Help me to check my boxes for my elk hunt this year


Well-Known Member
Jan 11, 2006
Bum wipes
Tarp for sitting under in extreme heat or rain
bore snake
550 cord w/D-ring
KT tape
sun screen
sun glasses
insect repellant
extra wool socks, glove liners and base layer in something waterproof
sent free deodorant and baby powder

Great list, you've got game!


Well-Known Member
May 10, 2011
A down vest just in case temps really drop. They weigh nothing but provides a ton of warmth.
1000%. Excellent advice. Always have a puffy jacket... since they weight next to nothing it's fantastic backup if you get stuck/injured/whatever on the mountain and need to survive a night exposed.


Well-Known Member
Jun 22, 2020
Duncan Oklahoma
Appreciate the replies guys. Yeah food and game bags was a given that I forgot to list and I do have a compass I plan on taking as well. I will look for a good first aid kit. Keep ‘em coming fellas. I really do appreciate the input.
Make sure you throw in some gorilla tape or duct tape. First aid kit will help a scratch but wont get you anywhere in a tough situation.


Well-Known Member
Mar 1, 2021
United States
So here’s what I got going on....I signed up for a drop camp elk hunt in Colorado (1st Rifle). Did the guided hunt thing a couple of times but decided to try my hands on a diy drop camp. My plan is to be able to pitch a tent and stay over night if I have too away from the wall tent the outfitter is setting up for me and a partner if I find elk a long ways away from it. I’ve stayed out in the wilderness in Montana twice and loved it (Bivy).
So far for clothing I have bought a set of Sitka clothing.... base layers, mountain pants, core light weight hoodie, ascent shirts, jetsam jacket, gaiters, and wearing same boots I used in Montana. I have bought a Garmin in reach explore plus and a Garmin hunt view Colorado map card to use in Garmin alpha. I have a jet boil cook set and a bladder for my mystery ranch pack.. aside from a tent and sleeping bag what else do you guys think I should look at getting to ensure I got the necessities?

I know I need a water purifier of sorts but not sure which one as I have never used one.

Welcome to my home state of Colorado. I have a few things for you to consider for a backpack hunt. I only backpack hunt, as our better elk are either on agricultural land or hiding far away from roads, so you have to be ready to cover ground. This is how I break everything up and the gear I choose...

The following depends on the season you are hunting. First rifle is usually pretty hot in our mountains, but does get chilly at night (often below freezing). Snow is possible, but so is 80 degree weather, and experiencing both in the same day is more likely than not during first rifle... this means no matter what you choose for gear you need to be physically and mentally ready to be uncomfortable because there is no such thing as perfect gear for this weather particularly at the altitudes you will be hunting. Either you bring everything and get bogged down by weight, or you bring less and get a little too cold or too hot. Just be ready for that so you don't quit in the middle of your trip. If you are uncomfortable you are doing it right.

Food/water/eating system

Food for me is always dehydrated meals. I make my own dinners and lunches and usually bring instant oatmeal for breakfast. The pre made stuff is full of salt and preservatives, and gives most people the runs when they eat it, hence why I make my own.

Heather's choice is likely your best option if you buy dehydrated meals, but the calories are somewhat low in my opinion and the cost is high. A cost effective way to make an instant meal is to buy dehydrated beef or chicken from mountain house, and add that to quick cooking noodles like rice noodles, and add that to instant broth or instant pasta sauce you buy from the grocery store. Easy to do in a jet boil. The protein during dinner is key as most of the other meals will likely lack protein and be more carb-focused.

Just do something easy like instant oatmeal, steel oats, or buckwheat (has essential amino acids) for breakfast - cheaper and faster. Jet boil sells a coffee press accessory for their integrated pot, buy this 100%, and bring a bag of ground coffee. Instant coffee is brutal to drink.

This is the key to successful nutrition on backpack hunts. Given the temp and weather extremes, I tend to pack a lot of bone broth and plain ramen noodles to chow on while glassing, as well as various granola bars to eat while on the move. The bone broth and noodles are key on cold days. You might be fine with a quick cup of coffee and some oatmeal to get going in the morning, but as soon as you stop and setup shop to glass for a few hours, that is when the cold gets you, and you dont need a lot of calories to stay comfortable as long as the calories are delivered as a warm liquid. Instant miso soup is also a favorite of mine too. Bring lots and lots of pedialyte sport or similar electrolyte replacement.

In total, plan to consume between 2000-3000 calories a day, but be ready to go up to 4000-5000 if you are packing out an animal or covering an excess of 10 miles that day.

Cooking setup
A jetboil or MSR reactor is what you want. Again, buy the coffee press attachment for these. Pack an extra lighter in case the pizo system fails. Bring an extra canister of fuel in the event you need to melt snow. A single long spoon is fine - like 8" or so. The standard backpacking ones are long enough to reach the bottom of the jetboil so you will burn stuff sitting at the bottom. I do not being a mug I instead use an insulated microlite bottle (see water section below). Hand sanitizer is a must, and a little thing of camp suds and half of a scotch bright pad to clean your stove.

Pick your favorite filter and bring iodine tablets as a back up. I prefer a steri pen or actual ceramic/activated carbon filter as my primary over a chemical purification system. MSR and Platypus are usually my go-tos in this situation. I tend to carry the platypus basecamp more and more because I can filter 4 liters at once without needing to pump anything - just hang it. You will want a microlite insulated 1liter bottle for your hot drinks, and a couple collapsible bladders or similar products. I like to have a total of 8 liters of water capacity, and I hike with between 2-3 liters at a time. You will likely be camping away from water, so before you setup for the night you will want to top off all your water and filter it too (hence why I like the platypus system).

A tipi style tent is your lightest option, but it takes the most time to setup and is the least wind resistant option, but you can buy these to be compatible with ultralight titanium stoves to help you dry out and stay warm (seek outside sells these). For simplicity's sake I prefer a two pole, single walled, alpine mountaineering style tent. I use a black diamond first light as my go to for all backpack hunting. I used to be a climbing and mountaineering guide, which is why I am biased to this style of tent. It is designed to be pitched on tiny little rock ledges during major climbing ascents - meaning it is tiny and the most minimal of minimalist. Comfortable and roomy are things that should be prioritized on a backpack hunt - if you are spending this much time in your tent that these things matter, you aren't hunting correctly. Given you have actually done a bivy, I imagine you are accustomed to this idea. The reason you want a tent is to keep the snow/rain/wind off you while sleeping... not while you are awake and should be behind your glass. The lighter and smaller the tent, the further you can travel and less space you need to set up camp.

For sleeping, this will get more complicated. If I am bringing an insulated jacket and insulated pants, I bring a 30 degree bag for first rifle, even when camping above 11000 ft. I just sleep in everything, and I chug a thing of bone broth before I go to sleep, and I wake up cold just before day light (the coldest hour of the night)... which is like a natural alarm clock for people who appreciate things like this (aka the people who kill mature bulls on public land without a guide). Otherwise, a 10 degree or 0 degree is necessary when camping above 10k for first rifle, and a 20 degree is more optimal when camping below 8k.

The pad you choose will make or break your trip. I like a closed cell foam pad, specifically the thermarest z-lite. I empty my pack out and lay it flat under my torso and then lay a full-length z-rest over the top, and this has kept me warm in some nasty environments. Extra clothing goes under the legs or is worn. The blow-up pads are always warmer and better until you put a hole in them... and there is the problem - these things always get holes somehow. Imagine you are sitting in your tent shivering after staying out too late in a snow storm, you finally retreat to your tent, and you setup the jetboil, and while it's running you are getting your bed ready, etc... and you tip that thing over and burn a hole in your pad. The closed cell foam pad is still fine, but if you had a blow up one it has now popped and you are screwed, and you shiver yourself in and out of sleep all night because no matter how much tenacious tap you put on it, the hole will not completely seal and it looses air over the course of 30min.

First aid and gear aid
Most of the issues you are going to run into backpack hunting will be tweaked joints and inflammation from tweaking said joint. Cutting your fingers with a pocket knife or a broad head is also common. A stomach bug from bad hygiene or water (ie eating your poop and getting sick because you dont wash your hands) is also common. Shooting yourself is less common. An attack from a cougar or bear even less common. Your first aid kit thus needs to prioritize the ability to splint and stabilize joints, reduce inflammation, treat small cuts, re-hydrate in the event you spend two days vomiting, and to a lesser degree slow catastrophic blood loss. A single large SAM splint, a single large (6" wide) ace wrap, a small 2" ace wrap, and two rolls of athletic tap will get anything braced enough to either keep hunting or to limp out or to make a traction brace to stabilize a broken bone prior to moving yourself and triggering an emergency response via your gps. A bottle of ibuprofen will help with the inflammation for little tweaks. Add in some gauze to take care of cuts. I tend to combine gauze with the athletic tap to make band-aids instead of carrying band-aids. I do carry quick clot and a tourniquet for larger traumatic injuries. Tweezers and trauma sheers are the last things I pack. For bears and cougars, I like a HK VP9 with lehigh defense deep penetration rounds... best to get them before they get you.

Chaffing is often confused with first aid, but is a whole beast in it's own right. You are from Florida, you know what heat combined with moisture will do. Bring your lubes and blister treatments of choice.

Gear aid. Literally all I bring is an extra hip belt buckle so I can still carry my pack if I step on the buckle and I carry a roll of tenacious tap (tent repairs, tent pole repairs, rain jacket repairs).

Hunting specific gear
Rifle and ammo of choice - no need to carry 20 rounds. 3 rounds per animal is what I carry. I carry a set of 15x56 vortex binos, no spotting scope, and a vortex range finder in an Alaska Guide Creations chest harness. The binos mount to a tripod, and the tripod doubles as a shooting rest for taking standing shots. My rifle does have a spartan precision bipod as well. I carry two knives, a benchmade altitude for skinning and a benchmade bugout for all other things. Many people carry the scalpel systems for skinning, but its up to you. Know that you can break the blades on the scalpel systems twisting trying to cut joints apart, which can create a hazard to you. Goat knives makes a nice scalpel system if you want to go that route. Game bags - usually four bone-in quarter bags is the right number. I also like to bring two emergency blankets that I use for either emergencies or as tarps to keep my meat clean while breaking down and animal. I also carry a large section of cheese cloth during summer hunts and first rifle to keep flies off prior to getting exposed meat into a game bag. You will need quite a bit of 4mm chord to hang your meat in a tree to cool, I bring a 100ft section and use it for a number of things in addition to hanging hanging food away from bears.

YOU NEED WIND POWDER. Learn mountain thermals. Wind goes up hill when the sun is out and down hill when the sun in down, and it swirls and disperses your scent in tighter canyons that create cross winds that conflict with the greater wind direction of the topography. If you are smelled, you will not get an animal or see an animal. If you are up at 4am and hiking down hill to get "in your spot" all the animals below you have smelled you and are now gone. Get your bottle of wind powder in hand and you squeeze that thing all freaking day. The wind must in your face as you approach an animal - no matter what.

While not necessarily hunting specific, a headlamp is an important tool you want to get right. I specifically like the Princeton Tech Gamekeeper. Its made in the USA, is light weight, bright, and has a red led for hiking at night which animals cant see very well. Always bring one extra set of batteries.

Trekking poles...

The two things that everyone forgets are high impact rated sunglasses and lots of sun block. Leupold makes great sun glass for shooting. SPF 50 or higher for sunblock. The air is thin here, and you will get burned in ways you never thought imaginable, even being from Florida. Get scentless sunblock. And while you are at it, get a thing of Native unscented deodorant to keep your stink down, the primary sent neutralizing ingredient is sodium bicarb, which will actually neutralize your stink and make you harder to smell. The animals can smell a lot of the chemicals that scent normal sunblock and deodorant, hence my specific recommendations.

It seems like you have your clothing and GPS all figured out, so I'll leave it at that. Though happy to give my two cents on that too if you like.


Well-Known Member
Apr 17, 2011
Love my first need water filter.. heavy but it purifies and has been rock solid.
You might want to build a cozy for the dehydrated meals.
Use duct insulation and build a little bag to put the mountain house bag in. Helps it cook and stay warm.


Well-Known Member
LRH Team Member
Feb 7, 2013
Establish with outfitter how often they are going to check in on you and whether you have a means to contact them immediately for emergencies.

Link to previous comments on CO elk hunting that may help. Attached is a compilation of comments in a previous LRH thread on Survival and First Aid etc.. One good comment I saw in another thread is something I have added to my pack is to carry a variety of zip ties. Amazing what you can do with them from first aid splints to repairing a tent pole.

Arrive at least 3 days prior to hunt at the altitude you plan on hunting to acclimate to altitude. Altitude sickness can hit anyone and getting there early will help alleviate the potential risks enormously. You are hunting the dream, why not maximize its potential by getting better adjusted to the altitude? Age has nothing to do with altitude adjustment. I saw runners that were in unreal condition get sick at altitude. Had to get him off mountain, lucky we had an outfitter that checked in our drop camp and was able to take him out. He recovered fast at lower altitude but if he hadn't gone down, not sure of consequences and glad we didn't have to find out the hard way. Be ready to recognize altitude sickness (read up on symptoms) and make the hard RIGHT decision to get off the mountain ASAP. Don't underestimate the seriousness of this. You cannot play around with altitude sickness, it can be deadly fast. It can kill easily when off grid.Only solution is to get down in altitude ASAP. Usually if down around 5K ft it subsides but be prepared to seek medical help if it doesn't. They know how to deal with it fast.

+1 on trekking poles. No matter your age, they will help navigate tough terrain and if successful will give you 4x4 like stability hauling your quarters out. The poles reduce the effort of climbing or descending a lot and help manage your energy.

Hydrate every 2 hours at altitude is basic recommendation.Carry twice as much and drink twice as much as you think. You really need to be urinating about every 2-3 hours if fully hydrated. Bring electrolyte packs such as Gatorade (also some carbs in them). You lose hydration due to the extreme dryness of air and dehydration is one of the triggers of altitude sickness. DO NOT assume water is safe to drink at all. Make sure you have drinkable water wherever you plan on camping. Water is one of the most critical requirements to hunt at altitude.If cramping you are not hydrating enough and or need electrolytes ASAP. Carry dried banana chips as added protection for dehydration cramps. Some take magnesium OTC as well.

Carb up like crazy in morning for energy and repair body at night with proteins meals at night. Buy more RTE meals than you think you will need. Mountain House RTE Meals - I use them and they are pretty good. But buy the 2 man packs, you will need more calories at end of day. Pasta type meals for dinner are great. I brought quite a bit of oatmeal packs with dried fruit as well. Eat all day to maintain energy. You can burn 4-6,000 calories a day easily.

BEAR proof your camp is mandatory. NO food or other materials like toothpaste in tent. Hang food up at least 75 yards away in plastic bag in duffle at least 15' off ground between 2 trees. I have had bears wreck tent just because they could. No food there but their curiosity can still be pain in ***. I've left the tent fly open and they go thru side of tent just because they could. But if you leave food around camp and are sloppy with everything they can be a real problem to your hunt so bear proof and take away some problems. Don't eat in your tent unless absolutely need in bad weather, even then take out food scraps, bury them far from tent. Brush teeth as far from tent as possible. Bears like toothpaste. Put toothpaste in the bear bag as well. Bear spray maybe good idea for multiple trips to your kill site as well. Hang your quarters up as high as you can if getting back to site is over couple days.

Bring a really good heavy duty sharp tweezer than has serious gripping power. Everything from slivers to ticks will be easy. First aid kit should include foreceps, sutures and butterfly strips at minimum. Everyone in your group should go over basic first aid to insure decent response to a medical emergency. CPR would be nice. You are going off grid and you are the response. If anyone in your group has a specific health concern, it should be shared so you can respond appropriately if the need should arise.

Hard to maintain hygiene on pack in hunt. Bring non-scented baby wipes to "refresh" your really important areas. OK, you can guess where. I took them out of their container and put into zip-locks. Amazing what a baby wipe bath can do to raise your spirit.

Lastly, pack everything up and weigh it, the weight will scare the dickens out of you. Then start looking over your gear with objectivity and realistic expectation of carrying how much weight at altitude. You cannot carry as much as you think at altitude and sustain good hunting. See what your buddies are carrying and share what you can to eliminate duplicates. Small compression bags are great to reduce volume in pack. Once you squeeze air out of bag, amazing how small it becomes.

Bring a nice compact digital camera if you can to capture some of the best scenery in the world. Smart phones are NOT equivalent in photographic capability but do somewhat ok in pinch. The photos alone will last a lifetime and will bring a smile whenever you peruse through them later in life.

If you have never hunted CO, you really need to understand the license and tagging requirements. CO's will not give you any slack on these requirements at all. Hunters were cited camped adjacent to us in 2019 for bringing head out first. When you break down the animal evidence of sex must stay attached to meat. So boning out an animal MUST meet this requirement.

LRH Thread LINK: CO Elk Hunting

This is from 2021 Big Game brochure - See number 6 :
6. Not showing evidence of sex. Be sure to leave evidence of sex naturally attached to the carcass. Evidence includes the head, the vulva or the scrotum. See "Evidence of Sex" on page 16 for more details.


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