Review: Browning Billy 1500 Lumbar Hunting Pack
Russ Chastain 11.17.16
After using a basic Duluth Pack All Day Lumbar Pack for the past few deer seasons, I learned to love lumbar packs. Easier access while on the stand or in the blind, much easier to take on/off than a backpack, and the fact that you can strap excess clothing on top without turning yourself into the jolly green giant all conspired to make me a believer.
When I saw the new hunting packs from Browning at the last SHOT Show, I promptly ordered a Browning Billy 1500 Lumbar Pack and have been using it this deer season.
There are ups and downs with any product. Here are my pros and cons:
- Convenient grab handle on top of pack.
- Shoulder straps carry the weight.
- Hip strap keeps the pack from bouncing or swinging around.
- Interior pockets are thoughtfully designed.
- Nice zipper pulls, and one zipper is silent.
- Side pocket on hip strap rides on right hip and can be accessed while wearing the pack (this pocket has the silent Hypo-Sonic zipper).
- Water repellent.
- Well-made and durable.
- Strap from shoulder harness down to the main pack gets in the way of the main pack opening.
- Most of the zippers are noisy.
- Imported (made in Vietnam).
- Hip strap buckle can be noisy and clank on a climbing stand.
The Real Story
This pack is well-made and thoughtfully designed. So much so that I may end up using it more often than the more costly Duluth pack. While I appreciate the simplicity of the Duluth pack, there’s something to be said for internal compartments inside to keep often-accessed items from becoming buried. I know just where to reach when I need hand warmers, batteries, pruners, folding hand saw, etc.
I use the dual beverage holders, one of which has a zipper closure, for a water bottle and a pee bottle when I’m hunting deer. The hip strap compartment has that sweet Hypo-Sonic silent zipper, which I love.
But Alas! All of the other zippers are traditional zippers, and therefore are noisy. For that reason, I do my best to unzip all of those zippers when I get to where I’m hunting to avoid making excess noise after the woods calm down.
The fabric zipper pulls are well-made and won’t rattle, and that’s always appreciated.
Once the day warms up, I can shed a layer or two and easily slip that clothing between the strap that descends from the shoulder harness to support the rest of the pack. Once I have the pack on my back, gravity causes that strap to hold my jacket securely. I’m talking about the center strap, which came from the factory routed through the top grab handle as in the photo below (unlike the images above).
I just wish that strap had a quick-release buckle because it is right in the way when I open the main compartment. Being able to pop that strap loose when I’m on stand would be a huge improvement.
A large carabiner clip that I added to the top grab handle means that I can usually hang this pack from just about any deer stand with no problem, without putting stress on the “lid” of the main compartment. Some packs dangle by other means, which can be pretty inconvenient.
If you like hydration packs, such as Camelbak et al, this pack has got you covered.
All in all, I can’t find too much to dislike about this pack, and if you know me you know that’s notable.
Street prices vary widely; I’ve seen it for anywhere from $80 to $180, so shop around before you buy.
- BaumShell fabric reduces noise for stealthy stalking
- Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coating for performance in wet conditions
- Asymmetrical waist belt design increases the size of the storage pocket
- Tri-vent padding makes for a breathable, comfortable back panel
- Hunter-specific organization system
- Center of gravity carry allows you to log more miles
- Infinite loop suspension
- HyposonicTM closure
- Cam buckle
- Low-profile lash points
- Rain flap
- Pass-through side and front pockets
- 1,500 cu.-in. (24.5-liter) capacity
- Measures 15″ x 12″ x 16″
- Weighs 2.5 lbs