The Fine Print

I don’t pitch gear that I don’t trust.
Everything on this list I have personally used while hunting and guiding.
If you see me wearing or utilizing a piece of gear in my videos but don’t see it here, don’t fret! I probably haven’t used that gear long enough to feel comfortable putting it here. That can and does change, as I use gear over a few hunts or a full season. It could also be that I didn’t find that item to be a big enough improvement to knock something off of my proven list. It’s hard to resist at times, but I avoid constantly changing gear – You can listen to my thoughts on this subject in my video, The Truth About The Hunting Gear Industry.

I don’t do deals with gear companies that limit my ability to try new gear.
No one can pay me or give me enough free stuff in order to convince me to blanket recommend their gear to my viewers. I do not do deals with gear companies that preclude me from discussing other products.
This is the only way I can keep my gear recommendations authentic and trustworthy.

If you disagree with one of my gear choices – You may be right!
If stuff wasn’t constantly sent to me to try, I’d almost never give new gear a chance. As I discuss in the video I mention above, I hold new gear up to a high bar. I don’t like screwing with my dialed-in gear systems.
This means that folks who are still caught in the world of chronic “gear masturbation” (I can relate. I’m a recovering gear masturbator, myself.), may have great insight into new products that I do not possess. I may yet to try the particular piece of gear or may have abstained from trying it for a multitude of reasons. In these cases, I always appreciate when viewers comment their insights in the comments.

This is the “Official” list and the most up-to-date.
In the depth of the internet, there are many of my older gear lists floating around. Those are all outdated relative to this list. This is the only list that I attempt to keep tuned up.

I make an absurd amount of money when you click the links in this gear list.
Not really at all, but it does support the content I produce.
Here is the legal part:
Below you will find Amazon Affiliate links and other affiliate links to products discussed or used in videos. I make a commission from your use of these links, but using the link will not affect the price you pay for any items. Some of these links actually give you a discount.

Backcountry Elk, Deer and Bear Hunting Gear

Boots and Footwear

Primary pair of waterproof/water-resistant hiking boots.

  • Personal fit and type of terrain are key. There is a big cost to “overkill” boots – more break-in time and more foot fatigue on long trips. When I see guys wearing full shank, tight toe box boots at a hunting expo – I just assume they like sore feet and discomfort.

Hanwag Alaska GTX – – September sheep, goat, rough terrain mulies/elk. Rifle elk/deer before big snow accumulations.

Lowa Tibets GTX – – Same usage as Hanwag Alaska but Hanwags are a broader fit.

Crispi Idaho – Check manufacture website – Archery Elk, Spring Bear

Scarpa Charmoz – – I wore these sheep and goat guiding when I knew I had tough/heavy, downhill pack outs in killer terrain. Tighter toe box is better in rough terrain. Way less comfortable than the above options, for me. Overkill for 95% of hunting. As I aged, I could no longer wear them due to some changes in my feet.

Pair of Pac Boots – Only used during late season, lots of snow on the ground hunts.

  • An insulated pac boot is your best option once snow accumulates beyond a foot or so. You will be hunting lower, less steep country. Your primary needs will be warmth, comfort, and waterproofness. In a wall-tent with stove or lodge setup, it is nice to be able to remove the liner and get it dry/warm at night.

The Schnees and Kenetrek boots are very similar:

Kenetrek –

Schnees – Check manufacture website

Mucks Boots are also a great option, but they lack the liner setup. –

Muck Boots are also a good option for wet, snowy Spring bear hunts

Secondary pair of boots/shoes

  • In September, a pair of Merrel type hiking shoes is great backup footwear. They are not great in wet conditions, but the reduced weight and increased breathability are nice. I have used these a lot –
  • A pair of tennis shoes can even work well in September as camp/backup footwear.

Pair of camp shoes

Sock liners

  • Thin liner socks will help you avoid blisters and allow you to pack fewer pairs of primary socks.
  • I prefer ultra-thin, silk liners. Merino wool and synthetics will also work well.

Primary socks

  • Late Season – Ragg Wool over liners –
  • Early/Mid Season – Darn Tough Merino over liners (depending on your feet and boot sizing) –
  • Buffalo Wool Socks are also a phenomenal option. They are the most comfortable warm sock I have ever worn. Use Code CLIFFG for a 10% Discount (I do not get a commission if you use this code. This was given to me from owner after he heard I liked the socks.)


  • Great in snow and/or rain. Also great when dealing with high, frosty or dewy vegetation
  • Keep your boots and feet dryer
  • All the hunting brands carry similar options – Firstlite, Kuiu, Sitka, T&K – Try some on. They fit a bit different.
  • When moisture is limited, I use a canvas gaiter. The ones I use are from Wilkins Canvas in NZ. They are more comfortable and less noisy vs the synthetic version sold by the hunting companies. You can find similar options here in the US.
  • Waterproof your gaiters before each season. I use NikWax –

Base Layers

Tops and Bottoms

  • Merino wool or wool blends are best. They don’t get the odor that synthetics build up.
  • Origin’s Nano Wool, First Lite’s Merino

Daily Layers

You don’t necessarily need camouflage gear during rifle season. A lot of time you can save money by purchasing clothing that has the same traits as hunting clothes but is sold to the masses and is not camo.

Bring quiet gear. If it goes “swoosh” when you move, don’t hunt in it. Rain gear for really wet conditions is the exception – It all swooshes if it actually works.

Check for hunter orange requirements in the region you are hunting.

Mid-weight hunting shirts

  • With all the base layer options, there isn’t a need to have the lightest weight hunting shirts. When it’s warm, you can just hunt in your base layer. If you end up doing this a lot due to the climate you hunt in, consider the durability of the material you are choosing for your base layer. Merino wool is notoriously fragile against brush, some brands/variations are more so than others.
  • Origin TetraLoc shirts are durable and comfortable. USA made.
  • First Lite, Sitka, Kuiu and other brands produce great mid-weight shirts also. Pick the ones that make you look the coolest in your pictures.

Pair lightweight hunting pants (Spring Bear, September Sheep/Goat, Archery Elk, Archery High Country Mule Deer)

  • Prana Stretch Zion Pants are my favorite light pant. Here ya go –  Prana likes to mess with their sizing periodically, so buy your first pair in a way that you can return them if they don’t fit.
  • Origin Field Pant – Great pants. USA Made.
  • First Lite’s Corrugated Guide Pants are also a good option.
  • Eddie Bauer Guide Pro Pants are similar to Pranas.
  • As a budget option, I know several people that like the Wrangler ATGs
  • For a slightly warmer, yet light option, I really like the UA Raider Pants.

Pair warm weather hunting pants (Rifle Seasons)

  • First Lite, Sitka, Kuiu and other brands produce great pants. Focus on cold weather class pants.
  • Quiet pants used for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, etc… work well. Make sure they are for active snow winter sports if you go this route.
  • I don’t find them the most comfortable, but older styles of wool work.
  • I like First Lite’s warm options like the Catalyst but have hell with their size and fit.
  • My all-time favorite is Sitka’s Timberline Pant. I remove the knee pads, due to fit.

4 Layer Outerwear System

Lightweight fleece or softshell jacket

  • My new favorite is the Origin Stealth Wool Jacket. Absolutely insane how warm this layer is standalone. Combined with insulating layer below, it’s nuts. USA Made.
  • For years my favorite lighter weight jacket, as a standalone layer over my base layer, was the First Lite Sawtooth Hybrid Jacket. Great option.

Insulating jacket/vest layer

  • My favorite synthetic is the Kuiu Kenai Jacket
  • My favorite down jacket is the First Lite Brooks Down Jackets and the Marmot Quasar (now Zeus) –

Heavy hunting jacket for cold weather

  • Origin’s stealth wool jacket combined with a down insulating jacket – you can probably avoid this layer outside of extreme circumstances.
  • Wool or wool/synthetic mix are great when weight isn’t relevant.
  • Parkas from Origin, UA, First Lite have all performed well for me.

Full set of rain gear

  • I primarily use Kuiu Yukon rain gear.
  • I have also used longer cut New Zealand style rain jackets.
  • You do need to treat your rain gear every couple seasons with a product like Nikwax –

Other Clothing


  • One lightweight and one heavier (wool is best) pair of gloves is optimal.
  • I prefer glomitts because they allow me to use my fingers.
  • Learn to quickly/safely remove or shoot your gun with your chosen gloves. Sometimes this means removing the trigger finger part of your glove and/or glove liner.
  • For early season hunts I like First Lite’s Merino Gloves. Not very durable but warm and comfy. –
  • Late season, I like rag wool glomitts – Get multiple pairs, you will go through a pair a season, at a minimum.

Warm hat and/or baclava

Hunting Gear

Rifle and all accessories

  • Optic and Rings
    • Fog proof, waterproof and lowlight performance. For rough mountain hunts – you are looking at spending $650+ on your scope.
    • I have rifles with Nightforce, Revic and higher-end models of Leupold optics on them.
    • Use high quality mounts. Consider Talley level quality a minimum Getting into these areas can be a rough ride and your gun/scope will probably take some bumps.
  • 6.5mm or .270 are the minimum calibers if you want a gun that is effective for all western game, from antelope to elk.
    • The most important thing is that you are comfortable and accurate with your gun.
    • Large calibers can cause inaccuracy because people train themselves to flinch.
    • Consider ways to mitigate recoil – muzzle brakes, recoil pad, etc…
    • There are several rifle setup videos on my YouTube channel. Here is one on my primary budget rifles –
    • 7mm Mag and 7mm PRC are my favorite calibers.
    • Budget rifles – Tikka T3 Stainless or Ruger American Predator
    • Higher-end rifles – Gun Werks. These are great out-of-the-box setups for someone wanting simplicity, yet high levels of performance. Seeing many clients show up with these setups and immediately having much higher proficiency than your average hunter sold me on their systems. I use them in some of my courses.
    • Bullet selection – 1. Based on what shoots best in your gun. 2. Match terminal ballistics performance with your hunt species, distance and situation. Know when and when not your bullet choice will perform best. There is no “best bullet”, there are best bullets for certain situations.
  • Shooting bags from Phoenix Shooting bags if the hunt allows for the extra weight and bulk –
  • Splatter targets for sighting in a rifle –, tape, stand –

Trekking Poles and Rests

  • I primarily use a removable Hatch Bipod
  • For trekking poles I use Cascade Carbon Fiber Poles –
  • I also use the Wiser Quick-StiX adapter so I can use my trekking poles as a tall rest


  • Arrows with extra broadheads and fieldpoints (8-12 arrows)
  • Work with an archery shop to setup a consistent set of arrows specifically geared towards the species you are hunting
  • I do not make recommendations on arrow specifics because so much personal preference is involved
  • On pack-in hunts you must safely pack your broad heads and arrows for packing on pack animals. Lightweight bow cases like the Plano cases work well and fit in panniers –
  • Release and an extra release
  • Spare parts for you bow
  • I use a Wes Wallace recurve bow with flu-flu arrows for grouse hunting
  • I shoot a Hoyt VTM compound

Elk Calls and Decoys

  • Regardless of the season, learn how to use a cow call. During rifle seasons, a quick cow call is the best way to stop a running elk.
  • For archery hunts and rifle rut hunts, learn the basic bugles and cow sounds. Phelps and Native game calls provide great, easy-to-use diaphragm calls. Native makes my favorite bugle tube.
  • I have recently starting using the smaller Phelps bugle tube at times and for some predator calling –
  • If you are not yet comfortable using a diaphragm call, don’t let anyone tell you that the old Hoochie Mama hasn’t called in a pile of bulls. It’s basic but it does work in a lot of situations. Anyone can use it. Here ya go –
  • The Phelps EZ Sukr is another easy to use cow call –
  • I use a small call case for my diaphragm calls. Calls stay organized and last longer in these cases –
  • On hunts where weight is not a major concern, I use an elk decoy. They work well. –

Other Game Calls

  • I carry a simple fawn in distress call while hunting bears. In the right situation, calling bears can be a blast. –
  • For coyote calling I use a Fox Pro XWave that is similar to this model –

20 Rounds of ammo

  • I carry 6 rounds in two detachable magazines. I also carry 10-15 rounds in a ammo pouch like this one –
  • Have 15 rounds available to you, not buried in the bottom of your pack or back at the truck.

Wind indicator

Head lamp

Iphone with OnX

  • OnX Hunt Subscription- OnX Maps – CLIFFG for 20% off.
    • I am sponsored by OnX. Have been using their product almost daily while in the field for over a decade of guiding.

Satellite Communication and Radios

Topo map and compass

  • Check your compass to make sure it is pointing North. I use this compass –
  • Do not store your compass near lead fishing weights or similar items. It is easy to reverse polarize today’s cheaper compass. A reverse polarized compass will take you in the exact opposite direction.
  • I carry topo maps in new areas as a backup. I have always ordered them from My Topo.

GPS Watch


  • Your optics are the second most important piece of gear, right behind boots.
  • Swarovski and other euro glass optics are worth the money if you plan to use them for years of hunting.
  • Nikon, Vortex, and Maven are good budget options.
  • Low-light performance is an important variable for Western hunting, particularly for heavily pressured game animals that feed primarily in low-light hours of the day.
  • I guide using 8×42 EL Ranges as my chest binocular, because I prefer the light gathering of a 5mm+ exit pupil. Many people prefer a 10×42 chest binocular. I always encourage colorblind people (8% of men) to try 8×42 binoculars, because the depth of color is improved with the larger exit pupil.
  • Image stabilization binoculars from Sig are becoming one of my favorite chest binoculars. It is my opinion that the higher magnification Sigs (16×42 and 20×42) make 15×56 and similar non-IS binoculars obsolete. Check out this video for a full explanation –

Spotting Scope

  • I use a Swarovski ATX 85mm spotter
  • For a discussion of high magnification binoculars vs spotting scopes, checkout the optics videos on my YouTube Channel

Binocular Harness

Glassing Tripod and Glassing Pad

  • I use a Slick 624 Carbon Fiber Tripod
  • For an ultra-light setup, the third-leg system is a good option. You can see my review of it here.
  • If weight isn’t an issue, I crazy creek chair to glass from –
  • Phoenix shooting bags makes a great glassing pad


  • While guiding, I always use range finding binoculars due to there convenience and speed of ranging. However, this setup does add weight to your binoculars.
  • On personal hunts, I will use a small standalone rangefinder –


  • I use both Phone Skopes and Ollin Mag Scope Devices.

Knives and game cleaning


  • If I need to turn bear paws or remove several skulls, I will bring a simple bird beak knife –
  • Fine mixing salt for salting hides/capes
  • Kitchen size honing steel or wooden spoon for turning ears
  • For bears and lions, I do wear surgical gloves –
  • For fleshing in the backcountry I use razor blades –

Game Bags


  • I use a Kifaru pack frame for most day hunts and multi-day backpack hunts
  • If I can get away with a lighter pack for a day hunt because I won’t be packing meat on my back, I use a Kifaru Shape Charge
  • My favorite day bag is the Kifaru 22 Mag – there are new variations with some small improvements
  • My goto backpacking hunt packs are the Kifaru AMR and Dall
  • I use several accessory packs/pouches from Kifaru. I also use their Sherman Pack on the back of all my packs
  • For short scouting trips I use a small CamelBak Pack –
  • I compartmentalize gear in my backpack within ultralight dry bags –

Water Bottles and Water Treatment

Backpack Stove and Cooking Gear

Personal Gear

Fire Starting

First-Aid Kit

*Underlined items I always carry, even on day hunts. Other items depend on the conditions and demands of the trip.

Sleeping bag

  • For later season hunts out of cabins or wall tents, I use a -20 degree rectangular bag
  • For September season a 0-15 degree rated bag is best
    • Down, treated down, or synthetic is fine. If down, I use a waterproof dry bag to keep it away from any moisture –
    • Keep it under 3.5lbs and mummy style (reduces bulk) for backpack hunts
  • The Ultimate System for non-backpack hunts is the Born Outdoors Setups – higher budget option vs traditional bedroll

Sleeping Pad


  • I use Hilliberg Akto, Argali Abrasko and similar model tents when on backpack hunts
  • On some hunts I will carry a Kifaru sheep tarp for sun and rain protection
  • Backpack hunts where I am sharing shelters with others, my favorite is still the Kifaru 8-man tipi with stove.
  • During late season when I enjoy the availability of a big woodstove, I use wall tents and wood stoves from Davis tents in Denver, CO (road based camp or horse/mule packin).
  • I use Tyvek for ground clothes when needed. Beat it up some so it isn’t so loud. –
  • Best wall tent ground clothes are painters drop clothes –
  • Best rain fly for a wall tent is a good heavy tarp. Size for a 18″+ overhang if setting for big snows. –

Other Camp Gear

Food (Carnivore/Paleo Diet) and Misc.

  • Ziplocks – I package my daily breakfast/lunch/snacks before I go on hunts. This is my favorite way to make sure I eat enough calories. I force myself to completely eat the bag daily. –
  • Butter or Gi Tubes – Great way to add calories to dried fruit or other snacks. Squirt some gi on dried dates. Fill these tubes. –
  • Steak, eggs, bacon – Outside of my daily snack pack, these account for most of my calories if I can get them into camp based on the hunt.
  • Pemmican – I make my own. My preference is to heat it up in water with a little cream (powdered cream below works). Here is a video –
  • Biltong – My favorite commercial option for a carnivore diet snack is Ayoba biltong slabs – Use my code for a discount CL1FFGRAY15 –
  • Chomps – Decent snack, more reasonably price versus below options –
  • Carnivore Snax – Of the commercial paleo/carnivore dried snack options, these are my favorite –
  • Carnivore Crisps – Close second to Carnivore Snax as a commercial option dried –
  • Smoked Cheese – I make it myself. Great backcountry calories. Smoker – Cold Smoke Attachment for Cheese –
  • Ganash – Dark chocolate and butter melted together. Great for colder weather hunts. Consistency of tootsie rolls is best. More chocolate = stiffer.
  • Dates, mango, jerky mixes – I mix dried fruit with macadamia nuts and jerky for my own trail mix style snack. Mac Nuts – Favorite dates –
  • Honey Stingers – A cheat food if I get behind on calories. I heat up with a lighter. –
  • Ramen – Another cheat food if I lose all appetite. –
  • Mountain house and others – I really try to avoid but end up eating some freeze dried food on weight sensitive backpack hunts –
  • Cream – I bring real cream or this REAL dehydrated cream. Fake creamer is nightmare food and screws me up. –
  • Coffee packs – I live off of single serve instant coffee packets up on the mountain –
  • Liquid IV – Does contain sugar but helps me stay hydrated –
  • Bone Broths – Great warm drink –
  • Cigars – my last remaining vice on this planet.
  • Single use tooth brushes. I love these things in the backcountry. I put one in each of my daily food bags. –
  • Oysters in olive oil – One of my things I don’t go without in the backcountry –
  • Wipes for clean up – 
  • An extra 1-2 good garbage bags come in handy in many ways –