The Exo Mountain Gear K3 4800 blends top-notch support with functional features that make easy every step from scouting and setting up basecamp to hunting big game and hauling sheds.
Based in Idaho, Exo Mountain Gear is an independent outdoor company that has hand-built meticulously detailed backcountry hunting packs since 2014. Founded by hunters Steve Speck and Lenny Nelson, the primary goal of the brand is to combine the best qualities of load-haulers and internal-frame packs.
After testing the full K3 4800 pack system for hundreds of miles through all four seasons in Colorado’s alpine terrain, we can confidently say Exo has achieved that mission with this durable all-around hunting pack.
In short: The Exo Mountain Gear K3 4800 is a smartly organized, modular design that allows us to quickly customize the fit and how we carry our gear or game without sacrificing comfort. We’ll be using this lightweight pack for a very long time.
Exo Mountain Gear K3 4800
- Type: External frame hunting pack
- Weight (bag): 2 lbs., 3 oz.
- Weight (bag, frame): 5 lbs., 3 oz.
- Weight (bag, frame, lid): 5 lbs., 10 oz.
- Weight (frame): 3 lbs.
- Capacity: (bag): 4,805 cu. in.
- Capacity (bag and lid): 5,205 cu. in.
- Dimensions (expanded): 9 x 11.5 x 38 in.
- Dimensions (compressed): 3 x 11.5 x 25 in.
- Frame: Titanium
- Compartments: Two (dry and wet)
- Pockets: Six (excluding the lid and hipbelt pouch)
- Fabric: 500-denier CORDURA
- Waterproof: No
- Buckles: Duraflex
- Webbing: Mil-Spec nylon
- Zippers: #10 YKK Racquet Coil
- Add-ons: K3 Hipbelt Pouch ($22), K3 Rifle Carrier ($20)
- Sizes: S (29-33 in.), M (33-36 in.), and L (37-46 in.) hipbelt; short (24-25.5 in.) or tall (25-26.5 in.) frame
Exo Mountain Gear K3 Lid
- Weight: 6.8 oz.
- Capacity: 400 cu. in.
- Dimensions: 12 x 19 x 4 in.
- Compatibility: K3 and K2 Pack Systems (included with the K3 4800)
- Compartments: Two
Exo Mountain Gear K3 4800 Review
Our testers first pulled on the Exo Mountain Gear K3 4800 Pack System ($650) for a third-season elk hunt in the high alpine of Southwest Colorado’s Elk Mountains followed by a frosty fourth-season bull elk tag in late November. The second effort included a multitrip haul process to set up basecamp 5 miles one way with 1,500 feet of gain (without enough snow to use our pulk and skis).
After winter break, we took the pack on glassing days and shed hunting throughout alpine desert terrain, including access points where we mountain biked in, pack on.
As we prep for first-season elk and bear tags, we’ve taken the pack on more scouting missions, including 70-mile days on the dirt bike to access far-out spots. The pack was loaded with food, 2 L of water, a water filter, rain gear, midlayers, a tripod, a spotting scope, binoculars, and a motorcycle tool kit.
Regardless of being used on a dirt bike or mountain bike or while hoofing dozens of miles through the pines and aspens of wilderness, this lightweight pack doesn’t swing, remains comfortable and supportive across applications, and distributes weight well. In fact, this pack feels surprisingly light for its durability and ability to carry a heavy load. Our testers agree on all points.
Across all conditions and diverse body types, this heavy hauler didn’t disappoint.
Compartments and Access
One of our favorite details in this pack is the separation of two main compartments. Access the primary compartment by a roll-top, which we dig for expandability and to prevent water from getting in. The roll-top has a buckle closure for extra security.
Aside from the roll-top, this pouch is also accessed via a horseshoe-shaped zipper up front that runs nearly the entire length of the pack.
A second compartment accessed by an exterior zipper up top is completely lined with a sleek, waterproof material. The huge pocket has hose compatibility, so you can use the worry space for a bladder and not about not having refill access. We really like the option to carry a bladder for hydration. This isn’t a feature we’ve seen on all of the hunting packs we’ve taken out.
The waterproof pouch can also be used to keep wet gear separate from everything else.
Functional, Smart Pockets
One of the biggest reasons we kept reaching for this hunting pack over others is the well-thought-out pockets. On each side, the stretch pockets are easy to use, including for a hard-sided 20-ounce water bottle, even with a loaded pack. We’ve experienced side pockets on other hunting packs that can’t secure a water bottle (looking at you, KUIU).
Then, another row of two gloriously long pockets are on each side and reach the entire length of the pack. These are great for holding long pieces of gear like trekking poles or a tripod.
On the pack’s front face, there’s another pocket with a side zipper access, which runs nearly the pack’s whole length. Inside the horseshoe zipper, an interior mesh pocket offers another spot for organizing smaller items.
Exo doesn’t include a lid on all its pack options but this full system does. In it, there’s a primary compartment and a second smaller pocket.
We also added one hipbelt pouch and a pocket on the hipbelt. We wish we’d added two. This small quick-access pocket is key — it’s convenient and easy to use with the pack on.
All things considered, those nine pockets — including two sets of exterior side pockets — make our days in the woods way more organized and efficient.
Big-League Lumbar Support
For a pack that weighs less than 6 pounds, the 4800 evenly distributes and carries tons of weight so well. The design is extremely comfortable even after hours and hours on foot or dozens of miles on the dirt bike.
First off, the hip belt is wide with a plush exterior that slides onto a rigid wing. It’s strong but super comfortable and doesn’t dig into the hips.
Beyond choosing the correct hip belt size, the belt’s micro-adjusters help you dial in the wing placement. These are accessed by peeling up the lumbar pad, which is attached via Velcro.
The lumbar support felt firm enough and well-cushioned. It’s also customizable, thanks to one or two shims that can be inserted inside the lumbar pad. If there’s too much pressure on the lower back, simply remove the shim. Or, if the belt is too loose, you can add one.
Ample Straps, Integrated Load Shelf
Burly straps surround this pack, and we dig it.
Altogether, there are two sets of buckle compression straps on the sides, which we used to carry sheds and other carry-outs. The front face of the pack has another two rows of buckled straps. The side and bottom compression straps also do a solid job of tightening down the bulk and streamlining the carry.
The integrated load shelf that sits between the frame and bag is super-straightforward and speedy to access. The shelf adds a huge carrying volume at 2,500 cubic inches.
You just unbuckle the pack’s two side straps, undo a few slender, strong Velcro flaps on the top, and unfold the bag from the frame like a taco shell. Inside, two buckled straps against the shelf help hold down goods.
Beyond meat, we used the shelf to freight equipment to base camp during a fourth-season hunt. This included a wood-burning camp stove, among other smaller camp necessities.
Adjustable Fit, Modular Design
In addition to the adjustable lumbar support and hipbelt, the frame length can be customized, too.
The short frame (24 inches) and tall frame (25 inches) can be made up to 1.5 inches taller. You simply undo a Velcro flap at the bottom of the frame and pull out the bottom section of the frame, which has two narrow rods on either side.
The bottom of each rod is removable: you pull each one out, flip it around, and reinsert it to add length. Then, put the pack back together.
Again, Exo makes all of these pack adjustments effortless. The payout is a pack that feels even more tailored to our body and day. Overall, the theme of this pack is to zero in on the best fit and the ideal tools for your hunting pack.
We really appreciate the modularity and how we can smoothly add or remove features from the lid to the hipbelt pouch and the rifle carrier. The rifle carrier, for instance, adds convenience and comfort. It distributes the weight of the rifle to the pack instead of the shoulder on a sling.
Exo Mountain Gear K3 4800: Conclusion
Other hunting packs we’ve tested held up to hefting heavy loads or provided enough comfort but, compared to the K3 4800, lack the overarching details. It’s the minutia of design that elevates this pack in addition to its hauling capability and luxurious feel.
From top to bottom, the modular arrangement, efficient add-ons and fit adjustments, intelligent pockets, wet storage compartment, hydration bladder, lumbar support, and comfortable hipbelt make this pack one of our favorites in the field.
Where It Falls Short
The potential drawback of this pack is that it’s expensive, and all of the add-ons are not included in the base price tag. We think it’d be great if two K3 Hipbelt Pouches were added to the package.
In comparison, some of our other favorite big-game packs are a bit more economical. The Mystery Ranch Metcalf checks out at $525, and the KUIU Pro Hunting Pack Kit is as low as $539.
Also, there’s no elastic strap or system on either shoulder strap to help secure the water hose of a bladder. For a pack that’s not waterproof, it might be nice to add an integrated rain cover into a streamlined pocket at the bottom.
And the load shelf only has two buckled straps. While it would add a tad more weight, it could be helpful to increase the number of straps for more user options.
For some hunters that might not need a premium pack, this built-out Badlands 2200 could do just fine for nearly half the cost ($380). To learn about other hunting pack options, check out our GearJunkie gear guide cover the Best Backpacks for Big-Game Hunting.
To Sum It All Up
All in all, the durability of the materials so far has proven to be stout with no sign of wear and tear. Simply put, the Exo Mountain Gear K3 4800 is a solid all-around hunting pack through any season, objective, and volume of miles. We’re already prepping for the next round of elk and bear tags and will be pulling on this essential pack every step of the way.