Lightweight Backpack Hunting Gear List
If you are needing companion PDF/Word checklists to print out or carry on your phone, the checklists can be downloaded here for free! If you need a gear list for general backpacking (non-hunting version), check out our Lightweight Backpacking Gear List.
This gear list is intended to be for an early season backcountry archery or rifle hunt. It is a starting point for hunters who are looking to lighten their pack weight for serious backcountry hunts. We have put a ton of research and thought into this list. We hope it gives you some ideas!
If you are hunting late season, you can use the same list - just make sure to pack some extra layers, heavier boots, warm gloves, and a four season tent/stove combo!
Shelter and Bedding
☐ Tent / ground cloth - Durston X-Mid 2P, $320, 40oz. You can take the nest out and just have the fly which has a huge footprint and weighs only 22oz. Also check out the Durston X-Mid 1P. If you are running your tent in the fly-only configuration, use a Tyvek groundcloth to put under your sleeping pad and gear. For colder weather hunting, we recommend the Seek Outside Cimarron Pyramid Tent which can be paired with a stove. If you are hunting in Alaska or in areas with really bad or windy weather, take a look at anything from Hilleberg.
☐ Backpack - We use the Kifaru Kutthroat as it is very lightweight, has tons of features, and works well as a summer backpack for high country fishing trips. It may not have a meat shelf but it is $150 less than comparable packs. $514, 4lbs 5oz. Also check out the Stone Glacier Sky 5900 with X Curve Frame, $669, 5lb 7oz. Make sure to get a waterproof backpack cover for rainy/snowy weather.
☐ Sleeping bag / quilt - Enlightened Equipment Revelation Quilt (10deg is great for all around Western fall hunting), $335, 19oz, or the REI Magma 15 / Magma 30.
☐ Sleeping pad - Sleepingo Ultralight Sleeping pad (cheap and comfortable), $50, 14.5oz. For colder weather, check out the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm, which has a much higher R value.
☐ Pillow - TREKOLOGY Ultralight Inflatable Pillow, $17, 2.8oz
☐ Tent stove / wood saw (optional) - Seek Outside Titanium Wood Stove & Stovepipe, $309, 31oz. Sven-Saw 21 inch Folding Saw, $50, 11oz. Obviously you need to pair your stove to your tent to ensure it fits well and will heat your tent adequately.
☐ Camera / tripod / batteries (optional) - Sony A6100 $850, Peak Design Capture Clip $70, Pedco UltraPod Grip Lightweight Tripod $55, Batteries. The Peak Capture Clip is the best way we have found to carry a DSLR safely within reach, but it can interfere with drawing a bow or slinging a rifle over your shoulder.
☐ Map (hard copy) - Print out for free using Caltopo or Nat Geo, $0, 0.1oz
☐ Headlamp / extra batteries - Fenix HM50R, $60, 2.75oz. See our top 5 headlamps here.
☐ Bearspray and holster - UDAP or Counter Assault Spray, $35, 10.5oz
☐ GPS or satellite messenger - Garmin inReach Mini, $329, 3.5oz, or for a cheaper option definitely look at the ZOLEO Satellite Communicator, $200, 5.3oz. Read our full review of the ZOLEO here.
☐ Compass - SUUNTO A-10 Field Compass, $21, 1.1oz
☐ Medications / pain reliever / lip balm - Use what you have, $$, 2.0oz
☐ Trash bags (double as pack cover) - Basic kitchen bags, $$, 0.5oz
☐ First aid kit / moleskin / leukotape - When I am solo I take an Adventure Medical Ultralight 1P kit, $13, 2.3oz. For larger parties, take a look at the Adventure Medical Kits Mountain Series, which come in different sizes to cover up to 7 people. In order to be fully prepared for backcountry emergencies, also learn how to use and take a tourniquet and chest seal - NAR Gen 7 Tourniquet, $32, 3.2oz and Halo Vent IFAK Chest Seal, $23, 2oz. Read our article on Backcountry First Aid with advice from a paramedic if you think you don't need a tourniquet. For foot issues, we take Dr. Scholl’s Moleskin Plus Padding Roll, $8, 0.5oz and Leukotape, $9, 0.5oz. Read our article on how to use Leukotape for blister prevention here. We also have terrible ankles and use these ankle braces.
☐ Whistle - LuxoGear Emergency Whistle, $8, 0.5oz
☐ Toilet paper - Use what you have, $$, 1.5oz
☐ Trowel - Tent Lab Deuce Ultralight Backpacking Trowel, $18, 0.6oz
☐ Stuff sacks - Sea to Summit Travelling Light Stuff Sack Set, $30, 0.3oz.
☐ Extra Ziplock bags - Use what you have, $$, 0.2oz. Take 2x gallon size bags to store trash, etc. You never know what you might need one for, they are handy to have around.
☐ Power bank / charging cables - Anker PowerCore 10000 Portable Charger, $26, 6.4oz. For cables, whatever fits your phone, $$, 1.0oz. Also take a look at the TG90 10000mAh Power Bank with built in cables, $31, 7.4oz.
☐ Trekking poles - Peax Equipment Sissy Stix, $129, 15oz. For hunting, it's imperative that you have stiff poles that won't break when you try and catch yourself going downhill with a full load of meat on your back. These poles are designed specifically for hunting.
☐ Book / podcasts - I usually bring one hard copy book to read and a dozen podcasts downloaded onto my Samsung phone.
☐ Phone / mapping apps - Samsung, $$, 5oz
☐ Daypack (optional) - I currently don't use a smaller daypack, but rather use the compression straps on my main pack to make it smaller for day trips.
☐ Rope or paracord - 1.8mm paracord, $10, 2.0oz. Take 10-20ft to use in an emergency or if you need to secure your tent down better in high winds.
☐ Stove - BRS 3000T, $16, 0.9oz, or MSR Pocket Rocket II, $45, 2.6oz. The BRS stove is nice because it packs down small and is super lightweight. For a higher quality stove with more consistent burn, use the MSR stove. If you want a quicker boil time and an integrated windscreen and pot, take a look at the Jetboil Stash or Jetboil Flash. If you really want a nice stove that won't fail in cold weather, the MSR Windburner should be in your pack.
☐ Fuel - MSR IsoPro Fuel Canister, $5, 7oz
☐ Lighter / matches - Mini Bic lighter, $2, 0.4oz. We also take a book of matches in a ziplock for a backup.
☐ Cup / pot - TOAKS Light Titanium 650ml Pot, $37, 2.6oz. This pot has a lid and is big enough to hold a fuel canister and stove. The lid doesn't attach well for transport however. The cup/pot we wish we had is the Vargo Titanium BOT 700. It as a screw top lid which is ideal for cold soaking meals and also for keeping your stove/fuel/lighter stowed away without spilling out. Obviously if you have an MSR Windburner or Jetboil stove you don't need a cup.
☐ Spoon / cooking utensils - Sea to Summit Alpha Light Spoon, $12, 0.4oz. Make sure to get a long handled spoon so you don't get freeze dried food schmutz on your fingers while eating.
☐ Food (meals, snacks, coffee, energy bars) - See our best food article here. Try our Alpen Fuel backpacking breakfasts. They average 700 calories and can be made in five minutes with hot or cold water.
☐ Bear canister / Ursack / bear hang kit - Ursack, $90, 7.6oz. The Ursack is our food bag of choice in the backcountry. Just tie it off chest high on a tree and forget about it. We had a wolverine try and get into our Ursack once. He failed!
☐ Water bottles / bladder - Smart Water 700ml Bottle, $2 or 32oz Nalgene bottles. When we hunt in areas without close access to water, we fill up several inexpensive Platypus flexible bottles in a variety of sizes (500ml to 2L). Don't get one huge one (6L for example), but take several smaller ones instead. That way you can take a few liters out for a day hunt and not have to take a huge 6L everywhere you go. If you prefer a bladder, the Platypus Big Zip Water Reservoir is a nice option, it has a zip top for easy filling. Note the Nalgene's are especially nice for tent camping because you can fill them with boiling water and put them in your sleeping bag. They will give off heat for several hours.
☐ Water filter / tablets / Aqua Mira - Aqua Mira, $15, 1oz. Aqua Mira is about a light as it gets. Use mini bottles to take enough of parts A and B for your trip, and a mini eyedropper bottle to store enough mixed solution for 1-2 days. We also like Steripens, as the are much lighter and more compact than a filter. For larger groups, a filter like the Katadyn Hiker is nice. Another small filter to look at is the Sawyer Squeeze (full size one). Don't get the Sawyer Mini as the filter rate is painfully slow. Note the Sawyer filters can be a pain in colder weather. You can't let them freeze or they become ineffective.
☐ Cooking kit storage sack - Use cheap ditty bags like these, $10, 1oz.
Make sure to use high quality clothing that is comfortable and dries quickly. We sleep in our pants and base layer top to add extra warmth if needed. If the nights are especially cold we will wear a jacket and base layer bottoms.
☐ Base Layer T shirt - Voormi Merino Tech T - $70, 5oz. The Voormi shirts use Dual Surface blended wool so they don't itch (or get smelly). Also look at the Sitka Core Lightweight Crew short sleeve, $55, 5oz.
☐ Base layer long sleeve top - OK, we love Voormi if that isn't clear yet. We use their River Run Hoody, $129, 7oz. It is lightweight and makes a good summer piece as well. It takes on minimal odor even after several days of hard hunting. Also look at Sitka Men's Merino Core 1 Long Sleeve Zip Tee, $99 or First Lite Men's Kiln Hoody, $125, 12oz
☐ Mid layer top - We use the Voormi High-E Hoody, $249, 21oz. It's not super light, and also on the expensive side. That being said, it's an absolute bomber mid layer that we wear several times a week from October-March. It's made with surface hardened wool and is extremely warm and durable. It's warm enough to be worn as an outer layer in cold temps when active. Read the reviews! Also look at the First Lite Ridgeline QZ Pullover, $120, 8.5oz
☐ Insulated vest (optional) First Lite Men's Sawtooth Hybrid Vest, $145, 20oz.
☐ Underwear - Use what you have or splurge for some Smartwool Men's Merino Sport 150 Boxer Briefs for more comfort and odor control on long trips.
☐ Baselayer bottoms - Smartwool Men's Merino 150 Baselayer Bottom, $80, 4oz. There are lots of inexpensive options out there as well.
☐ Synthetic pants - Prana Stretch Zion, $90, 13oz. In our opinion, these are the best all around synthetic pants out there for early season hunting. Read our complete review here. Also, for all around comfort and durability, the Stone Glacier De Havilland Pant is awesome.
☐ Belt - Hiker Belt, $17, 2oz. For a low profile belt that will ride comfortably under your pack, the Marsupial Belt is nice.
☐ Socks - We only use Darn Tough socks. They are super comfortable and durable, and have a lifetime warranty. Use the Darn Tough Light Hiker or Darn Tough Men's Hunter Boot Sock, $25
☐ Hat - Sitka Quick-Dry Hat, $30
☐ Jacket - We like the KUIU Kenai Hooded Synthetic Jacket, $259, 15.5oz. Also, review the Sitka Kelvin Active Jacket, $289, 15oz, or First Lite Men's Uncompahgre 2.0 Puffy Jacket, $210, 17oz
☐ Rain jacket - First Lite Vapor Stormlight Rainwear, $300, 12oz
☐ Rain pants (optional) - Sitka Dewpoint Pants, $235, 10.4oz
☐ Beanie - First Lite Beanie, $25, 3.2oz
☐ Neck gaiter / Buff - Buff, $15, 1.5oz
☐ Gloves - Outdoor Research Flurry Gloves for liners, $30, 3.5oz. For a shell, the Outdoor Research Revel Shell works OK for warmer temps. For wet weather, make sure to take multiple sets of fleece or wool liners. You can dry them out by putting them in your sleeping bag at night.
☐ Gaiters - Peax Storm Castle Gaiters, $120, 11oz
☐ Boots / shoes - We use the Scarpa Zodiak Plus GTX, $300, 1lb 3oz per pair. If you prefer a lighter boot for early season, check out the Salomon X Ultra Mid. The X Ultras are as comfortable as running shoes and work great if you don't navigate too many boulder fields (not as stiff so sharp rocks can tire your feet). We also like the comfortable Salomon Men's Quest which is what the Navy SEALS wear. For later hunts in colder weather, we recommend Schnee's Boots. Boots are a super crucial and personal thing. Try a dozen on before you pick one. Bad boots can make or break a trip.
☐ Watch - Garmin Instinct, $350, 1.8oz. For an inexpensive GPS watch, the Instinct is a great option. Garmin also make a Solar Instinct, which can go months without needing a charge.
☐ Sunglasses - Maui Jim Stingray, $250, 0.5oz. Make sure to get polarized if you do any fishing.
☐ Binoculars / chest harness - Maven C.3 10x50mm, $475, 28oz, with a Marsupial Gear Chest Harness, $90, 12.5oz (add on the rangefinder pouch for an extra $32.
☐ Spotting scope (optional) - The Kowa TSN 553, $1800, 28.5oz is probably the best all around high-quality backcountry spotting scope. If you are in need of a cheaper option, take a look at the Maven CS.1 15-45X65, $800, 40.4oz. If you want super light and super inexpensive, then take a hard look at the Kowa TSN 501, $350, 14oz.
☐ Tripod /adapter (optional) - Sirui T-024SK Tripod with VA-5 Video Head, $300, 2 lbs 15.7 oz. After a ton of research, this tripod and head emerged at the top. It's lightweight and super tough and easy to use. The VA-5 pan head over a ball head will give you the most performance and efficiency for long glassing sessions. Use ARCA plates for your binos and spotter. For an inexpensive bino adapter, check out the Uni-Dapter.
☐ Rangefinder - Vortex Optics Ranger 1800 Laser Rangefinder, $289, 7.7oz
☐ Lens cleaning cloth - Anything like this will work, $$
☐ Bow / arrows / release - Use what you have, there is a lot of good equipment out there. Amazon has a lot of Scott and Tru-Fire releases.
☐ Rifle / ammunition - Use what you have. For scopes, we recommend a variable power scope from Maven or Leupold. The Leupold VX-3i 4.5-14x50mm Riflescope is pretty sweet.
☐ Knives - Outdoor Edge RazorLite, $40, 6.4oz. This knife has a stiffer blade than a Havalon, and also doesn't require pliers for changing blades.
☐ Game bags / rope - Allen Backcountry Quarter Bags, $30, 16oz. 1.8mm paracord, $10, 2.0oz. Take 30-40ft to use for putting game bags up in trees, for use in an emergency, or if you need to secure your tent down better in high winds.
☐ Hunting licenses / electrical tape - Obviously use whatever tags you have! Electrical tape, $$, 1oz
☐ Wind check powder - Dead Down Wind, $4, 1oz
☐ Glassing butt pad - REDCAMP Foam Hiking Seat Pad (off brand version of Z-rest pad), $17, 2oz
Make sure to check out our other Gear Guides and our lineup of high calorie backpacking meals!