With the Badlands Vario, Sell Your Customers on Versatility

With the Badlands Vario pack system you can sell your customers on its versatility for their hunting and outdoors activities.

With the Badlands Vario, Sell Your Customers on Versatility

Hunters can purchase the frame ($350), but the fun comes once you start building the system. Four packs comprise the system. Hunters can purchase all the packs at once or individually. (Photo: Jace Bauserman)

You move lots of guns, ammo and a few must-have items, but packs, camo clothing and the like can sit on shelves for months — or even years. Fortunately, you can carry a single pack that will meet the needs of any hunter who comes through your doors.

Badlands has been engineering and building packs for a long time, and its latest marvel, the Vario System, is without question the manufacturer’s most versatile to date. Carry this one system in your shop, and you’ll appeal to the masses. 

Multiple Options

The Vario Pack System consists of a durable pack frame, four packs (all designed for different types of hunts), Batwing attachment accessories and a Backcountry Game Bag. The Vario frame is the heart of this innovative system. Available in medium and large sizes, the frame features magnesium alloy stays, which provide an ideal strength-to-weight ratio. Also sure to be appreciated is the full-vented molded memory foam suspension system.

Badlands wanted to provide a frame that promises undeniable strength and comfort and they delivered. Redesigned shoulder straps feature increased padding as well as load-lifter straps to ensure a comfortable ride. The waist belt is constructed from molded foam and showcases a reverse-tightening feature that makes it a breeze to suck down. This 5.4-pound frame is also fitted with a hip-belt holster, a pair of hip-belt pouches and a Bino Connect system. Hunters can simply purchase the frame ($350), but the real fun comes once you start building the system.

Four packs comprise the system, and hunters can purchase all the packs at once or individually. All packs are created from new KXO-50 fabric, which was designed to be light and extra durable. The Vario Day OS ($160), like all packs in this system, attaches to the Vario Frame, promises a total volume of 1,800 cubic inches and is the only pack in the system that features an additional pair of shoulder straps so it can be worn without the frame.

Other packs in the system include the Vario 33 OS ($170), Vario 50 OS ($180) and Vario 65 OS ($190). The number in each specific pack name represents the first two numbers in the pack’s cubic-inch rating. The Vario Deluxe Batwing OS ($70) and the Vario Backcountry Game Bag ($50) round out the offerings. 

This system is sure to meet the needs of your entire customer base, and eliminate your need to carry multiple pack lines. You can carry the Vario System, or bits and pieces of the system depending on your shop’s geographic locale, and make your customers happy.

Performance Tested

I’ve spent more than 60 days field-testing this system and it absolutely lives up to the hype. While some packs seem to require an MIT degree to operate, the Vario System ensures ease of operation. In fact, my 14-year-old son, Hunter, can swap packs out in a matter of minutes.

Regardless of what pack (or packs) you choose, all connect easily to the frame. To attach a pack to the frame, first undo the load-lifter straps on the frame. Next, locate the sleeves (the Day Pack only has a single sleeve option) at the top/backside of each pack. These sleeves slide over the top of the frame, and each sleeve has a set of pre-cut slots that the load-lifter buckles slide through. Now reattach the load-lifter straps through the buckles. The top of the pack is now attached.

To attach the bottom of a pack to the frame, remove the bedroll straps and feed them through the frame’s bottom buckles. Now run the bedroll straps back through and the pack is attached. All that’s left to do now is match up some buckles. It’s important to note that when attaching the Day Pack, you will have a good gap between the bottom of the pack and the bottom of the frame. This design was done on purpose. Being the bedroll straps are so long and you have a gap, you can store a sleeping bag, tent, coats and various other gear when toting the Day OS pack. All other packs run right to the bottom of the frame.

I love that Badlands went with heavy-duty buckles and long straps. I hate dealing with short straps. Long straps allow you to attach gear and snugly secure it.

My first test with the Vario System was in early October 2019. My father-in-law had drawn a coveted Colorado Shiras moose tag. I figured what better way to test a pack than hauling hundreds of pounds of moose meat with it.

We were hunting the boggy willows at 11,600 feet and traveling for miles on foot. The Vario 65 OS pack easily toted all of my gear. Adding only 2.5 pounds of total weight to the system, the 65 OS is fitted with a main pocket compartment with a double drawstring closure system. This system allows quick, easy access, but sucks down to keep gear dry and safe. In addition, side-access zippers allow entrance to the main pocket, and the side-stretch pockets proved to be great tripod and spotting scope locations.

The ultralight Ripstop fabric handled the abuse from the willows, and I appreciated the extra support provided by the Aramid bartacking placed on all stress points. The pack is also fitted with a double-buckle lid system for extra gear storage and is rifle/bow compatible thanks to an included boot. The pack also features a compartment for a hydration reservoir.

The pack rode smooth, comfortable and quiet. It wasn’t shifty, and I didn’t find myself constantly readjusting my waist and shoulder straps. I could traverse terrain easily and the pack rode with an undeniable sense of comfort. I also appreciated the hip holsters, which can be found behind both the left and right waist belt pockets. This holster held my FN 509 Midsize sidearm perfectly. The pistol didn’t dig into my waist or hang up on brush.

Loading Up

I’d never walked up on a bull moose before. My goodness they are big. After photos, it was time to go to work. Another great feature of the Vario System is that I could quickly remove my Vario 65 OS and expose the frame. Once a load was prepared, it was placed on the blaze-orange meat shelf. A trio of attachment points provided by the ultralight Batwing held the meat tightly to the frame. Side panels on the meat shelf allow game bags to slide down and in for extra support, and a pair of T-hook top straps further secure the load.

After the load was secure, for the sake of testing, I reattached my 65 OS pack and started trekking for the truck. Could I have left the pack behind? Of course, but when bowhunting elk with my trio of companions, we do our best to get a full boned-out elk out in one trip. If we have to leave our pack behind and come back for it, time is wasted. The purpose of the Vario System is to allow you to haul meat and gear at the same time without having to put bloody game bags inside the pack.

My first load was just over 100 pounds. Again, for the sake of testing, we brought a scale and I weighed each load at the truck. Of course, the load was heavy, but it wasn’t at all shifty. I went through willows, stepped over creeks, walked uphill and down in terrain covered with shale rock. The pack rode like a dream. In total, I toted four loads off the mountain and the pack never wavered.

A couple other features you’ll want to show your customers include the adjustable yoke and waist belt. My frame is a large size, but it still offers me plenty of adjustment, and that adjustment came in handy when I was hauling meat. A zipper in the top of the frame allows for increased shoulder strap adjustment. I also appreciated the extra adjustment found in the waist belt. A pair of Velcro straps (large and medium settings) allow for further customization. Again, this pack was built to meet the needs of any size hunter in any situation. 

Packing a Pronghorn

The week following my father-in-law’s moose hunt, my son Hunter and I found ourselves on the Colorado prairie. He had a buck pronghorn tag and was itching to find a buck we’d scouted during the state’s archery season.

Hunter couldn’t travel well. Two months prior to the season, he had major knee surgery. He was still on crutches but wasn’t about to sit in a ground blind. I was so proud. With that noted, it would be my responsibility to tote all the gear and pack his buck off the plains.

Not needing as much gear, I swapped the 65 OS out for the 50 OS pack. As was the case with the moose hunt, the Vario Frame and 50 OS pack performed perfectly. Our stalk was long — 2 miles to be exact — but it was zero issue. We took it slow, Hunter patiently putting one crutch in front of the other. His .243 Savage was strapped to the pack. I love the bow/rifle tote system. Two miles and four hours later, he executed a perfect shot on a Colorado Boone & Crockett pronghorn. Under the stars, I packed the entire boned-out pronghorn, cape and head out in a single load. For the first time, I put the Vario Game Bag to use. The bag is made from durable, breathable nylon, and a drawstring/buckle closure keeps meat inside.

With my western adventures over, I’ve recently turned to the Vario Day OS. I love the fact that the pack sports a pair of hideaway shoulder straps. When walking to and from my whitetail stands, I don’t want the frame, and thanks to this pack, I don’t have to tote it.

There you have it. A full system of packs you can carry in your shop, with no more worrying about carrying day packs, midsize and larger options. Give your customers everything they want with the Badlands Vario System.  


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