls, range-finders, and spotting scopes.
There are a lot of great hunting backpacks on the market. But AKEK, a brand that launched in Utah in 2021, takes its attention to detail to a very high level.
AKEK sent over its Alpha 3200 backpack for me to check out, and it really got my attention, especially for the myriad capabilities rarely found in a single pack.
In short: The AKEK Alpha 3200 ($399) is among the most feature-rich backpacks made for big-game hunters. It has built-in tools for everything, from a quick-release firearm and bow carry to a built-on daypack and even an included dry sack. But users will pay a weight penalty for all the bells and whistles.
AKEK 3200 Backpack Review: How It Carries
To be entirely transparent up front, the bulk of my use of this pack came before hunting seasons. But I carried the pack through some 15-mile hiking days to get a feel of its utility. I also used it some during archery hunting season. But I still need to spend more time with the pack, as it has more utility than most I’ve used.
To get the elephant out of the room, the pack is a little heavy. At about 5 pounds 10 ounces, it is more than a pound heavier than KUIU’s Pro Hunting Pack Kit, which reigns supreme in our list of the best hunting backpacks.
That said, it’s lighter than the venerable (but larger) Mystery Ranch Metcalf. So don’t let the weight color your judgment too much. With that weight comes a whole lot of utility.
I carried a modest load, about 15 pounds, during my first hike with the AKEK 3200. That’s pretty average for most single-day hunts and the way I use a backpack of this size (3,200 cubic inches). Most of the time, I’d pack it with extra clothing, a kill kit, food and water, and game bags plus odds and ends.
I found it very comfortable. The pack is extremely robust, thanks to 500-denier CORDURA fabric and a rock-solid carbon fiber frame. It just feels substantial and gives you a very good platform on your back. The straps and hip belt are particularly stout and feel good.
On the downside, with all this strength comes heat. The back panel on the pack isn’t particularly breathable. I sweated out my T-shirt pretty quickly while wearing the pack. But, to be fair, if you hunt in cooler weather mostly and wear multiple layers, this shouldn’t be as much of an issue.
Overall, the pack carries well. It feels very substantial, as a product that should last a long time.
An Array of Features
So let’s dive into some of the vast abilities of the pack. Many of these can be addressed in other packs with add-on parts, but the AKEK 3200 is a do-all solution.
The first thing I noticed, and really like, is the built-in, quick-release firearm or bow carry system. It’s slick. A hunter can strap a rifle to the side (and drop the butt into a purpose-built pocket) with one strap that lashes over the barrel.
For quick access, simply reach over the shoulder and grab the firearm, pull the quick-release strap, and it’s free. It’s clever and well-designed. And the system also works with bows in a slightly different configuration. No more carrying your bow in your hands all day.
The video below shows how this works.
Next, you’ve got an included daypack. And this isn’t just a top-pouch repurposed into a hip pack. No, AKEK gives you a full daypack big enough for enough food, water, and equipment for a short hunt, especially if you’re hunting from a remote campsite. No need to carry the full pack all day while stalking (but you’ll need to walk back to camp to get the frame and haul meat). It’s a nice addition and one I expect I’d use regularly on some backcountry hunts.
There are a whole lot more features — but for brevity, I won’t dive into the details. With the purchase of the pack, you get seven zippered pockets and two elastic side pockets large enough to carry most spotting scopes. There’s space for not one, but two water bladders. And the pack ships with two large, useful hip-belt pockets (big enough for large range-finders) and even a dry sack and rain cover.
The AKEK 3200 also stands apart because it has two places to load meat: a standard meat shelf between the main pack and the frame, and a second “shelf” between the daypack and the main body of the bag.
This could come in handy. In elk hunting, you could load the back quarter against the frame and a front quarter or backstraps in the secondary meat shelf.
This could save you a trip during a meat haul in some situations, so long as you have strong legs. You could also use these spaces to haul extra gear if the 3,200-cubic-inch capacity isn’t enough (and for backcountry hunts, this could get snug).
Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to test this with meat yet. But I’m writing this from a remote elk camp, so fingers crossed. I’ll update if I have some success.
AKEK 3200: A Backpack With Everything
AKEK is a small brand. It currently sells just four products, including this pack, a water bladder, a belt system, a rain cover, and a hat. But it took a huge swing for the fence with the Alpha 3200. And it’s enough that it should raise some eyebrows.
In my personal experience so far, the company has built a very good product. It may have some refinement yet, as I noticed a couple of buckles that bounced against the frame making a clicking noise while hiking. And it could use a little more ventilation along the back panel and cut a little weight.
But the pack makes no compromises. Most hunters will take a while to learn how to use it to its full capability. I’m still learning all its tricks. But particularly for Western big-game hunters, this is one worth investigating if you’re looking for a pack that quite literally does it all.