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Field Tested: ALPS Contender X Review

Field Tested: ALPS Contender X Review

ALPS OutdoorZ touts its Contender X as “the ultimate whitetail day pack.” Given that, you may wonder why I’ve chosen to share this review in the spring, just in time for turkey season. The answer is simple: The same features that make the Contender X a great deer-hunting companion also make it perfect for toting turkey gear to and from the field.

The most obvious feature that sets the Contender X apart from the average daypack is its self-standing, L-shaped internal frame that allows the pack to hold its shape whether you set it on the ground or hang it in a tree. Combined with a U-shaped zipper that allows you to open the entire front of the pack like a flap, this design creates a main-compartment storage area I compare to a tool bucket — it’s a big, open space where you can put a lot of gear, see what’s in there and get to it easily without having to dig around and without stuff falling out in the process. As ALPS notes, this feature is ideal for whitetail hunters whether they set up on the ground or climb into a stand. However, the design also makes the Contender X a pack that’s more than capable of carrying several turkey decoys, along with an assortment of calls and other necessary tools.

Finished in Veil Whitetail camouflage, the Contender X weighs 4 pounds, 13 ounces and has a total storage capacity of 30 liters (1,850 cubic inches). Within the main compartment is a divider for a hydration bladder, along with five additional mesh pockets to help you further organize your calls, decoy stakes, optics, snacks, etc.

In addition to the main compartment, there is a zippered secondary storage compartment that’s accessible from both inside and outside the pack. When the pack is closed, you can access this compartment via an exterior zipper along the top of the pack. When the pack is open and the flap is hanging down to expose the main storage compartment, you can access this compartment via a zipper at the top of the flap. I use this compartment for essential items, such as my headlamp and spare release aid, that I want to keep handy at all times, whether walking to/from my hunting area or in the middle of an encounter with game.

Rounding out the storage capabilities are an expanding center pocket and a pair of side pouches, all on the exterior of the pack. These are perfect for holding water bottles and packable rainwear. And since there is a compression strap above each pocket, you can also use them to securely carry taller items such as a spotting scope.

Other Contender X features include: a Lycra-covered, molded-foam suspension panel on the back of the pack; Lycra-covered foam shoulder straps with adjustable “load lifter” straps to help optimize weight distribution; multiple D-rings and lashing points for attaching extra gear; a removable waist belt with zippered gear pockets; a drop-down gun/bow carrying pocket; and an integrated rain cover that stows in a dedicated zippered pocket. The pack is constructed with heavy-duty fabrics featuring ElimiShield Scent Control Technology.

The Contender X was originally introduced in 2019, and I used it in the deer woods all fall. I absolutely love the design and the way it helps me carry a lot of gear, keep it organized and get to it when I need it. The only complaint I had was the permanent waist belt, as I felt it was unnecessary and often got in the way while I was climbing and/or when the pack was hanging in the tree. I solved that problem by cutting the waist belt off my pack, so I am glad to see ALPS has given users more options by making the waist belt removable on the 2020 model. MSRP: $229.99 |

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