Trail Kreitzer’s 2018 Wyoming archery elk hunting gear list
Gear lists are always evolving. While reviewing my 2017 list and my current list, I am almost at the exact same weight overall, but, this year, I was able to cut weight on some pieces, which allowed me to add a few others that should help me be more effective and comfortable. For example, I’ve never packed a pillow; I always used my down jacket stuffed in my sleeping bag stuff sack. This summer I’ve been using a Sea To Summit Aeros Ultralight Pillow and, at 1.7 oz, I am happy to report that it has found a permanent place in my pack. I am also testing out a few new items that I’m excited about and, based on the weekends I’ve spent scouting this summer, I think a lot of you are going to like them for 2019, too. This is my gear list for a 10-day backpack elk hunt in Wyoming that I’ll be doing during the middle weeks of September. We may end up splitting this hunt into two 5-day hunts depending on how the hunt progresses, which will slightly change the list, but, for the most part, this is my list for a 10-day backpack rut elk hunt.
- Total Weight in Pack w/ 4 liters of water: 52 lb 8.4 oz
- Total Worn Weight (clothes, binos, rangefinder & harnesses, trekking pole): 8 lb 1 oz
- Total Weapon Weight (carried in one hand): 9 lb 8 oz
I don’t pack a lot of extra clothes. If I pack an item of clothing it’s to either keep me warm or dry. I pack a mid-layer hoody, insulation down hooded jacket and a hardshell rain jacket. For bottoms, I don’t pack long johns. I don’t like hiking in them and I feel like a pair of down insulating pants is a better trade-off for the times when I do need to warm up the lower half. I also pack a pair of rain pants. I don’t pack any extra socks, shirts, pants, or underwear. I may take a midday break at times and hand wash items and let them dry if I have the time. The only other clothing item I take is a pair of lightweight gloves and beanie.
This past month I have been wearing a pair of La Sportiva Uragano GTX trail shoes and I have to admit I really like them. I’ve put a lot of miles on them and, even with a 45 lb pack, I have been very pleased. My legs feel lighter, I feel better at the end of the day and, to be honest, I haven’t tweaked my ankle (very bad right ankle) as often as I have with a stiff boot. In saying that, I’m still not totally sure I am ready to commit to wearing them on a 10-day elk hunt. I plan on wearing a pair of La Sportiva Trango Cube GTXs, but I will have the Uraganos in the truck! I will be wearing one pair of Darn Tough socks throughout the hunt. Midday, if I have downtime, I will remove my socks to air them and my feet out. This year, I’m wearing the Sitka Apex pant, which, so far, have been really good. I like the fit, feel and pattern. They seem to be the perfect weight for an active September hunt in the high country. I will be wearing the new Merino Sitka Core Lightweight Half-Zip and I may wear the Core Lightweight Hoody over it. I’ll also be wearing my lucky goHUNT Softie cap.
I am trying a new pack that will be released in 2019 and I think many of you are going to love it. I don’t have a lot of accessory bags; I don’t need them for this setup. I will pack a Mystery Ranch Rain Fly that keeps my pack dry when hiking and I’ll put it on my pack at night if I’m bivouacked out so that my stuff will stay dry in the chance of a midnight rainstorm.
Last year I did not pack a spotting scope or tripod when Lorenzo and I hunted New Mexico. The vegetation was too thick to glass and we were lucky enough to experience a good rut where we could hear bulls bugling. This year I am going to pack a tripod and scope. The terrain is quite a bit more open and there are some good glassing opportunities. I may not use the combo much if the rut is rolling, but I’m going to pack it just in case. I will also pack a binocular tripod adapter. For binos, I’ll be using Leica Noctivid 10x42s in an Outdoor Vision Bino Harness and a 1,600 yard rangefinder.
I love to move with the elk and camp wherever I end up when the sun sets. Most nights, I pull out my bivy, which has my sleeping bag and pad already rolled in it and, after blowing the air pad up, I’m in bed. I do pack a tarp that when pitched with my trekking pole will cover me and my gear or another person. I pitch it only when it appears that there is inclement weather pending. Most nights I sleep head out under the stars. I did add the pillow this year and it’s one of my favorite simple pleasures I’ve picked up for backpack hunting. I’m also excited about a new bivy that I will be using this year from Outdoor Research. It’s made from great new waterproof lightweight material and has a new design that I think a lot of people are going to like for 2019.
I’ll pack a 1-liter soft bottle, which I fill up and use for my hot meal every night. This year I am trying a HydraPak 3L water bladder that my LifeStraw flex in-line filter clips into. I like this system because when I have good running water it’s fast and easy to fill the bladder up—no pumping required. I will also pack some water tabs that I use in conjunction with the filter. It might be overkill, but it’s worth it keep me from getting sick. If I were hunting more arid country where I was getting water from a seep or cattle tank then I would use a pump type filter like the Katadyn Hiker Pro and water tabs.
My cook system hasn’t changed this year at all. The SOTO stove is lightweight, boils fast and I’ve had no trouble with it. One 3.9 oz fuel canister will get me through a 10-day hunt boiling water once every evening. If you are boiling more water for you and a buddy or for morning coffee you may need a bit more.
I’ll touch on new pieces. I’ll be carrying a Black Diamond Whippet Pole this year. It’s essentially a trekking pole with a pick on the end. I only ever use one pole when I am hiking and I carry my bow in my left hand at all times. The pick is handy for digging out seeps, clearing rocks when you are setting up a place to glass or camp, and I like the cane-like grip.
I am testing out a new 8 oz solar panel called the Falcon 7. So far, it’s been good and weighs several ounces less than other options I’ve used. It’s been good for keeping the InReach and camera charged up during midday breaks. A couple of other cool items I picked up are the Petzl Bindo headlamp. It’s my backup light and weighs in at 1.2 oz. It’s also rechargeable directly from my solar panel. With 200 lumens, it’s a bright lightweight backup option. Another new item I’ll be packing is a Therm-a-Rest Z Seat Pad. I’ve packed seat pads before, but I like that this one folds and is durable and lightweight. I use it to sit on while glassing, to stand on at night while getting into my bivy and to kneel on when I’m packing my bag or, hopefully, while processing meat.
I’ve been hunting for the past several years with a Mathews Halon X. when totally set up with sight, rest, stabilizers (front and back), a quiver, and arrows, it’s pushing 10 lbs. That’s a lot, but I really like the way it holds and shoots. Truth be told: I like the weight; it slows my sight movement when my nerves are firing. I have always felt that shot opportunities with a bow and arrow are so rare that I want to shoot the most accurate bow I can even if I have to pack around a heavy bow. I get questions about arrow/broadhead configurations. I’m shooting a finished arrow weight of about 440 grains and an FOC of about 13%. I know...according to the current trend it’s too lightweight and doesn’t have enough FOC. All I can say is that they fly accurately with the QAD Exodus broadheads I use and I’ve had great results hunting with them. I’m still shooting three 2” Blazer vanes.
I pack one day’s worth of food in a 1-gallon ziplock bag (10 total for 10-day hunt). I still use a stove, I still like a hot meal every night and I am still not the cleanest eater while backpack hunting. I have a mix of bars and more “regular” types of food like salami, cheese, and bagels. I’m near the 3,000 calorie/day mark and each day’s food weighs in typically between 1 lb 5 oz and 1lb 10 oz. Looking over many options for food, there are lighter options, there are more nutritious options, but my list has worked for me.
Feel free to ask questions or comment with suggestions. Just like you, I’m always looking for better gear. All the best this fall!