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 Those are all outdated relative to this list.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.
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 – https://amzn.to/3jr3Kxe – September sheep, goat, rough terrain mulies/elk. Rifle elk/deer before big snow accumulations.
Lowa Tibets GTX – https://amzn.to/3wUx6au – Same usage as Hanwag Alaska but Hanwags are a broader fit.
Crispi Idaho – Check manufacture website – Archery Elk, Spring Bear
Scarpa Charmoz – https://amzn.to/3l9UhuE – 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 – https://amzn.to/3RsTlxN
Schnees – Check manufacture website
Mucks Boots are also a great option, but they lack the liner setup. – https://amzn.to/40sBlHF
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 – https://amzn.to/3E27Nr9
- A pair of tennis shoes can even work well in September as camp/backup footwear.
Pair of camp shoes
- Something light and easy to pack like Crocs – https://amzn.to/3HUwFmG
- Thin liner socks will help you avoid blisters and allow you to pack fewer pairs of primary socks.
- I prefer ultra-thin, silk liners. https://amzn.to/3RD2wf1 Merino wool and synthetics will also work well.
- Late Season – Ragg Wool over liners – https://amzn.to/3l8XNFT
- Early/Mid Season – Darn Tough Merino over liners (depending on your feet and boot sizing) – https://amzn.to/3YnrCRm
- 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.
Tops and Bottoms
- Merino wool or wool blends are best. They doesn’t get the odor that synthetics pickup.
- Origin’s Nano Wool, First Lite’s merino
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 – https://amzn.to/40DPUIO 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. https://amzn.to/3DEJlvM
- For a slightly warmer, yet light option, I really like the UA Raider Pants. https://amzn.to/3wS7US7
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. https://amzn.to/3Y25agP 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 – https://amzn.to/3wUl2pD
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 – https://amzn.to/3Ym0Xor
- 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. – https://amzn.to/3wSHJdN
- Late season, I like rag wool glomitts – https://amzn.to/3Y4hInW Get multiple pairs, you will go through a pair a season, at a minimum.
Warm hat and/or baclava
- I usually wear wool beanies, but this is personal preference – https://amzn.to/3jJb3k0
- Generic wool balaclavas are great before it gets really frigid – https://amzn.to/3DFRX5j
- One of the warmest hats out there is the Stormy Kromer Rancher Hat – https://amzn.to/3XiFT0R
Rifle and all accessories
- Your scope and rings are more important than your rifle.
- Fog proof, waterproof and lowlight performance. For rough mountain hunts – you are looking at spending $650+
- I have rifles with Nightforce and higher-end Leupold optics https://amzn.to/3HWsmHF on them.
- Use high quality mounts. 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 rifles – https://youtu.be/AcvJJc_QjTM
Trekking Poles and Rests
- I primarily use a removable Hatch Bipod
- For trekking poles I use Cascade Carbon Fiber Poles – https://amzn.to/3xeO3g8
- 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 (8-10 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 – https://amzn.to/3Xmy7mv
- Release and an extra release
- Spare parts for you bow
- I use a Wes Wallace recurve bow with flu-flu arrows for grouse hunting
- My personal bow setup:
- Hoyt VTM – 70lbs – Raptor camo because it looks cool.
- Method Archery Arrows – 482grns at 284fps
- Grim Reaper Mechanicals
- 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 calls. Native makes my favorite bugle tube.
- 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 – https://amzn.to/3HxD0mS
- I use a small call case for my diaphragm calls. Calls stay organized and last longer in these cases – https://amzn.to/3edTGFn
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 – https://amzn.to/3lnvnIc
- You can refill a small bottle with talcum powder – https://amzn.to/3YBcPT8
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.
- InReach – https://amzn.to/3SNpyj0
Extra batteries and bulbs for all equipment
- On backpack hunts I also carry a battery pack like this one – https://amzn.to/3Xh9cAI
Topo map and compass
- Check your compass to make sure it is pointing North
- 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.
- Lots of good ones out there. I use a Garmin Instinct – https://amzn.to/3EjCA2P
- 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.
- For glassing intensive hunts like mule deer hunts, coues deer and spring bear hunts a pair of 15×56 binoculars on a tripod are a great tool.
- 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
- I have historically used an Alaska Guides Creations and Outdoor Vision harness. In the next few months there will be a video on my YouTube Channel comparing several different models of harnesses. I have been testing several of the newer harnesses.
- 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 – https://amzn.to/3yraeAt
- 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 – https://amzn.to/3Yx1F1W
- I use both Phone Skopes and Ollin Mag Scope Devices.
Knives and game cleaning
- My new favorite higher knife is the MKC Blackfoot – https://www.montanaknifecompany.com/collections/blackfoot-blades
- I have a video on the knives I use here – https://youtu.be/CxjNWa34W5M
- My favorite hunting knife, the Buck 113 – https://amzn.to/3jMFA0u
- My favorite sheath for the Buck 113 –https://amzn.to/3YGCQAo
- My favorite replaceable blade knives – Havalon https://amzn.to/3RPG1Uj – Outdoor Edge https://amzn.to/3YBqrhc
- My favorite sharpening/honing rod for in the field – https://amzn.to/3JXjWRY
- I carry a cheap pocket knife on a clip in my pocket. I use this for my original hide cuts and work around camp – https://amzn.to/3SMxUY6
- When weight isn’t an issue, I use basic game bags – https://amzn.to/3DVY1qi
- When backpack hunting I use Tag Bags and Caribou Bags – https://amzn.to/3YlCv6m
- I carry some thread and a leather needle with my game bags. I use it to do quick stitches on animals’ mouths so they have naturally closed mouths for pictures – https://amzn.to/3MfGKLG
- I use a Kifaru pack frame for day hunts and multi-day backpack hunts
- My favorite day bag is the Kifaru 22 Mag – there are new variations with some small improvements
- My goto backpacking hunt pack is the Kifaru AMR – there are new variations with some small improvements
- 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 – https://amzn.to/40OCp8W
- I compartmentalize gear in my backpack within ultralight dry bags – https://amzn.to/3Mj2LcI
Water Bottles and Water Treatment
- I keep water treatment pills in my bino harness for backup – https://amzn.to/3Xr7jkW
- I always have a Small Nalgene on my pack – https://amzn.to/3TrohPE
- My Small Nalgene always has a Human Gear Lid on it to avoid contamination with untreated water – https://amzn.to/3cmhh5X
- For backpack hunts or day hunts where I know I will not have access to water, I also carry a Large Nalgene – https://amzn.to/3AvGMcX
- I keep a Steri-Pen in my pack for water treatment – https://amzn.to/3IcTHpd
- If I feel like I just need a little extra water and I am concerned about weight I carry a small Platypus .5 Liter Soft Bottle https://amzn.to/3VmUhW2
Backpack Stove and Cooking Gear
- The primary stove I use is the Jet Boil – https://amzn.to/3xdRmUF
- If I am carrying a stove for more than one person I like the MSR WindBurner – https://amzn.to/3HUKcJZ
- For ultralight situations the MSR Pocket Rocket is the ticket – https://amzn.to/3YF0hKC
- If using the Pocket Rocket or if I want the option to cook coffee and food at the same time, I bring a single wall titanium coffee cup – https://amzn.to/40NqEzJ
- I carry a long spork with my JetBoil – https://amzn.to/3IgfpIP
- I use DIY fire starters. Here is a video – https://youtu.be/NhvhoEv_sN4
- I carry simple lighters in all my cold weather jackets, in my bino harness and in my backpack – https://amzn.to/3T6QoSW
*Underlined items I always carry, even on day hunts. Other items depend on the conditions and demands of the trip.
- Imodium, Pepto Bismol, Chewable Aspirin, Band Aids – Single dose packets
- Dermatone (Sunscreen) https://amzn.to/3PZONfM
- 550 Cord https://amzn.to/3fFRQ0a
- 55 Gallon Contractor Bags https://amzn.to/3Ckv9WX
- Tenacious Tape Patches https://amzn.to/3EqFTpv
- Moleskin https://amzn.to/3McGWvf
- Gauze https://amzn.to/3RIO7fB
- Israeli Bandage https://amzn.to/3rJPQXq
- Cat Tourniquet https://amzn.to/3rFcQa8
- Closure Strip https://amzn.to/3Eqd64t
- Splinter Out https://amzn.to/3T8fjFF
- Sport Shield https://amzn.to/3SLiPq1
- Leuko Tape https://amzn.to/3VfnMZU
- Zip Ties https://amzn.to/3rCMA03
- For later season hunts out of cabins or wall tents, I use a -20 degree rectangular bag
- I prefer non-mummy type bags for comfort, this is personal preference
- 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 – https://amzn.to/3YoZ6Pz
- Keep it under 3.5lbs and mummy style (reduces bulk) for backpack hunts
- Lightweight sleeping pad with a high R-Value. I use a Neo Air – https://amzn.to/3YoGEXh
- I use Hilliberg Akto, Kifaru Super Tarp and similar model tents when on backpack hunts
- I use wall tents from Davis tents in Denver, CO on my horse packin hunts or road accessible hunts