With an arctic blast coinciding with a November backpack hunt trip, I have a great opportunity to test out some gear upgrades. I’ll be heading into the 125,000 acres Big South Fork National Recreation Area on the Tennessee/Kentucky border for a 4 day hunt. BSF is just one of only a handful of National Park Service properties that are open to hunting. It is muzzleloader season here in Tennessee, so I’ll be packing the smokepole looking for Whitetail and incidental hogs.
My gear list is essentially the same as my Colorado Elk Hunt, though I have made some upgrades that have lightened the load as well as added a couple of extra items to make cold weather hunting more comfortable. I added a stove jack to my tarp shelter which allows me to run a very cool, titanium cylinder wood burning stove. The entire stove rolls up into a cylinder about 2 inches in diameter and weighs in at 20.5 oz. Since I will be burning wood during the night, I added a lightweight hand saw for cutting wood. It can also split double duty on butchering jobs. I also upgraded from a mummy bag to a down quilt from Enlightened Equipment. This cut my sleeping bag weight from 52oz to 21oz, essentially giving me a weight allowance for carrying a wood stove.
Food wise, I’m carrying a combination of Alpine Aire dehydrated meals and a few from a excellent new company called Heather’s Choice. Heather has entered the dehydrated adventure meal market offering premium food with super high quality ingredients. Many of the meals are Paleo, use “superfood” ingredients, and the meats are grass fed/organic (wild caught seafood). The meals come in at about 600 calories each (high calories meals are reportedly on the way) with 50+ grams of protein. Because these meals are targeted towards a more specific consumer, the ingredient combinations and recipes seem to be more interesting than the competition. I have tried one meal so far while out on a weekend hunt and found it to be excellent. You can expect a full review coming soon.
Of course, I also packed a few bars of my recent Pemmican experiment, “Cranstachios” (cranberries & pistachios), and Kind bars. At the last minute, I threw in a 1 gallon bag of spinach. Yeah, I know…. hardly ultralight in terms of calories to ounces, but I sure do like having my greens. I hope to be cooking some fresh backstraps up over an open flame as well. Full report coming next week.