Injury Prevention for Backcountry Hunters

May 24, 2023Tips & Advice

You hunt hard in the backcountry and injuries are always a possibility. Hiking steep slopes, over-extending muscles, putting pressure on joints and hauling heavy packs around is hard on the body. Common trail injuries can slow you down but with basic preventative practices, you can avoid these issues altogether and push harder on your next backcountry hunt.

Backcountry Hunt with Kawdy Outfitters in British Columbia

Common Injuries – Sprains, Strains and Stress

Hiking and saddle time are both strenuous and long days on the mountains can lead to sprains and strains. Treating injuries of this nature in the field is possible but prevention is your best bet for a comfortable hunting experience.

Ankle sprains – Scrambling on scree slopes and walking on difficult surfaces can easily roll an ankle. Sprains become increasingly common as you tire and struggle to find the correct foot placement. 

Joint pain – Sore knees and joints are often the result of stress and pressure throughout the hunt.

Hip flexors – Taking those nice long strides can speed up your gait but also wear on the hip flexors. Treating hip flexor injuries is difficult in the field as they require rest to fully recover.

Back and shoulder pains – Hauling heavy packs is the common cause for back and shoulder pain. While these pains may not slow down your hiking abilities, they cause plenty of pain and discomfort.

How to prevent these problems:

Choose footwear wisely – Boots with ankle support help prevent sprains on the mountain. Breaking in your boots will also help prevent blisters and general foot issues.

Adjust your pack and shift the load – When your back and shoulders are sore, take a look at your pack positioning. Shift gear inside to pull the weight closer to your body. Adjust shoulder and hip straps to increase comfort as well.

Slow down and shorten your stride – Take short steps and keep a steady, sustainable pace. Consistency will keep you in the game for longer.

Take frequent breaks – Joints need the occasional break. When you are feeling the pain, drop your pack, do a light stretch and take ten minutes to rest and hydrate. Glassing sessions are the perfect time to give your joints a rest.

Implement a stretching routine – Don’t wait for the hunt to start stretching. Create a daily routine to work on flexibility. Limber up well in advance and continue stretching throughout the hunting trip.

Tips for Backcountry Illness Prevention

Moving beyond common injuries, illness also presents a risk in the backcountry. Water borne illnesses like giardia are common and contact with poisonous plants can irritate your skin. While these risks are present, avoiding them is also relatively easy.

Wash hands regularly – Dirty hands can lead to stomach illness. Take the time to wash your hands after using the bathroom and before eating at camp. There is no shortage of water and keeping clean can prevent stomach bugs.

Cover your skin – Hunters have an advantage against poison ivy and oak because they are often covered with camouflage clothing. It still helps to remain cautious and avoid contact with

Drink treated water only – That stream might look pristine but taking a swig of untreated water can kill your hunting dreams. Fill your bottles with safe drinking water in camp and treat anything gathered on the mountain.

Some of these things might sound like common sense but it’s easy to be distracted by the incredible scenery and incredible hunting. Take care of the little things to ensure you have fresh legs and a healthy body to go chase the trophy of a lifetime.

Written by Zach Lazzari

Zach is an outdoor writer, fly fishing guide and hunting enthusiast. Follow Zach at