A guided backcountry hunt calls for precision planning and packing to minimize weight while still carrying essential gear. The entire goal is cutting weight, which often requires investing in high quality equipment that uses the best material and design technology to deliver high performance goods. The second step involves saving space and organizing gear so everything is accessible. Compression sacks and pack accessories will help in this regard.
As you prepare for a backcountry hunt, keep these things in mind:
Single vs. Multi-Day
Gear requirements change drastically between single and multi-day trips. You can pack fairly light on single day backcountry hunts by cutting out the tent, sleeping bag, stove and multiple days of food requirements. You don’t necessarily need a different pack for each style of hunt but categorizing gear into single and multi day groupings is useful. Simply remove the overnight gear when it’s not needed and move forward with a lighter pack for the day.
Unless we specifically tell you otherwise, our hunters here at Kawdy Outfitters can plan for single day hunts. We will leave from a fixed camp or cabin each morning and will not need to carry sleep systems or overnight gear while hunting. This allows us to travel light through remote and rugged country.
Choosing a Pack
Pack choice is never easy and it’s difficult to find a one size fits all solution. That said, a quality hunting pack will have weight bearing capabilities for packing out animals along with organizational features for specialized gear. Choose a pack that has rain protection and plenty of space for extra layers, optics and hunting equipment without being excessively heavy.
For most of our hunts here in northern British Columbia, we recommend a daypack in the 2,000 – 3,500 cubic inch range. This is typically plenty of space for a day’s worth of hunting gear. Keep in mind we can also stash spare items in the saddlebags on your horse.
Quick Access Optics
Your main pack should hold a tripod and spotting scope. For your binoculars and rangefinder, we recommend a separate chest harness to maintain quick access in the field. A quality chest harness will allow immediate access to both your binos and your rangefinder without impeding on your shooting abilities. Even so, we always recommend practicing shooting while wearing these accessories (and anything else you plan to wear in the field). If there are any issues, it’s best to discover them before that critical moment.
Food and Water
Leave room in your daypack for enough water and food for a day of hunting. For most people, two liters of water is plenty for a day. With that in mind, consider bringing a collapsible, 1-liter water bottle like the ones made by Platypus, plus a 1-liter Nalgene style water bottle.
We will provide plenty of lunch items and snacks at camp that you can stash in your daypack before we leave camp each morning.
Clothing and Sleep System
High quality clothing and a good sleeping system are big investments, but they make a big difference in the backcountry. Lightweight clothes with high value insulation properties combine with a high quality sleeping bag to keep you comfortable in a wide range of conditions. For specific tips on layering, see our previous article on that subject. We also published an article on what to look for in a quality sleeping bag.
A kill kit can quickly add weight to your daypack. But fortunately, our guides also carry most of these items and there’s no need to duplicate them in your own pack. If you plan to take your meat home, bring high quality game bags, like those from Caribou Gear. Our guides will handle field dressing and caping, but you might want to bring a single, ultra-sharp knife and lightweight field sharpener or a replaceable blade knife. Only carry what you need and avoid loading down a pack with multiple knives and saws. If you’re unsure about what to bring on a guided hunt, please let us know.
Always carry an emergency kit with some basic first aid and survival items. Additionally, pack a headlamp and a backup light source. Keep some toilet paper in your daypack. And back at camp you can keep your basic bathroom kit with toothbrush, a small bottle of toothpaste and any other necessities like contact solution, etc.
Make sure you have spare batteries for the headlamp or a recharging solution, like a compact battery pack and solar charger from Goal Zero. For more tips on portable power systems and staying charged in the backcountry, check out our previous article here.
More Gear Recommendations
For packing lists and more in-depth gear recommendations, please take a few minutes to review the information on our gear page. If you have questions, please feel free to reach out.
If you’d like to learn more about our guided hunts, explore the rest of the information here on the website or contact us anytime for details.
Written by Ryan McSparran
Ryan McSparran is an outdoor writer, a hunting and fly fishing guide, and very proud to be a part of the Kawdy Outfitters team.