Where Do I Start?
Check out my latest video on how I pack for my mountain hunts!
The real question is, WHAT AM I WILLING TO LEAVE BEHIND?
There are two things that I have found to not compromise on; food, and sleeping equipment.
Comfort and nutrition will drastically improve your mood and motivation when out in the middle of nowhere. On my most recent Mountain Goat hunt in NE British Columbia, when sour weather rolls in, those little things you didn’t cut corners on will help maintain your sanity.
A good sleeping bag and sleeping mat are a game changer. Staying warm and comfortable on a possible slanted and bumpy surface will allow your body to rest and recover for the next big push over a mountain ridge or to your next base camp. I use a Klymit sleeping mat and a North Face -7 C sleeping bag. I will note I use a woman’s sleeping bag style as they are typically a little wider in the hip section and allows a bit more room to move in the bag. I’m not a fan of tight sleeping bags, but I need to packability of a mummy style bag.
Food is important for obvious reason, however, having good tasting food and some snacky food for glassing and tent ridden rainy days are a must. For main meals, Mountain House and Backpacker’s Pantry are two fairly common types of dried food packs. Recently I discovered Happy Yak pouches that are now available and they are super tasty! My brother in law was on the goat hunt trip with me, and although he opted to cook the pouches in a pot, they contained real full veggies, meat and rice etc. (highly recommended). Besides a pouch per day, I also pack instant oatmeal, jerky, pack of licorice, candy bar per day and a few other snacky things like hot chocolate packets. This allows you to bring a bit of “home” with you and when you are stuck in a tent for 6-8 hours with another person and it is pounding rain and wind outside, you’ll thank me for this tips!
Now to the heavy stuff. Literally. Knives, bone saws, ammo, camera gear, optics and other trinkets can weigh you down if you are not aware of what you are putting in your pack. Remember, if you might not use it, don’t bring it. Next, consider the actual weight of the item. Most often, in my experience, if you are willing to pay a bit more for the same item, that item will most likely weigh less, be more packable, and be of a higher quality. I’m referring to optics especially. NEVER compromise on optic quality. Look for something that will fit in the pack you have; preferably in the side long pocket so it can be easily accessible. The optic technology is better than it’s ever been in terms of packing insane quality into a small spotting scope size. Cooking utensils is another item that can take up a lot of space and also weigh more than you need. Jetboil and MSR make some great products that save space and are very light, but be prepared to pay a little extra. But it’s worth it.
Lastly pack size choice might seem obvious, but some large packs are not really meant for hunting, but rather hiking. One of the biggest differences is as place to put meat should to harvest an animal. There are many great packs and brands out there, but having a meat compartment or meat shelf is critical on a backpack only hunt where you do not have horses or an ATV to carry extra stuff for you. I use a Tenzing TZ6000 pack. This pack is has fantastic storage for all my gear PLUS an expandable meat compartment to haul an animal or quarter out. This pack also has many different little storage pockets to help keep items compartmentalized so you aren’t rummaging through trying to find something.