By Johnny Mack
Anytime you leave your vehicle and head off on an adventure, you should always be prepared to answer 2 simple questions. Can you respond positively to an emergency or accident? And can you safely spend a night (or more) outside? Being able to answer those questions can be the difference between life or death.
When planning what to pack for your adventures, it is imperative that at the bare minimum you carry the 10 essentials. Determining the type of hunt you are doing will determine what else you need to bring with you in the field or make sure that you have back in your vehicle.
the 10 essentials
- Navigation: Map & compass, GPS device, and or a personal locating beacon or satellite communicator. (extra batteries or battery pack)
- Headlamp: Plus extra batteries
- Sun protection: Sunglasses, sun-protective clothes, and sunscreen
- First aid supplies: Including foot care and insect repellent
- Knife: fold-able or fixed blade
- Fire: Matches, lighter and tinder, or stove as appropriate
- Shelter: Carried at all times (can be an emergency blanket or bivy)
- Extra food: Beyond minimum expectation
- Extra Water: Beyond minimum expectation, or the means to purify
- Extra clothes: Beyond minimum expectation
Packing for a day hunt
If all you plan on carrying is the 10 essentials keep in mind you will need to field dress your animal as well as pack it out. Daypacks are great at carrying the essentials, but when it comes time to getting your animal back to the truck, a packboard or larger backpack that can handle the weight will be beneficial.
On day hunts, I prefer the same backpack that I would take into the backcountry. I personally use a Mystery Ranch Metcalf. It compresses small enough to keep all of my gear tight without anything rattling around or feeling too bulky.
When hunting, carrying the 10 essentials is important but you will also need to carry a kill kit. In the kill kit is everything needed to field dress an animal and take care of the meat. This includes appropriate sized game bags for the animal being hunted. I recommend carrying 5 bags. One bag for each quarter and one for the back strap, loins and loose meat.
The kit also includes a skinning knife of some sort, whether a replaceable blade knife or a solid blade knife. If you decide to use a knife that has replaceable blades, be sure to bring extra blades. If going the route of a traditional knife be sure to include a sharpener. I carry the Guided Field Sharpener by Work Sharp. Just remember, a sharp knife is a safe knife.
Some other items to carry in the kill kit are a pair of latex gloves, electrical tape and/or zip ties for attaching your notched tag. An extra headlamp with batteries for the times that you shoot your animal in the evening and have to track, field dress, or pack out in the dark. And lastly para-cord to hang the game bags or to secure an animal on a steep hill.
For a closer look at the kit, check out our video on our YouTube channel.
Things to pack in your car
This is a list of helpful or handy items to keep in your car when hunting.
- Cooler or coolers (preferabbly pre-chilled)
- Tow straps
- Axe or saw
- Change of clothes and or shoes
Packing for the backcountry
When packing for the backcountry it is important to keep in mind that you will want to be coming out heavier than what you went in with. Ounces add up to pounds and pounds matter. A couple things to keep in mind when packing is to view your gear objectively. If an item does not have multiple purposes or at least does not provide a major service to you on your adventure, think twice about packing it.
Pack size: 3500 cu in. packs are good for 3-5 days while 5500 are typically used for week long trips.
Sleep System: I use a 2 man tent that sleeps like a roomy 1 person. There are several routes you can go with such as a floorless shelter, bivy sack, or even a hammock. Whatever you choose you will need a sleeping pad and sleeping bag or quilt. I also like to pack a pillow. Getting good rest is important.
Food: A good rule of thumb is 2 lbs of food for each day you are on your adventure. I will also add that some sort of electrolyte water mix is important as well.
10 Essentials: See the section listed above.
Miscellaneous: Camera with extra battery pack, extra 3 liter platypus bag for camp water, stove/cook system with fuel and pot, spork, tooth brush & paste, ibuprofen, water bottle, trekking poles, toilet paper, and some sort of light footwear for camp to air out your boots.
For a more detailed explanation of what to pack you can watch the video below.
If you have any questions about what to pack or certain types gear feel free to reach out by clicking here.