Howdy folks, welcome to another edition of CIBTC’s gear guides! Today’s guide: the absolute essentials you need to take hiking in the backcountry. There are a million guides like this out there, but basically none of them have things you actually need. They’re just places for companies to stuff new gadgets they want to sell, which you aren’t actually going to use. So, we experienced hunters came up with the real must-haves that you can’t do without. They won’t cost you an arm and a leg, but they’ll get you through a good hunting trip without any mishaps or discomfort.
First up is a good pack. Frame packs are the obvious thing to use, because you can tie up your meat to it pretty easily to get it out of the bush. Get something with big pockets for all your weather gear and provisions, and plenty of places to attach the kill when you get the money shot.
Next up is shelter. You can go two ways with this: a tent, or a tarp. Tents are obviously more comfortable, but you have to haul a lot more material and the poles as well. It’s a lot of bulk, especially if there’s only one or two of you. If you go the tarp route, you can either use parachute cord to tie it between trees for a flat roof, or make a simple lean-to against a rock face. Depends how much you want to rough it, what the weather’s going to be, and how long you’re going to be in the woods. Either way you go, make sure whatever you’re using is waterproof, rip-stop, and lightweight.
Regardless of what you’re sleeping under, you’re going to need a warm sleeping bag rated to at least the worst temperatures you can expect where you’re going and a waterproof bag to carry it in so it doesn’t get soaked if you’re hiking in the rain.
You need a good water bottle to stay hydrated wherever you are. We’ve used water packs before, but they’re hard to clean and they’re hard to gauge as far as how much water you have left. It’s easier to ration with a bottle, and it’s really easy to refill a bottle in the rain at your campsite for some fresh, clean water. If you’re going to have to refill and can’t use rainwater, you should also keep a few iodine tabs in your pack to purify stream water.
Bring a few pairs of socks, at least two pairs to rotate through. Wearing the same socks day after day is basically asking for an infection or trench foot to start, which is going to put you out of action possibly in a dangerous spot. It’s really easy to avoid if you get moisture-wicking socks instead of cotton and cycle through them every day. Let them dry on your pack if you have somewhere to secure them.
A first aid kit is an obvious thing to bring, so don’t forget it. Other good gear everyone should bring is a multitool, a headlamp with some extra batteries, and a map or gps. That’s really all you need, unless you think you’re going to be cooking in the woods.
Bring these things, and you’ll be good as gold. And don’t forget your hunting gear: rifle, bow, or crossbow, with ammo, and bring a rangefinder. Wear good boots, and don’t take chances in the woods, because there’s not a lot of wiggle room when things go wrong. Good luck out there.