By Robert Hanneman, August 2016
Figuring out what to bring on a backpack hunt can be a real challenge – bring too much and you kill yourself with the added weight, but bring too little and you risk being unprepared if something happens. We get a lot of calls from members who want to know what to pack. This can be a difficult question to answer based on the species being hunted, time of year, or expected weather conditions. Going with a group of people versus going solo can also impact how to prepare.
I have put together a list of everything I would take on a solo hunt for seven days during a September/October deer or elk hunt. I have created this list over the 20 years of backpack hunting I have done. This list is not going to be perfect for everyone, but it works well for me. There are items on my list that many may find heavy, like my 20x60x80 spotting scope, 10x50 binoculars, or 8400 cubic inch Kifaru backpack, but they are worth the weight to me, so they will always make my list.
This list basically stays the same for all of my solo hunts from August to December. The only differences are the amounts of clothes and food and the type of tent and type of sleeping bag I take. For those early season hunts, I would not take all the clothing covered in this list. I would have a lighter weight sleeping bag and not take the Super Down jacket, Super Down pants, Peloton 200 zip-t hoodie, Peloton 200 balaclava, and the Merino 210 gloves. Depending on the amount of days out, I may even leave the stove home and forgo hot meals. For the later season hunts, I take a Kuiu Storm Star 2P tent, Chugach rain gear, more clothing, more food, and more stove fuel.
Food can make up a lot of weight, so it is important not to over pack. I have found that for my body type while backpacking in the mountains I can get by on 2,200 calories a day. Even with keeping to 2,200 calories a day, food makes up 20% of my pack’s total weight. I have listed my favorite backpacking food so you can see what works for me. I try to live by the rule of food must be at least 100 calories per ounce of weight, and 95% of the food I take meets that rule. There are a lot of other great backpacking foods on the market, but I usually stick to eating the same thing since I know how my body will handle it. Remember to break your food down into daily rations. This way you do not overeat and run out of food on day six of a seven-day hunt.
If you want to be a backpack hunter, trekking poles are a must. They are one of the best pieces of equipment you can take, making the load easier by helping distribute the weight better to save your legs. They are also great for your safety. I cannot tell you how many times they have saved me from rolling down the mountain or falling in a creek. I am excited for the backpack hunts I have lined up for 2016. I will be doing archery deer hunts in Nevada and Idaho and then an archery elk hunt in Wyoming. All of the PHAs at Huntin’ Fool backpack hunt, so if you have any questions, give us a call. Good luck this season!