It seems with the advent of the internet and the pervasive gear and Hunting Forums, that many hunting enthusiasts flock to, the idea of “What’s in your backpack?” has taken on a life of its own.
For Hunters, the topic of gear never dies. We all seem to be gear-heads. Most of us are seeking a lighter solution. A cheaper solution or, an expensive upgrade-solution that we perceive we need. Whether because it's "cool", a friend told you that you can't hunt without it, or said, "Widget" comes with a trendy endorsement by the latest hunting-hero that uses the product--maybe--the end result usually means more stuff!
Years ago, I wrote a piece about how to best outfit yourself for a hunting trip and a gear list to go with it. We have published the Backcountry Classroom on our website, to help those interested in learning from 40-plus years of doing it far away from roads. Jim Dean, from JimmyTarps has an Orion Pack, seven-day list, and my own is about five days. I just add more food for seven to fourteen days afield.
I have taught a few seminars at the Idaho Sportsmen Show, and other events, discussing modifying your own gear, buying used gear, and practicing the due-diligence in what you truly need.
Do I cut down my toothbrushes?? No, that three inches is maybe a quarter-ounce. Without that length, my teeth don't get as clean. So, why would someone cut 1/4 ounce? Because they add up to pounds, silly!
Popular Forum discussions on gear have far too many experts for me to get interested. I provide my own feedback based on my field experiences—not others.
So, why would you read my post over the “experts” posts? Malcolm Gladwell, in his book, Outliers, wrote about the 10,000 hour rule. That rule, as postulated, stated, that with about 10,000 hours of “practice” at something, one would be considered an expert. Some of the examples would be “Sully” the pilot that landed the jetliner on the Hudson River, as an example, with over 26,000 hours piloting.
So, with the hours logged, since about age twelve, lugging something on my back with all kinds of stuff in it, I'll give up my two-cents.
Remember: What you don't take with you, doesn't weigh anything! Sometimes, the hardest decision while planning your trip is what NOT to take.
If you've taken items you just HAD to have, yet didn't use them--decide why. Was it because of the weather you didn't need an item. Was it an overly large first-aid kit, or some obscure thing you learned of from a gear forum?
Most Backpacking articles address shedding weight with the Big Three: Pack, Sleeping and Shelter.
Hunters are different from Backpacking? PCT-through hikers for a few discernible reasons: 1). We are out in seasons AFTER the fair weather, 2). We carry things backpackers rarely do, and they're heavy. Guns, Ammo and hundreds of pounds of meat. 3). We are many times drop-camping in remote places and can't just drop out of a hiking trail and meet-up with humans to save ourselves--we HAVE to be self reliant.
Lastly, I've purchased LOTS of used gear. I upgrade various items occasionally as my budget and "Upgrade List" is prioritized. I've written on the aspects of buying used boots--which I haven't suffered from blisters for many, many years, as I let others' break in my hunting boots and find huge discounts on slightly used gear, including expensive boots.
1). Function first--in fact MULTI-function items always find a way into my pack. Except, a Leatherman MULTI-TOOL, funny? No, I would only envision a few uses, not all the uses in the entire tool--it's way too heavy!
Oregon Pack Works Packs ARE multi-tools. Like our BinoBro ProHunter, it carries multiple tools to help get the job done.
The "Why" behind my WholeShabang! pack, or our Orion Pack--multiple options at your hand, when needed.
2). Remove weight first, and bulk next...(See: #4 below for one example of trade-off/low weight vs. Bulk) This example I've written about before: Why one chooses a particular item over another is of course, personal. Brand loyalty exists!! But, in my case I own both (My Jetboil was purchased, used for $35.00) a Jetboil--which I loan out, and an MSR Pocket Rocket. For me, the example in the picture says it all, "WHY would I carry TWICE the weight and bulk for just boiling water??"
3). IF I don't use something for TWO trips, it is gone.
4). Trade-offs exist. (See: No. 2 above) You know there will be heavier items added, over trade-offs for lighter "something else". My coffee just changed it's form, and I shed 1.5# and bulk by going to Starbucks Via. I lost weight and bulk!
Before, and, after...
5). Do you need all your gear in stuff sacks? Each one adds weight. I use Bug mesh. It is a fraction of the weight of silnylon, and gear can be seen through the mesh to grab an object. With our waterproof, OPWBurr Fabric I don't need waterproof bags for anything but my Down.
This is my Kill Kit. If I want one item, I can see it and reach and grab, quickly and efficiently.
6). Use collapsible Nalgenes instead of full-size hard Nalgene bottles. Save the bulk when empty. It IS the lightest form of an object that carries water. The same for my Dromedary, water storage bags...
The same Nalgene compatible screw lid for ALL my water logistics. This bag below holds 10 Liters. It can double as a shower, water supply in camp...
7). Use the lightest form of something possible. My example is Origami dish ware. The plate/bowl/cup is ounces and no bulk, as it unfolds and stores flat. I only carry a cup and small bowl--both of which weigh less than ONE OUNCE combined!
Note: My cutting board is a plastic insert in my backpack. It doubles as a cutting-board to Bone-out my animal--A client friend that guides Bighorn Sheep taught me that one.
Also, exceptions to this rule include a backpack. I shy away from the lightest backpack due to the unknown weight at pack out that may involve over one-hundred pounds of camp and meat.
8). Spotting Scope: Actually, IF I carry a spotter, it is in one piece, attached to my Tri-pod, and ready to go! I never want to waste time, or give-up space in a pocket or two, and especially if I need to field judge quickly. It rides dead-center in my Orion, behind the meat shelf where I can withdrawal it in less than 5 seconds, and be on an animal in less than :30 seconds; or, nearly anywhere on the WholeShabang!
9). And, a funny one, we all need: Toilet Paper. I never carry one roll and think that will work. Every have your entire supply (One Roll) get soaking wet, or you run out? Not me! I separate a camp supply and a two-days supply always carried on my person--just in case!. Always in heavy-Mil clear plastic bags. It's good to be regular.
There are so many more thoughts here. Give some of the ideas a try...
Perhaps with enough questions, I'll write Part Two...
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