We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs. Learn More ›
For backpack hunters, the weight of any single gear item matters. We’ll spend more money for carbon rifles, we’ll eat dehydrated food, and we’ll leave any superfluous item in the truck. After all, going in light makes coming out with meat and horns just a little less backbreaking.
But even the most weight obsessed, minimalist backpack hunter will be rolling heavy compared to the average thru-hiker. These are the folks who will spend weeks or months on the trail covering hundreds of miles. Naturally, ultralight gear is even more important among this crowd. If you were going to carry a gear item for months, you’d want it to be as light as possible.
So for this week’s podcast, I sat down with staff writer and ultra-light backpacker Laura Lancaster who just finished field testing the best ultralight tents, backpacks, and backpacking quilts. The gear she has tested and reviewed should catch the attention of any backpack hunter—even if you don’t necessarily add those items to your kit.
But beyond the gear itself, Lancaster’s perspective does make good sense for hunting: The lighter your kit, the more fun you’ll have.
“Your backpack should be your friend,” says Lancaster. “If it’s weighing down your soul, it’s time to reevaluate.”
I also interviewed staff writer and veteran sheep hunter Tyler Freel who has hunted with all different kinds of gear in the mountains of Alaska. Because of the conditions and the objective of his hunts, Freel’s kit has to run a bit heavier. He might work on chiseling his pack weight down from 60 pounds to 50 pounds (that’s before filling up the pack with sheep quarters). For reference, Lancaster might try to whittle her pack weight down from 25 pounds to 20 pounds… or even 15 pounds.
“In the early days it was like 75 pounds, that’s what you had to try to get to,” Freel says. “I was using some heavier gear and sometimes I took heavier packs than that because I was stupid and I brought way too much food.”
Whether you hunt the mountains or backpack hundreds of miles, both Lancaster and Freel offer useful advice.
Lancaster’s Gear Recommendations from This Episode
- MSR FreeLite Tent
- Durston Gear X-Mid 1
- Seek Outside Cimarron
- Durston Kakwa 40 Pack
- MSR PocketRocket stove
- Thermarest NeoAir
- Sawyer Squeeze water filter
- Smartwater Bottle
- Powder toothpaste (or baking soda)
- Contractor trash bags