Specialty Adventure Services founder, on a DIY Backcountry Elk Hunt in Idaho.
Shad 7 Miles in Chasing Screaming Bulls


For those of you wanting to branch out and do some more serious DIY style of hunts. I put this gear list together to help you with your planning and preparation.

  • Socks (1 pair/set for every 2-4 days); Bridgedale, Lorpen, Kenetrek, Darn Tough or Smartwool
  • Sock Liner (1 pair for every 4 days); Smartwool
  • Briefs/Boxer briefs (1 for every 2-4 days); Merino Wool – Ice Breaker, Ibex, Smartwool(my favorites) or Synthetic (Ex-Officio)
  • Long Underwear Tops – Ulta Merino Zip T (2)  by Kuiu, 145 early season 210 later or Synthetic (patagonia)
  • Long Underwear Bottoms – Ultra Merino Zip Off Bottom (1-2) – 145 early season, 210 later
  • Pants – (2) Depending on hunt and budget, look at Kuiu Tiburon Early Season, Alpine Pant for backcountry, Guide pant for all around, or Talus Hybrid or if you are like me and don’t have the extra budget look at their Teton line and you will get a product very similar to Sitka for about half the cost.
  • Shirts  – Kuiu Crew Ts are my favorite but I also like patagonia’s performance T’s (2 long sleeve)
  • Gloves – Kuiu Guide Glove is a great early to mid season glove while the Yukon will give you great mid to late season protection.
  • Hat (1 light – ball cap and 1 warm – w/earflaps or stocking cap type)
  • Raingear – Jacket and Pants; Kuiu Chugach Rain Gear or Teton Rain Gear are great for Mountain and backcountry hunts; but it you are going to be hunting in thick, wet timber check out Swazi.    
  • Jacket (1) – Medium weight, Kuiu Guide Jacket has performed flawlessly for me while guiding archery elk, mule deer and rifle elk in WY in everything from 80 degree days in September to Blizzards in October. 
  • Insulated Jacket or vest  – Super Down Jacket or Vest will provide a ton of insulation and warmth with very little weight, while the Guide DCS Vest is a great early season option.
  • Gaiters: Kuiu (mountain hunts); Kenetrek (timber hunts)
  • Cotton Handkerchiefs (2)
  • Travel clothes (1 set – wear to and from home)
  • Boots (1 or 2 pair) – high quality waterproof w/new laces and well treated/greased if leather (Kenetrek, Lowa , Scarpa, Lathrop and Sons, Crispi,  Hoffmans, etc).
  • Camp shoes (optional) – sneakers, crocs or flip flops
  • Blister kit (Moleskin, Band-Aid Blister covers/pads, athletic tape and Duct tape)
  • (Optional)Stream crossing waders (Wiggy’s nylon waders or Barney’s Sourdough Slippers (size XXL))
  • Body Glide – skin glide for feet and/or inside of legs/butt ( this stuff is awesome, use it for Triathlons to prevent chaffing, does wonders to help avoid raw spots on your legs and crotch, especially on early season hunts)
  • Sleeping bag (mummy style) – Down bags or Synthetic (Polarguard 3D, Wiggys Lamalite or Primaloft) is best. (North Face, Mountain Hardwear, Kuiu, Feathered Friends)
  • Waterproof stuff/compression sack (OR Hydroseal, Integral Designs or Granite Gear)
  • Thermarest Sleeping Pad, full length (72”) with stuff sack and patch/repair kit, a good night sleep is worth the couple extra ounces of weight, I have tried the ¾ length pads and they just aren’t the same.
  • Backpack Tent or Bivy Bag – Hilleberg, Stone Glacier, or Kuiu for Tents, with poles, stakes and guy ropes, or Hyperlite Mountain Gear Square Tarps for ultralight early season hunting.
  • Stocking cap or headband for sleeping in
Hunting Equipment
  • Large pack (backpack hunts) – Stone Glacier is my pack of choice but the Mystery Ranch NICE System or Barneys External Frame pack w/extra 2” waste buckle are very solid packs as well.
  • Backpack Rainfly (Barneys or Outdoor Research, Stone Glacier, Kuiu)
  • Binoculars – waterproof (minimum of 7 power and 30 mm objective) Swarovski or Vortex
  • Spotting Scope-(depends on hunt) Swarovski or Vortex
  • Tripod with quick detach head
  • Telescopic Trekking poles (Titanium or Carbon)
  • Iridium Satellite phone or Garmin In Reach – w/extra battery and solar charger.
  • GPS – Garmin with OnX Maps w/extra batteries or your Phone.  Best is with Altimeter/barometer too
  • Range Finder – Vortex, Leuopold, Leica
  • Lens cloth and/or Lens Pen
  • 1 compact hunting knife (sharp) I recommend the Havalon Piranha for skinning, caping and quartering, bring a more traditional Buck folding knife for other chores
  • Portable, light weight, bone saw (optional)
  • Multi-tool (Compact Leatherman or comparable)
  • Topographical maps/Google Earth print out



  • Gun & Scope (Bolt action is my preferred style); extra scope is an option
  • Rifle Sling & Scope cover (Neoprene scope boot and/or Leupold or Butler Creek flip-up type)
  • 1-2 boxes of shells (Premium factory or reloads) & 8 or 10 round nylon shell holder (Uncle Mikes) 
  • Acu-Sight Laser Bore-sight for your caliber w/extra batteries
  • Compact cleaning rod (3 piece alum or Otis Cable) w/brush, patch end, solvent & cotton patches  
  • Electrical tape for barrel – High Quality, like Scotch 3M Super 33+
  • Gun Oil – Teflon based like RemOil (action) & grease (between barrel/action & stock)
  • Wrench(s) for tightening scope mounts and stock screws 
  • Hard weapon case for travel from home to hunt area; Alum, Tuffpak or Starlight
  • Light weight Soft case or leather horseback scabbard (Skookum Horse) – if packing in with livestock or flying in.


Archcery Equipment
  • Bow
  • Arrows with broadheads and at least 1-2 judo points (I personally shoot Black Eagle Arrows and Radical Archery Designs Broadheads, have never failed me)
  • Extra Broadheads or a sharpner (recommend Radical Archery Designs, Grizzly Stik for big dangerous game)
  • Extra String – make sure it is already set up with peep and nock/d-loop
  • Archer’s Allen Set – Easton, Apple Archery, Buck Knives
  • String Wax
  • Powdered Graphite lubricant
  • If needed portable bow press (Make sure you are capable of making field repairs on your bow)
  • Extra sight or sight pins (I use Black Gold Bowsights with a quick detach dovetail, so I can remove my sight and carry it in my pack if riding horses or in thick brush)
  • Extra nocks
  • D-Loop Material
  • Serving Material
  • Extra Peep
  • Lighter
  • Extra Timing Cord for drop away rest
  • Extra Release
  • Replacement Fletchings and glue
Cooking and Food
  • Jetboil Stoves work great for most hunts, but I am also a big fan of the MSR Whitegas stove w/bottles. If flying you can only bring new empty bottles, no  pre-filled canisters or fuel is allowed on planes.
  • Whitegas – 1, 22 oz and 1, 11 oz for 2-3 people for 7-8 days – buy fuel at destination
  • Cookware (Stainless Steel, aluminum or titanium pot and lid w/strap)
  • Lexan, 12 oz cup and spoon/spork; Lexan bowl or fork is optional
  • Soap (½-1 oz) small plastic container with plastic scrubber – put in ziploc
  • Paper towels in a Ziploc bag

Food Items:

Your total food should weigh 1¼  – 2 lbs/day/person or 2,000-3,500 calories/day

Dinners:  1 Mtn House or 1 Lipton rice or noodle/person/day

Breakfast: Granola Cereal or oatmeal for breakfast (1 pre-made package per person), 2-3 instant packages or 2-3 granola/power/energy bars

Lunch: (take around 1500-2000 calories per day – your choice)

  • Jerky or pepperoni sticks – not more that ¼ lb/person/day
  • Salami & cheese wraps
  • Peanut Butter, banana and bacon wraps/sandwhiches
  • Bag of trailmix/day – almonds, pecans, raisins
  • Bag of dried fruit for every 2-3 days
  • Candy bars – 1-3/day/person
  • Nature Valley Granola Bars:  1/person/day
  • Trek or Energy Bars:  1-2/person/day
  • ProBars – make a variety of bars, meal replacements and electrolyte snacks
  • Kippered Snacks, Sardines or Oysters – 1 every 2-3 days/person
  • Freeze dried ice cream, deserts, gum, hard candy (optional)
  • Tea Bags or instant coffee
  • Juice or energy drink mix
  • Spice Shaker and/or salt/pepper
  • If you’ll have a “base camp”, then bring fresh food (onions, fruit, bread), skillet, utensils, etc.
  • Digital Camera/Phon: w/charger or extra battery, memory card & waterproof case/bag
  • Video Camera: w/extra batteries, memory cards and waterproof case/bag
  • 2 Headlamps: LED (Petzl Tikka, Princeton or Coast Cutlery torch) w/extra batteries (AAA sized)
  • 1 Liter sized hard water bottle (Nalgene) or Gatorade type bottle
  • 2 Liter size Platypus or Nalgene wide mouth collapsible Water Bladder
  • Matches in waterproof container and 2 butane lighters
  • Firestarter – Pitch witch, military style, Zipp, fire sticks, waxed paper, etc. (don’t pack with food)
  • Bug repellent (1 or 2 oz bottle) – Deet is best (especially on early hunts)
  • Compass w/mirror
  • Sunglasses w/head strap
  • Ziploc Bags (2 or 3, 1 gallon size and several, 1 liter) or bags by Watchful Eye Designs
  • Garbage Bags (3-4, heavy duty kitchen or larger type – compactor bags best)
  • Game bags – Synthetic bags like Caribou Bags, TAG Bags and Kuiu are my personal favorite, but if need something more heavy duty Alaska Game bags or Pillow cases work well.
  • Caping Salt – 6-8 lbs for sheep/deer sized shoulder cape, 15-20 lbs for elk, bear or moose or life size on sheep/deer/caribou (leave at trailhead if backpacking)
  • Book (small paperback)
  • Small notepad and pencil/pen
  • Small repair kit – needle, thread, tenacious tape, seam grip and Duct tape.
  • Extra buckles and straps and/or Nylon cord (30-40’) or rope
  • Hunting & Fishing License in license holder or Ziploc
  • Airline Ticket, Passport/ID, Wallet, Credit Card, Emergency Phone number
  • Emergency money
  • Tooth Brush, Tooth Paste & Dental Floss
  • Small (1-2 oz.) liquid soap (no-scent hair and body) or shampoo
  • Wipes/Toilet Paper or Paper towels in Ziploc (Kleenex pocket packs are good too)
  • Lip balm w/SPF 10 minimum  and small Sunblock tube:SPF 20-30 (Especially in snow conditions)
  • Small Chamois pack towel and wash cloth
  • Deodorant (baking soda or no-scent type)
  • Babywipes for butt (travel pack of 15 is plenty) and Wet Ones for face/hands. Scent Shield Towel
  • Prescription medication (Optional or if required – personal things, Antibiotics, etc.)
  • Prednizone, Flagil, Ciprol and Epi-pens are good emergency meds to have. 
  • Glasses or contacts (if required)
  • Advil or aspirin & Mobic or Celebrex (anti-inflammatory)
  • Compact First Aid Kit: Band-Aids, medical tape & antibiotic cream
  • Athletes Foot/Jock Itch Cream – Tinactin
  • Gold Bond Medicated or Monkey Butt powder and/or Desenex for rashes/irritation
  • Nail Clippers and disposable razor (if wanted)
  • Multi Vitamins – good quality ones. 
  • Digiscope system for spotting scope
  • Altimeter Watch – Suunto – very useful for alpine conditions and to help predict weather
  • Handheld, VHF radios with extra batteries
  • Extra batteries for all electronics & chargers for Cameras, radios and/or satellite phone (long trips)
  • PLB – Personal Locator Beacon – only for severe, solo conditions. 
  • Fishing pole (3 piece or smaller), reel, lures & misc.
  • Safety Blanket (Light wt. Foil type) or light weight Bivy Sac
  • Kneepads – Arcteryx Knee Caps
  • Water Filter (Katadyn Hiker), Steripen and/or Iodine/Katadyn Water Pure Tablets
  • Crampons – for Ice/heavy Snow
  1. If flying, pack gun or bow in a TSA lockable, hard plastic or metal case.  Bring an extra padlock (combinations style or TSA compatible). The Takedown Shotgun (4.5”x 36” by 14 or 16”) aluminum case with the XL Guide Duffel by Cabela’s is excellent. If packing in with livestock rifle hunters should transfer their firearm to a soft case or scabbard for the trip into the hunting area.
  2. For the commercial flight, pack all of your gear into one checked, large duffel or backpack and/or the guncase/duffel combo (50-70 lb/bag) and one carry-on/daypack, 2,000-3,500 cu in (around 20-30 lbs), containing essentials – 1 pair hunting boots (wear these), camera, binos, paperwork, Jacket, a few clothes, etc.).  Bring 1-2 smaller Nylon or rubber/waterproof bags/duffels, approx. 3000 cu in (for the flight to camp, taking trophies home and/or for horse packing).  You’ll likely use one of these bags to take home the salted cape and horns (if hunting goats, antelope or sheep).  If you are bringing a backpack, I recommend putting it inside a large duffel for better protection before checking it in.    


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