Gear Review: Stone Glacier Sky Talus 6900 with X-curve Frame
Updated: 6 days ago
Overview: In my first year hunting "Out West" with Kyle, I used my familiar Osprey backpack to carry gear; the one that had seen trips in California, Colorado, Idaho and Wyoming. It's a great pack–comfortable, roomy and well laid out...for a traditional backpacking trip. But in terms of hunting it had limitations, the most glaring being the lack of a meat/load shelf for getting game out of the field.
So, going into my 2021 hunt, I went on the search for a proper backcountry hunting pack. I evaluated a number of brands: Stone Glacier, Mystery Ranch, Eberlestock, Kifaru and even Kuiu. I talked to a lot of friends that had personal experience with each and I read a ton of reviews. While all of these packs seemed solid and had their group of loyalists, one name kept coming to the top: Stone Glacier.
After much debate, I pulled the trigger on Stone Glacier's Sky Talus 6900 and spent the summer and early fall training with it before taking it to hunt Montana this past November. The Sky Talus features a 6,400-cubic-inch main bag, a 500-cubic-inch lid, plus a 2,500-cubic-inch expandable load shelf, and boasts a 150-pound load capacity. It can also be converted to a 4,000-cubic-inch day pack.
The Talus 6900 has four external side pockets. The two large side pockets have full length, heavy-duty #10 zippers with dual sliders for quick access to a spotting scope and items needed quickly on the trail. Each side pocket is offset away from the frame to allow tripod or rifle carry without inhibiting the pocket function or access. The lower external side pockets are open-top, designed for carrying a water bottle, tripod, or other gear on the side of the pack.
The Sky Talus 6900 with the X-curve frame retails for $694.
What I like:
1. Materials - Stone Glacier packs are constructed of 500 denier Cordura fabric, X-Pac textiles and heavy duty webbing and buckles. X-Pac is a waterproof, USA manufactured fabric technology that has a tear strength double the military requirements for Cordura 500d and is used in the high stress, high wear areas. Cordura 500d is utilized for the main bag due to its balance of strength, flexibility, and noise reduction. The thread is a heavy duty, military grade UV resistant #92 thread. Buckles are Duraflex Berry Compliant heavy-duty military hardware. In every aspect, the most durable, technical, heavy-duty materials were selected. The pack represents a nice "happy medium" between weight and durability.
2. Fit and Adjustability - Stone Glacier uses Nitrogen infused foam, X-Pac fabric, Cordura 500d fabric and industrial hook and loop combine to provide a suspension with infinite adjustment and comfort. Using hook and loop for the shoulder harness attachment allows the user to not only dial in the exact height of the harness but change the angle each shoulder strap leaves the frame. It takes some dialing in, but makes for a very precise and comfortable fit even under a full load.
The Talus 6900 can be converted to a 4,000 cubic inch day/bivy pack and is load shelf compatible to add another 2,500+ cubic inches for larger loads. From day hikes using minimal volume, to extended trips using 8,000+ cubic inches, the Talus 6900 provides a lot of adjustability and versatility.
3. Lifetime Warranty - Stone Glacier offers a lifetime warranty against defects in material and workmanship. Any issues associated with normal wear and tear are able to be repaired at a minimal and reasonable charge.
4. 100% American Made - All Stone Glacier packs and accessories are proudly made in the USA and, where applicable, they also use materials and components that are Made in the USA. Stone Glacier is headquartered in Bozeman, MT where all Stone Glacier products are assembled, inspected, packaged and shipped by Stone Glacier employees.
5. Customer Service - I had a lot of questions before and after purchase and the Stone Glacier team was extremely responsive, knowledgable, helpful, and friendly.
What I don't like:
Cost - At a starting price of nearly $700 plus the need to add various accessories (inside organization pockets, belt accessory pockets, and rifle sling) this pack ended up running me around $850. That's a pretty damn sizable chunk of change for a pack in my opinion, especially when I consider that my trusty Osprey cost me less than half of that amount.
Fussy - There are a LOT of adjustments and configurations which can, of course, be a positive, but for me it was also a negative. There are SO MANY straps and buckles and configurations that it often left me a little frustrated and perplexed. Now, I will vigorously admit that much of this is likely due to user error (or user denseness). In fact, I had one of the Stone Glacier employees patiently walk me through the various configurations in person...twice...and I was still confused. I'm sure with more regular use over time all of the adjustments will become simple second nature (as evidenced by the SG employee), but for me it was more complicated than I would have preferred, especially compared to the Osprey pack I have become accustomed to.
Pack/Pocket Layout - Coming from a more "pure backpacking" background, I don't really love how the Talus lays out. The main compartment is relatively thin (due to accounting for a load shelf) and doesn't stow gear the way I expected. The two zipped side pockets are very large/voluminous but somewhat awkward and non-functional for how I pack, being very tall and tubular and not really the right shape for many items (maybe spotting scope and tripod?), and I found the lower open-topped side pockets too shallow to effectively carry my water bottles. Last, I am honestly annoyed that I had to add belt compartments at an additional cost (on a pack that already ran me $700). Generally speaking, I just don't love how this pack organizes my gear. I will, however, admit to being a strong creature of habit and I am very familiar with how my Osprey pack lays out/organizes. I think with a year under my belt now, I will be better able to pack and organize the Talus.
Perfect For: The Sky Talus 6900 is built to be a versatile hunting pack, adjusting from a 4,000-cubic-inch day/bivy pack to a 6,900-cubic-inch multi-day backcountry pack–plus it offers an additional 2,500 cubic inches available as a load shelf. It's light and strong, adjusts for a precise fit, and carries weight comfortably. If you don't mind spending a little money and fussing with a lot of different adjustments, this could easily be the only pack you will need for the rest of your life, especially considering its lifetime warranty.
Stars: 4 out of 5