Equipment for Backpack Hunting

lerch

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Another vote for david longs book Public Land Mulies. great info and he realy breaks down what you need as well as some great tactics and info on individual states. I already posted about the military bag i am using so u can imagine that is what i recommend.

Food: Mountain house is pretty good but they get a little boring, still wanting to try MRE's for a while.

Water: Kathdin (SP) light weight and works real well.

Tent: I aint got enough experince just yet but so far I am voting bivy and maybe a lean to shelter. Alot less to haul!

Packs: all i have used is Eberlestock so i am biased but the Dragon Fly works pretty well for me

thats my opinions so far, me and a buddy are gonna do a iron man pretty soon so i will have alot more to report then

steve
 

phorwath

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Two Keepers

I can give a thumbs up for the Bibler bivy tent and the Jet-Boil cooking stove, for those interested in lightweight backpack hunting where you intend to live out of your backpack in the backcountry. The Jet-Boil is the cat's meow. Been backpack hunting in Alaska since 1978 and these are two of the items I've come across in the past 4 years that I wouldn't do without. I use synthetic fill sleeping bags rather than down because if you're down sleeping bag gets wet you're dead in Alaska. The synthetic bags will dry faster and insulate better if they do pick up some moisture. FWIW
 

lerch

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I have been using the Giga Power stove and i am pretty happy with it, though if its windy I have a tough time getting the pot to heat up enough. From everything i have read and heard the Jet Boil seems to beat the Giga pretty handily, i would probably go with that if i buy a new setup.
 

lazylabs

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Porwath.... What kind of synthetic bag are you using? Lerch.. I read that the military system weighs 14lbs?? I know you probably don't have to carry the entire system. If you were packing for possible snow how much weight would you carry with the military system? Thanks guys.
 

lerch

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I have been packing the whole system and my inflatable sleeping pad. But keep in mind that i am not packing any kind of tent though so in my mind that makes the weight less of a issue.
 

jmden

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I have been packing the whole system and my inflatable sleeping pad. But keep in mind that i am not packing any kind of tent though so in my mind that makes the weight less of a issue.


For less than that weight you could easily pack a 2-3 man bomber mountaineering expedition (not to mention a lighter built tent) tent and be much more comfortable if any weather hits.

One thing I've learned about big game hunting and multi-day outdoor activities in general is that if you can warm up and dry off after a cold/wet hard days hunt, you will generally be able to hunt harder and better the following day. Isn't that the reason we're out there? That's why a tent with a wood stove that heats the place and dries you out and that you can cook on is so important (IMO) to a cold/rainy weather hunting trip.

I've got a Bibler expedition tent and a Marmot 3-4 season tent that weigh about 7 lbs each. Combine that with a -30 down bag (or a 2.5 lb 15 deg bag in warmer weather) and I'd still be about 10lbs and sharing the weight of the tent with someone else.

The 10' diameter and 7' tall Kifaru tipi knockoff with integral floor I made weighs about 6.5 lbs and with Kifaru's 2.5 lb parastove, a buddy and I are very comfortable in weather.

I've spent nights in bivvy sacs and many nights in rain and on glaciers with just a sleeping bag, but there is nothing that compares being able to heat your shelter while drying out effectively and cooking dinner all at the same time.

Another issue brought up earlier in this thread had to do with synthetic bags drying out quicker and insulating better when wet. This is a fairly widespread belief that I used to have as well. Since then I've found that synthetic may not be any better than down in this regard (trying to dry out synthetic bags after sleeping in just the bag in the rain). If synthetic does do better in these categories, it becomes virtually a non issue if you purchase a good quality down bag with a shell that is waterproof/resistant and breathable such as Gore Dryloft, etc. (although some folks feel this particular shell is not as waterproof as it should be). In the mean time, quality down is much more compressible (won't take up 1/2 your pack), I typically sleep more comfortably in down as I think it's comfortable over a wider range of temps than synthetic fills, and a quality down bag will retain it's loft many times longer, in my experience, that a synthetic bag will. That synthetic bag that had 10" loft when you first bought it may have 7" loft two years later even if you store it properly--I've seen it many times. Less loft = less warmth. High quality down won't do this. I fully expect to have my good quality down bags for 20 years. This would be a laughable amount of time for the synthetic bags I've seen where your lucky to get a good couple of years out of them. A quality down bag with the appropriate shell is a more expensive initial investment, but over the long haul it will pay much higher dividends in my experience. Just leafing through all the mountaineering/outdoor catalogs I get it seems that over the past few years, the number of down bags advertised has shot up considerably likely due to the fact that quality down with the proper shell is a very tough long term deal to beat.

If you are in very cold temps, (very cold such that body moisture freezes within the bags insulation and cannot evaporate out of the insulation leading to a loss of loft) over time the body moisture given off into your bag (if it's not getting dryed out by your warm wood stove because you're hunting musk ox in winter and there isn't any wood...) can make the loft of the bag decrease which decreases the amount the bag can insulate you. Non-breathable sleeping bag liners can be used, but you'll be swimming in your own juices by morning. But it does protect the loft. Sometimes a necessary evil for higher altitude expedition climbers.
 

lazylabs

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Thanks for the post...sorta... I could of done without the swimming in your own juices part...haha. What marmott tent do you use? I would like to try the bivy approach but can't convince myslef. I have done quite a bit of hiking, camping and hunting but not much cold weather solo stuff. I really prefer the thought of my 14x16 cabin tent but need to "get away". I would like a 2 man, 4 season tent that is packable.... The reviews I read online don't seem to point to a single winner. If you guys had to pick a small tent and sleeping bag combo to handle -10 for 4 days what would you pick?

Thanks
 

jmden

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Thanks for the post...sorta... I could of done without the swimming in your own juices part...haha. What marmott tent do you use? I would like to try the bivy approach but can't convince myslef. I have done quite a bit of hiking, camping and hunting but not much cold weather solo stuff. I really prefer the thought of my 14x16 cabin tent but need to "get away". I would like a 2 man, 4 season tent that is packable.... The reviews I read online don't seem to point to a single winner. If you guys had to pick a small tent and sleeping bag combo to handle -10 for 4 days what would you pick?

Thanks

Yeah, I don't think my juices are very pleasant, personally!

My Marmot is the roomy 2 man Swallow. One of the most versatile and easy to get in and out of tents I've seen or had. It generally gets used on coastal sea kayaking trips in the summer (or backpacking trips with my wife) as it has many zippers that open up large areas of the tent body for ventilation or can be closed up with the Force 6 or better winds from a north Pacific low. It's not a light tent, but made well and one of the most comfortable 2 man tents I've seen. However, it's not built up to the standards of a full on mountaineering expedition tent like most of the Biblers, for instance.

The Bibler I-tent is legendary in the climbing community for it's expedition proven lightweight, singlewall, breathable construction. 4.5 lbs for a small two person tent that has survived in some very harsh conditions. My Bibler Torre (now called the Tempest since it's now made offshore, I believe) can handle just about anything thrown at and with it's 2 built in vestibules it's fairly room for a 2 person, 6.5 lb tent. For hunting, I'd still prefer a Kifaru tipi like shelter (I like the one I made with it's built in floor much better than the idea of lying on the dirt, etc. personally) with stove any day, but Bibler or some other expedition proven design would be a second choice.

There are many choices of high quality down bags that have water resistant/breathable shells. For -10 weather, which I've personally not spent the night out in just so you know, I think I'd look for something rated to -30. Feathered Friends and Western Mountaineering will make a bag to your dimensions that will max warmth while minimizing weight. Marmot and others have some good off the shelf bags. You might look for something with at least 700 fill power or higher (preferable 800+, there's some 900 out there the last couple of years if your budget will support it). The higher the fill power number the better quality the down, the lighter it will be for a given temp rating, the more compressible it will be and generally the higher the number the longer the fill will retain its loft over the years if the bag is treated right.

JMO. Hope this helps.
 
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phorwath

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I'm using a synthetic fill sleeping bag from R.E.I. currently. I think it's filled with hollow-fill or quallo-fill. My synthetic fill sleeping bags are not high cost sleeping bags. I have one rated for -10 F that I use down to about 20 F. I have one rated to 20 F that I only use when the temperature isn't expected to fall any less than about 35 F. If these bags wear out or lose their loft, I'll replace them for $150.00 or less, which won't break the bank.

Yes, synthetic bags weigh a bit more than down sleeping bags for equivalent loft and they don't compact as tightly when packing them around. But I don't consider either of these items a hardship. By comparison, hardship begins after the game is killed and an additional 90-100 lbs of cape, horns, and meat now needs to be packed out, in addition to camping and hunting gear.

I will state right off that I've never purchased a gore-tex wrapped down sleeping bag, so I can't comment on these new down bags. But I have a goose down sleeping bag from R.E.I. rated to -25 F. I used it on a caribou hunt in Alaska in 1976 when I had to overnight away from our tent. We used a piece of polyethelene as a temporal shelter / cover. It snowed that night and I woke up with my head in a water puddle. I was so tired from packing caribou that day that I didn't wake up until there was a couple inches of water puddled under my head. If you've ever washed a down garment or sleeping bag, you'll know what I mean when I say if your down sleeping bag gets wet in a cold environment, you're dead. To my recollection, down sleeping bags were generally the preferred sleeping bags when I bought my down bag in 1974. Then synthetics became the standard sleeping gear in Alaska. To my knowledge, that's still the standard when hunting in unheated tents/camps. If you're going to pack a heating stove with you then you're not hunting sheep in the country I hunt. Also, if you're packing a heating stove, I don't think the type of sleeping bag you purchase is very critical by comparison to save weight, stay dry, or to keep you warm. Most Alaskan hunting camps don't have heated tents/camps, unless you go with a guide. You often hike or fly in to your hunting area and don't have the luxury of bringing in a lot of gear, unless you just want to set up a main camp and live there for the duration of the hunt. When sheep hunting, it's pretty common to hunt out of spike camps so you can cover enough ground to locate and kill a ram. No heated tents there unless you've paid a guide to take care of you. I learned on my own the hazards of goose down sleeping bags in wet & cold climates. A wet synthetic bag isn't any fun to sleep in either, but compared to a wet down bag, it would be like paradise.

Down bags may be making a resurgence with the gore-tex like fabrics, but I still don't see them in common use for the remote on-your-own type of hunts experienced in the wet, windy wilds of Alaska. I could accomplish the same thing with my down sleeping bag and a gore-tex bivy sack, but I don't. I use a decent tent or bivy-type tent that increases my odds of keeping my sleeping bag and gear dry in wind, snow and rain, AND a synthetic fill sleeping bag, just in case the bag gets wet in spite of my best efforts to keep it dry. If you get stuck out in bad weather for several days, you'll find it difficult to keep your gear and bag dry. They may not get soaked, but they will pick up moisture.

No matter which type of sleeping bag you decide to purchase, it's critical to keep that bag dry, should you hunt in a remote area where you are truly on your own after the plane drops you off and flys away. I don't take many chances that risk getting my sleeping bag wet, but if it does get wet, I have a chance of surviving in a synthetic. Just one man's opinion.


Geeze, my longest post in quite some time.
 
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RockZ

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Mar 10, 2006
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Thanks for all of the good info. I will pick up the public land mulie book as well.

SCREECH,
It was great to see you guys and hunt in the beautiful state of Idaho.
You could have at least offered to help me up and down those hills!
I am ready for next year.
 

Troutslayer

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May 12, 2005
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Missoula, MT USA
Here are some thoughts on this thread and other suggestions.

1. Those Cabelas meat pack/backpacks are very heavy and don't shoulder a load very nice. My solution is a high end internal frame pack. I use an Arc Teryx. I have put the hind quarters from elk inside ( one at a time) of that style of pack many times and it works fine.

2. Down sleeping bags are warm but lose their loft when wet, which sucks. The North Face probably makes the best synthetic sleeping bag. I use the "snowshoe" for my hunting. It is light and packs small enough. If I were not allergic to down, I would use that but I have come to like synthetic.

3. I used to carry a PUR brand filter which was heavy, I started using the chlorine tabs and they are pretty nice, make sure you have a few extra bottles though as they take 4 hours to work.

4. Tent. Single wall tents are bad *** now days and if you've got the budget there is no equal to Bibler. They are a little heavier than some of the others but they are bombproof and made for winter camping. I used to have one that got stolen out of my truck and am now very happy with a single wall Black Diamond that is really only made for 3 season camping. It packs smaller than a loaf of bread and is almost as light.

5. Your body loses more heat through the ground than the air so make sure you are prepared with a full legnth sleeping pad like thermarest or whatever you like.

6. I own a bivy sack but rarely camp in it. They really increase the temp rating on your sleeping bag and for minimal weight. You can make a 15deg. bag a 0 deg. or similar with a decent bivy. Also good for spike camp on top of some ridge where you just know there will be elk at first light.

7. I prefer a butane mix stove that I don't have to prime or worry about fuel spilling on my stuff. Butane fuel costs more and is harder to find but I like it better for cooking.

If you were to outfit yourself for backpacking through cabela's, in my opionion, that would be about the same as through wal-mart, which is to say that you would get a bunch of heavy gear with questionable durability. Look to companies that specialize in backpacking and climbing gear which may or may not be in your area. If you check out backcountry.com or their counterpart steepandcheap.com you can find killer deals on overstock high end backpacking equipment.
 

billtyler

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Aug 24, 2005
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I disagree with Troutslayer on the frame/pack issue. I’ve used Cabela’s Alaskan outfitter model for years and have nothing but good things to say about it. It doesn’t weigh more than most internal-frame packs (which in my opinion are worse for shouldering heavy or oddly-shaped loads), and I can use it for other jobs internal frames aren’t neccesarily suited for. For example the past two seasons I’ve used the frame to haul a Double-Bull blind onto BLM land to hunt speed-goats over water holes during archery season. They also come with a sweet guarantee. Sounds like TS simply has an axe to grind against the company and is offering an opinion on something he’s never tried.

Also, water-purification pumps are light---much lighter than carrying around bottles of water for 4 hours waiting for the tablets to take effect. If you’ve been sweating and are dehydrated, a pump produces instant results.

But I do think everyone is hitting the nail on the head when it comes to warmth and comfort back at camp. A lot can be said for a solid sleeping bag (it’s worth the $$$ to get the best), a lightweight tent to keep you warm and dry, and a sleeping pad. A good night’s rest can make a big difference if you’re logging several miles a day.
 

norsepeak

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Jan 23, 2005
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70
Location
Naches, Wa
Spend the money and get good quality. Like down sleeping bag that you can stuff, very light, very warm, get a good back pack, and good clothing. Good waterproof boots, and some type of shelter. Don't spend a bunch on money on gadgets and gizmos, just get what you need, but don't skimp on quality. It could be the difference between life and death!
 

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