As we wrap up 2023 we wanted to look back over the year and highlight our best-selling Exo products, the most listened-to Hunt Backcountry Podcast episodes, and the most-watched videos on our YouTube channel.
These aren’t our hand-picked favorites, these are your favorites — based solely on the purchases you made, the podcasts you listened to, and the videos you watched.
TOP 5 EXO PRODUCTS
After working for 3+ years to develop and test our new K4 Pack Systems, we released them in March of 2023. Unsurprisingly, the K4 5000 is our best-selling pack in the K4 line, just as the K3 4800 was the best-seller when we sold K3 packs from 2019-2022.
The main reason that the K4 5000 Pack System is the best-selling pack model is because of the pack’s versatility. It will handle a week-long backpack trip with ease, but also compresses down extremely well for shorter trips and even day hunts. And a lot of people love the front horseshoe-shaped zip access of the K4 5000 bag.
The front-zipper access on the K4 5000 Bag provides excellent accessibility.
In terms of pack accessories, the Stash Pocket and Hipbelt Pouch were best-sellers, just as they were in the previous-generation K3. If we look at the total number of K4 Packs Sold this year and compare that to the total number of accessories sold, on average, we sell one Hipbelt Pouch for every pack sold, and one Stash Pocket for 75% of the packs we sell.
The remaining Top 5 products this year are new-for-2023 K4 Accessories — the K4 Nalgene Holder and the K4 Rifle Carrier.
On average, we sell a K4 Nalgene Holder with 75% of the packs we sell. We are super proud of this accessory and how it solved all of the problems that general pack-mounted water bottle holders had in the past — instability and floppiness, too much weight and torque on the hipbelt, a forward position that affected natural hiking motion, and lack of insulation. (Learn more about all water-carry options for bladders and bottles with K4 Packs.)
On average, we sell a K4 Rifle Carrier with 50% of the packs we sell. Of course, many people are using our packs that are strictly bowhunters, and they will never need a rifle carrier. Our goal with the K4 Rifle Carrier was to offer a solution that provided ultimate security and stability for your rifle, distributed the weight of the rifle into the frame, and finally, added a method of access while wearing the pack.
MORE DATA ON EXO SALES IN 2023…
As a small company, we carefully analyze all of our data to make effective decisions that allow us to operate as efficiently as possible, with as little waste and overhead as possible. We are constantly looking at trends in sales, lead times from suppliers, production capacity, and much more.
Here is a look behind the scenes at some of the year-end data for our K4 Pack System sales in 2023…
SALES BY PACK MODEL
SALES BY PACK COLOR
TIME TO SHIP ORDERS
Part of our shipping process for pack systems includes the final assembly of that pack’s components (pairing the selected size hipbelt, frame height, and bag size), as well as several final quality checks before shipping. The few people in our warehouse and shipping team are so productive and efficient that our median time to ship orders throughout all of 2023 was just 1.2 days — and that includes orders placed over the weekend, which aren’t shipping while we are closed on weekends.
WHERE DO CUSTOMERS FIRST HEAR EXO?
We have a question on our checkout page that asks, Where did you first hear about us? It isn’t a required question, so not everyone completes it, but we do look at and aggregate those responses each month. As you will see above, the vast majority of our customers make a purchase because they heard about Exo Mtn Gear from a friend. This stat was not only true in 2023, it has been consistently true since we started Exo a decade ago. And honestly, it is one of the things that we are most proud of.
Our goal since the beginning of Exo has been to offer an excellent product and provide exceptional customer service, so that our customers are so happy with their experience with Exo that they tell their friends. We don’t grow because of paid sponsorships, purchased advertising, or marketing gimmicks — we exist and grow because of our customers. Thank you!
It is wild for us to realize that 2023 was our 8th year of publishing the Hunt Backcountry Podcast. It continues to amaze us how many hunters we can reach through the podcast, to share our passion and excitement about hunting, but most importantly — to share information that helps other hunters. We had over 7 million downloads in 2023!
Thank you to everyone who not only listens to the show, but also reaches out to share your questions and topic or guest suggestions. Here are the most-played episodes of 2023...
Exo owner, Steve Speck, packing out his elk on a wintery solo elk hunt, with a K4 Prototype.
The Backpack Hunt Breakdown was a new series for us in 2023. Each of the episodes in the series featured a new guest and a different backpack-style hunt. For each of those conversations, we used the following categories to break down the hunt and understand what led to the eventual success of the hunt...
- PLANNING (the tag and hunt opportunity, scouting for animals/country/access, specific gear choices, etc)
- MANAGING (your time and energy, when to stay or move, using terrain to your advantage, etc)
- LIVING (water, food, clothing, shelter, comfort, and survivability in the backcountry)
- HUNTING (locating the game, the stalk/approach, the shot opportunity, post-shot tracking, etc)
- PACKING (pack out strategy and capabilities, meat care, etc)
The top episode of 2023 was the backpack hunt breakdown of a Solo Elk hunt that Exo owner, Steve Speck, completed last fall. This was a challenging solo elk hunt in winter conditions that not only made for a great story — it also provided some valuable lessons.
Another backpack hunt breakdown episode, and another solo hunt — this time in Alaska for Dall Sheep. Ben Reynolds joined us to share the story of his solo sheep hunt in his home state of Alaska. Hunting sheep in Alaska is tough...doing it solo is tougher...dealing with the adversity of hunting in the late sheep season brings next-level challenges. Learn how Ben completed a solo backpack hunt that was truly an adventure and achievement of a lifetime.
This was a Top 5 episode in 2023, where Mark and Steve discussed the launch of K4 Pack Systems. After working on the project for more than 3 years behind the scenes, this was the first in-depth public discussion about the new packs. While it was a Top 5 episode in 2023, wanted to make more room in the Top 5 list for episodes that weren’t about our gear, so we added this one in parentheses and are not counting it as one of the five.
Although we have years of experience bowhunting, shooting archery events, testing archery products, and tuning our bows, we have been a bit "out of touch" and haven't stayed up to date with everything that has been happening in the archery world for the past handful of years.
Realizing this, we wanted to speak with someone who is current on all things archery. In Episode 404 we interviewed hunter, shooter, and professional archery tech, Kellen Morgan, to discuss what is new, relevant, exciting, and over-hyped for bowhunters.
Mark from Exo begins a 15-mile packout on his Dall Sheep hunt in Alaska
It was a roller-coaster of a hunt. A true Alaskan Adventure. Mark tells the story of his Dall Sheep hunt in Alaska, which includes some unexpected twists and turns that you have to hear about to believe.
This conversation will equip you to make better decisions in your selection of clothing (no matter the brand) for backcountry pursuits. We discuss how to use different types of clothing layers effectively, how to combine layers efficiently, and some of the mistakes to avoid in the field. If you want to take a deep-dive on the technology and application of apparel for hunting (again, regardless of brand), this is a conversation that you will certainly enjoy and learn from.
This episode was just about tied for total downloads with Barklow’s episode (above), and it is too good to leave off the list. This episode is both inspiring and informational, as we speak with a listener of the podcast, Curtis, who is 60-years-young and continues to hunt elk solo. We could list 10+ specific reasons you should listen to this episode, but we’ll just say this — if you haven’t listened to it, you should.
Our focus on YouTube has always been to provide helpful educational and instructional videos about our products. In 2023 we also released our first official hunting film, which was a massive success. Building upon that success, we plan to film more hunts in 2024, and also document how we prepare for those hunts (gear, training, etc). Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for a ton of new content in the new year.
Mark from Exo packing out his mountain goat in Southeast Alaska
Watch the full film of Mark’s 2022 Mountain Goat Hunt in Southeast Alaska. Between the breathtaking scenery and a storyline that couldn’t be scripted, this is a film that is worth your time. Special thanks to @themtnexperience for filming and editing.
At the link below you can find the film, photos from the hunt, and Mark’s complete gear list for the hunt...
What is the perfect rifle for backpack hunts in the mountains? That is what Mark from Exo Mtn Gear has been trying to figure out for a handful of years. After buying, building, and trying different rifles and rifle components, Mark now has the perfect rifle for his needs and preferences. In this video, he goes over every component of his rifle that is purpose-built for backpack hunts...
This video was shot on an elk hunt a couple of years ago and features our previous-generation K3 Packs, but it continues to remain relevant for our current K4 Packs, or any other pack you may be using. Looking at the number of plays in 2023, it continues to be a very popular video.
You will see how Steve Speck, owner of Exo Mtn Gear, loads his pack and why it matters where you place your gear within your pack.
This video was shot just before Steve left for his Alaska Dall Sheep hunt in 2022, showing how he fit 10 days worth of food and gear in a 3600ci pack. While we featured the K3 3600 in this video, what we couldn’t say at that time was that Steve was going to be using a K4 Prototype on that hunt.
Exo owner, Steve Speck, packing out his Dall Sheep with a K4 Prototype in Alaska
No matter what size pack you use or what species you are hunting, you can learn something about simplicity and efficiency from watching this video, seeing the gear Steve uses, and watching how he loads his pack.
Speaking of gear… We have a free gear list spreadsheet that you can use to plan for your next hunt...
As we covered above, the K4 Rifle Carrier is a top-selling product this year. In this video we discuss the benefits of the Rifle Carrier, demonstrate how to install the rifle carrier on the pack, and show how to store and access a rifle with the carrier installed.
To learn more about how to use all aspects of K4 Packs & Accessories, here is everything you need to know...