Backpack Hunting Gear List-The Essentials

By Brad Brooks

Everyone wants to only pack the essential gear items when they are packing for a hunting trip, but it can be difficult to know exactly what you should take to have an enjoyable backpack hunting experience vs. what you want to bring. My gear list is constantly evolving, but most of what is listed below remains constant with the addition or subtraction of clothing and food depending on weather and number of days I'll be out.

The list of clothes below is what I just took on a recent rifle elk hunt where temperatures were sub-freezing and cold most of the day with wind, snow and some rain.

If you prefer the to see the gear rather than read about it you can check out the video we made going over all of my gear below (Admittedly, I neglected to include a couple of items in the video that are in my gear list below).

New Gear for 2018

Every year I ad and subtract gear from my kit.  There are three new items I started using this year that I am really impressed with.

  1. First Lite Uncompahgre Insulated Pants. Most people will think they are unnecessary or that they wouldn't want them. They. Are. Amazing. With a full length zipper, I can put the Uncompahgre Pants on quickly when glassing to stay warm, they are comfortable to wear around camp at night and if it gets really cold I can wear them in my sleeping bag and add another 20 degrees of comfort to my quilt. They aren't necessary for early season archery hunts when it is still summer conditions, but I started using them in early September and I won't leave them at home again. Ever.
  2. Garmin InReach. I tried out three separate GPS devices this year, including a traditional GPS with an OnX map chip, OnX map app on my phone, and the Garmin InReach.  OnX maps still makes a great product, but the Inreach, especially when paired withe the Earthmate phone app, is a great gps device with a long battery life plus the added bonus of being an emergency locator and being able to text family and friends.  I'm a luddite at heart, but this GPS device is fantastic.  Downside is that you have to buy a data plan to use it, but for me it was worth it.
  3. First Lite Dobson Aerowool Boxer Briefs. I honestly didn't think boxers could be such a game changer.  But these boxer briefs are incredible. They wick moisture well, prevent chaffing and importantly I can wear them for a week and they honestly don't smell that bad (too much information?). I've been impressed. You'll be glad you have these once you have worn them for a few days in the field.

2018 Gear List

In no particular order, here is my current backcountry hunting gear and equipment list by category.


  • Vortex Razor 65mm spotting scope
  • Vortex Razor 10x42 binoculars
  • Vortex Ranger 1500 range finder
  • Sirui T-025x Carbon Fiber Tripod w/ Benro 3 way pan head
  • FHF Bino Harness
  • Lens cleaning cloth
Backpack Hunting Gear List


  • Baseball hat
  • First Lite Minaret Short Sleeve Crew Aerowool Shirt
  • First Lite Wilkin QZ
  • First Lite Chama Hoody
  • First Lite Sawtooth Hybrid Jacket
  • First Lite Uncompahgre Jacket
  • First Lite Vapor Stormlight Rain Jacket
  • First Lite Dobson Aerowool Boxer Briefs
  • First Lite Obsidian Merino Wool Pants
  • First Lite Allegheny 230g Long Underwear
  • First Lite Uncompahgre Insulating Pants
  • First Lite Mountain Athlete Triad Sock
  • First Lite Tag Cuff Beanie
  • First Lite Shale Hybrid Gloves
  • First Lite Aerowool Liner Gloves (layer well inside the Shale Hybrid Gloves)
  • First Lite Aerowool Neck Gaiter
  • Lowa Tibet GTX Boots

Camp/Hiking Gear

  • Neo Air Xlite sleeping pad
  • ThermaRest Hyperion 20 Sleeping Bag
  • MSR Windburner stove
  • 1 small canister isopro fuel
  • GSI spoon (long handle-important)
  • Black Diamond Spot Headlamp
  • Black Diamond Carbon Cork Trekking Poles
  • 2 lighters wrapped with duct or gorilla tape
  • Platypus Gravity Works 2L water filter
  • Platypus Big Zip LP 3 Liter
  • MSR Dromedary 4 Liter Bag

Hunting Gear

  • Argali High Country Pack Game Bags
  • Argali Carbon Knife
  • 2 pair latex gloves
  • 5 pre-cut 6 ft. sections of 3mm cord (for hanging meat and butchering)
  • Space blanket (to put meat on to keep it clean)
  • Gerber small multi-tool
  • Small set of Allen wrenches (for archery hunts only)
  • Bugle tube + diaphragm reeds
  • Smoke in a bottle


Miscellaneous Gear

  • One un-scented trash bag (used for putting my clothes in, and if i kill something helps me keep my gear from getting blood all over it).
  • 50 ft. 2mm PMI paracord (used for shoe-laces, guying out a tent, repairing gear, hanging food, etc.)
  • 25 ft. 3mm paracord (Same use as above, but stronger in case I need it)
  • Small med kit
    • athletic tape( 1/2 role)
    • ibuprofen
    • hydrocodone (2 pills)
    • Gauze (2) pads
    • 4 bandaids
    • Small gold bond bottle
  • Toothbrush and small bottle of toothpaste
  • 3 small Outdoor Research "dity" sacks to keep gear organized
  • Garmin InReach Explorer
  • Goal Zero Flip 30 Recarcher (for recharging camera and phone)
  • Small camera for photos and video
  • TP
  • sunglasses
  • Ultralight dry bag to store and hang food
  • Bandana/handkerchief (I use this all the time, but often to protect my face and neck from the sun)
  • 3 extra AAA batteries for headlamp
  • Therm-A-Rest butt pad (Use this for glassing all the time)
  • Chapstick
Backpack Hunting Gear List


If you want more information on how to make your own backountry meals be sure to go to our article on how to make some great and easy meals. Below is what I eat each day for breakfast lunch and dinner.

  • Breakfast: Steel cut instant oats with 2 heaping scoops of Hoosier Hill Farms dehydrated peanut butter and a handful of raisins, all dumped into a sandwich bag.
  • Lunch: 1 Pro Bar "Meal" bar; 1 Clif Builders Bar Protein Bar; 2 Nature's Bakery Fig Bars; 6 Hershey's dark chocolate nuggets; 10 dehydradted apricots; 1/2 package of trader Joe's simply dried mangos. I put all the bars and chocolate in a 1 quart sandwich bag, and the dried fruit in another bag.
  • Dinner: Unlike lunches these vary (see link above for how to make dehydrated meals), but a typical dinner is a box of cous cous with 3/4 pound dehydrated ground elk, 2 heaping scoops of dehydrated butter, and a heaping scoop of dehydradted Kale.

I'm always revising my gear list and would love to hear what other people are packing around, any particular piece of equipment you never leave home without, or your favorite new gear. If you have something you think I should try out, let me know if the comments below.