One more post on this trip guys, and I’ll leave you alone about it…. My good friend Mike Lilly asked me to do a detailed gear breakdown on what was in my pack for this trip, so here it is Mike. I’m kind of a gear whore. Well, in full disclosure, those that know me and who’ve seen my shop would say “kind of gear whore” is a gross understatement of my current mental and emotional state of affairs when it comes to gear. If there were ever a 12-step program for gear addicts, I’d most likely be the first attendee. I like to see what works, what fits best, what’s the most comfortable, and let’s face it, there’s a lot out there to test. So, I’m going to break this down into groups so you guys can see about what’s in my ruck, and what’s on my body.
I’ve got this stuff dialed down to a pretty sharp edge when it comes to the stuff I know I need. Some things will change, like clothing, or boot selection, or pack size, but it’s all pretty standardized now. Here goes….
- Stone Glacier Sky 7400 with the new Xcurve Frame. This particular bag is discontinued, so take a look at the other offerings from Stone Glacier. Hands down, the very best bag I’ve ever carried.
- Gunwerks Magnus
- I take 11x rounds with me in the field, 7x loaded into an Alpha Industries Type 3 magazine, and an additional 4x rounds on a hook n loop carrier attached to the stock.
- Leica Geovid 8x Binoculars
- FHF Gear Bino Harness
- Leupold Mk4 Gold Ring Spotting Scope
- Oben CT2331 Tripod
- Outdoorsman’s Micro Panhead
- On the panhead, I took off the Outdoorsman’s proprietary tripod plate and replaced it with an Arca type adapter plate so I have commonality throughout my optics.
- Shelter: Hilleberg Akto. Fairly lightweight, bomb-proof, and easy to set up. Some won’t like the fact that this tent isn’t free-standing, but I have yet to find a place where I couldn’t set it up. Love that I can take out the liner and use it is a minimalist shelter, or use a mesh liner in the event the mozzies are shitty.
- Sleeping Bag: This is gonna change with seasons, but on this trip I chose my Big Agnes Bellyache Mountain 17 deg Downtech bag. I’m a cold sleeper, but this bag has kept me cozy down to about 10 degrees. (This bag is discontinued guys, I’ve had it for quite a few years. However, any bag from Big Agnes is going to be awesome.)
- For summer months, I started using a Rumple down blanket. It’s ok to about 45 degrees with a sleeping pad. I took it on a recent sheep hunt and I was ok in the tent with it, but under the stars without a pad, it was leaving some to be desired.
- For the really cold stuff I’ve got a Western Mountaineering Kodiak 0 deg bag. It’s obviously heavier, but I’ve been cozy in that bad boy all the way down to -10. (Everest Base Camp in November approved.)
- Sleeping Pad: Nemo Tenor. I just got this pad, and before I used a Thermarest. I like the Nemo, and I’ll stick with it. It’s insulated, and super light. Had great sleep on it, and it’s wide enough for my shoulders.
Clothing (This is going to be constantly changing, but here’s what I took on this trip.)
- Arcteryx LEAF Cold WX AR Top and Bottom (Zip Neck Top) Huge fan of merino wool base layers.
- Extra Shirt 1: Kuiu Ultra Merino 125 LS Crew-T
- Extra Shirt 2: Kuiu Ultra Merino 210 Zip T
- Arcteryx Naga Hoody This thing is my woobie, and it goes with me everywhere.
- Eddie Bauer Down Ignitelite Jacket. Super lightweight, and incredibly warm, great cut.
- Beyond Clothing Alpha Lochi Jacket. Very warm, synthetic insulation, although the cut leaves a little to be desired around the waist.
- Beyond Clothing A9 Element Pant. Awesome pants, very well cut for articulation, and I really like the padded waist belt for carrying rucks. Dries quickly.
- Beyond Clothing A6 Rain Jacket and Pants. This was my first trip with these shells, and I was super impressed. Very light, and they didn’t soak through even after 24hrs of constant exposure to rain and wet snow. Never, I mean never, skimp on rain gear…
- Kuiu Guide Beanie and Kuiu Ultra Merino 145 Beanie. Plenty of warmth on this trip.
- Kuiu Ultra Merino 210 Glove. Totally screwed myself in the glove department on this trip. I needed something more than just a merino glove, I needed a wind and waterproof glove, which I elected to leave at home…. #stupidityshouldbepainful
- 6x pairs Point 6 Merino, Tactical Defender Medium. I change my socks a lot, and merino is the best for my feet. I use as light a sock as I can, as my feet sweat a lot.
- La Sportiva Trango Cube GTX’s. Amazing light to midweight boot with fantastic stability. Although, if I’d have known I was going to see the moisture on this trip that I did, I’d have elected to take my La Sportiva Nepal Cube GTX’s, which are a hard-core midweight mountaineering boot build for climbing with a no-flex shank and tons of ankle support for hours of side-hilling with a heavy ruck.
Water collection/filtration and Cooking Gear
- Katadyn Base Camp Pro 10L. Probably a little overkill for this trip, but I was staying at a major water source, and I really like the ease of a gravity feed filter. They’re extremely light as well.
- I have a Hiker Pro for occasions where I’ll be pumping from smaller water sources that don’t produce enough volume to fill a large bladder.
- Jetboil Flash. Can’t go wrong here at all, but you CAN go wrong with the fuel source….
- The fuel canister I took was a large 230 g SnowPeak, and it friggin sucked. Ran out of power and ate up a lot of fuel and ended up leaving me high n dry on day 4.
- I’ve had the best luck with Jetboil’s fuel canisters. The Jetpower 230g is usually my go-to, but I had the Snowpeak and I decided to use it up. Shitty idea….
- The spoon, arguably one of the most critical pieces of kit in your loadout. The handle needs to be long to keep your digits from getting nasty eating out of pouch meals, and let you get every last morsel of goodness out of the bag. I use a TOAKS spoon, and it’s the shizz.
- 3x 32 oz Nalgene Bottles.
- 1x Platypus 2 liter collapsible bag in the event I needed to pack water a ways. (I didn’t end up using that on this trip.)
Food (Per Day)
I’m pretty picky when it comes to eating in the backcountry. I tend to eat a pretty clean diet at home, focusing on a high protein, high fat consumption plan that works really well for me. The biggest problem I’ve had in the past is trying to find foods that are suited for backcountry travel that are shelf stable, lightweight, and require minimal time to prepare. I used to live a lot off of just freeze-dried Mountain House meals, which would make me really sick after about 3 days. I’ve since found some awesome alternatives from smaller companies with an eye on organic, natural ingredients and are big on flavor. Coupling those new findings with real food has kept my guts happy, and my body well fueled for the beating it takes while I’m up in the mountains. I’ll break this down by items in my food bag, per day. I’m going to do a specific review on those new backcountry meals shortly, so stand by for the details.
- Heather’s Choice or Outdoor Pantry breakfast, 1x of either. ALL of Heather’s Choice breakfasts are amazing, and they’re all seed based. My favorite from Outdoor pantry is 7 grain porridge with bacon and honey. Yup, bacon folks. Get after it.
- 2x packs of Starbucks Via instant coffee.
- 2x KIND (or Rx) Bars for snacks
- 1x peanut butter and bacon sandwich for lunch.
- 1x package ramen noodles for lunch (won’t take this on summer trips)
- 1x can sardines for lunch.
- 1/2 cup trail mix for snacks.
- 2x Nuun Electrolyte tablets.
- 2x bags of herbal tea.
- 1x Heather’s Choice or Outdoor Pantry dinner meals.
- Half-dozen Jolly Ranchers and a handful of chocolates for my sweet tooth.
Some of this stuff is on my body, and I’ll annotate it as such as I go through the list. I keep it on my body with a fanny pack. Yup, a fanny pack, but it’s totally tactical, I swear…. I hate having things in my cargo pockets, unless it’s something like a map, gloves, or a beanie. Can’t stand stuff swinging around on my legs as I walk. Something else to consider is making sure you’ve got essentials on your body if you take a nasty tumble and you’re not ambulatory when you’re done rolling. I want to make sure I’ve got everything I need to survive on my body without my ruck.
- Topographical map. (Body)
- Suunto Ambit Watch (Body)
- Compass (Body)
- Headlamp (Body) (6x extra AAA batteries. (3x bats are in my bino harness, and 3x are in the top lid of my ruck.)
- Space blanket (Body) Get the disposable versions, they work really well, and they’re lightweight.
- Water purification tabs (Top lid of my ruck)
- Emergency Whistle (Body)
- Signal Mirror (Body)
- Lighter (Body)
- Flint and Steel (Top lid of my ruck)
- 1x DIY Firestarter per day (Top lid of my ruck, vacuum sealed.)
- 50′ 550 Chord (Top lid of my ruck)
First Aid Kit. Ok, all you first aid ninjas out there, don’t crucify me; I don’t take a tourniquet…. But, I do take a pretty well appropriated first aid kit for the mountains. Not many links here guys, this is all stuff you can get at any first aid store, sans the hand-core pain meds. I’m usually pretty incident free, with the exception of occasionally stabbing myself taking apart an animal, so I don’t go crazy on the first aid stuff.
- Plenty of Ibuprofen.
- Butterfly bandages
- Superglue For serious lacerations coupled with butterfly bandages, and also an excellent field-expedient repair tool.
- Handful of bandaids
- Gauze pads
- Small tube of antiseptic
- Leukotape. This stuff is the shit, and some of my buddies recently introduced it to me. Beats the hell out of traditional athletic tape, and is way better for blister prevention and all-round medical tape.
- I squirreled away some hard core pain meds from one of my past knee surgeries and a small amount of those are in there in the event something really serious happens.
- Anti-diarrhea meds.
- Benadryl for just about anything you’ll need it for.
My kill kit is pretty simple, knives, and some game bags. I used to take rubber gloves, but they made my hands more sweaty than anything, and I always tore them up within seconds. I will say that gloves can be helpful for fatty fall bears though.
- Len Waldron’s bad ass hunting knife. Used for skinning, boning, and general camp use. (Ruck waist belt)
- Carter Cutlery neck knife. Absolutely incredible knife. This thing could hack steel and still be sharp enough to cape a head. Used for caping and general camp use. (On my neck)
- Havalon tool, small with 5x blades. I’ve got this for backup, simply because it weighs nothing. (Ruck waist belt)
- Cotton game bags. (I’m going to switch to Kuiu’s game bags for my next trip though.)
There’s a couple things I take with me for pure convenience, and some of you guys might say no way, too much weight. That’s fine, but for me it’s acceptable.
- Cell Phone Powerbank. This Xiaomi power bank was super impressive, and it gave my Galaxy S9 4x full charges. It’s a bit heavy, but it’s going to be in my kit from here on out.
- Samsung NX20 Camera with an 18-55 mm lens. This is getting upgraded to a Sony A6 very shortly. I took 3x memory cards and 3 extra batteries on this trip.
There you have it guys, that’s my load for this past trip. This is pretty standardized for most all of my hunting or scouting trips, with additions being in the clothing department for colder hunts, and more food for extra calories on colder days. Some of you might ask about weight. What’s all that weigh? Truth be told, I don’t have a clue. Weight isn’t something I put a lot of thought into, other than I’d like the lightest and most durable kit for the intended use. I know what it takes to get a hunt done, and be as comfortable as reasonably possible while doing so. I come from a mentality where it doesn’t matter how much weight there is, you have what you have, and you need to get it from point A to point B in order to accomplish the mission. If it feels heavy, train harder. So, as an estimate, with 5x days with of food and 3x quarts of water with the above loadout, I’d say there’s a 50 something pound pack, minus the rifle. Strap that guy on the side, and you’re at 60 something pounds. Weight is what it is guys, and if you want to hunt the backcountry you’ve gotta harden the fuck up, cuz that 60 lbs is the least of your worries when you tip an animal over. Then it gets real. I took this last deer out, 77lbs of meat and a caped skull, along with my camp in one load. I really didn’t want to come back up the mountain almost 3,000′ for my gear with the truck 8 miles away.
Happy hunting guys, and feel free to ping me with questions on anything here. Stay tuned for our Backcountry Hunter Course coming in June of 2019, we’ve got two dates, and they’ll be out shortly!