Eberlestock has been in business for 30 years now. Starting with stocks for biathlon competitions, Glen Eberle’s Idaho ties and love for hunting soon had him dreaming of making a better hunting backpack. Eberlestock was really one of the first pioneers in making performance-oriented packs for hunters, and has now developed quite an extensive lineup.
The design of the Blue Widow is one of expansion. Starting as a 2200-c.i. day pack (including top lid), it quickly opens up to 4700 c.i. when unzipped. If successful in the field and you’re ready to carry meat, simply put the meat in the main compartment and attach the Spike Duffel or Super Spike Duffel to the outside (piggyback style) to carry your original load that was in the main compartment. Now you’re fully loaded with well over 7000 total c.i.
Frame/suspension: The internal frame is contoured aluminum combined with a plastic frame sheet. It’s ergonomically built to allow it to stay close to your back yet allow for good ventilation.
The suspension is fully adjustable and comes with ample and well-placed padding to carry heavy loads in comfort. The pack comes with a “shooter’s harnesss” – thinner, broader shoulder straps – which aren’t as padded, but they spread out the PSI over a wider area to accomplish a similar goal.
The hip belt comes with their Padlock system to allow for accessories. A thick lumbar pad adds some beef and comfort when fully loaded.
Bag: Made from NT-7 premium waterproof microfleece and 1000D nylon, this bag is quiet, durable, and weather-resistant.
The lid itself doesn’t provide storage, but is topped off with an additional “lid” that is removable and turns into a fanny pack. This comes with three pockets, including a hydration pocket.
The main bag starts as 2200 c.i. and includes an expandable shroud. When opened up, the back panel is mesh. Thus, I’d likely always carry the spike duffel as a liner for the main compartment with my gear already inside, to keep it better secured from the elements. Also, it’s ready for quick removal, to be replaced by meat and then zipped to the outside.
Long side pockets are perfect for spotting scope, tripod, and other items. Additional sleeves and lower side pockets add even more storage.
Horizontal and vertical compression straps help to easily secure a load. Also, the Flex Chassis cloth flap adds support to the load at the bottom, buckling into the lid for great vertical compression. When not hiking, unbuckle from the lid and fold it out for use as a seat.
Color/camo options: Hide-Open Western Slope, Hide-Open Rock Veil, Mossy Oak Brush.
Best Qualities: Pack has huge expandability and versatility, from 1900 c.i. – 7000+; Flex Chassis is good multipurpose tool; good organization; quality construction; quiet materials.
Could be better: Doesn’t expand vertically well (fixed lid and lower overall frame height); could be a little lighter; could use slightly more padding in shoulder straps and belt.
Cost: $349. Contact: www.eberlestock.com.
Recommended Accessories: Super Spike Duffel (3500 c.i.; 24 oz.) – $60; Spike Duffel (3000 c.i.; 14 oz.) – $40; small padded accessory case (4 oz.) – $20; J-Type Dry Bag (3000 c.i.; 24 oz.) – $50; rifle scabbard (21 oz.) – $60; Bow carrier (10 oz.) $35.
Similar Eberlestock products to consider: J107 Dragonfly (4900 c.i.; 9 lbs., 4 oz.) – $399. Very similar to the Blue Widow, with the addition of the built-in gun scabbard.