Some of our most requested content is from other hunters wanting to know what we use, and why. So we thought we’d put together some gear lists of exactly what we’re carrying into the backcountry on our hunts. You’ve probably heard the saying: “There’s more than one way to skin a cat.” This is particularly true with hunting gear and preferences can be pretty broad. That being said, here is my gear list from this past fall for september - early October hunts, primarily for Mule Deer, but I used the same kit for sheep hunting last season.
One thing to note, even though I own a gear shop, I still unapologetically use gear that we don't carry in our shop. A few of the best products on the market are direct to consumer business models and I will continue to support and recommend them. Our main purpose here is to help you get the BEST gear for your hunt, not to sell you something that doesn't fit your needs.
Brad’s September Backcountry Mule Deer Gear List:
Exo Mtn Gear k3 4800 Backpack
The guys at EXO make a phenomenal pack. I find that the k3 4800 is the best yet to fit my hunting style as an extremely versatile, high functioning product with just the right organization for my hunting style. It works for a 30 minute hunt as well as an 8 day hunt, under loads of 10 lbs and over 100 lbs. I highly recommend this pack.
Tent: Hilleberg Enan
The Enan is an awesome lightweight single hunter option that has performed well for me under a variety of weather conditions. It features a bathtub floor and side vestibule with plenty of room for my pack and rifle or bow, and good breathability - all lives up to Hilleberg's bomb-proof reputation.
Sleeping Bag: Big Agnes Fussel UL Quilt
Last year I changed up my bag situation a little bit and tried this 800 down quilt from Big Agnes. I loved it. As the season got later I used this quilt along with a 30 degree down bag as a layered sleep system that kept me comfortable into the end of October in some very cold conditions. At just 1 lb, this lightened by camp kit significantly and is an excellent early season option.
Sleeping Pad: Big Agnes Q-Core SLX
I've used the Q-Core SLX for 5 seasons now and have never sprung a leak or had an issue. I'll be switching this out when temps get to about 20 degrees F for something with a higher insulation value.
I've used a Jetboil for a long time. I like the ease of use and that the pot stays on the burner. The Zip was their lightest option at the time and if I'm just boiling water, it's all I need.
- Olicamp Titanium Spork
Mtn House and Peak Refuel Meals
I'll go over food in a more detailed, specific post. But I have a Mountain House or Peak Meal every day for dinner or lunch, depending on the schedule. My favorites are Mountain House Lasagna, noodles and chicken, and beef stroganoff, and Peak Refuel Pesto Chicken Pasta, and Chicken Alfredo.
Bladder/Storage: MSR 4L Dromlite Bag
Great storage bag I started using about a year and a half ago. These are a solid option that hold up to abuse. I typically carry 2 of these along with my filter that allows me to grab 11-12 oz of water at a time to typically get me through 4 days of hunting.
Filter: Katadyn BeFree Gravity Filter
This was another edition from last year. I was a little frustrated with some of the flow rates on the small (personal) filteres. But the befree exceeded my expectations. I did have to clean it a few times, but it's really easy, just shake it off or swish it around in the water and your flow rate comes right back. I use the 3L version and also find the bag to be sturdy an fairly easy to fill.
- Bottle: Altitude Water Bottle
Backup/Alternative Filter: Sawyer Mini
I carry one of these as a backup filter in my pack and usually leave my befree at camp.
Benchmade Grizzly Ridge
I love the Benchmade knives. They hold an edge really well and have been a super solid option for me in the field. I rarely have to re-sharpen in the backcountry.
Outdoor Edge Onyx
The Onyx is a very lightweight outdoor edge option that I like to use. I prefer the ergonomics and function of the Outdoor Edge vs other replaceable blade options, mostly because it feels like a more traditional knife when using. It's easy to have an extra blade or two in my pack to use as needed, or I've sharped the re-usable blades from time-to-time as well.
Headlamp: Black Diamond Storm Headlamp
The Storm is a great little headlamp, it is lightweight and lights up what I need it to. It's been a reliable option with enough lumens to see a few dozen yards at night.
Tent Light: MPowerd Lantern
This is another new luxury edition that I don't always carry, but it's nice on extended trips when you spend some time in the dark. It's a solar powered lantern that charges itself if you remember to put it outside during the day while you're gone hunting. It provides plenty of light in the tent so you don't have to use your headlamp all night when cooking food, and rummaging around the tent before sleep.
Browning mini flashlight (backup)
I'm not really sure the model anymore, but it takes a single AA battery and is a great little backup light if you find yourself in the dark without your main headlamp.
Boots: Crispi Colorado GTX or Crispi Lapponia
I have been pretty happy with the Crispi boots. I used the Colorado extensively last year, but this spring I picked up a pair of Lapponia boots and expect that I'll be using them primarily for scouting and the early season hunts.
- Socks: Crispi San Juan Socks
Gaiters: Outdoor Research Crocodiles
Great Gore-tex gaiter that's been around for a long time. A lot of the new gaiters hitting the market take the majority of their design features from this gaiter. I just trust this gaiter and it does the job every time.
Sitka Ascent Pant or Costco Travel Pant
I like lightweight pants for early season because it's hot and I move around a lot. The Ascent is a great pant, but so is the Costco Travel Pant for $20.
Sitka Lightweight Core Hoody
This is one of my favorite shirts of all time. It's light, the hood is super light, but can provide concealment on a stalk, or a little bit of warmth early in the morning when it's cold.
Sitka Heavyweight Core Hoody
I use this as an insulation piece, its been really good. It's a grid polyester/fleece that has performed really well for me and costs less than some of the other mid weight performance pieces on the market.
Sitka Lightweight Merino Bottoms
I'll sleep in these, and maybe wear them in the morning when it's cold, or if a rainstorm moves in, I'll wear them under my rain pants.
Sitka Kelvin Light Hoody
This is another home-run jacket from Sitka Gear that I like a lot. It's not as bulky as many insulating pieces, but provides good warmth and breathability. Early season I have this one on at night around camp, and always in my pack just in case the weather changes (and it does).
Stormfront Jacket and Pants (Shell)
The stormfront is probably overkill for a lot of the hunts I do and weighs more than I like. But in a few instances, I've been glad I had it. I'll be looking at some different options this year to find something a little bit lighter for early season stuff, but as it gets later, the stormfront gear is exceptional.
Boarmasters, TAG Bags, Caribou Game Bags
I have acquired a collection of varied game bags over the years and most of them work as advertised. I like the smaller bags in the 20 - 30 inch range for packing meat and usually carry 3 of them on a mule deer hunt. Two for meat, and one for the cape.
Swarovski NL Pure 12×42
I picked these up shortly after they came out and love them for open country hunting. The field of view is unreal and having a 12x in a compact unit is awesome. Of course their performance is the best I've experienced. I do put them on a tripod a lot to reduce shake and help me be a more patient glasser.
Swarovski ATS 65mm
This scope is my favorite scope on the market for backpack hunting. It performs really well and I use the 20-60 eyepiece primarily - doing 90% of my glassing from my binos on a tripod and then pulling out the spotting scope to get a closer look as needed. It depends on your terrain, in some instances I spend a lot more time in the spotting scope at distances over 2 miles, and might consider the wide angle eyepiece if most of my glassing was that far.
Lightweight way to capture footage through my spotting scope. I haven't found anything I like better.
Paired with the Phone Skope the Iphone 11 does a pretty good job of capturing still images and video as needed.
Tripod: Slik CF 522
I've used the old SLIK 624 for a long time and after wearing it out was looking at a 635 or 634 to replace it. I ended up going with a 522 as it was a bit lighter. The only drawback is I can't stand fully upright and use this one, but I'm typically sitting down for longer glassing sessions.
Tripod Head: Promaster SPCH20 CineHead
This was a new edition last year as well. I really love this tripod head. It's a pretty serious piece for the weight, and fairly under-rated among hunting circles in my opinion. SLIK has their own version of this head as well.
Great small frame mirrorless camera that I carry and shoot most everything on. I like the size, price, and function. I'm looking to upgrade into something full frame, but will hate giving up the size of the body on the A6000.
- Iphone 11
Peak Design Capture Pro Clip
This has been the best way I've found to carry a camera in the field. It lives on my left backpack strap and keeps my camera available for when I need it fast.
Glassing Chair: Helinox Chair Zero
Chairs are awesome in the backcountry. It's amazing how nice it feels on your lower back to have a little bit of support. The Zero weighs one pound. Other alternatives weigh more, although many of them are a little more comfortable. I'm new to the ultralight chair game, so I'll continue to test these a little bit more, but for the weight, the Zero does a good job. If it weighed more, I wouldn't carry it with me because I view it as a luxury item.
Just in case - I can use this as a backup knife, or a field repair tool for a lot of equipment.
Good old cheap, reliable lighter for whatever use I need.
First Aid Kit
I'll post more about this some other time. I need to add a few more items, but I do carry a small kit, just in case.
Watch: Garmin Fenix 5
This was a new edition late last fall. I typically don't wear a watch very much, but the features on this watch were interesting to me, mostly to capture some of the data, distances, and navigation available on my wrist to look at later.
Communication: Garmin Inreach Mini
This is another "just-in-case" item and a good way to let my family know that I'm still alive and doing well. I've found the inreach to be reliable and pair it with my Iphone to access all of the functionality.
As always, I'm love to test and talk gear. So if you have any questions, feel free to shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or @bcarter307 on instagram.
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