Feedback on backcountry elk loadout

OP
GooseLR

GooseLR

FNG
Joined
Oct 31, 2023
Messages
25
Sounds like you’re in the right kind of shape. Cutting weight going in (which also means a little less to bring out, other than consumables) definitely helps once there are elk on the ground. They are big animals, and two guys 7 miles back is a bunch. That being said, I’ve carried a few out solo in the 2-3 mile range over the years, and there’s a really good chance you’re in better shape than I’ve ever been. Out that far solo I’ve always done it in two days, and generally find myself closer to a road of some sort for a few years until I forget.


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hopefully I get the chance to see what it’s all about. Thanks for the feedback!
 

mikeafeagin22

Lil-Rokslider
Joined
Feb 17, 2023
Messages
173
Yeah that’s the one, I have removed that from the packing list. I grabbed my puffer, threw it in a Sea to Summit E-vent bag (large waterproof bag) that I was already planning on bringing and it was actually a little better than that pillow. Saved 10ish oz there!

The 550 cord I’m planning on bringing 50’ instead of 100 and gutting it.

The combat top is just a patagonia quarter zip shirt (I think it would be classified as a mid layer?) and the patagonia mid weight jacket is probably staying behind since I’ve got the puffer. I like that jacket a lot but… ounces.

As others have mentioned the food situation a lot, I am planning to reevaluate that as well. Not sure exactly my solution yet but I will likely be dropping one freeze-dried per day.

My friend and I are both bringing a tent and stove, not sure about power bank. I can definitely see us potentially leaving one stove behind, that makes sense.
One stove is great until you’re both starving and exhausted at the end of a long day. Then you’re taking turns boiling water when all you want to do is eat and pass out. That’s one thing that’s worth the weight for me.
 
OP
GooseLR

GooseLR

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Joined
Oct 31, 2023
Messages
25
If you’re already boiling water for coffee in the morning then toss some packs of oatmeal in your bag instead of a peak meal every day. Bag or two of oatmeal and a pop tart will save you quite a bit of space and you don’t have to wait 10-15 minutes every morning for your meal to be ready.

I personally don’t ever eat a designated lunch when I’m hunting. Just do breakfast and dinner then snack all day on that day’s food. Throw what you’re going to eat for each day in a ziplock bag. I like to eat throughout the day like that so if it’s ever time to grind it out and go after something, I’ve usually got the energy to make it happen. Less likely to drop into something nasty chasing a bugle if your stomach thinks your throats been cut!
I like the easy breakfast idea and also going for more ready to eat options for lunch. Food was the part of this list I spent the least time on, I’ve been learning a lot from y’all’s recommendations
 
OP
GooseLR

GooseLR

FNG
Joined
Oct 31, 2023
Messages
25
Have you or your buddy packed out a dead bull before? If yes, how far and how many trips?
My friend has packed out three from this area. I will have to ask him, I don’t know off the top of my head.
 

wyosam

WKR
Joined
Aug 5, 2019
Messages
1,051
If you’re already boiling water for coffee in the morning then toss some packs of oatmeal in your bag instead of a peak meal every day. Bag or two of oatmeal and a pop tart will save you quite a bit of space and you don’t have to wait 10-15 minutes every morning for your meal to be ready.

I personally don’t ever eat a designated lunch when I’m hunting. Just do breakfast and dinner then snack all day on that day’s food. Throw what you’re going to eat for each day in a ziplock bag. I like to eat throughout the day like that so if it’s ever time to grind it out and go after something, I’ve usually got the energy to make it happen. Less likely to drop into something nasty chasing a bugle if your stomach thinks your throats been cut!

My go to breakfast is a couple packets of oatmeal, with a handful of mixed nuts thrown in, and sometimes I’ll throw in one of the little peanut butter or Nutella single serve packets (I just throw the packet in the Jetboil while I heat the water so it’s soft an hot when it goes in the oatmeal). Pretty good energy to weight ratio, and goes pretty nice with a big cup of coffee.


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Joined
Aug 10, 2015
Messages
2,414
My go to breakfast is a couple packets of oatmeal, with a handful of mixed nuts thrown in, and sometimes I’ll throw in one of the little peanut butter or Nutella single serve packets (I just throw the packet in the Jetboil while I heat the water so it’s soft an hot when it goes in the oatmeal). Pretty good energy to weight ratio, and goes pretty nice with a big cup of coffee.


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That's a good tip on softening the nut butter packets. Those suckers can get pretty robust when they're cold.

I also typically prefer just having a couple oatmeal packets in the morning, it's quick and enough to be satisfying without being overly full. The peak breakfasts are really good, but they can be kind of a lot in the morning.
 

Maverick1

WKR
Joined
Jun 1, 2013
Messages
1,649
Hey guys,

Up to this point, my elk hunting experience has been limited to hunting out of a base camp but this year a buddy and I are planning on going deep off the road and carrying camp on our backs. I would love some feedback on my packing list, specifically concerning weight and items to add/remove. Thanks!


Backcountry hunting packing list

In pack: 491oz dry
  • Pack: Exo K4 5000 93oz
  • K4 quick release Rifle carrier 3oz
  • Mystery ranch nalgene holder (I have at work) 4oz
  • Nalgene (empty) 6oz
  • Water bladder 8oz
  • Tent - Argali Rincon 2P w/ half insert 40.4oz
  • Sleeping pad- thermarest NeoAir XTherm NXT 16oz
  • Sleeping bag - Big Agnes Anvil Horn 0 Degree 47oz
  • Pillow, thermarest foam - 10oz
  • Socks x 2 - 5oz per pair > 10oz
  • Patagonia middle weight jacket 15oz
  • puffy jacket 26oz
  • Rain top 14oz
  • Baselayer top 12oz
  • Baselayer bottom 12oz
  • Gloves 7oz
  • Beanie 2oz
  • Game bags (double as shooting bag) (argali five-bag set) 9oz
  • Headlamp 4oz
  • Spare batteries for all electronics 2oz
  • Power bank w/ cord 18oz
  • MSR stove 3oz
  • Fuel canister (MSR 8oz) 13oz
  • Titanium cook pot 5oz
  • Fork 1oz
  • One large waterproof bag 4oz
  • Ground cushion/seat (cut up thermarest foam pad) 4oz
  • Trekking poles - black Diamond carbon cork
  • Katadyn BeFree 1L water filtration bag 2oz
  • Vortex switchback tripod 74oz
  • Paracord 100ft 7oz
  • Sea to summit wet wipes 3.3oz
  • Hygiene kit
  • Assorted drugs: Tylenol, diphenhydramine, etc

Food and water: 254oz
  • 1 day of food - 3 peak refuel meals (5oz per, total 15oz), 1 packet coffee, 2 packet electrolyte (drink packets are 0.6oz per) 1.5oz total. 1 cliff builder bar 290calories 2.4oz, 1 Hershey bar 210 calories. Food totals: weight - 20.5oz per day
  • Water 4 cups for cooking per day (32oz)
  • Total food: 123oz for 6 days
  • Planning on 4L of water on person 140oz
Worn: 163oz (322oz counting rifle)
  • Rifle: Defiance Anti X, Proof Sendero, XLR element chassis, Leupold MK V w/ Seekins rings, Atlas bipod 159oz
  • Combat top x1 8oz
  • Combat pants x1 28oz
  • Underwear x 1 1oz
  • Ballcap 2oz
  • Boots: salomon quest 4d GTX 23oz per boot - 46oz
  • Socks - darn tough high 5oz
  • Belt - first lite Field Belt 3oz
  • Bino harness: badlands X2 med 16oz
  • binos/rangefinder: Vortex Fury 5000 AB 32oz
  • knife - MKC Stonewall Skinner 5.5oz (8oz w/ sheath)
  • license/tags
  • IFAK (badlands bottom pocket pouch + tourniquet, compressed gauze x2, 3in ace warp) 12oz
  • Cow call
  • bic lighter
  • extra rounds 4oz
  • Compass (suunto wrist) 1oz
In truck:
  • Puffy pants 20oz
  • Rain bottom 12oz
Weights:
  • Pack dry 491oz 30.7lbs
  • Pack dry with rifle 651oz 40.57bs
  • Pack, rifle, food x 6days, and 4L water 914oz 57lbs
  • Chest rig 74oz 4.5lbs
  • Full loadout plus chest rig 987oz 61.7lbs
  • Full loadout plus all worn items 1,077oz 67lbs
I have not read through the four pages of comments thus far, so I'll just add a couple of quick comments, some may be duplicates from what is already posted:
  1. Ditch the nalgene bottle holder and nalgene bottle. Get the right fittings to connect your water filtration device directly to your water bladder. No need for a bottle holder or bottle. Revamp your water approach.
  2. Ditch the pillow entirely. Use the lid off your pack, filled with clothing - puffy jacket, socks, etc - to provide enough 'loft' for a head rest at night.
  3. Redundant to have a middle weight jacket and a puffy jacket. Not sure what the difference is. For your torso, go with one baselayer, an insulating layer, and a rain jacket outer layer.
  4. Replace the waterproof bag with a garbage bag or two.
  5. 50' of paracord is more than enough
  6. What is in the hygiene kit?
  7. No toilet paper listed. (Really want to be an ounce counter? Figure out the number of squares you need/use in a day. And then multiple by a factor of 12 for all the peak refuel you plan on eating!)
  8. No toothbrush listed. (Want to be an ounce counter: squeeze some into straws, use a lighter to seal off the ends. Take as many straw sections filled with toothpaste as you think you'll need. And then cut the number in half, because if you are having any type 2 fun on the trip, you'll forget to brush your teeth half the time anyways.)
  9. Ground cushion is nice to have but not necessary
  10. Trekking poles are nice to have when packing out meat, but not something that I've carried with me while hunting, ever. YMMV.
  11. A 74 oz tripod seems excessively heavy. (Do you even have a spotting scope listed? If that tripod is just for the 32 oz rangefinding binos....)
  12. 3 peak refuel meals per day: that sound like a lot of time spent setting up and taking down a stove. And probably some digestive issues
  13. , 3 peak refuel meals per day, coffee - are you certain 8 oz of fuel will be sufficient for the entire duration of the trip. Would kind of suck to eat cold peak refuel for the last 2-3 days of the hunt because you ran out of fuel.
  14. Knife is heavy, but that's just personal preference. (like boots)
  15. Carrying a 4.5 refrigerator on your chest is going to suck. But, that's just personal preference again, and I see plenty of guys wearing bino harnesses and holsters and range finders on their chests because that's the thing to do. (I just beat the crap of of my binos by putting them on a cheap chest strap and send them in to Vortex for reconditioning every couple of years. That saves me from having to feel the sloppage of having an extra 3 pounds of stripper tits bouncing up and down on my chest with every step I take for the entire trip. But, to each their own.)
  16. Camera? Alarm clock? GPS? Phone? SPOT device/InReach?
  17. I like to take a very cheap emergency rain poncho for dual purpose - setting meat on the ground, use in case of a quick rain storm, backpack cover if needed, etc. Does not get used on every trip, but has been used on about every other trip, or every third. Throw away item.
  18. 172 oz of water weighs 11.2 pounds. Dump half that, and map out where the streams are located close to where you are camping and then hunting. Surely, there must be several streams in that 7 miles you are traversing to get to your hunting area. Carry 1/3-1/4 of your daily weight in water. Fill up every night, after the morning hunt (before lunch), fill up mid-day (before the evening hunt), and fill up before going to bed every night.
  19. I know, you've likely gotten comments on this - the 7 miles. The elk are where you find them. Sometimes I hunt right off the road, other times I don't start hunting until I get past other hunters about the 3 or 4 mile mark. It depend on a lot of factors. I have killed and packed out several elk by myself in the 7-8 mile range. Doing so takes about 3 days of solid hiking to pack out an elk by yourself that far. It can be done. I've done it before. And I'll probably do it again. Gladly. But if you are going to release an arrow or pull the trigger on an elk on the last day of your hunt, make sure you have enough food and time to get it out in time to make it home (or give yourself an extra couple of days on the back end for commitments such as work, etc.) You likely have not planned this far ahead, and I certainly didn't my first couple of trips. But there is a lot that goes into packing elk meat off a mountain. At this point I've done it enough times to know what to expect from several experiences. So, I'll pass some of that along in this post, which might give you an idea of what goes into that aspect of the hunt. If your buddy has done this before, maybe he has that covered, but something to consider before your hunt and as you are planning things out.

Good luck, let us know how it goes!
 

Gapmaster

WKR
Joined
Dec 22, 2019
Messages
386
Location
MERICA!!
Whatever you decide to do on the food end, good rule of thumb is 100+ calories per ounce of food. I’m a fan of 2 oatmeal packs and an energy bar for breakfast. Tuna packets are an easy lunch, you can spice them up with some Taco Bell sauce packets or mustard etc. Nutella on tortillas is also a good easy lunch. jerky, some granola, and a bag of mini candy bars for snacks. 1 freeze dried meal for dinner. Your gonna crave fat after 5-6 days if your like me. I’ll carry a fatty type meal at least for one day to change it up.

Those freeze dried meals take up a ton of room in a pack, even if repackaged. I would take a variety. You’ll get sick of eating the exact same thing everyday after a week or so. My guess is you will carry a couple of pounds of food back out of the mountains. It will take several trips to dial in your preferred food and proper amounts. I bet everyone on here has probably carried way too much food their first couple trips.

I also try to avoid eating out of my cup I boil water in unless water is readily available. Last thing you want to do is have to hike somewhere to filter more water cause you had to wash out something.

some people have said you’ll be shitting like a pet coon after all those freeze dried meals… I find the opposite. You’ll consume way more protein than fiber and fat plus your burning more calories than you can consume. Just my $.02
 

CMF

WKR
Joined
May 8, 2019
Messages
741
Location
Mississippi
You bring up a good point, surface-s****ers are dirty, evil creatures. I’ll bring my little camp trowel
Trekking pole works pretty well in most terrain a trowel would, then you have one less thing to pack, dig out or keep up with.
 
Joined
Jun 1, 2022
Messages
12
A lot of great advice in here. I’d recommend rechargeable items vs replaceable battery options. The more hunts I invest my time on, the less electronic accessories I bring with. This last year I switched to black diamond 500 storm r headlamps. Charged them last week of august, did 2 trips out west one 13 day and one 7 day. Plus my local whitetail seasons. A power outage where the wife could still do night time reading. And both still have 2 or 3 bars illuminated… seems you are on the right track with a few of these suggestions. I’ll also recommend like the others do test runs on your gear, even if it’s at a local camp ground. You will learn a lot and probably revise your gear list a little. Good luck!
My BD cheeeewwws through batteries. Barely get a night off a set
 

Jethro

WKR
Joined
Mar 2, 2014
Messages
1,191
Location
Pennsylvania
I would not do it cause I know I can't do the 7 miles. But hypothetically if I was, and the plan was 6 days, I would take all 6 days of gear with me. If the hunting is bad and you have to hike back out after 3 days that would be unfortunate. But if the hunting is good, it would be a sucky waste of time to have to make a 14 mile trip because you left 3 days of food at the truck. Ditch the tripod, bring all the food.
 

bz_711

WKR
Joined
May 7, 2012
Messages
728
My friend has packed out three from this area. I will have to ask him, I don’t know off the top of my head.

If he has done this then great...otherwise I would never recommend 2 guys planning for a 7mile packout of a bull elk (2 trips minimum depending on camp).

Good Luck!
 

Grant K

FNG
Joined
Sep 19, 2017
Messages
70
Location
Ridgway, CO
The combat bottoms are just some patagonia pants with cargo pockets, I know they’re heavy, I have honestly just been prioritizing other gear over clothes thus far. Do you have a recommendation for a good pair of pants for this application? I saw a pair on Kuiu’s website, and they are cool but the thought of paying $200 for a pair of pants irks me a bit
hard to beat Kuiu attack pants for an all around go to, for similar quality, if you don't need camo I'm a fan of Himali guide flex pants, $138 full price and almost always in sale somewhere, close to bulletproof if they fit you, they are pretty slim fit.
lots of mountaineering world softshell pants for less than Kuiu/Sitka.
 
OP
GooseLR

GooseLR

FNG
Joined
Oct 31, 2023
Messages
25
Whatever you decide to do on the food end, good rule of thumb is 100+ calories per ounce of food. I’m a fan of 2 oatmeal packs and an energy bar for breakfast. Tuna packets are an easy lunch, you can spice them up with some Taco Bell sauce packets or mustard etc. Nutella on tortillas is also a good easy lunch. jerky, some granola, and a bag of mini candy bars for snacks. 1 freeze dried meal for dinner. Your gonna crave fat after 5-6 days if your like me. I’ll carry a fatty type meal at least for one day to change it up.

Those freeze dried meals take up a ton of room in a pack, even if repackaged. I would take a variety. You’ll get sick of eating the exact same thing everyday after a week or so. My guess is you will carry a couple of pounds of food back out of the mountains. It will take several trips to dial in your preferred food and proper amounts. I bet everyone on here has probably carried way too much food their first couple trips.

I also try to avoid eating out of my cup I boil water in unless water is readily available. Last thing you want to do is have to hike somewhere to filter more water cause you had to wash out something.

some people have said you’ll be shitting like a pet coon after all those freeze dried meals… I find the opposite. You’ll consume way more protein than fiber and fat plus your burning more calories than you can consume. Just my $.02
I’m going to really dig into YouTube, the advice in these posts, etc to dial in my food situation.

I have had the same experience as you with freeze dried meals, I tend to not need to go very often when those are my main diet.
 
OP
GooseLR

GooseLR

FNG
Joined
Oct 31, 2023
Messages
25
I have not read through the four pages of comments thus far, so I'll just add a couple of quick comments, some may be duplicates from what is already posted:
  1. Ditch the nalgene bottle holder and nalgene bottle. Get the right fittings to connect your water filtration device directly to your water bladder. No need for a bottle holder or bottle. Revamp your water approach.
  2. Ditch the pillow entirely. Use the lid off your pack, filled with clothing - puffy jacket, socks, etc - to provide enough 'loft' for a head rest at night.
  3. Redundant to have a middle weight jacket and a puffy jacket. Not sure what the difference is. For your torso, go with one baselayer, an insulating layer, and a rain jacket outer layer.
  4. Replace the waterproof bag with a garbage bag or two.
  5. 50' of paracord is more than enough
  6. What is in the hygiene kit?
  7. No toilet paper listed. (Really want to be an ounce counter? Figure out the number of squares you need/use in a day. And then multiple by a factor of 12 for all the peak refuel you plan on eating!)
  8. No toothbrush listed. (Want to be an ounce counter: squeeze some into straws, use a lighter to seal off the ends. Take as many straw sections filled with toothpaste as you think you'll need. And then cut the number in half, because if you are having any type 2 fun on the trip, you'll forget to brush your teeth half the time anyways.)
  9. Ground cushion is nice to have but not necessary
  10. Trekking poles are nice to have when packing out meat, but not something that I've carried with me while hunting, ever. YMMV.
  11. A 74 oz tripod seems excessively heavy. (Do you even have a spotting scope listed? If that tripod is just for the 32 oz rangefinding binos....)
  12. 3 peak refuel meals per day: that sound like a lot of time spent setting up and taking down a stove. And probably some digestive issues
  13. , 3 peak refuel meals per day, coffee - are you certain 8 oz of fuel will be sufficient for the entire duration of the trip. Would kind of suck to eat cold peak refuel for the last 2-3 days of the hunt because you ran out of fuel.
  14. Knife is heavy, but that's just personal preference. (like boots)
  15. Carrying a 4.5 refrigerator on your chest is going to suck. But, that's just personal preference again, and I see plenty of guys wearing bino harnesses and holsters and range finders on their chests because that's the thing to do. (I just beat the crap of of my binos by putting them on a cheap chest strap and send them in to Vortex for reconditioning every couple of years. That saves me from having to feel the sloppage of having an extra 3 pounds of stripper tits bouncing up and down on my chest with every step I take for the entire trip. But, to each their own.)
  16. Camera? Alarm clock? GPS? Phone? SPOT device/InReach?
  17. I like to take a very cheap emergency rain poncho for dual purpose - setting meat on the ground, use in case of a quick rain storm, backpack cover if needed, etc. Does not get used on every trip, but has been used on about every other trip, or every third. Throw away item.
  18. 172 oz of water weighs 11.2 pounds. Dump half that, and map out where the streams are located close to where you are camping and then hunting. Surely, there must be several streams in that 7 miles you are traversing to get to your hunting area. Carry 1/3-1/4 of your daily weight in water. Fill up every night, after the morning hunt (before lunch), fill up mid-day (before the evening hunt), and fill up before going to bed every night.
  19. I know, you've likely gotten comments on this - the 7 miles. The elk are where you find them. Sometimes I hunt right off the road, other times I don't start hunting until I get past other hunters about the 3 or 4 mile mark. It depend on a lot of factors. I have killed and packed out several elk by myself in the 7-8 mile range. Doing so takes about 3 days of solid hiking to pack out an elk by yourself that far. It can be done. I've done it before. And I'll probably do it again. Gladly. But if you are going to release an arrow or pull the trigger on an elk on the last day of your hunt, make sure you have enough food and time to get it out in time to make it home (or give yourself an extra couple of days on the back end for commitments such as work, etc.) You likely have not planned this far ahead, and I certainly didn't my first couple of trips. But there is a lot that goes into packing elk meat off a mountain. At this point I've done it enough times to know what to expect from several experiences. So, I'll pass some of that along in this post, which might give you an idea of what goes into that aspect of the hunt. If your buddy has done this before, maybe he has that covered, but something to consider before your hunt and as you are planning things out.

Good luck, let us know how it goes!
Thanks! A lot of the points are duplicates but I think that’s a good sign, everyone has pretty much come to a consensus about potential issues they’ve seen with my setup. I am definitely implementing the majority of what I’ve read here. Namely: ditching nalgene and bladder in lieu of smartwater bottles, carrying about half my original planned water, revamping food, adjusting cordage, adjusting clothing plans… great stuff, that’s why I asked you guys!
 

Draak

FNG
Joined
Feb 18, 2024
Messages
5
Location
Washington
hard to beat Kuiu attack pants for an all around go to, for similar quality, if you don't need camo I'm a fan of Himali guide flex pants, $138 full price and almost always in sale somewhere, close to bulletproof if they fit you, they are pretty slim fit.
lots of mountaineering world softshell pants for less than Kuiu/Sitka.
To second this you can also look up prAna stretch zion pants or the Fjallraven keb or keb agile. They are very stretchy, breathable, and light. The keb pants are expensive but have a heavy duty material on the front face, ankle, and rear area. I don't have any experience with the newer prana fabric but my old ones for rock climbing and backpacking have held up very well, only damage was from a friends very young daughter waving around a burning stick in camp.
 
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