One of my favorite things to do as the seasons approach and the hunt preparations begin is
Around 55 lbs worth of gear. 4 days of food and 3 days of water.
to look through gear lists on forums like Rokslide and Archery Talk. It’s so fun to see what other “kits” look like and is also a great way to get new ideas for gear junkies like myself. One of the coolest aspects of my job is spending a lot of time in the backcountry, so I’ve got my system fairly nailed down for this year both for my personal gear and for camera gear. I’ll be heading on a solo backpack mule deer hunt in Wyoming this September (5 days) and, for what its worth, below is my gear list with a few explanations.
Backpack, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, pillow and tent
- Kifaru Duplex frame w/ AMR bag
*Kifaru products are 100% made in the USA. Their frames are completely designed for custom fit, and any of their bags can be interchanged on your frame for different hunt applications. I run the AMR for extended stays and the 22 mag for day trips and camera gear.
- Kifaru Slik synthetic down 0 degree sleeping bag
- Big Agnes insulated Q-Core sleeping pad
- Sea to Summit air pillow
- Hilleberg Soulo tent
*For an all around good bag I decided to go synthetic. Synthetic down bags will retain a
I woke up this morning with a lot of heavy wet snow all over the tent. Performed flawlessly.
warmth rating when wet, where as a down bags basically will not. However, there are down bags with DriDown that claim to stay dry longer and dry faster than untreated down.
*My tent is a 4 season from Hilleberg coming in at 5 lbs. I know it’s a little on the heavy side for a September hunt, but it is practically bombproof and being by myself a lot of the time, it’s worth the extra weight for me.
- MSR Pocket Rocket stove w/ 1 can fuel
- GSI Minimalist cup
- Sea to Summit long spork
*There are a lot of good reliable stoves on the market today. I’ve been running the Pocket Rocket in this configuration for about 4 years now and haven’t had any issues or complaints.
1 day of food. Roughly 2100 calories.
- Breakfast – Granola w/ choc. chips, craisins, protein powder, coffee
- Lunch – Peanut butter, bacon, honey wrap
- Dinner – Heather’s Choice or Mountain House
- Snackage – Probar, honey stinger, rx bar, dried fruit, snack sticks
- 2 Nalgene bottles w/ Hunt Force Nutrition and Mtn Ops drink mix
- MSR Dromedary 10L water bag
Prepping a day’s food in 1 gallon ziplocks makes it easy to grab and go in the morning.
*Meals can be tough to plan, especially if your planning your first trip. I’m personally pretty comfortable right around 2,200 calories a day right now, but men especially will probably need more like 3,000 calories or more.
*I pre make all of the day’s food when I’m at home and put then in gallon zip lock bags, so I can grab one and go. I like nalgene bottles for water, then I’ll fill a Drom-bag to leave at camp so I don’t have to always be finding water to fill my bottles.
- Swarovski EL Range 10×42
Cover more ground with optics, instead of your legs.
- Alaskan Guide Creations chest pack
- Swarovski 20-60×80 spotter
- Slik 634 tripod w/ ball head
- Thermarest z-seat pad
*A good binocular chest rig is very nice to have. I previously used the FHF brand but have been trying the AGC set up lately and am really looking forward to using it this fall. The binocular/spotting scope combination suites me the best, however other people prefer 15 power binoculars. A glassing seat is awesome to have, especially on cold or wet ground, and weighs almost nothing.
A backup headlamp is always a good idea. The InReach makes it very easy to check in at home, especially while solo.
- Huskemaw headlamp
- Black diamond headlamp
- Delorme InReach
- Garmin GPS
*Usually instead of extra batteries I just carry 2 headlamps. The Huskemaw headlamp is very impressive and lights up like a torch with a few different brightness settings. The Black Diamond is the “Storm” model and has a red light option and also locks so it can’t be turned on, as easily, in your pack.
*The Delorme InReach is something I picked up mostly for work and absolutely love it. Basically like a SPOT, but you can 2 way text off of it as well as have the emergency SOS features. On this trip I am really familiar with the area but will still bring my GPS to mark locations such as camp, pack dropped, water, blood trail, glassing point, etc.
CLOTHING/BOOTS – Worn in
Using a quality layering system to regulate body temperature will make you more comfortable throughout the day.
- Kryptek merino t shirt
- Kryptek ¼ zip merino shirt
- Kryptek Valhalla pants
- Scarpa Charmoz GTX Pro boots
- Smart wool mid hiker socks
- Ball cap and sunglasses
CLOTHING – Extra layers
- Kryptek Sherpa fleece ¼ zip
- Kryptek aquillo down jacket
- Kryptek koldo rain jacket/pants
- Outdoor Research gaiters
- Gloves / Beanie hat
*I prefer merino wool for my base layers over synthetic materials, merino breathes really well, dries quickly and keeps the sweat smell down. For more info on merino, check out Calvin’s blog article (here). I’ve got my clothing pretty well dialed in already from other hunts and trips I’ve been on already. If you don’t have some sort of down jacket already, I highly recommend picking one up, there’s nothing like throwing a sleeping bag with sleeves on while glassing on top of a mountain. Leg gaiters are really nice to have as well, however I may leave them at the pickup for this trip knowing I won’t be in taller grass above timberline.
- Face wet wipes
- Mtn Ops Women’s Muli Vitamin
*Pretty straight forward here.. mini toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, face wipes pack from walmart travel section. A good multivitamin will fill the gaps while your working hard.
My essentials go everywhere with me. Kifaru makes some great little “pull outs” perfect for organizing gear.
- Lighter/matches/flint and steel
- Fire starter
- Tenacious tape
- First aid
- 550 cord
- Zip ties
- Flagging ribbon
- Benchmade pocket knife
- Wind checker
- Face paint
*My essentials go with me everywhere, no matter where or how long the trip. I always want to be able to start a fire, patch myself up and have some basic items to fix things. Tenacious tape is out of this world for patching about anything including sleeping pads… we put a piece of tenacious tape on holes for 2 different sleeping pads in Alaska and they both held up great. For fire starter I use cotton balls and Vaseline. I keep my first aid pretty basic with leuko tape, a few butterfly bandaids, disinfectant wipes, krazy glue and a pill bottle with some miscellaneous meds. Face paint helps keep glare down and keeps my tough image in check 🙂
*The saddle mountain skinner knife is a great all around mountain knife for caping, quartering and deboning. I favor synthetic game bags because they keep their shape with deboned meat and they let the meat breath while keeping bugs out. A contractor bag or two is great for laying deboned meat on to keep it off the ground as well as keeping the meat and blood away from gear in your backpack.
- Canon 60D DSLR w/ 24-104mm f4 lens
- Rhode pro video mic shotgun microphone
- Rhode wireless microphone set
- Same tripod and head listed above
- GoPro w/ ground stake
- Goal Zero nomad 7 panel w/ venture 30 battery pack
*Filming with a DSLR solo is not the easiest task, however for the image quality it is worth it for me. Become very familiar with the camera you take, it will increase your odds tremendously of getting your shot on film especially in a high stress hunting situation. The 24-105 has always been a go to lens for me, with 104mm being nice for archery hunts, plus I still get a good photo lens and descent night photo lens. Other times I may take the Canon 70-200mm f2.8 lens however it is pretty heavy and a little hard to handle, so it’s staying behind this time. Rhode’s new wireless microphone set have treated me very well for their price point, in fact I haven’t had any troubles with them at all.
Goal Zero Nomad 7 panel with the Venture 30 battery pack.
*I usually decide to go with the Goal Zero set up, instead of a bunch of extra batteries. This way I can keep my phone, InReach and GPS charged as well as my DSLR batteries. I got a dual DSLR battery charger with USB port on Amazon for about $15 and has actually lasted me quite a while.
*A good option for a back country video camera is the Canon G20. This camera is hard to beat when comparing price and user ease to quality and weight. Paired with a good shotgun microphone and a good set of tripod legs and head, you’ll be up and filming in no time.
For the most part this is what I carry with me. I’m a person to go with the more durable, while probably a little heavier, instead of ultra lightweight so I do know I could get a bit lighter than this.