Backpack Elk Hunting


Man, I can’t believe September is almost here, Archery Elk Hunting is almost on us. Its going to be a great year as I will be getting to do a little hunting for myself, plus guiding a few archery Rocky Mountain Elk hunts and then in November a couple rifle Roosevelt Elk hunts. What hunts are you all doing this year? If you are just getting in to archery Elk hunting, I wanted to share a brief article on what gear I use, so hopefully it will help you feel a little more comfortable coming out west to chase Bugling Bulls.


  • Bow Set Up: When it comes to Archery Elk Hunting I get a ton of questions from guys about what weight bow they need to be shooting, how far are the shots, what type of broadheads and arrows to use. So here is my two cents and then I will give you my exact set up. I believe the most important thing when it comes to having a good set up for Archery Elk Hunting is to shoot a set up you shoot well. So if you shoot a 60lb bow with a 450 grain arrow set up well, then use that and adjust your shooting range accordingly, as for the most part you can humanely harvest just about any animal in North America with a 50lb bow and 450 grain arrow if you put it in the boiler room. So don’t get caught up in all the hype about how you have to shoot this arrow and this broadhead and have your bow set at 200lbs (yeah i know thats not something you can do, but you get my point), in order to harvest an elk. If you have a set up you can shoot really well out to 40 yards, then use it, and just don’t take a shot beyond your effective shooting range.
    • My Personal Archery Elk Hunting Set up is as follows:
      • Bowtech BTX at 72lbs
      • Black Eagle Arrows 300 spine- I use the zombie slayers, x impacts, and rampages
      • Broadheads – I play around with my broadheads, but my go to broadhead the last several years has been Radical Archery Designs. I have been shooting their Del Mastro, titanium, 100 gr fixed blade (I have had pass throughs on the last 6 elk I have shot). But feel free to play around with 125 gr or 150 gr heads until you find the set up you like. I personally just tested a set up using a 200gr head that I loved, but I realized that with such a heavy arrow set up, I need to practice a lot more to make sure I know how much drop I have at each 5 yard increment to be able to adjust my aim point on the fly.
      • Sight – Black Gold Pure Gold 75 with a Single Pin head. I have a 5 pin head for it as well, but with my eyes getting older a single pin is sure nice. I am personally really interested in trying the Spot Hogg Double pin as it has two pins in a single post. If I get my hands on one I will do a review and let you know what I think.
  • Archery Elk Hunting Backpack – Where I hunt, I am usually out for the entire day and I live in my backpack. I have been running Stone Glacier for the last several years and can’t imagine using anything else. In fact I just got the new Evo Krux frame so I am really excited to put it through the paces. Stone Glacier packs are light, incredibly comfortable and can handle 120lb loads without a problem. Best of all with the integrated load shelf, you never have a wasted trip, as you can haul a quarter out with you on your first trip, even though your bag is full of your gear. No matter what, make sure you have a good solid backpack that allows you to carry your essential gear, a hydration bladder and that can handle at least an 80lb load.
  • Archery Elk Hunting Clothing and Boots – Think of all of this as an investment in your success as a hunter as good quality footwear and clothing can make or break a hunt.
    • Layering System – You can’t really go wrong with Kuiu or Sitka for western hunting, and we will be bringing out a line in the next year called so keep your eyes out for that. Currently I run the Kuiu ascent or tiburon pant, the guide vest, guide jacket and a merino t shirt.
    • Rain Gear – for most of the western us the lightweight packable stuff will work great, but if you are going to be hunting in heavy brush I would recommend looking at something more like the Kuiu Chugach or Yukon rain gear.
    • Socks – Merino Wool Socks and Sock Liner. I like Darn Tough Socks and then smartwool sock liners
    • Underwear – Merino wool or synthetic – ExOffico, Icebreaker, Smartwool
    • Boots – I like more of a mountaineering style boot as I don’t have the best ankles. so I have used and would recommend any of the following:
      • Kenetrek
      • Lowas
      • Lathrop and Sons
      • Scarpas
  • Essential Gear 
    • Camera (Cell Phone)
    • Extra Socks
    • Extra t-shirt
    • Knives – I primarily use Havalon
    • rope
    • gps
    • binos
    • map
    • lighter
    • water
    • food
    • calls
    • wind checker
    • Synthetic Game Bags
    • Mosquito Repellant
    • Epi Pen if allergic to bees
    • Leukotape for blisters
    • first aid kit
  • Nice to haves:
    • Garmin InReach
    • Hammock
    • Spotting Scope
    • Well there you have it, if there is anything you think I missed or that you think we should add to the list, let me know and I will update it. Otherwise I hope this helps you with your archery elk hunt planning and luck. Hunt hard and shoot straight.


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2 thoughts on “Archery Elk Hunting Gear Set Up

  1. Laurence Kimoto says:

    I was hoping you could help me out with something. I’m doing a hunting/backpacking trip this fall with some friends. It’s gonna be about a 20 mile hike in we weather. Do you have a favorite boot that you would use in that situation? I appreciate the help!

    • sasadmin says:

      For wet weather and tough terrain, Kenetrek Mountain Hunter Extremes have performed very well for me. However there are a lot of great boots available these days so I think it is important that a person try a number of different boots on to make sure that they have proper fit, as there is nothing worse than having a boot that doesn’t fit your foot well and developing blisters on the first or second day of your hunt.

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