LRH Field Editor Andy Backus breaks down his personal elk hunting gear
The images below are from My 2015 DIY Rifle Elk Hunt in Colorado during the first rifle season from October 10th though the 14th. The bull was killed at 11,600'.
Len Backus' Long Range Rifles – Mountain Rifle - 6.5x284, 140 grain Berger Hybrids
Huskemaw 4-16x42 Blue Diamond Scope - I appreciate the 22 oz weight of this scope on a rugged mountain hunt compared to over 30 oz for most Nightforce scopes. I used a custom yardage (BDC) turret made for the average elevation and temperature of this hunt.
G7 BR2 Rangefinder - This bull was shot at 175 yards, but if I had needed to take a long shot, the G7 BR2 would have adjusted for the variation in elevation and temperature from what my BDC turret was made for. It is the best rangefinder I have used at consistently giving a range no matter the conditions out to great distances.
Atlas Bipod BT10-LW17 - I have a small picatinny rail mounted on the front of my stock. I keep the bipod in my pack until I need it and then I can instantly mount it thanks to its excellent quick-detach mechanism.
Swarovski EL 10x42 Binoculars
Ultra-Light Bino Harness - Finally – an elastic binocular harness that doesn't sag down over time!
Primos Pole Cat Steady Stix Magnum Bipod - I have tried every type of shooting sticks out there and these are the ones that I prefer, especially for rugged, mountainous terrain.
SoundGear Electronic Hearing Protection - I put these tiny electronic earplugs in at the beginning of the day and leave them in all day. They amplify the sound slightly until a shot is fired and then they cut out the sound of the shot. I absolutely love them!
Kenetrek Hardscrabble Hiking Boots - Exceptionally light and comfortable considering how durable and supportive they are. I also own a pair of the Kenetrek Mountain Extreme 1000 Boots for colder hunts.
Kenetrek Waterproof Breathable Gaiters - Keeps the bottom of your pants from getting wet, muddy or icy.
Sitka Flash 32 Pack - The size of this pack is a nice compromise of being large enough to haul all my bivy gear and large enough to haul a third of a boned out elk yet small enough to use as a day hunting pack each day.
Andy's Sitka Gear Clothing System for mountain hunts:
I bring three different thicknesses of long underwear bottoms to base camp – thin, medium and thick, and choose which to wear based on the actual conditions.
Sitka Mountain Pants - If I had to pick one model of Sitka pants for the widest variety of conditions – this would be it.
First Lite Merino Wool Llano T-Shirt - Similar to a synthetic t-shirt in that it handles moisture really well. After multiple days in the backcountry it amazingly does not stink.
Sitka Traverse Zip-T - My favorite everyday hunting shirt. Ultra quiet with a soft, smooth exterior.
Sitka Traverse Cold Weather Hoody - A high-tech fleece jacket with a smooth, quiet exterior. The coolest hood I have ever seen with a lightweight facemask built in. You don't know the facemask is there until you need it. At $169 this is Sitka's best value out of all their gear.
Sitka Kelvin Lite Vest - I use this vest as my puffy insulation layer if it's not going to get below freezing. I wear it over my shirt and under my Traverse Cold Weather Hoody.
Sitka Kelvin Down Ultralight Jacket - I use this as my puffy insulation layer if it's going to get down into the 20's and 30's. I keep it in a small roll-top dry-bag as an emergency layer and also to use as a shooting bag. For lower temps I wear the vest and the jacket together.
Kelvin Lite Pants - Puffy insulation for your legs. They are extremely lightweight and pack very small. I can quickly pull them on over my Mountain Pants when glassing or sitting around bivy camp. I sometimes wear them in my sleeping bag at night to add insulation.
Sitka Dew Point Jacket - Sitka's ultra-light GoreTex rain jacket. Packs extremely small. Even though it's lightweight, it is extremely durable. Mine is a size up so I can put it on over all my other layers
Sitka Dew Point Pants - These are a size up also so they fit over my thickest long underwear, Mountain Pants and Kelvin Lite Pants. With all those layers on I am good down to single digits.
Sitka Ballistic Vest - Very high quality material and construction, this vest should last a lifetime. I love the quick-release magnetic buckle.
The Sitka System I just described handles anything from warm early season hunts to hunts with temps down into the teens. For even colder hunts the only addition is a thicker down puffy jacket.