Back in mid January, I committed to making a DIY backcountry Elk hunt become a reality this September. After months of training (over 800 training miles & 100+ Crossfit workouts) and planning, we are about 2 weeks out from heading to Colorado. This will be a “backpack” or “bivy” style hunt in that we will have no established base camp, rather, we will stay mobile on a day to day basis until we find what we are looking for. Our philosophy is that since we have no opportunity to scout and have no real idea where we may run into other hunters or, worse, outfitted pack camps, our best chances for success as well as an aesthetic experience will be found in a highly mobile, ultra light backpacking method of hunting. So, with the goal set to have pack weights of less than 40 pounds (including water) and a total load out (boots, clothes to be worn, weapons etc) of less than 50 pounds for seven days, each of us sorted through our present gear, upgraded where necessary, weighed, re-weighed, calculated, experimented, researched, asked for advice and compiled our gear.
- Empty Pack: 82oz
- Sleeping Bag + dry sack: 59oz
- Tarp Shelter: 29oz
- Trekking Poles: 18.8oz
- Water Filter: 4.9oz
- Sleeping Pad: 7.9oz
- 2nd Merino shirt: 9oz
- Down Jacket + dry sack: 20.5oz
- Food: 160
- First aid kit: 2.1
- Water: 70.4 (2 liters)
- Bladder: 6 oz
- Extra Bladders: 3 oz
- Rain gear (top & bottom): 34.4
- GPS w batteries: 4.7
- headlamp w/ batteries: 3.2
- Spare batteries: 1.6
- dry sacks: 2.5
- bowl/cup/spork: 3.7
- Fuel: 7.5
- Lighter: .4
- *Kill Kit: 16 (game bags, knife, 550 cord)
- socks 2
- Soap 2
- Toothbrush/Toothpaste: 1.2
- wipes/TP: 3
- towell: .7
Base Pack weight: 555.8oz / 34.73 lbs
Bow: 96 oz
Clothes/ Items to be Worn:
- Merino Base layer pants: 9.1oz
- Merino Base Layer shirt: 8
- Outerwear Pants: 18.5
- Gloves: 2.6
- Merino Neck gaiter: .75
- Merino hat: .75
- Hat: .75
- Optics + Harness: 35.2
- Boots: 64 (size 13)
- Socks: 4
Total: 143.65oz / 8.9 lbs
Total Clothes + Weapon: 239.65oz/ 14.97lbs
Total Load Out (everything): 798.4oz/ 49.90lbs
Gear wise, I went back and forth on many items. Some of my existing gear was applicable, other items had to be upgraded for more specific purposes. In other cases, such as my bow (which was not purchased with ultralight hunting in mind) and my sleeping bag (which was light by the standards of the late 90s but not today), upgrades were financially not feasible this year. The backpack was the focus of much attention for several months. I do have several backpacks ranging from a dedicated “backpacking” pack that I purchased in 1998 to day packs for day hunting whitetails and small game to a mid size pack suitable for overnight and weekend hunting trips. The main problem with my selection of packs is that none of them are particularly comfortable for heavy duty hauling, which backcountry Elk hunting potentially requires. Since we’ll have to be prepared move several hundred pounds of meat from a backcountry kill site back to the truck, I needed a pack that is capable of handling extreme loads yeth still maintains our ultralight ethos. Many conventional packs just aren’t designed to go into the 80, 90, 100+ pound weight range. There is an exceptional selection of such packs (dedicated to backcountry hunting) on the market manufactured by boutique companies. The time tested standard is the Kifaru pack and one of my partners went with this pack. The Stone Glacier was a pack that I closely considered as well. Kuiu and Mystery Ranch are also packs commonly used by serious backcountry hunters (my other partner went with a Mystery ranch). After much deliberation, I decided to go with the Exo Mountain Gear 5500. It is a titanium frame pack that is light, strong, simple and at a competitive price point for the high end pack market.
Food: In order to hit a desirable weight to calorie ratio (general ultralight rule is 100 calories minimum per ounce) of food that I can find enjoyable to eat yet balanced with the consideration of practically in the backcountry setting, I went with a combination of dehydrated meals, jerky, pemmican, salami, dried fruit, drink mixes, almond butter, meal replacement bars, granola+dried milk+whey protein, energy gel shots (for hard climbs) and Starbucks Vias for morning coffee.
Breakfast: Granola + Nuts + Dried Milk + Whey Protein, Dried Fruit (Mango, Banana, & Tangerine).
Well thought out and sensible. I’d say you’re ready. And no sign of the Lodge cast iron, sensible too!
2015 gear upgrade list:
Quilt instead of sleeping bag should save 20-25 oz.
Carbon bow instead of aluminum should save 40-50oz
-sure am gonna miss the cast iron 🙂
I look forward to reading your story. I did a lot of reading and pre-planning for a public land unguided elk hunt last year. Just don’t know when I’ll get to go……
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Thanks for sharing the gear list. Much appreciated.
Wish there are complete ones for backpack hunters are done more frequently rather than just a bunch of blank spots in Excel.
Publishing them don’t make a whole lot of sense if there’s no data on weight even though brands and products are listed.