Necessary Equipment for Backpack Hunting

bsbeasley

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Jul 7, 2019
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Hello all,

I have a trip planned to hunt mule deer in southeast Wyoming in late October. I have only ever hunted in my home state of North Carolina, so the style of hunting I will be doing in WY is nothing like I have ever done before. I want to ensure that I have everything I need for this trip, and that is going to be good quality. I have already ordered some things like a pack, spotting scope, gps with OnX chip, etc. What I would like recommendations with is things like: tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, clothing, boots, and what ever else you think I would need. Any input is appreciated; especially since my knowledge of hunting out west is minimal. Thanks!
 

SnowyMountaineer

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Books have been written along these lines, there are just so many options. Budget is generally the place to start, a recommendation list where money is no object is going to look a lot different than one on a tight budget. Either is fine, and you can go on a backpack hunt pretty cheaply with an eye on value if needed. Opinions vary vastly on each of the gear items you noted, even among very experienced backpackers.

Caveat emptor, figuring out backpacking while figuring out hunting a new species in a new place is probably a recipe for frustration more than a mature buck.
 

Scott85

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Whatever you get make sure you test it out on a camping trip in NC to shake down all the basic camping gear.
 

VikingsGuy

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Caveat emptor, figuring out backpacking while figuring out hunting a new species in a new place is probably a recipe for frustration more than a mature buck.
Good advice. Last year we did our first pronghorn hunt out of a hotel. We are now better prepared to go back and do this year’s hunt out of a canvas wall tent base camp. One big change at a time. If I were you I would hunt this season from a hotel and use the next 14 months to get comfortable with backpack camping in your own neck of the woods so you are ready to do both next season.’

As for backpacking stuff - there are literally millions of gear combinations. I find MSR, BigAgnes, Kelty and Alps Outdoorz to be reliable brands as a starting point. YMMV.
 

Zootownelk

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So many good options these days with camping equipment. As far as tents, how ever many people the tent says it holds, subtract one person. A "2-man" tent is really only comfortable for 1 person, a "3-man" should be for 2 people max, etc.
 

wllm1313

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As snowy said there are a ton of options and no right way to do it, I recommend searching the forum for all of the items you have listed. We have discussed all of them at one point or another.

My 2 cents would be for someone just getting into western hunting
1. Buy good gear but don't worry about top end. REI, North Face, Big Agnes, MSR, Patagonia, etc etc. all make quality products that will last you a lifetime
2. With the exception of a pack, look to backpacking brands first they typically have much better gear for the price and camo really isn't important. (1 exception IMHO are pants you are better off with Firstlite, Kuiu, Sitka)
3. Car camp your first time out west it will allow you to move locations if you picked a bad spot and it will give you a quick out if you don't quite have what you need.
4. Keep it simple, people buy/ bring the kitchen sink with them I can fit my entire set up minus pack into a single action packer.
5. Get general purpose stuff, there are tons of gear geeks that will recommend niche gear or new gadets ie just get a boring tent, don't go floor-less, don't worry about a stove, don't get a hammock, just go simple in the beginning.
 

Bambistew

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A bench mark for a week long hunting trip, including everything you are packing (sans the cloths you are wearing) shouldn't be much over 50 lbs including rifle, binos, food and a couple liters of water. If your pack is more than that, I'd look at what you are packing, or if you can get lighter equipment, or get by without. You'll find there are a lot of things that are nice to have, but you can do without...
  1. I would look for a 10-15 deg down bag. Lots of options out there. IIRC, the seasons in WY are early Oct, doubt it will get much below freezing if at all.
  2. Inflatable pad. I'm fond of the horizontal baffles vs vertical. THey are much more comfortable for me. I like the Nemo pads, but there are many options.
  3. If you are going with a partner and sharing a tent, get a 3 man, if alone get a 2 man. More room for gear and to spread out. I really like Big Agnes tents, and recently used a Mountain Hardware Ultralight tent that worked well too. There are a million options.
  4. I'm not a follower of the major "hunting" brand of clothing. There are endless options for plastic cloths these days. I would spend the money on a high quality puffy jacket and rain gear, but wouldn't go all in on Sitka/Arcteryx or the like... But that's my preference.
  5. You can wear the same clothes for weeks... I bring one extra T-shirt or thermal top, and one extra underwear. Wash/rinse in a stream and dry if you need to. I've seen people bring 2-3 pairs of pants, one pair of underwear for each day, extra boots, you name it. If you pants get dirty, wash them, and wear your rain pants while they are drying, etc.
  6. For boots, get a pair that fit well, and feel good. Expect to spend $250-450. I switched from Meindl to Asolo this year, so far no complaints. Higher quality boots will last longer and have far better ankle support for sidehilling and climbing. I get about 2.5-3 years out of a pair.
 

pre6422hornet

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To add on to Bambistew #6... break them in well before you head west. Miles deep in the backcountry is not a place you want a bad blister showing up. I currently have 4 pairs of Meindls and once my foot slips in I don't even know I have boots on.
 

rideold

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As others have said....good, comfortable boots, a pack that fits and a bag that keeps you warm. Everything else is personal preference and $$ constrained. Look at Colin Fletcher's "the complete walker".
 

MNElkNut

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Count me as a guy who brings a change of clothes or 2! Yep, I bring new underwear for every day because I am not too old to lift the extra 12 and a half ounces they weigh!

I would return the GPS and instead put OnX on your phone. that would free up some funds for some of the higher end hunting clothes which I am a big fan of. Everyone has what works for them and I don't think there is a wrong answer, just pick bits and pieces from this thread and you are set!

+1 on the good boots. I don't believe anyone has ever said while hunting, geez, I wish I would have bought cheaper boots that give me blisters!
 

neffa3

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I really like to go one of two ways, either straight up cheap shit (often used), or top-shelf stuff (almost always used). Rokslide has a classified forum where guys are turning over damn-near brand new gear constantly for extremely good deals. I would definitely go backpacking several times before coming out or just take the advise and car camp and hunt. I can assure you, with some effort you can make a car camping trip feel pretty damn wildernessy (in fact I hunt a wilderness area for elk every year from my truck).
 

ElkFever2

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Welcome to HT!

Will echo what others have said about possibly truck camping to reduce the number of new variables. However, a backpack hunt is still doable if this is really the kind of experience you want to have.

I always test out ALL new gear before it comes with me on a big hunting trip. That means boots broken in, pack at full weight on several hikes, a couple of overnight backpacking trips with tent/sleeping bag/pad/cooking gear tested together. You can skimp on a lot of gear and get along OK, but not boots! Plan to spend a little extra here and your feet with thank you.
 

RockinU

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You've got time to get the camping part down before the hunt. My best advice is to get the best quality gear in your budget, and do several shake out runs before you go.

The important things that you need to start with are:

Shelter, in your case a tent is probably the way to go, Big Agnes makes some really nice lightweight backpacking tents. Get a footprint, even if it's just a tyvek one (I actually use tyvek for most of mine), it's a cheap investment to protect a nice tent.

Sleep system, which means a lightweight bag, or quilt, and a sleeping pad, and the choices here are endless, just be sure to pick a pad with enough R value to keep you warm during your chosen season. I prefer a fairly thick inflatable myself. Understand the trade offs between a down bag and a synthetic bag. Down is the way to go for weight, but you have to recognize the importance of protecting it from getting wet.

Kitchen, you'll just need a stove, a pot, and a long handled spoon. There are lots of options, from the jetboil system, to the MSR pocket rocket.

Pack, best to try plenty on, pick one with meat hauling capabilities, and just as well get one with plenty of room.

For clothes I go with merino base layers, it works, and you can go a pretty good while without getting bad funky, I don't haul a bunch of extra clothes into the woods other than socks, I take plenty of socks, but over the base layer I'll have a good pair of technical pants, a mid layer shirt, and I'll carry an insulation layer, and I usually have rain gear. Boots are of the utmost importance. There are lots of good brands out there: Kennetreck, Schnees, Crispi, Zamberlan, this is another item you need to check out first hand, and you need to go ahead and buy some good ones, they aren't cheap, but when you are packing weight on bad ground, you'll want a good stiff boot that offers plenty of support. If you buy a leather boot (you probably will) treat it with something like Nikwax even if it says it's waterproof. If there is any chance of snow at all, have gaiters.

Trekking poles are very important. A good headlamp is very important.

I use a goal zero charger to keep all my power needs going. I use a nomad panel and a guide 10 plus battery pack. It allows me to charge devices such as my phone or gps from the guide 10, or charge batteries for things like my headlamp. Not a necessity, but I like it.

You'll need to pick food, and a water procurement method, and try out both before hand.

Backpack hunting is a blast, and after a little practice, it's not hard. Don't over pack. You're going to hunt, take what you need to get that done.
 

Vanishe187

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Sep 17, 2018
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Like everyone said good gear is a must. Nkthing worse than cheap stuff failing when you need it most. However the most import piece of gear is you. Make sure you are in great shape. Western hunts can be tough. I live in nm my backyard is the gila forest. I train for my hunts in july hiking and what not. Nothing will end your hunt faster than not having your body ready for physical demands of some of the terrain out this way.
 

Backofbeyond

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Jan 2, 2018
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Boise, ID
Lots of good suggestions here, and I’ve got another that doesn’t show up on your list, and that’s a Garmin or Delorme InReach. You mentioned a GPS with an OnX chip, trade it around for an InReach with OnX on your phone.

The InReach will allow you to text (communicate) without having cell phone coverage, and has an SOS button if you get into a situation where you need help, it’s available.

It’s a spendy piece of kit, but worth the price of admission, especially for a guy lacking in experience.

Hope you have the trip of your dreams!
 
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