What’s in your….pack?

This is a loaded question (no pun intended) but I am always curious to know what other backcountry hunters consider “must have” gear that comes with them on every hunt, whether for early season elk or chasing whitetails during a bitter cold November hunt. What is always in there, no matter what?

The endless banter about the Ten Essentials is a key bit of discussion, and every hunter has their own tweaks and modifications to that list, but the essence of those “10” are more or less the same – fire, water, navigation, etc. I have friends who tote everything from a Kindle to an axe, but I guess if it makes you safer, more comfortable and better able to stay out longer, go with it.

My “stay alive and stay hunting” kit contains:

  • Two mini Bic lighters and four WetFire tinder packets, plus a few Vaseline soaked cotton balls in a film canister
  • GPS plus spare batteries and small compass
  • Duct tape wrapped around lighters and trekking poles; about 15′ (the world’s most useful tool)
  • Leatherman multi-tool (a blade, pliers, screwdriver, awl, and small saw are the most useful parts)
  • Black Diamond Icon headlamp and spare batteries (this is one of brightest headlamps out there, with adjustable brightness as well as red light for night vision preservation. It is an awesome head torch for those pitch black pack outs)
  • Sawyer PointOne Squeeze Water Filter and two bladders (only three ounces, so it is a breeze to carry, and it has a million gallon filter guarantee; works great, and is easy to use. No excuse not to stay hydrated with this thing.)
  • First Aid Kit with Mylar space blanket (what I carry in the kit is a subject for another day…)
  • 20’ of 550 parachute cord (endless uses)
  • Hunting Licenses (keep everything legal when a bull or buck does down)
  • 4 Allen wrenches (sized for critical bolts on my sight and arrow rest)
  • Two extra D-loops
  • Extra drop away rest cord
  • Micro tube of SuperGlue and hot melt glue “piece” for inserts, etc.
  • Two spare arrow knocks
  • Spare release
  • Havalon Piranta knife and 12 extra blades (sharpest knife out there, period.)
  • Broadhead wrench (this is the small one that comes with the broadhead package; don’t use your fingers to tighten or
  • replace them and end up with a cut needing stitches. It can be a hunt-ending injury.)
  • 3′-4′ length of serving for basic string repairs
  • Snickers or some sort of high calorie bar
  • Nuun Active Hydration electrolyte tablets (filtered creek water is good, but these make it pretty tasty, and replenish the electrolytes one will lose during hot days and strenuous hikes)

All of this gets bundled nicely into a lightweight stuff sack, and tucked away in the pack. It always is in there – always. Some of it gets used every day I am in the field, especially on backcountry hunts, and some of it I have never broken out to use – and hopefully will not have to. But, it is there when I need it…

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