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Alaska barren-ground caribou hunting gear list

Marcus Gores with his Alaska barren ground caribou

Alaska barren-ground caribou I was fortunate to take with my wife by my side. Photo credit: Marcus Gores

Weight is the number one concern when it comes to backpack hunting. Some hunters will sacrifice comfort, hygiene and, even, necessities in order to shed weight in their packs. Every hunt is unique and requires different gear. In addition, some hunts may also require more gear than others depending on the length of the hunt and potential weather.

Flying to Alaska

My wife, Kayt, and I just returned from a do-it-yourself (DIY) Alaska barren-ground caribou hunt for our one-year anniversary that was at the end of August. We landed in Alaska with our hunting gear and rented our camping equipment (which makes it easier to travel). We then caught a bush plane flight into caribou country. We are each limited to 80 lbs of hunting equipment, including our rifles.

I like to break my packing list down to three categories: essentials, hunt-specific gear and extras. My essentials will go with me on every hunt no matter the species or time of year. The hunt specific items are dependent on the terrain of the hunt, species of animal and type of weapon I am using on the hunt. The extras are typically photography equipment and comfort items. My list is built around the style of hunting I do, so your list may change based upon your style.

My packing list

Gear list

Knowing your backpack’s ability and utilizing all aspects of your pack is the most important part to backpack hunting. If your pack cannot handle the gear you will need and keep you comfortable with all the gear for your hunt, you are setting yourself up for failure. The pack I use is the Sitka Mountain Hauler 6200 for most of my backpack hunts because of the large amount of storage and ease of access to the many different compartments within the pack. Another thing to keep in mind when selecting the right pack for your hunt is getting your harvested animal meat out of the field in the most efficient way possible.

Organizing gear for the caribou hunt

Essentials

  Specs
Backpack Sitka Mountain Hauler 6200
Base Layer Sitka Core Lightweight Bottoms
Underwear Sitka Core Silk Boxer
Wool Socks Darn Tough Hunter
Toothbrush Toothbrush and Toothpaste
Multi-Tool Leatherman Signal Multi-Tool
Skinning Knife Gerber Vital Pocket Folder
Bone Saw Gerber Freescape
Game Bags Caribou Gear Wapiti Meat On Bone
Headlamp Black Diamond Storm
Shoe Waterproofing Shoe Goo
Lighter Standard Bic Lighter
Paracord Black Diamond Storm
Binoculars Swarovski 10x42 EL 
Bino Harness Badlands Binos Case Mag
First Aid Kit Adventure Medical Kit
GPS Garmin InReach Explorer Plus
Hydration Platypus Big Zip 3L Water Bladder

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Hunt specific

  Specs
Rifle Savage 110 Long Range Hunter 6.5 Creedmoor
Ammo Hornady Precision Hunter 143 Grain ELD-X
Rifle Case Soft-Sided Case
Range Finder Sig Sauer Kilo 1400 BDX
Spotting Scope Bushnell Forged Angled 20-60x80 Spotting Scope
Tripod Outdoorsman Medium Tripod With Pistol Grip
Pants Sitka Timberline Pants
Short Sleeve
Shirt
Sitka Core Lightweight Short Sleeve
Long Sleeve
Shirt
Sitka Core Lightweight Long Sleeve
Hooded Jacket Sitka Jetstream Jacket
Outer Shell Sitka Kelvin Light Hoodie
Rain Gear
(Jacket)
Sitka Cloudburst Jacket
Rain Gear
(Pants)
Sitka Cloudburst Pants
Gloves Sitka Mountain Glove
Hat Sitka Trucker Hat
Waterproof
Boots
Under Armour CH1 Gore-Tex
Sleeping Pad Klymit Inertia 0
Pillow Klymit Pillow X Large
Waders Redington Palix River Waders
Wading Boots Cabelas Ultralight Wading Boots

Extras

Extras

  Specs
Camp Shoes Crocs
Camera Sony A7rii w/
extra batteries

There are a few items on my list that I want to emphasize the importance of when deciding if you should bring it on the hunt or not. Darn Tough wool socks are my favorite for hunting because of their durability and their amazing lifetime warranty. If you own a pair and you get a hole in them—or they fail in any way—you can send the socks back to Darn Tough and they will send you a replacement pair.

Wolf Marcus Gores took in Alaska

Alaska was really good to us and I also took my first wolf on the trip.

I believe that a hunter is only as good as his glass is when it comes to hunts that require long sits behind your binoculars or spotting scope. I have always gone by the motto of “good glass ain’t cheap and cheap glass ain’t good” so keep that in mind when purchasing your optics. I have found one loophole in that motto and that item is the Bushnell Forged spotting scope. I was skeptical when I received my first Bushnell spotting scope; however, after a few long days of glassing, I realized it held up just as well in low light conditions and clarity as my older Swarovski spotting scope. Bushnell repairs and their service department has been excellent from my experience for those times you need to service your optics.

Alaskan caribou gear list Garmin

Knowing where you are in the woods as well as being able to communicate with the home base has become very important to me. I purchased my Garmin InReach two years ago and it has helped me become a more knowledgeable and safer outdoorsman.

Marcus Gores wife with her Alaska caribou

It's always great getting to hunt with my wife!

A good sleeping bag can go along way on cold nights in the backcountry. I would suggest getting a zero-degree sleeping bag to prepare for colder temperatures and shed layers or use the bag half-zipped when temperatures are hotter.

Camp shoes are a must!

Camp shoes are a must for me when I go on hunts longer than overnight. The feeling of taking off your boots and slipping into camp shoes after a 12-mile day is almost as great as the feeling of the harvest on the hunt. I wear Crocs around camp because they are extremely lightweight, can attach/pack just about anywhere in my bag and are breathable.

Marcus Gores with Alaska grayling

I hope this list helps you keep organized and pack more effectively for your upcoming hunts, especially when planning for a caribou hunt in Alaska down the road. It was a fantastic hunt. We didn't have the huge caribou migration we were hoping for as there wasn't any snow on the nearby mountains to push them down.

Crossing stream in Alaska

We saw roughly 200 caribou in five days of hunting, then got stuck out there for five extra days because the weather didn't allow a floatplane to pick us up. We caught a ton of fish and everyone in the group tagged out on caribou and we got a bunch of awesome meat from the trip!

Amazing scenery in Alaska

Good luck and happy hunting!

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