After spending numerous hunting seasons living out of a backpack in the backcountry, I have found a few tips and items that can make life a whole lot easier during your next backcountry adventure. Here are my top ten must haves for the backcountry.
- SPOT Satellite Tracker- The SPOT is an emergency locating beacon and satellite GPS messenger. Not only can you send out an emergency SOS transmission to emergency responders if need be, but you can also send a message to your loved ones that everything is okay in the backcountry. This is the most important 5 ounces I carry in my pack.
- Water Filtration Systems- Weighing only 2 ounces, the Sawyer Mini water filter is a backpackers dream. It is so small and compact that you can use the straw to drink right out of the tiniest seep of water. Pump filters use a lot of energy, so for big volumes of water I prefer the Sawyer gravity feed purifier. Just pour in the water and let gravity do the work.
- Hiking at Night – Hiking during the heat of the day can quickly cause heat exposure, energy depletion, and dehydration. Hiking at night will minimize the stressors of the heat and you will lessen your water consumption.
- Cozy Camp- Depending on your hunt, you may spend numerous nights sleeping on the dirt. Of course you will want to remove rocks, sticks, and brush away from your tent location, but making your tent pad level is just as important. No matter what the slope is, we will clear dirt to make our pad level. We try to do this on a scouting trip. This way our camp spot will be ready to go for the hunt and we can quickly set up (even in the dark).
- Flagging Tape- A small piece of flagging tape wrapped around a strap on your backpack will help you locate your pack more easily when you drop it for a stalk. It also makes it easier to keep tabs on your hunting partner if you separate.
- Luci Solar Lantern- This is an inflatable solar powered lantern that weighs less than 4 ounces. It’s extremely bright and doesn’t require batteries. During the day just set it out in the sun to recharge, so when you get back to camp it will be ready to go. It’s perfect for the backcountry or at any camp.
- Cushioned Toe Tape- This may seem minor, but your feet are everything in hunting. Personally, I get hotspots on my toes (no matter what boots I have on). Nexcare waterproof tape is cushioned medical tape that helps to alleviate hotspots. Wrap a small amount around a straw (cut the straw to size), so you don’t have to carry the entire roll in your backpack.
- Wax Paper and Cotton Ball Fire Starters- Fire starters should always be in your backpack. Two lightweight fire starters that I have had great success with are cotton balls dipped in Vaseline and folded up Wax paper. They are both extremely flammable, super light weight and take up hardly any space in your pack.
- Emergency SOL Bivvy- The SOL emergency bivvy is a perfect survival bag. Whether your sleeping bag gets wet or you’re caught away from camp at night, the SOL bag will do the trick. They are waterproof, windproof, and reflect up to 90% of your body’s heat back to you. They weigh less than 4 ounces and pack down to the size of a small apple.
- Clip On Light- It’s always a good idea to carry a secondary emergency light source. Clip on lights are about the size of a quarter, weigh next to nothing and easily clip on the outside of your pack. In the event a headlamp goes out, you will always have a back up light source.
After years spent in the backcountry, I still learn new techniques and find new gear to help us have enjoyable experiences. Remember, if you have an idea or find a product that you can’t live without, share them with others. You never know if you can help someone have a better experience or it could even save someone’s life. I wish everyone a safe, enjoyable and successful hunting season.